Madison Young always had a mission. Growing up in conservative Loveland, Ohio, she immersed herself in theater, painting, and dance. Drawn to the honesty and playfulness of the arts, she was also similarly interested in sex — a subject that was very hush-hush throughout her upbringing.
Young was always kinky; even when she was first discovering her sexuality, she fantasized about bondage, power play, and exhibitionism. With partners, she was able to explore and grow her love for BDSM, dabbling in flogging, caning, puppy play, fisting, and submission. In doing so, Young broke away from the shame and silence that had previously surrounded the topic of sex, and it was then that she knew what she wanted to do with her life: create spaces for others to see the beauty and pleasure potential of their bodies.
Young’s interest in sex, kink, and art truly converged when she moved to San Francisco in 2000. She wanted to open a non-profit feminist art gallery, so she began performing in BDSM porn to fund it (she estimates that it took about 20 scenes to gather enough money to sign the lease). On porn sets, the intensity of the bondage elements was new to her, yet also exhilarating and life-changing:
I just fell in love with the rope. I fell in love with the taste of the whip. I really enjoy pushing my body to the extreme. I think one of the things that made it such an easy fit for me is that I was very much also into Tantra and I was also very much aware of sexual energy. Tantra is very closely related to BDSM. It really is an energy and power exchange between you and your Dominant. They are giving you this energy and once they are putting this energy into you, you just need to know how to release it, how to breathe through it. You need to learn how to squirm around in your body and let it turn into all these beautiful colors and sensations. Some people see the work that I do and think it is very extreme. They wonder if I am in pain. They wonder how I can be smiling at the same time. I really don’t feel it as pain. I feel it as warmth and colors and different sensations.
Meanwhile, Young’s art gallery, Femina Potens, flourished. Her dream of opening a community space for queer artists had become a reality.
For the first five years of her adult career, Young was almost exclusively a bondage, fetish, and BDSM model. She eventually branched out into queer and mainstream work, and in 2005, she founded Madison Young Productions and began directing her own films. In her work as a director, she focuses on fostering a comfortable and supportive environment for her performers, opening the lines of communication to create an empowering experience. As a performer, she immerses herself fully in her scenes, pushing her body to its limits, and breaking down stereotypes — as a queer feminist who loves rough sex.
Young’s directorial work includes the movies Femmetastic!, Queer Manor, Lucky: A Woman’s POV, Fluid: Women Redefining Sexuality, and many more. Her films have been screened at film festivals throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Several have won Feminist Porn Awards and been nominated for AVN Awards. In 2009, she was named Indie Porn Pioneer at the Feminist Porn Awards. As a performer, she has starred in countless films, including Champion and Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage.
In March of 2011, Young gave birth to her daughter, Emma, which sparked an interest in the intersection of sexuality and motherhood. Naturally, Young began creating art on the subject, such as a quilt of sewn together burp cloths and “porn star panties.” At one exhibit, Young served breast milkshakes to guests. She also began the The Sexy Mamas Social Club in San Francisco, where parents in the sex industry gather to share their experiences.
Now, Femina Potens has been around for over a decade, and in that time has hosted over 500 art events. The organization recently expanded its programming to Los Angeles, New York City, and Austin, and secured a board of directors including Violet Blue and Margaret Cho.
Young currently lives in Berkeley, California and travels the country giving workshops and lectures on sex, feminism, porn, and kink. Her essay “Submissive: A Manifesto” appears in The Ultimate Guide to Kink. Her memoir, Daddy, will be available in the fall.
Madison Young can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on her websites, The Sexpert Next Door and Madison Bound. Check out some of her work in our shop, and don’t miss her upcoming February workshop with us: DIY Porn with Madison Young!