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Learning Can Be Fun   by Greta Christina

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Reviewer Greta Christina has worked in and around the sex industry for over a decade writing about it, editing books about it, and living it. She edited Paying For It, a collection of articles by all kinds of sex workers: dommes, escorts, peep show girls, T-girls. Her novella called Bending is out in Susie Bright's book Three Kinds of Asking For It (published by Simon & Schuster and can be found at In response to overwhelming member requests for reviews of sex toys, sexy films, and other sex whatnots, Ms. Christina brings her girl-about-sex wisdom twice monthly to AdultFriendFinder. You can check out Ms. Christina on her web site,


Nina Hartley's Guide to Spanking.
Directed by: Ernest Greene.
Starring: Nina Hartley, Kylie Ireland, Audrey Hollander, and Otto Bauer.
120 minutes. Adam & Eve Productions.
Available at: Good Vibrations,, and at Extreme Restraints,


I love it when information makes me want to whack off.

I guess that's why I love Nina Hartley's video sex guides so much. She's done a whole series of how-to DVDs -- on oral sex, anal sex, dirty dancing, swinging, three-ways, and more -- featuring both verbal information and explicit demonstrations, and every one that I've seen I've either liked or loved. Mostly loved. The first self-acknowledged "feminist porn star," Nina is both unbelievably sexy and unbelievably smart, and these two qualities feed off each other. Her sexuality drives her intellect and her thirst for knowledge, and her knowledge and intelligence add to her sexuality, enhancing her ease and confidence and easy-going authority. She obviously adores both talking about sex and having it -- an enthusiasm that's extremely infectious, both when she's talking and when she's having.

And she's an amazing educator. Nina's communication style is clear, friendly, direct, and down-to-earth, and she has the knack of making difficult or delicate ideas understandable without talking down to her audience. She's funny, she's inviting, she's upbeat, she's authoritative without being smug or obnoxious... I could go on and on. And she's... well, hot. She has a huge amount of fun having sex on camera, she's skilled and enthusiastic, and watching her makes me want to whack off. You get the idea. She's great. These videos are great. Trust me on this.

So Nina's come out with a new DVD in her sex-guide series, "Nina Hartley's Guide to Spanking." And being more than a little obsessed with spanking, I of course had to check it out.

Here's the deal.

This is a grand movie. Everything I just said a minute ago about Nina's sex-guide series, I'll say again about this particular movie. Smart, sexy, funny, clear, informative, inviting, enthusiastic, down-to-earth... did I miss anything? Nina loves both spanking and being spanked. She's been doing it for years, and she knows a huge amount about it. And in this DVD, she does an excellent job of conveying both her knowledge and her joy. If you're curious about either end of a good spanking, if you want to learn how to do it and why, this informative and inspiring video should be high on your "must-see" list.

And you should definitely check out the DVD extras. Especially the interview with Nina. The interview gives some excellent insight and perspective, not just on how to do erotic spanking, but on why; and it has some excellent ideas, not just on how to do spanking safely, but on how to do it well. It goes into a little more detail than the main feature, taking the movie up from a solid B+ to an unequivocal A.

But I should also tell you this: While this is a fine movie, it is also very much a beginner-oriented movie. If you're a newcomer to the delights of spanking, it's actually a positive selling point -- this DVD is aimed solidly at you. The information and advice is solid and clear, and it's very entertainingly presented. But the information is also extremely basic. If you're already an experienced spanking fan, none if this is going to be news to you.

Now, this isn't a complaint, exactly. But there are sex education/information guides in the world that are aimed at both beginners and more experienced players, guides that give the basics to newcomers while also giving more advanced tips and inspirational ideas to folks who've been at it for a while. This DVD is not one of them.

You'll spot it right away in the actual spanking scenes. The spankings in "Nina Hartley's Guide to Spanking" are sexy and playful, skillful and fun to watch. But they're not very intense. They're a walk on the mild side, which makes sense when you're not wanting to spook a newbie right off the bat with a heavy-duty ass-whupping. But there were times when I found the mildness frustrating. You could tell that even the participants wanted it harder -- like, a lot harder -- and that sense that they were holding back did cut into the video's overall eroticism. And the spankings always stopped too early for my admittedly perverse taste, cutting off just when things were getting good and jumping to the fucking and sucking.

Actually, that leads me to one of my few genuine criticisms of the movie. An idea that comes up several times in "Nina Hartley's Guide to Spanking" is that erotic spanking is fundamentally a form of foreplay, a playful and arousing buildup that you do before sex. Nina starts the video right off the bat by defining erotic spanking as "a ritualized form of sexual foreplay," and later on, when she's getting into more detail (and when she has Kylie Ireland over her knee), she says emphatically, "Don't forget -- this is a prelude to sex." I must humbly but fervently beg to differ. Yes, of course spanking can be foreplay. But it can also be a sex act in itself, with no other sexual play necessary, either before or after, to make it a completely satisfying erotic experience. I think I know what Nina's getting at -- she's trying to teach her audience to make spanking erotic, to incorporate sexual techniques and rhythms to make it more arousing instead of just chopping away. But I'd hate for newbies to think there was something wrong with them if they found themselves getting into the spanking for its own sake.

I also wish the erotic demonstrations were a little less, shall we say, acrobatic. That sort of thing can be fun in a purely-for-entertainment porno, but it doesn't make for a very useful demonstration of what you, too, can do at home. It's actually somewhat intimidating. I'm a reasonably limber person (for someone in her mid-40s, anyway), and I was watching parts of this video thinking, "Man, there's no way I could do that. I haven't been able to move my legs like that since I was nineteen."

And I would have dearly loved to see a demonstration of a man being spanked by a woman. As much as I love watching pretty girls get their pretty bottoms paddled, I also get annoyed at the stereotype that getting spanked equals being submissive which equals being female. Nina does make it clear that spanking is no slave to gender and that anyone can spank anyone. But that lesson really could have used a visual demonstration to hammer the point home.

I'm just nitpicking now, though. I personally didn't find the movie as enlightening or as dirty as I'd hoped, but I'm not the target audience for this DVD. For my own sake and the sake of my fellow spanking aficionados, I fervently hope that Nina does an Advanced Spanking guide sometime. But for the people that the video was made for -- sexually adventurous couples who've done little or no spanking and want to give it a shot -- "Nina Hartley's Guide to Spanking" is a first-rate place to start.

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