In an industry rampant with misogyny, unrealistic expectations of women, and videos that lack any sort of diversity, it’s not only refreshing to find writers, directors, and performers that are producing feminist porn, it’s downright inspiring. Adult entertainers like Stoya and Joanna Angel have been making huge strides in the industry with their self described feminist porn, with the former even creating her own website of “curated smut” aptly named Trenchcoat X (link NSFW, obviously, as are all that follow). There is, however, a distinct lack of diversity in age when it comes to female entertainers versus male entertainers, a gap that has yet to be bridged — until now.
Morgana Muses is a 52 year old adult entertainer, one whose kinks, body positivity and sexual liberation seem to suggest that she’s a seasoned veteran of the industry. But just five years ago, Muses was a regular Australian housewife — one whose upbringing centered primarily on what a good woman should and shouldn’t be.
Tattoodo: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to the adult industry?
Morgana Muses: I’m a shy and private person by nature and journeying into the adult industry wasn’t something that I had ever contemplated doing. After my divorce at age 47, I found that I wasn’t confident enough in myself as a woman to seek out a sexual partner in a conventional way. Instead of being rejected at a bar or something like that, I chose to hire an escort to fulfill my needs and desires.
During one of our bookings, I mentioned to the escort that it might be fun to make a short film to submit to the 2012 Petra Joy Award for first time female filmmakers. The film idea I had was to depict me imagining our first ‘date’.
The escort agreed and the film “Duty Bound” went on to be the eventual and unanimous winner of the award. Petra Joy, who is an acclaimed pornographer in her own right, asked if I would consider making more films. Since I found the whole experience to be liberating and empowering I decided that I would continue to venture into the adult industry, to try to help make the change I wanted to see.
In the past, you've said that your upbringing sort of stifled your sexual journey. When was the turning point where you decided you wanted to live a "truer" version of yourself?
My upbringing was incredibly repressed, with a lot of shame and silence around sexuality. I had originally made "Duty Bound" as a document, or proof of my womanhood, so when it won the Petra Joy award I was given this huge dose of permission to say I have a sexuality and this is me. Capturing my sexuality on film and having others engage with my story gave me a newfound confidence within myself. My desire to explore my sexuality, particularly my kinky side that I had always suppressed, was suddenly sparked and I refused to look back or hold myself back any longer.
What is it like to be one of the "oldest newcomers" in the industry? What has the overall reception been like?
I have to say, despite my fears, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive worldwide. It’s a wonderful situation to be in, acting as a role model and spokesperson for all ages, genders and body types. I know my age is what made me a point of difference and originally I did think my audience would be my fellow 40+, but I get people of all ages and gender identities connecting with me through my films which is more than I could have ever hoped for.
You've worked with some of the leading ladies of the adult industry, like Petra Joy, and most recently you were featured on Stoya's website, Trenchcoat X. Assuming you've worked with male directors and writers before, what do you think is the main difference between the direction, story line, and overall production of a female led project vs. a male led project?
So, this is a bit crazy but I’ve never worked with a male directors or writer before. Not by design, but I have found an amazing crew of women whom I love to collaborate with. Australia has a fantastic community of ethical/feminist pornographers and we have shared a lot of knowledge when it comes to filmmaking. I’m a strong descendent of Petra Joy and Candida Royalle’s thoughts on the importance of getting female desires documented. Using a female crew is the best way to amplify my own female perspective. I also find my work seems to feature on female or queer sites, like Erika Lust or Pink Label.TV, which is fantastic to reach those audiences.
Your work deals with body positivity as well as the feminist aspect of porn. What do you think makes your work so different than the more "mainstream" films you find on larger sites like PornHub, Redtube, or XVideos?
Mainstream porn is obviously a bit of a fluid term — no pun intended — but to generalize you might identify that type of work by its context, generally found online with the explicit aim of being there to get your rocks off. These films may not be made with fair work agreements between parties, may not have realistic depictions of sex like skimming over the condom or anal without lube — and may not have much diversity in their cast. Permission 4 Pleasure’s aim is to explore through narrative/ experimental film genres sexuality and social stigma - they are little short films, with the narrative or story centering around sex or sexuality. We also employ, as I mentioned before, women in all the key roles on set so we do a good deal of attempting to capture the female gaze. On top of filmic differences, we also practice ethical work standards on our sets, engage in a good deal of collaboration with our performers and try to depict nuance as well as sex positive ethics.
What can you tell us about your website, Permission 4 Pleasure, and any upcoming projects we can expect?
The last three years have been an amazing whirlwind of incredible experiences and opportunities. I’ve decided to step back and take some time off this year, due to my mental health relapse, which I also made a film about. I have three films currently doing the festival rounds, one about breathplay, one about voyeurism and a documentary about a conscious kink practitioner in Berlin.
There is also a feature documentary being made about my life currently in post-production.
The portrayal of women in the adult entertainment industry has long been the subject of controversy, but with adult stars like Stoya and Morgana Muses setting an unprecedented example of what feminist pornography looks and acts like, the future of the responsible porn industry looks a little brighter everyday.