I just returned from two jam-packed weeks in Berlin where I attended the Venus trade show and the fourth pornfilmfest, won the poryes award, hosted the Petra Joy Award and was followed around non-stop by endless TV crews.
It has all been really exciting but as I never got to sleep more than 5 hours a night it has been exhausting. All work and hardly any play and it was weird having to turn down so may kind offers for cups of coffee or glasses of wine because I simply did not have any free time to socialise… Let me fill you in on new and exciting events and encounters that have inspired me:
For the first time ever they had at the Venus (biggest adult show in Europe) a “Ladies only” area where men stripped. It was just a small cordoned off area and the 15 minutes show only happened twice a day but it was a start. The showroom was packed with eager women who enjoyed the hunky guys’ acrobatic and full strip. Unfortunately women tend to still be shy about their joy of watching guy candy and it was really difficult to find women who would talk to me on camera about the pleasure of watching a guy strip. It is as if many of us are still ashamed of our voyeurism and I hope that this will pass and one day we can just talk about what turns us on without fear or shame. It is good to see that the industry finally realises that women are voyeurs too and I hope more of this kind of events will finally happen all over the world. These shows were the only thing that excited me about the Venus. I did not find any new toys and was quite shocked that apart from the plastic surgeons advertising their breast enhancements, this year one surgeon was advertising labia reduction. He handed out roses to passing women as if to say: “Here, have a rose and buy a designer vagina – never mind the pain”. I am fully aware of the impact cloned teenager vaginas as seen in porn have on women who wrongly assume that they pussy is not beautiful enough. This saddens me. I am all for variety and personally find fleshy labias more womanly and sexier than tiny teeny pussies.
It was a nice contrast to the Venus show that mainly caters to men to meet other female erotic entrepreneurs at the Plastixx dildo factory one evening after the show. This is an annual networking event hosted by Stephanie Doerr, a dildo designer and every year more and more women who make or sell erotic toys, films, magazines, books come to network with other women and exchange ideas. The following night it was a pleasure to meet more like-minded women at the first European Poryes Event where my friends Candida Royalle, Maria Beatty, Annie Sprinkle and Shine Louise Houston as well as me got honoured for our films with a trophy in the shape of a giant sparkling oyster. It is wonderful to see that we all get together to celebrate each other, our work and above all female sexual liberation and pleasures. It was lovely to catch up with Candida and Maria who I had not seen for a while and Candida and I spent the next evening having a girls’ night in with a bottle of bubbly and a wonderful exchange of ideas. I am so happy to be able to count Candida as such a close friend – her support gives me strength and picks me up when I most need it. It is also very exciting that shortly Candida will publish my film “Feeling it!” in America under her Femme Productions label and I thank her for that.
The following week we both went to the pornfilmfest – my fourth and Candida’s first. The opening film “The Band” from Anna Brownfield, a talented Australian filmmaker was a blast – it was a rock and roll comedy with lots of creative explicit sex scenes thrown in (including a cross-dressing male rock star and a woman fucking a guy with a strap-on). I am pleased to say that Anna and me really clicked and I will be showing one of her scenes on my forthcoming release “Her Porn, vol. 2”. It really does happen all around the world right now: women getting behind the camera and showing the world what turns them on! This year 40% of all films at the pornfilmfest were shot by women which is fantastic. Unfortunately I was not able to see as many films, do any workshops or go to all the fab parties as I did last year because I had tons of TV crews in tow that were documenting my work and the preparations to the Petra Joy Awards ect. I know it sounds glamorous but it isn’t – it is hard work to things over and over again for the cameras and always being asked the same questions over and over again (the first one always being “What makes your films different from mainstream porn?”). It does not give me a kick to be on TV. I am a private person and really cherish the time away from the limelight walking on my local beach or pottering in my garden. But I mustn’t grumble – as it is illegal to advertise for porn this kind of publicity is essential to let women know about my films and spread the message that films that show female fantasies do finally exist. But in the next few months I will take a break from all the media attention – I just crave some experiences without the cameras recording and documenting every moment of it. No TV shoots until the new year (I already turned one production company down today).
There were three trends at this year’s pornfilmfest: 1. More and more filmmakers reject the crisp, clear high definition look in favour for grainy and rough around the edges footage shot by a mobile phone or webcam. 2. Music and sound-scapes have become really important. Many films use tailor-made music and complicated sound effects that support the film in an exciting way (we have come a long way from badly dubbed porn and cheesy wallpaper music). There were loads of films featuring bands and rock music – ‘rock porn’ seems to be the latest alternative porn genre. 3. We are seeing more varied depictions of male sexuality in ‘straight’ films – the prostate is not a taboo anymore and strap-on action or cross dressing for men are casually thrown into the films as part of a varied sex-scape.
It was also interesting to see how many female filmmakers are now documenting the female porn revolution: Ovidi and Anna Brownfield interviewed me and I interviewed Shine Louise Houston and Anna Brownfield. Everyone is working on their own documentary about porn for women making the topic accessible to more and more people.
The pornfilmfest was a huge success the cinemas were generally sold out and there was such a buzz in the air and it was fantastic to meet some of the 140 filmmaker that were present. We have become an international porn family – inspiring and supporting each other. I cannot wait to return to Berlin next year hopefully not just for the pornfilmfest but also to shoot a new film – if I can raise the money….
A big part of the pornfilmfest for me this year was the award I was giving to the winners of my erotic amateur film competition for women. But as it was so huge and so many exciting things happened, I will write a separate blog just about the Petra Joy Award 2009 – so read on…
After 4 months of trials and tribulations surrounding the Petra Joy Award (I will not bore you with the details with the many of what went wrong), the four winners have been awarded and celebrated in Berlin in the sold-out Movimento cinema. We had many amazing submissions from all over the world and the jury discussed long and hard about whom should win the prizes because all films were special in their own way.
The winners are Louise Lush (First Prize), Lola Clavo (Second Prize), Linsey Satterthwaite (Third Prize) and Cora Emens (Special Jury Award).
Even though the creative style of the films varied there were some similarities in the films: One prevailing element of many films was the expression of what women want in bed: The first and third prize (“That’s what I like” and “I like it when”) both expressed visually and verbally what turns some women on. The common message is: the shame is over – women can now talk freely in public about what they desire sexually by making a film about female sexual pleasure. Some of the filmmakers such as Linsey Satterthwaite and Cora Emens decided not just to direct but also star in their films – an experience that both women perceived as extremely empowering.
The winner of the second prize, Lola Clavo portrayed sex and love as a power struggle in her experimental film “La Lucha” – with subtly blurred images and an impressive sound-scape.
The special jury award went to “Cora’s memoir – the rose” for the fearless and fun depiction of a very personal erotic memory of the film’s director who also starred in her movie. In an ageist society the film shows that a pleasurable and joyful sex life for women does exist for women who are aged 50 plus.
Before we set off to the cinema for the screening of the films and the award ceremony, I threw a mini party for all the winners and their partners and the girls had their make-up done by a pro. I like the icing on the cake and the cherry on top, so I decided last minute that I would hire a stretch limo for the girls as a surprise and take them around Berlin and to the cinema in style.
It was such an amazing feeling when we got into the limo to drink champagne and toast each other – a spirit of sisterhood and women getting together to celebrate their sexuality and sharing their vision with the world rather than hiding away. I hope that for the winners as well as me this will be a night to remember.
It was a fantastic buzz when we arrived at the cinema there was so many people and so much press everywhere – but it stressed me a bit that there were so many cameras. This was a very personal event for me and I wanted the people who bought tickets and the filmmakers themselves to enjoy it in a relaxed manner…I did not know who most of the cameras belonged to and was worried that people will perceive the event as a media circus when it was meant as a revolutionary grass roots event celebrating and supporting new female talent. It was bad enough that due to a legal battle with a German magazine that had copyrighted the term “Joy” I had to rename my award into the “Petra Joy Award” which drew more attention to me than I am comfortable with. I did this competition so that the focus is on new emerging talent. It is about the joy of giving , passing something on to other women rather than just publishing my very own vision over and over again.
To me this evening was the highlight of my ‘career’ as an erotic filmmaker. Five years ago I set out to make my first film with a bunch of friends and one camera in my bedroom – a few award-winning films, one book, film compilation, documentary and many workshops later I am finally able to pass the batton on to the next generation of female erotic filmmakers. I am really proud that I was able to inspire these women and hope to be a catalyst for many more films that are being made. It is a great feeling that the genre ‘porn for women’ will continue to exist in Europe – even if I never did never shoot another film. We have done it – women are finding their visual language and expressing all their different fantasies on film. I am so glad I made my dreams come true and hope many women will do the same. Walt Disney used to say: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”; I say: “If you can dream it, you can shoot it!”.
All winning films will be published on my forthcoming compilation “Her Porn, volume2”. Out in Spring 2010. You can read more about the winners and their films, as well as viewing clips of the winners, at www.joyawards.com
PS: After I said at the event that I now want to focus on another matter close to me heart: the environment, rather than just and exclusively on ‘porn for women’, the rumour mill went into overdrive that this was my good-bye and I will never ever shoot another erotic film. This is not true. I would love to shoot another erotic film and hope to be able to finance it. But there are so many other talented women creating porn for women right now that it is OK for me to diversify which missions I use my talents for!
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all submitting filmmakers, my sponsor pjur and the pornfilmfest Berlin for being our host.