Jul 122010
 

by Ms Savannah Sly

This spring, I had the pleasure of watching “Bike Porn III: Cycle Bound”, a touring collection of amateur pornography, curated by Reverend Phil of Portland, Oregon. Ranging from slinky to silly, all of the films shared the common thread of being made for and by enthusiasts of wheels, gears, tight bike shorts and the open road.

Amidst the many films, I was pleased to see a full spectrum of genders, sexual preferences and practices represented. The participants seemed to be having a genuinely good time and amidst the steamy bike shop scenes and sweaty banana seats, I got the distinct impression that Bike Porn was a celebration of freedom, athleticism, personal expression and community.

After the screening, I caught up with Reverend Phil and his co-conspirator Lindsey Benkel for questioning.

Savannah: So Reverend Phil, what makes bicycles such porn-appropriate subjects?

Reverend Phil: Bikes are pretty amazing devices. In many ways, bikes have liberated people. For instance, they’ve helped women not have to wear dresses.

Savannah: Can you elaborate?

Reverence: Well, take a look at women’s clothing. At one point, it was corsets. Then women started riding bikes. Next thing you know, it’s bloomers. Then pants. And that’s because of bikes.

Savannah: Aha! And then bike shorts!

Reverend: Or whatever you like! The important thing is that bikes are directly tied to women’s liberation.

Savannah: There is an especially liberating feeling to flying down the street on a bike.

Reverend: Oh, you know that freedom when you feel it. We work with ideas of freedom and trust; being able to put your trust in someone or something. Trusting that the bike won’t break down. There’s also a feeling of being together.

Savannah: But what’s especially sensual to you, Reverend, about bicycles?

Reverend: Oh, well…I love what they can do for people. I love how they make me feel when I ride them. I enjoy getting where I need to go and feeling like I’ve just been to the gym. I just makes me…so happy. The time that I spend on my bicycle can totally give me space, pause and time to process all of the shit that goes through our minds everyday,

Savannah: Lindsey when did you jump onto the Bike Porn bandwagon?

Lindsey Benkel: I decided it would be something that my community would enjoy, so I reached out to Phil and invited him to come to Pheonix, where we put on a screening of “Bike Porn II: Bikespoitation”. It was fantastic! Everybody loved it. But as I was watching it, I was thinking to myself, “I could make a better video.” So…then I tried my best to do so. (View Lindsey’s Velorotique: http://vimeo.com/4970499)

Savannah: You guys have been touring all over the place with this collection. How has the audience response been?

Lindsey: Sometimes, we have quieter audiences. Usually, if people feel uncomfortable, they tend to get up and leave and let everyone else continue to enjoy the show. It really varies though. For instance, in Boston, everyone was hooting and hollering at the screen, which was great, but we’ve had shows where nobody says a word.

Savannah: Sounds awkward.

Lindsey: Yeah. They just sit there in discomfort for an hour and a half.

Savannah: Were there parts of America that were especially difficult or easy to book?

Reverend: The Mid-Atlantic states were probably the trickiest to book. Cities like D.C. and Baltimore provided a tremendous challenge. There were really restrictive laws about what you could do that made life very difficult for us.

Savannah: Did you ultimately find a venue in those places?

Reverend: Yes.

Savannah: Do you think the conservative laws in those cities reflected on the type of audience that came out to see Bike Porn?

Reverend: In those cases, the show became more of a small, intimate gathering. We’d get around 40 people and it’d be very nice. But, you just KNOW that there are hundreds of more people out there who’d enjoy this…but…they just can’t have it.

Savannah: Is it possible that a lot of people who hear about the show are repelled by the word ‘porn’?

Reverend: People are unnerved by independent media. They’re unnerved by films they can’t immediately understand. But we can’t send out screeners or sell DVDs to help acclimate them beforehand. We just can’t take the risk. If we send out screeners and someone puts it online, we’re abusing the trust of the people who submit the films. So far, we can tell filmmakers that we’ve never had a leak.

Lindsey: If you want to make porn, we don’t want you to have to worry about your mom seeing it.

Savannah: Right, unless she comes to a screening. Do people ever get cold feet and want to recall their submission?

Reverend: Well no, but what we have had people emailing us to say, “well, we made you a porn, but you can’t have it. But, we really appreciated the process and the opportunity to make it.” It’s very frustrating for me but still feels good to give someone the initiative to create something.

Lindsey: The process in itself can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. In my film, I just used my friends. They still tell me, to this day, that the filming was one of the most wonderful, liberating things that they had ever done. It made them feel incredibly sexy and comfortable in their bodies. I think that everybody should at least try to make some porn, even if you’re not going to screen it.

Savannah: Speaking of making porn, Lindsey, I understand that you have some future plans. Could you tell me a bit about your upcoming erotic work?

Lindsey: Yes, I’ve been accepted to the Live Action Short Film Graduate Program at the School of Visual Art. I want to create an entire series of film based upon an erotic affection for inanimate objects. I just experience this so much in my own life. For instance, if you watch someone who’s really into music equipment, someone who works with a mixer maybe, it can be such a sexual experience! They’re putting all of their love and trust into this object, which is something I would like to capture and present to a wider audience. I want to help people feel ok about having intimate feelings for these objects that have provided them with so much joy. The typical standard for how sexuality is defined is incredibly narrow. In movies, there’s very little communication and nobody asks for anything unusual. However, most of us have unusual feelings or desires for certain scenarios, roles, positions…

Savannah: And unusual characters, materials, settings, phrases…

Lindsey: Right, and unusual objects. A lot of people feel awkward asking their partner for the things they want because they seem a little strange. I hope to make those situations a little more comfortable.

Savannah: Before we wrap things up, I have a personal question for Revernd Phil. Reverend, there are any conflicts of interest with being a man of the cloth and a bicycle pornographer?

Reverend: You know, I see conflict in a lot of places. The fact is, sex happens. The only problem that I see is that there’s a culture of silence that prohibits us from being able to understand each other and our desires. When people are not free to express themselves, they get frustrated or confused and may lash out and do horribly thoughtless things. In my mind, a lot of sexual conflict is based upon Puritanical upbringings, feelings on being ‘unclean’, and feeling unable to even talk about sex. Of course, if we didn’t have sex, if we didn’t have desires…we would cease to exist.

Savannah: No nookie, no mankind.

Reverend: Exactly. In fact, Lindsey has a great little monologue on the sexualization of inanimate objects and how pure of an idea that actually is.

Lindsey: Well, for me, having sexual affection for an inanimate object is so beautiful because, technically, it doesn’t give you anything in return. I feel incredible affection for my bicycle. I clean it all the time and I love on it, but it’s never going to tell me that it loves me back. A lot of people justify a human relationship because it’s a means to an end.

Reverend: Yeah, you can’t reproduce with your bike, so some people can’t see why an erotic relationship would be worthwhile.

Lindsey: Right, but while having sex with your bike might never result in children, it can be a truly pleasurable experience.

Savannah: It must also be nice to know that you’re not laying your emotional baggage on anyone.

Lindsey: Exactly. It’s a very safe, pleasurable experience. And it can be very intimate.

Reverend: It can be whatever you want it to be.

Savannah: So many possibilities! Anonymous, cold encounters with new bikes, for instance…

Lindsey: Hah, yeah, I have a very kinky Dominant relationship with my bike.

Savannah: You tell it what to do?

Lindsey: Yeah. I’m on top.

Savannah: Well thank you both so much for sharing your insights and this colorful collection of films

Lindsey: Thanks for having us.

Reverend: Sharing beautiful art is a terrible burden that we’re willing to accept.

As of the publication of this interview, Bike Porn 4:Play will have had it’s world premier. Visit www.bikeporntour.blogspot.com for more details.

official Bike Porn 3 Trailer

Image Credit: still from Lindsey Benkel’s bike porn film, Velorotique

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