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We Talked to Erotic Filmmaker Erika Lust about, Well, You Can Guess

Erika Lust

Erika Lust’s XConfessions are a different kind of adult film

“Imagine a scene. A porn scene. What do you see? A woman. Blonde, skin tight dress, red lips, watermelon breasts. A cock. A cock the size of a stallion’s between her pursed lips. She is giving him a blowjob. Why? Because this nice guy came to her rescue when her car broke down. After the ‘thank you blow job,’ he comes all over her face and she smiles in fake pleasure. That is porn. And it’s time for porn to change.”

This quote is from a TED Talk – yes, one of those TED talks – given by Erika Lust. Who is Erika Lust? She’s a woman you ought to know. She is the author of the illustrated guide *Let’s Make A Porno*, which is a self-help book designed to teach you how to shoot better homemade sex tapes; she also runs Lust Films. As a writer, producer and director of erotic films, she is an indefatigable creative force – a woman doing everything she can to give this world the tools for better sex, both on-camera and IRL.

Filmmaker Erika Lust/ Photo courtesy of Rocio Lunaire

Filmmaker Erika Lust / Photography by Rocio Lunaire

Born in Sweden, Lust was raised in a culture that embraces a liberal, full-bodied expression of female sexuality. As she came of age, so did pornography. It went mainstream thanks to video. Feminists divided into two camps: some supported erotic films and others felt it was exploitative. Compelled to decide for herself while she was studying at Lund University, Lust discovered the book Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy of the Visible by Linda Williams. This text helped her crystallize her views on sex, personal freedom, feminism, and cinema.

After feeling un-aroused by her first porn-viewing experiences, she did something about it. Lust started making sexier erotic films that are satisfying to both men and women. Playboy.com talked to Lust about her work, her sex positive message and what she’s learned as a businesswoman who sells sexiness for a living.


You’re part of a new genre of cinematic porn. Why do you think viewers are so ready to drop dollars to support your work and the erotic films of your peers?

I create pornography with a narrative, giving context to the characters locals, story and, above all, the sex. I create an environment which satisfies the viewer with realistic interpretations of real fantasies. The performers look like and play characters that are like the guy or girl on the street. They are natural, individual and attractive in their own unique way. The settings are places you’ve been to or could go. The sex is real. You can see the pleasure. The sweat. The touching. And you hear the sounds. The performers caress, enjoy and pleasure one another. Viewers can see themselves in my films. They feel like they could live out that scenario. That’s what makes it more satisfying, erotic and fun.

You work with fantasies submitted by your viewers, essentially, you make crowd-sourced erotic films. Do men and women respond equally to your work?

Yes, of course. In fact, those who confess on XConfessions are approximately split 50/50 male and female. They both respond to my work very positively. I make it with everyone in mind. It’s also for those who are looking for an alternative to mainstream porn and want films that take both sexes and their kinks, needs and desires into account as sexual equals. Both sexes can see themselves in my films – their partners, that guy or girl on the street or in a bar. They enjoy characters and a story with context, a life behind the scene and the hot-and-fun sex that plays out on screen. I like to think of my audience as modern, sex-positive, open-minded people.

Still from XConfessions Vol.4

Photo courtesy of XConfessions

Your films showcase a variety of bodies and lots of well-appointed sexy settings that culminate in erotic scenes. All of your films are well lit. They look very European, which, as an American viewer, gives them added dimension of sexiness.

This is one of my biggest priorities in my films. In every aspect I try to create a believable environment where the sex is real and the context is relatable.

With performers I’m always looking for someone who is unique, and I do showcase a wide variety of body types. This can be difficult within the porn industry that produces a lot of hairless, plastic and muscled clones. Of course, we are inclusive with this as well. We have some hairless and muscled performers. I draw the line at any surgery. I strive to find more natural beauties, performers who love their job, who love sex and have a similar outlook as myself.

With the production I am involved in every aspect as author, writer, director and producer. I go on location tours at a very early stage of production. Working alongside my team, we solve the puzzle for each XConfessions volume. I have a stylist, make up artists, a set decorator, a photography unit. The look of every film is designed according to the script, specifically, for that story. This is one of the big differences between XConfessions and many other adult sites. This is why our erotic short films look so artistic to everyone: because I direct a team of young specialized creatives deeply involved with every single piece we release.

As someone who sells sexiness, what do you think makes something sexy?

I have learned to keep a very open mind. Anything can be sexy, depending on the person. Everything is allowed in sex, as long as it’s consensual between those involved and not illegal, of course. Some people like feet. Some like pantyhose. Others like latex, BDSM or someone else might like dressing up like an animal. Sexiness comes with the context you place on it. It’s all about experimenting, watching great films from sex-positive pornographers and finding out what makes you tick. You never know what might turn you on, and it might surprise you.

Still from XConfessions vol.3

Still from XConfessions vol.3

You’re married, and a mother. How do you balance your life as a feminist erotic filmmaker with your life as a mother who must mingle with the parents of your children’s friends?

Just because I’m a mother it doesn’t mean it changes who I am and what my beliefs are. Motherhood comes with sexuality, of course. In my everyday life, I have found that people are very open to my work and ideas and are mostly very curious. One time we actually invited the parents of our children’s friends to the office for a small gathering. They couldn’t wait to be shown around the office. I think this is really positive and means that they are open to having a conversation about sex with their own children.

I’ve also had to defend what I do many times through my career: banks who didn’t want to open an account to us, someone who wouldn’t take our business card, some locations where they wouldn’t let us shoot … It happens more often with people representing a corporation than with individuals.

Is the world growing less judgmental?

Despite the U.K. bringing in its new porn laws, which were ridiculous, pointless and actually brought more welcomed attention to independent producers and directors, I think people are growing less judgmental. Especially with a growing group of individuals who are part of a wave of new sex-positive erotica. People are growing more curious, more creative and want to explore. Sex has always been a big topic of conversation in the media, but now sex and porn is getting positive attention that will hopefully continue so that generations after us can be as sexually liberal as they wish to be.


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