Once relegated to the margins of society, pornography has become one of the most visible and profitable sectors of the cultural industries in the United States. It is estimated that the pornography industry’s annual revenue has reached $13 billion. At the same time, the content of pornography has become more aggressive, more overtly sexist and racist.

THE PRICE OF PLEASURE features the voices of consumers, critics, and pornography producers and performers. It is particularly revealing when male pornographers openly discuss their views about women and how men should relate to them, and when male and female porn users candidly discuss the role pornography has played in shaping their sexual imaginations and relationships.

The film paints both a nuanced and complex portrait of how pleasure and pain, commerce and power, and liberty and responsibility are intertwined in the most intimate aspects of human relations.

At the same time, the film examines the unprecedented role that commercial pornography now occupies in U.S. popular culture. Going beyond the debate of liberal versus conservative so common in the culture, The Price of Pleasure provides a holistic understanding of pornography as it debunks common myths about the genre.
The Price of Pleasure features interviews with scholars of mass media (Gail Dines and Robert Jensen), economics (Richard Wolff), and psychology (Dr. Ana Bridges); writers on pornography and popular culture (Ariel Levy and Pamela Paul); producers and performers from the pornography industry (John Stagliano, Joanna Angel and Ernest Greene); and a former stripper/porn performer-turned-author (Sarah Katherine Lewis).

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The Price of Pleasure – Trailer from Cinema Libre Studio on Vimeo.

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Driving these points home is the erotic bestseller, Now & Later. Sex, politics and American culture are mixed into a combustible combination in Now & Later. Angela (Shari Solanis) is an illegal Latina immigrant living in Los Angeles who stumbles across Bill (James Wortham), a disgraced banker on the run. She takes him in. Through passionate sex, soul-searching conversations ranging from politics to philosophy, and other worldly pleasures, Angela introduces Bill to another worldview. As their affair heats up, the course of Bill’s life begins to take an abrupt and unexpected turn.

The film was conceived by the director in reaction to American’s penchant for violence in our culture and our puritanical censoring of anything involving sex. Familiar with philosopher Wilhelm Reich’s notion that a sexually repressed society turns into a violent one, Diaz makes an unabashedly sexual yet cerebral film that challenges the perception that sex in media is harmful.

Downtown Los Angeles, where the movie takes place, also represents these two worlds. Angela lives on the terrace of a transient hotel and from there “you can see all levels of society.” As she explains to Bill, “on one side you can see the skyscrapers with the most powerful banks and corporations in the world, on the next side are the middle class in their condo apartments with their big screen TV’s, and the last side has the poorest people.”

Angela teaches Bill about world politics and new philosophy of life. She makes him realize that the way he lived his life was maybe not the right one; that perhaps he didn’t fully understand what life was about and that he’d spent too much time living in the future when the only thing that we have is “now”… not “later.” She will teach him through sex and other worldly pleasures that the source of life is “in the body not in the mind”… she will bring him back to life.

The film is about translating these two philosophies into images and sounds. Making sex and all of its components (erection, ejaculation, masturbation, as well as any and all forms of sexual pleasures) as natural as eating food, listening to music or simply enjoying life. Angela will teach Bill not only how to enjoy sexual pleasure but also how to be comfortable with nudity and his own body. As an activist, I am trying to bring back sex in entertainment as a natural part of life as much as politics and philosophy. It is a film in which we reverse the usual way to depict sex and violence. Here we show the sex and only talk about the violence. As Wilhelm Reich says: a sexually repressed society will resort to violence.

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