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April 02, 2019

Bree Mills on 'Transfixed,' and the Trans Tipping Point

LOS ANGELES—Even since her first big critical successes—the 2015 Girlsway hits The Business of Women and The Turning—Bree Mills has wowed adult entertainment fans with her transcendent genre movies, enriching all-girl erotica with the tropes of mainstream entertainment, including noir, horror and science fiction. After that, she moved into fauxcest porn with Pure Taboo, winning Best Drama at the 2018 AVN Awards with the movie Half His Age: A Teenage Tragedy. Now, with Transfixed.com, she's exploring transsexual erotica and once again, she's elevating the genre. To get a taste of just how elevated, sample the SFW footage on the site's YouTube channel. Transfixed is both a micro-site and a series on AdultTime.com, Mills' Netflix-style specialty streaming service. But more importantly, Transfixed offers glamorous, sensual pairings between trans and cis women, rife with references from history, literature, film and pop culture, and is shot in a visual storytelling style that sets it apart from Mills' other studios. The first scene debuted in November of 2018, but today marks the beginning of regular weekly episodes for the still-new series. And the scenes so far make good on the site's boast: "Welcome to a New Era in Trans Sexuality." Before she started Transfixed, Mills had a vision for bringing trans and cis performers together in scenes that would appeal to fans of girl/girl erotica. "I wanted to do a trans women-on-women series for, like, two years," Mills said. "I had spoken to enough performers who said, 'I want to do this but I don't know where I could.'"  So Mills thought, 'What if a mainstream player went in and made a product that was really beautiful, really erotic, really focused on working with the performers and could create this safe entry point into working with trans performers?' She continued, "I wasn't quite sure how I get in, how to get the ball rolling, and last spring I was on set with Cherie DeVille for another project and she approached me about wanting to have me shoot her first trans scene. And that conversation led to the first Transfixed scene, starring DeVille and Venus Lux. "I told her I had this idea called Transfixed about doing really high-end collabs with performers for trans content. [Cherie] wanted to work with Venus because she knew Venus off camera. ... so I said, 'Send me some ideas.'"  Working toward Mills' goal of making the scene a living Vogue pictorial, DeVille suggested re-creating a sixties pool party. In a wordless vignette, the viewer watches as DeVille becomes more and more ... transfixed by Lux. A still from "Venus at the Party," the debut scene on Transfixed, starring Cherie DeVille and Venus Lux. (The scene can be viewed free here.) The look of the first episode is ground-breaking not only for the trans genre but also as a departure for Mills and Gamma Films. "The look is different," Mills concurs. "Most of the episodes are shot with a heavier focus on a visual narrative. This is something that I started to do in my own work a year ago when I started to shoot Girlcore. When I started to do the Adult Time stuff in general. With Pure Taboo I had been very focused on working with the actors on bringing these stories to life through the improv dialogue and really dialogue-heavy stories." But with solid teams in place to produce Pure Taboo content, including Craven Moorehead and cinematographer Matt Holder, Mills was ready to move on and build a new style for Transfixed: "kind of like music videos, where you see a story unfold, but it's not as much really deep, dialogue-driven stories but more visually based. The first episode with Cherie and Venus is a really good example of that. What I did is, I literally made the shot list. Every cut you see in that scene is how I wrote that story." Mills drew inspiration from, of all things, a dream sequence at a masquerade ball from the 1986 movie Labyrinth, featuring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. "I wanted to make Venus the queen of that party," Mills says, explaining, "It's a very different way of approaching production than anything else I have done and it's forced me to be much more conscious of the actual visual narrative. ... I have to know every shot I'm going to do and every shot has to count." After the scene was released for free on the Adult Time platform, Mills says, "It got really, really strong viewership. Gamma did an exit poll (we do a lot of surveys with members), which found about 80 percent of viewers had never watched a trans scene before but were curious to watch this because of the way it was presented, because of Cherie, because it was created by myself, who had a background in other lesbian projects ... and almost a hundred percent of the people wanted to see more. It hit the nail on the head for me. If you make a series like this, it kind of transcends the trans market. You're going to get people who are interested in that, but you're also going to get people who are interested in watching their favorite cis performer do this scene, or just lesbian fans in general. I don't shoot these scenes any differently than I shoot a lesbian scene. I don't fake orgasms. If a trans woman cannot ejaculate, I don't fake it." Bree Mills explains that attitudes toward trans performers and trans porn are at the tipping point—that delicate fulcrum where attitudes shift, tastes change and an industry embraces change. She sees that point coming for transsexual performers. "If you remember like five, six years ago, anal as a niche was like generally regarded as super extreme hardcore, and if you were a performer, you were only going to do that if you were gonna go down the super hardcore girl route. And there were only certain studios that you would then work with in that genre. And the same with—well, I'll use the term because it's [commonly] used the interracial genre. If you're a good girl, you shouldn't do that, because you're going to be seen as X, Y or Z. And even though it was a commercially viable niche that people were interested in, there was this sort of industry prevention that was going on. It took two things to make a change. It took the performers themselves saying, 'Hey, I'm interested in doing this' ... And the second thing was that somebody needed to come in and create a brand or a website or a series that elevated that niche. Obviously with interracial, the big player was Greg [Lansky], who came in and said, 'I'm going to make something that's really beautiful, super high-end. ... I'm going to create the most beautiful thing you can imagine. He got a bunch of high-profile girls in the beginning to sign on to it, and then the tipping point happened. And now everybody and their brother is rushing to get their first IR scene." Mills asserts, "I really see working with trans performers, particularly trans women, as being the next tipping point. The performer interest is there. What's missing is the space. And there are definitely companies out there that are producing good-quality trans content, but they're still in niches. Evil Angel is still very much within the Evil Angel universe, quite hardcore content, more focused on gonzo scenarios. Mindgeek did a series called Trans Angels ... pairing trans women with male performers. So there's this space that's missing for a very beautiful, very inclusive trans product that also features the type of trans pairing that is the most popular, which is trans women with other women." (Mills also plans on shooting at least one trans-on-trans scene in the first season of Transfixed.) Now that Mills has provided that space, cis performers are flocking to it. Mills mentions Joanna Angel, Kristen Scott and Gia Paige as having done their first trans scenes for Transfixed. "Joanna shot with Casey Kisses and TS Foxxxy. I shot Natassia Dreams and Ana Foxxx together. Bree Daniels, we're going to be doing. Sarah Vandella did Casey Kisses as well," she enumerates. And she can pinpoint the trans performer who's the biggest draw. "We've shot Natalie Mars four or five times. She is the tipping point. ... She also has a huge following. She was Kristen's first, Cadence Lux's, Haley Reed's. She's the cool trans girl that all the porn girls want to shoot with. She's getting huge exposure with mainstream fans because of that." Above, a still from Transfixed.com. From right, Riley Reyes, Ana Foxxx, Natassia Dreams and Maya Kendrick. Below, a still from "Last Call," starring Casey Kisses, Joanna Angel and TS Foxxy. The main obstacle she's finding: performers who want to shoot their first trans scene for their own site or clip store. But that's really not a problem: "I don't need to have people's first; that's not the focus of the product." Instead, the focus is on creating this really fun art project, Mills says. "I've done episodes that are inspired by really classic examples of femininity that I can deconstruct and play with. I can do episodes that are based on pop culture references." She mentions "The Heist," a tribute to Thelma & Louise that stars Natalie Mars and Haley Reed. "We invest a lot of energy into styling them, so that when you look at it, you know that it's Thelma & Louise." Another homage is a scene with Chanel Santini playing Red Riding Hood to Kleio Valentien's Wolf. "How can I take what people really recognize as classic examples of women in history or literature or culture and have a lot of fun deconstructing them? It's also super queer, which I love, as a very gay woman." Other upcoming vignettes include a fashion-shoot-inspired scene for Natassia Dreams and Ana Foxxx, and April O'Neil and Lena Kelly doing an Alice in Wonderland-themed shoot. And then there's a scene with Lena Kelly and Sinn Sage. The two wanted to take turns topping each other, so Mills re-created a very famous Vanity Fair photo shoot from the early '90s with Cindy Crawford and k.d. lang. She says, laughing, "A pretty groundbreaking photo shoot that is now being reimagined in this trans/lesbian series by this weirdo lesbian filmmaker." Mills is proud of the content that's come out and believes it's in the service of the goal of moving the niche closer to the mainstream. "What's beautiful is, the more we do ... people just see, 'Wow, that's a really cool concept.' I've got more people now who want to shoot than I even have production dates." Above, Lena Kelly and Sinn Sage in "Keep It Close"

 
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