Let me make one thing clear: I don't think he should be in prison. Everything he did was technically speaking legal, to the best of my knowledge. He followed the rules. I might not personally like the things he did to women, but I neither have to watch them nor participate in them, and I believe that prosecuting people for obscenity in film-making is just a first step down the long road to censorship and the end of the First Amendment. But I wonder about the impact that his material could have on viewers, and more than most other pornography, his really calls questions of consent and empowerment into question.
MISS LAGSALOT: What type of feminism do you bring to the table? And to porn?
ML: You’ve been doing these things for a while now; in your opinion, where does feminism stand in pornography at this point? How big a part of the whole picture is it? Is it growing? Shrinking?
ML: What I’m super curious about in this interview is your work a few years ago with the now-infamous, now-incarcerated-for-
ML: Max is notorious for his extreme on-screen antics and persona, but from what I’ve heard, he’s actually a very nice person when the cameras aren’t rolling. Can you tell me about what he’s like behind the scenes?
Before our shoot, he showed me his website. He read the text on his website out loud, as if he himself was amused at how outrageous it was. It was all very funny to him, and I found if difficult to take it seriously.
We talked about his routine. Do I do anal? Can I throat fuck? What do I think of golden showers? I told him I was curious about golden showers, but I've never been on the receiving end of it. I also told him I wasn't into any vomiting or using a speculum. And you know what, he kept to my limits. I respect that.
Now I have to remind you that my husband was with me. I don't know what it's like being a single woman walking into that situation, although there was a point when my husband left the room to photocopy my ID at the hotel lobby and I was left alone with Max in the room. But even then I felt at ease with him. I didn't feel uncomfortable at all.
At another time later on Max confided that he was leary of me because I was “too easy.” Most women took a lot more persuading than I did. He told me he thought I might be a sting operation.
ML: How does he behave differently on camera? Is there a hugely noticeable difference between his on- and off-screen personas, or is it more subtle? Before the shoot Max was helping me get dressed. He had a whole wardrobe set up in his room, lots and lots of tiny bright colored outfits. He picked something out for me, I got into it. My husband was in the corner of the room taking pictures. I guess playing dress up with me turned Max on, he just bent me over on the bed and started fucking me right there, putting on a show for my husband. His crew scrambled to try and get a shot, but as soon as they got in there, Max pulled away and I got back to getting dressed and made up.
MLS: I think he's the real deal. He turns the switch up for the cameras, of course, we all do when we're being watched. It's a performance after all. You have to infuse it with drama and conflict to make it interesting to watch. But you have to start from a point of honesty.
ML: Tell me about your experience at the shoot. What happened? Was it fun?
ML: You are a pretty radical feminist—doing anything from sexy photos of yourself to experimenting with menstrual blood as an art medium (which we’ll get to in a minute) doesn’t daunt you—and you’re also into very, very kinky sex from what I’ve seen and read. Obviously, what is sexy versus what is obscene is different for everybody, but what about your personal take on these issues? Do you have a line that you would be willing to say, “If this is crossed in a video, then I would find that video ‘obscene’”?
ML: Your husband blogged about his response to Max’s sentencing, saying that Max is “fighting for free speech every time he gets his dick out.” Would you agree that Max’s videos are political? Artistic? Just hot?
Max Hardcore may not have started out thinking he's going to make videos to challenge authority. I think he just made videos he wanted to make. It was the law that made a political statement out of him. What that means for us is up to us. Do we shrug our shoulders and say, "Serves him right for being so deviant. No one should do anything beyond the norm?" Or do we say, "This is wrong! No one should go to jail for consensual sexual expression, on camera or off?"
ML: Your preferences run to the very kinky side of the spectrum, and so you enjoy shocking/extreme activities like piss play and rough sex, which is fascinating in a feminist. Of course, there are many types of feminists out there as there are any other kind of person, but I think many people think of politically correct, female-centric, super-empowering material when they think of “feminist porn.” Where does feminism fall into scenes like Max’s that involve a high level of trust and consent, but appear shockingly violent and extreme to viewers?
I found it empowering to pit myself one on one against a notorious pornographer. I walked in there knowing the experience would be a test of my strength. Like sexual sparring.
ML: Have you heard of any girls who got onto a Max Hardcore set who found out through their experience that they didn’t like these things? Anyone who had a bad experience?
ML: I agree with you and your husband that the things Max did should not be considered obscene or prosecutable—they were made in compliance with all laws governing the filming of sex acts, with models who had signed releases and met all the required standards of age, competency, and sobriety. But I have to ask: do you think that the difference between the experience of his costars with him as a friendly, polite film-maker and that of the viewer, who might not understand how things really work on a porn shoot, could be a real problem? Someone who’s never been on a porn set or thought about all the rules surrounding a porn shoot might think that this man is really hurting, or hating, the woman he’s with. Do you think maybe the jury of his peers that declared him guilty believed that he truly had hurt someone?
ML: It's difficult to measure, though, what effect his work has on his audience. We're not privy to what his viewers do in their bedrooms. I have yet to hear about anyone who was hurt by someone trying to emulate Max's sex moves.
MLS: However, I have seen a man come up to him, take his cowboy hat and stomp on it. You know, challenging him to a fight. This was in Vegas. Nothing happened, there were a lot of people around to stop anything from happening. But that man was mad!
ML: Ok, now going on past Max, since did your scene with him years ago… I’d like to talk to you about your projects, especially your On My Period book. What a fascinating idea. Can you tell us about it?
ML: What kind of response have you gotten for it so far?
ML: What did your husband think of the project?
ML: How do you feel about birth control methods that delay periods or change their cycles?
ML: What would you say is the strongest message you’d like us to take away from On My Period?
ML: What would you say is the strongest message you’d like us to take away from all your work?
My story is about an average woman who found love, and that love gave her the courage and freedom to be truly herself. It doesn't matter how you find that love or with whom. What is important is that when you do, you give it all you've got.