» » Kink - The 51st Shade of Grey (2013)

Short summary

Director Christina Voros and producer James Franco pull back the curtain on the fetish empire of, the Internet's largest producer of BDSM content. In a particularly obscure corner of an industry that operates largely out of public view,'s directors and models strive for authenticity. In an enterprise often known for exploitative practices, upholds an ironclad set of values to foster an environment that is safe, sane, and consensual. They aim to demystify the BDSM lifestyle, and to serve as an example and an educational resource for the BDSM community. In kink, we discover not only a fascinating and often misunderstood subculture, but also, in a career far from the mainstream, a group of intelligent, charismatic, and driven people who really, truly love what they do.

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User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: jorik
    This is a fascinating view of a well managed business. A widely misunderstood part of the porn industry is given a human face. Even if BDSM is not your cup of tea, Kink will expand your understanding of sexuality.

    Among the fascinating details covered in this documentary are: Rules film makers and actors observe in scripting, creating and filming these films; Rules that are observed to assure actors safety and comfort; How actors are selected, hired and cast; and Differences between fantasy and reality.

    Not for every viewer. For those comfortable with HBO's Real Sex, this is a must see.
  • comment
    • Author: Fararala
    Yes, it's sufficiently well-made to be watchable. Even if the subject is not particularly of your interest (it isn't mine) and you cannot relate (I cannot), it is still a good thing that such documentaries are being made and it is a good thing to be able to experience them at one's leisure.

    It's not a great documentary, of course. After all, it simply records a collection of individuals doing their work and, at times, saying their piece. They don't have any "answers" and, frankly, don't need them either. But it is interesting to hear them struggle to explain themselves.

    It is also good to see these young people engage as they are on an activity that not long back would have been dangerous, not pretend/consensual dangerous, but really dangerous, as in their lives could have been destroyed on a whim by the narrow-minded. Nowadays, especially the women involved, are no more than simply reluctant and this only due to the caricature that political correctness has made out of feminism. They are on their back foot, yes, but not running away.

    Which reminds me, I particularly appreciated the absolute lack of politics. No lobbying, no proselytism, so suasion. This is rare.

    Last, Franco has planted a flag with this work. One of a few, by now. Good for him.

    I'm giving this documentary a 6. Hope it pleases a little and hurts a little.
  • comment
    • Author: Celore
    This film gives a surprisingly lucid view of what goes on at studios. Even more interesting are the interviews with the staff and the actors, who describe their motivations and what it's like to work in the BDSM porn business. Actors for the most part don't stay for longer than a year or two, and many profess to be exploring an inner need in what they do.

    There are a enough explicit sex scenes to give a feel for what goes into the staging. A given scene may change drastically if an actor has misgivings about the sexual demands of the script.

    The overall impression is of a business run in a professional manner by decent, reasonably sympathetic people who happen to find themselves or at least their jobs to be on the kinky side of the sexual spectrum.

    It's no surprise that this documentary will upset some people. As one of the participants in the film notes, sexual fantasies and taboos are all over the map. The tacit message is that you're free to judge, even if it's pointless to do so.
  • comment
    • Author: Kelerana
    I am not personally aroused by BDSM experiences but I know people who are into that kink. I watched this documentary to learn more about it and try to understand it.

    This film shows all the complicated aspects involved in making porn about this particular kink and shows how a porn company operates when it wants to work with the people doing these acts on film in a respectful way. That was all very interesting. I would have never known about some of these things so I feel much more well-informed after seeing it.

    The film does not really get into the psychology of people who are into this kink, so if that's what you are looking for, you'll have to go elsewhere. But if you are basically curious about how pornography is created and how BDSM porn in particular is done, this is a good introduction. Be warned that there are many graphic scenes that are quite intense, so if you are not into this kink, you might need to fast forward....
  • comment
    • Author: Whitehammer
    Christina Voros's Kink is an important documentary and one of the most significant films to profile the porn industry that I have yet to see. Rarely has a porn documentary been able to truly humanize an incredibly popular, albeit far-from-mainstream, genre of pornography, the performers who freely partake in the genre, the interworkings and ethics revolving around the genre, and, finally, the exhausted ideas of porn actively degrading and oppressing women. Here's a film that takes a topic for those who are squeamish and makes it so digestible that even they should be able to pause for a moment and listen to what the film has to say.

    Kink profiles the website, one of the most successful and lucrative porn sites currently on the web. Kink specializes in three different kinds of fetish pornography: bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism including, but certainly not limited to, the use of cast-iron chains, leather suits, whips, industrial machines with long vibrators and dildos attached to an extended metal pole, and ropes. The website was started by a man named Peter Acworth in his college dormitory and has since become the leading provider in fetish entertainment since the inception of internet pornography. Before this, bondage - often referred to by the acronym BDSM - was largely segregated to the same magazines that glamorized other social taboos, such as swinging and interracial sex.

    As an avid fan and viewer of pornography, I will admit that porn, no matter what site you frequent, is largely the same: same positions, same penetration, same actors with similar looks, and same story lines. All of this is true unless you visit the fetish websites (most of which are not for me). Fetish pornography's purpose is to explore the deepest taboos and sexual pleasures people didn't know they had; to leave all inhibitions at the door and explore the darker, more sinister side of human sexuality. Kink follows numerous art directors, film directors, and set designers as they recruit famous porn stars, such as Mr. Marcus, Phoenix Marie, and Francesca Le, to their website and inform them of the kind of sex scenes they are famous for. One particular scene involves casting director Maitresse Madeline showing a group of first-timers what BDSM entails. She explains how it's not pornography, so the only penis-fondling can be in a manner that's teasing or looks to be rather painful. "So you're going to beat me up?," the male talent bluntly asks Madeline. "No, we're going to make love to your butthole," Madeline boldly replies. has a strict code of conduct they pride themselves on in order to churn out not only the best content, but also the most ethical. Van Darkholme, one of the website's regular directors, states how he has always been about finding the person's reaction and not the porn star's. When is filming its talent, they want the moans, grunts, and screams of the person and not the fake orgasms and noises common in pornography.

    Some will inevitably ask, even after watching the documentary, why would people allow themselves to be degraded and tossed around like pieces of meat for the sake of pornography? For starters, doesn't force or trick any of its members into being a part of their pornography. They firmly state that this content isn't for everyone, and they reiterate the fact that if people want to be sexually free they should have an outlet or a means be so. Several actors talk about a "euphoric state" the body enters when undergoing some of the treatment has in store for them, where, often during orgasm, several human chemicals, such as dopamine and adrenaline, are released to give one's body a "natural high," sending them into a complete, almost out-of-this-world trance. The fact that something like that can bring a human being to such an other-worldly state is amazing and Kink is sure to emphasize the importance of not only the liberation of one's body and mind, but their entire sexual state of mind.

    Inevitably, as the employees know all too well, there will still be the critics of the website and BDSM who say it does nothing but further objectify and degrade women like the pornographic industry has done since its inception. One director brings up a fantastic point when addressing this; he states that it's difficult for people to understand that there are a group of women that need a sort of constant protection, yet there are also a group of women who lust after the attention and glitz the porn industry provides them. And, ultimately, if the porn is performed by consenting adults who understand the terms and want to partake in the sexual acts for entertainment and monetary compensation, why shouldn't they have the freedom to do so? If that still doesn't get you on board with the fetish movement, he goes on to state, he simply requests those people to admit that while the industry isn't for you, in particular, it is for someone out there.

    Kink is not only a terrific documentary but a seriously important one because it finally addresses many of the issues that porn documentaries continue to dance around (coming up with a response to the numerous allegations of degrading and oppressing women), in addition to shedding light on one of the entertainment form's most successful genres since its inception on the internet. It shows the humans behind the scenes of your average fetish porn shoot, and how, for pornography that can be described as some of the most inhumane, it might be one of the most humane.
  • comment
    • Author: Unh
    Having some friends that are into BDSM I've seen and read a bit about the subculture. With that in mind I was excited to see this documentary. While technically OK(lighting sound etc) the film was a bore. First, it's not really a film about BDSM, it's a film about a company that makes BDSM movies for public consumption with actors who aren't all in the BDSM community. Even with that caveat there was a rich opportunity to explore this interesting subculture through the lens of the corporation. But what we get instead is interviews with employees, many of whom are far from articulate or perhaps have reservations about being nuanced about something their paycheck depends on. No interviews with consumers, no history of the industry to set the stage for Kinks place in time. No discussion of San Francisco as a unique place that allows a business like Kink to thrive, let alone discuss the neighborhood the armory is in and it's effects. This was little more than a milquetoast ad for a million dollar corporation. It's a shame considering the wealth of material the director could have used to make an insightful film.
  • comment
    • Author: Waiso
    You know, if I were to actually take (at face value) what was being shown to me here in this "kink propaganda" documentary - Then I would be under the clear impression that the only people, today, who were into "kink" were the young, fit, level-headed, and beautiful people of the world. And, nowhere in this subculture (that specializes in BDSM) could any old, dumpy, psychos be found, anywhere.

    I mean - Hello!!?? - Like, let's get real about this, folks.... Considering how many nutters that there are out there who are strictly into conventional sexual practices - Surely the offbeat world of BDSM has its fair share of unhinged eccentrics as well.... No!?

    Anyway - I thought it was pretty suspicious that when the viewer was taken on a walking tour of's headquarters in San Francisco - The room called "The Abattoir" (where cutting and blood-letting happens) was completely ignored and we never got to see what went on in there. No, we didn't.

    As expected - The people at showed us exactly what they wanted us to see in order to demonstrate just how safe and sane their whole operation was - And, with that - Hopefully entice us all to take a walk-on-the-wild-side, real soon.... Yeah! - For a good, hefty fee, of course.

    Well - Since pain is not my pleasure - I will have to be the first (but surely not the last) to pass on their 'welcoming" invitation.... And - How about you???
  • comment
    • Author: ALAN
    As a sexual educator and BDSM educator and personal Dom myself, as well as a personal fan of James Franco's, I was delighted to see this movie in the library.

    However when I watched it I was appalled from the beginning, and continued to be until about 2/3rds of the way through when I couldn't continue watching.

    This movie can hardly be called a documentary because it is NOT educational.

    Nor is it a documentary about the kink community and BDSM.

    It is a documentary about a pornography company that films BDSM torture scenes.

    And from the very beginning you will see the basic rules of safe, sane and consensual being broken by this company. You will watch models have things done to them that they are explicitly saying they DO NOT want done to them.

    And worst of all you will be forced to watch sexual torture that you do not know you are signing up to watch and makes you feel that your own consent is being violated.

    This film is nothing more than the filming of the filming of hardcore torture and rape pornography, with some commentary from the pornographers, that again is non-educational in nature, and is just their own personal thoughts and opinions and feelings and such.

    The movie teaches you absolutely NOTHING about BDSM and Kink Culture, lifestyle or practices. It seems as though its main goal is to shock and appall, which it will for any sensible person who doesn't know that this is not really a documentary, so much as a filming of torture which the people are actually being tortured since they aren't even consenting to everything that is being done.

    This movie is a great disservice to the kink community. Far worse than 50 shades of grey. I never thought I would say this but shame on you James Franco.
  • comment
    • Author: Nahn
    I saw Kink billed as a film about a much-maligned and misunderstood community of people into an alternate lifestyle, and thought it might have something insightful and interesting to say about people into BDSM -- and there are many such people, if the huge amount of interest in such books as 'Fifty Shades" are any indication.

    I was disappointed to discover that Kink is not about that at all, but rather about the fetish porn industry - and one particular fetish porn provider: A company that actually has a bad reputation when it comes to safety and the handling of actors - regardless of what is said in the movie.

    Soliciting the producers and directors of fetish porn for insightful and meaningful observations about BDSM is like trying to make a film about romance and sexuality featuring only the views of prostitutes. This isn't a value judgement on morals -- don't care about that. But rather an observation that if one wishes to make a film about the BDSM community, one might consider actually contacting people in that community and finding out what "real people" are doing and why, instead of going to the people doing it for money.

    Very revealing was the interview with one very fetching model. When asked what she liked about doing bondage porn, she might have replied with something like: "I really enjoy BDSM, and doing in on camera adds to the thrill. Plus I get paid good money for doing it." No no, instead she replies that the challenge is in enduring the shoot, pushing herself to get through it. This is is a major clue as to the nature of fetish and bondage porn: the makers and actors, for the most part, are not personally into it. They're only in it for the money.

    Unless you would be intrigued by a "behind-the-scenes" look at how makes their fetish porn videos, this is not worth watching.
  • comment
    • Author: Lesesshe
    This is just another in a line of documentaries that try to explore the world of BDSM and end up showing us a bunch of people who come off as inarticulate and surprisingly unaware of the origins of their non-mainstream proclivities, but fails to render any real insight. What we are left with are interviews with a bunch of folks who seem to be ambling through life trying to convince themselves that this lifestyle has validity, but not really buying it. There is the Gay director who fantasized about the high school football players and the Dominatrix who worries about verbalizing her lifestyle to her children and others who indulge, but come off as disingenuous to a fault and unable to articulate the true nature of this lifestyle. One would think that any director/producer worth their salt wouldn't settle for superficiality, but instead would want to dig deeper. But, then again, this is James Franco we are talking about. A walking, breathing avatar of why some actors should stay in front of the camera.
  • comment
    • Author: Hurus
    I understand that filmmakers are often forced to walk a line between the reality of the subject matter and entertaining an audience, so I can sympathize with the rubbernecking feel of the coverage, however it didn't really provide a real context for all of the kinky sex we were seeing beyond some talking heads who, after a while came across more like they were rationalizing rather than explaining.

    SPOILER, PERHAPS: Those interviews may have come off differently were it not for the final interview with a female employee. At first she came off like she was fine with what she did, but then became overwrought and tearful, talking about her work "disgracing" her family and describing everyone who worked for Kink as though they were broken toys. This emotional interview undid all of the thoughtful insights of earlier interviews and made them seem somehow false. That one emotional outburst undid everything that preceded it. Its placement at the very end seems suspect, as if it was what the filmmakers wanted the viewer to take away.
  • comment
    • Author: Xal
    This dreary self-portrait of a nasty little industry trading in sadomasochistic pornography would have us believe that the desire to abuse, degrade, and physically harm other human beings (both men and women) is a wonderful and creative form of sexual expression. The talking heads that espouse this wisdom conveniently happen to be the very people who are making money from selling realistic depictions of hardcore sexual abuse online. There are a few revealing scenes in the film -- one in which monthly revenues are discussed (they are revealed to be surprisingly small, which leads me to believe that the audience for this type of entertainment is similarly small); another in which an honest model shares her real thoughts about the work she is doing. But for those few glimpses of reality, the rest of this is just a voyeuristic look at actual hardcore scenes being filmed, with the usual portentous claptrap being spouted on the soundtrack about how "into it" the models are, just dying for a good hard beating, the lot of them. If you opt to watch this ugly piece of work for the voyeuristic aspects of it, I suggest you do so with your remote in one hand and your thumb poised above the fast forward button. Sex doesn't get any more boring than this. In fact, this really isn't sex at all, and the poor souls who think it is would be better served by therapy than by a film celebrating misogyny, authored by ghouls who profit from its distribution.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Peter Acworth Peter Acworth - Himself
    Maitresse Madeline Maitresse Madeline - Herself
    Chris Norris Chris Norris - Himself
    Tomcat Tomcat - Herself
    Princess Donna Princess Donna - Herself
    Van Darkholme Van Darkholme - Himself
    Jessie Lee Jessie Lee - Herself
    Fivestar Fivestar - Himself (as Five Star)
    Orlando Orlando - Himself
    Matt Williams Matt Williams - Himself
    John Paul John Paul - Himself
    Jessie Colter Jessie Colter - Himself
    Mr. Pete Mr. Pete - Himself
    Josh West Josh West - Himself
    Remy Remy - Himself
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