Carrie and I admittedly don’t watch porn or other erotic entertainment often, with our largest issues being children, a lack of TV in our bedroom, and just being fucking tired by the time the kids are asleep. So we’re not connoisseurs by any means. But when the opportunity came up to review The Training of Poe (Part 1), we jumped on the chance. We’ve heard good things about the film, and dabble in kink ourselves regularly. And, like us, it depicts a cis woman in a dominant role and a trans woman in a submissive role. It’s erotic entertainment we can see ourselves in and identify with, which we don’t often have time or ability to actively seek out.
The Training of Poe stars Chelsea Poe and director Mistress Bella Vendetta, and is produced by Beautiful Revenge Productions. It’s an erotic documentary on Chelsea Poe’s formal slave training with Mistress Bella over several days in the mountains of western Massachusetts. It’s an intense and intimate look at the slave training process Mistress Bella has perfected over many years, and at times it’s oddly mundane. But as the film progresses, we see Chelsea Poe transform from nervous and excited to purposeful and intent as a slave, all the while aroused by the process. The film is almost entirely chronological.
Throughout the documentary, Chelsea takes a camera into slave quarters: what’s basically a closet she’s assigned to sleep in. Black & white vignettes of her thoughts and feelings are intertwined in contrast with the full-color domination of her in the rest of the film. She talks about how excited she is, how erotic humiliation is to her, and what makes her nervous.
The film is very careful to depict consent and discuss boundaries. Safety is also openly discussed, which was refreshing. Mistress Bella makes it clear that it’s up to Chelsea to keep herself in check and ask for mercy when things get too intense or she’s experiencing pain she doesn’t like. This is a hard lesson Chelsea must grasp, as she learns the mistake of responding with “Whatever you want, Mistress” only once. It most certainly is not only about what her Mistress wants, but also about her own boundaries. There’s a careful building of trust and agency in Chelsea’s servitude.
There’s also adequate attention paid to aftercare, as in the scene where they dine together. Mistress Bella is served at the table while Chelsea is leashed to the table and dines from a dog dish. Afterwards, they talk about the events of the day before Chelsea is assigned homework.
I found the majority of the film arousing. Watching Mistress Bella work with rope is mesmerizing, as her fingers dance, tying the rope into a full-body harness. Her mastery of pain infliction is best illustrated in the water scene. Chelsea, naked beneath a white dress, stands in a shallow rushing river, receiving the painful embrace of Mistress Bella’s whip. Mistress Bella is an expert in her craft, and it’s pure artistry in this scene. There’s even water breath play, which spoke to my submissive side. More often than not, though, I took careful notes on how Mistress Bella trains and communicates, to better my own dominance in practice.
I learned so much from this. It inspired new ideas for things we could bring into our own bedroom, or simply fantasize about doing. I noticed where I’m lacking when checking in on Carrie when we play, and how to ask questions and instruct Carrie in more efficient ways when we’re doing a scene together. I learned some insights into myself and my own lack of confidence in a dominant role, and ways I can remedy that. I also learned some things that turn me on that I hadn’t expected.
In one scene, Chelsea is made to eat her dinner out of a dog bowl, and at one point is instructed to eat corn kernels off the floor (which she meticulously had to scrub clean in a previous scene). Apparently, eating corn off the floor is something I’m into. At this point in the film, Chelsea has learned to do everything with sex in mind, despite the lack of actual sex in the film, save for the very end.
The final scene left us with conflicting emotions. It seemed out of place, and a little too performative. The contrast was jarring. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just say it’s the clip the chasers will pay for, and left Carrie feeling uncomfortable about that fact. This last scene is open to interpretation and the individual lens of perspective. One could argue it was a logical progression, a release of the sexual tension of the training, and Chelsea is an experienced performer, after all. To us, though, it didn’t quite fit the tone of the rest of the documentary.
It was important to both of us that there be minimal trans fetishization. It makes Carrie feel extremely uncomfortable and hyper-aware of her transness. A piece on The Establishment touted the film’s treatment of Chelsea as just a woman. However, there seemed to be a lot of camera focus on Chelsea’s genitals. She was obviously aroused. There was quite a bit of precum dripping onto the floor. But would such focus been on her genitals if they were different? We’re not so sure. On the other hand, when arousal is visible, it should be documented in a film like this. Where porn is often built around fantasy, this film is far more raw and real. The discourse is nuanced, as different trans people will feel differently about it.
In the end, that rawness and reality is what we most appreciated most about it. And overall, we did enjoy this film. I encourage you to watch The Training of Poe in full, and come to your own conclusions. It’s a thought-provoking, artistic kink documentary. This film stirred emotions and conversations, and walked away with so much more than fantasies. In many respects, it’s a revolutionary work of art. Porn that makes you think is the most revolutionary of all.
Note: It was hard to decide who should write this post, given my cis privilege and some of the feelings that bubbled to the surface for Carrie, but she simply didn’t have the spoons (mainly due to work life challenges) to write out her perspective. We’ve talked extensively together about the film, and Carrie edited this post before publication to ensure her thoughts and feelings are communicated clearly.
Many thanks to Mistress Bella Vendetta and Beautiful Revenge Productions for allowing us to view this film at no cost to us. There are no affiliate links in this post and we did not receive any monetary compensation for our review because we really wanted to see this film.