The Naughty Garden on HBO Real Sex

2003. When I was young, I was terrified that my kinky fantasies meant I was crazy. And when I was a teen, I vowed that if I ever figured out what those fantasies were about, I would do something to help others, so they didn’t have to suffer through the same fears of being crazy.

This vow is crucial understanding a lot of my kink-related work, but it’s especially important here, for while I had great ambitions of being a truth-teller, I was also totally silenced by shame and terror. For example, I was keeping a video diary about my explorations joining kink support groups and beginning to talk about my interests with people, but I never dared show any of that footage to anyone. I wanted to face down my terror.

I heard that HBO Real Sex was making a documentary about amateurs making dirty movies, and I thought, “Oh cool. I can make a dirty movie and then it will be on HBO.” This turned out to be one the scarier, bigger decisions I have ever made. Before I knew it I was staring in a movie musical about erotic spanking.

The plot is cute enough: A troupe of singer/dancers dressed as flowers and fruits is auditioning in a big theater. A girl dressed as a strawberry breaks the theater rules and is chased and spanked by the stagehand while the song and dance routine keeps going. The spanking awakens the strawberry's sexuality, which comes to her in sexy surrealist eye candy visions of the cast and stagehand.

And I think it turned out great. I loved recording the music, and learning the dance (my friend Freedom choreographed). And navigating “Reality TV” was intense and gave me a fascinating look at how media are constructed. Facing down my fears about both the subject matter and performing it myself will surely be the subject of all future memoirs (I was terrified!).

But I had extremely specific hopes that identifying myself publicly with kink would eradicate my fear and shame around it, so that I would be able to express my art and desires freely, and be able to do work in this world that is not shy of the subject. The results were sooooooo much more complicated than that. It’s a big thing to take on stigma in such a public way. I heard upsetting, disparaging things from people I cared about. I realized it would be there on the internet and in reruns forever and ever. It became a factor in dating people.

And I still had shame and fear! This is subject too big for this little blurb, but making this movie was one of the big adventures of my life. I threw myself --- literally naked--- at stigma, and I’m pretty sure stigma won. But eventually it made me a stronger warrior.

title: The Naughty Garden 
medium: video 
date: 2003 
screened: You Oughta Be In Pictures Festival