by Victoria Alexander
A phenomenal, frank look at young women determined to become porn stars and willing
to do whatever extreme measures it takes.
You are curious about what’s up with porn these days but afraid to Google it because
you will cause an intractable footprint. Google’s algorithms will flood you with porn sites
or you will be put on some watch list. So what can you do?
Imagine the revenue if public libraries would not block porn sites. They could charge an
hourly rate, though users would have to be seated in the “hands up” position.
Or, you can see the bold, provocative film PLEASURE. Swedish director Ninja Thyberg, who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Modestij, delivers an uncompromising view focusing on a driven 19-year-old, Linnéa (Sofia Kappel). Bella Cherry is her porn name. She has just arrived in the San Fernando Valley from Sweden with only one strategy – to be the next big porn star. She already has secured an agent, a car and has landed in a “model’s apartment.”
The Mecca of porn is Chatsworth, California which produces 85% of the world’s adult
Opening with a shower straight-raiser scene, the film’s intentional force field jumps right into Bella’s first initiation in porn. Her co-star is a mature man (well-known porn actor and director, John Strong) with a very large, erect penis.
Are young women drugged into porn or forced by a boyfriend/pimp? Hell no!
These young women are creating their destiny and are proud to be taking the initiative.
Bella assesses her roommates and decides she will easily eclipse her competition. As
Thyberg sees the porn industry, it is made up of independent young women who are
actively pursuing a career with determination and ruthlessness.
There are no silly, foolish girls trapped in porn.
Through Thyberg’s clinical research, she exposes some ugly truths. However, the women are well aware of the underworld of porn. No one is hoodwinked in professional porn.
Amateur porn is another matter.
Bella is ever so gently eased into her first scene. This is all business. It’s efficient, highly structured and it’s all about making Bella feel comfortable. It’s a job for the men working in this field. They know how to make it all look like an ordinary day’s work. For these men, it’s a 9 to 5 grind. There are no free blow jobs.
Is there side hustle prostitution?
Bella is befriended by Joy (Revika Anne Reustle), who helps her make the audition rounds, see photographers and how to enhance her online profile. Joy is very vocal about everything she offers – nothing is left to negotiate. She grandly admits she is a happy “whore.” Bella tells porn companies she is pacing her metier.
At a photo shoot, Bella sees one of the top young performers, the beautiful, majestically aloft Ava Rhoades (Evelyn Claire). Ava is a member of the top agency and has been anointed the newest “Spiegler Girl.” The real Mark Spiegler appears in the film. (His face tells his story.) Joy tells Bella that Spiegler Girls must do everything without complaint. They must be highly professional.
At an industry “pajama party” Joy is demeaned by porn superstar Caesar Rex (Lance Hart) who calls her “trailer trash.” Joy throws him into the pool. Rex will get his revenge and Bella will be faced with saving her friend or keeping her new place at Spiegler’s Girls.
It’s not easy to see Spiegler so Bella needs a “specialty” to get his attention and bring in a big social media following. Bella begins to perform various fetishes, mostly directed by females. That is not ”kinky” enough. Bella demands her agent set her up for a rough sex scene with two male performers. This scene is very hard to watch and it is brutal. There is spitting, slapping, verbal abuse and very violent sex. Yet, the guys are so gentle and comforting after Bella cries and makes them stop. Hey, it’s just a job for these guys and they are good at what they do. They are acting. It’s called “hatefucking” and it’s as popular as the nightmarish speciality “rosebuding.”
During the New Years Eve celebrations in Las Vegas this year, we saw WOW THE VEGAS SPECTACULAR at Rio Hotel & Casino. WOW is fabulous entertainment with a unique water-themed show. Production is really “spectacular” with 3D multi-media projections, water walls, holograms, breathtaking acrobatics, and dazzling choreography. The amazing performances are by 30 cast members from eight countries. Rio Showroom has a capacity of 600 seats which means the performers are very close to the audience. The 180-degree stage in the center of the Showroom brings the action and cast up close. Especially notable is featured performer Alina Syunkova, who has been with WOW since it opened and is one of its most impressive stars.
Back to PLEASURE. It’s horrific to realize that these extreme sex acts can lead to physical, lifelong damage. But 19-year-olds cannot visualize destroying their genitalia or aging.
I did the research so you don’t have to. I found out that, as Thyberg shows, young women must get a dedicated fan following by doing extreme sex acts.
Bella forces herself to endure hours of this 2-guy rough sex savagery but then fires her agent for doing exactly what she asked for.
In such a competitive field, having an extreme “speciality” is de rigueur. And it’s the only way Bella is going to become a Spiegler Girl.
Thyberg doesn’t whitewash the cruelty of the porn industry that has descended into common scenarios involving choking, spitting, violence and “sex by multiple foreign objects.”
Scientologist Danny Masterson nicknamed himself “DJ Donkey Punch” when he began performing as a hobby in the late 1990s. Donkey Punch is slang for the act of engaging in anal sex from behind and punching a female partner in the back of the neck so that the sphincter clenches up.
Several female performers famously engage in Donkey Punch.
Without an agent, Bella cannot get any work, so she offers an extreme porn agency she
will do – for free - double anal penetration with two black performers. Thyberg doesn’t
shy away from showing how Bella prepares for double anal sex.
It’s all here – the shame, the humiliation, the severe pain and the ever-present
competition - the next young woman turning up without any barriers. For Thyberg, it’s a
feminist ideology at play. Yet, is this true or do the established porn companies promote
this feminist fantasy as a way to blunt the harsh reality of the industry?
I’ve read a lot of ex-porn stars describing scenes that they were not contracted to do
and the physical damage they experienced. They must complete the scenes or no one
With the “normalization” of porn, the industry doesn’t need to be under the thumb of diva
performers. There is a line of fresh 18-year-olds waiting at the porn door for their
chance at stardom.
There is one thing Thyberg leaves out – drugs and the number of suicides in the industry. Thyberg is a very strong director and with PLEASURE has, in the world of the porn industry, made a remarkable entry with this one speciality that Hollywood cannot ignore.
The cast is extraordinary and Kappel, in her first role, is shocking.
Several professional porn performers are in the cast: Casey Calvert has made fetish
and BDSM part of her niche; Chris Cock, one of Bella’s interracial performers; Reustle,
and most notably, Claire. Claire made her name in porn by filming interracial scenes
involving multiple men as well as using her tongue to orally stimulate their external anal
“The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”
Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critic. For a complete list of
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Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org