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      Erika Lust Is Occupying Feminist Porn

      April 24, 2012
      Kelly McClure

      By Kelly McClure

      Music Editor

      Erika Lust is a Stockholm-born filmmaker with an impressive education in political science and feminist studies from the University of Lund in Sweden. Now living in Barcelona, Lust is using her background to push her self-made company, Lust Films, into the forefront of female-written, -produced, and -directed pornos.

      We met up with Erika in the lobby of her hotel in Times Square while she was here to receive her third Movie of the Year Award at the 2012 Feminist Porn Awards for her latest contribution, Cabaret Desire. The first five minutes of our time together was spent making fun of Times Square, and the rest was spent trading notes on the disgusting porns we've seen in the past, and how she intends to put an end to them, or at least offer a way more attractive alternative.

      VICE: So how did you get started making porn films?
      Erika Lust: I needed to make a living and a lot of my friends were involved with films and television, so they started me out doing the very basic things like being a runner, picking people up at the airport, things like this. I was doing that for a few years and then I started to advance and started working as a production assistant. So I never set out to work in films, that's just sort of what happened. I always had a great passion for movies, and for theater. My sister was a ballet dancer when she was little, so I was crazy about all of that stuff and it was my big passion, but I never thought I'd be able to do that kind of work. I was too good of a student. Around 2004 I found myself wanting to learn more about the technical and artistic sides of film, so I took some night courses. Eventually I had the opportunity to make a short film, but I felt a little lost and didn't know what to do. One thing that had always been my passion was feminism, and another was sexuality, so I combined all of these things and decided to make an explicit film. A pornographic film. But from my point of view, for women.
       
      Most pornos are really gross.
      Yes! When I got my first "porn education," because that's really what it is, an education, I had the typical boyfriend showing up with DVDs like "let's do this!" I always had this feeling like, yes my body is reacting from these images, but I really don't like it. There was a huge discrepancy from what I physically felt, and what I emotionally and intellectually felt. 
       
      Why do you think that so much porn is nasty and disgusting?
      I think the reason is that porn is an industry completely dominated by men. And they're not just any kind of men. Porn started in the 60s and 70s as something quite progressive. Porn was the reaction to a conservative society where sexuality was seen as something to be hidden. The first pornographers were visionaries. Then in the 80s technology comes and kind of destroys things. Suddenly there's a video camera in every home, and they're not very expensive, anyone can buy one, so a lot of men at that point who were managing strip clubs and night clubs bought a camera and said "let's film the girls." They started to make money from that, and they wanted to make MORE money, so they just got nastier and nastier. It was never about the sexuality, and it was certainly never about the female sexuality because they were there just as pure objects. 
       
      Do you think there's gonna come a time where it's not considered taboo to appreciate porn?
      You never know because society tends to open up and then close back in again. But I have the feeling that we're going two or three steps ahead, and then maybe just one back. But I see that there's one group of people, like a certain intellectual, open group of people, who are starting to accept pornography as something that's good, and something that can be part of our sexuality in a more natural way, but it's still not out there for the masses.
       
      When you make a film, what all are you involved in? Set design, casting, all of it? 
      Everything. I'm the boss of all of it. (Laughs.) My films have a past and a future. I'm really telling you who these people are, and why they feel the way they feel for each other. With most porn films it's like, "there's the sofa," and it starts there. I don't know if it's something for women in general, I mean we're all individuals when it comes to sexuality, but for me, it's difficult to get turned on when I know nothing about what's going on. But I'm involved in absolutely everything. I think what story I want to tell, I write the script, the casting process, everything. For me, making a film is like a pregnancy. It's a nine-month period, to get the kind of movie I want to make. 
       
       
      Talk about the casting a little bit. What's that like?
      I'm always trying to take the porn out of the actors I cast, because it's a completely different thing. If they've worked in porn before, then they're doing the poses. I have to tell them to have sex like they do in real life, because not even porn stars have sex like porn stars in real life. Porn is a strange thing where they have to seperate the people to be able to see everything. And in real life that wouldn't satisfy you because in real life the satisfaction comes from the intimacy, and being able to feel the person's skin. So in my movies I try to get them to have sex like real people, and then it's my job to go around and find the angles. 
       
      The things I liked most about Cabaret Desire were that the movie had real dialogue, and everyone was attractive. 
      Well yes! The thing is that in my movies I cast people who are attractive to me, because I need to be attracted by seeing them in these stories, but they're not attractive in a fake way. I love aesthetics, I love beautiful things, and that's what I want to show. 
       
      For most people, unless you're watching it at a festival or something, you watch a porno for like five minutes. Is that why you made Cabaret Desire in story segments that can be broken up?
      Yes, it is. When you look for that sort of kick that pornography is giving you, it's usually a kick that happens within 20 minutes. I feel like it's complicated to make a one-and-a-half hour movie that's just going and going and going. I watch a lot of mainstream and independent cinema and many times I feel that they are too long. I don't know if it's the way society kind of started to go faster and faster, and that we just don't have that much time any more, but I feel like a Mission Impossible-type movie just keeps going on and on and on. So I think in films, all types of films, we need to re-think the formats. 
       
      So tell me about the award you're here to receive.
      Movie of the year! And it's actually the third time for me. They started the Feminist Porn Awards to show that there are other types of porn out there, because we have very little visibility. That's the main reason why it's great for me to win these awards and have a chance to get out there because people don't know that films like this exist. 
       
      Why is porn important?
      It's important because it's part of our society. As much as people don't want to thing that porn is part of our culture, it is! Same way as advertising is part of our culture, because it's out there, and it's effecting us. It's especially important for younger people because they don't have sex education, really. We teach them the basic things like if you have sex you can get pregnant, you can get STDs, but we don't teach them HOW to have sex. We aren't taught how to do these things so then when you're a young girl, or a young guy and you're like "WOOF, I have a feeling. I want to do something. I don't know how to do it." So what do you do? You go to the internet, or you find a DVD. You start looking for pornography. So then what are they learning when they watch pornography? Well, they learn a lof of things about porn, but not many things about sexuality. They get this gross misconception of how sex works. Instead of finding out about themselves, they just reproduce what they're finding in pornography. 
       
      Are you working on any new projects?
      Cabaret Desire came out in November, so I'm still promoting it. I think it's my best film and I really feel like I'm starting to control things, and to get my vision through. My goal right now is to promote it. To get people to see it. 
       
      How do you edit out the body fart noises and stuff when you're making your movies? 
      (Laughs.) I'm not trying to edit that out. I'm trying to keep it in. Everything. I want to keep things as natural as possible. 
       
      Learn more about Erika and Lust Films HERE
       
      Photos taken by Maxwell Lander
       
       

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