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Digital Playground's 'Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge' Screening and Q&A @ UCLA, 12/3/08
NOTE: See LAist's coverage of Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge world premiere and UC Irvine's Sociology 69: Sociology of Sexuality.
Last Wednesday, while Hustler Hollywood's flagship store celebrated its tenth anniversary, just a few miles down Sunset Blvd., UCLA's Campus Events Commission hosted a free screening of Digital Playground's (MySpace) blockbuster epic adult movie PIrates II: Stagnetti's Revenge (MySpace) at the Ackerman Union Grand Ballroom. After its world premiere in September at The Orpheum Theatre, the movie, budgeted at $8 million, and billed as "The Biggest Adult Production in History," featuring 11 sex scenes and over 600 special effects, has since received a whopping 30 nominations for next month's 2009 AVN Awards, including Best Video Feature, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Special Effects, and Best All-Girl Couples Sex Scene.
The screening, exclusive to UCLA students and the first of over 100 collegiate screenings planned across the country, drew nearly 1,000 students -- making it this year's largest audience for the campus thus far, eclipsing an Eagle Eye screening and an Alan Rickman appearance -- and during Dead Week no less.
Prior to Wednesday, the campus hosted five showings in the 1970s of Deep Throat. And the rest of the UC system is no stranger to pornography either, as Professor Constance Penley has taught a Film Studies Pornography course since the early 1990s (with its Spring 2008 class featuring special guests Vivid-Alt head/director Eon McKai and pornstar/director Kimberly Kane), and Professor Kassia Wosick-Correa teaches a Sociology of Sexuality course at UC Irvine (although it was in danger of being dropped for this year).
Meanwhile, the original Pirates was a cult phenomenon in 2006 at Carnegie-Mellon and Yale, where it drew thousands of students to sold-out shows. Similarly, Wednesday's Pirates II screening was controversial, as one blogger complained that, "As an American, I think the college should show some restraint and decency. The school has the right to screen it, but they did this as an official event unrelated to any class or coursework. As a Californian taxpayer, it upsets me to see how the state decided to spend my money - porn for horny co-eds. They have the Internet for that! As a USC Trojans [sic], it makes me laugh. What a bunch of losers."
Similar to UC Irvine, the reaction by UCLA students, a healthy mixture of men and women, to seeing pornography projected on a big screen was surprising given the profileration and immediate accessibility of online pornography. Those who stayed for the entire duration expressed themselves with audible gasps, especially when the sex scenes involved close-ups of male genitalia as well as spanking, spitting, gagging, insertion with multiple fingers, anilingus, and the requisite money shot. It should be noted that there was one scene with Shay Jordan (MySpace) fellating two men, whose penises touched, that perhaps generated the loudest such response.
But there was also cheering, particularly after a notably intense sex scene with Jesse Jane (MySpace) and Belladonna (MySpace), as well as a threesome with Evan Stone (MySpace), Belladonna, and Sasha Grey (MySpace).
In fact, there was a wildly enthusiastic reception to the panelists who walked onstage for the subsequent question-and-answer session, which included the aforementioned Stone and Grey, with Grey a last-minute substitute for Riley Steele (MySpace), director Joone (MySpace), and Digital Playground director of marketing Adella Curry (MySpace), who substituted for Digital Playground CEO and producer Samantha Lewis (MySpace).
While there were usual questions asked of the stars, including how long Stone's penis is (he has never measured), what's the longest penis Grey's had (14 inches), and who is Stone's favorite to work with (he declined, noting that he'd still like to work with a lot of women in the industry), there were serious questions as well, including the inspiration for the original Pirates (Island Fever 3, shot in Bora Bora), Pirates II's apparent Chinese stereotyping (Curry responded that Digital Playground has a multi-ethnic staff, and Stone added that "There is no racism in porn"), the intensity of Pirates II's scenes (which were more intense than the original), and the use of funds for the screening.
Eight-year veteran Stone, nominated for five 2009 AVN Awards including Best Actor and Male Performer of the Year, should be the male ambassador to the adult industry, as he was wildly entertaining and charismatic, yet refreshingly honest. Repeatedly polling the crowd, "Who wants to be a pornstar?!" he detailed the challenges involved in such an apparent dream job, elaborating that one has to maintain an erection and be ready for sex at a moment's notice when the female talent emerges from makeup, so they can perform on-camera for hours at a time in front of a crew of up to 50 people. He also addressed the rumor of having two wives, deadpanning, "That would be illegal... and immoral," but clarifying that, "My wife has a girlfriend," to substantial laughter and applause.
Meanwhile, Grey, nominated for nine 2009 AVN Awards including Best Actress, Female Performer Of The Year, and The Jenna Jameson Crossover Star Of The Year (not included in the count yet befitting the Clever Title of the Year nomination is Sasha Grey's Anatomy), was the perfect foil to Stone's comedic antics. Bringing her serene intellectual beauty to the table, she answered how the Gonzo style got its name (after Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson), and was passionate when the panel was asked if there is a link between human trafficking and pornography (she noted that she had a feeling someone would bring up the subject and added that she's greatly offended whenever the industry is blamed for it).
2008 has been the biggest year thus far for Grey, who not only kicked off January as the youngest pornstar to win AVN's Best Performer of the Year, but who crossed over into mainstream media with apparances in music videos for The Roots and Smashing Pumpkins as well as James Gunn's PG Porn and the lead role in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience. She was also annointed Hot Porn Star in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
One of the last questions asked for the evening was about the inevitable sequel, Pirates III, and the possibility of students appearing in it. Joone quipped, "When we start working on it, we'll let you know."
Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Special thanks to Evan Stone, Sasha Grey, Joone, Adella Curry, Digital Playground, and UCLA.
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