If the word “porn” conjures unpleasant, if not downright distressing images of vague, disinterested couples humping away beneath unflattering hot lights (of course, you probably reason, nobody could make THAT man look good) and seeming to enjoy it less and less by the second, then perhaps you need to sample the award-winning work of Erika Lust.
Currently celebrating a decade in the business of producing quality hardcore erotica through the feminist lens, Erika Lust is a Swedish director who creates porn for women. All of her films feature romantic stories and strong production values (gasp!), women who look like they’re actually enjoying themselves (double gasp!) and drop dead gorgeous men (gasp and swoon!).
Scandalouswomen recently had the honor of sitting down with Erika Lust, for a profile of and tribute to one of the small group of female directors that is changing the face of today’s erotic film scene.
Scandalous: Erika Lust, congratulations on celebrating a decade in the feminist adult film industry; many women and couples around the world appreciate the high quality and sophistication (and of course the hotness!) of your work. What first inspired you to create works in this genre?
Erika: Thank you very much! What first inspired me was my own fantasies and desires – and what I saw in adult films didn’t seem to have any of the things that I found hot. I love films and cinema and the cinematic aspect was completely missing in what I saw! That inspired me to make my ideas reality, to fuse cinema with explicit content, and to show another perspective in adult films – and to truly capture the beauty and fun of sex!
Scandalous: Tell us more about your xConfessions and 10 Years of Lust Films projects. And do you feel that xConfessions is bridging the gap between literary and visual erotica?
Erika: XConfessions is my most ambitious project to date, and so much fun to work on! It’s crowdsourced Erotica directed by me – people from all over the world confess their innermost desires, their dirtiest fantasies and hottest memories on my site xconfessions.com. The entries are hugely varied and incredibly imaginative and filthy -they’re a joy to read! Every month I pick two stories from the site and turn them into explicit short films. The response has been great, many say they haven’t seen anything like XConfessions before, which is partly why the project is so exciting! You never know what you will see next… The community of Xconfessors is growing and always keep me on my toes – and it’s a thrill to see what hot story we will shoot next. It’s a true privilege to bring the fantasies of real people to life.
Because of this I do think XConfessions bridges that gap between literary and visual erotica, as each film is based on a written story that influences the entire narrative of the shorts. That’s my main priority, giving each film a narrative with it’s characters, story, setting and of course sex.
Scandalous: In your TedX talk about women’s porn, you said that you want to get more women into porn, in terms of creating quality and feminist erotic works. What special perspective do you feel that women can bring to the erotic genre? And what advice would you give to women just starting in the business?
Erika: The special perspective is the female perspective! Women make up half of the world’s population and our ideas about sex are hugely important so we can represent our sexuality.
If only men partake in adult film making, we will only get the male perspective and that’s not fair, is it! Adult films have the power to educate and if there’s too much one-sided and chauvinistic porn out there, it’s just too unbalanced, and I think, even harmful to people’s ideas about sex & sexuality.
I think any woman, or person who thinks about making alternative Erotica should check out my book Let’s Make a Porno. You can download it for free as an e-book. There’s loads of guidance in there to anyone who would like to know more about indie erotic film making, whether it’s intended for private or public use! If you are willing to work hard and inject honesty, passion and creativity into your work, you can create whatever you want!
Scandalous: Your films Cabaret Desire, Live, Love, Lust, and the Barcelona Sex Project all have been honored with Feminist Porn Awards. What themes and ideas do you like to incorporate in your work, and how do you choose your actors and actresses?
Erika: I want to capture everything exciting about sex, which is not, like mainstream films would want you to think, just the sex itself! It’s also the build-up, surroundings, the fantasy, anticipation, whatever details you can imagine from a specific encounter – it’s all of those things too! I don’t shy away from close-ups, but for me, I want to paint a fuller picture about the seduction and beauty of sex. So, the sex can be dirty, kinky and explicit, but as a theme running through all my films I try to capture everything exciting that surrounds the sex act too. It’s not just about the genitals. Our brains deserve to get turned on as well!
Regarding how I choose actors and actresses, I work with smart and sex-positive people. You can watch interviews with Lust-performers on my vimeo-page – you will see that they are all intelligent, unique people with very different reasons for why they want to be in my films. They are all beautiful and sexy in their own unique way. But what they all have in common is that they are all people with a healthy attitude to sex! I only work with people who get the Lust philosophy and truly want to be there – and we always have a great, relaxed time on set.
Scandalous: You have a degree in political science and are a seasoned feminist journalist. To what do you attribute your lifelong dedication to women’s and humanitarian rights?
Erika: I grew up in Sweden, a country where discussions about gender is part of the public discourse, and I studied Political Sciences at the University of Lund . That helped me form my ideas about feminism, but I almost had to leave Sweden to further my thinking about sex and sexuality, as those discussions can actually be quite stifled and conservative in Scandinavia!
As a film maker first, I love to make films just for the love of film making. But the activist in me will always sees the bigger picture and questions the role and influence of mainstream pornography on society, and I will always be vocal about not just sweeping such a huge cultural genre under the rug. What values are we passing down to our children? I think it’s our generations responsibility to change porn and make it better!
Scandalous: Tell us about your future projects and how our readers can find you online!
Erika: XConfessions is keeping me busy as usual, but I have had a great year and have tonnes of new ideas bubbling! I want to add new elements to Erotica, other art forms… but I won’t say too much at this point. Just wait and see! Lust Films is always thinking about moving forwards and pushing the envelope in alternative Erotica. Readers can find out more at erikalust.com and I want EVERYONE to come to xconfessions.com to tell me their saucy secrets and hot stories! Their story might just be turned into a film…
For more information about Erika Lust, please check out www.xconfessions.com and www.erikalust.com.