Future Porn

Erika Lust and the World of Women-led Porn


Tired of watching porn where a guy gets a “thank you blowjob” just because he’s kind enough to change some hot helpless young woman’s flat tire? Then you should probably check out Erika Lust, the Swedish bad ass director of erotic films. She runs the company Lust Films from her office space in Barcelona, the city that’s been her home since 2000.

In her adolescent years Erika tried watching porn, but was never completely satisfied with what she would see. “Where is the female pleasure in all of this?” she thought. But it wasn’t until a few years later that the political science graduate decided that she herself was going to change the landscape of porn. The very first film she shot, The Good Girl, was made available on the Internet for free and it reached 2 million views in a few days. That’s when she knew that she was onto something.

Since then Erika’s career has been an innovatory exploration of porn driven by the desire to change the perception of female sexuality, pushing boundaries on and off screen. In 2013 she set up the online cinema XConfessions – an ambitious crowdsourced project that invites people to share their dirty secret fantasies on the website. Then, every month, Erika picks new confessions and turns them into films – always using quality cinematography and a splash of humor.

When Erika talks, people listen (just watch this powerful TEDx Talk she delivered in 2014), so I figured it would be a good idea to let the queen of erotica explain to you in her own words what it’s like to work as a female director of adult films in an industry that can sometimes seem a bit male-dominated.

kittenscoverny

four kittens resting after an orgy (inspiration from “Meow”)

Simone: What inspired you to start making erotic films?

Erika: I was curious about sex and I wanted to watch erotica, but everything I saw made me feel disgusted. It was tacky, ugly, and violent… Which was a bummer because I always thought about sex as something natural and good that could bring me so much joy. I knew that those films were not the real deal, there HAD to be a better way of doing it. So I started making the films that I wanted to see – with stories and characters that are actually possible in real life.

The number of women producing porn has increased in recent years with initiatives like The Feminist Porn Awards bringing more awareness to the matter. Can you describe what the landscape looked like when you first began directing and what reactions you were faced with?

It wasn’t always easy, especially in the beginning. I can’t count how many times I heard that there was no room for women in this industry and that no one would watch the films that I was making. I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to them, because the very first short film I made got 2 million views in a few days! That made me feel confident, knowing that I wasn’t alone and that more people agreed with me saying that eroticism should be greater than cheap porn. Today, 12 years later, I’m thrilled to say that my online crowdsourced project XConfessions is reaching 200.000 members and that Lust Films is an independent, financially healthy, and ethically-driven production company.

How do you feel about using the term “feminist pornographer”?

It means a pornographer that applies feminist values in the production of erotic films. I personally prefer the term sex-positive adult filmmaker. That is, among many other things, to put women in decision roles and to make clear that female pleasure matters! There are a lot of us now, and it keeps counting, which is fantastic. My only problem with this term is that normally people relate the idea of “feminist porn” to porn that’s “made for women”, which ends up being understood as “soft”. Which isn’t true at all! Women like hot stuff too, you know? We like rough sex, we like dirty talk, we like biting and grabbing and licking. Our private sex lives are full of those things, and so are my films!

Totally! So, the first film I watched after subscribing to XConfession was “Female Fantasy” and I don’t think I’ve ever seen female masturbation portrayed so authentic and relatable before. Also, watching mainstream porn, I feel like 99% of the time it is centered on the guy’s ejaculation. In “Female Fantasy” everything leads up to the woman climaxing and though there is a guy in the film you don’t even see him cum. I’m definitely not saying that all mainstream porn is bad. But a lot of it is. And a lot of it is the same. In what ways are you trying to differentiate your work from mainstream adult entertainment?

Enough with sex ending when the guy ejaculates! That’s the most boring part of mainstream porn, and it’s the same in 99% of the films. There’s nothing wrong with the cumshot itself, the problem is when nothing else matters. But here we are changing things and shouting out loud: WOMEN PLEASURE MATTERS! This would be the first thing: bringing the attention to all those things forgotten by mainstream porn – and that includes respect both onscreen and behind the cameras, realistic characters, locations that make sense, good work conditions for the performers, and creativity on the storyline!

Female Fantasy was the first guest directed film we released on XConfessions. We thought it’d be a good idea to invite other directors to participate in the project and share their own takes on sex. This film was directed by Zara Kjellner and Alicia Hansen, two Swedish girls who are doing an amazing job and that I’m proud to have in XConfessions’ collaborators team.

I was also delighted to find a story about a guy who lets his girlfriend talk him into cross dressing after which he discovers that he actually enjoys it. I’ve always had a thing for men dressed in very feminine lingerie and watching the film I realized that I might not be the only one! Your films cover a wide range of fantasies. How do you choose which confessions you are going to shoot next?

You have no idea how much creativity fits on erotica! Everyday there’s a good number of confessions arriving and I love reading them. I choose the ones that allow me to work on a good script. The more creative, different, and surprising, the better! I love shooting outdoors, for example, like some of my latest releases I put a Pagan Spell on You and Sweet But Psycho. Then there’s the crazy Carne – a story based on Hannibal Lecter! Lately I’ve been experimenting with other disciplines, like dance or documentary, and the films are turning out very unique which you’ll see in Horny Beasts and Circus Aerius Perversus.

erika-lust1

from “Carne”

You always use a lot of humor in your films. Is that something that’s important to you?

Humor is essential to me. I never understood this idea that we can’t laugh during sex, that we always need to wear a serious seductive face. That’s fine too, but sex is supposed to be fun! It’s when we’re more relaxed and deeper connected to our partners, or to people we really like. I love giving a final switch to my scripts, making jokes, adding extra elements to the story.

One of my favorite confessions is “Meow”, where four women pretending to be kittens end up in an orgy, because it’s both charming and humorous. Do you have a favorite among the films you’ve shot?

Hmmm tricky! There are so many. I really like The Ultimate Kink, a film from XConfessions Volume 6 with Silvia Rubi, Mickey Mod and Paulita Pappel, because it’s ironic, a bit crazy, and insanely hot. It’s a story about a queer couple who have tried everything in bed except for a man, so they go for it together. I’m also very excited about my latest release Latex Sessions. It’s a film with Amarna Miller and Parker Marx, in witch they live a really hot latex adventure. Amarna got to wear so many stunning outfits. It is a complete spectacle!

The crew working with you behind the cameras usually consists of more women than men. What is your experience of working with men and working with women on set?

I have no problem with working with men, but the stories I want to tell need female eyes. It’s that simple. Not only because we are more sensitive to the context, to bringing the camera more to the face and less to the penis – which is one of the bigger prerogatives in my films, – but also because the world needs more women behind the cameras! There are more every day, but proportionally we are still very few.

I recently read an interview where you said that 60% of XConfessions’ users are men. This actually surprised me because your work is often labeled as “porn aimed at women”. But I think it’s interesting because it suggests that not only women have been longing to have their landscape of porn broadened. What are your thoughts on that?

It’s what I said before about this “porn for women” label. It’s a weird label that doesn’t fit my films. Just because there are women with personality that doesn’t mean that men won’t like it! I’d love to see more women watching my films and it’s a growing number, but I’m also happy to see that men themselves are looking for something alternative to mainstream. They have the right to be tired of boring chauvinistic porn, just like we do.

Finally, where do you see women-led porn in 10 years?

Running the world! OK, it will maybe take a bit more time, but I truly believe in the importance of women taking more part in the sexuality discourse. I believe that women-led porn can bring a ton of benefits to society in every way from a less chauvinistic industry to better and happier private sexual lives. : )

Thank you, Erika!


View Comments
There are currently no comments.