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(UPDATED AUGUST 28, 2019) Official Statement on Rooster’s False Allegations

(UPDATED AUGUST 28, 2019)

It’s been several days since my official statement about Rooster’s false allegations. I am now issuing an update to my original statement because a piece of important evidence has come to light that is key to truly understanding this story. In light of seeing a letter fragment that was posted on Rooster’s website (see below) I needed to understand if Rooster and Olympe had agreed privately on sexual boundaries that were not respected on my set.

 

Source: Hello Rooster website (https://www.hellorooster.club/activism/)

 

The only letter fragment linked to  ‘(1) no receiving sex in a doggystyle position and, (2) no receiving oral sex’

Having seen the original letter from Olympe’s lawyer dated August 2018 (read here) I can now see how the extract has been manipulated in order to fit Rooster’s narrative and frame Olympe as a rapist.

The letter in question is connected to the film ‘Don’t Call Me A Dick’, not ‘Architecture Porn’. On the ‘Don’t Call Me a Dick’ set Rooster was due to perform with Heidi Switch. Their sexual boundaries were clear. Rooster’s sexual boundaries of not having sex in doggy style and not receiving oral sex were 100% respected on ‘Don’t Call Me A Dick’, something clearly stated in the letter.

In order to protect performers, we don’t assume that sex acts and sexual boundaries set for previous films hold for future shoots. This is crucial as it is not uncommon for performers to alter their boundaries from film to film, especially performing with different people, as was the case with the two films in question. That is why I have protocols in place to ensure that these changes are accommodated.

In accordance with my standard protocol, during pre-production of ‘Architecture Porn’ both Olympe de G and Rooster were presented with a script and a detailed storyboard of the shoot. I asked if they were both ok with the story and sexual acts to be performed. Both confirmed. They were also given the opportunity to establish their sexual boundaries. Following this, on the day of the shoot, a second conversation was held to make sure the sex acts, practices and boundaries previously stated by them were still prevailing. Each sex act and position performed was discussed and agreed on by the performers, in my presence and in the presence of the main film crew and the talent manager. This second conversation always takes place to ensure that the performers are still comfortable with the pre agreed boundaries and sex acts, with the explicit understanding that they are able to change their mind at any point during the film shoot.

As all of the sex acts shot for ‘Architecture Porn’ were agreed on in front of my team and being now sure that there were no other privately stated boundaries for this film, I am confident that a rape did not occur on the set. I am not going to take accountability for a rape I know did not happen and I find it sickening that someone would manipulate the evidence in such a way.

The call out culture that my team and I have witnessed this week glosses over nuanced conversations about what a safe sex environment on a porn set is in a very irresponsible and ignorant way. It also distorts and undermines the concept of sexual violence, while injustly slandering a movement which works towards much needed alternatives in the porn industry. I would ask the sex community to be more responsible and take into consideration the facts that we’re able to provide. Blind call outs by people not in possession of the facts does little for those seeking justice and the sex community, of all groups, should know this.

All of this being said, I also watched Rooster’s last video this weekend. I see they are suffering and I wish them no harm so I have, out of empathy, decided to withdraw Architecture Porn from our sites. I won’t be commenting on this issue further.

As of tomorrow August 29th, ‘Architecture Porn’ will no longer be on our sites.

Barcelona, August 28th 2019

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We have a zero tolerance policy toward any kind of sexual harassment, abuse or sexual violence at Erika Lust Films. We do not accept unethical behaviour on our sets, from anyone within the crew, cast or our staff. My mission for an alternative pornography always had the importance of the production process at its heart. I deeply believe that the production process, including pre-production, is key and what happens in front of the camera has everything to do with the people behind it, their world vision and their values. These are not marketing tactics, this is the essence of our company culture.

 

My responsibility as a Director, alongside an on-set Talent Manager and the Chief of Production, is to help performers feel comfortable speaking up and to ensure their boundaries are respected. With a solid crew that knows the intricacies of sex work, I believe we have created a safe space where all performers can voice their opinions and feelings on set. These are skills and abilities that I have developed over my 15 year career during which time Rooster’s allegation has been the only that has been raised against me or my company.

 

Whenever I have been made aware of a conflict or doubtful behaviour on my sets or any guest-directed set, the issue and the people involved have been addressed or have not been hired again. Erika Lust Films’ sets have strict standards of care and quality, and I am committed to continuous improval. We are also very transparent on how we work on set and anyone can watch behind the scenes footage from all of the XConfessions films on the website. That’s not to say that everything is explained and shown, but we do our best as a company to show the audience who we are and what we do.

 

I have always acknowledged that when working with sex, undesired situations can happen on set and my team and I constantly deal with delicate situations during our productions. We work to understand the conflict and resolve it. We sometimes work to obtain apologies from performers to performers, from directors to performers, from crew members to other members of the crew and to performers. It’s a constant and evolving process to make sure we work with the right people and try to create the safest environment possible. I wrote more about this on May 18th on my blog after missing inappropriate behaviour from a male performer to a female performer during a lap dance on set. 

 

When I first heard about the performer Rooster’s discomfort with guest-director Olympe De G.’s behaviour in September 2017 I listened to them (Rooster is a Non-Binary performer whose pronouns are they/them). Back then Rooster’s only claim was boundary violations and poor working practices on the Don’t Call Me A Dick set. They felt that some of the pre-negotiated boundaries were not respected on set and a post-shoot meeting request to discuss this was repeatedly ignored by the director. We talked to Rooster and director Olympe via email and over the phone, and I then met with Rooster in person at my office to try to mediate between the performer and the guest director. 

 

We apologised for Rooster’s unfortunate experience, talked to both parties, tried to understand them, and received feedback. Rooster’s main issue was that the director had not given them enough time to prepare for a masturbation scene on the Don’t Call Me A Dick set. The director, Olympe, responded to this, saying that Rooster had already spent all morning preparing. They had already rescheduled Rooster’s scene from first thing in the morning to later that day, as Rooster was not feeling 100% well in the morning.

 

It can be argued that this incident was not a good example of best directing practice in the production of a film set. But it is certainly not sexual abuse nor assault. Preparation time is a practice we try to ensure on all our sets and we feel sorry that Rooster felt they did not have enough, but this does not amount to sexual assault. A film set is sometimes stressful and some feelings can be hurt unintentionally, from the way crew talk to each other to not giving a performer enough personal space to relax throughout the day. This doesn’t diminish someone’s experience of an unfulfilling or even bad shooting day but again, this does not mean that sexual assault took place. 

 

I apologize for not addressing these boundary violations publicly, but we have been addressing them privately for a long time. We talked to the crew (12 people) working on the Don’t Call Me A Dick set, we got our reports and we concluded that sexual assault didn’t happen on that set. On the other hand, we decided to stop working with director Olympe de G, as we told Rooster. We had acknowledged that some mistakes happened in the production process and in Spring 2018 we began working collectively on the Guest director’s guide to working with performers. Rooster contributed to this document as a result of their conflict with Olympe, together with Kali Sudhra, our former Talent Manager and a few other performers. Rooster suggested improvements and modifications to the process that we are grateful for.

 

In July 2018, the nature of Rooster’s claim changed from boundary violations and bad working practices to unethical behaviour and abuse of power. In September 2018, despite our apology and attempts at a dialogue, Rooster began claiming to have been sexually assaulted. I can not and will not acknowledge this. This sexual assault accusation has been spread by them and social media users by deploying vague terms without any real evidence to back them up. There are no concrete facts, just broad allegations where all nuance has been removed, and claims whose nature has escalated and changed in time.

 

You won’t have any evidence of me working against Rooster to silence them because there simply aren’t. Contrary to what has been said, I have not talked about Rooster, I have not sued them or threatened to do so, I have not actively victim-blamed them, I have not gaslighted them and I have not blacklisted them – in fact they worked as a DOP on a film produced by my company after their initial claim of boundary violations. The only action I have taken towards them has been to block them on Twitter – a decision which was taken following upwards of 10 mentions a day from them stating what a monster I was – comments I always decided not to engage with. 

 

I decided not to interact with Rooster or anyone else accusing me of racism, transphobia or rape on social media during the last year because the allegations simply were not true and I didn’t know how to react to these claims other than to show my work which speaks for itself. I see now that my inaction and silence resulted in the spread of more lies and more confusion for people hearing these allegations about me. 

 

In February 2019 Rooster’s lawyer approached my company to have an out of court settlement in the form of an apology and to obtain a witness statement against Olympe and a large economic settlement. I did not accept. Recently my team made me aware of a new accusation that Rooster did not previously email me about. The accusation I am talking about is one of rape by Olympe de G, on the set of Architecture Porn, under the watch of myself and over 20 crew members. Regarding this new accusation of rape on my set Architecture Porn, this is a claim that has never been brought to my company’s attention before. My team found out when it was published on a blog.

 

It is difficult for me to take this allegation seriously after two years of different allegations and claims, at points it has been hard for me to keep up with what is being said about me. From my position as a director, Rooster and Olympe both had a good day on set, afterwards Rooster spoke to me privately and said how happy they were with how everything went and what a good time they had had. There was no mention of any boundary violations. I have watched all of the raw footage and behind the scenes material to check for anything that could be seen as sexual assault, and as far as I can see there is nothing that signals rape. That being said I take this allegation very seriously however I can’t look into it further until I receive the account of events from Rooster, Olympe and all the crew working on set that day.

 

Erika Lust

Barcelona, August 21, 2019


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