Students of Prof. Constance Penley’s Film and Media Studies class at the University of California, Santa Barbara received a special treat Wednesday, when Penley hosted acclaimed adult performer and director Dana Vespoli, and performer Sovereign Syre.
Professor Penley has taught about pornography at UC Santa Barbara as part of “Topics in Film and Popular Culture” for 20 years, and is a pioneer in the study of porn in academia. Her class this year is comprised of about 40-50 students, who, on Wednesday, gathered inside The Pollock Theater, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to programming of a diverse array of films and filmmakers, for a discussion and presentation of three of Vespoli’s movies for Evil Angel: She’s Come Undone, Hollywood Babylon, and Girl/Boy.
“We talked about themes that come up in my work, such as transgression of power, gender, and what is real and imagined,” Vespoli tells TRPWL
Vespoli reports, “We discussed Sovereign’s career & her first boy/girl scene in Hollywood Babylon, as well as how our feminism informs our work. Overall it was a great visit. They screened parts of She’s Come Undone, and Hollywood Babylon.”
Syre notes, “The experience of seeing myself and the movies on an actual movie screen was unexpected and delightful. I was able to appreciate the movies in a different way than I had before, seeing them suddenly framed in a different context, in the context of cinema. It made me wonder how it was to go to actual theaters to watch adult movies back in the 70s.”
Adds Syre, “I think it’s important for us as performers and directors to make an effort to be a part of these discussions wherever possible, to really make ourselves part of the dialogue about porn that is always going on in the mainstream. It was interesting to see how civilians in an academic setting responded to the images.”