15.04.2016

How is feminist porn different to normal porn? (NSFW)

SEX | | | |

“It’s the difference between eating at a Burger King and a 3-Michelin starred restaurant,” according to acclaimed erotic filmmaker Erika Lust. Mmm-hmm? We kinda, sorta, hadta know more…

 

Hey Erika, thanks for chatting with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Erika Lust and I am a female director of nouvelle vague adult cinema. Although I studied Political Science at the University of Lund [in Sweden, where Erika’s from], I have always been sort of a movie freak. The cinephile in me finally drove me to study filmmaking when I came to Barcelona over 15 years ago.

 

Lust behind the lens (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Fabrizia)

 

As a human being with an internet connection, it goes without saying I’ve seen my fair share of porn. But I’m always put off by how icky the majority of it is. The big question on my mind is why you decided to pioneer a feminist take on porn?

In my early teens I had sort of a “WTF is this?!” experience with mainstream porn, the same are you. After studying Linda Williams’s work Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of The Visible I felt that we needed an alternative to the degrading mainstream porn gaze, and I wanted to create that alternative.

I started to direct adult movies that I would like myself and that I thought other women and men looking for something more fresh, sensual and ethical would also like. I went on to direct four feature length movies before starting my most successful audiovisual project to date, the entirely crowdsourced XConfessions.com, based on the fantasies submitted to the site. I make films that are part of the new genre of adult cinema.

“Being a sex-positive feminist, those values are translated into every part of my films sub-consciously”

 

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I create erotica with a narrative. I give context to the characters, locals, story and above all, the sex. I create an environment which satisfies the viewer with realistic interpretations of real fantasies. Plus I did my TEDx Vienna Talk as I strongly believe porn is where are children are turning to for sex education.

So we have to make sure we are giving them options, being open with them and allowing them to make good choices on what they watch so they don’t view sex, sexuality and gender in the warped light of the mainstream.

Scroll to the end to see Erika’s TEDx talk in full – where she talks about how she doesn’t want her two young daughters to grow up and “learn about sex from bad, sexist porn”

 

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Some might say the phrase ‘feminist porn’ seems a little contradictory. How do you define it and how does that translate into your final product?

I understand that I’m placed in the ‘feminist porn’ category, but those two words are tricky. Porn automatically makes you think of something ugly, cheap, disgusting and shameful. The word ‘feminist’ unfortunately brings to some uneducated people a few negative connotations and assumptions as well. I’d like more to think that I write, direct and produce indie adult cinema. But of course being a sex-positive feminist, those values are translated into every part of my films sub-consciously from the start of pre-production to the final film.

 

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The concept of feminism is simple for me: is about equality. So for my films it’s about treating everyone involved like human beings, being attentive to their needs, requests and emotions, compensating them fairly and providing a good working environment with good working conditions. I also think it’s important to be ethical about what signals you’re sending out with your stories – that you make consent come through, not showing irresponsible scenes or anything to do with coercion etc.

“In every little detail, it’s a feminine way of facing sex on the screen”

 

erika lust film

 

What are the fundamental differences between the porn you create and regular porn?

The differences are many, many, many… as many as the differences between a meal in Burger King and in a 3-star Michelin restaurant. It’s the people behind the camera, who are educated, smart and trendy, in opposition to the creeps that you can usually find shooting cheap sex scenes…

It’s the salaries we pay to performers, the way we treat them, the lighting, the wardrobe, the make up, the music, the locations, the catering, the scripts, the contracts, the postproduction, the colour correction, the fact that we do not hide online, you can see who we are and talk to us, the cliches we avoid, the different body types we cast… It’s every little detail; it’s a feminine way of facing sex on the screen.

 

erika lust film

 

What elements of the filming and writing process are you directly involved in?

All of it! I work alongside my team in every stage of the film making process. From the initial location shoots, choosing the confessions, writing the scripts with my line-producer, having meetings with the art director, stylist and make-up artists to decide on the right aesthetic, to casting the right performers.

I work alongside a very talented and committed team of mostly women who I’ve worked with on this project for a long time. They understand the ethos of the company and the project and the qualities I look for in my films. I am very lucky to have them by my side!

“We need more women behind the camera, giving them a voice in the industry, expressing our values and making the films we want to watch”

 

erika lust film

 

Why is porn important for equality and empowerment?

Because it is a form of discourse on sexuality for men and women. It has the power to express values and ideas about sex, gender and desire. It has the power to inspire, to educate and to liberate. That’s why we need more women behind the camera, giving them a voice in the industry, expressing our values and making the films we want to watch.

 

erika lust film

 

What have been your biggest successes so far and what are you looking forward to most in the future?

My XConfessions has definitely been the biggest success, as it is my first set of works that is being recognized as cinematic adult film – having been screened at the Raindance Independent Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival last year, and picking up a number of Feminist Porn Awards. But it’s just the beginning I hope with work on my first feature film having just started, called Barcelona 2000 based on my erotic novel La Canción de Nora [Nora’s Song].

For more, head to (NSFW) erikalust.com

 


 

Erika Lust talks feminist porn at TEDx Vienna

 

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