This is going to be my write-up of the documentary called Hardcore, by Stephen Walker. The documentary can be found at http://hcdocu.blogspot.com.
The documentary is about Felicity, a 25 yr old woman from England. She flies out to California in the hopes of becoming a porn star. While she had been doing porn in England, she was sold on the idea that she could become a star in California. She’s a single mother of a five year old girl. She originally got into pornography by finding an ad in the local newspaper for it.
She plans on spending three weeks in LA to jump start her career as a porn star. She seems very excited and anxious to get to work. She agrees to have Stephen Walker and his camera crew join her along her journey to becoming a porn star, he is actually very neutral about the business before going into this and really just wants to document the process. She decides to have them stick around for a three day trial period and if she feels comfortable with their presense, she will allow them to tape her progress for the duration of her time in LA.
She meets her agent Richard at the airport who is quoted saying at the beginning of the documentary, “If she makes money, I make money.” Richard is also originally from England but seems to basically promote English women in the US, within the porn industry. He’s in his late fifties or sixties. The second she lands in LA, he parades her around like a prized possession Stephen explains. Richard even holds her hand as he shows her around.
Her first job is with a pornographer who’s done films called, “Fuck Them All” and “Shut Up and Blow Me”. They have her take her shirt off in her interview, I assume to get a good look at the “goods”. They praise her for being natural and not having breast implants. They also ask her how her feet are, Richard pipes in and says that she has cute feet and the pornographer explains that it doesn’t matter anyway, because they can edit her feet out if they are unsightly.
After this interview, Richard explains to Stephen that the more he can get Felicity to do, the more he will get paid, and he explains how he gets better money for anal, DP and basically anything degrading.
The second interview she has, the guy interviewing her brags about how they are the best porn producers and Stephen asks him why. He says, “Because we got the filthiest, nastiest sex, we don’t use rubbers. It’s all anal, they suck it from their ass. They do everything, you know? We put out more tapes than any other company, we’re the best.”
After this interview, Richard explains to Stephen that British women are high in demand in the states and that he also gets paid extra for bringing British women to pornographers, he says after he explains this, “She’s got her uses,” as he chuckles.
What appears to be her first actual job is with a photographer who takes pictures of her as she’s nude, urinating into a bucket. She does seem a little bit weird and uncomfortable with this job but it doesn’t seem to be out of what she expects.
After they show her doing this work, Stephen talks to her more about her work. She explains how she hides doing pornography from her mother, that she tells her mother she is modeling.
On the third trial day of the documentary, Richard and Felicity begin to argue in the car. The argument erupts because Richard keeps sexually harassing her. He keeps grabbing her butt and making sexual advances at her. She explains to Richard that she’s not interested in him in that way and that the only way she would do anything sexual with him is for money, in front of the camera. Richard tries to mansplain his way out of this situation by professing that he is joking. Which is clearly a lie. She explains that if becoming famous involves that level of harassment, she wants nothing to do with it. She agrees to keep the camera crew along because she feels safer with them around. She’s thinking Richard can’t be trusted without supervision. She also agrees to keep Richard as her agent if he agrees to keep his hands off of her.
The first film that they document her doing, is a girl on girl film. It appears to be more of a BDSM type film. They are wearing tight, pleather clothing (typical clothing found in BDSM porn). You can hear them moaning, occasionally calling each other whores, and there is some slapping. This doesn’t seem to bother her though because it’s with another women. She seems to find working with other women in porn is less threatening. This film was part of a series called, “Decedent Divas.”
After filming this shoot, Felicity explains that the only sex she ever has is in porn. She doesn’t want to be in a relationship with a man, basically because of the gender roles. She doesn’t want a man to clean up after, or to answer to or deal with a man’s expectations in a relationship. She also starts to discuss her childhood. When she was 14, her mother told her that the man she thought was her father during her childhood, wasn’t her biological father. She felt really hurt by this because she feels as though her entire childhood was a lie.
Felicity finds out that Richard had signed her up for a bunch of scenes involving anal sex, which she had mentioned off camera to Stephen that she HATES. She ended up cancelling all of those scenes, which really pisses Richard off. He says, ” Jesus woman, I know it’s not fuckin’ pleasant but it’s part of the job and you did tell people wou’d do it and I don’t get any fuckin’ money if you don’t work. We are not going to go over this again and again.”
Felicity explains that this is why she adopted a new game plan and says, “You kept telling me I’d get use to it and if I did enemas it woulnd’t be so painful.”
Richard says, “You haven’t gotten use to it because you haven’t done one yet.”
She says, “You should take it up our butt and see how you like it.”
Richard says, “We won’t go there in this particular conversation in front of the camera.” He’s clearly agitated and tells them to stop filming before he loses his temper.
The camera begins filming again when Richard takes Felicity for an interview with Rob Black (porn producer). Stephen asks Rob what kind of porn they make and he responds with, “Dirty, filthy ones, the kind where girls get fucked in the ass and stuff like that.” Felicity isn’t there today to shoot, Richard takes her to see what the shoot is about. This particular shoot is a gang bang, Felicity refuses to watch it and says she’s going to just watch the fluffers (women used to keep “the wood hard” while the men wait their turn).
She explains, “It doesn’t interest me at all.”
Richard says, “Her education starts here.” with a grin.
Felicity responds, “I’m not abusing myself on this trip and that would be abuse, and that would be against my bill, yeah, I’m in the business but I’m not prepared to put up with that.” She goes on to explain that she won’t do a porn with more than two men, though she would consider doing a shoot with lots of women. Even after Felicity explains that she wouldn’t do a “gang bang” shoot, he writes down the amount of money she would earn (when they are at a restaurant or cafe after), hoping that the numbers will entice her. Another argument arrupts because she’s frustrated with his persistence, he won’t drop it and keeps trying to hook her in with different tactics.
He says to her, “You could do it, you just don’t want to do it.”
She says, “I couldn’t do it physically, I know for a fact.”
When Richard isn’t around later and she’s outside smoking a cigarrette, she starts talking to Stephen; she’s explaining how she’s frustrated with Richard because he’ll say that it doesn’t matter to him whether she does anal scenes or gang bangs or not, because he gets paid the same. She knows this to be a lie because she pays him by percent, not flat rates. And even if that weren’t the case, it’s obvious he wants her to do these scenes because he won’t stop pressuring her to do them.
Twenty-four hours after Richard took Felicity to check out Rob Black’s gang bang filming, Richard convinces her to do an interview with Max Hardcore. Max Hardcore’s “trademarks” in the business are use of gynocological instruments as well as spitting, urinating and blowing snot into womens’ mouths.
Felicity is scared to meet Max Hardcore because she’s already heard about him. Stephen interviews one of Max Hardcore’s former models, Layla Jade. She explains how Max would choke her and do other abusive things but the only time she felt disturbed by his behavior was when he jammed his fist into her mouth and took out a chunk of yer tongue with his finger nail. She admits that people who watch his movies are on the “edge”. Meaning, they like to see someone that looks like they could be a child, being abused.
Stephen films Max Hardcore’s house as they wait for him to show up, as he’s not currently in the house. He explains that the house is VERY clean and has a faint scent of antiseptic similar to a hospital, which is disturbing to him. He says his first instinct is to leave and to take Felicity with him.
One of Max Hardcore’s crew takes Felicity up to the dressing room, to show her what they have. It’s filled with child-like clothing, stuffed animals etc.
She soon finds out that she is NOT there for an interview, that Richard had set it up so that she was to film that day. She seems really nervous and upset to be doing this film that she never agreed to do. She tells Richard she is scared but he doesn’t care and even says that he’s tired of being blamed for her being scared. He says, “If you want to make money, you got to work. This is not doing anything she’s never done before.”
Stephen asks, “What? Putting snot in peoples’ faces?”
Richard says, “Nobody’s saying he’s going to do any of that.”
Felicity insists on meeting Max to find out what his expectations are. Max’s crew guy explains, “We try to discover the girls, how far we can go, how far he can take it because sometimes you can take it further and you don’t even know that.”
Felicity says, “That is misleading the girls. Yeah, that’s wrong. That’s like abuse, that’s wrong.”
Stephen talks to Richard outside and Richard discusses how angry he will be if she walks out of this job because she’s wasting his time. If she has a justifiable reason (which he does not explain, he doesn’t give any examples of what a justifiable reason would be) for walking out, he won’t be pissed off about it.
Later on, Stephen is talking to Felicity while she’s getting ready for the shoot in the bathroom. He asks, “Are you going to do it?”
She says, “I’ve got to do it.”
Stephen exclaims, “You don’t have to.”
She says, “I do have to do it. If I don’t do this, I might as well get on the plane tonight because I’m not going to get booked for anything else.”
After this discussion, Felicity finally meets Max Hardcore. She walks into his office wearing a trench coat, which Max immediate takes off of her as he’s saying, “There’s really non eed for this, how old are you?” He does not even ask her name or even bother with any formalitites. He doesn’t even ask her what she’s willing to do, or not.
Felicity says, “Guess.”
As she asked him to guess, he begins to grope her breasts and turns her around while he says, “Um…22?” He then asks her to give him her hand. He then says to her, “Okay, put your hands here,” she doesn’t move fast enough for his taste, so he sort of pushes her forword onto the side of the desk, so that her back is to him and her hands are on the desk and he says, “There you go.” after, you hear him unzip his pants.
He then asks her to give him her hand again. As she reaches her hand back he says to her, “I want to be your friend, do you want to be my friend?”
She says, “No, I’ve heard horror stories about you, you scare the pants off of me.” Max does not respond to this comment and simply moves her to the other side of his desk where his chair is, so he’s closer to his drawr. He then pulls out a bottle of lube.
He says, “Put a little of this in your hand, like this and put it on the cock.” The entire time that Max is talking to Felicity, it seems like he’s talking to her like she’s child (especially when he asks her if she wants to be his friend), he’s talking in a sort of “soothing” voice, but at the same time is definitely man-handling her. You can tell that she’s really intimidated by him and that it’s probably the only reason she is going along with this.
They start to discuss the other work she had been doing while she was in LA, he tells her to lean over the desk again. She looks awkward about it but goes along with it anyway, she’s playing it cool and acting like nothing is out of the ordinary – and he begins to penetrate her anally (remember that she hates anal sex).
She finally says as he’s doing this, “This ins’t my introductory, these guys just want to shag me.”
Max responds with, “This is how we check out your qualifications.”
Stephen starts to talk about how this interaction made him really uncomfortable, you could also sense the lack of enthusiasm in Felicity, as well as her nervousness.
Max Hardcore stops and has her sitting on his lap, he begins to explain that they want to dress her up as a young English school girl. He asks her if she would shave her pussy for him and she refuses, explaining how itchy and uncomfortable it is when it begins to grow back.
Max responds with, “We have a saying aroud here, we’re not happy until you’re not happy.” He asks her if she’s fearful of him and she says she is, he asks her why.
She explains, “Because you are the first person I’ve met before even shaking my hand, you’ve stuffed your cock up me.”
Max says, “We prefer the direct approach.” She explains that he should have talked to her before because she has limits. As she says this, Max Hardcore grimmaces in disgust and says, “You have limits?” You can tell he’s irritated by her stating this and the conversation fizzles out at this point. He finishes smoking his cigarrette and then he starts bouncing her on his knee like a little child!
The camera cuts out and in the next scene, she’s standing in his his living room area, anxiously waiting for the shoot to begin. She’s wearing a florescent blue belly shirt, her hair is done up in pig tails, and she’s wearing metallic purble daisy dukes. She talks about how nervous she is – which you definitely get the sense of because she’s sighing a lot and keeps looking towards his yellow leather couch in reluctance. She explains that she’s afraid she is going to do things she wouldn’t normally do but bartered for extra money to do them. She also says that Max doesn’t seem as horrible as other people have made him out to be (which I find really interesting – especially due to his “introductory” approach, which felt and looked a lot like rape).
The camera cuts out and Stephen explains that thirty minutes had elapsed since he recorded last, when all of a sudden Felicity breaks off of the scene. The camera turns back on and catches her as she’s running up the stairs, completely disturbed. She’s crying and sobbing – she’s sobbing so hard that you can hear her gasping for air – she manages to say, “I couldn’t take it.”
Stephen explains, “Although I didn’t see it, Max Hardcore forced his penis down her throat and was suffocating her.”
As Felicity runs up the stairs upset, her agent does not even look at her, and he doesn’t even move a muscle. He was sitting on the same stairs she ran up – didn’t even ask what had happened or why she was upset about. He clearly didn’t give a shit. Max appears shortly and begins to follow her up the stairs.
The camera then shows her talking to Max in what appears to be the “guest” bedroom. She says, “I just can’t fucking do it, it’s horrible already and I want to go home,” she cries some more while gasping and says, “I’m scared.”
Max is sitting on the bed next to her, while she’s holding her face in her hands and he starts saying in that creepy soothing voice again, “Why?” (in response to her saying that she is scared).
She says, “because I’m scared, I got all these people here and I should feel safe and I just don’t feel safe, I’m being physically abused. I just want to leave this fucking country now and get on a plane and get the fuck out of here.”
Max says again in his creepy patronizing voice, “How are you being abused?”
She says, “The things you do to my body and stuff, it’s abusive and I’m not comfortable with it, I hate it. Alright? I fuckin’ hate it.” She’s still crying at this point.
Max Hardcore starts to attempt to encourage her. Max says, “Look, are you a winner? Are you a good person?”
Felicity responds, “I’d like to think so.”
Max says, “I’d like to think so too, you’re a good person aren’t you? You don’t fuck all of your friends, you take care of people, right?”
She says, “yeah” in a very dejected voice.
He continues, “You don’t go out of your way to hurt people, right?”
She says, “Right” – again in a dejected voice.
Max continues his “pep talk”, “Okay, you’re a positive person, right? You like to think you’re important don’t you?”
She responds again with a simple, “yeah”
He says again, “Are you important?”
She says, “Yeah, to my daughter. Not to you, not to anybody else. I’m only important to my kid.”
Max says, “Well then you’re goddamn important, you’ve got responsibilities.”
Felicity starts to get aggravated with his questions and responds with, “Why’d you think I was here? Why’d you think I’d make all this money? Because you think I like it? yeah I like it, but I just don’t like being abused and if abuse is going to get me money…”
Max interrupts her before she can finish what she’s saying, “It doesn’t have to be that way, every girl is different babe. You’re different, you’re special, you’re unique, you’re a special person. You’re an important person, very important and you’ve got responsibilities, people that have responsibilities are important and they do, they do the job. They take care of business. They say, okay damn it , I don’t like it but I’m going to do it.” It was very clear to me that Max was using Felicities daughter and her responsibility to her daughter at this point, to try and manipulate her into finishing the shoot. He’s trying to get her to think about the money… And it’s clear that he switched to this tactic after his, “you’re a great person” speach didn’t coax her into finishing.
Felicity responds, “I’ve been terrified since the minute I walked in here, before I even fucking met you.” She’s still sobbing at this point and he starts to stroke her hair.
He says firmly at this point, “Get a grip now, come on.” as he’s still stroking her hair and then rubs her shoulder a little bit.
She says, “I won’t get a grip until I am home, nothing you are going to talk about is going to change my mind.”
Max gets clearly annoyed with this comment and says, “You’re sounding like a little school girl now. Find a way to win, not a way to lose.” As he says this, she gets up from next to him to get a tissue from the bathroom.
A switch goes off in Max and he’s getting angry now. He says to her, “Baby, I don’t appreciate your fuckin effort. I’ll be honest with you, I do not appreciate your fuckin effort on the job. Instead of fuckin talking to us and treating us like reasonable human being, you just fuck it up and quit, when I rushed my ass back here, I got shit to do in case you don’t know, I got shit to do, I got stuff to do. All those guys, my two guys down there. I’ve got one guy from fucking Malibou over here. He drived like fuckin, you know, 100 miles to get the fuck over here to do this fucking scene for you and I don’t appreciate your fuckin effort. You know, instead you didn’t even try, your fucking, you fucking…” At this point, Max begins to stumble over his words he’s so annoyed with her for not submitting to his will. He continues, “This is just…eh me, you talk about ME, the scenes disgusting, You disgust ME and your fuckin’, tiny little effort. Baby I’ve done over fucking 500 fucking movies, only seen one other girl with less effort than you put forth less effort, less willing to fucking do anything to do the fucking job. One fucking scene and I have done 1158 fuckin scenes. I’ve had one fucking girl walk off the set. You’re a fuckin’ loser, you put no fuckin’ effort into this. Okay, somewhere she says fine, say something, but NO you don’t say fuckin’ nothing. You just jump the fuck up and quit. Fuck that.”
The camera cuts out and the Stephen explains that Felicity agreed to finish the set after this. He explains that it was clear that Felicity could no longer decide for herself after Max’s reaction to her. Where there had been consent before, it was clearly gone now. Five minutes later Stephen and his crew grabbed up Felicity and got the hell out of there.
After dealing with Max, Stephen fully expects Felicity to head home but she decides to go back to Extreme Studios and works as a “fluffer” for the gang bang video the very next day. He tries to talk to her about what had happened with Max Hardcore and she’s reluctant to discuss it. She explains that she had hardly slept the night before – that she had woke up every hour, on the hour. Her only comment at this point is, “It’s not pleasant being suffocated.
Stephen decides to talk to Richard about it, he asks Richard, “Do you regret taking her to see Max Hardcore?”
Richard responds, “No, because it discovered her limits early on.”
Stephen says, “Do you think it was good education for her?”
Richard says, “Yeah, she knows how bad things can be and she seems better off today.”
Stephen says, “It gets easier?”
Richard says, “Everything gets easier the more you do it.”
Stephen says after interviewing Richard, “I noticed something increasingly disturbing about Felicity’s behavior. As if the experiences of last night have changed her. As if the shock has somehow dislocated her from herself.” He explains how her experiences with Max hardcore seem to have opneed a door for her to do anything. It almost seems like this was Richards intent when he brought her to see Max Hardcore. Like he knew that if she delt with the worst of the worst – she would find anything easier – inluding anal and other abusive porn.
The next pornographer they tape Felicity interviewing with – she says she’ll do anal scenes, even though she was very against it before. She is tolerable of abusive sex now, she’s willing to do abusive porn with these pornographers, nothing seems off-limits to her now. This particular porn she is going to shoot in involves on man “roughing” up three women during sex.
Stephen wonders why she will suddenly do abusive porn. This particular pornographer refuses to have his face taped during the documentary. Stephen asks the pornographer why he won’t have his face taped. The pornographer explains that he lives a double life, while his family knows he makes porn – they don’t know how abusive the porn he produces is. He says, “I don’t say, “yeah I climb up on the roof and I choke a girl into unconsciousness” well because it is shameful for godsake.”
Stephen asks, “So why do you do it?”
He responds, “It’s as exciting as hell, it’s better then taking drugs.”
Stephen then asks, “How do you justify doing this, it’s degrading, isn’t it?
He says, “It’s an expression of romance, it’s an expression of love.”
The film goes back to recording Felicity, apparently after the shoot and she discusses more about her father. After she found out who he was, they connected for a while but it fizzled out and he stopped caring about her. She explains that she wants her father to see what she is doing for work, to see her in porn, she wants to prove to him that she exists. She seems to take pride in the fact that he can’t do anything about it or have an opinion about it. It seems like she is doing porn out of revenge because she wanted to be daddy’s little girl and was never given the opportunity.
When Felicity went home, she told her mother what she had really been doing for work. Her mother was dissapointed but told Felicity that she would always love her, no matter what she did. Felicity then discusses how she would feel the same way if her daughter starting making porn. She doesn’t want her daughter to do it, but that she’d also still love her daughter no matter what.
After leaving the states, Felicity quit the porn business and became a cocktail waitress.
I just have to say that in this one documentary, there are a lot of different examples of coersion. They use money to persuade her to do things she didn’t want to do before. They insist that she can handle doing things, and that she isn’t doing them because she hasn’t done them enough. They use guilt, shame and they compare her to other women to trick her into doing things she is not comfortable with. I just want people to think – is this the norm in the industry? How do you know the women in the porn you watch have not experienced these same techniques of manipulation? How do you know for sure that it is consentual? Is this really a glamorous job? Is becoming a porn star even at all really possible? Should we join this type of work with words like “empowering” “free”? I think not.