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Unbound: King Noire on Kink, Porn, and Polyamory

Photos courtesy of Honeysuckle Magazine

By: Keyanah Nurse

I hit play. The video started slowly; the camera cut close to their entangled bodies. She was soft and beautiful, with a long, braided mohawk. He was tattooed with washboard abs, but I liked his smoldering eyes. I settled in, prepared for what most porn watchers expect from a video called Orally Yours: blowjobs. But, as the action started and they began, he went down on her using his tongue, lips, and whatever else necessary to please her. Transfixed with the arch of her back and her mouth agape in ecstasy, I, too, felt a little transcendent and inspired.  More than anything, I felt convinced of her pleasure and his investment in it. It was both hot and refreshing to watch.

Starring King Noire and Jet Setting Jasmine, this scene beautifully captures the eroticism shared between two black bodies. It exists as the polar opposite of the trite, and often anti-black, videos in the “ebony” category of most major porn sites.  Indeed, the very category of “ebony” recalls a deep history of the objectification and dehumanization of black people through the transatlantic slave trade. The sexual tropes of the so-called “ghetto ho” or “sexy thug” perpetuate that legacy, illuminating the ways our society conceptually flattens and binds the black body in the twenty-first century. 

Hasan Salaam, who goes by the stage name of “King Noire,” or “King” for short, has made a career of critiquing these dynamics within the international adult entertainment industry. He has spoken publicly about the stigmatization of performing with black men within the porn industry, the pay gap between white performers and performers of color, and the racist marketing techniques of porn production companies. As he coolly explained to me in our interview, he routinely rejects roles that rely on racial stereotypes for their erotic charge: “I refuse to shoot with companies that have cops pulling over people of color and then fucking them. That shit is disgusting. I don’t want anything to do with that.”

King Noire and his Sub, Xerlina, after their first on and off camera experience together.

Of course, there are performers of color that accept such roles. But rather than criticize those performers who may accept them because of desperation, King instead questions why certain sexual representations of black people generate the most revenue or the most clicks.  What is it about the “ghetto ho” or the threatening “sexy thug” that arouses, that titillates, that incites desire?  In that way, his commentary on the porn industry focuses less on the individual and more on the larger systemic conditions that create those dynamics in the first place. Selecting and rejecting specific roles is merely the first step within his much larger sexual – and political – intervention.  

As the co-owner of Royal Fetish Films, the adult entertainment production company he founded with his partner, Jet Setting Jasmine, King carries these principles behind the camera. The company offers a vision of black intimacy and eroticism inspired by what black audiences actually want to see. In fact, the impetus to start Royal Fetish Films emerged from King’s and Jasmine’s experiences as facilitators for fetish parties. At these events, they met black couples hungry for more realistic and more expansive depictions of black people having sex. They wanted to see black people having romantic sex, rough sex, kinky sex. However, both King and Jasmine recognized the difficulty of recommending easily accessible content of this kind– it didn’t really exist. So, they decided to make it themselves. “We wanted to encompass the whole thing…” he noted, “and just show how beautiful black folk are, show that our sex has no limits and bounds.” This strategy has certainly reaped its rewards. Not only does Royal Fetish Films have a loyal fan and customer base, but the production company has won numerous awards at FetCon, the largest adult trade show on the east coast, for its full length films.

Importantly, King’s and Jasmine’s efforts continue, rather than start, the conversation around the representation of black people in pornography. At least since the 1980s, with the emergence of “feminist porn,” porn producers, performers, and consumers have questioned the dynamics that appear both in front of and behind the camera. As the editors of the Feminist Porn Book have noted, “feminist porn is a genre and a political vision.” Feminist porn critiques dominant notions of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and body type, among other social markers. It offers a more expansive notion of sex, and, perhaps, most importantly, it challenges the capitalist modes of exploitation that create economic and power inequalities within the porn industry itself.  

King Noire and his Sub, Xerlina, before their first, on-camera scene together.

Black performers, particularly black female performers, have been key actors within these efforts to change how racial identities appear within pornography. In the mid-1980s, Angel Kelly became the first black woman in the U.S. to earn an exclusive contract with an adult entertainment production company. She often leveraged her economic position for creative influence over her films. She was also the first black female porn actress to direct a porn film, which featured more complex, less stereotypical roles for black women. Feminist historian Mirielle Miller-Young has coined the term “illicit erotic activism” to analyze the legacy of performers like Kelly. The concept explains how black performers always exist alongside the racial stereotypes that determine how others think of their sexuality, but they can simultaneously offer new representations of black sexuality, as well as address issues such as the racial pay gap within their industry. 

The stakes of representation and labor practice for black performers are especially high in BD/SM, a kind of fetish or “kink” that incorporates elements of bondage, domination, subordination, sadomasochism, and masochism. There is also a smaller, yet incredibly controversial, kink within BD/SM known as “race play,” which incorporates the above elements of power exchange within racially and historically charged scenarios. Historic enactments of racial slavery, for example, are common tropes that can appear as part of “race play.”

“Race play” is firmly on King’s “no” list.  For him, there is nothing sexy or arousing about being the recipient of racial slurs. Beyond the visceral rejection of those labels, he also identifies the attraction of “race play” within a larger history of U.S. society’s grotesque fascination, fear, and exploitation of black sexuality: “there’s a fascination by the oppressor to use the oppressed sexually as another form of power, of ownership,” he said. This exercise of power within “race play” relies on the perpetuation of racial stereotypes, which in turn inform people’s worldview. As King insightfully offered: “Race play…is being pushed more to the forefront in a different kind of way… [people say] ‘I don’t hate black people, so this race play can’t be racist.’ You might not have a hatred, but you still have a stereotype.” Indeed, it is those very stereotypes that have pigeonholed representations of black sexuality in the first place. We do not easily turn them off when we power down our screens or at the end of our “playtime.” 

Although King rejects “race play,” he maintains that other types of kink can liberate black people’s sexual practices. It offers a safe space to work through prior historic or personal traumas. As he explained, the sensation of being bound with rope has given him the opportunity to grapple with experiences of being handcuffed, of feeling confined within the context of police brutality.

King Noire embodies his Dom energy and stares down the camera.

Kink also frees King from the restrictive notions of black masculinity that caricatures black men as brutish, aggressive, hypersexual, and even homophobic.  He is open about enjoying the sexual pleasures that heteronormativity often denied to “straight” men and doesn’t mind being choked or spanked. Such preferences not only challenge traditional BD/SM power exchange, but they also create space for black men to embrace the expansiveness of their sexual desires. Moreover, intentional empathy and care, rather than total domination, defines King’s relationship to his subs, as well as his reformulation of what it means to be a black man. As a self-described “sensual dom,” he prioritizes his female co-performers’ pleasure, even noting that cunnilingus is akin to “approaching the divine feminine.” He will even feed them, if that’s what they need for their post-play “aftercare.” “Before we even get on screen,” he continued, “we go through what the performers are comfortable with, what is pleasurable for the performers, what turns you on, what are your limits, what’s your hard no.”  

King’s practice of BD/SM untethers him from the racial and gendered expectations that police black men every day. His practice of polyamory —  that is, having multiple, consensual romantic connections simultaneously— functions similarly, freeing him from the cultural script that conflates love with monogamy and ownership. As an adult entertainer, sexual non-monogamy is quite literally part of the job.  But as a polyamorous person, King holds a much wider conception of love and romantic connection; he can share those things with multiple partners. As King explained “There is that idea that masculine love is ownership or possession…What I do in my BD/SM shit is fun, but outside of playtime, I don’t wanna own somebody,” he explained. He respects the autonomy of his partners to pursue whatever connections they desire, no matter the gender or sexual orientation of the other partners involved.  While King’s practice of polyamory centers the autonomy and independence of his partners in a way that his BD/SM play does not, they both break the societal constraints around sex and intimacy that prevent us from embracing new kinds of connections and experiences. 

He is unbound, and he encourages and inspires us to do the same. Watch the exclusive trailer for his steamy new video “Submission and Salvation” below to experience a taste of King’s kink practice. This video captures not only the King and Xerlina’s first on-camera scene, but also the couple’s first time having sex– after an involvement of nine months. Be warned: it definitely is not suitable for work, and maybe not even a vanilla bedroom.

Be sure to check out Honeysuckle’s upcoming print issue to catch the uncut edition of this steamy piece and the full photoshoot with King Noire, himself!

Follow King and Xerlina on social media and their websites to tittilate your days! King is @KingNoire on Instagram, Twitter, and Onlyfans, and you can find exclusive content on KingNoireXXX.com. Xerlina can be found on Twitter at Xerlina4, on Instagram @TheDevaArazel, and on Onlyfans as LaSireneNoire. Jetsetting Jasmine dominates social media from her handles @jetsettingjasmine on Instagram and @jetsetjasmine on Twitter.

Keyanah Nurse is a femme intellectual queen on a mission to change the way we think about love, intimacy, and connection.  Follow her on Twitter @KeyanahNurse.

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