Coming Down From The Upper Floor

Peter Acworth and Cherry Torn in an early promo photo for The Upper Floor

Peter Acworth portrait on The Upper Floor, framed by two dominatrixes playing with a slave girl

There’s a surprisingly candid personal history of The Upper Floor project on Peter Acworth’s blog. Selling so much porn you can eventually buy a castle and fill it up with willing slavegirls? Who among us hasn’t toyed with that notion, am I right? But Acworth actually did it, sort of, subject as always to the commercial and social constraints of our time, and while he doesn’t deny it had its moments, it didn’t really work out to be as awesome as you might think:

Prior to the Upper Floor project, I had kept relatively good boundaries between work and private life. I never performed on camera, and had a separate set of friends outside of work. By this stage of the Upper Floor project, however, these boundaries gradually eroded, and from my perspective life gradually lost authenticity. I lost the separation between my business and personal life, together with a sense of distinction between my public and private persona. When I interacted with guests who came to The Upper Floor, I played the ‘King of the Castle’ role on camera, but this was also the core of my social life. I ceased to know the basis of these relationship – were these people my actual friends or not? I also performed sexually on camera with the paid models and/or with guests. I would hang out with employees, guests and models after shoots were done. I rarely hung out with people from the outside world. I certainly struggled to date, which, I now realize, may have had something to do with the fact that there was a camera in my bathroom.

I began to question my motives for having created this space. Why was there a giant portrait of me wearing a tuxedo in a gold frame? Was I building a fantasy from a book or was this a quest for fame and was my ego the primary driving force? The more public my life was, the more alone I became. I had once in the past hosted weekly parties where hoards of people would come and enjoy free drinks I paid for. Were my motivations back then similar? These experience was starting to make me question who I was and how I had got there.

So, ultimately, the early phases were very much a learning process. Everyone, including myself, moved out in early 2011, and there are no plans to resurrect the idea of a ‘resident’ performer. JP continued to direct in my absence for a while, and James Mogul moved back in 2012 to take the project back. Models are now contracted for fixed periods of time to do defined performance activities for the camera. They know when to switch their on-camera personas on and off. Everyone involved knows what is expected of them and are able to keep healthy boundaries between their work and personal lives. At the end of a day’s work, everyone steps out of the fantasy and goes home. Modelling, administrative and production roles are deliberately kept separate.

In a situation like the Upper Floor, we have learned that it is better, more effective, and healthier to put on a show for the customers and extras who come into our world as opposed to striving for authenticity all of the time. There is magic in theater and authenticity in the joy of being in a fantasy. We are all capable and eager to let our imaginations run free — much as happens when one reads a book.

For fans of the Armory itself, Peter also just blogged about the very slow and expensive project to turn the Drill Floor space back into a community venue.

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6 comments on “Coming Down From The Upper Floor”:

The Downer Floor – ErosBlog: The Sex Blog commented on April 6th, 2013 at 11:26 pm:

[…] Blog posted excerpts from Peter Acworth’s recent essay about (as Bondage Blog called it) Coming Down From The Upper Floor. Apparently Acworth had a WTF moment in which he asked himself why there was “a giant […]

Fr. commented on April 7th, 2013 at 4:43 pm:

I found this piece absolutely fascinating. Thank you for posting it.

Poi commented on April 8th, 2013 at 2:12 pm:

Indeed… I found it fascinating. The early days of were what got me into bondage in the first place. The days in which they were shot in Matt/Peter’s house and sets were bedsheets hung up from scaffolding poles.

In Sept 2011 I was in San Francisco and got a chance to go on a tour of the Armoury. It was pretty fascinating to see how it was all going… but I have to say, there was something that did seem a bit disappointing. I’m not quite sure what exactly it was. On one hand I was amazed to see the space, and what had been built there… I was in awe of that fantasy idea of owning one’s own bondage castle. But on the other hand, I could see various things that felt somehow wrong. The tour felt a bit like ‘lets go see the animals in the cages’ (and I mean in a zoo way, not a kinky way!). I wanted to shake Peter’s hand and say thanks for the fact that his site ultimately led me to my own collared sub, wife and mother of my daughter… but I had some odd feeling that he was hiding in there somewhere.

there was a party that night and people were arriving as the tour was going on… I couldn’t work out if these people were from the SF BDSM scene, professionals, friends or what… and that ambiguity made things seem a bit odd. This blog post now makes that experience make sense I think.

Regardless… I’m glad he seems to have worked out a formula that works for him


Poi commented on April 8th, 2013 at 2:18 pm:

PS… as for the Drill Court itself… it is a truly ENORMOUS space. Quite amazing just stood there in it feeling the size of it. I don’t envy Peter the job of renovating it… a huuuuge undertaking. But will be pretty amazing once done.

PPS. Did you know the filmed some of the scenes of the original Star Wars in there?


Pat Powers commented on April 8th, 2013 at 8:59 pm:

Fascinating piece and a great find. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

How To Make A Slavegirl Sing - Bondage Blog commented on December 26th, 2019 at 10:19 pm:

[…] The Tree, a slave-Christmas shoot from 2011 when The Upper Floor was still a big thing, having fairly recently been more like a personal party space for the boss than a commercial porn site. You can find almost […]

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