I was lukewarm about James Avalon's SHADES OF KINK, seemingly adapting the Sweet Sinner "realistic sex" format to cash in on "50 Shades of Grey"'s popularity. Volume 2 of the XXX series really left me cold.
My mind wandering, as it is prone to do when watching a 3-hour opus that should have run 80 minutes, I thought of Pauline Kael's pan of Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE so many years ago, as she compared Stanley to a strict, exacting German professor. She was talking about ORANGE as pornography, and her reaction mirrors mine to KINK VOL. 2 - we watch Avalon's sexually explicit tableaux with as much Brechtian distanciation as Kubrick ever conjured up.
Extremely brief storyline parallels that of Part 1, only is uninteresting by comparison. Credits roll as we watch in closeup what turns out to be Penny Pax (the camera exaggerates the size of her breasts and fooled me as a result as to her identity) dressing to go to work. Like Maddy O'Reilly in the first film, she works at an ad/marketing agency, with a tyrannical boss almost comically overplayed by Dana DeArmond. Not to worry, the first sex scene shows Dana to be the femme counterpart of the cliché of a male boss who needs to be whipped or punished by a dominatrix to balance the bad karma he stirs up at work. Good ole Mr. Pete is the man for the job, and he expertly slaps the heck out of Dana in their sex bout in her office.
Logan Pierce is the new intern working at the desk across from Penny, and he's immediately smitten by the prim and proper fake redhead wearing glasses. She finally relents and grants him just one date, warning him he may not like the club she's taking him to.
It's an S&M club, with Penny moonlighting as the headliner dom, dishing out punishment and the absurd Simon-Says like bossing around that apparently turns on a significant niche audience out there. Prinicipal dishee is Lily LaBeau, styled completely differently with a buzz cut hairdo and enjoying the whipping and forced sex, as she's tied up with ropes and even has a rope through her mouth like a gag.
The endless s&m sex scenes at the club eat up at least 90 minutes of running time and are utterly static, staged like a three-ring-circus with several subs getting punished for our listening and dancing pleasure. There is a tiny audience of extras present, watching the non-action intently -among them stars who will take the center spotlight later in the film, including Adrianna Luna (fetching in a skimpy leather & chains costume) and Stephen St. Croix. Film's co-scripter Melissa Monet is the chief punisher, using either whip or giant feathers (another fetish heard from).
Logan leaves, quickly bored by what he sees, and I agreed with him. He later gives dating Penny a second try and ultimately becomes her boyfriend after they retreat to a tented bed in a private room and hump fairly conventionally, though Pax insists that he cum on her high- tied patent-leather boots.
Sex scene highlight is a well-performed threesome involving Lily, Pax and Seth Gamble in which she's calling the shots but while awkward and acrobatic the sexual content is relatively non-kinky. Perhaps Avalon's greatest failure here is that he doesn't deliver anything outrageous - the endless for-real whipping looks like it is very timidly applied, despite the presence of several real-life s&m specialists in the cast.
The set design of the club looks like something out of one of those old Alexander DeVoe industrial porn mixed-combo VHS videos I used to watch a dozen years ago like his SEX SHOOTER series. The visuals were cold and clammy and the cast of folks like Mandingo and Olivia del Rio looked uncomfortable humping amidst lathes and metal presses.
I'm a big Penny Pax fan but her work here is facile and uninspired. At one point I thought she was doing an SNL send-up of the real deal - Mz. Berlin, whose same fake red hair, big bust, fetish gear and non-stop ordering-you-around patter is exactly the same as Penny's, only the original is convincing. Penny's little-girl imitation of Berlin is just that, imitative and puerile.
I did make the slog through to Avalon's one good deed- a clever send-up of the happy ending: after their sex scene ends with Penny wishing Logan would be her slave, we see another daybreak and Logan & Penny back at their desks, wage slaves - The End.
This particular video makes clear the difference between the James Avalon era (2013 to date) and the previous Nica Noelle era (2008-2012) at Sweet Sinner: the heart Nica put into these DVDs is gone, leaving now just the basic "real lovemaking, real orgasms" mantra to Jimmy to carry on with varying degrees of success in workmanlike fashion.
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