There is electricity in the photographer’s eye. He greets us shirtless. He is slender, 1.82 meters, with dark hair, eyes of an innocent demon set underneath thick brows, and a stubbly, dimpled chin. His floors are wooden. There are ropes hanging from the ceiling. Two of them suspend a thick bamboo pole horizontally parallel to the floor. From a third hangs a silver, metal ring. His walls are covered in framed photographs. The light is dim. There are plants atop a newly bought, antique wooden butcher block table. There are two women sitting on the balcony. One with short hair. The other is heavily tattooed. The photographer pours us wine. Introductions are made. More people arrive. A young man in a cutoff black shirt. There is no sun in the sky, but it is light out. The effects of late Summer nights. It’s just cold enough to be uncomfortable in a tee shirt. It’s just warm enough to wear only a tee shirt. We are at the bottom of the U of an apartment complex on the top floor. There is a group of elegant diners just five balconies away, on the second floor. Their conversation will never be as interesting as ours.
We are waiting for more people to arrive. There are questions flying around the table.
What is authentic pornography? Does Erika Lust make authentic pornography? How can we create realistic bdsm scenes using film, video? Why does it even matter? Is the masturbator seeking authenticity in their fantasy? Is sex just an escape from reality? Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? To be removed from our self and placed into a scene, something that would never, that could never happen in the real world? Then why does pornography need to be authentic? Why does it need to feel authentic? Can’t we just close the door, shut the curtains, do whatever smutty, dirty, disgusting thing we want to do with our partner out of sight, out of mind? Can’t we just walk around as human beings and never talk about these hidden corners of our lives? Is it just the fact that we are treating women like shit in pornography that makes it shit? Isn’t that what men want in a sexual fantasy? To objectify their partner? To play with them as if they were playing with a toy? Isn’t that what men want? Isn’t that what the patriarchy has taught us to want? It’s not about who is controlling whom. It’s not about power and submission. It’s about the portrayal of these subjects. It’s about the respect that is conveyed through the lens. This is why Erika Lust is making interesting pornography. Because she can see how to transform our perceptions of what it means to be sexy and to be human at the same time. She doesn’t remove the humanity from the pornography, even when it is dirty as hell.
The photographer sees this as well. Every shot he takes strives in this direction. Every thought in his head is painted with this lens. He conducts the party in this sort of way. He ushers in his partner. She sits down, slides into the table, as the photographer fetches more chairs. There is a blonde with long, stockinged legs sitting next to me. Her stockings are not fishnets or shear but patterned with rectangles, squares, lines, lace, and geometry. I keep glancing down at them.
The photographer’s partner plays the host. She is a magnet of feminine energy. I am unafraid that she is a witch. I don’t know her at all. But I know this kind of woman. I was once in love with one of them. She was part of a covenant. They would gather at each solstice. It was some of the best sex I ever had.
The photographer brings out a tray of round focaccia bread, fresh from the oven. We take turns pulling pieces from it, dipping it in hummus, eating olives, chips, pretzels from the ceramic bowls. We are going through the wine quickly. The conversations jump around the table. Sometimes in Deutsch, sometimes in English.
There is an interlude. The photographer’s partner kicks off a round of introductions. We go around the table and describe our role in the bdsm scene. Each person talks about what they are into and what role they like to play. Each person describes their fetishes, kinks, and what they are expecting from the night.
As we go around the table, different things come out. There is an interest in tying two of the women together. Another is interested in a good spanking. Another is interested in a squirting workshop. Another wants to watch others playing or to be watched playing. Another wants to do some spanking. The list goes on and on. The conversation isn’t quiet. As the sky starts to turn a darker shade …