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Lidia Ravviso, feminist porn director – Nake...

Lidia Ravviso, feminist porn director – Naked Interview

naked interview to Lidia Ravviso

The first time I read the name Lidia Ravviso, it was written in the caption of an Instagram post published by Erika Lust – director, screenwriter and producer who’s become an international reference for feminist pornography. The post was announcing the release of La fantasia di Beba (Beba’s fantasy), short film vaguely inspired by Italian erotic movies from the ’70s and ’80s that rewrites the sex worker narrative under a more empowering light.

 

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The film was directed by Lidia Ravviso for XConfessions, a crowd-sourced project by Erika Lust which consists of a collection of short porn films based on anonymous real sexual fantasies written by real people and submitted through the website.

Before that, Lidia Ravviso directed another short film for XConfessions: She Groped Me by the Groceries.

And before that, she was part of Le Ragazze del Porno, a collective of Italian female directors aimed at depicting human desire and sexuality – free from any kind of conditioning based on gender, sexual orientation, aesthetic stereotypes – through the production of a collection of porn shorts d’auteur. As a member of the collective, Lidia directed and co-wrote the film Insight with Slavina, Italian post-porn activist.

Venere-dormiente-Giorgione-
In the previous article, I tried to outline the context of what today is defined as feminist, ethical, independent, post- porn, and to show the work of Erika Lust: The other porn: feminist, ethical, independent

Her last stopover in the journey in the world of independent feminist porn is called Uncensored and is an interdisciplinary festival on art at the intersection of pornography and activism, curated by Lidia as artistic director. It will take place on 17th-18th-19th May 2019 in London, where she’s currently based, with a programme consisting of workshops, performances, talks, a party, a roundtable discussion, film events, a mixed media exhibition and film screenings.

When I’m the Ph and I arrived at Lidia’s place, I still didn’t know I was about to have the most interesting, smart, honest, bright conversation around porn I could have.

I am truly thankful to her for her time and words (and for not taking a rain check on the interview because of a cold she took).

Who’s Lidia Ravviso?
Actually, it’s the first time I’m asked this question. I’m not kidding, it’s the first time, so it’s difficult, I’m usually asked to answer “What’s porn for you?”
Who’s Lidia Ravviso? Lidia Ravviso is a lot of things, I hope, otherwise I’d be a boring person. I was born in Switzerland more than 40 years ago from Italian parents. I spent my childhood in Switzerland, then my parents split and I went to Italy – South Italy, Puglia. I moved to Rome to go to university and that’s where Lidia Ravviso was probably defined. I started to experience, through study but also with politics; I’ve been active in social centres for 20 years. It was also thanks to those experiences if I met the post-porn. Because I can’t say I make porn. Right in these days, I’m reading Stoya‘s book and I’m realising that we need to use these categories cautiously. I got into post-porn, into feminist porn, ethical porn, through a political path where I first met the fights for LGBT, queer rights, approaching a world that was new to me as someone coming from the South of Italy (despite having an open-minded family). People were starting to talk about porn, even within the feminist movement, where porn can be very controversial. So, who’s Lidia? After twenty years in Rome, Lidia got sick of Rome, of Italy; I started feeling trapped by that culture; after 20 years of political activism, I felt betrayed by myself, by my country, by the paths I was following. I’d had enough and I came to London.

Italy is no country for women and certainly not for pornography as we intend it

 

Was it limiting you from a professional point of view too?
Not in my experience with porn, which has been proceeding on its own. Living in Italy was limiting because of me being a woman. I realised that in some fields – partly because I was a woman, partly because I hadn’t the right connections, partly because I didn’t want those connections or I didn’t want to follow an unmeritocratic path that doesn’t value experience and skills – I was limited. And this is limiting a lot of colleagues, and that’s why I’m recently trying to work with female directors of photography; not because I’m obsessed with working with women but because I know they, as women, can count on fewer job opportunities. So when I work as a director or a producer, I try to get in touch with them. Italy is no country for women and certainly not for pornography as we intend it.
It’s no country for artists and creatives in general, I’m afraid.
Yeah. There’s no money, there’s not the right approach. One of the things that made me leave Italy was the lack of a meritocratic system. After years of hard work, it can be very frustrating.

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So how did you approach the industry of feminist/ethical/independent porn? Through your past as an activist?
Yes, especially in places like Forte Prenestino in Rome, where we shot the last film for Erika Lust. Together with other people, I started to get my hands on this men’s club of pornography. We started to meet directors, performers and activists from other countries. For me, a fundamental reference was Diana Pornoterrorista. I started meeting people who were dealing with these topics with a revolutionary approach that could become a means of liberation for us too. It was also when I met Slavina, performer and co-author of Insight. She was holding a workshop about porn/erotic writing for Italian filmmakers in Rome (even though
she lives in Barcelona). I don’t even remember how things happened, but it was there that I met all the women I formed the Italian collective Le Ragazze del Porno with. Monica Stambrini and Tiziana Lo Porto were working on a project called My Sex that involved also writers and actresses, and was born out of the need for reflecting on sexuality from a different point of view, that we can define as female. We wrote a lot and we put our writing into practice, shooting a couple of scenes. Then we decided to continue developing the project. We were talking about video production as the majority of us had cinema experience. The team of Le Ragazze del Porno was born: we launched a crowdfunding campaign that led to the production of two films: Insight [by Lidia Ravviso and Slavina] and Queen Kong, by Monica Stambrini, starring Italian pornstar Valentina Nappi. Slavina and I also presented a live version of Insight during last year’s Deep Trash here in London. 

Premio Miglior Cortometraggio Hacker Porn Film Festival
Hacker Porn Film Festival 2017 – Award for Best Italian Short won by INSIGHT film

How is feminist porn different from mainstream porn? And how do we want to call it?
I call it feminist porn because I claim my feminist path. I realise it can sound limiting for some, but I think it’s an inclusive approach even if many women don’t understand it yet. We can call it ethical porn, post-porn. What I always tried to do, both with Le Ragazze del Porno and then working for XConfessions, Erika Lust’s project, was to tell stories – with an explicit sexuality – focusing my attention (or obsession) on characters and actors.

 

We want to make cinema and tell stories. The sexual part of these stories shouldn't be neither the core nor the morbid aspect of the narrative.

 

And here’s where I ask you: what does it change in feminist porn compared to mainstream porn? The fantasies, the perspectives, the actors, the characters, the depiction of scenes…?
It’s the gaze that changes, according to me. The writer’s gaze, the director’s gaze and the producer’s gaze. And that different gaze influences the story, the selection of the actors and of the bodies you want to show. It changes the attention to quality, because I think porn was downgraded at some point, it was turned in sheer entertainment and left with only a masturbatory function. Case in point, I recently watched a documentary about Rocco Siffredi. His movies are shot with an entertainment purpose but I’ve seen some good scenes shot on his set by the documentary’s director. And there I thought See how the perspective changes? It’s not just about the female gaze, it’s about thinking We want to make cinema and tell stories. The sexual part of these stories should be neither the core nor the morbid aspect of the narrative. Of course, the moment I work on a project like XConfessions for Erika Lust, I know I have to deliver a porn scene, but that scene is part of a story. So the first motivation for me is to find the right story, the location, the actors and, if I like the whole thing, it’s also because there’s a sexual element that I have the opportunity to show from my own point of view, after discussing with the actors, because that’s the part of the film less detailed in the writing. The process is the same as that of any other movie. In the 70s, during the Golden Age of Porn, it was different, but afterwards, we gradually lost the care for storytelling.

I think now there’s porn on the one hand and erotic cinema on the other, with a huge gap in between.
Yes, I guess you’re right. There shouldn’t be such a sharp distinction.
If you want to find the element that makes the difference – beyond the storytelling and the quality – I think that’s the selection of the bodies. The body type, the sexuality portrayed, which in mainstream porn is ridiculous because it’s totally detached from reality.
If anything, porn sold an ideal, stereotypical body shape that’s now part of mainstream culture. When you see someone with that particular shape, you think of them like a “porn person”.

Lidia Ravviso

Today, porn is considered the place where young people learn about their sexuality. Should the porn film industry portray more real dynamics and try to create culture, somehow? What’s its function?
Well, I’m gonna say something in contradiction with what my fellow feminist pornographers think. I do not believe porn can replace sexual education. It’s a delusion and a joke. By working in this field – and I would never presume to say that I work in tout court porn, because it’s not – I’m lucky to be able to express my own language and to educate – in millions of quotation marks – according to my perspective. But sexual education comes from elsewhere. What we can do is trying to improve the conditions for the workers within this industry and present inspirational stories, but we cannot replace an education that’s missing from the family or from the school, and we simply cannot replace experience. Many young people watch porn without ever experiencing sex. I’m obviously not happy if they get a negative message, but at the same time, I’m also not for censoring that kind of porn we deem as wrong, that I, as a consumer, find arousing. Instead, we should contextualize porn. If you know what goes on behind a hardcore scene where the woman ends up head-in-toilet, if you watch the making of, if you hear from the interviews to actors, if you understand the context, that’s where it gets educational. So the problem comes from the distribution. But about the fact that porn leaves individual sexual fantasies out, I can’t deny that what Lidia Ravviso searches on Youporn might sound shocking to you if you think of me as a feminist pornographer. But my political position is one thing; another thing are my sexual fantasies; another thing are the films I want to produce. I assure you that what I search for is not feminist at all.

I couldn’t wish for a better answer. I totally agree with you and I think sexual education is failing in its responsibility to explain what porn and sex are. We can work to make porn more diverse in the scenes and in the bodies portrayed, we can show the making of and everything there’s behind the porn production, the respect, the attention to safety and consent.
I’m looking with great interest at gender-neutral school education in north European countries. It’s also fundamental that companies take responsibility for getting rid of actors who don’t respect safewords. I saw James Deen [well-known American pornstar accused of sexual abuse by his former girlfriend Stoya first and then by other performers in the industry] was welcomed back by the same companies that had put him in the black book. This is wrong for the message of consent and safety. But the portrayal of some sexual fantasies is an issue related to censorship.

Intervista-nuda-Lidia-Ravviso

What do you think is the general perception of feminist porn today?
It’s a positive perception in the sense that people are curious. I can see different reactions in Italy and in the UK. In Italy, when I talk about it with men, the majority says ” great! Can I be an actor?” The message I get is that – for the simple fact of having a penis between their legs – they think they can be actors or that the joke is funny, which tells me they have no respect and no knowledge of my job. People are more polite here [in the UK], so they don’t make these jokes. Jokes aside, I think there’s great curiosity around it. If some people already have some kind of prejudice towards this topic or towards women dealing with this topic, there’s little we can do. The Italian experience with Le Ragazze del Porno (in English, The Girls of Porn) was quite ridiculous: we attracted a great deal of attention but ultimately, no one wanted to produce these films or to expose themselves in person. The interest is often kind of morbid. It’s probably a first step, people need time to engage with this topic. I believe people understand we’re working with a different kind of language but I don’t know to what extent, honestly. Here it’s more common. When I say I work for Erika Lust, everyone in the UK knows who she is. While I first avoided mentioning that during the job interviews, now I’m realising people think it’s kind of cool that you work for Erika Lust, because they read about her on Vice, they saw her in a documentary on Netflix. Like everything else, when it gets popular everyone stops questioning.

Are there myths we need to debunk? Is feminist porn perceived as soft or ‘for women only’?
Yeah, I heard this so many times but, I must say, only in Italy, unfortunately. “It’s porn for bored housewives”. That’s why, when I shoot sex scenes – I realised this by looking back at works like She Groped Me by the Groceries, which is not exactly hardcore but it’s not even soft porn – I’m very careful about this aspect. I like hardcore, and I deliberately want to experiment with it.

And in fact, I appreciated the fact you never distort the nature of porn. That’s porn, period.
Yes. Clearly, it was different with Insight as it’s focused on female masturbation. Some thought “she doesn’t have the guts, she wants to make soft porn”. It’s not that. I was interested in female masturbation because it’s something missing from mainstream porn, I couldn’t see it like I wanted to. I had chosen a story about voyeurism, about observing and being observed, something half-cinema half-porn. I had no interest in featuring penetration, that was not functional to the story. And yet the first critique (from women and colleagues too) was “she wanted to make it soft”. The story required that approach, which wasn’t that soft considering that many of my (male, hetero) friends felt disgusted by this gynaecological close view of the cunt. They were shocked because that was something missing from mainstream porn.

Intervista-nuda-Lidia-Ravviso

Does this overexposure to pornography and sexuality enrich or impoverish your private sexual life?
It’s an enrichment for my research and what I still have to discover and experience. For example, this year I’m getting closer to fetish. But it’s challenging my libido. During pre-production, production and editing phases, I can’t even think about sex. That’s bad.
Here’s a funny anecdote. In She Groped Me by the Groceries there’s a scene where she’s holding on to a beam. I strongly wanted it to be in the film but it was nearly impossible to do, because of the venue size. We had to use two hooks. And Luke [Hotrod] didn’t want to shoot it and kept saying “my dick can’t go in diagonally that way”. And I was saying “We can do it, listen to me”. So then he said “Ok, let’s try it” – “Who?” – “You and me”. with our clothes on, obviously. But there was a moment I felt a thrill. This is stupid, anyway.
Well, we are human after all.
Yes, well, I choose the actors to be likeable, I obviously have no emotion or involvement towards them whatsoever. If I chose Luke Hotrod is because, for one, he was perfect for the story as I was looking for a British guy, kind of rough. He has a great expressive face. The same for Magena Yama. I looked for her for long, I literally stalked her. I found this model and I thought she was just wonderful, I liked her a lot but I didn’t have the heart to ask if she would have done porn, knowing she never did it before. At a certain point, I had a terrifying nightmare about her and an apocalypse crashing down upon me, so I pulled back from contacting her. Here come the southern roots that make me superstitious. But then I decided to take the plunge, she had the right face. I reached out to her “Hi, it’s Lidia, I’d like to shoot this film for Erika Lust, I know you never did porn, sorry to ask you this”. You never know how a person is gonna take it. But she said yes right away.

Intervista-nuda-Lidia-Ravviso

Let’s talk about your collaboration with Erika Lust, which has now become a reference: today feminist porn is Erika Lust. How is it working for Erika Lust? Are there some guidelines? What happens when you enter the world of Erika Lust?
I’m not saying this because I’m in front of the camera, but I consider myself lucky, you couldn’t have a better producer. I really say it with all my heart. How is it working for Erika Lust? Well, we happened to get in touch after I made Insight with Le Ragazze del Porno; she saw it and proposed us to have it distributed on her website. She also has an open call for guest directors. In my case, it was easier because she already knew me and my work. You can submit your story, your ideas about actors, location, et cetera. If your idea is good, the company will set a budget to make it into a short film. About the guidelines… I actually don’t know. They probably handed me a sheet with them. But since we really are on the same page… I mean, it’s clearly a production of a porn film where you’re not going to tell an experience of abuse. As a director, it’s ideal to work for a producer who doesn’t get in your way and doesn’t check on you every two seconds. There’s a high level of trust, which is also a risk for them, I really appreciated this, it means you can relax. So there aren’t strict guidelines. Obviously, you have to deliver a sex scene, otherwise it wouldn’t be called porn. The very fundamental aspect is the actors’ safety, so the tests, analysis, they check everything and I do the same. And there has to be a good atmosphere, they said this several times. You have to open a discussion with your performers. I became friend with Magena, I find it extremely important to discuss with the actors, I’m interested in their point of view. I always did it naturally. And we have to admit Erika is really leaving a sign in this industry. She had the intelligence to open to others. When she gained popularity, she started to involve more and more artists and to experiment with new languages. There’s also a part of XConfessions open to photographers and illustrators.

 

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I really like it. She didn’t create a stereotype.
No, it’s a pleasure working with this production. They don’t force you to do anything you don’t want to. There was an issue with La Fantasia di Beba, not with the story though but with its topic. Dealing with the depiction of sex working, we realised we should have built a conversation around. Working with Erika, in this specific context, was an added value. We didn’t want anybody to feel offended, either from a feminist point of view or for people working with sex. Erika Lust called Isa Mazzei, who wrote the screenplay for Cam, a successful film by Netflix. As a former sex worker who’s now working as a screenwriter, she wrote an essay for Erika’s blog that contributed to expanding the conversation. There was a great sense of responsibility, both from my part and from the production, of saying we are dealing with this topic, let’s approach it with caution. It was important also for my political path, because if a fellow feminist says to me “I find it offensive” I can’t let it roll off my back. At the same time, I’ve got my own artistic vision, which I defended from people who thought the story was offensive and not empowering from a female point of view, even before I shot the film. There was also an issue with the dialogue between the performers. For me, it’s very authentic. Maybe it’s more understandable for people who come from Rome and from Italy. She talks in a certain way that’s very realistic, it’s not my job to sugar the pill. There’s also a friend of mine I don’t talk to anymore, for the sole fact of reading the story, without even watching the film. I’ve been told that since I don’t have an experience of sex working I can’t talk about it. I find it stupid. In the past, I shot a documentary about Palestine and I’m clearly not Palestinian, but what does it mean? What am I supposed to talk about as a filmmaker? I agree with the fact that there has to be special attention to the research. Otherwise what would be my work as a director? I think it’s important to respect intellectual honesty.

I forgot to ask you a question, then we get back to sex working. Since feminist porn is quite recent, what are your main references in filmmaking?
I don’t refer to porn cinema or feminist porn. I refer to the cinema in general. My references are completely different. For Beba it was different because I clearly had Tinto Brass in mind for his work with photography.

I’m gonna stop you right there. La fantasia di Beba (Beba’s fantasy).
By the way, all the films for XConfessions are based on fantasies submitted by people. Is it the same for La fantasia di Beba?
No, it depends on the project. In this case, the film is based on a short story by Agnese Trocchi who wrote a book about 69 beautiful erotic stories. I found the story of Beba and I submitted it to Erika because I liked it.
She Groped Me by the Groceries, for instance, is born out of a story written by a user on the XConfessions website. I don’t know who he is, I’m guessing he’s an Italian guy whose nickname is dieyoungstaypretty and writes incredible stories. There’s actually another story I read and I’d like to turn into a film.
Did you talk with him?
No because you don’t know who they are. You don’t get in contact with the author. In fact, some days ago, I was going through the comments posted on XConfessions about Beba, then I went to check also She Groped Me by the Groceries and I found a message of him saying I really loved it! Thanks for making this true. I was so thrilled. I know he is a guy for a detail I don’t remember now. And his story was in the Italian section so I suppose he’s Italian. His stories are really beautiful.
And you feel the responsibility for turning them into films?
Absolutely. For She Groped Me by the Groceries, I added the final recipe that wasn’t in the story.
How much do you change?
I work a lot on the screenplay, I make changes. The story was exactly the same, a girl and a guy meeting at a supermarket et cetera. In times of Brexit, I decided to make fun of the Brits and their food. That was my frivolous motivation to make some changes.

 

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Let’s keep talking about La fantasia di Beba, which sort of pay homage to the Italian erotic movies from the 70s and 80s and Tinto Brass’ work.
I’m actually ashamed they referred to him, I didn’t want his name to come out but I happened to mention him at some point.
So now you have to thank Tinto Brass.
He’s going to kill me if she finds me!

Since this thing came up, you now have to answer my questions.

What did you bring into La fantasia di Beba from Tinto Brass’ Italian erotic cinema?
The colours, its sensuality, the irony of the characters. To me, the dialogue, that someone might find offensive, is absolutely ironic. And of course, Tinto Brass brought the sex worker character into the cinema. I keep a distance from that as well as from Bunuel and many others who are still great masters, so I’m also kind of embarrassed to say “I keep a distance”. But the truth is, I loved their movies, they have my greatest respect, but there was something that didn’t feel right in the depiction of sex workers. It’s actually less perceivable in Tinto Brass’ films thanks to a certain sense of lightness and vibrancy. But you can sense his male gaze (that I like a lot). In the occasion of my film, I watch the movie Monella again. It’s probably the one that mine reminds the most for the use of colours. But I raise my hands, Tinto Brass is a great artist. But still, it’s true what we discussed with the team of Erika: there are several ways to portray the sex worker in cinema and a particular male gaze has often trapped these characters in a story that’s weak compared to them. Luis Bunuel’s film Belle de Jour has the same problem. It’s also a matter of time, of the directors from that time. Men have always been given more space to express their perspective. But the cinematographic work of Tinto Brass is a great resource for the Italian cinema.

We also watched Paprika before this interview. I love the way he uses music.
Tinto Brass is amazing. His photography…
In the comments under Beba there’s one from a guy who talks about Tinto Brass saying he loves his films but also likes both the facts that I used them as a reference and I critiqued their perspective. Another one wrote the film made him/her want to eat ice cream by the sea [this refers to the final scene where Beba is eating ice cream on the beach. In Italy, eroticism also goes through an ice cream ate on the beach, the sand, the sun burning the skin… things that inform your erotic imagery if you’re from a Mediterranean country. And Tinto Brass was able to frame it. Also in the open landscapes, the greenery…
That you featured as well.
Yes. But I did it partially unconsciously, it was inside of me. When I talked with the director of photography I said her to pay attention to Tinto Brass as a reference, but I wasn’t thinking about his work while I was shooting. Not even when I chose the dress of Beba, which according to several people it reminds of the skirt of Monella. I didn’t think of that, it was probably inside of me.

 

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What is it that makes La fantasia di Beba a feminist porn film as opposed to Tinto Brass’ movies?
Her self-determination, her consciousness of dealing with a potentially dangerous experience. Any woman who decides to walk in the street alone will be approached by someone who will ask her “who do you belong to?” or “if you don’t belong to anybody you’re mine”. We don’t really know if Beba is actually choosing prostitution. That’s why that final: you can use the money to buy you an ice cream. It can be irreverent as the money exchange implies you need that money. This can be the delicate element, more than the fact that I’m not a sex worker. This is what’s important to me: the freedom of self-determination and the control over your own body. Prostitution is also a fantasy. The film’s called La fantasia di Beba and this is an even more sensitive matter, offensive to some, that one person’s necessity can be another person’s fantasy. But we can’t deny it, we can’t censor it.

As regards the subject of sex working, do you think a more accurate representation in cinema might improve the perception of sex work and of the sex worker character in real life?
Yes, everything coming from the media, entertainment, naturally shapes our imagery. To some, sex work is something far away. Unfortunately, the cinema cannot replace other types of education. Also Cam, the movie written by Isa Mazzei, sheds new light on the cam girl character, showing the daily life, the everyday problems. It’s a very demanding job.
In that case, the protagonist chooses to keep doing her job despite the fact it almost destroyed her life.
Yes, I really appreciated the final.
Usually, the sex worker is weak, gets victimised and succumbs. In that case, she was about to succumb after losing control of her identity, which is something important for a cam girl. If you’re not always connected you end up losing your public. It’s something difficult to deal with in your private life. The final scene of the film is very honest. Works like that contribute to expanding the conversation around sex work.

Intervista-nuda-Lidia-RavvisoWe, as actresses, are worth nothing, but the books deserve attention: Philosophy, Pussycats, and Porn by Stoya; Good Porn. A Woman’s Guide, by Erika Lust

Have you an ideal public in mind when you direct a film?
No, never, I never thought about the public now that you make me think about it. With Beba I was worried because of the topic of sex work. I wondered What a sex worker will think of that? And I quivered because I want to be respectful towards certain choices. As per the gender, I never refer to one or another. I’m sure that if I put on stage something I find exciting, I’ll probably find other people likeminded. I shoot the scene I want to watch. I had to fight during the editing because I always want to see the moment right before penetration, the second right before the penis enters into the vagina. That’s the most erotic moment for me, I’d watch it in a loop, I don’t know why. So when I’m shooting the penetration act I’m very careful.
So you are your first public.
Yep!

What’s the perception of a female director in the porn environment?
There’s no problem in feminist porn. We are kind of aliens. I also worked as an operator (without putting my name) in a mainstream context – it was actually cheap amateur porn. They are two different worlds. There’s a very little room for women in mainstream porn. Inside feminist porn, post-porn, it’s an added value, it feels stranger to see a man working on it. Aside from feminist porn, it’s like any other field. It depends especially on the cultural and political context. There’s a big difference between Italy and the UK. I was watching a documentary on Netflix where the first episode was about Erika Lust and another American porn director.
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On! We watched it too.
If you compare the American director [Holy Randall] to Erika Lust, you get two totally different feedbacks. The former is desperate and you realise there’s no room for her vision, her ideas, despite the fact she already has a name [she’s daughter to Suze Randall, the first female staff photographer for both Playboy and Hustler and one of the early female porn film directors]. The latter is on the rise and her business keeps growing. Then there’s Stoya, who launched her own production company. Things are changing but it’s going to take some time before mainstream will welcome new inputs from other experiences. As long as mainstream porn keeps letting people like James Deen work, I don’t see this changing.

 

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Is feminist porn the porn of the future?
No, it’s not.
We’ll never get there, do we?
No way. It also depends on what we mean by feminist porn.
From my point of view, it’s simply diverse porn. The diversity brought in the mainstream.
Let’s say that the approach of feminist porn gets incorporated. This is already happening somehow. If you see the work of Stoya as director and producer, it’s still porn entertainment but you understand the performers’ work conditions are different. But this is not thanks to feminist porn, it’s thank to people like Stoya, who reported what was going on on set. It’s thanks to all the pornstars like her who have to deal with everyday joys and sorrows of this job. I’m just an outsider, I work on something else, porn is just a part of my job. Stoya is changing things showing how sexist and hostile is the porn environment, so much that pornstars find hard to be believed when there’s a problem of abuse or lack of consent. These women who are speaking out are changing things. A person like Valentina Nappi doesn’t help, she destroys. I’m not saying this because I’m against her or her movies, that are of the same kind of Stoya’s. But Stoya admits her politics and her position are feminist and her movies aren’t; Valentina Nappi says that if you get abused it’s feminists fault. That’s the death of porn intended as a cinema genre and as a community; it’s the death of porn as a context where to build a culture of consent and respect. Valentina Nappi is the reason why Le Ragazze del Porno split. Influent people of this industry can make a difference. I can’t because I don’t count shit. Erika can because she built a huge production company and has a say. But still, young people don’t watch her porn, they don’t even know who Erika Lust is. Rocco Siffredi can. In his last film, he subverts his whole career. He’s almost the creator of hardcore porn where women get submitted and the scenes are pretty violent. But if you look at the context you realise everything is fine. In his last film, he submits and gets crucified. It’s also funny because it looks like he really can’t get rid of this Catholic heritage, not even after 30 years or so of porn, and he needs to become a martyr to be validated. It looks like a great sense of guilt. But at the end of his career, he switches the perspective and let women crucify him. So I don’t know what future porn will be like. I’d like to see all the different types of porn portrayed, included the hardcore one. and I wish there will be more attention to context, communication, distribution and work with the performers.
The more violent contents have to be included because some people like them.

Intervista-nuda-Lidia-Ravviso

Do you like working as a porn director?
Yes, my dream is to do just this, I’m not kidding. I also work on other projects about sexuality, but I wish I could live on just porn films.

Are you working on other short films for Erika Lust?
Yes, I’m writing two other shorts.

Future projects?
One, in particular, I especially care for. I spent 9 months writing a project about a festival with two other people. We started a conversation around censorship. In 2014, in the UK a ban targeted female pleasure in port without keeping into account the only parameter that should count in porn production as well as in everyone’s sex life: consent. It banned acts practices like female ejaculation and facesitting, which is considered “life-endangering”. We also realised there was no culture of sex practices as a means for connecting people, prevent the culture of abuse and build a culture of consent..

UNCENSORED-festival-porn-activism-London

We decided to put together individual experiences born in the UK and people who are trying to make the context around porn more accessible and open. Our festival will host the Sex School project team who’s working on this. Then there will be Vex Ashley, producer of Four Chambers, who was censored. This is the most important project at the moment. I’m involved not as a filmmaker but as the artistic director. Porn to me is a community that grows and moves through cinema production but also performance art, activism, all aspects we put into the festival that will happen in London on the 17th, 18th, 19th of May. Now my calendar is public, I can’t mess up.

Thank you.

 

*In 2014, British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) required that on-demand online porn adhered to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn, banning some acts deemed as ‘not acceptable’ content from being depicted by British pornography producers. The list of acts includes spanking, caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object “associated with violence”, physical or verbal abuse (regardless of  if consensual), urolagnia, role-playing as non-adults, physical restraint, humiliation, female ejaculation, strangulation, facesitting and fisting, with the final three marked as potentially “life-endangering”.

The ban was accused of being sexist and targeting female pleasure as for all the banned female practices there was no mention of the male equivalent (no male ejaculation, no “life-endangering” forced fellatio, no practice potentially dangerous for the female partner as double anal penetration).


naked interview to Lidia Ravviso
naked interview to Lidia Ravviso

 


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