Let's Talk About Porn

Our resident sex columnist goes head to head with feminist pornographer Erika Lust.

By: Lindsay Brown

Welcome to The Coveteur’s series about sex and dating, brought to you with the expertise and humor of our friend Lindsay, of the laughably addictive Tumblr, Tinder in Brooklyn. In her own very DGAF way, she’ll be breaking down the good, the bad and the downright bizarre that is, well, dating in the time of Tinder (and all that other shit we Gen X, Y and Z-ers have to deal with). Check back often, because you know there’s lots to discuss, and let us know what you think on Twitter, @thecoveteur, #TinderinBrooklyn.

 

It didn’t occur to me until the moment I arrived that watching porn inside a darkened theatre might be a weird thing to do on a Wednesday night. But whatever. I was too excited to care. I was there to meet the woman who is shaking up the porn industry, one orgasm at a time. Her name is Erika Lust, and trust me on this one: she is a badass who deserves your attention.

Lust is a Barcelona-based erotic filmmaker, author and founder of Lust Films. Since 2007, she has written and directed seven award-winning features and several short films. At the moment, she is hard at work on her new project, Xconfessions, a series of crowd-sourced erotic films in which she brings reader fantasies to life on screen.  Recently, I attended a screening of her work as part of the 10th Annual Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto.

 

Erika’s films involved three things I had never seen on camera before: real boobs, real hair, and real female orgasms.

 

Full disclosure: When I first heard the term ‘feminist porn,’ my expectations were limited. Basically, I expected soft-core porn set to a soundtrack by Drake. Well friendsicles, let me tell you: I could NOT have been more wrong! From spanking, to threesomes, foot fetishes and orgies, the films did not hold back. This screening was hot. But beyond the actual sex, there was also something new here. Something, dare I say…. ground breaking? Erika’s films involved three things I had never seen on camera before: real boobs, real hair, and real female orgasms. And that is a BIG FUCKING DEAL.
 
Like many women, I have always found pornography to be super alienating. I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about. Porn is often violent, involves sex that looks painful, and caters almost exclusively to the male orgasm. Realistic female pleasure is rarely taken into account. Seriously. (The ‘Female Friendly” tab on PornHub.com is decidedly not.) #thestruggleisreal

In order for porn to do its job, the viewer needs to want to be part of the action. This is where mainstream pornography misses the mark. Watching a porn star dramatically fake an orgasm (after zero clitoral stimulation…) will never make me think, “I want in.” Instead, I’m thinking, “Why the fuck is she screaming like a banshee?” And yet it’s hard to escape this ever-present caricature of what a female orgasm is supposed to be. The passion is as artificial as a pair of platform Lucite heels.
 
That is what makes feminist porn so different: it takes female sexuality into account and invites female viewers to actually get in on the fucking.

 

It’s hard to escape this ever-present caricature of what a female orgasm is supposed to be. The passion is as artificial as a pair of platform Lucite heels.

 

Watching Lust’s films, there is no violence and it is abundantly clear that the cast is enjoying themselves immensely. It makes it easy for viewers, both male and female, to enjoy themselves, too. Relatable plot lines contribute to this vicarious pleasure as well. I have never been a naughty nanny, but I have been the solo female backpacker running around Barcelona with chipped nail polish. That was the premise for one of Lust’s films, and it honestly made my jaw drop. She basically took my life, and made it ten times (okay, fine… a thousand times) sexier. I did not see that one, um….. coming?

 
The Bottom line: Erika Lust blew my fucking mind.

I sat down with Lust after her screening, and over a glass of wine (or four) I got to know the woman behind the camera.
 
Lindsay Anderson: So… wow.

Erika Lust: [laughs] Thank you!
 

LA: Thank you! All right, so let's start from the beginning. How did you get into making porn?
 
EL: I never actually planned on becoming an erotic filmmaker!  Years ago, I came across a book by Linda Williams, and I learned that porn isn’t just porn, it’s a discourse about sexuality and the roles we play. I realized that the only ones participating in the discourse of pornography are men. Men with little sexual intelligence! So in 2004, I was studying film direction, and for my final project I decided I would make a porno, but with my values. The response was overwhelming! It was proof the world wanted something different from mainstream porn, something positive for women.

That is what makes feminist porn so different: it takes female sexuality into account and invites female viewers to actually get in on the fucking.

 

LA: What would you say to women who don’t like porn?

EL: I would say, first of all, that I think you don’t like it because what you’ve seen is shit! And I think porn has potential to be something great and fantastic and fabulous, if we just rethink the concept of it. If we scale downporn to be just explicit sex, and we put in our values and our inspiration, it can be great.
 

LA: Hells yes. Why do we need women behind the camera? 

EL: Because we need to get in there to change the discourse about sex, about masculinity, about femininity! We need women behind the camera because it’s our turn. We need to start [producing] our visions of sexuality because it can’t be right that the only ones portraying sexuality on film today are a little group of middle-aged heterosexual men. They are the only ones showing their fantasies!

 

LA: There is clearly a huge lack of originality.

EL:  It’s always the same. Women are the horny housewives, the desperate nannies, fuck bunnies. Women are the objects fulfilling men’s desires. That is not okay.
 
 
LA: I was telling a male friend I was interviewing a female pornographer, and it took him a long time to wrap his mind around the fact you were behind the camera. He just couldn’t process it. Do you get that reaction a lot?

EL: Oh yes, especially from male journalists; they ask me if I have been an actress or if I want to be an actress. Not at all! I am a voyeur. I love watching. I am not an exhibitionist. They think that everyone wants to be one. I don’t like being in front of the camera, I don’t even like being in front of an audience.

 
LA: What would you say to other women who want to get behind the camera?

EL: Call me! [laughs] I mean, I would say… you need to be aware of the reaction from people outside. That people will react to what you are doing. Then you need to know what you want, and have a very clear vision of what you want to see, what fantasies you want to show.

 

LA: What’s the worst porno you have ever seen?

EL: Honestly, almost all for them. That’s why I started making them. Most are just really, really bad! All these ridiculous situations, the characters are ridiculous. I’m not the bad or the good girl, I’m fucking both!

 
LA: Yes!  I love that. Why should women watch your films?

EL: Beyond the arousal, it’s a normalization of sex, humanization of sex. We all have these dirty thoughts and we feel they are our own, and we think we are strange people. Sometimes when you watch porn you realize your feelings and your fantasies are shared by so many people!

 

LA: That’s so true! I won’t lie, I thought that boat fantasy sequence was just mine. Have you ever fucked someone on a boat?

EL: I have! Of course!  I’m a sailor! I sailed in the Swedish Navy!
 

LA: [laughs] That is outstanding.

EL:  Yes, of course! You know, I always try to film things that I find erotic, in situations I find relatable, with actors that find attractive.
 

LA: So on that note, final question: can I have Luke Hotrod’s number?

EL: [laughs] Oh my gosh! The ladies always love him so much… He is coming to Barcelona soon. I will tell him!

 

Fingers crossed, y’all.
 
You can check out Erika’s work on her website, Xconfessions.com .

 

Thank me later, bitches.

—Lindsay, Tinder in Brooklyn

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