Em & Lo's RSS Feed Em & Lo's Daily Email Feed Be Our Facebook Friend! Follow Us on Twitter!

LEVI's on Amazon

Good Vibes Cupcake

Buy on Amazon Kindle!

Sandals on Amazon


Books: How to Find Good Porn

Mon, Sep 13, 2010

Books, Pop Culture

scene from Five Hot Stories by Erika Lust

We’ll admit it: we know very little about porn. In theory we know that there’s better porn out there than the crap our male hallmates used to watch in college with their doors “accidentally” left open. And we know that, as a professional obligation, we really should investigate this good porn more — especially given how many people write to us asking for advice about porn: what to watch, how to get over a partner’s porn habit, how to convince a partner that watching porn isn’t cheating, how to find ethically produced porn, etc. But we somehow never seem to get around it. Which is why we are beyond thrilled by the release of the excellent book Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust. It’s our round tuit. Lust did the leg-work so we don’t have to. We chatted with the filmmaker, journalist, and cofounder of Lust Films…

EM & LO: You have a lot to say in your book about what exactly is wrong with male-produced porn. When and why did you decide to stop just critiquing and start actually producing yourself?

ERIKA LUST: My relationship with porn wasn’t quite love at first sight. But for me it seemed clear from the beginning that this does not lie in the nature of porn — it’s a matter of how it’s done. It just needed somebody to do it. But who? This bunch of guys that dominated the industry for decades, pestering us with the same sleazy sets, boring or hardly elaborated plots, bad make-up, terrible acting, and unrealistic or simply ridiculous sex scenes? Not really. They had their shot. We can simply complain about those guys, or we can get it on ourselves.

So I decided to realize my own vision of porn. My first project was the short-film THE GOOD GIRL, which was released in 2005. And it shows a lot of response to mainstream porn, mocking it in many different ways. I used the motif of the pizza boy who arrives when the girl that ordered it is just having a shower (funny how they always forget that they just ordered a pizza, huh?). I twisted and turned it and simply depicted it in a different way, first putting some satire elements on mainstream porn, and second showing sex in a realistic, sensual way.

What elements are missing in most male-produced porn that you try to include in porn you make or recommend to women?

Phew, where shall I start? Let me put it this way: if porn shows sex, and we assume that often it’s the search for better sex, what does mainstream porn try to tell women? With the words of theorist Heather Butler I would say it tells women just to “take it” and to “fake it.” But what about a woman’s view on sex, what about female lust and desire, what about the satisfaction of the woman?

The other thing is that most mainstream porn lacks style and fails to serve a more sophisticated taste — sorry, actually I believe most of it fails to serve any taste. First it’s about the plot: it doesn’t need to be extremely thrilling, but just not extraordinarily stupid. Then it’s about the set, the costumes and the make up. Put some effort in it to let it have style! It’s about the actors who do not necessarily have to be muscly truckers with mustaches and Barbie dolls with plastic breasts. Why not let them look like it could be your neighbor, your colleague, or yourself? And is it so hard to cast people with a certain minimum of acting skills? And for once could they think of something other than creating roles like hookers, insatiable virgins, lesbians who fuck guys, mafia kingpins, jailers and policemen, or doctors curing frigidity. And the sex-scenes: the mainstream goes for harder, faster, and the weirder positions, the better. Two or more people balancing on one foot, being knotted together, moving fast for twenty minutes without ever altering speed. Are they having sex or doing sports? Don’t get me wrong, I think women don’t want romance in porn, they want hardcore. But I believe that women, like many men as well by the way, long for something more sophisticated, with more style, more interesting. And I am going for this.

You say that besides new adult films, many women might enjoy (and get turned on by) some sensual indie art-house movies, ’70s sexploitation films, and modern mainstream movies that portray everyday women enjoying their sexuality (though not necessarily having explicit sex). Can you talk about this a bit more?

What’s interesting is that there’s been a movement of artists trying to blur the line between cinema and porn, some we could call “New Wave Porn,” some we could call “Art-House-Porn” — but let’s not get lost in labels because it’s hard to clearly locate them on the artistic landscape somewhere between art, film and porn. Those directors would be Ovidie, Anna Span or Maria Beatty. Filmmakers/ pornographers with a mainstream cinema background that probably could be located there would be Catherine Breillat, Michael Winterbottom or Lars von Trier with his company “Innocent Pictures.”

Legendary when it comes to sexploitation films is Russ Meyer. Sexploitation is a sub-genre of the exploitation films, which by the way highly influenced Quentin Tarantino. They escalate and exaggerate their special elements, which is for sexploitation soft-core sex and nudity as for another sub-genre of exploitation — blaxploitation, it would be racial difference. Meyer’s FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! is about three rebellious women in wasp waists with huge breasts that kind of fit the contemporary beauty standard, but do not fit in the traditional female role at all. They take what they want, when they want it, they take the men they want, get involved in car races, steal the car if they like, or might kill you if you interfere with their interests. It’s an erotic film, and still quite interesting if you see it in the creative way Meyer used and turned gender roles, going for everything in extreme and the opposite at the same time.

As you said, modern mainstream movies can be quite erotic despite puritanism saying “suggest it, don’t show it,” and despite today’s business factors, like using sex as an attraction even for selling detergent or electric drills, which cannot be considered “erotic,” no matter how hard they try (and I think they try too hard…). Some movies manage to do the balancing act, with neither necessarily depicting explicit sex nor keeping everything under the sheets. Depending on what serves your taste best, you might like NINE 1/2 WEEKS, with Basinger and Rourke (the sexy one, before he became that WRESTLER Guy), or the lesbian adventure THE HUNGER with Sarandon and Deneuve, or Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT. Or I think of Shainberg’s SECRETARY, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, which presents a very different love than we are used to see on screen, but still a woman discovering and enjoying her sexuality. But we’ve also had some very popular series that showed those women, just think of Sex and the City (let’s not talk about the movies!) or The L Word. My book Good Porn presents a detailed guide, for everybody who wants to know more than I could explain in this interview.

We hear from so many women who just can’t stand their boyfriend’s or husband’s porn. What are some titles you recommend these women check out… both to watch on their own, and to watch with a partner? (We’re assuming these are two fairly different categories, correct?)

It depends what they like. It might be Zentropa’s explicit romantic comedy ALL ABOUT ANNA, the story of a typical single woman, concerned about her career and wary of getting caught in a romantic relationship, until her job brings her to Paris and everything turns out in a different way than she expected. If they want to try something new together it might be the erotic workshop-films by Tristan Taormino, where she explains different techniques of cunnilingus, fellatio, anal sex, from preparing to performing it, that they might want to try immediately. Or maybe the very atmospheric 9 SONGS by Michael Winterbottom, where music plays a big role.

And for a woman to watch alone, again it depends what turns her on. She might be curious about something she didn’t experience yet, something that she didn’t dare to try, or something that is beyond her imagination. I always liked to create those scenarios, like recently I was working on Fetish and BDSM, because I had the impression that it’s still a taboo for most women. So I made HANDCUFFS and LOVE ME LIKE YOU HATE ME to create a female approach. Or in FIVE HOT STORIES FOR HER (pictured above) there are scenes with a gay couple and a lesbian couple. First, I like to shoot lesbian scenes which are not meant to please guys like in mainstream porn. And second, why shouldn’t some women be interested in watching two guys having sex? This might be more interesting for women to watch alone, to discover something on their own that they might be curious about, or see what they might like for themselves. Besides, I believe that more straight guys feel their masculinity in danger when they watch two men having sex, than women do when they watch two women or men. Women seem kind of more open in this way. Usually my approach is to show sex in a sensual and realistic way, what I especially did in LIFE LOVE LUST. But there are a lot of different ways to do it that other filmmakers realize, and I don’t expect my way to suit everybody. Whatever gets you going.

What advice would you have for a woman who just doesn’t understand or like her boyfriend or husband’s porn habit?

I would tell her to relax. Maybe it’s a woman that never found an approach to porn, that still has the echo of anti-porn campaigns in mind saying porn, no matter how it’s done, is degrading to women. Maybe she could see that some stuff out there is pretty interesting. Maybe even the partner has no idea that better porn exists, and just likes to watch people getting it on, not knowing what he is missing. Wouldn’t it be quite a surprise for the guy if his woman would introduce him to porn that he didn’t ever think of because he stopped discovering the world of porn at his doorstep?

Or maybe they find out that they simply dislike their partner’s porn because (very likely) they just don’t share exactly the same taste. If one is listening to Eminem and the other to PJ Harvey, does that necessarily mean that they can’t find a tune that they both like to listen to? I doubt it, especially if it’s already people making music together.

So you think that all or most women can learn to get turned on by something on the screen? Or are there some women who will just never find anything to their taste?

I would think so, there is such a variety of porn to discover. There’s the all-male mainstream that you are going to find everywhere, in sex shops or on countless numbers of web pages, that produces the same dull stuff, using the same stereotypes, over and over again. But outside of that, if you take a closer look, there are a lot of pornographic sub-genres to discover. It might be a little hard to find in the beginning, but you’ll learn where to look, which names and places to look for, like following erotic and porn film festivals like the CineKink in NY, the indie erotic film festival in San Francisco, the porn film festival Berlin or the feminist porn awards Toronto. Or which web sites to consult, like your site for example, or which books to read, like my Good Porn, which contains much more information on the differences between porn sub-genres, and how to find out what you like.

Any other advice you’d like to share with women about finding and enjoying porn?

Just don’t be afraid and take a close look beyond what the mainstream tries to present, and beyond the criticism that still echoes in our ears that generalizes porn as if only this straight-all-male mainstream porn existed. Porn varies like the desire of people does. And relax, a porn film is just a film, and you decide when, where and how you want to watch it.

Finally, is Erika Lust your real name? You don’t have to tell us your real name, of course, we’re just dying to know which came first, the name or the porn producing!

Would be funny if the name came first, and a person with this name coincidentally goes into the porn business and founds her own company. I would like to tell you that story, but to be honest it is not my real name. My real name is Swedish, as I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, where I also graduated auniversity. But let me tell you that Erika Lust is not totally far from it.

Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide is on sale now. For more information visit ErikaLust.com or GuidetoGoodPorn.com.

• This post is a part of Sundance Channel’s Naked Love Blog
• Get the
Naked Love RSS feed

, , ,

 

4 Responses to “Books: How to Find Good Porn”

  1. Johnny Says:

    I could totally make porn women would love. But my girlfriend would get pissed, I’m afraid I’d be shaken down by the mob, and I don’t know the legality of producing porn in my state.

  2. Mandy Says:

    Porn for Women is very popular, the stigma of dirty movies is long gone!

    Just visit http://www.bubblesandwine.com – an adult site for women and couples

  3. esther Says:

    my husband secretly hides that he watches porn on the web or dvd. and that is upsettng.i have nothing against porn i enjoy watching it.but i do agree wit most porn are not that intriguing.and it also just jumps rit n to sex. its not a turn on for many women.

  4. Michelle Says:

    Have a look see at Viv Thomas works. As a female porn watcher, I think it’s great! No stupid twig girls with annoying, continuous moaning and no super ugly, buzz kill guys sweating it out. Some good plots, and female pleasure centered!


Leave a Reply