TUESDAY JULY 22, 2014
 
Blog SEX COLUMN
ERIKA LUST TALKS GOOD PORN
erika_lust_interview_main.jpg

The aptly named Erika Lust works from Barcelona where she founded Lust Films, an adult production company in 2004. Her work has receive wide acclaim and is notable for its contemporary approach to feminist issues, including porn from a female perspective. Lust's Five Hot Stories for Her (pictured above) won several international awards, including film of the year at the Feminist Porn Awards (Toronto, 2008) and best script at the Festival of Erotic Cinema (Barcelona, 2007). She also wrote Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide, a book that defends the erotic and educational values of adult cinema and addresses the unease many women have towards it. Her recent short “Handcuffs,” which will be part of a larger project, was recently chosen as the best experimental short film at the Cinekink Festival in New York.

Gallery: Her Treat

Q: What led you to shoot porn and develop your company Lust Films in Barcelona?
A:
The first time I ever saw a porno film I was maybe 14 or 15 years old, and I was at a girlfriend's house, with other girls.... I had the same reaction that I reckon most women have and it was most definitely not love at first sight. Obviously, I was aroused by some of the images but there was so much in it that bothered me. I didn’t identify with any of it: nothing of my lifestyle, my values or even my sexuality was represented in any way.

There was no sign of the women enjoying themselves, and it was as if they were there simply to please the men. The sexual situations just seemed ridiculous and were all based on sexist male fantasies: girl walks into room, discovers boyfriend with her best friend and instead of getting pissed off, she joins them!

erika_lust_portrait.jpgAnd anyway, for my generation that grew up watching MTV, the audiovisual quality of adult film is totally unacceptable: tacky sets, horrible styling and makeup, non-music, crap acting and even worse dubbing, amateur photography ... in general a product left wanting on many levels.

As well as all that, for a modern woman, the character stereotypes that men in the industry have made us put up with for the last 20 years are just plain offensive. I’m sick of slutty Sharons, horny teens, sex maniac nannies, desperate housewives, hot nurses, nymphomaniac hookers and gangbang heroines (these women are men’s ideal sex partners – their sex heroines). And the guys in the movies are almost always mafia guys, pimps, drug dealers, multi-millionaires or Afro-American mega-sized sex machines (these guys are their sex heroes).

Despite the fact that I may come off as a total critic of the genre, I admit that although I didn’t like what I saw, there was enough in it that made me want to know more and I came to the conclusion that a different kind of porno was possible.... I discovered that several intellectual feminists didn’t just write off porno; they actually analyzed it and saw it as a contemporary cultural phenomenon. Linda Williams and her books Hard Core and Porn Studies were so inspirational that, after reading them, I decided to become an adult film producer and director myself by founding my own company.

Q: How have you viewed porn over time, in terms of your work and women’s involvements?
A:
The involvement of women thinking, writing, producing or directing sex movies is almost nil. Women just perform as porn stars; they do not have any relevant role. It’s an industry where men is the king, and his voice is the only one.

Q: It’s intriguing, your book Porn for Women: A Woman’s Guide. Do you find women’s relationships to porn are changing?
A:
"Porn" – for so many women it is a dirty word, a taboo topic. Even with the prevalence of porn in the world today, so many women are still afraid of it – unsure of what exactly porn is, what constitutes “good” porn and why it should matter to them.

My book is a women’s comprehensive guide to porn: what it is, what types are available and why men and women enjoy different styles. I examine the films, the industry and the phenomenon, making porn more accessible to women. I break away from the assumption that porn is for men only — examining the role of women within the porn industry, from female directors to the stars themselves. I address the myth that one can’t be a feminist and still like porn, I offer insight on the educational and erotic value of porn and I cover the benefits of porn in heightening women’s sexual appetites. The book breaks away from women’s previous assumptions of porn, opening a new discourse on sexuality and relationships.

Q: It’s assumed some men have developed repetitive, fan interests with porn. Are you finding women have certain preferences or devotions in terms of the content and tone of explicit material?
A:
I think that sex cinema of any kind should have different niches and genres, both for men and women. It’s like mainstream audiovisual: some people like comedies, other people likes horror movies or thrillers ... what we need is as much diversity as possible.

barcelona_sex_project_cover.jpgQ: I had initially heard of your work through the Barcelona Sex Project. How did you go about choosing the six figures as sexual case studies of sorts?
A:
They were chosen amongst people living in the city who wanted to participate in the project. I wanted to show natural people having natural masturbations.

Q: It’s interesting, the interviews in this film. Are you interested in more documentary, erotic portraiture to your work?
A:
I try that every audiovisual project I do differs from the previous one. As my previous movie, Five Hot Stories for Her, was fiction, with Barcelona Sex Project I wanted to do an erotic documentary.

Q: If there’s more sensitivity to women’s pleasure in your work overall, what do you think of how the men are represented?
A:
In the mainstream the men are basically sex heroes, like comic characters. I do not like that. I like real guys who share my passions and my values.

Q: In your Five Hot Stories, you're exploring a series of realistic erotic stories. What do you think of certain delineations of porn that have been associated with your work, like feminist porn, artcore, realcore?
A:
"Porn" needs to be redefined. The word is dirty and full of misconceptions. We need new innovateive and young people coming to this industry with their fresh approaches to sex cinema. If we call that artcore, feminist porn, realcore, indie porn, alt porn, erotic films ... welcome to all that nouvelle vague, we need that fresh air.

Q: What do you think of associating lust so closely with your name?
A:
I think "lust" is a beautiful word, and is something that is missing in adult cinema. We need more passion and less athletic sex, more lust and less violence, more respect and less chauvinism, more love and less humiliation!

Q: I noticed on your blog, you favour Lelo as a sex toy brand. What do you think it is about these toys that appeal to you?
A:
They are pleasure objects, and I like pleasure and sex. The design is outstanding, and they are from Sweden, as myself.

Q: Do you see yourself sustaining your porn processes in Barcelona? Is there something about its social, sexual sensibilities that appeal to you?
A:
I do not work only in porn. My company makes several things related with sex and sexuality: books, Internet content, magazines, and yes, I’m very happy in Barcelona because it’s a very liberal and sunny Mediterranean city!

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
My upcoming books – Love Me Like You Hate Me, The Erotic Bible to Europe – and my next movie that has no name yet, but it will released this spring. I’m also adding more directors/friends to my online cinema: Lustcinema.com.

More info: Erika Lust's website

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