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“Marriage 2.0”: The Opening of India Summer

India Summer is crying, but the mascara is not running down her face. She is not wearing mascara. At least there’s some consolation. It’s about 11 p.m. not an unheard of time to still be filming an adult movie (in this case it is the big budget polyamory epic Marriage 2.0) but it’s been such a long day in a succession of them, there’s about 30 half-naked extras who need to be moved from one room to the next, and her regal stroll through their writhing midst with Sadie Lune the woman playing sex salon doyenne Meghan keeps getting pushed back.

“Is it OK if I change my mind?” she asks. “I really don’t want pictures taken now.”

Most adult movies only need a day or two to shoot their four or five sex scenes and the script that ties those scenes together or doesn’t. Marriage 2.0 will be shot for several weeks in and around San Francisco, Oakland, Sausalito, and Tomales Bay (as a reluctant nod to the capitol of the adult industry, there’s even a scene in Los Angeles). The sprawling shoot employs drivers, caterers, and several cameramen. It even has an original song. The co-production of Lionreach Entertainment and adult studio Adam & Eve has more in common with an independent film than a porno shoot.

Yet Summer has just about had it. And so has her character. Let’s go back a few days.

We are in Tomales Bay, north of San Francisco and between Point Reyes and Inverness. In a beautiful rented house overlooking the estuary the chairs in the library face the windows rather than each other; that’s how nice the view is India walks into a little fog of Axe Body Spray. She’s wearing some gauzy thing in anticipation of her sex scene upstairs, and she smells amazing. It has completely changed my impression of the type of people who wear Axe Body Spray.

“I take this very seriously,” she says. “I mean, I know it can be ridiculous sometimes. `I Banged My Boyfriend’s MILF.” But I read my script, I know my lines. I had very long, intense, and exhausting conversations with (writer Magnus Sullivan) about this movie beforehand. This is a big movie.

Marriage 2.0In Marriage 2.0, Summer plays a documentarian in a committed relationship with her dreamy artist boyfriend, Eric (Ryan Driller). And while her character pays lip service to the idea of open relationships where jealousy has no part, she has a very tough time dealing with the object of Eric’s secondary affection, the lovely BDSM hound Kara (Dylan Ryan).

“I don’t know if porn prepares you for an open relationship or an open relationship prepares you for porn,” Summer is saying. “I think once you’re comfortable being naked in a room I mean: naked you’ve got more vanity and none of the vanity. Your real relationship s the one that matters and the people you swing with, maybe, are just friends you feel comfortable getting naked with.”

Summer has worked with Sullivan before; this part was written for her (her character has been known as India since the first draft of the script, before Summer was even asked to be in the movie). She won AVN’s Best Actress award for her work in Sullivan’s An Open Invitation, still one of the bestselling adult movies of the 2010s. One of the most innovative sequences of Open Invitation was her lackluster sex scene with James Deen.

“They had to show an arc in their relationship,” Sullivan says. “So they had to have a bad sex scene in the beginning of the movie so we could see them having good sex by the end.”

If Summer in her 600-plus porn scenes has occasionally had to fake something, having listless sex on camera went against all her instincts.

“I don’t know if I’ve had bad sex since Iowa,” the native Hawkeye said at the time.

Marriage 2.0But with Marriage 2.0, the vulnerability is more pronounced. Sullivan and director Paul Deeb wanted Summer to go without makeup.

“There’s something they don’t understand,” Summer says. “Women wear makeup. Actors wear makeup. Models wear makeup. Porn performers wear makeup. If you want to feel sexy, that’s part of the uniform. That’s part of my uniform.”

“I want India to be unabashed and vulnerable,” Sullivan says. “Natural. She can’t have all this porn star makeup on. It won’t look right.”

These debates go on through pre-production and throughout the movie. Cooler female heads prevail (as well as various porn veterans on the set) and a compromise is struck with Summer toning down her cosmetics wattage.

The sex scene, a Terrence Malick-style affair with blowing curtains and the wind in the NorCal trees, concludes, and India and Eric step outside to sip wine in the sunset. Deeb has painted a beautiful picture. The next morning a radiant India will blithely suggest plans for the weekend but Eric will remind her that he’s seeing Kara for her birthday. Not only that, but Kara’s only turning 28.

“I think people have the idea that there is no jealousy in open relationships,” Summer says. “That there’s no jealousy in a perfect relationship. But there’s always jealousy. I think with open relationships you just acknowledge it. You don’t not talk about it.” Despite the beautiful locations, the good food, and jovial company (the cast and crew swell from eight to 30 people depending on the day, mostly San Francisco scenesters very comfortable at cuddle parties, orgies, and macrobiotic restaurants), the shoot is grueling. The first day of principal photography started at 4 a.m. with a sunrise scene by the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. It moved to an Oakland cafe, then a cold and windswept beach, and finally to Sausalito for a tabletop sex scene interrupted by beloved Bay Area sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, who plays India and Eric’s nosy landlady. India got back to her hotel at 2 a.m.

While the production admits that maintaining such a schedule is untenable and there are no more 20-hour days, a few days do come close. By the night of Meghan’s sex salon at the end of the week, the principal cast is fried. Ryan Driller sleeps on a couch (to his credit and that of his Boy Scout training, Driller can catnap through incredible ambient noise, which he does often) but India the character, who has spent the week angry and crying, and Summer the actress, who has spent the week sleep-deprived and not feeling pretty (while everyone on that 49-square-mile thumb of San Francisco might tell Summer she looks absolutely beautiful, Summer half-jokes, “Well, my standards might be a little higher”), breaks down.

“Let’s stop talking. Let’s shoot the movie,” she tells Deeb and the crew. Over the past few days the porn veteran in her has asserted itself. Other than cameraman Alex Ladd, Summer has the longest porn resume and knows a thing or two about shooting movies. “Let’s get us out of here.”

For a movie with such lofty ambitions to expand the way we think about relationships Marriage 2.0 has been a rollercoaster for the two Indias. Sullivan and Deeb confer with her, she daubs her eyes, her makeup is touched up, and she and Lune finish the scene, strolling through a bacchanal to witness a bathtub tryst between Beretta James and Daisy Ducati.

Principal filming ends that weekend, with pickup shots throughout the month. The movie takes a few more months to edit and is soft-launched in January to rave reviews. Those of us who watched the movie being filmed, who watched the human drama preceding the moment when the camera rolled, marvel at the achievement.

Now we’re in a dungeon in the Mission District, where India has just interrupted Kara and Eric in a threesome with bondage master Christian Wilde (not for nothing, the bondage scenes in Marriage 2.0 are way more satisfying and BDSM-community approved than the ones in 50 Shades of Grey). The character is pissed and hurt, but the performer is pretty irritated, too.

“You move here, here, and here,” Summer tells the actors. Then, to Deeb: “This doesn’t have to be as difficult as you’re making it.”

She sits down and takes a sip of water. “Relationships are hard,” she says.

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