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 grunting and sounds and slick liquids and 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 the...gift, 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)