Today we did a photo shoot at the Tiergarten which is a huge Park in Berlin and a famous gay cruising ground. Thanks to Laura and her posse bi and lesbian women cruise here as well once a month on a Wednesday after sunset under the Amazon statue. It did not take long before the clothes came off and the girls got playful even though it was a cold autumn eve. We had a lot of fun during the shoot and surprisingly even the nuns walking past did not seem to mind our antics. I think that if we had done that shoot at Hyde park we would have been arrested. All power to Laura to arrange another opportunity for women to be independent and take the freedom to go and cruise if they feel like a quickie in the park with another Amazon.
After the shoot in the Tiergarten, I did some portraits of Laura at home featuring the amazing satin velvet pussy sculptures that a fellow erotic artist created for Laura’s shop. I will interview Laura for FORUM so that she can talk about her life-long mission to liberate women sexually to an UK audience.
In the evening we went to a screening of Female Fantasies in the Kant cinema. It was a special night that I will never forget. It was the final screening of the festival and I thank the organisers of the porn film fest for giving me and us this honour. It was such a buzz to watch the cinema fill up on a Sunday eve and then view our film on the big screen! I had not seen it in a while and many of the scenes brought a smile to my face. There was such a happy vibe with lots of laughter and applause from the audience. I would like to thank everyone who came and made this such a special screening for us. Your interest and support means more to us than big fat pay cheques and awards (although it would be nice to get both of these too!). After the screening Mia and I went to the closing party which was suitably alternative-arty in the LUX Club in Berlin. I wish I could have stayed and danced all night but I had to get up early for the filming with RTL. So I decided to be grown up and get home by 4 a.m., leaving (unfortunately) just as it got interesting and various stark naked hunky men got onto the dance floor.
It was a particularly exciting day for us as before the panel discussion Marita Neher premiered her documentary “The She Pornographers” that shows us and many other female erotic artists at work. The documentary was followed by two clips of my new film, now titled “ART-core”, and it was exciting to show those two finished vignettes to the audience. The screenings were followed by the big panel discussion on “porn for women”. In front of a sold out cinema seven female porn film makers (Jessica Grenier, Erika Lust, Julia Ostertag, Ovidie, Audacia Ray, and myself) discussed their vision of porn. We are all from different backgrounds, some of us working independently, others being employed by big companies. I felt closest to the ideas of Jessica who produces content for the amazing Australian website Beautiful Agony – showing real people during sex – focusing on their faces and not featuring acted but authentic scenes. It was interesting to realise that if a woman does a porn film, it is not necessarily directed at women which is where Audicia Ray is coming from. There was also a discussion in which way porn can empower rather than degrade women. Some filmmakers who call their films “feminist” were criticised for extensively featuring blow-jobs and cum-shots in women’s faces.
Our tastes on what we find sexy in the bedroom or on film differ. I believe that any female filmmaker has he right to show whatever she wants in her films but we should be cautious with our content if we claim to make “feminist porn”. I would like to empower women and this is why I choose to focus on women receiving pleasure rather than just giving it, and I also prefer to show orgasms in different ways such as showing the lover’s faces, rather than ending every scene with a male cum-shot over the woman’s body. If we produce films and call them “female friendly” or “feminist” yet the actual sexual content still focuses mainly on male pleasure and copies a commercially successful mainstream porn formula, then the powerful words that should have a very deep meaning are being mocked and hijacked as a marketing gimmick. Feminism is committed to equality of the sexes, so surely “feminist porn” should show women as equals to men rather than as subservient beings. A woman receiving head, a woman fucking a guy with a strap-on, a guy tasting his own cum and also to feature female ejaculation – those techniques that show a woman in control might be “feminist porn”. If you want to show cum on a woman’s face that’s fine but don’t call it feminist.
After the discussion I had the pleasure to get to know Ilan and Mia better. They are two new female performers with whom I will be working in a week’s time. We’d had extensive e-mail and phone contact, but this was the first time we physically met each other. Ilan, Mia, Violetta and I went for a German meal in a cosy café to chat and chill. What a blessing it is to have these two beautiful women in my cast now.
Both contacted me because they like my concept of sensual, creative and intimate porn and they wanted to be part of the “little revolution Petra is doing in the porn industry right now” as Mia put it. Mia is a gorgeous woman with a burlesque touch. She has been in porn films before and she is a little tired of faking and not feeling it. So I will bend my rule to work only with amateurs as she has promised to just do what she enjoys on camera, really let go and feel it. I hope that our shoot will empower Mia, so she is now part of the family and it does not matter what she has worked as in the past. Ilan was introduced to me by Laura. She is a wide eyed young woman who is very bright and wants to explore herself and her sexuality further on film. She has the body of a dancer and we had so much fun in the toilet of the restaurant where she tried on some of the amazing lingerie that Bracli kindly donated to me. We did some shots there and then, Ilan without make-up in champagne-coloured pearl strung underwear looking like a million dollars! It was a nice little taste of shooting together later this month.
I was honoured to be a guest at Laura Meritt’s salon that she runs from her home which doubles as a shop every Friday. She has an open house policy, her flat functioning as a hub for women who want to browse for exciting, toys and films and meet like-minded girls. We had a bottle of bubbly, truffles and watched clips from my upcoming film “Art-core”. Violetta, one of my close friends and performers that I work with, was there with me to support me and talk about our work in creating sensual porn for women. It is always a pleasure to meet women, get their feedback to our films and often one or two of the women present decide that they would like to work with us in the future which is always exciting. I want to thank Laura for inviting us and handling my distribution for all the small independent female sex shops in Germany. She also runs an online shop with amazing goodies – I stocked up with props and toys for the new film and the shoot next week. You can shop online at Laura’s Sexclusiviateten.
Even though it would have been tempting to watch porn in the cinema every night of the porn film festival we decided that one evening we should sample a bit of traditional Berlin cabaret culture. We found the Kleine Nachrevue, an intimate and beautiful club that has a different show every night. We were one of the few guests and it felt almost like we were there for a private performance. The show we watched was an erotic FAUST – an intense all-women dance and performance piece. What really blew me away was the small numbers that were performed every 15 minutes or so in the small hours of the evening after the main show – my favourite being a stripping female magician working with a tiny green cloth that she magicked away and then magicked back from the most unexpected places. Sylvia Schmid, the owner and main star of the show has got style, class and empowered sexiness that is hard to find in the average club. We loved it and will be back to see more shows.
Standing in the spotlight, the flash lights going off and holding an award whilst people are applauding – I am not going to lie to you: it IS the best feeling in the world ! I can not believe it quite yet – Female Fantasies has won the award for the best “soft” Film at the Barcelona Erotic Film Festival. I am still buzzing 48 hours later. High on endorphins. The last time I felt as high as this, I had done a parachute jump from 14.000 feet. On the plane back home I was listening to Diana Ross “I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show ! There is a new me coming out and I just have to live, I am completely positive !” and could not stop smiling – high above the clouds into the sunset. One of those moments to remember and cherish forever.
It is the winning that counts because it makes you realize that it was all worth it: to spend five months working day and night, borrowing 30 grand from the bank to finance the film, taking out more money to pay for the flight and accommodation in Barcelona. It all comes down to this point: holding the solid bronze award in my hand with the biggest smile in my heart.
Plush red carpets, black balloons, a champagne reception, flash video presentations, nouvelle cuisine dinner…the FICEB awards party was the real deal. Like an erotic Oscar celebration. I was glad I bumped into Giles and Alexander the guys who run the heat gay line at Private – they invited me to their table in the front row. Their being sociable really helped. My heart was beating fast because I was so nervous and it was nerve wracking not to know anybody there not to speak Spanish very well and not to know if I would win. The guys managed to calm me down so that when I was called on stage to collect my award, I was able to enjoy the moment and shine!
Being a pioneer with my work the first challenge was to convince the professional buyers to stock my films. It was incredibly hard to convince them that yes there is a market for artistic, creative and female friendly erotic films. And against all odds my independent films do sell. So to receive an industry award is more valuable than money to me because it means that the adult industry is acknowledging my creative and sensual approach in making porn film for women rather than just celebrating films that are based on a tried and tested formulas. I do feel that I helped to pave the path for other female filmmakers too. When I published Sexual Sushi four years ago, who would have thought that this year for the first time there will be a new category at the Venus Award in Berlin for female hard-core porn ? So next Thursday the Venus industry award will happen in Berlin: Female Fantasies is nominated. Wish me luck – being an independent without the backing of a major distribution company this award would mean a lot to me.
Whenever I visit a city, I am always keen to explore the erotic culture. And Barcelona just oozes sex and passion. The warm weather, long drawn siestas with delicious three course meals – there is a zest for live and love in the air. Ever since I arrived and swapped my trousers for a mini skirt and boots for heels, I can feel it too: my senses are re-awakened. At home I often forget to eat until late in the afternoon, here I succumb to the ‘menu del dia’, washed down with a glass of wine or two. Giant hams hang from the ceilings, I feel like on the film set of “Jamon Jamon”. The waiter hands me his number with the bill and flashes me a bright smile. I feel alive, desirable and vibrant. I decide to pop into Boudoir, an upmarket sex shop for women. They sell luxurious toys and lingery but to my surprise and disappointment no erotic films. They do not feel that erotic films will go well with their up-market image – yet. There it is again the stigma of “porn” – as if all the films are the same and do not do anything for women. I hope they will change their mind and accept that women are visual creatures too and can and are turned on by sensual porn. A visit to the erotic museum is inspirational: there always has been, there always will be erotic art. As an erotic photographer and filmmaker I am carrying the torch of passion expressed in the public eye rather than being hidden way in a closet. My favourite piece in the exhibition is a Victorian walking stick. The handle being a beautiful pussy, carved in ivory and hand-painted. It is delicate and unique and a fitting homage to the beauty of the female sex.
In the evening I visit Bagdad, a unique club that has been going for 30 years. It features live sex shows and has a reputation to be a porn academy. I have been to lap dance clubs and live sex shows in Amsterdam before and did not expect much but nothing has prepared me for this: a small club with only 50 comfy seats where only 1 meter away from the audience the performers fuck. Live on stage. There is no glass partition like in Amsterdam and audience participation is not only allowed but encouraged. The performances are a strange mixture of intimacy and sterility. The girls and guys are beautiful. The girls have pert nipples and the guys hard cocks. But when they have sex they do not kiss each other. They do not look at each other either but stare vaguely into the distance. There is also a lack of women receiving oral. Women suck cocks and are being fucked by cocks or dildos but they don’t receive oral – not from other women nor from men. When the women have sex with each other, they use a handheld dildo rather than a strap-on. There are no sounds to be heard from the performers. There is no sweat to be seen. I am mesmerised. Sex as a performance. Live. In front of a room full of people. Going through the motions and looking beautiful yet not feeling anything. I am stunned.
Juani de Lucia the, woman who has been running the club successfully for over 30 years explains to me why Bagdad fulfils the function of the porn academy: “If you can get it on here in front of 50 people than a shoot in front of a crew of four will be easy.” Often the wanna be porn stars stay at Bagdad because the money is even better than in porn. Juani explains to me that the aim of Bagdad is not to “excite” but entertain. Somehow Bagdad has become an institution in catholic Spain. Well known, successful and the acceptable face of porn. Juani shows me an e-mail of a Spanish family that are taking their grandma to the club for her 95th birthday. Sex as family entertainment. A completely new concept to me. But then again anything can happen at Bagdad: couples have been known to get up onto the spinning platform to fulfil their fantasies of having sex in public and an unsuspecting punter might end up getting a blow job. It happened tonight. The only problem was that he was not hard and had a penis the size of an acorn which made the female performer and audience burst out in sniggers. The girls definitely call the shots at Bagdad. Even if they invite the customers to be pleasured the girls make sure that the guys do not get carried away. So if you are called on stage be prepared. The vibe at the bar and backstage is really warm and friendly. The performers know each other well and are a tight knit community almost like a family. I end up staying chatting and watching until six am. Where else on earth could you step into a world like this ? If you want to meet the women and men of Bagdad in Barcelona, check out: www.bagdad.com. The latest gimmick on the Bagdad website is a porn clip that you can download to your phone with your face being superimposed onto either the girl or guy having sex. This is what I like about Bagdad: they have a great sense of humour.
On the way to the Ficeb the taxi driver tells me what a big event this trade show and film festival really is. All of Barcelona knows about it and wants a slice of the action. Even though when I arrive the event is only open to trade and press there is a really exciting vibe in the air.
The performances have already started and the performers are going all the way on stage, playing with toys and each other. Soon clutters of watchers and photographers form in front of the various big stages.
I wander around buzzing too. Well I must have been in the mood because somehow I ended up buying a giant penis wood carving that weighs about 5 kilos.
In the press room I bumped into Belladonna who had just flown in from California to promote her new film. Even though her work is a lot more hard-core than mine, I admire her passion which really gets across in her films. She was hot, hot, hot in “Fashionistas”. We talked about casting techniques and she said “Not enough directors are casting for a connection between the performers!” I could not agree more. If the connection is there and real between the players, then the sex scenes will be exciting.
I came here to find Spanish distribution for my films but it is proving harder than I thought. All the female-friendly shops and ventures do not sell porn but just sexy lingery and toys because they believe that porn is bad for their image and that “the women in Spain are not ready yet”. When I speak to the dealers and potential distributors, they ask me if I do lesbian porn. When I say “I do porn for women” they automatically assume its lesbian hard-core. It is almost as if the kinky desires of a heterosexual women do not exist. How strange. Straight women have sexual fantasies and like to be turned on by visuals tailor made for them – not just straight male porn or lesbian porn. No one believes me here – yet. I am handing out screeners anyway because I believe the time for heterosexual female hard-core porn will come – soon.
I was curious to meet the director whose Spanish film “Mi Padre” had been nominated for nine wards: Giancarlo Candiano. He has worked as a porn director for 9 years and shot around 50 films. This is the first film he directed and produced independently. He worked 5 month on this autobiographical film.
When I asked him what was the most difficult thing about this production he said “everything”. When I asked what the best was, he said “everything”. I understand where he is coming from: producing and directing a major feature film independently is a dream come true but is also the biggest nightmare of your life. Total freedom equals total responsibility and it really tests your patience and stamina to go solo on a grand scale.
Giancarlo trained at the Barcelona university to become a cameraman. He worked in wildlife and extreme sports photography and videography before he ended up by chance shooting his first porn film. When I asked him what he thinks is the secret to produce a great porn film he told me: “Most people think that they need sex with a bit of drama and comedy. I think you need to integrate the sex scenes into the drama and the comedy. This is why my 2 hour film only shows 40 minutes of actual sex”.
Giancarlo and I swap copies of our films and I view it that night. It is really, really good; one of the best porn films that I have ever seen. It does not matter that I barely understand the Spanish dialogue: the sex scenes are shot and edited beautifully. Especially the group sex scene is poetry in motion. Edited to music with lost of long lingering shots, pans and slow motion shots it is almost a dream-like fantasy scene that you can get lost in. It is a pleasure to watch and makes you think: I wish I was there. The only thing I don’t like about the sex scenes is a fixation with blow jobs and penetration. I love to show the women receiving oral and being pampered and that only happens once in the last sex scene for like a minute. But Giancarlo is a guy and obviously shoots male fantasies. But the way he shoots them is exciting even to women.
Tonight I went out for an interview with Canal Plus. It was a pleasure. The female reporter asked really clever questions and the bar where we shot closed especially for us and bought us drinks. I had chosen the bar because it is a potential location for future shoot: small and cosy with red walls and dimmed lights – just right for a sensual seduction. I can’t believe how friendly and laid back they are about us shooting here and me potentially filming porn here. They end up buying me drinks (cava, my favourite) all night and I stay chatting to two hot gay guys about sexual fantasies, long after the TV crew has left. One guy tells me his fantasy is to be caught up in a maze and having sex with all sorts of different masked people, never knowing who or what is around the corner. That is a really exciting idea and he would love for it to be turned into an erotic film sequence. Maybe one day it will.