By J.R. Taylor

In the annals of anal academia, none spelunk deeper than Tristan Taormino. The Phi Beta Kappa cutie has been blazing a trail through the sexuality scene ever since she graduated from Wesleyan University in 1993. Taormino's best-selling books include True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. Her writing has also appeared in publications ranging from The Village Voice (home to her regular "Pucker Up" column) to Playboy, Men's Health, and The New York Times.

Taormino has been kind enough to provide further visual instruction. Her Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex adult videos--including on-screen performances from the author and director--won plenty of major awards in the adult industry. Taormino's lady-loving ways also landed her a quick turn as a lovely lesbian in Spike Lee's She Hate Me (2004).

Now Taormino has helmed House of Ass (2006), an amazing porn video that documents a wild weekend where adult stars stretch the limits of wild anal action. We like anal sex here at, and we like our intellectuals to like anal sex too. Taormino's as sex-positive as they come and come again--as we appreciate even more as she talks to us from her Manhattan headquarters.

Anal sex may not be a taboo for couples anymore, but it seems to still be a taboo in non-adult cinema. It's not easy to think of anal sex scenes in mainstream films.
What immediately comes to mind is negative depictions. When I think of that, the first one that comes to mind is Leaving Las Vegas, with Elisabeth Shue (Picture: 1 - 2). It's like anal is the norm when people want to represent violence and degradation. I can't think of an explicitly positive heterosexual representation.

The classic anal sex scene remains Marlon Brando buttering up Maria Schneider (Picture: 1 - 2) in Last Tango in Paris.
That's probably what comes to mind for a certain generation right away. But since then, we haven't had a lot of hits on the radar. My favorite representation so far was in an episode of The Sopranos. Joe Pantoliano is involved with Tony Soprano's sister [Aida Turturro], and they're fucking at one point. She has a vibrator, and she's fucking him in the ass and calling him her bitch. That was consensual and fun and not mean-spirited. They seemed to like each other. I thought that was pretty radical, even for HBO.

Otherwise anal sex usually makes it to the screen as some kind of joking reference.
Or there's a scene like in Brokeback Mountain with anal sex between straight people, but the implication is that the man's really gay, and he's suppressing it. That's why he has anal with his wife. We're just not there yet in terms of any kind of positive representation.

Until then we have to use our imagination in scenes that might be anal sex--such as William Hurt and Kathleen Turner (Picture: 1) in Body Heat, Michael Douglas and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Picture: 1 - 2) in Basic Instinct, and Willem Dafoe and Madonna (Picture: 1) in Body of Evidence.
That's the other interesting thing. In porn, we can make everything explicit. In movies, it'll never be that explicit, unless it's discussed in the dialogue. We're never going to know if somebody's having anal sex or if it's doggy-style. Nobody's that good of an actress.

Is it easy to find adult actresses for an anal extravaganza?
The whole thing is that I respect people's boundaries, and performers will say upfront what they will and won't do. Sometimes it's about personal choice. Other times, they say, "Listen, I have anal sex in my personal life, and I'm not going to have it on film." That's fine. I don't need everyone in the adult industry to get on the anal-sex bandwagon--but when I'm casting, I want the most enthusiastic anal performers that I can find.

How difficult was it to find actresses for House of Ass?
Well, I have a longer list of qualifications than if someone just does anal. I really wanted people who were smart enough to be able to talk about their sexuality and their lives. I needed people with strong personalities. I had to handpick each and every person in my film. In some cases, I'd talk to agents and tell them what I needed. At least one agent was incredibly honest with me about who could sustain this 48-hour environment of wildness and could bring a lot to the story.

House of Ass is released by Adam & Eve, which is one of the more mainstream adult companies.
It wouldn't be crazy enough for most of the gonzo companies. Adult has gone in this direction--in terms of gonzo, especially--where it's all about how many things we can fit in somebody's orifices. That's not what I'm about. If there's no choking, or no girl's head in the toilet, then they're not interested. Adam & Eve is the only video company that has all their videos reviewed by therapists. They actually sign off on each video and say it's their professional opinion that what's being shown is a healthy depiction.

Did that make it difficult to show all aspects of anal--such as power games?
There are certainly things you can't do in an Adam & Eve video. You can't have any kind of rough sex. The consent has to be clear, and it has to feel playful. They're not too puritanical about it. There's some spanking in my video.

You've done anal scenes in your own films. Does that give you any kind of insight as a director?
I performed in the two videos I did for Evil Angel--The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex #1 and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex #2, both based on my book. I know what kind of shots I like, but I wasn't doing anything pioneering. More than anything, you've got to create a really good environment for your performers. You want them to feel free to express themselves and show a side of their sexuality they haven't shown before. I've been on porn sets where--literally--there's a director screaming at people. I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to have sex if someone I'm not having sex with is yelling from four feet away.

You should be pleased with the performances you got from the cast of House of Ass.
Joanna Angel (Picture: ) really emerges as the star--mostly because she was scheduled to do one scene in the video and ended up doing three scenes. The deal was that anyone could do as many scenes as they wanted with the other performers. She did her second scene with Mr. Marcus, and taking on Mr. Marcus is no small feat. Everyone could feel the chemistry in the room. I'd given camcorders to the other cast members, and Justine Joli was filming them. A little bit into the scene, Justine just started masturbating. She couldn't help herself.

Now that you're working more in the adult industry, do you plan to branch out from concentrating on anal sex?
There'll always be lots of anal sex in my videos. I love anal sex. In other videos, anal always goes hand-in-hand with some extreme power dynamic, or degradation. I really want to bring to the table how diverse anal sex can be. The dominant image in porn is still "Take it, bitch." I want to show the range from really sweet, intimate anal sex to intense, losing-your-mind anal sex. I really am trying to concentrate more on porn now. I don't want a multi-film contract or commitment, but I'd like to settle down with someone. [Laughs] "Settle down." That sounds so funny.

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