Carlos Batts is an award-winning artist, photographer and director who works in Hollywood with his muse April Flores, who was deemed the Heartthrob of the Year during the recent Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto. He’s produced several hardcover photography books, including Crazy Sexy Hollywood and American Gothic, boldy documenting various sexual subcultures. He’s directed a number of independent erotic art features and it was great to see one of his latest, Dangerous Curves, awarded the Most Deliciously Diverse Cast award on the Feminist Porn podium.

Gallery: Related art by Carlos Batts

Q: It was great to hear that Dangerous Curves picked up a couple of Feminist Porn Awards. What do you think of winning for Deliciously Diverse cast?
It was great to get the award. April came up with the idea for Dangerous Curves while we were driving to San Francisco for our Toy Exhibit [art show]. It was a great drive and one we enjoyed doing. She wanted to do a film completely outside the box – literally, no buildings or urban environments, studios, and the people would perform in natural surroundings.

She cast everyone and styled them. I wanted to make each situation unique but have it flow between the scenes with the editing, camera shots and music, which was all made for the film by The One, Jung Hollywood, Hustlepunch and Trouble Mind, my in-house instrumentalist.

We bring a lot of culture, passion and vision to all our work. April is Mexican-Ecuadorian and I am African-American. I’ve worked with many different body types, ethnicities and sexual orientations in my photography and art because it’s part of my everyday life and I’m exposed to many people. Because of the social and cultural sex taboos, in the past there may have not been many ways for people of colour, either born or inked, to express themselves comfortably in the open on video or by photography.

carlos_batts_inset.jpgI think now our generation has the opportunity to influence society and make a new history of art and sexual acceptance. We have a black president; sexual identity/orientation, same-sex marriages and gender issues are a part of the national dialog. I feel as an artist the work has to have some sort of voice to spark a conversation about subject matter in which you are creating. I try to take the chance in my work to broaden the viewers’ ideas about whom and what we think is sexy.

I decided to include the people in my work that represent everyone. I think African-Americans, Latins, Asians, voluptuous bodies, inked, scars, body modifications can see themselves in some of my work. I wanted to represent my generation and my peers the same way Richard Avedon and Robert Mapplethorpe documented their generation's subcultures. I documented sex in its most authentic form with colour saturation and the bravado displayed by the subjects.

Q: Looking at your films and photos with April, she’s pictured often with suggestive, at times fetishistic, apparel. How do you see voluptuous body shapes being received in adult contexts?
I think in commercial fashion, modelling and the mainstream adult industry there is a standard that was set last century by a very small group of people. I have always felt that there are as many people out there that truly love voluptuous women and voluptuous images. It’s not as specific as we are lead to believe. I've photographed many types of models, actresses and celebrities who were more traditional sized. April is comfortable, confident with flawless skin that has a natural affinity for the art being made. She doesn’t just model or pose, she trusts your vision and story. We are able to explore many different sexual roles because of our trust and communication....

Q: When you met April, how did you approach working together in films and building an erotic series with her?
We started out just taking pictures on a daily basis all the time. I also had other assignments but she become my art project as we built an interesting catalogue of images that were not necessarily porn. We really felt inspired by this book of by French photographer Dahmane and his wife, Chloe, called Porn Art 1 and 2, and the work of Jeff Koons and then wife Ilona Staller (a.k.a. La Cicciolina). We knew they had been doing really hard sex scenes presented in a whole new way. It wasn’t degradation or misogyny. We realized that what we were doing made sense and there was an audience out there with similar interests....

Q: It's so nice that she won the Heartthrob of the Year award. What do you think of her erotic muse status and are you meeting challenges having a relationship in the adult industry?
We have always just done our own thing. We have both had commercial projects and regularly participate in the fine art culture so we never think about challenges or roadblocks. We try to focus on our work and what we create so that it remains relevant, timeless and inspiring. We have a creative partnership that helps us stand out in our work. April is a true muse, she has modelled for painters, artist and photographers around the world and multiple mediums and always try’s to push herself and the boundaries set before her, which to me is a muse.

Q: In directing this film with a series of sex toys across five segments, did you favour the appearances and effects of certain toys, like the glow-in-the-dark dildo?
There are so many new sex devices that it makes it interesting to plan ideas around just the toy. Sometimes it's fun to style a scene based on the accessories, whether it’s a toy, shoes or lingerie.

Q: Are you interested in how women, and perhaps men, are developing intimacies to certain toys, different from experiences with bodies?
I think with new advances in cyber skins, lubes, silicones and personal devices like the Hitachi [Magic Wand], Ibod, Real Touch, and Tenga it allows people to pursue sexual enjoyment in a new personalized [way]. People have a fondness for gadgets; an iPad or Kindle could be a sex toy for those who like to read a lot. I think human interaction will always be desired but this is just another way of sexual experimentation.

dangerous_curves_cover.jpgQ: Scene four, interestingly, involves a downtown fire escape. Are you interested in how certain city structures can relate to sexual processes?
The locations, architecture and environment have been a part of all of my work. If you set people in an environment and create atmosphere it becomes part of the story. Location, like music, its the extra element that if you acknowledge [is] a part that completes the visual narrative.

The fire escape was a great isolated place. It’s one of our favourite places. We’ve been there several time on personal adventures before the camera, so documenting it this time was dirty and dangerous. It's inspiring to do scenes outside of a studio or set; rooftops, alleys, clubs becomes great places ... when you can get away with it.

Q: You’ve done a series of photos in your collection Crazy Sexy Hollywood, which seems to look at different sexualized figures there. What do you think of the erotic contrasts there, between pornographic influences and other sexual subcultures?
My book Crazy Sexy Hollywood is an authentic document of what was happening around me from assignments to real life in Hollywood. As an artist I did not feel a need to adhere to all the double standards and hypocrisy in the media, adult world or the fine art world. There are movie stars that play porn stars in films, celebrities with sex tapes, fashion models who wear fetish clothing on the runway, porn stars on television, escorts that model and everyone has a camera. It’s a sexual world and it’s being recorded. I just try to make sure my content is reflective of what Egon Schiele, Kinsey, Andrew Wyeth or Man Ray would do if they had a video camera. Porn is the industry of sex on film. All the other sex subcultures have specific audiences they can cross when the content is sophisticated enough.

Q: Have you kept up with the sexual styles in Hollywood?
I live in the most fascinating and creatively competitive city in the world. Everyone on the planet comes to Hollywood to fulfill their creative dreams to be involved or a participant; your body of work is your best asset. I live art, music and the culture everyday. It’s easy to stay inspired and active in such an amazing city.

Q: What do you think of how American Gothic has influenced some of your erotic imagery?
The images from my book and film American Gothic is a collection of my drawing and non-digital photo collages. It’s was inspired by cubism, abstract paintings and dada/reconstructionist. I wanted to completely destroy the negative, 2-D surfaces to create new textures, [adding] perspective and depth to the photography like it was a painting. The erotic narrative in my style in American Gothic is far more intense because it relies less on flesh and more on mood.

Q: When you’re looking at aspects of science fiction in your erotic imagery, do you have any speculations of what sexuality will look like in the future – commercially, privately, publicly?
I remember thinking how awesome Blade Runner was. It's a depiction of L.A. and crazy shit happening in the future. In 2010 in L.A., it has its Blade Runner moments. Downtown looks very futuristic at night with its abstract architecture. There is also an exploding art-cultural movement. April Flores's cyber-skin sex toy is a global success which feels like it's part of a replicant from Blade Runner. I think she is far softer than a Daryl Hannah real doll would have ever been.

We seem to be accelerating and evolving much faster than previous generations. We have access to information immediately, good or bad, true or false, and it’s available to us to explore freely. Society is more open than we may think because we have to process new events far faster than any other generation. There was point in time when it was rare to see images of sex. Now everyone has a personal collection of sexual images, of their partners as well as other people's partners. We all are building global catalogues of unmarked files of millions of possible fantasies and images.

Related: erotic imagery by Carlos Batts

The website of Carlos Batts

4 Comments | Add a Comment
Years ago I read Anais Nin, with her ability to include that pan cultural feeling into erotica, challenging all preconceived ideas of perfection. The protagonists in your piece challenge conventional porn and make one think.I don't pretend to know this well, I learn all of this from from your profession, which seeks to inform. Thank you.
Thanks for the link, interesting reading.
Thank you for posting the interview and sharing his craft and real brilliance. Carlos is a JOY to work for, and he and April are a power-couple with superhero proportions of art, sex and love. Damn hot!
Thanks so much for the SUPER questions and interview of Carlos! I LOVED IT! :)
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