Wednesday, August 22, 2012


My guided tour inside the world's biggest porn studio.

There's a Moorish fortress in the Mission district that has been lying abandoned for over thirty years, without any remnants of a princess or a dragon.
It's majestic and made of bricks and concrete; it can hardly pass unnoticed.
I have been driving by every day, never wondering about it.
Then one day I see the Union Jack flapping from one of the towers. My first thought is that William and Kate will move into the neighborhood. My second thought is that I should stop believing in fairy tales and happy endings. The lords of the manor are indeed British, but the kingdom they oversee is the one of the adult-film industry.
Five stories, one hundred and sixty rooms, 200,000 square feet , completely dedicated to the production of porn.
My husband Sam iAm, usually cynical, has suddenly started believing in fairy tales and happy endings.
Especially when I asked him to accompany me on a tour as a birthday present ( my birthday or his birthday I'm not sure yet).
Let's start with a little bit of history, shall we?
The building itself was built in 1912 to function as the Armory for the National Guard.
Then in 1973 the National Guard moves and gives up the building and blah blah blah blah......
And this takes us to the present days, when an English entrepreneur, who initially made his fortune shooting bondage videos from his two bedroom apartment in the Marina, realizes that the two bedrooms just won't do any more.
Kink. com is born and so is the king of BDSM ( the acronym stands for : bondage, domination, sado masochism....or something like that). The building has been acquired for a mere fourteen and a half millions. A steal if you ask me.  tries to satisfy every possible fetish that you might think of, and many more that would never come to your mind (or mine).
No niche has been left behind, so to speak.
Let's see how.

First floor (or first circle of hell)

.......and ACTION!
Before our tour starts our twenty something Puerto Rican Virgil, promises the climb up four stories of sexual fantasies, and maybe a peek through the keyhole on a couple of shoots.

Ultimate surrender.
On the first floor, the first studio we are entering looks just like one of the wrestling rings from the recent Olympics.
Once a week a fight is held, and broadcast live and unscripted, on the internet. Two women, or two men wrestle for supremacy. In order to gain points and to win, the athletes have to get the opponent naked. I was guaranteed that by round two the clothes are all but gone (yes, they are that good). In round three the goal is to stick some part of ones body into some parts of the other's  body. As simple as that. The referee is meticulous. The winner gets to fuck the loser (pardon my Latin).
One can be part of the live audience in these sort of matches. You just enter a waiting list and you wait for your turn. I have an inkling my name was entered by a third party. We'll see.......

Second floor (or second circle of hell)

Tie me up, tie me down.

Of the 160 rooms, at least a hundred are movie sets. And these sets are all different.
Do you like to do it in a old Western saloon? They've got it.
Do you like to do it Flintstones stile? They've got it.
Do you like the allure of a butcher cell, with quartered cows hanging on hooks? No problem.
These sets are very detail oriented and try very hard to portray authenticity, either by using original pieces from the era, or by recreating them as faithfully as possible.
A little scoop: many of the props are recycled from disused Disneyland sets ( it is, after all, the fucking happiest place on earth!).
Another curiosity: it is against the law to shoot a scene in the presence of ..........children? Nuns?
Guess again! The correct answer is ALCOHOL. There could be bottles of bourbon or vodka in the scene that is being filmed, but they must contain colored water (?).
If in the scene somebody is flogged, hogtied, spanked, it is quite all right, as long as there's not even one Cosmo in sight. Either you drink or you fuck, not both.
Many of the rooms on this floor are dedicated to bondage and domination achieved by several different tools.

There's floggers.

Collars, leashes, handcuffs.

Chains and batons.

Sometimes a good image is worth a thousand words.

In this floor we also visited a room completely decorated by Ikea (I am not joking).
In this set of minimal-Scandinavian flair a very famous dominatrix, uses electric shock to induce 110 Volt orgasms. Bobby Starr ( the name did not ring a bell to me, but what do I know?) won four Oscars (or whatever the award for porn is called) last year alone.
On the sleek black floor there's a well where the model can insert her head leaving her body to the whim of the sado-electrician.
I was assured all the models are consenting and well aware of their limits. In fact they told me they keep coming back( if nothing else to refresh their perm, I assume).

They asked if any of us would like to volunteer and try to put their head in the trap. For once my husband did not volunteer me. As you can see from the picture, this is the only position you manage to hold. Usually the model is naked.
And now don't get any ideas.

Third floor (or third circle of hell)

Close encounters (of the third floor).

On the third floor you find the dressing rooms and the hair and make up stations.
On the third floor there are also many rooms where the live chat operators work. You can comfortably access your darkest fantasies from your home: a-la-carte.
While we were waiting to ascend to the next floor a model appeared like Venus out of the waters.
Everybody in the tour froze in place, stoned by the sight of this buxom Medusa. 
And then she was gone, with a flip of her tresses, leaving behind a sweet smell of sin.

Dungeons (and dragons)

Before getting to the top I have to open a parenthesis about the basement of the building.

A river runs through it

If you ever wondered what happened to the Mission Creek, wonder no more.
The Mission Creek is alive and flowing right under the Armory. Trough the basement, which is considered the biggest set of the whole enterprise,  the water finds its  way to China Basin. The flow is somehow channeled now, but on the walls and the huge pillars you can still see the ebb and flow of the past hundred years.
The Mission Creek.
You could not build a creepier set if you wanted to.  

The scene shot in this part of the building are to much even for me ( a horror movie fan) and I'd rather not dwell on them.

Kung Fu Panda.

But it's not all sinister down in the dungeons. For instance I also came upon a storage room with a bunch of panda costumes(?). Of course I had to ask.
The Pandas and their story.
The costumes are the heritage of a production that has become somewhat of a cult.
The movie went somewhat like this: "Girl home alone goes to sleep and has a nightmare about a giant panda. When she goes out the next day she realizes everybody around her is a giant panda. On the subway, at the grocery store, at the dentist.......Suddenly a bunch of these pandas start chasing her, surround her and do things to her that no panda should even dream of."
                               The End

And this is the picture of the kinky pandas.
                               The End

In the storage rooms we also came upon giant
barrels of lubricant. That's how much is needed so that each scene runs smooth (no pun intended).
Fourth floor (and last circle of hell)

Downton Abbey

As you might guess this was my favorite floor.  
Imagine going up the steps and finding yourself in the library of the Earl of Gratham. Silks, brocades, velvets, Persian rugs, all predominately red. And then chandeliers, bronze statues, paintings depicting fox hunts. Everything strictly Edwardian (or trying to be). 

A staff composed by a steward, a butler and a governess is in attendance. There are occasional additions. A web cam is on 24 hours. Everything that happens on the fourth floor can be viewed live by a community of nostalgic peepers.
Not only, the scene can be manipulated by these viewers through a chat line. For instance, if a maid spills the tea , the financial adviser from Fresno could recommend a spanking ( spanking being sort of a soft petting, or an ice breaker up here).  Once a month there's a dinner party held in the main salon where about thirty members of the audience can attend and become part of the action. There is the usual wait list system: first come first served (again, non pun intended). Unfortunately I was not able to get a hold of the menu. In a city like San Francisco I don't expect anything shorter than the Zagat.

Here an example of Edwardian drawing room (with Edwardian dance pole).

The close to two hours tour almost flew by. Nobody was quite ready to leave. Overall a very pleasant experience.
Outside the building and around the corner we came upon a woman climbing the wall, I couldn't tell if she was trying to get in.........or out!

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