(Portions of this article also appeared on Gamelink’s Naked Truth.)
Magnus Sullivan is an intense dude in his 40s from the Bay Area, and — like everyone else fitting that description — he wants to talk to you about open relationships.
No! Don’t leave! Stay awhile and hear the tale of “Marriage 2.0” and you, too, will be convinced that there are still dangerous and exciting frontiers here on Earth.
Sullivan has written one other adult movie, 2011’s swappy epic “An Open Invitation.” “Open,” as the movie is now known, remains one of the adult world’s bestsellers, starring Lorelei Lee, who leads James Deen and India Summer through the landscape of San Francisco swingers.
“The number of films that still sell a year after their release can be counted on two hands in the history of adult,” Sullivan says, “and ‘Open’ is one of them.”
This is not bravado — or not much, anyway. Sullivan laments the lack of staying power that adult films have, and further the complacency the commercial adult industry succumbs to in releasing forgettable material.
With “Marriage 2.0,” also set in and around San Francisco but with a much larger budget and script and dozens of speaking parts, Sullivan hopes to change your expectations as an adult consumer as well as make “adult” less of a dirty word among people who say they don’t watch porn.
“Stories have to be relevant to a current cultural dialogue,” Sullivan says, “but if you’re watching a porn movie, there’s no real mechanism to have that dialogue. And if there is one, I don’t know what the mechanism is in ‘Ass Masters,’ for example.
“So with piracy on one hand and the pornification of mainstream entertainment on the other — all these infringements on the world of porn — the only thing adult has to offer is the ability to show hardcore sex.”
“Marriage 2.0? follows India Summer (who won AVN’s Best Actress award for her role in “Open”) as she comes to terms with her own changing relationship. What is a modern marriage capable of? Can we express ourselves sexually and emotionally with our people and still remain “faithful”?
It helps that India — a documentarian — already lives in San Francisco, where she has access to the sage advice of her friend Meghan (Sadie Lune), doyenne of a sex salon, and Christopher Ryan, Ph.D, who happened to write the New York Times-bestselling “Sex At Dawn.”
In this way Sullivan’s script reads like a polyamorous Ayn Rand novel — his characters have an interesting way of voicing his exact feelings.
“I wrote the part with India in mind,” he says. “She is just beautiful, inside and out. (Director Paul Deeb and I) wanted her to do the part with no makeup, the anti-porn star, but it’s been a huge fight to get her over to our side.
(Indeed, Summer compromised and she does wear some makeup in the movie. “I mean, come ON,” she says.)
Additionally Sullivan (whose company, Lionreach Entertainment, co-produced “Marriage 2.0? with adult studio Adam & Eve) cast faces familiar to San Francisco’s edgier porn scene such as Dylan Ryan and Kink.com mainstay Mickey Mod.
“Mickey as Edward is a calculating decisionmaker in this movie,” Sullivan says. “He asked if I wrote the part for him because he’s a calculating decisionmaker. And Sadie Lune, as his partner in the type of marriage that we set up as the ideal, is just beautiful. She was concerned about her body type and we just couldn’t believe it. We have a scene where she just shines, where she is erotic and loved.”
Porn legend Nina Hartley plays India’s mother and Dr. Carol Queen, co-founder of San Francisco’s Center for Positive Sexuality, cameos as India’s nosy landlady. “The movie is kind of a sprawl,” Sullivan says. “We wanted to get everything in because we don’t know how many shots we’ll get at something of this scope. But Nina and Carol want desperately to see movies like this come back — these movies that mean something — and a lot of the movies of the so-called Golden Age of Porn found their roots in San Francisco.”
Sullivan’s own marriage is an open one, but a short conversation with him reveals that he talks about everything with the same zeal, whether it’s affiliate marketing in the porn industry, the role of independent newspapers, or this beer he’s having right now in Las Vegas.
“Marriage is evolving,” says Sullivan. “We wanted to show how — even in super-tolerant San Francisco — the ideas of jealousy and possessiveness still need to be dealt with among the open relationships and sex parties.”
For his lofty ambitions to make people think differently about the potential of porn movies, Sullivan does not eschew some of the conventions that make porn the guilty pleasure that it is.
“We’ve got the pieces in place to make sure it’s porn,” he says. “Our goal in the porn arena is simply to make a movie that people won’t want to fast forward through and, after it’s done, will go find someone and watch it again.”
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: When Kenny G Murdered Mika Tan — Interview with A Villain
See Also: “Marriage 2.0” official site