Porn For The People | How Erika Lust Is Revolutionizing Adult Film

Author: Coco Marett
01.12 / MB Series

While porn used to be a turn-on for many, people are now finding the visual stimulation quite unnatural and perverse. Since it hit the internet, producers are placing more emphasis on shock value than turning people on. Like most digital mediums, it’s become more about getting hits than about getting the audience and understanding their desires.

But Erika Lust, a 40-year-old adult film director based in Barcelona, addresses the question: if all mediums of art - from painting to novels to photography - have found a way to portray erotica in a beautiful, dignified but still dirty-enough- to-get-you-off manner, why can’t the same be done in film?

“My adult films show performers as sexual collaborators, not as objects nor machines,” says Erika, who co-founded Erika Lust Films with her husband Pablo Dobner in 2004. “It's unfair to assume that just because someone is watching adult cinema, they don't also want to see something beautiful. So in my films, I always make sure the cinematography is perfect so that the entire experience is engaging, immersive, pleasant. You are watching cinema that has explicit sex, but you are watching cinema still.”

In its heyday, porn wasn’t seen as negatively as it is now. While it wasn’t exactly celebrated, there was still a level of dignity and producers put a great deal of effort into cinematography, making specific casting choices and creating a storyline.

“I'd dare to say pornography in the '70s was a tool for a social movement, there were some really great films that were used as tools of sexual liberation as a response to conservative views about sex held in society. That time proved that explicit sex and high-quality cinema were compatible,” says Erika. “Now, the free availability of porn everywhere puts further pressure on the production companies and performers to stand out [with] more and more extreme and ridiculous scenes that have nothing to do with real sex.”


"It's unfair to assume that just because someone is watching adult cinema, they don't also want to see something beautiful."

And what could be more real than crowdsourcing people’s ideas and fantasies to create high-quality erotic short films? That’s the premise of Erika’s XConfessions series, a pet project that has turned into her most successful venture yet.

Started in 2013, XConfessions now has over 100 videos, all of which are based on anonymous submissions by Erika’s legion of fans and followers. From abduction fantasies to threesomes to more out-there concepts - like her most recent film Can Vampires Smell My Period? - if XConfessions proves anything, it’s that what people want and what gets people off are a far cry from the stereotypical situations seen in mainstream porn.

“I have seen how amazingly creative and diverse some fantasies are. Sometimes they can also leave a lot to the imagination and that can be super exciting too. With many XConfessions, I have felt intrigued about kinks that I had never even thought about.”

Erika works with a predominantly female team, from her director of photography to electricians and sound engineers, and goes to great lengths to ensure that her films are produced in an ethical way - from diversity and erasing racial stereotypes in porn to equal pay and emphasizing the point that “female pleasure matters too.”

“Adult films empower women by allowing performers to take ownership of their sexuality and by presenting images of women taking ownership of their body to the audience. Although my films do feature the female gaze and I am myself a feminist, I think there are a lot of misconceptions around these terms that make people think that my films are female-exclusive,” says Erika. “I think it would be wrong to assume that men are only interested in mainstream porn because intimacy and tenderness and appreciation of a good film aren't gendered values. So I am very pleased that I've gained a large male following, it just indicates the movement towards equality is becoming stronger.”

From promoting a healthy attitude towards sex to presenting sex in a way that actually resonates and fulfills the desires of real people, there’s no question that Erika is slowly but surely removing the sleaze factor from an industry that’s managed to turn one of the most natural things in the world into something grotesque and taboo.

“To be sex-positive is to cultivate an atmosphere that is liberal and accepting, open, tolerant, and progressive towards sex, sexual topics and sexuality,” Erika explains. “With an open attitude towards sex, your horizons broaden and you become accepting of all sexualities and can really learn about yourself and also aren't scared to discuss differences in people.”

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