Spend a dirty weekend with The Barge House on September 16th and 17th – Open House Weekend has NEVER seen anything like this before!
Cheerleaders can’t take showers without having an orgy – and the delivery guy usually ends up delivering extra sausage whenever a lady orders pizza. But if you think porn is tired and cliché, let The Barge House blow your mind. Taking inspiration from the building’s past as a print works for pornographic magazines, The Barge House is hosting a weekend that will explore the history and culture of British erotica.
The event is part of London’s annual Open House Weekend, which gives Londoners the chance to explore some of the capital’s most renowned venues – for free. The Barge House’s bar, mezzanine and event lounge will be transformed into gallery and performance spaces that will host stimulating talks, screenings, installations and workshops based around sex in print, celluloid and online, plus the factors that influence porn culture.
Porn baron, David Sullivan, used the Haggerston building to publish his flesh mags during the 1970s, a time when the canal was a shady area, ideally suited for business best kept under wraps. Locals who were in the know will remember the era in conversation with Ram Books, an erotic bookshop based on Holloway Road. The conversation will explore the history of the Barge House building, its connection to the porn industry and London’s adult scene over the last 40 years.
Sullivan plucked iconic British porn actress Mary Millington for stardom during the 1970s, helping her become the UK’s first superstar sex actress. The weekend will host a screening of the documentary film Respectable: The Mary Millington Story, which charts Mary’s rise to fame – including being photographed topless outside 10 Downing Street – and the tragic end that followed. The film’s writer and director Simon Sheridan will be taking part in a Q&A session for those intrigued by Mary’s story.
An audio installation of Dirty Fan Male – a musical, laugh-out-loud narration of fan mail written to British porn stars – will be available on headsets throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, an exhibition of edited excerpts of vintage porn films – from Victorian loops to Debbie Does Dallas and Dans le Chaleur de St Tropez – will be screened in the event lounge.
The Barge House weekend will also reflect how contemporary porn is evolving, including the rise of independent adult productions online. Porn filmmaker Vex Ashley, founder of the Four Chambers project, will give her perspective on how her productions are challenging the aesthetic and conceptual potential of pornography as a medium for ideas.
Of course, we don’t just use tech to view images of sex; we also use it to search for potential partners. Ana Kirova, project manager at Feeld (formerly Thrinder), will give a talk on how apps like hers are helping people explore their sexuality. Playwright, Anthony Neilson, will give a live reading of his controversial play The Censor. Some things are better left to the imagination, but the New York Times has said Neilson, “can’t keep his mind out of the toilet.”
Someone who would disagree with that surmise is Jerry Barnett, founder of the Sex & Censorship campaign, which aims to counter misinformation about sexual expression in the media. Drawing on his experience as a sometime porn vendor, Jerry will give an overview of pornography and censorship through the ages. Jerry will also join award-winning journalist and sex educator Alix Fox for ‘Argy Bargy’, a panel discussion about the sex industry, alongside sexpert Luke Douglas and Cathy Keen from Feeld.
Elsewhere, legendary feminist artist Miss Pokeno’s installation Too Ugly For Words – will give a visual representation of the sexual insults often hurled at women. Fellow artist and member of Alabama 3, Nick Reynolds, will also have art installations in place throughout the weekend. Matthew Glamorre, godfather of London’s underground scene, will explore the polarities of gender in politics, religion and identity in his live art show Scism The Gender Agenda, which combines performance, music, spoken word and video.
For those who want to get handsy on Saturday night, Allison England will deliver a workshop on spanking, which promises to turn slap n’ tickle into a fine art. The event will wind down on Sunday with an erotic tea cup-decorating workshop, hosted by artist and designer Adele Brydges, followed by high tea (charges apply).
Intimate, thought provoking, arousing, at times shocking – the Barge House’s weekend programme promises to thrill and satisfy. Full details and free tickets available HERE.
Open House Weekend runs 16th-17th September 2017
The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1 5RY