If you’re a kinkster who’s into BDSM? Don’t bother to watch this DVD. If you’re curious about submitting to your partner (or your partner submitting to you)? Don’t bother to watchthis DVD. If you just want something appalling to laugh at? Well, maybe this is for you – but make sure you’re part of a crowd of mockers. And have pizza. Otherwise you’re watching a crappy film by yourself, and you’ll never make it through.
When I got Nina Hartley’s Guide to Sensual Submission #1: How to Submit to a Man, I thought there was a chance that it might be bad (although I was hopeful that it be good, or at least educational). Wanting to give it a decent opportunity, I arranged a group of kinksters – dominant, submissive and switch; experienced and still relatively new – to watch it with me. Alas, this film was worse than anticipated, but that does have the small positive of meaning I can flex my snarking skills for the review…
Watching this DVD is painful, and not in the getting-flogged sense. What’s been marketed as a useful tool for learning about submission (specifically women submitting to men) is in practice a badly-produced, uninteresting, and not-particularly-informative film. It disturbs me to find that there is a second volume in the serious: How to Submit to a Woman.
But let’s look at this one has, supposedly, to offer. The film gets started with a fairly long introduction, where Nina Hartley talks about BDSM and submission without managing to say much of interest at all (“Blah, blah, blah, eye candy, blah, blah, blah”, according to one viewer). It was really hard to follow what she was saying – and not just because the audio was extremely muffled. Amber Michaels shared the couch with her in a tiny blue dress, and we all soaked up the learning. Lesson #1: apparently submitting to a man involves feeling up a woman. At least it does if you’re Nina Hartley.
Then there was the first scene. We got to watch Nina disrobing and put wrist and ankle cuffs on herself – locking them in place, of course. This was not a good start – at least not in my opinion. Where’s the fun in putting cuffs on yourself? Mind you, we promptly forgot about her bondage gear when we got a look at her top for the scene. Sean Michaels, a most delicious slice of manliness, looked unfortunately tacky with sunglasses and a trenchcoat – and what he had on underneath was worse! I’m afraid that while he is a very pretty man, his outfit was the cause of much hilarity. If I’d been submitting to him I likely would have been engulfed in laughter – but then at least I might have gotten a decent flogging for my brattiness. Alas, the posing pouch that reminded folks of the TARDIS, and the collar that said MASTER in bling-blinding-boldness were all too much for anyone watching to take seriously.
Genitals got a lot of attention in this scene, Cock-sucking, fingering, cunt-slapping (which I appreciated seeing), and rimming. Alas, there wasn’t much apparent submission in any of it – there was no use of cuffs, or any tying up/down. There was some hair-pulling and orgasm denial, but generally it was teasing rather than any serious submission. I did spot lubricant on the table though (just in the background of the rimming). This pleased me mightily. There still wasn’t any condom use, but lube is a start.
The second scene featured Frank Fortuna and Amber Michaels - and had us all questioning if they were a real-life couple (we don’t think so, but they seemed considerably more comfortable with each other than the previous two). There was more implement usage in this scene, with a crop, a show-off post (although she wasn’t tied to it), flogging etc. It was also lovely to see some interaction between them that wasn’t wholly sexual. Of course there was a genital focus, but it was amusing watching Frank Fortuna try to concentrate on cropping while his dick was being sucked…
From there it was off to a sling, a glass dildo (yummy), and the ubiquitous fucking and anal. It occurred to one viewer that “this would be much better with a Desmond Morris voice-over” though, and I think they’re right.
Some overall impressions…
The first scene, and the second, were both very genital oriented – and both ended in PIV (penis in vagina) sex. Whether that’s the director’s desire to keep this in the mainstream porn category, or a limited viewpoint that thinks it’s only sex if you have PIV , I’m not sure. In my own experience – as well as that of many of the people watching – while there are often orgasms for all with BDSM, the PIV sex is one of many options for reaching orgasms. So it led to lesson #2 from this movie: D/s is just foreplay for PIV sex.
The scenes themselves also focused on ‘play’ and fucking – there was no negotiation beforehand, and no aftercare (that we saw) afterwards. Lessons #3 and #4 - You don’t need to communicate what you want; and no one ever needs cuddles afterwards.
Interestingly, the Behind the Scenes clips in the Extras portion of the DVD was a lot more useful than the film itself – there was a lot of information about preparation and planning beforehand. Also, we got to see just how pretty Sean Michaels can be, as he’s seen in a suit. Additionally, in the behind the scenes we were able to see cuddling, emotional connections, and psychological stuff, as well as aftercare and a discussion on the difference between domination and aggressive sex.
If you’re a newbie looking to submit to someone, this gets a 0/10. Especially as there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to the Extras. And if you’re already well into D/s, well, it’s not the kind of D/s on the screen.
Verdict: Don’t bother. Really. Just don’t – it’s a waste of time, and not even particularly arousing. Lesson #5: This is not the way to learn about D/s.
Here are the specs:
Name: Nina Hartley’s Guide to Sensual Submission #1: How to Submit to a Man
Director: Nina Hartley
Producer: Adam & Eve Productions
Length: 81 minutes
Actors: Nina Hartley, Sean Michaels, Amber Michaels, Frank Fortuna
Price: US$24.95 from TabuToys
Notes: The outfit Nina Hartley is wearing on the cover is one we never actually see her wearing in the film. Just so you know.
1/10 Erogenous Zones