Wrestling with reality at kink.com
I was invited last night to attend a rather San Francisco1 event — live tag-team nude model wrestling at the Fortress of Pornitude, Kink.com. The local web porn provider — whose purchase of the early 20th century Armory building caused a small stir in early 2007 — streams and webcasts more than a dozen porn channels2 featuring nubile women (mostly) and men doing forceful, lascivious things to themselves and one another.
NB: Most of the links in this post from here on are NSFW and shouldn’t be clicked if pornography offends you. The language in this post after the jump also contains NSFW descriptions.
The all-girl wrestling match was held, with a live audience3, as part of kink.com’s Ultimate Surrender channel, which consists exclusively4 of this wrestling-as-porn subgenre.
Like many, I was curious about the Armory, a former National Guard facility which sat as an abandoned hulk over Mission Street for thirty years before the porn company moved in and cleaned up the building. And the prospect of watching several naked women cavort wasn’t unpleasant either, so I was quick to accept the invitation of Thomas Roche, an acquaintance from the erotica-writing game, who works there.
I got some idea of what the evening would consist of from watching a couple of the trailers on the Ultimate Surrender website. They indicated the event consisted of three parts wrestling, one part sexual grappling, and one part pure pornography. Like most porn trailers, they’re edited to make the action seem ultra-intense. What I found was more relaxed, nuanced, and probably more enjoyable.
After the wrestlers, clothed in g-string bikinis and t-shirts, socialized amiably with the audience in the employee lounge/party room — where the coffee cups, toasters and bulletin boards with government announcements about minimum wage and employee protections made it resemble employee lounges all over Silicon Valley — the audience took their seats in a large room, about 80 by 100 feet, covered entirely in a wrestling mat except for a few rows of chairs on risers at one end. A bearish man dressed in a simulacrum of a referee’s uniform wandered about as rock music played — the same kind of stadium rock you would hear in arenas everywhere. Before the wrestlers entered, the referee spoke to the crowd, explaining the rules and asking them to keep their comments positive and supportive. “Don’t say things like, ‘Give her a piledriver,’” he cautioned, “This isn’t WWE. We don’t do that here.” There was also no mud and no oil; they were really going to wrestle.
The women, now minus their t-shirts, entered and the match began. The Red team consisted of two wiry blonds; the Black team had an Asian woman with a scornful expression and a well-built blond with powerful legs. As soon as the match began, I could see they were really battling each other — the wrestling itself wasn’t faked, and according to the company, it was also unscripted.
Of course, there was a general program: three rounds of tag-team wrestling, after which the losing team had to sexually submit to the winners. Those were the stakes: bragging rights and the privilege of topping the other girls at the end of the evening.
With her superior athleticism, the blond girl from the Black team — an ex-Marine called Dia Zerba (pictured above with her back to the camera) — pushed her team in front in the first round. Her teammate, Annie Cruz, was unfortunately inept when it came to wrestling, and whenever she was on the mat, the girls from the Red team pretty much had their way with her. Following the local rules, the referee awarded points not only for wrestling excellence but whenever one girl was able to take advantage sexually, such as holding her opponent in a headlock with one arm, while using the other to probe her hoohah. “I see face-licking,” the referee would call out, awarding points on a video scoreboard. “There’s pussy-stroking… and finger-fucking!” Despite a late charge in which Zerba valiantly kept her opponents from dominating her teammate, the Black team were losers after the regulation three 12-minute rounds. There followed the “final round,” a purely pornographic exhibition in which the Red team topped and had their way sexually with the losers.
The Red team (at right) celebrates its victory after three rounds as the losing Black team comfort one another
So what was “real” about the event? It was clear to me that the wrestling itself was unscripted and sincere, if of uneven quality. Although the consequences of losing the wrestling match seemed to be more about bragging rights than anything else — since all the women were veterans of pornographic shoots of various kinds, and had already endured, many times, anything that went on during the “final round” — as far as I could tell each of them really was trying to win. And yet it had a quality of performance to it too; when one contestant was thumped a little more soundly than usual, you could hear the other girl quietly asking “You okay?” And the “final round” definitely had an all-in-fun quality to it. I came away with the feeling that I had seen some of the best performance art ever.
Of course, the sex was “real” too, in the sense that it was not simulated — it happened just a few feet away, and I could plainly see the various kinds of fucking that transpired. Quite a show. But there was no passion to it, and the mild taunting of the winners over the losers was perhaps the most manufactured part of the evening; there was no emotional domination and submission going on, and while I didn’t expect genuine passion, the lack of it robbed this part of the event of any drama. It was just about a succession of pornographic acts. As soon as it was over, all the girls leapt cheerfully to their feet and took a bow.
Afterwards, some of us got a tour of parts of the huge edifice — the rooms in the basement where various scenes of subjugation are staged, including a very convincing interrogation room with a one-way mirror, the famous boiler room which was already so creepy the company had to do very little to make it a convincing BDSM set, and the thing that “everybody wants to see,” according to our tour guide: Mission Creek, running through the building’s sub-basement.
- I would say “uniquely San Francisco” but it seems to be done in San Jose as well, though not for a live audience.
- There’s a listing on the kink.com home page — which is NSFW, as is the rest of their site.
- I was asked to refer to the evening as a “live shoot” of a video rather than as a public event; kink.com does not presently open these events to the public.
- As far as I could tell. They’ve been doing it for five years, a bystander told me. I did not click through dozens of archive pages.