Hi Reddit, Erika Lust here. I'm here to talk to you about my latest original adult mini-series 'Safe Word', to be released this week on LustCinema.
The series is a full immersion in the BDSM healthy, sexy culture of communication and awareness in sex. Mainstream movies like '50 Shades of Grey' or 'Normal People' can often encourage misrepresentations of these practices by mainly framing them as a product of past traumas rather than a consenting game of mutual sexual power exchange and liberation. I wanted to give the public a credible, sex-positive representation of BDSM & kink practices instead, so... ask me anything!
The first episode will be available for free for those who sign up at this link!
Proof picture here!
Does a cast of a BDSM movie get paid extra (from normal adult movie rates) for enduring a little pain? Do you allow the actors to read the script before they sign a contract so they know what they're getting into?
Actors negotiate their own pay and we pay by day rate, we do not pay performers based on the sex acts that they will do because we don’t want them to feel pressured into doing something that they don’t like for more money. As for reading the script, absolutely! They are sent the script and moodboard well ahead of shooting, they know who they are going to shoot with and the type of sex they will be having. They tell us their limits, what they want to try, what they don’t want to try, and this is communicated with the rest of the cast.
What do you make of the potential harm porn can have on adolescents/young adults? Do you pay attention to the studies being done by psychologists as it relates to porn addiction? If so, what do you think of them and have you changed your work in any way in order to deal with that?
Yes absolutely, this is why I started a non-profit organization ThePornConversation.org. The platform offers age appropriate guides for parents to talk to their children about pornography. It's so important to have these conversations with them and to give them all of the tools they need to be prepared for the first time they see porn. Because let's be absolutely clear, they will definitely see free online porn whether it’s by accident or because they have gone looking for it.
The advent of the internet has meant that pornography is more readily and freely available than ever and this does not look set to change anytime soon. This increased accessibility, particularly for young people, has been one of the driving forces behind the charge that pornography negatively impacts society's view of sex, sexuality and women. That’s why we need to be equipping teenagers with the tools they need to navigate porn and discern fantasy from reality. This means comprehensive and up-to-date sex education programs in school to help teens make smart decisions regarding sex and pornography. In a time when sexual violence against women (and LGBTQ+ people) continues reaching frightening proportions, society still doesn’t consider providing proper sex education for our children as a priority, which in my opinion is just ridiculous.
Do you believe porn is supposed to represent real-life sex, and how closely?
No, it is not. First of all, you are watching a performance so it is all different to real-life sex. You are also watching a heavily edited performance. I shoot for one whole day of at least 12 hours in order to make one short film of 15 to 25 minutes. Obviously the sex scene does not take up all of the day but perhaps on set the sex takes one hour and that is later condensed into a 10 minute scene. So, there is a lot that will be edited out - specially the pre-sex discussion about boundaries or the preparations for sextoys and lube being used. Compared to real life sex the foreplay might not last as long as it should do, things might seem to move more quickly and penetrative is sex is 'the sex'. If there are orgasms they may come faster than in real life. Plus, positions are staged for the camera and awkward fumbles might be edited out.
Hi Erika! How did you first get into making porn, and what about it do you enjoy that has made you stay all these years?
I had always been interested in cinema but when I was studying Political Science and Gender at university I began to develop a strong interest in pornographic discourse. I was a young woman feeling curious about sex and one day a boyfriend showed me a porn video. Watching that, I felt like something wasn’t right. The woman's role was too much about pleasing the man- it was hardly about her own sexual experience and pleasure. I knew that female sexuality was way more than that! I realized that mainstream porn was mainly shot from the male perspective and wasn’t representing any truth about real sex. I was also bored by the lack of imagination and sexiness in porn’s dialogues and storylines. Porn is clearly made with the purpose to arouse, but this doesn't mean that we can't seek the same visual pleasure we seek in other movies! Why can't we make porn with beautiful images and a captivating plot?
In your opinion, why is there so much “incest” porn on the internet?
Some of the most popular porn fantasies are taboo. There is so much shame surrounding sex and sexual fantasies in real life, that a lot of people use porn to explore taboos that they would never explore or even speak about in real life. It’s important that we don’t shame ourselves or each other for our sexual desires. This is just a fantasy, a story – the performers aren’t really siblings. Similarly, many people choose to watch pornography that they would never dream of reenacting in their personal lives for multiple reasons. The healthiest way that we can start to understand our own sexualities is to indulge in learning about other people’s desires and fantasies.
what differentiates your porn to others?
We are used to adult movies made by men, where you have close up genital shots, emotionless storylines, where the man’s presence is represented only by his penis and women live sex as something that is done to them instead of actively participating in it. I want to portray healthy sex relationships on screen and to capture the whole feeling of sex – the passion and the pleasure of everyone involved – not just a mechanical shoot of it. My sets are made up of 80% women and we have a big crew, which may look very different for a performer coming from mainstream sets. For female performers used to small crews made up of solely men, this means a lot in terms of feeling in a friendly, supportive and safe environment.
Whats the biggest problem in the porn industry at the moment?
The biggest problem right now is the issue of piracy and the free tubes. Users need to be made aware of the ethical implications of watching pirated material. There are so many reasons that adult content is behind a paywall. It costs money to create a safe sex environment and money to make the film. It costs money to pay performers, crew, post-production and the director; to create fair working conditions for talent and crew, lunch for the day, and comfortable accommodations if required. I urge everyone to start paying for their porn if they can. Sex work is a real job, and performers deserve to be paid fairly. By paying for your porn, you are contributing to their livelihoods and their ability to do their job properly. You are helping to ensure that smaller studios that are committed to fair labour practices, are able to continue making the porn that they want to make and that sex work is done in a safe environment.
How did you pick that cast? Were they into BDSM themselves?
Yes, the cast were chosen because they enjoy BDSM play. Nina Hartley is a sex educator and has shot in many BDSM and fetish films. Mickey Mod is well-versed in BDSM and a well-known master. As with all of my films, we always choose performers who are especially interested in the type of film that we are shooting.
How do you find actors for this kinda thing?
Performers normally apply to be a performer with me (you can see my casting page here: https://erikalust.com/casting/). Finding the right performers is so important to us and we have a long and thorough casting process. We always make sure our performers are over 18, sex-positive and 100% happy and enthusiastic about being involved. Our talent manager interviews them and gets to know them long before we start filming. I always make sure the people I am working with love their job, love sex, and like our ethos. We talk extensively with them about what they like sexually, what they would like to explore, if there is anyone they wish to work with or not work with, and to find out what they are like as people and whether they share my values and philosophy for a new adult cinema.
What was the experience(s) in your life that made your sexuality awaken?
My first experience with pornography was pretty unremarkable. I was at a friend's house having a sleepover when we found one of her father's adult films hidden away, so we watched it hoping to uncover the mysteries of sex. The reality, however, was more disappointing than anything informative!
My interest with pornography picked up again when I was in college and my boyfriend at the time suggested we watched some together. Again I was disappointed and I realised that pornography was not made for me or with me in minde. The woman's role was to give pleasure to the man, yet her pleasure was completely ignored. I knew that there was so much more to sexuality than what was depicted in these films. At the same time I was introduced to the Linda Williams book Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible". This gave me a more academic introduction to pornography, it showed me that as well as being its own discourse it is also linked to a wider cultural and historical discourse surrounding sexuality more generally.
These experiences definitely sparked my interest in porn however it was not until much later that I acted upon it & started making adult films!
Hey Erika i love what you do! As someone who got raped, a lot of porn scares me a bit. Sadly i cannot afford your work, but saw some previews via Zoë ligon a long time ago.
Well to make this a question: is there free or cheap content avaliable for people who are down on their luck like me?
Hey, thank you so much! I understand that mainstream porn narratives can be often triggering for people who experienced sexual trauma, and I am sorry if that’s your case. I’m aware that not everybody can afford a monthly or yearly subscription, that's why I try to meet the needs of more people as possible with all my platforms. Maybe you could check my Store to buy a single movie or only a film collection!
I see you are scheduled for the AMA, but I don't see verification of proof.
The links or photos you've posted could have been posted by anyone, and they don't prove that you are the person doing the AMA. Your proof needs to be something that connects the fact that you're doing an AMA with your identity. This could be something like a photo of you in a work uniform or at a relevant location with a sign that has your username and the date. It could also be documents (partially redacted if desired) with a note that has your username and the date. We're happy for you to get creative with your proof as long as it makes it clear to a reasonable person that the person doing the AMA does meet the criteria laid out in the topic of the AMA.
If you can't think of a way to prove your claims publicly, you can also submit confidential proof to the moderators at this link, though bear in mind it may take some time to review.
Please edit your post and add new proof, and reply here to let us know. Thanks!
Hey! How can I submit again my proof picture?
how can you suggest someone get into BDSM, it's my first time and I'm curious?
You can start alone first to see what you like! Experiment with light pain if you think you might like that, or tickle yourself with a feather, or if you want to experiment with heat you could test some massage candles or use some ice on your body. The important thing is that there is no pressure and you are in an environment where you feel safe and secure. When you have tried some things alone and you have a feeling of what you might like you can start to experiment with a partner that you trust. Always be sure to communicate with your partner BEFORE you start any BDSM play about your limits, what you like to try, what you’re not sure about, and you should establish a safe word.
If you had to fight an animal, would you rather it be a shark or a bear with a gun?
A SHARK WITH A GUN.
Will there be any trans representation on your show?
I mean sex positive and realistic narratives that show chemistry between performers and give the viewer context as to why these people are having sex. I view porn in the same way that I view any other film medium and I want to show all of the beauty, fun, passion and intimacy of sex. I want to excite both people’s minds and bodies and inspire them to realise and pursue their own pleasures. In order to do this I think it's important to create films with narratives, with intelligent scripts that humanise the characters.
How do you cast a performer? Do you first start looking at well known names or do you leave it open? What are your criteria in a cast, physically amongst otherwise attributes?
I have shot with both experienced and amateur performers, but I'm primarily interested in finding new and interesting individuals with unique backgrounds who embrace our philosophy, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. In the industry you don't usually do castings: you look at some performers' pictures, then you tell them how much, at what time and where. When we have a story, we look for the perfect fit for that specific role. We get to know performers through interviews, we have Skype calls with them and meet them in person if we can. We always make sure the performers are 18+, have had their own sexual experiences already and are sex-positive and 100% enthusiastic to be part of the project. I don't just ask performers to come on set with their best lingerie on and that's it. I don't want them to reproduce the “formula” that the industry has done for so long.