Sex, Lies and Porno-tapes

 

Erika Lust is an acclaimed filmmaker offering an alternative to the mainstream porn industry. She is also the creator of groundbreaking audiovisual Project XConfessions.com – the first crowdsourced series that brought adult film to cinema screens.

Born in 1977 in Sweden, Erika burst out into the adult industry in 2004, with the indie short film The Good Girl – a humorous statement of principles using the “pizza delivery boy” trope. Since then she has directed four multi-award winning features: “Five Hot Stories For Her”, “Barcelona Sex Project”, “Life Love Lust” and “Caberet Desire”, and has also written five books including “Let’s Make A Porno” and her acclaimed erotic novel “La Cancion de Nora” (“Nora’s Song”).
In 2015, she gave her “It’s Time for Porn to Change” talk at TEDxVienna which gained her notoriety for her campaign to change porn.

Erika lives in Barcelona with her partner and husband Pablo and their two daughters, Lara and Liv.

1. There is obviously a strong feminist angle to your work– How has your experience been working within a male dominated industry? Is that something you connect to on a personal level?

It has always been positive because I have always done what I wanted and I have never felt I was part of the porn industry. I found it hilarious when in the beginning of my career many men in the industry wanted to tell me that there wouldn’t be a market for my films because they already made “porn for women”. They were referring to all those films directed by men who thought all women need are roses and silk sheets to have an orgasm! After The Good Girl was downloaded 2.000.000 times that was enough to prove them wrong.

2. Over the last decade or more, Hip Hop and Urban aesthetics have been really influential on all art forms and setting trends. Does that speak to you?

No, not at all. I have to admit I I am not into Hip Hop. I like music but I’m not a huge music lover in general. I get influence from a lot of shows right now. I love “Girls” and “Transparent” and one of my last short films was directly influenced by Kenzo’s last video directed by Spike Jonze and starring Margaret Qualley. That video was definitely an inspiration for an XConfessions short film.

3. Do you think the depiction of women is justified in it?

No, of course not! Women on those video are the definition of “objects”. I have said it many times. The porn industry represents women as objects but the objectification of women in the whole mainstream entertainment industry, including the music industry is terrible. Its effects are equally damaging on women and men! Many Hip Hop videos, those that make millions of views and are supported by big media are continually affirming, with their imaginary, that women are simply bodies, existing solely to please men in every inch of their big-boobs-big-butt-body.

4. Porn has been very good at embracing technology to its benefit. There is a lot of trends developing currently with Virtual Reality and Drones being utilized? What are your views on that? Do you think they are passing fads or something that can become part of mainstream porn?

VR has potential to be an immersive cultural experience, so besides creating content for adult cinema, I think it has even a bigger potential. It can allow us to put ourselves in to some one else’s shoes and it can certainly be a medium for education. Just in terms of expanding empathy, imagine everything you could do with VR. Imagine putting someone into the position of being a woman walking home in the night and being followed… scary, yes, but a reality for many. That’s just an example, but VR has the potential to make people experience all these things. I believe with VR there is a potential of creating films that have the ability to teach, and to inspire to reach out and to connect with another human being, exploring their body guided by them, not just using them like a virtual sex doll. We could explore desires, kinks and pleasure in a way that teaches us something.

However, all VR pornography created today is crowded with male-centric PoV clichés. In fact I’d say it is an extension of the mainstream adult cinema. Same content, another technology. Since mainstream porn is an industry completely dominated by men that has generated a lot of money, it makes sense that if some producers have the resources, they are the first ones in using Virtual Reality but they are very stuck in its old patterns.

I have not yet began to shoot with VR but my plan is to begin directing my first VR short film at the beginning of 2017. After visiting many companies that focus on VR Porn in Barcelona, and the expensive costs it entails I have decided I am going to shoot my first one with a Vuze Camera, the world’s first 3D 360° Spherical Virtual Reality Camera. With VR I want to combine representation as I have done until now with full immersion.

5. A recent article ‘The Future of Sex” suggests that in 25 years using robots and androids for sex will become mainstream – Do you think we are headed that way? As an artist how do you view such information?

It’s a possibility, indeed. The world is changing everyday, and we can find a lot of examples in popular culture about robots helping us in our everyday life.

When I think about that future you suggest, I immediately see some images of a Japanese film called ‘Air Doll’, by Hirokazu Koreeda. There’s a man who buys an air doll to be his girlfriend, and that loneliness and sadness is what it comes to me when I imagine a future with ‘sex robots’. I hope real sex never dies!

6. How would you describe your personal fashion style? Are you into fashion and shopping?

I like fashion but I am not obsessed with it by any means…. My style is very, very casual and I wear a lot of black. What I like most is desiring a purse, a sweater…. When I see something I like, I love the feeling of lusting after it more than buying it!

7. Favorite Designer?

I don’t have one!

8. Who are the filmmakers that you particularly admire? Who has been influential on your work?

Influence comes from many places for me. As I told you, I am really into some shows right now. But I would say I have always adored  “L’Amant” by Jean Jackes Annaud. The first time I watched it, it was really a revelation. The protagonist becomes an adult through sex and an unconventional love story, and this is completely shown from her point of view (probably because it was an adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras). This girl is intelligent and adventurous, and she is not ashamed of her blossoming sexuality. The way her first sexual experiences are depicted is very poetic, but at the same time raw and realistic. He managed to build an amazing story around sex with a lot of transcendence whilst keeping the hottest erotic scenes.

I have always admired a lot the work of Candida Royalle, Maria Beatty and Tristan Taormino too.

9. Do you think art reflects the society and culture accurately and does it still influence people or holds the same power in today’s social media obsessed society?

I think art is a reflection of the society we live so art is so diverse as diverse is the people on society!

10. Tattoos have become an important expression of personal fashion – What are your views on that? Are you a ‘tattoo’ person?

Not really, but I like to see them on other people!

11. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

XConfessions for sure! We have gathered more than 150.000 active members on the site and I receive the best emails from viewers!

12. What is next for you? 

I have just launched The Porn Conversation -www.thepornconversation.org- with my partner and husband Pablo Dobner. Worried about the easy access to free online porn that kids and teenagers have, we want to instigate the talk at home so parents and other educators have the opportunity to help kids and teens make smart and informed decisions regarding pornography. On the site we provide other parents with free tools to talk with their children about online porn, as right now online mainstream pornography is the only sex ed kids have unfortunately.

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