The story goes that James Franco made an unsuccessful sex tape with his girlfriend (whatever that means), and later, whilst shooting scenes for a 2012 drama called About Cherry (set within the porn industry) at the historic San Francisco Armory, in which he was an actor, he made note of the dynamic between crew and performers, and subsequently persuaded his cinematographer colleague, Christina Voros, to make a documentary about the hugely successful website kink.com, which had bought the Armory building in 2006.
Kink.com is the world’s largest and most successful BDSM fetish porn site. It was founded by UK ex-pat Peter Acworth in 1997 (originally as a site called Hogtied.com), and has since spread its tentacles into all areas of “queer” sexuality for mass consumption (ie the Net). Around one hundred people are employed, involving various in-house directors who are in charge of different subsidiary website, such as Wired Pussy, Device Bondage, Public Disgrace, and Hardcore Gangbangs.
BDSM refers to Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism. One Kink employee describes Kink as the “Goths” in the school playground, whilst Vivid (the hugely successful San Fernando Valley porn company) would be the “jocks”.
BDSM is a significant part of the world’s larger sexual community, and arguably the least understood, yet most criticised. This documentary is by no means a definitive look at BDSM in itself, but rather a sidebar glance at fetish porn. It ‘s reasonably fascinating and mildly titillating (depending on your proclivities), but it’s far from being any kind of in-depth exploration. That said, Kink will provide more explicit bang for your buck than Fifty Shades of Grey would ever dream of depicting!
Kink is an industry about making money, pure and simple. The performers are here to make get spanked and make a buck. That is, to endure, more often than embrace. It’s all about the “safe” word: cash. That’s okay, we’ve all got to make a living, but anyone watching Kink expecting to be enlightened about the deeper, truer psychological aspects behind why people get off on degradation, humiliation, pain, suffering, cruelty, and all the nipple tweaks in between will find themselves none the wiser.
That’s not to say that Kink is a bad documentary (although there is definitely hypocrisy to be seen). As a portrait of part of the modern world of pornography – the online realm – Kink reflects a lucrative dark fantasy model of success. James Franco, through this documentary, and also through a experimental narrative – Interior. Leather Bar – is hoping to shed more light on an inherently shadowy world of human sexuality. But it’s never black and white.
— Kink film review by Bryn Tilly of cultprojections.com
Kink DVD is distributed by Accent Film Entertainment