When we went to Cinekink Vegas in February, we got to hang out with people who know way more about porn than us (including fest director Lisa Vandever), so we took a poll of the pornographers we should keep an eye out for.Â One name that popped up was Madison Young. Another…Erika Lust.
Erika’s movie “Handcuffs” was part of Cinekink’s traveling film fest this year, and, after seeing it, we can definitely see why people are all abuzz about Erika. At the tender age of just-younger-than-us, Stockholm-bred Lust is a filmmaker, journalist, and founder of Lust Films of Barcelona. If we weren’t so impressed with her, we’d be insanely jealous.Â She’s a smart cookie, a savvy business woman, and someone we wish we knew in real life.
Lust has directed award-winning adult films, including: “Five Hot Stories for Her”, which won Best Movie of the Year at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto, and “Barcelona Sex Project”, an experimental independent documentary that won Best Erotic Documentary at the E-Line Awards in Berlin. Her latest film is called “Life Love Lust”. In addition to producing movies, Lust has written several books, including Good Porn A Woman’s Guide and The Erotic Bible To Europe. Erika lives in Barcelona.
We’re incredibly grateful that Erika took time out of her busy schedule to answer a couple of Peep Show questions for us. Let’s see if we did her justice:
King is a Fink: Erika, how do you classify yourself as a filmmaker?Â Do you make porn?Â Do you make erotic films? Do you simply make films?Â Is there a difference?
Erika Lust: It depends how you define porn or erotic film. I don’t agree with the widespread division between porn and erotic films in which the term porn refers to male goods which are hardcore, explicit, filthy, rude, degrading to women, and the term ‘erotic films’ refers to female goods which are romantic, implicit, sterile, soft, and not degrading to women. I think that this division often presents another stereotype saying women want romance, men want sex. I think that the rise of adult entertainment for women in recent years proves that women want sex, they want hardcore. Therefore I would answer that I make porn.
On the other hand there is a big difference: I strongly believe that women, and I think many men as well, long for a different kind of porn, something beyond the dull male-centered low-quality mainstream films that repeat the same stereotypes over and over again. So this is definitely not the porn that I make. I go for a feminine, aesthetic approach. You can call it more realistic porn, if you want. (My aim is) to convey to the audience the touch of skin, the real sound of sex, to have people that could be you or me, to have a good setting, well-made costumes and decoration, using a well-chosen soundtrack. So I would have to answer: I make erotic porn.
KFink: You’ve discussed in other interviews that when you first watched porn you didn’t identify with any of it, which inspired you to produce your own erotic films. Can you clarify what you felt was lacking or problematic in the porn you were seeing and how your films address that?
Erika: In a way it seemed not only unrealistic; it was kind of ridiculous. The Mainstream-Porn industry uses stereotypes of women as well as of men, of straight as well as of queer people, that bore modern people to death. Not to mention that mainstream porn simply does not take female desire, lust and sexual satisfaction into account. But that’s not the attitude of most people nowadays. Those porn films show characters that are not well developed (or not developed at all), that sometimes go without a plot worth following or any plot at all. As a result, they show sex in an unrealistic or ridiculous way. What they show has nothing to do with reality; it does not depict realistic sex.
There is also the fact that mainstream porn quite obviously addresses a male audience. It’s all about the attractiveness of the girls in the movies from a straight male view, focusing solely on male heterosexual desire and satisfaction. And I’m talking about something quite obvious. For example, (we see that) male heterosexual mainstream porn always seems to need a cum shot (as well known as money shot, the external ejaculation) to finally prove the male satisfaction the climax of the film. So you can imagine that it’s quite difficult to see something in this if you differ in any way from the rigid heterosexual male tastes pushed by mainstream porn. I have to say that because I believe that men with more sophisticated taste (in sex, in cinema, however) are quite bored as well with this kind of porn.
So how am I addressing this in my films? I try to create films that are hardcore porn but with a certain atmosphere of passion, focusing on the female view and desire and on setting, plot, music, characters, etc. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still porn; I simply try to make porn of a different league. I even play with the mainstream cliches time after time, like I did in The Good Girl by using the Pizza-Boy theme. But I twisted and turned it, making fun of it. In the end it was still a girl that just came out of the shower ending up having sex with the delivery guy, but it was showing it WITH style.
KFink: How would you define/classify the audience for your films?
Erika: I would say heterosexual women who are confident about their sexuality or simply curious. Most of my work may show a woman having sex with a man, but still I don’t like labels so much and try to cross borders of stereotypes of desire. I made films with lesbian sex scenes as well as films with gay sex scenes, which may work for a male or female, straight or queer audience. Why couldn’t a straight women or man enjoying watching two people of the same sex doing it or the other way round? We are used to lesbian sex scenes provided by the mainstream industry that aims at a straight male audience, but why couldn’t a women, straight or lesbian, enjoy to watching two man having sex? Even a straight man could enjoy it. We are so much about identities of gender and desire that we seem to simply build up more stereotypes before we tear them down.
Still, saying that I make porn primarily for a female audience is a political statement for me. It is a statement for self-confident female sexuality as well as for a different kind of porn. And, of course, being a woman in porn industry is a political statement. But there could also be male filmmakers making porn for women. It’s not so much about whether a woman or a man does it; it’s more about how it’s done.
“It’s more about how it’s done, indeed. Big thanks to Erika for doing this interview.
In the 2nd part of Erika’s Peep Show interview, find out:
- Why Erika Lust movies aren’t just for women
- How audience engagement makes filmmakers better
- How Erika turns stereotypes upside down to make movies you wouldn’t want to watch with your mother
For more information about what Erika’s up to, go to www.erikalust.com.