This interview is a little different then our usual faire we got to chat with Mahx Capacity the creative director of AORTA films. A provider of lusty, opulent, ethical fuckery. A great champion for pleasure and acceptance she was nice enough to answer some of our questions.
Q You helped form AORTA films, an Indie adult film company dedicated to experimental queer porn. How did the studio get started?
I founded AORTA films in 2016 with two co-founders Parts Authority and Ginny Woolf, who have since left the company. The idea for AORTA films came from two directions at once. My background is in experimental performance and choreography and I’d been feeling the urge to experiment with making explicit content for quite a while–it seemed like the moments in my dance work that were the most resonant were erotically charged. My dance company was working on this huge “sci-fi feminist time travel epic…thing…” as we referred to it called the ETLE Universe, where there were ten different works each based in a different media that connected a larger narrative–so we had a dance piece, but also a comic book, a multiplayer game, 3D-printed jewelry, etc. And this seemed like the perfect moment to try making porn for the first time!
At the same time, Parts Authority had begun a tradition of Parts, Ginny, and I hosting a valentine’s day party each year where we’d dress up and take nude photos of each other and celebrate our bodies and friendship. That practice had grown and evolved and was a real source of joy each year and we’d start inviting more friends and really enjoying that practice. So we’d already been dipping our toes into the practice of erotic content, and then for the ETLE Universe, we produced our first short film, The OH Files. The reception to that film was so encouraging and welcoming that I knew that this is the type of work that I wanted to focus on full time. The rest is history!
Q AORTA films seems to have a strong commitment to a wide range of bodies and identities. Why is that important to you as the head of the studio?
As a fat, trans, nonbinary person I know how important it is to be able to see yourself reflected back to you. As queer people, it’s historically been rare for us to get to see ourselves in media in a way that doesn’t feel stigmatized or linked to violence. I think it’s incredibly powerful to see queer people thriving on screen regardless of what kind of media it is. But with porn, you’re getting to see real queer folks experiencing joy and connection and negotiating challenge and care and creating intense pleasure together–for me that’s such an affirming and emotional thing to get to witness. When we’ve been told we shouldn’t exist based on the identities or sexualities or bodies we have, reclaiming our sex and desire becomes such a potent, beautiful, radical act. Getting to feel seen and inspired and sexy and powerful in the porn you watch should be something that is available to everyone! Pleasure is a human right that every single being is deserving of right now–not after you lose weight, or change something about yourself, or not only for certain people–it’s for everyone, exactly as they are. Mainstream porn can be great for some things, but it rarely gets outside one type of body or identity, and a lot of the tropes can feel stigmatizing rather than affirming. We deserve better porn!
Q What steps do you take to ensure the safety and consent of your performers?
We’re obsessed with going above and beyond to ensure that our shoots operate on the basis of explicit, ongoing, enthusiastic consent.
We collaborate with our performers to devise each film’s content and make agreements for the shoot well in advance of shooting. All crew and performers engage in transparent discussions about shoot schedule, expectations, and crediting. Pay rates for all crew and performers are shared with full transparency across all team members. Scene negotiations are based on explicit, enthusiastic consent, and undertaken in advance of the shoot, with check-in’s on the day of shooting to update shifting needs and desires. Performers determine a plan for barrier use with their co-stars and director, and share recent STI test results before shooting begins. All cast, crew, and collaborators are all encouraged to call pause or stop at any time, for any reason, to ask for adjustments or changes that prioritize their safety, comfort, autonomy, and mental health. In creating films, our first priority is the deep respect for and holistic well-being of our performers, crew, and collaborators.
Following the shoot as we move into post-production, we are committed to representing performers and collaborators in our films with the pronouns, body part words, and identity descriptors that they have supplied us with. We do our best to represent performers and scenes in a way that feels most authentic to them, and always welcome updates or edits if a performer would like us to alter the language we’re using.
In addition to AORTA’s short films and features, the artists that AORTA curates for Community Hardcore (our queer clip library) and BEDDED (our semi-annual watch at home film festival) are paid for the distribution of their content, with transparently negotiated contracts and ethical, transparent pay rates. We use the same post-production guidelines for these programs that we do for our shorts and features, and utilize performer-supplied language for our writing, marketing, and tagging.
We believe that a deeply rigorous practice of safety, communication, and care is what allows us to be adventurous, experimental, and ambitious. By “paying for their porn”, our members help us maintain rigorous standards and ethical pay rates for all of AORTA’s work, and partner with us to create better porn!
Q Do you feel that adult entertainment can lead to the expansion of viewpoints and ideas about sex and bodies?
Absolutely. The state of sex education in the US is abysmal and our culture is still deeply puritanical and sex negative; as a result I think a lot of people have a very limited view of what sex can be, how it really looks, etc, not to mention who gets to have great sex. I think a lot of people have never experienced how life-changing really good sex can be, in part because their view of what sex is comes from mainstream media and mainstream porn. It’s often really male-centered and more about producing a quick orgasm than about exploring connection or the identity and power of the performers.
I think indie queer porn really has the potential to change how people see sex, and think about their own capacity for pleasure. Sex and kink can look and feel a million different ways, so we try to show a really broad range of sexual practice, kink, power dynamics, and desire. While I don’t think porn should be used as sex ed (just as we wouldn’t demand that Michael Bay movies be useful as drivers-ed aids), I do think queer porn and indie porn can help destigmatize sex, and hopefully show folks that they’re deeply deserving of incredible sex, exactly as they are!
I want to be clear that I’m not anti-mainstream porn by a long shot. As more “ethical porn” companies emerge there’s a conflation happening of “ethical” with meaning “indie” or “HD” or even “for women”–when in reality, a huge amount of mainstream porn is ethically made, meaning that performers are fairly paid, contracts are negotiated clearly, it’s a safety-focused set, etc. But where I think mainstream and indie porn really differ is that indie porn has space to be experimental, get weird, bring a much wider scope of people into the room, etc. And in doing that, we’re able to speak about sex artistically, explicitly, with humor, with gravity, in a way that honors how amazing and beautiful and radical it can be, and how normal and everyday it can be. We get to really feature the performers, and make it about their experience rather than worrying about making the most sellable or profitable scene.
Porn also occupies an important space of privilege within sex work in that our work is for the most part legal and/or decriminalized. From that place of privilege, we’re able to talk openly about the need for decriminalizing sex work as a whole, which is a crucial need need not just for the adult industry, or femtech and sextech as a larger sector, but in terms of public policy and workers rights in general. We’re able to speak to the role sex and sexuality can play in the health and wellbeing of every single person. Pleasure is a human right; by destigmatizing sex and treating sex work as an industry just like any other industry we’d be able to make huge gains in the wellbeing of many, many people, not just sex workers. There’s so much to be gained from public health, economy, and labor perspectives by destigmatizing sex!
Q What made you get started in the adult film industry?
Honestly, the community was so welcoming and encouraging I felt like I’d found home from the beginning. The porn world is full of such hustle but also such abundance. There’s not really grants or much funding available (with the exception of the Effing Foundation, who we adore!), and no matter your position within the adult industry, everyone is working against the same stigmatization, censorship and ignorance, so that breeds a really supportive and collaborative ecology. I think there’s a lot of innovation happening in our sector not just in terms of content, but in terms of how folks are building and funding their business and supporting collaborative ecologies. I’ve only experienced the community being encouraging and supportive of new folks coming into the industry and exploring, and I think that’s such a beautiful and rare thing!
Q What are the next projects that AORTA has coming up that you are excited about?
The next scene that AORTA films is releasing on Valentine’s Day is called “Peaches and Loverboy”–it’s a really sweet and intimate butch/femme gender bending scene with lots of hot fisting and squirting. It’s one of 5 films we shot this past November that I’m really excited about–we’ll be rolling them out throughout the year! Our site has 75+ short films, and we’ve just started building our “Community Hardcore” clip library, featuring clips from queer content creators. We’re really excited to keep adding to that too–those clips are such great JO material!
Q} if people want more info about you or AORTA films where should they go?
Check out our website www.AORTAfilms.com and think about becoming a member! You can use code newcrush22 for 50% off your first month! You can also follow us on instagram (@AORTAfilmswillneverdie), twitter (@AORTA_films), and tiktok (@AORTAfilms)! And I’m on instagram as @MahxCapacityV
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Oooh. Zombies are a big nope for me. Honestly, part of me thinks I’d tap out immediately. If I was in survival mode, then maybe trying to flee NYC and get to somewhere a little less populated? In the survival team I’d definitely be on logistics and organization, and maybe helping with cooking.
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
As an experimental porn maker who loves blood and opulence, the Hannibal series has a really deep place in my…um…heart.
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
This is so hard! I absolutely can’t choose one. But I deeply believe that art should bring you to your knees and leave you god-smacked–if you’re not getting that regularly, go get a lot more art in your life.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I didn’t watch real (non-parody) porn until my Senior year in college!