Part 1 of 3
Kelly Divine, naked, haunchy, and greased, is asking for water-based lube because, she says, “I feel like I have a fever in my ass—and not a good fever.”
We are in the Oakland studio of InSex, the legendary BDSM company, which I will learn in the next few days is part theatre troupe, part cult of personality, and part finishing school for perverts.
Surrounding Divine are four black-clad women, each contract employees of InSex who are also models. Rain DeGrey, Elise Graves (“as in multiple dead people,” she explains), Hazel, and Dixon Mason prep and tie Divine for the site Sexually Broken, one of several series InSex runs, in addition to HardTied and Infernal Restraints.
Where most porn shoots will sometimes require hours of setting up lights and cameras, that stuff takes a relatively short amount of time here. What the crew mostly fusses over is how the model gets tied and trussed.
For example, InSex’s warehouse studio also features a metal shop. There are tables laden with bespoke gear crafted and maintained by the crew. As the three women get Divine on her knees in a special chair, placing a hard wooden box containing an industrial vibrator against her ass, InSex’s founder and center of its universe, PD, files a pipe on a lathe.
“Try this,” PD says, handing a metal clasp to Matt Williams, Sexually Broken’s director and co-star. PD is 66 and Williams is in his 40s. PD will tell me he is grooming Williams to succeed him, but it is hard to imagine this incredibly tight crew without PD.
“Doing this is incredibly stressful,” PD tells me, “and no stress means retirement.”
Just across the Bay is Kink.com, fully occupying San Francisco’s massive Armory, the only porn company housed in a building on the National Register of Historic Places. Williams himself worked on Kink.com’s family of sites for several years before returning to InSex and reconciling with PD, with whom he’d had a falling out years before.
Rain DeGrey is Williams’ off-camera partner, and she says of the two men that “they have such a respect for each other, which made their split even more painful.”
But now Williams is back in the fold, and he approaches Divine with his penis out.
“Hey Oversexy Porn Star,” he says. “What we do here isn’t simple. Brace yourself.”
Williams later tells me that most other men in the rigger arena—people skilled in tying complex bondage knots—don’t fuck the models.
“For them, the rigging is enough,” he says.
Divine is adjusted, fucked, and readjusted on the special chair, which stands in the middle of an actual stage at the end of the warehouse. DeGrey, Graves, and Dixon swoop in now and then to remove parts of the chair and reconfigure it, or adjust the box.
In between shots a local radio station is turned on, and each song is fits the mood. There’s something by the Barenaked Ladies, then Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Breaking the Girl,” and then, well, a Nickelback song. At one point Loreena McKennitt’s “Mummer’s Dance” comes on, and the women are charmed when PD starts dancing.
By the end, Divine is sweating and red in places, but she looks like she can take it. Williams has fucked her without removing his black shirt, so the stage picture of the InSex crew all in black stage garb surrounding the naked, heaving brick house that is Kelly Divine is arresting.
“You’re coming and coming,” Williams tells her as he adjust the vibrations in the box at her ass, “and you can’t stop it. And you’re not even sure you want to.”
I may be utterly desensitized (yes, there could very well be some of that), but nothing I watch seems too out of place for a zesty sexual relationship between, er, several consenting adults. The homemade equipment is impressive, but this status exercise is entirely in keeping with most BDSM fare and, though this is Divine’s first trip to InSex, this isn’t her first time being fucked while being tied to a chair.
“Would you do this in your personal life?” I ask her.
“My chairs at home are a lot more comfortable,” she says.
The difference between this outfit and the one across the Bay is the sense of family. As we will see, PD credits a series of male mentors in his development as an artist, a craftsman, and as a BDSM player, and there is a strong sense on the set that PD is the dad. The crew’s morale rises and falls based on his mood which, he is the first to admit, swings. He is the teacher, the boss, and the inspiration, and he is struggling with how to phase himself out.
After her scene, Divine is still gloriously and frankly naked. The women gather around her for a filmed exit interview, a necessity to prove to any lurking authorities that this aggressive interlude was indeed a consensual one.
Divine is asked her legal name, the date, and if she is “OK.” She’s asked to demonstrate that her body is mobile in some of the places she was restrained, and if she felt “coerced.” She answers Yes to the OK and No to the coerced.
Finally Graves asks her if she’d like to come back some time.
“Sure,” Divine says, “but I don’t know what we’d do.”
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Cherry”—Lorelei Lee writes for a bigger screen; Sexually Broken home, a visit to InSex;; “HardTied” at InSex, where you can’t be prosecuted for your thoughts; Wednesdays with PD: “There’s no point gagging her, because she can pull the gag out of her mouth.”