Director's Chair: Erika Lust Promotes Sex-Positive Porn
Porn filmmaker and feminist Erika Lust launched Lust Films in 2004 “to cater to the female audience rarely recognized when producing porn.” A self-proclaimed introvert, Lust has taken on the challenge of becoming a voice for women who believe that pornography can serve as a “discourse of human sexuality” and not just a series of money-shots.
“Left to my own devices, I’d write and direct movies and be a reclusive artist to my heart’s content,” she admits. “But I’ve garnered success and developed a statement with my work and that requires public speaking and media.”
XBIZ caught up with Lust to speak about the pros and cons of fantasy, sexism and why Belladonna is a good female role model and why “Fifty Shades” author E.L. James isn’t.
Is porn today still “chauvinistic and offensive?”
The majority of porn out there remains this way. Men are the primary consumers of porn, so it follows that most of the product will be created with the masculine gaze in mind. But the offensive part is how much the real, human elements have been stripped away in porn, so that just the thrusting and ejaculation are displayed.
Female characters [are] total stereotypes — nymphos or naïve youngsters — with fake body parts and faker orgasms, none of which really represents much of the female population at all. Since I have a high opinion of erotic art and cinema and see its potential in society and the way we view sexuality, I am offended by images where the human sexual experience is reduced to these things.
Is it fair to judge a person’s character based on the fantasies they have?
No, I certainly don’t think it’s fair to judge someone based on their private life — porn consumption and the fantasies represented, being a part of this. But, it’s naïve to believe that these fantasies and reality never intersect. If they do, and the other person is into it, and can share the experience safely and pleasurably, then that’s great. I see a problem when people’s fantasies alienate them from others, rather than connecting them. And this is something that porn has a tendency to exacerbate.
You criticize E.L. James for perpetuating male-driven fantasies about BDSM in her novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Are you saying it’s impossible for women to have fantasies similar to men?
Absolutely not — we’re all human, so there’s bound to be some crossover. In fact, we may share a great many fantasies. But there are some themes in the book that are unmistakably masculine in origin: like virginal initiation. It’s difficult to wrap my head around women fantasizing about an experience which (though transformative) seems rarely to be erotic. That’s neither here nor there, but I think that there’s been enough of male fantasy being indoctrinated into views of our own sexuality. I just wish that women had just the same amount of inclination to dominate in bed as be dominated.
Belladonna and Joanna Angel are seen as strong independent females, but produce traditional hardcore. How do you feel about that?
Those two examples in particular are very sex-positive, and always honest about what their role is, their mission and what they like about porn. The more women’s voices are added to discussion of sexuality and the representations of it, the better!
Why should porn aspire to be anything more than fantasy fulfillment?
Because it represents more than that. Sure, for many people that may be where it starts and ends, as masturbatory material only, but porn has a vital role in society and in the evolution of sexuality. If it were only fantasy fulfillment, there’d be a total disconnect between the consumption and one’s sex life — which just isn’t the case. It’s rare that what you see doesn’t affect the way you have sex, for better or for worse. It’s formative in that way. Porn can be used for more than just arousal: for education, understanding and exploration of sexuality … and the sooner we realize that potential, the sooner people will be inspired to make it better.