In Kink, cinematographer and documentarian Christine Voros takes viewers behind the scenes of Kink.com, a hugely successful subscription website that specializes in fetish and BDSM (Bondage & Disclipline / Dominance & Submission / Sadism & Masochism) videos. Started in 1997 by bondage enthusiast Peter Acworth, the company, located in the two hundred thousand square foot, one-hundred-year-old San Francisco Armory, Kink.com attempts to offer a different kind of pornography for people with more discerning tastes, making videos that are as truthful and authentic as possible even when they appear to be what some would consider dangerous, depraved, and, most important, abusive to women. What makes Kink.com unique is that the stars of the videos — who are always referred to as models, not actors — can help guide the action, doing only those things that they want to do, with express instructions that all their reactions be real and to improvise as necessary. Whether pleasure or pain, there is no faking going on, and the shoot can be stopped at any time by anyone on the set if things appear to be getting out of hand, with aftercare being an important part of the process. And there are rarely ever silly plot lines and embarrassing dialogue; these videos go straight to what Kink.com’s customers — as well as the models and directors — want to see, and Voros shows it all, rather graphically. (Get ready for spanking, flogging, chaining, slapping, punching, tying up, choking, clamping, tweaking — and just wait till you get a load of the sex machines that are used on these more-than-willing and ultimately extremely satisfied subjects.)
In her feature-length directorial debut, the Brooklyn-based Voros, who has previously served as cinematographer on such James Franco projects as Child of God, Sal, As I Lay Dying, and 127 Hours: An Extraordinary View — and was introduced to the armory by Franco, who is the lead producer on Kink — journeys deep inside the world of Kink.com, letting the directors (Maitresse Madeline, Van Darkholme, Princess Donna), models (Jessie Colter, Porno Bobbie, Felony), and other employees (talent coordinator Jessie Lee, videographer Five Star, set decorator Chris Norris) share their points of view on the value of what they do and why they do it. “The one thing, especially if you’re looking at BDSM porn and you’re getting freaked out about it, just say to yourself that this isn’t for me, but it is for someone. And that’s that, then move on,” says Tomcat, another Kink.com director. “Everyone’s got a limit, and everyone’s gonna find something sexy and someone’s gonna find something not sexy. . . There’s nothing more to it.” Voros foregoes bringing in outside sex-industry experts, even when the discussion turns to elements that are usually associated with porn, including drugs and abused women; instead, the Kink.com people talk about the freedom and feminism that they believe is part of what makes the company so popular. Kink is like a celebratory, if at times defensive, infomercial, albeit an insightful and entertaining one that just might have you checking out the website when you get back home, when no one else is around.