An Interview With Madison Young: Artist, Activist, Sex Educator and Filmmaker

Madison Young, national treasure, opens up about being sex positive, knowing your body, misconceptions about bdsm, sexuality during pregnancy, not projecting heteronormative roles on children and more.

Mar 22, 2012 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

I know who Madison Young is from watching and looking at porno. I have to be honest (and I'm a fan). 

When she got press for an art project last year called Becoming MILF that addressed gender roles, sexuality and motherhood, I was introduced to Femina Potens, the San Francisco art gallery and performance space (Michelle Tea knows all about it) Madison has provided for women and transgender artists. She's been devoted to this for years, along with sex positive independent pornography and sex education.

When the opportunity arose to take in a screening and feminist porno discussion she was having at a local sex shop, I jumped. I was giddy. I reserved spots for myself and my pal Katie who's an editor and writer at MrSkin.com (most people wouldn't guess a female majority rules the editorial department at Mr. Skin).

Madison herself is warm, friendly, relaxing. Very bendy and yoga-like. I'd go to yoga everyday if she was my yogi. I'd feel great about my body, think more clearly and openmindedly about sex, volunteer at her gallery and then ask her to shoot my first sex scene on film. I joke (kind of), but I think that really happens to the people that are around her energy, you know? Charisma. Sex pos indie cult leader. How amazing does that sound??

There was a long line of fans looking for facetime after the event, so I slinked off, sent an email out into space and received backed one of my favorite correspondences ever.
 
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How do you describe Sex Positive (because you clearly embody it)?

Sex Positive refers to a set of values and qualities that celebrates healthy expressions of sexuality.  Some of those qualities include communication, consent, authentic/genuine expression of pleasure, the advocacy of pleasure, celebration of diversity of bodies, ethnicity, gender identity, desire.

Sex positive refers to choice and awareness of our bodies and what we choose to do with our bodies. A knowledge of how our bodies work, how to communicate our desires with our lovers and partners and how to create space for our lovers and partners to communicate their desires in a supportive environment.  It’s not just about being a highly sexual being, it’s about a comfortability and love for our bodies and pleasure.  I feel a joy watching someone orgasm just as I feel joy in watching someone laugh or dance or embrace a loved one.

Communication and knowing one’s body seem to be your two major recommendations for enjoying sex on or off camera.

I think that most people, including myself, grew up with a lot of shaming around their bodies and sexual desire. We live in a bizarre world where we are fascinated by sex and sex is used to sell everything from a Carls Jr hamburger to a cell phone, but we have a hard time talking honestly talking about it. Most of us didn't get that class in high school or college.

Why do you think this is so difficult?

People worry that comments about what they like or don't like in the bedroom will put them in a position in which they will be judged or that their partner will feel judged.

If your partner really likes to do something sexually that is a turn off or just not comfortable or hot to you, then say something about it and offer an alternative.

For example if your partner is pinching your nipples, " I love your hands but I'd love them even more if they were inside of me. I prefer your mouth on my nipples and your hand in my cunt. It makes me so wet just thinking about your hand filling me up."  Communicating about sex is hot and it leads to better sex.

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I loved your observations on the intimacy of BDSM, can you talk a little about that and maybe the misconceptions?

I've been incorporating elements of BDSM into my sex life, since I started having sex. One of the really wonderful elements of BDSM is that it has an emphasis on communication and negotiation. Negotiation in a BDSM scene is almost part of the foreplay involved in BDSM dynamics.

In vanilla sex, there isn't necessarily a time in which you comfortably sit down with your lover and discuss your sexual likes, turn-ons, history, limits, boundaries, and the parameters in which you are walking into the relationship. This is also common in sex work and polyamory where these conversations are a necessity in developing a connection with another person or persons.

One of the key goals of my web site MadisonBound.com (NSFW) is to demystify BDSM and portray a day in the life of the kinky couple next door. I run MadisonBound along with my domestic partner of 7 years James Mogul. James and I take turns directing different scenes, editing, camera work, and we share the work equally. He supports my vision for our site and my network of web sites FeministPorn Network (NSFW). 

BDSM is based on consent, communication and respect for the person in which you are playing with. There is a big difference between talking to your partner about how you love to be spanked when you are about to orgasm and your boss at the office spanking your ass as you walk out of his office.
  
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Tell me about the evolution of Femina Potens.

Femina Potens is a non-profit arts organization that I founded in 2000. We started out a little art gallery that I was running out of a garage in San Francisco dedicated to promoting women and transgendered artists. I was 20 years old when I started the organization. Since then we have  curated over 200 visual art exhibits, performances, film screenings, artist and community dialogues that explore and celebrate identity.

In 2011, with the birth of my daughter, we launched our queer youth programming and just this year started curating programming in Austin, NYC, and LA while maintaining our San Francisco programming.

As a woman who knows her body, how was pregnancy for you?

My pregnancy was amazing! I spent over a month abroad in Australia, Amsterdam, and Berlin and was traveling up until I was 9 months pregnant. I remember being 8 months pregnant, in heels, directing a queer threesome scene on a seaside cliff, climbing over fallen trees and hiking hills to get the best shot. I felt so alive, beautiful, womanly, and sexy. It was an incredibly exciting time.  

How did it affect your sexuality? 

As a “woman who knows my body so well,“ everything I knew about my body went straight out the window.  Everything I knew about how I liked to be touched, when, where, etc., no longer applied. My body and hormones were constantly changing so I needed to be in constant communication with my partner and anyone on camera that I was having sex with.

Throughout my pregnancy, I really enjoyed sex and orgasms. My Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator was a constant companion. I even used it during my labor, as well as the Mystic Wand vibrator once I got into the tub.

 I was very open with my doctor about my job and talked with her in length regarding the rope bondage performances that I do. I found ways to adjust my stage performances based on where I was in my pregnancy. I'm actually working with several heath professionals on a guide to kinky sex and pregnancy. 

But my advice is to listen to your body and find health care providers that you trust and that you can be completely honest with. The Kink Aware Professionals web site is a great place to start.

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Photo by Laurenn McCubbin

Can you tell me about Becoming MILF?


Becoming MILF was a visual art exhibit of all new art works that I created based on my transition into motherhood.  I created the works only a month after birthing my daughter, Emma.  Post-partum can be a challenge for any woman and I wanted to create a body of work about the balance of a past and present self, the balance between a woman's sexual identity and her maternal role. In the title of the exhibit "Becoming MILF," "MILF" is being used as a term to reference a woman's "post-partum sexual self" both the idea of our sexual self that is projected onto us and the reality of finding our post-partum sexuality. 

Has motherhood has impacted your politics?

Things just got a lot more personal. I want for my daughter, for her friends and her future lovers to have a world that celebrates difference.  I'm very conscious of gender markers and signifiers. When reading books or identifying characters or animals, I don’t use pronouns or say that the princess is a girl or the train engineer is a boy. Instead I identify them as friends or by their actions or careers.

I buy both girl and boy clothes for Emma and trains, trucks and dolls. I want to create a space for her to not feel shame around her body or to project a heteronormative role onto her.

I love traveling and teaching and directing but my daughter is my absolute priority. Now that she is over a year old, I'm starting to find some balance. 
 
Superficial and vital question I have to ask: your blood red matte lipstick on Tuesday was AMAZING. What was it?

I believe I was wearing my MAC "Ruby Woo" red lipstick. I feel naked without it. 

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Madison Young on Twitter: @MadisonYoung
Rachel McPadden on Twitter: @RachelMcPadden