Browsing posts tagged with porn
Apr
30

The academic study of porn

Illustration by AnotherExample.

Taking an analytical eye to porn is not new. When feature-length porn films began playing in movie theaters in the 1970s, some feminist scholars and activists reacted with disdain, arguing that porn was inherently objectifying. Others disagreed, leading journalist and activist Ellen Willis to coin the term “pro-sex feminism” in 1981.

Around this time, film scholar Linda Williams wrote the groundbreaking book Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible, and Concordia University film studies professor Thomas Waugh started including porn in his classes on sexuality and cinema. The school endorsed his decision, but colleagues often did not.

It’s been 30 years since then, and, as shown by this excellent piece in University Affairs, interest in the study of porn has not waned. In fact, there’s a new academic journal from Routledge called Porn Studies, created specifically to compile scholarship on the subject. At the helm of the publication is Lynn Comella, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has been teaching about porn since 2001. Only after receiving tenure last July did she dare use the word “porn” in her course title.

What does a class on porn look like? Well, take the aptly-named “Porn Studies,” taught at York University by associate professor of sexuality and gender studies Bobby Noble. It’s held at 8:30 in the morning with the aim of attracting only serious pupils. For the first several weeks of class, students aren’t shown any film clips, photos, or images — instead, they discuss what pornography is and what assumptions are made about it. The first images they see are those of Victorian women from the 1850s.

In later weeks, Noble teaches about more contemporary issues such as queer and feminist porn, and the ways in which modern technology has altered the consumption and perception of the medium. “I was very impressed by their levels of maturity, the levels of sophistication, their poetical analyses,” Noble said about the first time he taught the class. “I could tell that these were questions about sexuality and sexual representation that they wanted to talk about, but haven’t had the space in which to do that.”

Meanwhile, Noble’s colleague at York University Lisa Sloniowski is compiling the Feminist Pornography Archive, which originally existed simply to provide materials for students taking applicable courses. It received a three-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in 2010, and Sloniowski is now tackling the difficult questions: what is feminist porn, actually? Will the collection reside in the library itself or in a more private location? How will it operate in the digital age?

Ultimately, the study of pornography is similar to studying any artistic medium. Rebecca Sullivan, who teaches an advanced film seminar on pornography at the University of Calgary, explained:

I want to look at this film the same way we’d look at Hitchcock. What’s going on here? What do we learn? How do we embrace or resist it? Let’s move away from the pro- and anti- argument. It’s divisive and counterproductive. And it’s bad scholarship.

Read the whole piece at University Affairs.

  Musings      ,  
Feb
1

New product round-up for January

LELO Mona Wave and Ina Wave

When it comes to new technological innovations, LELO is always coming up with something exciting. This month it’s the Mona Wave and Ina Wave, based on their popular Mona and Ina vibrators. These unique toys have shafts that physically move up and down, mimicking a “come hither” motion against the G-spot.

LELO also released an upgraded version of one of their classic vibrators: Siri 2. We’re thrilled that this toy is now waterproof and more powerful than before! It even has a sound-responsive setting, enabling the toy to vibrate to any music playing in its vicinity.

We have several other new toys — the Crave Vesper, OhMiBod Lovelife Cuddle, Bettie Page Buzzin’ Bullet, and Fun Factory ShareVibe — which are featured in our Valentine’s Day Picks. Visit that post for more information about each!

New DVDs from Erika Lust and Courtney Trouble

Prolific feminist porn maker Erika Lust just released the third installment of her DVD series X Confessions. With stories based on anonymous sex confessions submitted to her site, this compilation features group sex, roleplay, outdoor sex, ice play, strap-on sex, and more! We also picked up some delicious new queer porn from Courtney TroubleFucking MysticFuckstyles 2: Dirty Fucks, and Trans Lesbians.

Our latest books include Best Women’s Erotica 2015, Kissing: A Field GuideAs Kinky As You Wanna Be: Your Guide to Safe, Sane, and Smart BDSM, and the latest from the venerable senior sex expert Joan Price, The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Fifty. The new Original Plumbing is the Selfie Issue, featuring reader-submitted photos and ruminations on trans portrayals in popular culture!

Finally, just in time for Valentine’s Day, we snagged some of Filthy Farmgirl’s fabulous Filthy Valentine soap! The scent is cardamom rose, and it is lovely.

Jan
29

Good porn for women: it exists!

Cover of Erika Lust's film, HandcuffsJournalists, especially those not familiar with the adult industry, can sometimes make sweeping statements that aren’t exactly correct. For example, it is common for a mainstream journalist or blogger to off-handedly lament that there is no porn out there for women.

That’s what happened when Nikki Gloudeman wrote an article at Ravishly arguing that she couldn’t find any tasteful, well-acted porn for women. While she conceded that feminist porn does exist, she insisted that all of it was “decidedly low-budget and short on a truly compelling plotline.”

This isn’t true, and readers and porn filmmakers alike rushed in with evidence to the contrary. A month later, Gloudeman wrote a follow-up post. “I was wrong. Very wrong. Shamefully wrong,” she wrote. She was sent a box of DVDs from Jacky St. James, director of New Sensations’ Romance Series.

I immediately curled up on the couch to watch a rom-com sex romp called The Friend Zone. And, well . . . it was good. Like, really good. It had legitimate production values. The acting ranged from just fine to truly impressive. The script was funnier than most mainstream rom-coms in theaters today (Hollywood producers, take note). And . . . what’s this? Is that a sex scene involving people who actually seem to care about one another? Is that woman being respected as she’s being pleasured? Is that a condom I see?

The experience was, in a word, a revelation, satisfying in every desired way.

With this new world opened up, Gloudemen set out to interview several women doing great things within the adult industry. She talked to two producers of adult DVDs, Erika Lust and Jacky St. James, and two owners of erotic websites, Angie Rowntree of Sssh.com and Anna of FrolicMe.com.

Rowntree began in the mid-’90s, when everyone told her there was no market for women’s porn, and she has been steadily proving them wrong ever since. Anna started with an erotic blog, which then morphed into writing stories and making films with the same sensual aesthetic. Lust studied political science and took film directing classes before shooting her first erotic short, which was so popular it changed the course of her life. Jacky St. James, an avid porn consumer, happened upon a script-writing contest for New Sensations’ Romance Series. The company loved her submission, and she soon quit her corporate job to write and direct full-time.

Ultimately, all four women were dissatisfied with some facet of the erotic material they consumed (as Erika Lust put it: “when I first watched porn the feminist in me felt cheated, the activist in me felt mad and the sexual me felt . . . aroused”), and that is part of what drives them to make something different.

Gloudemen asked each of them about their personal histories with porn, their goals and ideals with their work, what they think about the word “porn,” and where feminism fits in with what they do. The interview is full of amazing and thoughtful answers, but Rowntree’s response to the question “why is it important for women to have access to adult films that resonate with them?” is particularly insightful:

One of the criticisms I hear the most about the porn industry is that its products objectify women and present us in a very unflattering way—and that’s true of a lot of porn. To me, though, the answer isn’t to protest the porn industry, try to get porn censored, or even to spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince people that porn is bad. To me, the answer is to make better porn. The answer is to make porn that does present women in a good light, that does depict true intimacy and that does emphasize mutual pleasure, instead of reducing the women it depicts to being mere objects of men’s pleasure.

All four women urged readers to always keep looking if they can’t find porn that appeals to them. Go beyond tube sites and rudimentary Google searches. Peruse the nominees and winners of the Feminist Porn Awards. Visit sex shops and ask questions. It’s out there, and it’s really well-done — you just have to dig a little bit deeper.

  Musings      , ,  
Dec
17

Thrills and mundanities on a queer porn set

 Nic Switch and Iona Grace with Shine Louise HoustonWhat goes on behind the scenes of a queer feminist porn shoot? According to Anna Pulley, writing for Alternet, performers ogle cat photos, knit scarves in the colors of the bisexual flag, and shoot the breeze about fisting censorship and breast milk pumping. The kitchen is well-stocked with coffee, fruit, and chips, and Feminist Porn Awards line the walls.

Scenes for queer porn site Crash Pad Series are shot in an unassuming neighborhood in San Francisco by filmmaker and director Shine Louise Houston, production assistant Jiz Lee, videographer Alexa Shae, and photographer Tristan Crane. The room is equipped with a “voyeur cam,” which allows members of the site to watch the scene in real time. The best scenes are compiled for DVD releases.

Anna Pulley visited the set to watch two scenes unfold: Nic Switch and Iona Grace, followed by Ray and Maggie Mayhem. As is always the case with Crash Pad scenes, performers first discussed their vision for the scene with Houston. Performers’ desires and limits are steadfastly respected and followed; the only true rules are no blood, no poop, and… no glitter. (It’s far too difficult to clean up!).

Then, the scene began. Pulley writes,

Since the room was small and crowded, I tried to flatten myself against the wall as much as possible, but even then I could’ve reached out and touched the performers, they were so close. I briefly considered the possibility of being in the line of fire should ejaculation occur, but mostly pushed that thought out of my mind and enjoyed my front-row seat. Luckily, I remained dry through both shoots…at least outwardly.

As a feminist, I’ve found there’s often a negotiation that occurs when watching most porn, especially if it involves any kind of heavy aggression or degradation. Because, let’s face it, our desires are hardly ever politically correct. When a woman in porn is tied up and being called a dirty whore, the last thing you want to be thinking is, “Does liking this make me a bad person?” With “Crash Pad,” there was no such negotiation. The performers genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. Nothing about the sex seemed contrived or for the benefit of an audience. Pleasure was the central tenet, and it worked. It was hot.

When all was said and done, several hours later, Pulley had witnessed a litany of sex acts, from strap-on play to Magic Wand buzzing to squirting — and a whole bunch of intense orgasms. Pulley commented on the large wet spot left on the bed afterward; her fascination was met with “oh, that’s nothing.”

After the scene, Houston interviewed the performers again to debrief. Grace explained why she does porn: it’s way more fun than being a cashier. Switch was more philosophical: she enjoys learning about herself and representing the queer community.

Pulley left the set with an armful of queer porn DVDs and a new outlook on feminist porn. She concluded, “it was certainly refreshing to witness Houston’s work, and to experience the kind of frank, pleasure-focused, authentic sex that rarely exists outside the mainstream.” Amen.

Jun
25

Honorary degrees for legendary pornstars

Club 90 porn pioneersThis week in San Francisco, four groundbreaking women will be awarded honorary Doctor of Human Sexuality degrees from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).

Jane Hamilton (aka Veronica Hart), Candida Royalle, Veronica Vera, and Gloria Leonard (now deceased) are former “Golden Age” porn performers as well as pioneers in the adult industry. All four women were involved in Club 90, the first ever pornstar support group, which launched in 1983 and is still running today.

Jane Hamilton performed in porn movies in the early 80s, then graduated to directing, editing, and producing, eventually earning a spot in the AVN Hall of Fame. Now she educates women all over the world about self-esteem, pleasure, and aging.

Candida Royalle was one of the first female porn directors. She created Femme Productions in 1984, focusing on directing films based on female desire, such as Stud HuntersCaribbean HeatEyes of Desire 2, and Afrodite Superstar. She wrote How to Tell a Naked Man What To Do and contributed an essay to The Feminist Porn Book. She now lectures and mentors young female porn directors.

Veronica Vera, aside from her work in adult films, founded Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls, the world’s first crossdressing academy.

Gloria Leonard, best known for her role in The Opening of Misty Beethoven, also directed several porn films and published High Society, a pornographic magazine. Her home at 90 Lexington Avenue was the inspiration for the name of Club 90. She was the first president of the Free Speech Coalition, a non-profit industry association which opposes obscenity and censorship laws. As a proponent of free speech, she bravely debated staunch anti-porn activists and visited college campuses to educate students on the First Amendment.

The Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality was founded in 1976 by Rev. Dr. Ted McIlvenna, and it was the first organization to award advanced degrees in what is still a growing field of sexology. Annie Sprinkle was the first person to be awarded a Ph.D. from IASHS in 2002. She will host the investiture and awards ceremony next week. There will also be a display of Club 90 archival materials that will be open to the public.

  Musings      ,  
May
27

Watching Trans Grrrls, her armor melts away

Chelsea Poe and Maxine Holloway in Trans GrrrlsAmy Dentata is a writer, game designer, and performer who touches on topics including trauma recovery, mental illness, sexuality, and transgender issues on her website and elsewhere. Recently she wrote something amazing on PinkLabel.tv: “Fumbling Towards Humanity: How Trans Grrrls Helped Me Open Up to My Partner.”

We knew Courtney Trouble’s Trans Grrrls was a very special porn film, but Dentata’s piece illuminates just how transformative it can be to see someone like yourself in erotic imagery.

As a trans woman, Dentata encounters many difficulties when it comes to not just dating, but simply existing in the world. When dating, she has to worry about a lack of chemistry, the challenges of physical intimacy, and her personal safety. Sex, even masturbation, is a minefield — Dentata can feel uncomfortable, anxious, detached from her body. It doesn’t help that in both mainstream media and mainstream porn, trans people are made to be punchlines, victims of violence, or taboo sex objects. Genuine, compassionate representation is almost impossible to find.

When Dentata started dating a cisgender woman named Kate, she found a partner who was willing to take the time to learn how to pleasure her. Still, during their first couple of sexual encounters, Dentata couldn’t orgasm. One night ended in tears when Dentata was overcome by body dysphoria and upsetting anti-trans thoughts.

But the third time was different. That night, they popped in Trans Grrrls and began touching each other while watching the first scene, featuring Chelsea Poe and Maxine Holloway. Dentata writes:

. . . the scene cut to an apartment, and Chelsea and Maxine tore off each other’s clothes. There on the screen was someone like me, having sex with someone like Kate. They were both happy, enthusiastic, and into each other. No “surprise reveal”, no horrified reaction shots, no cis gaze ruminating on how a trans partner might affect a cis person’s feelings about their sexual orientation. Just two women fucking.

It made me feel human. And naked, even though my clothes were already off. A layer of psychic armor hardened by slurs, stereotypes, and violence melted off my body. It felt like the universe said to me, “We have a place for you. You belong here.”

I said to Kate, “In a little bit you’re going to find out something I love about Maxine.” Maxine laughs when she comes, and it is so adorable. Kate agreed. Sometime after the second scene of the film, I had an amazing orgasm, all thanks to Kate. The isolation I felt during our previous encounters washed away. That orgasm was a revelation, a moment of healing, and I laughed like Maxine through the intense torrent of emotions. That was the first time I’ve ever laughed while coming instead of crying.

That was the night Amy Dentata felt like she belonged. Like there was a place in the world for her body, her identity, her sexuality. Her partner confirmed it — along with the performers in Trans Grrrls — and she was able to experience the pleasure everyone deserves.

Read the whole piece at PinkLabel.tv.

Jan
31

She Bop’s Picks: Valentine’s Day

The annual day of love is right around the corner — and you know we have the goods to help you celebrate in style! Sometimes, though, it can be hard to find just the right gift to woo someone with, or the perfect thing to splurge on for yourself. So we’ve rounded up our top recommendations for sexy items to make this Valentine’s Day memorable (and pleasurable!).

Check out last year’s picks, and our picks from 2012 and our 2011 for even more ideas.

BS Atelier dildo

BS Atelier dildos

Spanish dildo-makers BS Atelier make some of the most fun and colorful silicone dildos we’ve ever seen. Which one best fits the personality of your gift recipient (or yourself) — Rainbow, Vaca, Custom Lines, or perhaps one of the new ones with hearts on them that we’ll be getting in time for Valentine’s Day? Harness compatible and topped with curved and pronounced heads, these dildos can be excellent G-spot stimulators or prostate stimulators — whatever you want them to be!

Liberator Jaz Motion

Liberator Jaz Motion

Once you try the Jaz Motion, you’ll never go back to using pillows to prop yourself up during sex. This half-circle-shaped positioning pillow is made of furniture-grade polyurethane foam, which enables it to strike the perfect balance between comfort and support. Used with the flat side down, it can open up and enhance a variety of positions; used with the curved side down, it will gently rock back and forth with your motions. The Jaz Motion’s microsuede cover is removable and machine washable, and it even features a moisture-proof liner.

Wonderland C-Ring: The Heavenly Heart

Wonderland C-Ring: The Heavenly Heart

Cock rings can help a penis stay erect, add vibration for a partner, and even enhance orgasm. One of our latest cock rings is this adorable one from the Wonderland series. Not only is it made of silky 100% silicone, but the included bullet vibe has 10 (count ’em! 10!) functions.

An array of small things

Unusual Occasion cards, candy hearts, massage candles, feather tickler

Here’s an idea! What about combining several smaller gifts into a night of fun?

First, start with a card from Unusual Occasion — we love their straightforward format of a single word plus an illustration (such as “sex kitten” and “sweetie pie”). Then, pick out something for the sweet tooth: X-Rated Valentine Hearts or Risque Valentine Hearts come with phrases you won’t find on typical candy hearts. Follow that up with a Feather Tickler, then top the night off with the a massage, using the melted oil from a candle in the Seasonal Massage Candle Trio, which contains special edition romantic scents.

We-Vibe 4

We-Vibe 4

Now in its fourth generation, the remote-controlled We-Vibe remains a top choice for wearable couples’ vibrators. Meant to be worn vaginally during penetrative play, the We-Vibe 4 also makes an excellent discreet underwear vibe. Either way, it hugs the vulva, sending vibrations to the clitoris and the G-spot — and anything else that joins the penetration party. New in this edition of the toy? A re-imagined tighter and smaller shape, more power, and a more adjustable remote control equipped with 6 vibration modes.

njoy Pure Plug

njoy Pure Plugs

Whether you already enjoy anal play or are simply interested in trying it out, we love these solid stainless steel butt plugs made by njoy. Stainless steel is both weighty and very receptive to temperature, and the Pure Plug comes in three sizes to suit every taste. Each has a tapered neck and a looped base that sits between the cheeks for comfortable wear. Want something more prostate-focused? Try the Pfun. Want something bigger? Check out the Pure Plug 2.0.

Fun Factory Stronic Drei

Fun Factory Stronic Drei

Need a toy for someone who loves new gadgets? The Stronic Drei is part of Fun Factory’s Pulsator line, arguably one of the most innovative sex toy lines to be released in recent years. Rather than vibrating like other toys, Pulsators thrust, in a motion that is both incredibly unique and highly stimulating for those who like the sensation of movement. The rechargeable Stronic Drei is the latest shape in the line, featuring a ribbed shaft and curved tip for added sensation.

An erotic DVD

X Confessions and Come Find Me

It’s hard to pick just one DVD, since tastes vary so much from person to person. But we can tell you what’s new an exciting in the world of hot videos!

After taking anonymous sex fantasy submissions on her site X Confessions, erotic filmmaker Erika Lust turned them into explicit short films. X Confessions, which just came out, showcases the first 10 short films, with tantalizing titles such as “Hold Me So Tight it Hurts,” “I Pegged My Boyfriend,” and “A Blowjob is Always a Great Last Minute Gift Idea,” and themes including group sex, roleplay, erotic games, and bondage.

There have also been some great releases in the queer porn world recently, such as Come Find Me (which features a “bike-powered scavenger hunt”) and Trans Grrrls.

Hammerhead Wand Attachment

Hammerhead Wand Attachment

Finally! An attachment that harnesses the power of a wand-style vibrator and concentrates it on the penis! This stretchy TPR sleeve will fit over the head of any large wand vibrator, such as the Magic Wand or Bodywand Original, transmitting intense vibration as well as texture to the penis that slides into it. Bonus: the transparent material gives you a peek at the action!

Fun Factory Sonic

Fun Factory Sonic

Need a hefty double-ended dildo? Look no further than the Fun Factory Sonic. Made of silky 100% silicone and super easy to clean, it is incredibly flexible, long enough to reach all the good spots, and best of all — meant to be shared. Now the question is, who gets the smaller end and who wants the bigger more bulbous end?

Jan
31

New product round-up for January

new-products-jan-2014

Wondering what’s new in the shop this month? For starters, we got the Bliss Tips Wand Attachment, which can turn your wand vibe into a double pronged stimulator, and the remote-controlled LELO Hula Beads — which can turn a night on the town into a playful, interactive bit of foreplay. These beads create a unique internal sensation by rotating and vibrating, while the remote control lets a partner in on the action.

In the shop you can also find a special Red edition variety pack of Sir Richard’s condoms — 5% of their proceeds will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS (and, as always, they donate a condom to a developing country for each one you purchase). We also have the silicone Charm 2 dildo, which is perfect for those looking for length without added girth.

Check out the Hammerhead Wand Attachment, which can transform a wand-style vibrator into a vibrating penis sleeve, and two new styles of cock ring: the PrimO Tux Cock Ring and Wonderland C-Rings.

PrimO Tux Cock RingDirty NapkinsDirty Dishes
We’re so excited that Spanish filmmaker Erika Lust has released her latest movie, X Confessions. This one is based on her website, X Confessions, where folks are encouraged to submit their anonymous sex stories and fantasies. The DVD is a compilation of 10 stories turned into erotic films.

Last but not least: are you throwing a bachelorette or sex-themed party anytime soon? We’re pretty sure you need Dirty Dishes and Dirty Napkins.

Jan
24

A big year in porn for women

A screenshot from Ms Naughty's site Bright DesireMs Naughty is an Australian blogger, educator, and porn producer. She runs Bright Desire and For the Girls, porn sites that offer well-made erotic content such as videos, documentaries, and fiction.

Having worked in the industry for 13 years, Ms Naughty is a strong voice in the landscape of female-produced porn. Recently she published her yearly Porn for Women Retrospective, which tirelessly tracks all the developments in the world of female-friendly porn in the past year.

In her retrospective, Ms Naughty notes a boom in feminist porn specifically, including the publication of The Feminist Porn Book, the eighth annual Feminist Porn Awards (and other great awards shows honoring feminist and queer porn), the inaugural Feminist Porn Conference, and the addition of Feminist Porn Release of the Year to the roster in the mainstream Xbiz Awards.

2013 also saw the untimely passing of Carlos Batts; the release of Courtney Trouble’s Lesbian Curves, Tristan Taormino’s Guide to Kinky Sex for Couples, and Erika Lust’s X-Confessions; the publication of What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire; and the launch of a new academic journal called Porn Studies. Meanwhile, several surveys attempted to discern how many women watch porn — with no clear-cut answer.

In addition to the retrospective, check out this compilation video about the Feminist Porn Awards and Conference, with many clips from Ms Naughty’s work as well as Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Pegging:

Can’t get enough or want to delve further into the past? Read the rest of Ms Naughty’s retrospectives, dating all the way back to 2006!

2012 – Fifty Shades of Grey, romance porn, After Pornified and the growth of feminist porn.
2011 – Younger women using porn, more hot movies, sites and festivals.
2010 – “Hello Ladies,” queer fun, more hot movies and anti-porn crusades.
2009 – Oprah, awards, and increasing censorship.
2008 – Goodbye Playgirl, more queer porn, erotica book covers, The Porn Report and more.
2007 – That housework book, Daniel Craig in togs and blowjob debates.
2006 – Inaugural Feminist Porn Awards, CAKE and Ellora’s Cave.

Nov
11

Erika Lust turns anonymous fantasies into reality

We are longtime fans of erotic film director Erika Lust, and her latest endeavor, XConfessions, is just the cherry on top of why we love her. Originally launched three years ago as a place for users to share their anonymous sex fantasies and stories, XConfessions is getting even steamier. Now, Erika Lust is handpicking her favorite confessions and turning them into hot short films!

XConfessions has over 20,000 registered members and 250 confessions, of which 8 have already been filmed. In “Hold Me So Tight it Hurts,” a woman experiments with rope bondage. In “Let’s Make a Porno,” Lust helped a real-life couple achieve their dream of being filmed. “I Believe in Happy Endings” follows a masseuse who uses her whole body to massage her clients (this scene is also featured in Lust’s Life Love Lust).

Scenes that have yet to be posted include “Sadistic Trainer,” in which a confessor fantasizes about torturing their gym trainer, and “I Pegged My Boyfriend,” which is pretty self-explanatory. Erika Lust brings her usual stylish eye to all of these films, with brilliant casting, set design, music, and camera angles.

Register and confess anonymously today, and you can even watch some short clips for free.

We’ll leave you with a link to the trailer for “I Fucking Love IKEA,” a confession from a woman who really really loves watching her boyfriend build things.

  Musings      ,  
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