This is not what I thought I was going to do when I started photography. And have I ever started? It feels like I’ve been always doing this and then I’ve just got the right tools to express what I saw around me and in my head.
I don’t remember when I started to write either, I just became better at it and it’s still a bit weird because English is not my first language but I like its fluidity, I like how round it can be and every inflection you choose adds intensity or unbearable coldness.
Then it happened. I remember being silly on Instagram, talking about indie adult films, the moment after I was speaking to Erika Lust’s production manager and within a month I was writing my first script, struggling a lot but for the first time in my life enjoying the challenge.
I’ve been writing erotic self inspired stories for a year at the time, before then I used to write for GQ and Playboy but their cisgender approach and really defined view on sex, and sometimes lack of beauty and grace, made me a loner. My photography became more anonymous to the point I almost wanted people to see their own identity through the details of their body and not only their face, and for a while it worked but then felt like not enough anymore. It’s funny how until few months ago I had no idea what I was doing but I’m glad I kept doing it and took my breaks any time I felt stuck, bored or overwhelmed.
So, writing an erotic script wasn’t a big deal if not technically, because what I feel and what I see are not the same thing; to channel feelings, emotions and sensations into a sequence of scenes and shots takes some time and a bit of knowledge. Looking at my film now, or even shortly after shooting it, I can see how much I could have done in the writing process which is for me fundamental now, more than anything.
The filming was tough because there was so much that needed to be done in one day but at the same time it felt like the most natural thing in the world to me. It felt like everything I’ve learned as an artist and human being came together and I didn’t feel the dislocation that followed me my entire life because I refused to do only one thing. I remember people coming to me and asking questions, me replying like I knew what to do even when I wasn’t really there technically. I had time to learn prior the shoot but theory on its own can only give that much.
I know you are looking forward to hear about the sex scene. The first impulse is to tell you that nothing changes from any other scene... but it does. I was really focused on some technical aspects in the beginning but I had a lovely DOP and overall an experienced and responsive team of people working for me, so after a while I could let myself go a little bit. Then I started worrying about the sex performers, hoping they were ok and felt safe and as natural as possible. To be honest, I’ve lost my sleep over that and I hope I didn’t say something stupid or, even worse, that I wasn’t negligent! I cannot imagine a director being insensitive or dismissive, rude or lacking empathy and emotion, but I heard so many horror stories, no need to dig into adult industry for that.
Apart from all this, the most beautiful moment was the realisation. I was standing between cameras A and B, my DOP and camera operator were busy sweating and trying to get the best shots in one take, camera B hand held, me freaking out to get the details I wanted, it was so difficult not to be in the way of the action! And then I finally saw what was happening and there were two naked bodies in front of me, no filters, no framing, just two people having sex based on my script, my story was being told in silence interrupted by moans, deep breathing and me looking away to make sure my team was doing the best job they could. It was the realest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life and I wondered how it could also be so alienating. As a newbie and with limited time, I was probably too present during the filming, I wish I could sit back behind a monitor and make sure it looked the way I wanted it to look on screen... but it didn’t happen and I’m happy and grateful I was there physically, it was useful for me and perhaps helpful for the girls to feel safe, because I cared about them more than about myself even if I had to check in with my brain few times. That unconditional care for other human beings is rare for me, I must admit... And I am endlessly grateful to Caroline and Bonni for trusting me and sharing intimacy through a sweet performance, because being naked on camera and showing your own sexuality, even if filtered, takes courage and openness. It looks sometimes effortless but it comes with inner grace and strength.
One last thing I find extremely important! The performers found the gusts to tell me that they were a bit worried because there were so many men in my crew, and it was my job to reassure them and explain that I trusted those guys with my heart and as long as an individual is honest, professional and respectful, their gender doesn’t matter. I wanted all the genders to be involved, because it’s not about feminism for me anymore, it’s about equality, and even if I’m happy and excited for women to be more represented and representative in the porn industry, I still want men on board just as much. I enjoyed my position of power and I made sure I didn’t abuse it, I just wanted to make a good film and for everyone to feel free to be themselves.
In my interview on XConfessions you won’t find this, but I did say that on camera and I am sorry it has been edited out but maybe I wasn’t able to express how important it was for me, and I was still figuring out my gender identity, probably my orientation too, and even though I wanted my story to talk about bisexuality, I hope it now can be perceived just as a tender encounter between two girls figuring out their own sexuality; men shouldn’t be excluded, I feel like a man myself sometimes, so it would be like excluding myself.
Anyways! You can find my film on XConfessions, it’s called Coffee With Pleasure, and if you’ve known me for a while the title won’t sound like a surprise. You need to buy a subscription to the website, it’s fairly cheap considering that some human beings decided to show their genitalia and pleasure to you, so why not pay for that? It is a service, and it is a job. I’m not against mainstream free porn, it’s a choice, unless material has been stolen and uploaded somewhere it wasn’t intended to be originally. Please, choose wisely and remember people you see on screen are fucking (in every sense ah!) human beings, just like you.
I since then performed in a couple of projects myself but that’s a story for another time. Please feel free to ask me any, ANY questions via email or through my Q&A on Instagram, you know the game.
There are other technical and logistic problems in pre and post production but if you want to deep dive into my experience, I suggest you read the interview I’ve done with Mark Brennan on Exit 6 Film Festival, you can find it here! There is more about my point of view on what ethical porn is, what sex in the movies represents and what I think about the whole “shebang” (ah!) in general.