Global Observer

Spain's one-woman porn revolution

Spain's one-woman porn revolution

Posting in Education

BARCELONA -- Erika Lust looks to flip the Spanish and international porn industry on its head by putting women center stage -- and now her company is growing 30 percent a year.

BARCELONA -- Spain may have the lowest level of English in Western Europe, but there's one word everyone knows and it begins with an "F." That might have something to do with the country's open interest in porn. You can't walk by a newsstand or flip through the public TV channels after 10 p.m. without seeing ubiquitous tetas. But the main face of Spanish machismo and porn is actually a man, and Torbe -- the country's number one porn search -- is exactly how you'd envision a porn website admin or director.

There's no doubt the 60-billion-euro European porn industry is male-dominated and male-focused, but amidst all this, one woman stands out as she tries to alter the industry. Erika Lust isn't looking to curb the Spanish and human fascination with porn, she's just looking to bring real life and real female orgasms back to your laptop.

Lust, owner and director of LustFilms and an erotic author, is the opposite of Torbe in every way.

Aside from her name, everything about Lust screams soccer mom, not explicit sex. The blonde Swede who's spent her adult life in Barcelona even comes off a little demure -- nothing like the loud, mustachioed, Hawaiian-shirt wearing Torbe.

Erika Lust.jpg
Erika Lust
 N Maxwell Lander
LustFilms don't seem very pornographic either; they are much more cinematographic indie flick than down and dirty. Lust calls 99 percent of porn simply "bad film-making" and acrobatic with fake actors, saying the feeling of it is quite different from that of sex. "When you have sex in real life, you have it together with someone. You can't even see what's going on, the bodies are so close," she says, entangling her fingers, like for the "Itsy Bitsy Spider." "Porn has to use weird positions to be open to see everything, to get in there with a camera." She says she films sex, but that she doesn't go looking for the gynecological details.

Her four feature-length films also don't sound like porn. Instead of loud, fake orgasms, they feature jazz soundtracks with little dialogue.

What Lust directs has many names -- porn for women, woman-centric porn, feminist porn, female point of view porn, explicit films with feminist values, films that show authentic female pleasure. She describes her audience as people who aren't happy with what's already in the market. To her, in the male-dominated industry, it's crucial that women become a part of the process -- as directors, producers and distributors, not just make-up artists or actresses. Lust says only about one percent of the marketplace currently shares her goals, and she craves competition, which is difficult "in a society that looks at porn and sex as dirty."

This is why most parents still don't know how to talk about this awkward topic with their kids. Compounding it, as Lust says, in Spain, like most countries, sex education is still very biological, skipping over how sex works emotionally. Sex education is used to scare kids, warning them against pregnancy, getting sick or raped. She says, "They don't speak about how wonderful it can be [to have] sex, the emotion, the feeling in your stomach when you look at someone you find attractive."

Of course, her site is for 18 and over, but she admits that porn is the main way young people are learning about sex. "For generations, we would go to the libraries and look for the books and hide them under the table," she says. Then came Playboy and peepshows. Now PornTube. "It's what we do -- we want to know about sex."

Lust wants young adults to have access to explicit films that aren't riddled with "racist, sexist or homophobic values." She's talking about people in that terribly challenging hormonal time of 13 to 18, when you don't really know about sex -- maybe you've had it, maybe you haven't -- but, certainly, sex is on your mind all the time. Porn is usually the only graphic way for this age group to look at sex. She says, "When in comes to sex, people want to see it."

Erika's own interest in pornography began at university, when her boyfriend brought home a DVD. Her first reaction to the video was confusion -- something about it made her body react even though she didn't like what she was watching. As a woman, she felt it had little emotionally or intellectually to do with her. Upon more research, she found a pattern revolving around the man as the central character. "The women are secondary characters and their main function is to make him come." Instead of being persons, they are more some sort of vehicle for his pleasure." This is often the first lesson young women and men are learning about sex.

By recognizing the pattern, Lust felt the power to change it and discovered a demand in the marketplace. She began to make films with women as the main characters, focusing on their pleasure, "showing sex as much more natural [and] realistic, with actors that are representing real people," without conventional pornographic positions

She has even made a documentary called "Barcelona Sex Project," which follows three men and three women through a day in their lives that finishes with them masturbating to completion. She says that there are almost no movies about the topic and mentions that watching it is a great way to celebrate Masturbation Month this May.

Lust has really turned her passion for explicit arts into a family business, as her business partner, Pablo Dobner, is also her life partner and the father of her two daughters. She says it's a profitable business that grows about 30 percent each year.

Lust says that even though the industry is overwhelmingly online, she is still selling DVDs, along with a successful online TupperSex store and authoring or co-authoring five books. Her target audience was originally women 25 to 50, however, her customers are split down the middle men and women, with a lot of men watching LustFilms with their wives and girlfriends.

The Digital Age has made even the erotic attention span shorter, as the industry moves from DVDs to online montages of money shots. "When it comes to erotic people, they don't have patience anymore," she says. To adjust to the industry's move, her next project, the web-based "X Confessions," will have people confess their sexual ideas and then Lust will direct short films that act them out.

Lust is completely open and unashamed of her small business. "I'm a completely normal person. I'm not promiscuous," she says. The parents of her kid's classmates don't seem to mind either. When her oldest started school two years ago, a mom asked Dobner what they did. He replied that they make feminist erotic films. The woman said, "Oh, like Erika Lust?" He said, "Well, actually…"

Top: Courtesy Erika Lust Films; Bottom: TorbeNetwork screenshot

Photo: GSG/Creative Juice

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Jennifer Riggins

Correspondent (Barcelona)

Jennifer Riggins is the content manager and community builder for two SaaS Quote Roller and PandaDoc, as well as she teaches sales, English, and public speaking for Spanish small business. She holds a degree from William Paterson University. She is based in Spain. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure