Erika Lust, born in Stockholm in 1977, is an independent filmmaker, author, and founder of Erika Lust Films. After graduating from Lust University with a degree in Political Science with a focus on Feminism, Lust moved to Barcelona where her production company was established in 2005. She has directed 5 award winning erotic films and series – Five Hot Stories for Her, Barcelona Sex Project, Life Love Lust, Cabaret Desire and Xconfessions. Her brand-new, ongoing series Xconfessions combines Lust’s groundbreaking cinematic style with the public’s own sex stories to create a new genre of crowdsourced adult film. Her written works include Good Porn: a Woman’s Guide, The Erotic Bible to Europe, Love Me Like You Hate Me, La Canción de Nora, and Let’s Make a Porno: a Practical Guide to Filming Sex. Lust is committed to portraying a new kind of sexuality in adult film, pledging in her own words to “create new waves in adult cinema, to show all of the passion, intimacy, love and lust in sex: where the feminine viewpoint is vital, the aesthetic is a pleasure to all of the senses, and those seeking an alternative to porn can find a home.”
SimplySxy: What was the inspiration behind your move into the erotic film industry as a director?
Erika Lust: While in university at Lund, I was inspired by the works of Linda Williams and the idea that porn could be empowering to women’s sexuality. But the porn I’d seen up to that point didn’t really fit the theory, so though I still believed in its value, the contradiction really bothered me. After graduating and moving to Barcelona, I started working in production houses, and got the practical knowledge of how to make a film. So I began taking directing classes and considered making the kind of erotic film I’d never seen before, but always wanted. When my first film, The Good Girl, was downloaded over a million times, I began to consider a career in the adult industry more seriously.
SimplySxy: Do your films have a particular style that is different from others?
Erika: Absolutely. This first thing that sets my films about is the dedication to showing female pleasure…. Something glaringly absent in most pornos. And those horrible fake orgasms? What a turn off!
I also like to hire performers who are good looking, but could also be your neighbor or best friend or the cute waiter at your favorite restaurant. They are love sex, and love their job. Trust me when I say this makes all the difference and can really be seen in the end product.
Directing and capturing the little moments during sex can make all the difference in simply filming two people having sex, and making the film a total turn on. The way people gasp, look at each other, how hands grip flesh, whispering into ears, dirty talk, lip biting, messy kisses … they are all part of the sex we have in real life that is often left out of explicit film, and yet are so important as part of an erotic experience.
Finally I place HUGE importance on aesthetics in my movies – just because it’s a movie about sex is no excuse for crappy quality. I use the highest quality HD and Red cameras, devote months to hunting down cool modern locations (not just bedrooms!), use cool indie music soundtracks, opt for natural looking makeup and normal-looking outfits for my performers (no pimps or hos here), and go for the coolest new sex toys and designer lingerie.
SimplySxy: What is the secret behind how long the male stars can last while having sex without ejaculating?
Erika: There is no secret – performers in the adult industry, both men and women, have extraordinary control over their bodies. I think this is something people really forget when considering the male talent – there’s this idea that any guy could show up, have sex with a beautiful woman, and put on a great show. But people who think this often forget that the performer basically needs to get and maintain an erection on cue, as well as ejaculate… With a crew of a dozen or more strangers in the room. Possibly with a co-star that he doesn’t find attractive, or after a very long journey the day before. All the while with a lot of pressure around his performance. Prolific male performers are extremely talented to be able to work (well) under these conditions, and that is a reason that there are so few of them as opposed to their female counterparts.
SimplySxy: And what happens if the male stars are required to ejaculate but are unable to?
Erika: It is up to the performer to get an erection, maintain it, and ejaculate, which as I say above is quite a talent. But some days that just isn’t going to happen. Usually we take a break to give the performer time he needs to get excited (or calm down) and then continue shooting. If there is still trouble, that’s where creative angles, short takes, editing – and faking it – come in handy!
SimplySxy: Are the actors and actresses really enjoying the sex on film or are most of it acting?
Erika: I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. I like to hire performers who love their job, who love sex and exhibitionism. Some of the best scenes I’ve shot have been where the actors said they really enjoyed the sex they had that day, or with that specific performer. Other times, a truly great performer might not be that into their partner or the sex, but put on a convincing, and ultimately very hot show. When you are dealing with very talented actors, who are taking direction really well, the finished product should look the same either way.
SimplySxy: As a director, you have definitely seen your fair share of bloopers. Please tell us some of the extremely funny ones you remember?
Erika: Honestly, most of the fun we have is just goofing around on set … the actors are usually wild extroverts who love to have a good time. But there were a few times that – because of the set location – we had to use an inflatable mattress. As anyone knows who has slept on one, they are not particularly stable (especially not when they’re being … jumped … on), and there have been a few times when the performers bounced right off!
SimplySxy: To be an porn actor/actress, does one really need to be good at acting or acting talent isn’t really a pre-requisite as compared to say looks or the size of a men’s penis.
Erika: First, they have to match the part I’m hiring them for. Then, we go through several interviews to make sure their attitude aligns with mine. Really, that is the most important thing – I want to know that they love sex, the making adult films is not just a way to make quick cash, and that they are familiar with my work and get what makes my films different. This way, when everyone arrives on set, we know exactly what we’ll need from each other in terms of directing and performance. Next to this, looks (or appendage size) mean very little.
SimplySxy: One of our writers, Nicole Nelson, wrote an article on Feminist Porn on this Pornography feature. As a pioneer of feminist pornography, do you think perceptions of how women in pornography or portrayed or supposed to be portrayed is changing?
Erika: I think that movements in the adult film world like feminist porn and amateur content are the main reason the industry has changed at all concerning women and their portrayal in xxx. Up until very recently, big mainstream production houses were creating the same terrible chauvinist films – recycling the same tired stereotypes and gender roles over and over – and it still hasn’t really changed in that regard. However, the internet had a huge democratizing effect, meaning suddenly indie producers like me and my contemporary feminist filmmakers were able to make and produce our own films without having to deal with any third parties (who had long made it clear to us that men were the only market and that there was no room for a new kind of adult film). Though our independent genres are still pretty small, and there is a VERY long way to go before sex is generally shown in an egalitarian way, it is thanks to the earliest feminist pornographers (and those expanding and evolving the genre today) that there is any diversity at all!
SimplySxy: As a parent yourself, and being in the porn industry, how do you think the topic of sex can be approach with kids and at what age?
Erika: Well my daughters are still very young, but I plan on having the ‘sex talk’ pretty early on. I think I was around 7 or 8 when I learned about it (thanks to a liberal educated and a very open family) and it felt like a good age. It made puberty less confusing that’s for sure! I think the mix of learning about it in an academic, biological way in school and in a personal, emotional way with my family made all the difference…so that is the approach I plan to take.
I also feel that there now needs to be a ‘porn talk’ between parents and kids in this day and age. I want to be able to explain to my girls what porn is, why it exists, why people like it, and why it most DEFINITELY is not sex in real life. That kind of context is so important because I think most kids now grow up with porn as their sex education … which is a really bad idea since it’s all fantasy.
SimplySxy: Please share with us our SimplySxy readers what XConfessions is all about and is there a chance their story can be chosen to be turned into a film?
Erica: Xconfessions is my latest project. On the webpage (www.xconfessions.com) you can anonymously submit your sex stories or wildest fantasies, and each month I pick my two favorites to be turned into erotic short films. It’s a new genre I like to call ‘crowdsourced’ erotica! Of course if your confession is picked, you get the films for free. So far, we have made 24 short films, with more released every month!
Images courtesy of Erika Lust