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By Jessica Baxter | May 23, 2013

Every October in Seattle, our free weekly newspaper, The Stranger, puts on an amateur porn film festival called Hump! (their exclamation point). It’s not nearly as gross as it sounds. Well, it was at first. But over the years, the prizes you could win got bigger and better and the production value on the entries shot way up. Nowadays, many of the Hump! entries are legitimately beautiful, funny and/or visually impressive films. But since there’s a “Best Kink” category, there are also always a couple of major wince-inducers. The Stranger mercifully limits entries to 10 minutes, which can sometimes feel extremely generous to the filmmakers.

James Franco presents a feature length version of a Hump! contestant, very appropriately called, “Kink.” And if you think 10 minutes of unimaginable sexual torture sounds intense, try 80 minutes. I like to think of myself as pretty open-minded, but much of this film is difficult to stomach. I feel compelled to warn you that if you aren’t all that familiar with what BDSM (that stands for bondage, discipline, dominance and submission) entails, you might want to choose a different movie. Unless, of course, you’re into that. And clearly, many people are.

Christina Voros’ directs this documentary about, the largest producer of BDSM videos in the United States. The interviews with the directors and performers cast a very sex-positive light on the behind-the-scenes moments in “Kink.” has got everything you could possibly want in a sex dungeon, including myriad equipment to restrain, hit or f**k you with. Some of these devices require enough horsepower to show up a regular horse. What’s more, they seem real nice and I’m so glad that they are providing what seems like a very conscientious and even intellectual approach to something that could easily get out of hand.

Now that I can’t unsee “Kink,” I am left to ponder the implications. Again, I’m fine with whatever happens between consenting adults, but it seems like a lot of work to have an orgasm. The most surprising thing that “Kink” presents is that it’s not always about getting off. Some find it meditative. Others enjoy challenging themselves physically and emotionally. One guy compares it to a runner’s high. No one here is a victim. Everyone is having a terrific time. And they have rules and regulations in place to make sure that doesn’t change. No one ever dishes out what they couldn’t take themselves. There are always safe words in place and the submissives are upfront about their limits and preferences. None of the videos ever imply rape or force. The submissive is actually the one in charge.

I was pleased to learn that some of it is even faked to a degree. Apparently, there’s a “right” way to step on a dick. The performers are all familiar with how to throw a stage punch. But most of it is the real deal because the key to a good video is “real responses on camera.”

I can’t tell you whether or not you should see “Kink.” It wasn’t the most pleasant viewing experience. If you’re already immersed in BDSM culture, this will certainly be up your alley (she’s used to it!). If you’re new to the subject, you will certainly come away from it more educated. Still, we don’t always have to know everything…

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