Update 3/31: also read the glowing, yet different, review (with more explicit stills) in Fleshbot’s Rise Up: Eon McKai’s “The Doll Underground”.
The Doll Underground, directed by wunderkind subculture visionary Vivid Alt director Eon McKai, was released to the public last thursday. I’ll give you the full disclosure that Eon is a close personal friend (I posted the first exclusive gallery here). I’ll also tell you that I was one of the three secret bloggers picked to leak the project online into the blogosphere when it was only a series of sexy video podcast communiques urging girls to “rise up”; I’ll also tell you that I’ve watched the film no less than three times since it’s been in my hot little hands. Each time I do, I get turned on watching the sex, and each time I find another layer of this non-linear, heavily stylish, highly transgressive porn film — and it feels like anti-porn the more I consider it.
Pulsing with energy, eerie visuals, clever pacing and deliberate editing, the film is a haiku telling the story of five young women tired of being controlled by society (“buy nothing” is repeated as a mantra) who emulate a mashup of the Weather Underground and Patty Hearst‘s SLA ideals. They band together in the Belmont Tunnel in Los Angeles under the direction of uber-sexy goth Lorna Adorn (Pixie Pearl), create and distribute anti-capitalist and anti-conformity propaganda (podcasts and screenprint pasteup art), build bombs and make things go boom, and have sex for pleasure and power. Visually and throughout the delivery of the minimalistic story arc, it plays like a long, gorgeous, lush yet also somehow dark, saturated but bleak music video.
It’s clear a lot of time, money and attention to detail was poured into this film. It’s also clear that McKai studied a variety of transgressive subcultures and the cinema of transgression while putting this thing together. Scenes are literally decorated with street art from LA tagger Buffmonster (who also personally taught the cast how to screenprint and do pasteups for the film); the soundtrack is by Terminal 11, A Trillion Barnacle Lapse, Dog, Sailboats Are White and Nonplus. The stunning packaging was designed by artist Alaska! (w00t!) and includes a 3-disk set of music, feature and more, plus extras.
The lighting and sets are gorgeous. All of the costumes and outfits were made for the film; using the subculture “Gothic Lolita” look as a jumping off point, they hired a costumer to make the Doll Underground outfits to incorporate elements of Japanese Harajuku Loli-Goth and cosplay: only black and white, and no sneakers were allowed, ever. I wonder, did The Doll Underground *actually* come from porn valley? There are no blondes, no long fingernails, no fake breasts, no skinny girls, no big boobs, no fake female orgasms. The soundtrack never interrupts the sex; the sounds of sex are the focus. The women’s bodies look like regular *hot* girls; the have ass, thigh, meat on those bones that make you want to cuddle and fuck and snuggle. Half the cast, at most, is tattooed; many are pierced, and two of the men are uncut. There are no unsafe or scary sex acts; no anal, no “gapes” and thankfuckinggawd no ATMs. The negative? People still wear white belts.
But let’s talk about the sex; the mood is disaffected, the visuals dream-like, but the sex is riveting. Besides Pixie’s solo masturbation scene (a Goth dream come true), the performers do not acknowledge the camera during sex scenes — with one deliberate exception. Outside of sex, the performers have direct viewer “eye contact” as part of the narrative. The storytelling is for the viewer; for the sex we are but voyeurs. The editing is tight yet deliberate. More after the jump, including explicit exclusive stills, and a couple spoiler descriptions of the hot sex scenes…
In the first sex scene Lexi Belle and Reagan Maddux have fled their lives to join The Doll Underground, and on the long train ride, make out a lot, and have squishy sex with fingers and mouths. The hottest trick of this whole scene is that the arousal and focus is on the point leading up to their clothes coming off, and plenty happens in pants and panties before girl-on-girl begins, and while it’s unclear if they make each other come, there’s certainly no faking going on and it’s a hot little scene.
Next sex scene, we hear the sex and watch it in shadows long enough to get turned on and internally demand to see what’s already in progress; while delivering one of the Underground’s communiques, Presley Maddox and James Deen have a fierce coupling in the halls, on the floor, the stairwell and the bathroom under the Doll lair. There’s so much chemistry between them, it’s distracting — he demands eye contact with her throughout and can’t stop staring into her eyes, looking for her eyes, obsessively.
I have to wonder, are Maddox and Deen a real-life couple? They have a fervent sexual communication and connection I’ve rarely seen onscreen, and he’s whispering into her mouth constantly while she smiles and grins and laughs and tells him what she wants more of. Note: it does get a bit rough with ass-slapping, face grabbing and they both love each others’ spit — thought it’s clearly a huge turn-on for both of them. They make out ferociously throughout the whole scene; at one point Presley is deep-throating Deen and he grabs her head and pulls her into a long, deep, hot kiss — in another instance, he’s fucking her, hard, and pulls out, licks her pussy without hesitation for a while (not for the camera’s benefit, we can barely see what he’s doing but her reaction tells it all), then he goes back up to kiss her deeply and passionately.
Shall I go on? Maybe not in so much detail — but you can see why I’ve watched it more than once. Next up is Pixie Pearl’s truly beautiful masturbation scene (in memory of her dead activist lover, of course). Three more scenes follow: a bomb-building session turns into a threeway with two Dolls and a boy; Pixie Pearl seduces evil executive suit Herschel Savage and steals information to bring down the owners (which is actually a scorcher of a scene within its context). Before the story kicks back in and finishes the film there’s one more scene of Doll-on-boy sex in the Underground’s HQ, between Lexi Belle and Alex Gonz (who played “Dallas” in the last excellent Vivid Alt release, Debbie Loves Dallas).
Yes, I said five Dolls, and here only four are mentioned — one Doll is, alas, a non-sex role Doll.
The Doll Underground is one of the best porn films I’ve ever seen, and it feels like anti-porn — it’s almost against the system it came from by being all that it is — a deep investigation of culture from an industry we regard as being utterly bereft of culture beyond the superficial. Rise up, indeed. Highly recommended.