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We are Lust: a female perspective on working in adult cinema

 

Many of you may know me from interviews and media appearances, and you probably associate my films with me, and only me. But Erika Lust Films is so much more than “just” me. For International Women’s Day I want to put the women in the spotlight who work with me and make Erika Lust Films what it is.

 

I made my first adult film in 2004 which ultimately led to the creation of my company. When we started, EL was literally two desks, one for my partner and one for me, in our living room in our home in Barcelona. As my films became more popular and the work load kept getting bigger, the Lust team started growing. 

Today, we are 23 people in the office, 15 of whom are bright and unique women. Aside from my office team, I also work with a freelance crew, artists, performers, photographers, guests directors, and many more.

 

In light of International Women´s day, and Women´s history month, I met with the women who dedicate themselves to producing and distributing my films, to ask about how they feel about working here. Society often still stigmatizes pornography and most importantly the people (especially women!) who work in anything related to it, so it’s an important concern for me to share the stories of the women in my office. Everyday we try to open minds and break stereotypes… I hope this very special blog post and intimate insight into my office and the lives of my girls will open yours.


KALI – Talent Manager

Kali studied and worked as a social worker before coming to Spain. She now works as a Performer, Talent Manager and Sex Educator.

Why do you think it’s important for you to work here?
I think it’s important for me to work here because I get to help change the porn world by creating spaces for more diversity and creativity. 
Have you ever been criticised or stigmatised for working for Erika Lust Films? 
While working at Lust Films, I haven’t specifically received any backlash for being the Talent Manager, because in the eyes of the general public, ‘’that’s cool that you work for a porn company!!! You get to watch porn all day long!!’’ But… their reactions change when I say I am also a performer (and sex worker). You see them uncomfortably shift in their seats, and nervously laugh, or try to change the subject. Even the most progressive people have some weird aversion to talking about getting paid to have sex. There are also the questions, and the questions sometimes are harmless, and other times they are just insulting. 

The emotional labour it takes to answer those questions and to defend my work as VALID work, is something I am not willing to do at this moment. Why? Because I believe that I shouldn’t have to repeat myself over and over again that my work is like any other. Actually if I had to choose a job, I wouldn’t chose any! Being forced to live within the capitalist system, unfortunately, I must have a job to pay for my rent, my food, my clothes, you get the point. Wouldn’t it be great if we DIDN’T have to sell our time to corporations and businesses in exchange for those basic things?

The last two years I have fought with many SWERFs (sex worker exclusionary radical feminists) who believe all sex work is exploitation. These are also the very same people who shop in Zara. OKAY, Hello…..….. Do you really care about all forms of exploitation, or do you just have a problem with sex? We get to the real problem then, it’s that you’re caught up in the ‘’morality’’ of receiving money for sex, not my exploitation. To be very clear, I am freely exercising my right to do sex work, NO one is forcing me or has ever forced me before. Sex work and Trafficking are two very separate issues, and SWERFs always seem to easily conflate them. I really do dream of a day where I can say ‘’I’m a sex worker’’ and the other person would respond ‘’Oh cool!’’. I don’t just want to de-stigmatise sex work through my activism; I want to normalise it! It’s completely fine to see a sex worker, like it is completely fine to see a doctor, psychologist, massage therapist, etc. The work that needs to be done isn’t just the responsibility of sex workers, it’s the responsibility of everyone.


CHARIS – Content Manager 

Charis studied political science at the University of Potsdam in Germany and has lived in Berlin and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) before moving to Barcelona to become part of the Lust Team. She loves writing about feminism, women’s rights issues and lately sex education. Her previous work experiences are in the political and non-profit sector.

How do you think the role of women in society is changing? Where do you think its heading? After thousands of years of oppression, I think women across the world are pushing towards greater equality in all spheres of society. We’re nowhere close to achieving gender equality yet, but I think ultimately we’re witnessing the meteoric rise of women. It might take a while longer, but it’s definitely happening. 

Why do you think it’s important for you to work in Erika Lust Films?
I think it is important for me to work with Erika, because we have the power to create spaces for more diversity and equality in the adult industry and in your bedrooms at home! 
Many young individuals look to porn to learn about sex. If we like it or not, everybody watches porn and porn is sex education. We have the ability to teach people about sex and pleasure, about boundaries and consent, about respect and love, really. I’d like to see the next generation of young women grow up in a world where they can explore their sexuality free of fear and taboos.

BROGAN- Press Officer

Brogan studied English Literature at Goldsmiths University in London. After finishing, she worked in Vietnam for a while, before starting work at a PR agency in London. She wanted a sunnier life, so she came to Barcelona and did some freelance copywriting before starting as a Press Officer at Erika Lust Films. 
What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
I love working in the adult industry amongst really interesting women who want to show something different. I love that I can explain to people that there is a different type of porn out there that prioritises female pleasure, and that there are lots of women who enjoy watching (and making) porn. Between us all working here there is always an interesting discussion to be had, and multiple perspectives and opinions to be heard! Plus I get to talk and think about sex all day every day, so I can’t really complain. 

Why do you think its important for you to work in Erika Lust Films?
To help spread the message of sex positive feminism, to show that porn can be beautiful, and to show that women have their own sexual desires and urges. Also I want to help spread the word about the porn monopoly, the history of adult cinema, how the tube sites completely destroyed the industry, why we should be paying for our porn, the lucrative ad networks that are pushing sexual preferences and a certain type of sex that caters to the white, hetero-male gaze onto the unsuspecting public. There is so much that we, as a society, are missing because we are refusing to have honest, open discussions about sex and porn. 

Do you feel empowered working here? Why?
Yes. Knowing that I have a voice and that I’m able to contribute to a collective higher goal. 

INES – Film Editor

Ines has a bachelor’s degree in audiovisual communications from Vic University and a master’s degree in film editing from the Catalonian Superior Cinema & Audiovisual School. Erika Lust Films has been her first job in film editing. Besides working here full-time, she collaborates on other film projects. Her greatest passion is telling stories.
What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
I like our mission of changing porn, I like the family atmosphere in the office, the creative freedom we have, and above all, working in cinema.
 
Why do you think it’s important for you to work in Erika Lust Films?
Here I had the opportunity to become a professional in the field and to learn a lot from my colleagues. That is something that I value very much. Also, thanks to working here, my vision of porn and sex work has changed. I’ve learned about it and I’m proud to be part of a production company that cares about the product and the people behind it.
 
Have you ever been criticised or stigmatised for working here?I actually never felt any kind of rejection when telling people where I work, but I definitely get a lot of questions. I think that´s amazing, because it shows  we´re doing something different, that generates debate and defies what was established in the industry.

SILVIA – Digital Product Manager

Silvia has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. She worked as an administrative assistant in a distribution company before coming to Erika Lust Films. She started in the finance department, but then switched over to the marketing team a while ago.

 

What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
Working at Erika Lust Films is different from what I knew before. We work hard, but in a relaxed and motivating environment. I fell like I am constantly growing as a professional and that what I contribute to the company really matters.

 

How is it different from where you previously worked in?
Where I worked before we did not receive a very personal treatment. We were simply one piece of the puzzle, generating income and reducing expenses to the maximum. They did not take into account if we were going through a difficult time, or the tone in which they said things. In short, I experienced a very impersonal and not at all pleasant treatment.
Do you feel empowered working here? Why? 
For being heard.

REBECCA – Producer

 Rebecca studied History & Spanish as an undergraduate degree and then did a Masters degree in Journalism. She then spent 5 years working in London as a researcher and producer for BBC documentaries before moving to Barcelona. 

 

What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
I help make wonderfully creative films that challenge people’s view on sexuality, gender and body image, and I do it in a company that ensures complete transparency, thus shining a light on what many still see as an underworld. 

 

How do you think the role of women in society is changing? Where do you think its heading? 
I grew up with a lot of unwritten rules about how women should behave with literally no attention paid to what they may want. When I was 14, I actually wrote myself some conditions that had to be met before I’d have sex: I had to be 16, we had to have been dating at least 3 months, and he had to have said he loved me. I complied with those rules until I was 27. As you can imagine I didn’t get much action, or rather I didn’t allow myself to get much. When I moved to Barcelona the liberal attitude here made me realise my view of sex had been based on a power exchange that was about the man taking something from me, not about me doing something because I wanted to. Unfortunately I think that restrictive attitude is very normal in the UK. Very quickly my attitude with both deciding to have sex and then what I’d do once in bed (I had another list for that) changed to be about doing things because I wanted to give myself the gift of that experience, rather than “giving something up” to someone else. 
So I’ve felt a shift from feminism rooted in modesty to a more open feminism where it’s OK to just do what you want. If you want to sleep with someone on the first date, great; if you want to wait 6 months, great; if you only want heterosexual, romantic sex, great; if you prefer multi-gender BDSM group sex with whips, butt plugs and hanging cages, great – I can actually recommend you a fantastic BDSM room for hire as we shot a film there once.

PATRICIA – Junior Film Editor
Patricia studied Audiovisual Communications at Pompeu Fabra University. She discovered the art of editing and got a Master’s degree in Film Editing in ESCAC, where she realized that stories are not only told narratively, but through color. Thus, she specializes in both editing and color grading. Thus, she specializes in both editing and color grading, one more related to the plasticity of the image and the other, to the narrative.

 

What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
Working here has given me the opportunity to grow professionally in the two areas that fascinate me the most: color grading and film editing. That is something very important for me, since I had always thought that I would have to focus only on one area. At the same time, working at Lust I am growing on a personal level, as I am surrounded by an incredible team that has made me feel at home since the first day.
 
How is it different from where you previously worked in?
I feel that we are like a big family. Working here is to feel at home and for me to get along so well with my colleagues and for the work environment to be so good, is what really matters and makes a difference. It is what makes Lust unique and special.
 
Why do you think it’s important for you to work here?
I think that we try to show a different perspective to porn than the one that society is accustomed to, dealing with issues that even today are still taboo, even among young and open-minded people. Something that really surprises and worries me at the same time. It is important to show a different side of things, to teach that there are more options than those that have been socially taught as “correct”.

CRISTINA – Art Director

Cristina has been a Graphic Designer for 15 years. Her most interesting projects have been designing the Fanzine Bulbasaur website (a feminist publication), Keef Palas (a revolutionary project that uses ephemeral jewelry to demonstrate the aggressive policies of consumption), and Futuroa, an audiovisual production company where she still works in, fighting to create respectful and openly queer night clubs, where feminism is transversal.

 

What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
What I like the most about working at Erika Lust is working in the porn industry. SEX WORK IS WORK! Since I came here, my vision has changed a lot. Now I am the number one fan of super powerful women like Kali Sudhra, Anneke Necro, Maria Riot. I follow them, they teach me things daily, they make me aware of my privileges and I have to deal with it… I value that a lot!
Also, my own sexuality and the way of relating has been affected, I feel that I have broken many taboos. I am fascinated by what people can get excited by. Each person is a world of their own and it is wonderful that it is so.

 

How do you think the role of women in society is changing? Where do you think its heading? 

I am working with many women to make this happen and I think that little by little there are things that are improving. I have two little sisters, who are amazing: they have always moved in the queer space and they think about affective relationships in a conscious way. They are empowered women who think about where they want to go and they look for the way to not do what is expected of them just because it is. They point out the gentlemen who treat them badly and get angry when there is an injustice… and and they are only 20 years old. I believe that with these young fighters we will be able to do everything, but it is clear that they are not going to make it easy for us… so, head up high! And fight!

 


CATALINA – Social Media & Events Manager

Catalina has a bachelor’s degree in advertising and worked in ad agencies for 5 years in Buenos Aires and New York City, before moving to Barcelona. She specialises in media and creative strategy, and has worked in campaigns for brands such as Disney, J&J, Google and Verizon.

 

What do you like about working in Erika Lust Films?
I feel I’m finally working in a company that makes a positive difference in the world. And it’s so hard to find a company that actually cares about its role in society and its impact in culture – unless you work at a non-profit I guess. Aside from the importance of the stance we take against mainstream pornography and female pleasure repression, I highly enjoy all the films, the aesthetics and message, and want to get everyone involved in this beautiful movement! 

 

How is it different from where you previously worked in?
The company is very flexible, everyone’s opinion matters, and we all chip in different areas. Everywhere else I worked in, there is much more bureaucracy, people have to stay in their lane. 

 

How do you think the role of women in society is changing? Where do you think its heading? 
I think we are making huge steps, but we’re far from where I hoped we would be at this point. I know too many women that don’t want to say they’re feminists because that’s “too extreme“ for them… really? Gender equality is too much? On another hand, everyone is more aware of harassment and violence issues, but on the tube sites (teenager’s sex education nowadays) we see a majority of videos that showcase young girls being abused. This is feeding to an imaginary of a view that women like to be abused, and young adults think its a normal way to treat women. So we’re moving forward in paper, but our subconscious will be more pestered with these images. That’s why it’s so important to spread what we’re doing here! 

…aaand my reaction after reading these interviews! I have so much love and admiration for these women. To all of our fans out there: keep your mind strong and keep fighting for representation, respect, and everything you love.

P.S.: stay tuned for my upcoming interviews with Andrea (Communications Manager) and Sabrina (Production Manager)!


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