Why Erika's Sex Is Hotter Than Porn

“Pornography has been focusing exclusively on the anatomy of sex: breasts, butts, cocks, bigger cocks, vaginas, blowjobs, deepthroats and the mandatory final cum shot.”

 

These are the choice words of Erika Lust, filmmaker and feminist, as she welcomes us to a screening of her work at this year’s Raindance film festival.

Nervous laughter filled the darkness, as we the audience, ease into the reality that we’re about to watch real explicit sex on the big screen. Real sex, sat thigh to thigh, with total strangers. 

But Erika is electrifying, passionate and, it feels like she’s daring me not to look away. To be cool enough, open enough, to be sex positive and see her work with eyes, which appreciate both the craft of her filmmaking and, this celebration of sex.

Colour fills the room and we’re treated to the spector of a raised palm over pert raised buttocks. ‘The Art Of Spanking’ is just one of the films to swallow up the awkwardness of the cinema. Suddenly I’m aware of the saliva in my mouth and I’m conscious of how loudly I swallow it.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Erika’s work, in fact I’m a bit of a fan girl when it comes to Lust Films, but this is my first venture into publicly viewing adult film. 10 minutes later and a couple of the close-ups do indeed make me cross my own legs. 

 

“When you use a vibrator, how do you do it?”

We’re straight in (pun definitely not intended), it’s the night after Erika’s screening, there’s a bottle of wine on the table between us, generously supplied by Pablo; Erika’s partner in both life and film. We’ve squeezed into the hotel honesty bar at one of the nicer spots in Soho and Pablo has airily charged the wine to their room, before toasting us and leaving. Allowing us ladies to chat sex. 

I’ve always loved this part of the city, as a child, clammy hand holding mum’s, I would crane my neck to look through the red lit windows, of the Soho maze, searching for some taboo of treat I wasn’t yet old enough to understand. But now with Erika’s eyes widening I feel as though I’m in the most exciting room of the entire maze… and not a gimp mask in sight… 

…I stutter, afraid that the question isn’t rhetorical, but thankfully Erika jumps in to save me. I’m left slurping my wine and nodding along like a loon. 

“Of course you close your legs. And it’s the same with sex; you pull someone very close to you if you want to have pleasure. So on a shoot I am trying to tell my performers to just have sex like they would at home. It’s my job to worry about the camera! Don’t give a shit about the camera! "

Let’s get one thing straight, Erika Lust doesn’t make porn, she films sex, but she’s not a pornographer. As we get deep into ‘adult conversation’, wine in hand, Erika tells me about her love for film, finding stories and how her sexual revolution began.

Born in Sweden (a brilliant country to grow up a sex positive feminist and, to study political sciences, feminism and sexuality at University) Erika had every opportunity to recognise the sexualised female representation, within the media and pornography was not only unrealistic, but extremely damaging. However it wasn’t until moving to Barcelona and embarking upon a career in film that Erika got the crazy idea to actually film a porno. Except it wasn’t at all. 

Erika shot the film ‘The Good Girl’ as her final project within her Barcelona filmmaking course. The movie was a twist on the classic porno scenario seeing for one of the first times within the genre a female lead. And what’s more, a female lead not only giving, but receiving pleasure. (I can’t imagine what Lincoln Uni would have said if I’d rolled this one in as my third year film…)

“The problem with porn is not that it’s porn, it’s not that it’s explicit sex, I think that bit is great about it. But the bad part about it is that most of it has very sexist ideas and a very sexiest vision of the world.”

 

‘The Good Girl’, well, it kind of went viral upon release in 2004, so it seemed Erika had no choice, but to continue making independent adult film. Unlike many women unhappy with their representations Erika was actually doing something about it. Lust Films was born, releasing a string of feature length adult films starring women. Women celebrating sex, not being forced into a scenario, because a man has a camera. 

Perhaps it was because Erika is a woman, perhaps it was the feeling of reality within her real sex scenes, or maybe it was just a wonderfully convenient time, with the internet starting to walk on it’s hind legs. But Erika’s audiences began to get in touch. They approached her online, some even handed her scripts, but everyone wanted to tell Erika their stories, their fantasies.

In 2013 XConfessions was launched.  

“I realised all this feedback all this ideas that were coming at me were very different from porn. From what we know as porn”

So Erika began to turn the confessions of her audience into movies. 

“I’ve done 60 films now and I shoot every 90 days and a new short film is coming out every two weeks so that is 26 films a year. Yeah, it’s fast!”

That must be one hell of an orgasm!

Erika sometimes gets to work with couples, like in her short ‘Let’s make a Porno!’, which she says really adds to the chemistry on screen. But with a business and high demand for high end content, she also needs professionals.

Suddenly Erika is pulling me close, I’ve only known her for perhaps 10 minutes, but she’s got the start of the giggles twinkling in her eyes. 

“Sometimes they don’t even put all the cock in, they just put in a little little piece of it. Why?”

I’m dying to know and lean forward only to be met with an eruption of Erika Lust.  

“Because they want it to look bigger!”

We giggle but it’s sad really. The porn industry we know is teaching people how to have bad sex. Its not promoting pleasure it’s idealising the ideal body types and it’s breeding bad habits and insecurities. 

“Porn is like a characterisation of sex but it’s not sex! We know this but it’s different if a kid watches porn because they don’t have experience if this is real life sex. So they have no comparison. They think that is it! That’s how it’s done! And the pattern they learn is almost always the same. A woman is helping a man to receive his pleasure.” 

I have a niece and a nephew, eight and four, the same ages as Erika and Pablo’s two daughters. Now I know there will come a day, soon, if it’s not already happened by some unlucky accident, when these two innocent, funny, little children will see porn. They will see porn and they will be in awe. “What is this?!” But somehow they’ll know this isn’t a question for Mum and Dad. They’ll know they’ve discovered something they shouldn’t have yet, so they won’t ask. But they will remember. That’s the reality right now. I have to ask myself what are the lessons I would rather they learn? The bleached blonde bullshit, which most of the mainstream porn industry churns out? Or the thoughtful and liberating works of art Erika produces?

But it’s not just about having a conscience, yes the messages have to be clean, but let me tell you, the sex is definitely still dirty! 

The stories coming through are good texts, and the films build character as they go, inserting recognisable cultural and personal references. Each reference and detail here seems to stimulate audiences in a new way, putting you in the heart of the story and the sex, in a way porn never really manages to do. Erika partly does this by using an extremely diverse cast, which together with the crowd-sourced plot lines creates an extremely inclusive vision of sex. 

“I’m trying to show women and men with all different body types so that you can see these people are desired. I think it’s important because if you see them and you see them having pleasure maybe you will allow yourself to have pleasure.”

Set this against the one-man-porno-band with his POV shots and over-played, out-dated schoolgirl setups, and you have a totally different vision of sex. 

“We’re so used to see sexism so we don’t even react when we see it. It’s completely natural to us. It’s funny with my daughters the bigger one will say; ‘Mum doesn’t she look silly!’ when she sees on some billboard a woman trying to be sexy. ‘Who would want to wear a red fishnet over-body? This is so stupid!’” 

I imagine Erika’s impression of her eight-year-old daughter is uncanny. An eight-year-old feminist at that. So if a child’s beginning to ‘get it’ I ask Erika does she think mainstream porn will hold its place much longer?

“No, I don’t think they have many more years of thinking like that, I think there is going to come a time when we are just bored of it, because people realise it just isn’t real.”

But it’s not all mood lighting and orgasms when you go up against the mainstream porn industry. Erika tells me with a heavy sigh that many creators from within the porn industry feel threatened by her work. 

“There’s some that see it’s a something new and fresh and great and then there’s other who think what they are making is already good enough so we don’t need anything else. They already have female friends who love what they are doing so we don’t need any new visions.”

Many pornographers have also argued that female porn performers earn more than men within the industry, so surely that’s equality?.. Sure. 

“Some people call me feminazi…” 

Erika’s laughing again now.

“...It’s a horrible word. But that’s people obviously who believe that feminists are a group of extremist women who want to kill men and take the power. If you have that vision then you probably don’t live in the same world I do.”

 

It’s a shame that so many just don’t get the feminist issue with pornography. When a product becomes so readily available we fail to see that any of the ingredients are of value. 

It’s only sex. She’s only a woman. She’s only a girl. 

  

Meeting with Erika made me feel elated. The world is changing, our ideas about equality are maturing and we’ve realised there’s a long way to go in achieving them. Sex and porn and the world of adult film sadly have even further to catch up. Erika talks with such passion about filling the genre with better, smarter people, like her team and then the films and audience following. It’s a wonderful vision, but I worry a lifetime of disposable sex and women only worth what the man watching will pay for her, is too big a monster to change. But maybe Erika’s right, people will get bored. I really hope so. 

  

“Pornography has been focusing exclusively on the anatomy of sex: breasts, butts, cocks, bigger cocks, vaginas, blowjobs, deepthroats and the mandatory final cum shot.”

 

I remind Erika of her opening words as we say goodbye in the Soho hotel. 


“You know I think that’s just not the sexiest part” 

I say shaking my head.

 Erika lights up all over again and grabs my arm, beaming at me. 

“Exactly it’s just not the sexiest part!”

  

Erika is next showing her work from XConfessions on the big screen at the Chicago Film Festival on October 21st. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the windy city, click here for tickets!

 

And if you’d like to become part of Erika’s sexual revolution, know more about Erika Lust, Lust Films and XConfessions (or maybe you’d even like to anonymously confess) click here.