January 1, 2001

Beautiful Agony

On the web: Subscription Site

Beautiful Agony is a subscription website that launched in 2002. Originally based in Australia, it is now operated out of Amsterdam by the same company that runs Gentleman Handling, I Feel Myself, and I Shot Myself.

The site does not feature any nudity at all. Rather, a camera is trained on someone's face while they masturbate, and the performer's face is all one sees. Given how expressive the face is of what someone is feeling, one gets a very good sense for what is happening not so much to the person's body as to their mind. The sense of tension as the performer's approach orgasm, riding their arousal as it rises and falls, is amazing. But even more so is the incredible look of pleasure as they hit that point where they know they are about to cum. And then, of course, do.

Beautiful Agony features both male and female performers, usually by themselves, but sometimes as couples and, very occasionally, as larger groups. There was, for example, a series of videos, in 2007 and 2008, featuring five women, all lying in a kind of star shape, with their heads at the center, and masturbating together.

Is it a porn site? Probably not. But we think it is a feminist porn site, anyway. As they put it:

Beautiful Agony began as a multimedia experiment, to test a hypothesis that eroticism in human imagery rests not in naked flesh and sexual illustration, but engagement with the face. We wondered whether film of a genuine, unscripted, natural orgasm—showing only the face—could succeed where the most visceral mainstream pornography fails, and that is, to actually turn us on.

We agree that mainstream porn generally sucks, though the problem, as we see it, isn't so much that it can't turn us on, as that you have to set so much else aside to let it do so. But what is true is that "engagement" with another person's pleasure, through their face, can be extremely arousing, and that one does not need "naked flesh" for it to be so.