Lust Entertainment

Ashford Manor: Romance and porn can come in many forms

Ashford Manor: Romance and porn can come in many forms

Alexandra Hellquist | November 17, 2022 | 10 min. read

Erika Lust and Inka Winter team up for a new porn mini-series, inspired by the hit Netflix series and Jane Austen’s classics.

Dear Readers,

If you devoured Seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton as voraciously as we did, and have your own list of the Hottest Bridgerton Sex Scenes hidden under your ruffled pillow, we have good news for you - gossip worthy of Lady Whistledown, even. In a 4-episode arc dripping with gorgeous outfits, lush locations - and, yes, scandalous sex! - porn pioneer Erika Lust and rising star Inka Winter have just released an erotic homage to Bridgerton, Jane Austen, and all things Regency.

LustCinema is all about bringing cinematic production values and the female voice to pornography,” Lust said. “And we love the art and sensuality of Inka’s work at ForPlay Films. So when she pitched this series, we absolutely wanted to make it happen.

Winter, for her part, knew what a responsibility she was taking on. “I know how passionate the Bridgerton fanbase is - and for good reason!” She said. “The forbidden desire, off-the-charts chemistry, and true love story lines were incredibly exciting for so many of us. Honestly, Bridgerton already had so much sensuality and sexual tension - we just took it one or two steps further.”

Bridgerton first took the world by storm in December of 2020, when the Netflix-Shonda Rhimes show made its grand debut. Based on Julia Quinn’s original romance novels, the streaming series captured the spirit and aesthetics of the corseted Regency era, whilst reimagining it in daring new ways. What hit our screens was a sexy costume drama that was proudly diverse, infused with modern sensibilities, and filled with cheeky pop-culture references. “We wanted to do the same thing with Ashford Manor - create a world where diversity is unapologetically woven into the fabric of society, where the stories are told strictly from the female gaze, and where everyone gets to be stripped out of those amazing Regency clothes,” said Winter.

In fact, with her history of costume design in Hollywood films, and her use of period costumes in many of her own ForPlay Films projects (also available through LustCinema’s The Store), Inka Winter was uniquely positioned to bring a kiss of authenticity to the set of Ashford Manor. But, much like Bridgerton, strict historical accuracy in the erotic mini-series is embellished with vivid fantasy.

“We’re making porn,” says Winter. “If we were being entirely accurate to the time-period, none of these characters would even get to kiss, let alone get naked.”

Indeed, the real world of Regency England was notoriously strict and confined, especially for young women of a certain economic status. Upper-class ladies of a marriageable age were kept as sheltered and ignorant of sex as possible. They were required to be chaste, domestic, graceful and obedient - all of which was seen as crucial for attracting a marriage proposal. And as we see in both Austen and Bridgerton, a “good marriage” was all that most young women of means were allowed to aspire to. And it was a high-stakes choice; a married woman couldn’t own property, write a will, possess her own carriage, or even have custody of her own children, let alone have an independent sexual life outside of the marriage bed. No wonder so many women were diagnosed with “hysteria” at the time!

Meanwhile, men of all classes were largely free to take their pleasure with mistresses or at bordellos, as long as they could keep up the veneer of respectability that society required - think of Sir Granville’s orgies and sex-parties. “It was a horribly uneven society,” says Winter. “And honestly, we still feel some of the reverberations of that purity culture, and the power of the patriarchy, in the way women’s sexuality is legislated about and controlled even today.”

Jane Austen, perhaps the most famous of female Regency authors, was keenly aware of the inequality and injustice imposed upon her sex. Whilst treading exceedingly carefully - and avoiding true scandal in her novels - she nevertheless wrote rebellion between the lines. Her female characters fight for their own agency, chafe against restrictions, and yearn for education, much like the young women of Bridgerton do. Austen also slyly calls out sexist expectations of purity and obedience, epitomized by the “conduct books” of the time, such as the infamous “Sermons for Young Ladies”.

Ironically, as female porn entrepreneurs and pioneers in sexuality for the female gaze, both Winter and Lust are about as far away from obedient and well-behaved Regency ladies as you could imagine… Unless you’re steeped in the scandals of Bridgerton, of course. Like the women in “The Ton” who dare to push boundaries, or like Austen herself challenging the status-quo of her times, they wanted more for themselves, and for their performers, than traditional “Big Porn” would give them. “As crazy as it sounds, all I want is to create are sex scenes that have intimacy, chemistry, and autonomy - things that one would hope would always be part of sex, but that porn doesn’t reflect that often,” says Winter. “I also believe that equality, equity, and feminism in porn - and in the world - is ultimately good for everyone, no matter their identity.”

Her commitment to agency and empowerment in Ashford Manor started from the very beginning, with the casting of her lead actress, relative newcomer Nicole Kitt. “Inka Winter directly made me feel loved, appreciated, and heard,” says Kitt. “She included me in every step of the process and that rarely happens.” In fact, soon after reaching out to Kitt, Winter made sure to not only craft the scenes according to Kitt’s own fantasies and desires but also get her input on the crucial decision of who to cast as her opposite - the aloof and “boorish” German nobleman, Graf Wilhelm von Wittenbach.

“We wanted someone who embodied similar energies to Mr Darcy or Regé Jean-Page’s Duke of Hastings,” said Winter. “Vulnerability and true sensitivity is hidden underneath an armor of pride.”

Enter lead male actor Jonte, and a fairy-tale romance worthy of Bridgerton itself.

“When we first met I could tell there was instant chemistry,” shared Kitt. “He made me feel like a high-schooler with a serious crush. Nervous laughter, avoiding eye contact, and dancing around one another during the conversation.”

Jonte also spoke about his instant attraction. “I was fascinated by her. First by her beauty, then by her intelligence and her character; later by her art, her depth, and her honesty.”

At first, it wasn’t entirely clear to anyone whether the connection was their characters’, or their own. But then there was one very particular afternoon spent rehearsing at the Air BnB. “Practicing our pre-kiss lines there was this transfer of energy so overwhelming everyone in the room called it out, which was embarrassing, honestly,” confessed Kitt. “Afterwards I went out of my way to avoid him… but once we finally physically touched for the first time there was no denying it,” she said. “I call us Yin and Yang, a perfect balance of energy for each other.”

Winter, as the director and creator, was there to bear witness to it all. “It was magical. And we’re so lucky that their first time together was immortalized forever on film. It was the most romantic sex scene we’ve ever shot, because it’s a genuine, real-life love story. The whole crew felt it. It really was a dream come true.”

Jonte couldn’t have agreed more. “Playing out a well-written character in a beautiful story is just soul food for me,” said Jonte. “and my amazingly talented and beautiful scene partner Nicole… absolutely blew me away with her brilliant performance as Miss Anabelle.”

As it turns out, dear Reader, the talented actress Kitt made an even greater impression on his heart: The two performers later rendez-voused in Europe, and officially got engaged! “Something in me that was always compelling me to keep looking for something is now calm,” added Jonte, simply. “I’m done looking, I found her.”

We think Jane Austen and Lady Whistledown would have thoroughly approved!

In the meantime, whilst their castmates were experiencing the first flush of IRL love, the rest of the oh-so-well-behaved ensemble (ahem) were enjoying the romances and sexual discoveries of their own Ashford Manor characters.

Newcomer Jasmine Teaa makes her official debut on the porn stage by playing Beatrice, the disconsolate young debutante who desperately misses her recently-married friend. Behind her demure exterior she harbors a secret - she’s hoping that her bestie’s recent wedding doesn’t mean their secret lesbian trysts have to come to an end. “This was my first role in a film ever, while some of the other talent have been doing this for years!” Teaa admitted, later. “However, everyone made me feel so welcomed from the start… we wanted to give it our best, especially for Inka.”

She spoke about why she said yes to Winter’s vision for LustCinema as her very first collaborative porn film. “Her work deviates from the standard; she creates these films that are so sensual and aesthetic in a way that it’s art instead of porn.”

In contrast to Jasmine Teaa’s oh-so-innocent Miss Beatrice, Nolina Nyx plays the much naughtier Katherine, who not only eagerly devours her friends’ various charms in a tender and consent-filled lesbian love scene, but also has her new husband’s eager permission to do so.

Nyx also benefited from Inka Winter’s other training, as a somatic therapist, in preparation for the shoot. “I was able to allow myself to feel emotions that I wasn’t able to feel before, which then also released a lot of sexual energy throughout my entire body… I felt like I was able to give my sensuality over authentically!”

Ultimately, (spoiler alert!) the trio of actors come together - many times! - in a hot Regency threesome. And although Nolina Nyx is now semi-retired from the adult industry, she wrote that Ashford Manor was “the greatest experience I have had in the adult entertainment industry so far.”

"Dillon Diaz and Jasmine Teaa were extremely tender and loving lovers…I’m so blessed.”

Diaz himself, playing her husband Philip Dansby, also noted the differences between the Ashford Manor/Lustcinema process and that of traditional porn sets. “I have never worked on another adult film where an acting coach was brought in to help us with the delivery of our lines and so much detail was given to the wardrobe and locations,” he said. And then, of course, there was the Austen-and-Bridgerton-inspired script. “When I first read it I went straight through the whole story without focusing solely on my character. I was enthralled by the story. I wanted to know what was going to happen.”

You might be able to guess, dear Reader, that amongst witty repartee, the occasional well-placed croquet match, and trenchant feminist commentary, what was most definitely going to happen at Ashford Manor was hot sex… and a lot of it. But it wasn’t the usual O-face porn sexuality that seasoned pros like Diaz are used to. “Oftentimes in porn we fake it or exaggerate a little bit for the camera. In my scene with Beatrice and Katherine I don’t think any of us did. I could feel their bodies responding in ways that could not be faked. It was a major turn on for me to be able to please two women in that way,” he noted, with genteel humility. “I hope the audience sees how real it was for us, and are just as aroused as we were.”

He also acknowledged the delicacy of the project, and the responsibility the actors felt during their sex scenes. “We tried very hard to stay true to the time and not say or do things that would be too vulgar or modern. For Beatrice this was her first sexual experience with a man and so we wanted to make it special. We wanted to celebrate her!"

Ultimately, the goal of celebration and empowerment - even more than the costumes and love stories - is what defines Inka Winter and Erika Lusts’ shared mission as pornographers and film-makers.

“I always want to show the beauty, diversity and complexity of female desire, whilst leaving each of our performers -and viewers! - feeling empowered as well as turned-on,” says Winter. “Jane Austen is often described as a “hidden feminist”; Shonda Rhimes

And maybe that’s the true love-match we’ve all been waiting for.

Ashford Manor is now available to watch on LustCinema.

Alexandra Hellquist is an international storyteller and artist, who works primarily as an actor, but also loves unearthing and exposing the beating heart of any narrative. Leaning into discomfort, vulnerability, and the “strange”, whilst celebrating ... Read More
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