“An Open Invitation” Porn Trailer and Gallery Exclusive: With Advice on Non-Monogamy

Director Ilana Rothman’s An Open Invitation is porn for lovers. And for everyone else. I had planned to review Open Invitation the minute I watched it: it’s *that* hot, with high production values and is a real porn flick for people with high expectations. And a female director! But I had two obstacles to pressing “publish”. One, the US distributor (Gamelink) simply does not want to be bothered to actually market the film (this is all they can be bothered to do). Getting you substantial content in this post was effort, no thanks to Private or Gamelink. It’s here because the people who made the film are full of heart and soul for the film, and community they’re trying to build. There is the most complete, explicit, exclusive gallery for the film available online (for Tiny Nibbles readers) after the jump. Yay us!

If you buy Open Invitation, buy it from Babeland.

Open Invitation Movie

I also had to really think about it after I watched it. It’s really really good, and it’s my top pick for porn this year. I just had something more to say after I watched it, more than telling you that this is one of the few ones worth paying money for (and it’s *ideal* for couples). Polyamory and non-monogamy is really popular right now, but if you’re really interested in trying it (or re-trying it), you should read this entire post.

One of my favorite things about Open Invitiation: this is porn that celebrates love (with lots and lots of hot sex). The people in it are real, and I’ve been to their parties, and they really are a lot like they are in the movie. The two main couples are porn performers from the new guard of porn (meaning, no fake bodies or fake orgasms and are authentic people in real life). They tell a hot tale of what it might be like to try out the fantasy of swinging, located in San Francisco. What’s also interesting is that the website associated with the site is dedicated to creating global community around modern non-monogamy, and Private Invitation is moving forward with events, and another upcoming film. The writer tells me, “OPEN was conceieved as part of a series in which we’ll travel around the world, featuring local people and the real cultural drivers behind the local progressive sex scenes in our movies. The movies act, in part, as sharing information for the clubs and sites, and the people creating real-life spaces for couples to explore.”

Babeland describes the movie perfectly, and it is very much a movie:

If you’ve ever been curious about swinging/group sex/sex parties, satisfy your voyeuristic cravings with An Open Invitation: A Real Swingers’ Party in San Francisco. Follows a couple as they spice up their relationship by joining the San Francisco swinger scene, enjoying orgies, anal play, voyeurism, and use of great sex toys like the Njoy Pfun Plug and Hitachi Magic Wand. Best of all, the cast consists of 127 real-life swingers, studded with 15 porn stars, so you’re sure to get a great mix of bodies, sexualities, and personalities. Includes safer sex practices, as well as discussions and definitions of polyamory and swinging.

So, yeah, all the locations and people are real; they include the people and info for Club Kiss, Peter Acworth makes a cameo, and it stars people like Lorelei Lee and James Deen (and I think I spotted Miss Maggie Mayhem). It is one couple’s journey into non-monogamy. It’s a sweet love story, and a soft (yet hardcore) intro to opening up a monogamous relationship.

If this fantasy sounds like something you want to try in your relationship, the film would be perfectly paired with a copy of Tristan Taormino‘s Opening Up. Also check out the Opening Up website.

After the jump is a HUGE exclusive explicit gallery the filmmakers sent me — and my sex educator thoughts on swinging and non-monogamy in context with this film. This movie rules; I just have a few thoughts to add, with input from Scientific American’s Jesse Bering and sex educator Thomas Roche.

I didn’t rush to review Open Invitation (and praise it) until I worked out exactly what I wanted to add for couples who want to take the leap from fantasy to reality with non-monogamy. Like the many monogamous couples who fantasize about adding a partner, or partners, or swapping, or more, the couple in the film wanted to try it out. They did it bit by bit, but they didn’t really have any problems. If you try it at home, I can tell you that no matter how many times you read Opening Up or The Ethical Slut, you will most likely have an issue to work out in your relationship before making such a significant change. That’s life.

The people in the film are mostly porn stars and seasoned non-monogamites, as are the people who made it. And that’s what makes the film authentic. However, here is what you don’t know: I can promise you that these awesome people already have rules in place in their personal lives which clearly define the difference between sex for love and sex for sport (as depicted in the film) or the sex they have for work (as *seen* in the film). Each couple and each performer have their own rules or boundaries, like “I don’t do anal with anyone except my husband” or “he can’t come in anyone else’s vagina but mine.” I’m not joking.

In Scientific American, Jesse Bering just wrote about our modern grappling with polyamory, and scientific evolutionary theory about human nature and non-monogamy in Polyamory chic, gay jealousy and the evolution of a broken heart. He explains,

(…) Beyond these philosophical problems with seeking out social prescriptions from a nature that is completely mute as to what we should do with our penises and vaginas, however, there’s an even bigger hurdle to taking polyamory chic beyond the tabloids, talk shows, and message boards and into standard bedroom practice. And that is simply the fact that we’ve evolved to empathize with other people’s suffering, including the suffering of the people we’d betray by putting our affable genitals to their evolved promiscuous use.

Heartbreak is every bit as much a psychological adaptation as is the compulsion to have sex with those other than our partners, and it throws a monster of a monkey wrench into the evolutionists’ otherwise practical polyamory. It’s indeed natural for people—especially men—to seek sexual variety. My partner once likened this to having the same old meal over and over again, for years on end; eventually you’re going to get some serious cravings for a different dish. But I reminded him that people aren’t the equivalent of a plate of spaghetti. Unfortunately, we have feelings.

Unless you have the unfortunate luck of being coupled with a psychopath, or have the good fortune of being one yourself, broken hearts are not easily experienced at either end, nor are they easily mended by reason or waved off by all the evolutionary logic in the world. And because we’re designed by nature to be not only moderately promiscuous but also to become selfish when that natural promiscuity rears its head—again, naturally—in our partners, “reasonable people” are far from immune to getting hurt by their partner’s open and agreed-upon sex with other parties. Monogamy may not be natural, but neither is indifference to our partners’ sex lives or tolerance for polyamory. In fact, for many people, especially those naively taking guidance from evolutionary theorists without thinking deeply enough about these issues, polyamory can lead to devastating effects. (…read more, scientificamerican.com)

Open Invitation is sexy as hell, and shows you how hot non-monogamy can be. But I think that no one who endorses non-monogamy wants to tell you that your mileage with swinging and non-monogamy will vary. Much of the time, one person wants it more than the other. The male-female dynamic is just different. Now I’m going to put forth some generalizations that are seasoned opinions on straight men and women. In my experience, many straight men need a lot of encouragement to embrace non-monogamy because non-monogamy (ie, the dude fantasy of off-the-hook male infidelity every weekend with a dozen hot sluts) is the naturally *desired* male mode of being. You might disagree with me, but I think when you start looking at what really rich dudes do — especially when they’re young and rich, and I see a lot of it in the tech world — it is really telling. Maybe women would be like that too if they didn’t have the oxytocin to rein them in — to tell you the truth, based on the FTMs I know I would seriously believe it.

Anyway, the result is that most het guys who aren’t inclined to be jerk-ass liars to the women they want to actually be with, so they ratchet down their desire to be alleycats from a very young age, believing they will never find love if they don’t pretend their “player” desires are not there. Then they meet a girl who is kind of cool with experimenting. Today’s kind of girl, who likely who watches porn/uses sex toys/enjoys sexual fantasy for her own sake. And so then the guys need to have non-monogamy sort of crowbarred out of them because they’re afraid their girlfriends are really not okay with it. And they don’t want to lose an amazing girl. Then most girlfriends who think they are okay with it, actually turn out not to be, and guys feel betrayed. (As do the women, but for other reasons.)

Why okay with it and then suddenly not? Because the point I’m making here is that that wanting to do something and then actually doing it are two very different things. You can tell yourself you will feel one way, yet how you actually feel when you get there might not be what you wanted. Women tend to think they’re fine with non-monogamy and then not be okay with it — I have seen it (and even experienced it) many times. This is average. And there’s nothing wrong with it. The girls are not lying; it’s just that feelings cannot be predicted (or decided). And if you feel different than what you told your lover, you should not feel guilty about it. You found a boundary. Understand what that boundary is, and why it makes the difference. And honestly; sexual boundaries are necessary. Men tend to resent the idea of having their sex lives limited or controlled. Yet, I’ll offer that without boundaries in a relationship, you don’t know the rules of love, and you can’t have love without knowing what defines that love.

All I’m saying is that Open Invitation is a hot intro to making a fun change in your relationship. Just know that trying non-monogamy (in this case, swinging) for the first time might make you feel clueless about what’s okay and what’s not between you and your love. And everyone who tries non-monogamy is clueless, usually repeatedly, and that women who try non-monogamy usually are way more unaware about how they will react, often more than we want to admit, partly because of underlying shit about the way men and women interact in the first place, regardless of orientation, regardless of role, regardless of relationship status.

If you’re reading this and remembering a painful non-monogamy fail, don’t write non-monogamy off if it didn’t work in this way. There were probably underlying issues that non-monogamy brought up. If it hadn’t, something else would have, or things would have gotten slowly worse and disintegrated.

Much of this writing came from an ongoing conversation with fellow sex educator Thomas Roche. He finished our discussion with a comment about the currently available media and information on swinging and non-monogamy which I agree with wholeheartedly. He explained, “I just really feel like the polyamory conversation is really dominated by people for whom constant relationship drama is a given. I don’t accept that. Either that, or the people doing this writing are lying about how smoothly it goes in their lives, which I think is even more likely, or just in denial about how much chaos they cause, which I think is absolutely guaranteed.”

So… Check out Open Invitation and love it as much as I did. There is a ton of hot het sex in it, Lorelei Lee rules in sweet anal bliss with her boyfriend, and I think her scenes are some of the best of her work we’ve seen yet. Loved watching her play with a girl while their boyfriends were fucking them… YUM! Great oral sex of all kinds, and the orgy finale in The Upper Floor with oodles of sexy and diverse real couples is the kind of porn you’ll never see out of the usual porn factories. There is a reason this film will trample other offerings this year, because it’s more of what we want to see. It’s decadent. It’s a celebration.

Hooray for love.

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  • NYCdude

    Viviane has more pull than anyone could have kissed. The CinekinkNYC film fest is in full “swing” this week and “Open Invitation” is playing tonight at 9pm @ the Anthology Film Archives. Hope they recovered the theater with plastic as I don’t think there’ll be a dry seat in the house! Thanks for the detailed review (& great pics) Violet, this is MUST-SEE foor me thanx to you!

  • Lucky

    As someone in the middle of what I would describe as a spectacularly stable, successful and exciting nonmonogamous marriage, this is one of the most nuanced and accurate posts I’ve come across. The flick looks incredible, I’m ordering it now.

    I had to read this a couple times: “…many straight men need a lot of encouragement to embrace non-monogamy because non-monogamy…is the naturally *desired* male mode of being” – and I decided that is about the most true thing on the internet today. Thank you for explaining something about me to myself succicinctly that I’d been trying to get my head around for as long as I’ve been at this.

    But as to why, partially it’s expectations of women, yes. But there’s another reason, at least for me, and I wonder how widespread this is: I would’ve been more of an alley cat except for a very long series of quite painful rejections and multi-year dry spells. I don’t know if I’ve been rejected more than most men. It’s possible – I started out painfully geeky, then got less geeky, but was/am always kind of funny looking, although now I have a sort of sexyugly thing going that’s working for me. Or maybe most men are bothered less by it. But for whatever reason that string of rejections made a big impact and put some serious kibosh on my desires and flirtations.

    Then when I moved to a city and started running into the kind of women that you mention – women who were open and fun and curious, and amazingly enough, wanted me – and that triggered the beginning of a long process of unwinding that suppression. I’ve been in open relationships for something more than a decade now (and married for half that time) and that process is still ongoing.

    My most brutal dry spell came after my brother committed suicide, while I was in college. It absolutely broke me (I’d been pretty deeply depressed myself not long before that) and I stayed basically completely broken for about a year. I was damaged goods, not at all what most people that age are looking for, so it’s not that surprising. But it really sucked.

    But damn are things ever better now. If I had any idea then that my life now would include a smoking hot, loyal and adventurous wife, an incredible kid, and a network of gorgeous and powerful lovers – or that that was even possible – that would have rearranged my entire mental landscape then. I’ve been so moved by Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project for LGBTQ, maybe we need to do one for het and (het-ish) guys, too.

    Anyway, thanks for the great post. Hooray for love is right.

  • June

    Nice, I’m glad this got made! I was hoping you would say more (especially in an article of this length) for all the mainstream readers who aren’t aware of the differences between casual swinging and other kinds of non-monogamy. There are worlds of difference between opening up an existing relationship to lots of casual sex and maintaining long-term multiple relationships. Both of those can be excellent choices, obviously. But there’s still a big problem for poly people who try to work day to day for respect and visibility, in a world where most people are still thinking our lives are about wild 70s-era orgies and sex sex sex. My life is about three people building a fantastic lifetime relationship and raising our baby together. I love that videos like this are getting made, but we also need visibility for non-flashy, non-porny non-monogamy. :) Writers like you, who understand the infinite varieties of non-monogamy, can be our best allies in helping mainstream readers understand too!

  • Tiffany

    I’m going to head over to Babeland and buy this as soon as I get a paycheck, and I’m looking forward to it! My partner and I are currently exploring non-monogamy, and it has taken a long time to get to the (still fairly traditional) space we’re in now. He came out as bisexual early in our relationship, and I am also bisexual, so traditional monogamy just didn’t feel like a good fit. We both needed (or felt we needed) to explore our same-sex attractions. We’ve had a few really fantastic experiences, helped by The Ethical Slut, the “moresomes” chapter in Violet Blue’s sexual fantasy book, and conversations with people in the polyamory community.

    Even though it’s been really positive, it’s also been hella emotional. Those “found boundaries” are amazingly powerful – especially if you don’t anticipate them.

    We live in Calgary, which is very conservative and not very open, and it’s been challenging finding a community of like-minded folks that we can explore with. We’ve been lucky and are starting to develop a network of people to talk with (and sometimes fuck) but man, so hard.

    Great post!

  • Phillip

    Great write-up. I’m afraid a lot of it will be missed by folks who couldn’t get past the (excellent) photo gallery, but it’s good stuff.

    I’m in the last phases of a failed, non-monogamous “experiment”, and can vouch that folks need to be realistic about their needs vs their fantasies. I know it can work, but it takes constant communication and willingness on both sides. It also requires trust. There will be pain and doubt. Without strength and hard work, it will rip you apart.

    These seem like mere words to anyone who hasn’t had every aspect of what they thought they understood about their partner twisted into an entirely new perspective. And I can promise that’s what will happen because, well, honestly, isn’t that exactly why we went there in the first place… for a change of perspective? It can be thrilling and extremely hot, but be sure about what you want out of it. And be sure you’re willing to pay the price.

  • Jason, I’m not sure why Private was involved. The mainstream porn world is in financial chaos in general, and probably will be until the old boys’ club dies off. But I do remember that a few years back when Kink wanted to make DVDs for a second they did it with Private (for whatever reasons). And of course, even though they were the hottest compilations of the best Kink scenes (I own the DVDs), they tanked because they were DVDs. It was the validation of duh, no one buys DVDs anymore. So I’m guessing that since Ilana Rothman was one of the main forces at Kink for a long time (she no longer works there), that may be the connection between this film and Private.

    Also, if someone makes a porn DVD, and currently wants US distribution into the mainstream porn DVD sales channels, it’s all the same old boys’ network, which is GVA/Gamelink, etc. (the Sturman legacy). To see how this all came to be a strangled (and thus dying) distribution channel for porn (and bizarrely the dictation of mainstream porn content) read Eric Schlosser’s Reefer Madness. My guess is that to sell DVDs in the US, Private has to play ball with GVA.

    What sad old business models. Just like their PR practices.

    Viviane — ME TOO! “An Open Invitation” is the real deal.

  • I would love to see this screened at the Cinekink 2011 festival!

  • And why Private? They tend towards the super-polished boring stuff (in my rather uninformed opinion). Given all the other options available…

    Looks stunning.