Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Dark Side of Porn: The Real Animal Farm

Let's start with an obvious disclaimer: this post is about a pornographic video, not the classic book by George Orwell. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the video. I saw it in the late 80s and it was my first and only experience with bestiality. It was repulsive yet compelling - like 2 Girls 1 Cup I couldn't stomach what I was seeing and yet I couldn't look away.

So why blog about it? Because I just read an article about it (link removed) which led me to the Wikipedia page about the woman that made the video in 1970. Yes, that's right: a young Danish woman who loved animals made these videos of her own free will and then sold them to a distributor. Denmark had very liberal pornography laws back then and the videos were not illegal, as they were in most other countries around the world. Coincidentally, the tape I saw was a copy that came to me via some local police officers. They had confiscated the VHS tape (ha! remember them?) from some pervert, but then made copies themselves that they passed around to friends.

I recall when I first watched the video (the only time I watched it) how dumbstruck I was to see a woman having sex with animals. I wondered if she was mentally disturbed, or a junkie, or had been exploited in some other way by a pimp. I had no way of knowing, but now, decades later, I've finally learnt the story of Bodil Joensen, the woman who made Animal Farm. The story of her life and upbringing is awful, so one possibly shouldn't be surprised she found it possible to make animal porn.

(And when I said she made the videos of her own free will I meant it with the caveat: what free will did she really have? I'm no doctor but I believe she had mental health issues from the beginning.)

The saddest thing was how she was so exploited by so many different people once she made the video. In the video below (a documentary, not the porno) you will see a variety of men who claimed to be her friend but were just the opposite. I was left feeling they all needed a swift kick in the balls, and then when they'd recovered from that maybe a good smashing in the face to instil some permanent damage. And I should punch myself in the balls too, because I also watched it**.

Also sad is that in the early 1970s, when the first movie came out, she was feted as an avant-garde empowered woman and became a minor sex celebrity. It took a while before anyone called "Bullshit!" and recognised what was happening to her.


** I almost tried to defend myself by saying I only watched it 15 years after the porno had been made (late 80s) but that's kinda the same as people who wear leopard skin coats trying to claim the animal was dead anyway or it's a 'vintage' coat and it would dishonor the animal's death to get rid of the coat now)

From Wikipedia:  Bodil Joensen
Her mother was often physically abusive, sometimes violently so, and would whip her. At the age of 12, she was raped by a stranger in a railway station. On returning home to tell her mother, she was beaten and blamed for the incident. Seeking a means to retaliate, she vowed to her mother that when she grew up she would have sex with boars, commenting in a later interview that her mother was "so shocked, she thought I was allied to the Devil". Turning to animals for affection, her dog became her best friend, companion and lover, and she wore a locket with his picture for the rest of her life.

Initially, after leaving home at 15, Joensen found work on a farm in a conservative area of Denmark. Her landlord, the farmer Gunnar Nielsen, commented, "She was passionate about animals." He added that she was entranced by the sight of animals breeding, an activity she stated she found "wonderful" to help with. She later left to set up her own breeding farm, "Insemination Central," which became popular through her ability to handle aggressive animals such as boars, but was then ruined by country gossip, spread principally by farmers' wives who were unhappy at the prospect of their husbands working with a young single girl on farm business. She commented later, "Nine out of ten men wanted to fuck me, and their wives hated me."

Launched in the context of a failing business and attempts to remain solvent in order to keep her livestock and home, her career in pornography began at age 17 when she appeared in "light fetish" pornography before establishing herself in the bestiality subgenre at around age 25. Between 1969 and 1972 she starred with animals in over 40 movies. The movie A Summer's Day (1971) was released in the U.S. as Animal Lover. She wrote a column answering readers' letters in SCREW magazine.

In this genre, Joensen drew special attention worldwide as The Boar Girl, a reputation earned from her live performances with swine, as well as her participation in films shot with pigs on her own breeding centre. The award-winning documentary Bodil Joensen - en sommerdag juli 1970 (1970), by Shinkichi Tajiri, shows her living with her animals on her farm during this era, including their care, her affection for them, and her sexual life. At the time, she lived with "two rabbits, seven dogs, a dozen pigs, some cats, a guinea pig, a mare and a beautiful black stallion named Dreamlight". 
 
Her Danish biographer commented later that she seemed a very open, warm-hearted person, "very at home with nature", and that "when she plays her erotic game with the dog or horse, it is not only a sexual curiosity, it is an erotic play with animals she loves and who are devoted to her". It was the surprising winner of the Grand Prize of the Wet Dream Film Festival in Amsterdam, November 26–29, 1970, where it premiered. Joensen immediately became an underground celebrity, and drew attention from other documentary makers as well as tourists towards her expanding farm. 
By the early 1970s, Joensen had managed to achieve her goal of living on her own farm with her daughter (born c. 1972), as well with her companion/partner. Some refer to Knud Andersen as a companion, some as a partner, one suggests platonic friendship. In The Dark Side of Porn: The Real Animal Farm, Joensen is quoted as saying "I'm bored when I'm alone, and so is he, so we're good company for each other." Joensen helped finance the farm by allowing sex tourists to visit it and make private films with her animals. 
Friends say she was "easily exploited by almost anyone with a camera" and that the visitors "just wanted pornography, they didn't care about knowing her". Neighbours, once friendly, turned dark and hostile, forcing her to move repeatedly. As the Danish adult industry began looking to other content, Joensen failed to make the transition from porn to other movies, and her financial stability and life began to fall apart. After 1972, she experienced a sharp deterioration, undergoing very obvious physical and psychological changes, including depression, first working as a "live show" and "sexual roleplay" girl. By 1980, with little remaining means of income and spiralling debt, the only work she was able to retain was a hectic routine of small scale live shows most evenings.  
Joensen commented in a 1980 interview: “ Things went completely out of hand when my dog 'Spot' died. I started drinking and eating excessively. I've never been able to talk to other girls, I've always been with men. 'Spot' was my female friend. She understood what I said. When we were alone in the house without light and heat we went to bed together. Shared a biscuit. And then we talked, until we fell asleep. 'Spot' is the only living creature that has loved me for being just me. She didn't expect to get anything back. She soothed me when I was ill. I've experienced a lot with 'Lassie', and like him a lot. But it'll never be the same as with 'Spot'. Lassie has been unfaithful to me. He's an every-girls-dog. 'Spot' was mine. Completely mine. That's why I had such a shock when she died and started drinking, and eating myself fat in no time. I live with my man for 10 years and my eight-year-old daughter [yet] still I feel like the loneliest human being now that 'Spot' is dead. In those days I earned easy money in a tough line of work. I fell and fell. 'When will I reach the bottom?' I often ask myself these days.” 
Her life falling apart, Joensen became dependent on alcohol, and progressively less able to care for her animals. With little left, she turned to street prostitution to support herself, her partner (an alcoholic himself) and daughter, although friends comment that even then, she did not want to be with people this way – all she wanted was her animals, as it once had been. Resorting to exchanging any sexual favour for alcohol and tranquilizers, she stated in her final interview that "in my position it is hard to turn down anything, no matter how disgusting... for me, staying alive in the hooking business is hell". 
Joensen gave her last interview in 1980 and died in 1985.

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Remembering an Ex on Fetish Friday