Thursday, October 22, 2015

On Orgasm and Beautiful Agony

The site Beautiful Agony exists in a space somewhere between art and porn. It's a collection of short films featuring close ups of people's faces as they pleasure themselves, falling into, then through orgasm. It's a celebration of la petite mort* and it's...beautiful. (It's a pay site, but there are some free samples.)

Explain the Beautiful Agonistas on the project's inspiration:

Beautiful Agony began as a multimedia experiment, to test a hypothesis that eroticism in human imagery rests not in naked flesh and sexual illustration, but engagement with the face. We wondered whether film of a genuine, unscripted, natural orgasm - showing only the face - could succeed where the most visceral mainstream pornography fails, and that is, to actually turn us on.

Considering porn has had a few thousand years to evolve, alongside other streams of culture - you'd expect it to be refined and sophisticated. Yet instead of developing in sophistication and nuance, it has become a brutal and charmless rendering of human sexuality. It's like the people who make it, don't really understand it.


What's also interesting to me about these faces contorted in orgasm is the realization that orgasm does come with a bit of agony. If you didn't know the experience yourself, to see someone moaning and grimacing in orgasm's throes would look, well, you probably would not want to "have what they're having."

The experience of going toward and riding the throbs of orgasm is so outside the realm of our other experiences. I mean, what other thing gets us to this place, this place of incoherence and liquid, sweet strokes leading to the deliciously inevitable?  It's so animal and primal and raw and very vulnerable.

Which brings me to this. Beautiful Agony will pay you $200 for an accepted submission. There are qualifications--you need a decent camera, you have to answer some questions and whatnot--but I wonder how many among us would do it. I could see doing it. The arty veneer makes it seem less porny and I like the idea of contributing real sexual experience to the well of collective sexual consciousness. Plus, hey, 200 bucks.

On the other hand, maybe 200 bucks is not nearly enough for, I guess is the right word, of something so incredibly personal. I think what makes sex so intimate is not the actual nudity but the sort of metaphorical nudity of letting someone see and hear and feel and smell and taste you as you come. When women have an orgasm, portions of their brain controlling anxiety and alertness go dark.  So to let someone be present with you and for you when you're in that space--bearing witness, as the Quakers say, though certainly regarding other things entirely--is a huge gift of trust.

In a nice twist, the primitive, earthy rutting of bodies, flesh and fluids, leads us to a state of transcendence somehow both grounded in and sublimely beyond the physical. Which is pretty fucking beautiful. (Thanks, life!)  To be able to jump into this void while grasping onto the back or ass of someone else, well, it's a bit of magic, really.


*Here's Google, waxing oddly poetic--oh Google, what do you know, really, of melancholia?--on the subject:  "La petite mort, French for "the little death"...describe(s) the post-orgasmic state of unconsciousness that some people have after having some sexual experiences. More widely, it can refer to the spiritual release that comes with orgasm or to a short period of melancholy or transcendence as a result of the expenditure of the "life force," the feeling which is caused by the release of oxytocin in the brain after the occurrence of orgasm."

(photo via Beautiful Agony)


Jill Hamilton said...

someone on reddit commented, "Weird... and strangely erotic.... I feel both confused and turned on". which i just love.

ValdVin said...

I have no interest in being photographed or filmed while in flagrante delicto, because it never seems to look as good as it feels.

For that reason, I commend others who are beyond this embarrassment.

Sort of like dancing--I'm decently okay and have had some ballroom lessons, but watching me is not going to be anyone's training tape, even when I enjoy the heck out of it.

in bed with married women said...

ValdVin--Nice. haven't heard from you in a while--welcome back!

ValdVin said...

Been lurking every week; just haven't had anything to say.

Anonymous said...

I found it surprising unerotic. Both people filming themselves and watching people orgasm sound great, but perhaps not together. Its no longer a private moment that I get to spy on.

Anonymous said...

I love it. It is EXACTLY what I have been looking for, this holiday season. Thank you! WOW!

in bed with married women said...

ValdVin--well thanks for saying something. I've been getting a ton of readers--more than usual, actually--but everyone's being way more quiet than usual. Too quiet.

Anony 1: I'm thinking about that and maybe it's that the private thing is not actually shared with you, but rather some "viewer."

Anony 2: I can't tell if you are real or spam. I think it's the "holiday season" reference.

masterfap said...

"Beautiful Agony will pay you $200 for an accepted submission. There are qualifications--you need a decent camera, you have to answer some questions and whatnot--but I wonder how many among us would do it..." It's a little weird, isn't it ? It seems like prostitution....even if they don't record their intimity.

in bed with married women said...

masterfap, I hear you, though semi-surprised by what you're saying due to your name there. btw, in my head, I am calling you grandmasterfap.

Anonymous said...

There's a 1970s model who appeared in men's magazines, usually known as Roberta Pedon. She achieved a good deal of popularity on the Internet and has fans who weren't even born when she was alive (she died in 1982 at age 28) as well as men who remember her 40+ years later.
What's surprising is women's response to her pictures, a knowing smirk and maybe some disparaging statement about how of course she's popular, look at the size of her boobs. But men remember few other models from the era, and they were legion, and likely few young guys are enchanted by what they can easily find today.
It's her face that makes her popular, particularly her expressions, which in most pictures are happy or neutral. She seems to be absolutely happy that you are looking at her or has an expression that invites such notions even if it's artily neutral. That's what makes women truly sexy. Their face and their expression....

in bed with married women said...

anonymous, for the record, that was an exceptionally well-written comment. off to google roberta pedon!

Blueweaver said...

I loved this site, Beautiful Agony.
It is so poignant to watch peoples faces as they take pleasure, and especially as they come!
I checked out their sister site (costs a little more)"I Fell Myself" where you get to see their whole bodies, often fully naked, sometimes just with their skirts pulled up and panties off. This one is great fun, too.
Interesting, though, I think I like Beautiful Agony better. Like I actually connect with those open faces and vulnerable bodies even more. And like I said before, I love the sounds.
I so much love watching and hearing women come, women in ecstacy. When it is real, at least (that fakey porn is boring). It is such a treat to see real people in real ecstacy - thank you for this article, Jill.
And I am grateful to all the people who submit their intimate moments, too.

Jill Hamilton said...

Blueweaver, so well said. thank you xoxo