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Graphic Sexual Horror

Watch the trailer for Graphic Sexual Horror

“What is wrong with anyone that they would want to do this to women?” That was the initial reaction of one member of the subscription Web site, which from 1995 through 2005 produced images of bondage, domination, and sado-masochism such as few had ever seen (and many would never want to). As chronicled in this documentary, it was the creation of Brent Scott, an artist who left a teaching position at Carnegie Mellon in order to explore his obsessions in ways academia would never allow. His images were not the stuff of your daddy’s Betty Page collection: With strong production values masked by grainy textures, it resembled the nightmares of a serial killer—or, worse, the accomplishments of one. Insex really hit its stride in 1997 when Scott began live Web broadcasts, in which members were allowed to comment on and instruct the proceedings. Scott (who in the 1980s worked in Buffalo and did performances at Artists and Models) only used willing models, who were very well paid for their performances, and was fascinated with focusing on their pleasure rather than the viewers’. Of course, his definition of pleasure is somewhat radical: He dismisses the word “pain” as a prejudicial term for a certain kind of experience that can build up endorphins, adrenaline, and lead to orgasm. The models interviewed agree, though the documentary has a bit of imbalance built in: As co-directors Anna Lorentzon (who worked behind the scenes at Insex) and Barbara Bell admit, models who had bad experiences were unwilling to talk about them. And everyone involved acknowledges that the huge financial success of Insex also corrupted it: Aside from expanding his own sexual perimeters, Scott became obsessed with finding more extreme sights for his subscribers, and the models were unwilling to give up the money they would lose if they used their “safe words” during a broadcast. In between those who would never subject themselves to images seen here and those will flock to the movie for them alone are viewers who will come away from Graphic Sexual Horror asking a lot of questions about sexuality, personal choice, their jobs and their government (which closed down Insex in a method whose hypocrisy the film only hints at) from a different perspective.

—m. faust

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