Madison Young on Her Memoir Daddy

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 08:33
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Not many 33 year olds pen a memoir - not many 33 year olds are Madison Young. Daddy was on my list of summer reads and it didn't disappoint. I found myself rooting for Madison...cheering her on as she funded her art gallery through sex work...tearing up as she suffered relationship difficulties...warming over at the birth of her daughter (Annie Sprinkle was with her in the delivery room).

Any self-described feminist and adult performer gets my attention. I sent some questions over to Madison that she was good enough to answer while she was in Paris.  Love this woman:

Q: Your performance name "Madison" was taken from your father's landscaping company - and your love of ropes is partly rooted in experiences working with your dad. What is your relationship like now with your father?

A: My chosen name is Madison which is derived from my family's tree care company, I come from a long line of arborists. I'm actually legally taking the name Madison Arbor Young - Mogul when my partner and I marry the trees and exchange vows in Sonoma for our love ritual and ceremony this fall. I have a deep rooted affinity to trees, as well as rope. As Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens would say "I'm an Eco-sexual". For three generations my family has cared for the trees as certified arborists and often as a teenager I worked their as well, it's a strong family memory, I was able to connect with my father by nurturing and caring for the earth and trees. It was a wonderful bonding experience. My Dad and I have a wonderful relationship. I don't get to see him nearly as much as I would like but we talk and Skype and visit as often as we can.

Q: How does bondage help ease your anxiety? What role does surrender play in your life?

A: I'm a very ambitious woman. I love work and I've chosen a career and life long mission of creating space for the authentic expression of self. The work I do is not simply a job, it's my passion, it's my activism, it's how I communicate with the world. I feed on the rush and adrenaline of working in multiple mediums with multiple projects all being juggled at the same time. That said I also do a lot of check ins with my self and engage in the self care that I need in order to manage my anxiety. I've suffered from anxiety attacks since I was a teenager but I've come to understand them, recognize them, I don't let it control my life and instead have found coping natural mechanisms - visualization, meditation, self talk, therapy, regular exercise and self care. I don't engage in bondage if I'm experiencing anxiety. However, bondage is a form of release and surrender for me, a part of my well being, and healthy expression of my sexual desire. When I'm engaging in a bdsm scene with my Daddy - I'm present and in the moment. It's a time of negotiated space and power dynamics. It's a time in which we are able to surrender to one another, present, connected. There is no twitter, no Facebook, no phones going off or projects to manage or tasks to delegate. It's an intimate journey, a dance an exchange of intense breath, sensation, and energy - we are bonded in that exchange.

Q: I found myself really feeling badly for your mother and how she dealt with harassment from your dad's new lovers (one who was a former sex worker) do you think her shame affected your work as an adult performer - or didn't?

A: I don't think that my mother felt shame around my father leaving or his relationships with sex workers. I think my mother felt that my father was shameful for having sex outside of their monogamous relationship. I think my mother also had very negative feelings about sex workers. I think that my mother's aversion to discussing sex and bodies openly in our house greatly affected my decision to create space for the expression and celebration of our identity. Growing up with out open discussions around sexuality and fearing my body, relationships, emotions, sexual desire, pleasure all were a catalyst for me to address sexuality in my art, my films, my gallery, my writing and through sexual education.

Q: How has motherhood affected your work? your relationship with your husband? your relationship with your father/mother?

A: Motherhood has inspired me as a feminist in brand new ways. Now I'm raising a feminist. I have an opportunity to create an environment for my child to learn about their body. Teaching our child about agency of their own body, expressing their gender as they experience it on a day to day basis, practicing consent around touch and the receipt or gifting of affection (hugs, kisses, high fives). It's a constant learning experience, the greatest challenge and most rewarding experience of my life. My child teaches me to slow down, to be in the moment, to engage in self care and self love. My heart is so full of love. My life used to be work. It was all work and as much as I love my work, I do need personal time. Motherhood gifted me with a personal life. I'm more inspired in my work than ever before and I think that is truly due to the great pleasure and fulfillment that I experience now in my private life. Of course my work schedule is totally different now.

I used to work 10 or 12 hour days. Now it takes a lot of clever scheduling to create, curate, write etc. I get up early in the morning to work on writing or art or meetings via Skype. I'll work late at night on editing my films. I have a sitter twice a week for a few hours to take care of the admin involved in booking my sexuality workshops, curating art shows, sending out book orders, casting films, writing scripts, and promotion for events.

I also work with 16 different interns through out the week who assist me with everything from reviews and coordination of film screening for the Feminist Porn Network to social media or literary interns that assist with all the tasks that go into the promotion of my memoir "Daddy" and upcoming book projects. Things get a little hectic sometimes but we all take time to breathe and my interns are inspired to be working on interesting projects and I'm able to spend more time with my child. I just returned from Paris where I was on production of French feminist pornographer Ovidie's newest film for 10 days. It was an incredible experience but involved a lot of coordination regarding care of Em while I was away.

Sometimes I'm able to travel with Em if I'm teaching or speaking at a University or conference . It depends on the tour and how long it will be, if I have access to folks to assist with Em while I'm at work and what will be the most ideal experience for my mini-feminista. Well I don't have a husband but my partner and I have an incredible relationship now that I'm a mother. We have both transformed a lot since coming into parenthood and we have this entirely other bond now together. I love him even more and find him even sexier because he is such an incredible father. Now that we are parents, I've fallen in love with James all over again but with a greater maturity and depth than the first time we fell in love 9 years ago. It's always a balancing game with work - family - relationship but if we feel that something is off balance we communicate with one another about it and articulate whats working and what isn't and make the necessary changes to really nurture our relationship.

Motherhood has definitely made the bond between me and my mother even greater. I have such an appreciation for her and everything that she did to give me and my brother the best childhood that she could. It's not an easy job being a parent, it's emotional and psychological and intense. It's incredible. But it's exhausting. A day making a film or speaking at a University is a piece of cake compared parenting. My appreciation for mothers and fathers and parental units of all kinds is massive now.

Q: Femina Potens was such an unusual gallery since it was funded by sex work and featured work by female artists. What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

A: In the past, Femina Potens had multiple funding sources including benefits, membership, national and state wide grants, as well as sizable personal contributions from myself both of my time and money. I was able to give of my time and money so generously to the gallery because of my lucrative career in mainstream and feminist pornography. Many artists and organizations have operated on similar model investing in their organizations and able to support themselves and their artistic pursuits through sex work.

After I gave birth to Em I decided that the organization needed to move from a brick and mortar gallery to curatorial programming presented at another physical venue. This freed up our gallery from huge monthly expenses and allowed us to really reinvent ourselves. We now present a truly groundbreaking performance art and experimental film festival which we call ASKEW. We curate the three day festival annually at one of San Francisco's most prestigious contemporary art museums - The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, we have just started curation of our 2015 festival. The organization now supports itself and I'm able to support my family.

I'm thrilled and grateful that I was at one time in my life able to invest so much financially into creating such incredible visibility at our brick and mortar gallery. I put a lot of time and love into that physical space and it hosted three years of transgressive in your face queer feminist art and performance on one of San Francisco's busiest blocks. It was surreal. But now I'm able to truly focus on pushing my own performance art and visual art while simultaneously curating programming at an incredible contemporary art center. We have to allow ourselves and our projects, programs, and organizations to transform and grow and shift. Life is ever changing. That is the beauty of it all.

Q: Finally, where do you see yourself in 10-20 years? What's your ultimate dream for your brand?

A: In 10 to 20 years I hope to have another 5 to 6 books out into the world, continue to create art and performance art with in the states and internationally at art galleries and museums, and I'd really like to work on directing and writing an independent film (or more). I want to spend as much time with my child as possible, travel, and continue my artistic practice.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson