The women and men of Bagdad, Barcelona


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: 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.


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