Pretty much everyone is having sex. When we think about sex as more than just a man and a woman doing missionary, almost all of us are engaging in some form of sexual behaviour (both with ourselves and with other people). Sex is normal, and so media’s depictions of sex should be normal too. The current landscape of mainstream erotica is not normal. Not normal because it makes business out of ‘othering’, tabooing and objectifying almost everyone who isn’t a straight white male.
These depictions are being changed, as people are taking it upon themselves to democratize the space. From people creating and monetizing their own channels to honest conversations about sex with the youth (see Mums Make Porn), we’re slowly making moves towards looking at everyone’s body as normal instead of rendering people alternative.
This month we’re focusing on works of erotica that put a diverse array of people on the bill and focus the lens on female pleasure. We’re looking at erotica that recognizes sexuality as a spectrum and thinks about desire as normal.
PS: you’ll notice that none of the suggestions you’re about to read come from the African continent. That’s unfortunate, because sex is an African reality. Hopefully sometime soon more doors will open for Africans to articulate their experience of intimacy, sex, pleasure and sex work for the world to see.
The Crash Pad
Curated and directed by artist and cinematographer Shine Louise Houston: The Crash Pad is a series that prioritizes queer and trans people of colour, people with disabilities and older people. Houston describes it on Youtube as “amazingly hot hardcore indie feminist dyke porn, sure to appeal to anyone who likes seeing gorgeous women and queers do wonderfully nasty things to one another.”
The premise of the series is that there is an apartment in which all the most wonderful sex in the world lives. If you’re lucky enough to get the key to the apartment, you can enter and let yourself go. The scenes move from room to room, each disconnected from the last by its own unique story.
You can watch it here.
On the ‘about us’ page of their website, Slanted Tendency states: “no matter the fetish or fantasy, we believe sex is a vital expression of our collective humanity and are proud to produce content that is…unapologetically erotic”. Started by a queer woman of colour named Trick, the site is both a platform and a media house, featuring films produced by and starring gay/bi/trans and intersex peoples of diverse background. The site is currently on a production hiatus, but their older content is still available online, with a wide array of videos for your pleasure.
You can watch it here.
If you’ve ever thought about sending a risky text or DM, then xConfessions might be for you. Run by the Swedish feminist director Ericka Lust, xConfessions encourages viewers to delve into storytelling. How it works is that viewers leave anonymous confessions on the message board. Stories about older women, pregnant women, non-binary peoples etc all find their place on this message board. Each month, Lust and her team cherry pick two stories and turn them into short films. Lust’s work aims to prioritize the female body and female pleasure, and so in her stories: the ladies come first (both ways).
You can watch it here.
When we think about porn, our minds generally rush to a laptop or phone screen and a locked bedroom door. This is a project that takes pornography out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Bawdy Storytelling is a live-storytelling event that happens monthly in San Francisco. Here, regular folks, authors, poets, actors and comedians gather to tell stories about sex, kink, body image and gender. The stories range from salacious to tender, but all of them hone in on the idea of love, community and acceptance. For those of you who get turned on by the ear, the sessions are recorded and can be listened to through their podcast.
You can listen to it here.
The Colour of Kink
Black bodies have a complex relationship to pain and domination. For many, the idea of whips and chains conjures up memories of slavery and the abuse of black bodies by white society. Black communities are generally uncomfortable talking about sex, and much less comfortable with sexual diversity. In The Colour of Kink, academic Ariane Cruz works through the relationship between pain, power and pleasure in relation to black female sexuality. Cruz argues that BDSM is a place for black women to consider the complex nature of sexual practice. The book is made up of extensive archival research of the porn industry and interviews with black dominatrixes, sex workers and performers. It’s a really interesting read and a good place to start thinking about racialized sexuality and how we come to terms with our own wants and bodies.
You can read ‘The Colour of Kink’ here.
Or, buy the book here.
Most ‘clickbait pornography’ is either extreme hardcore or low-res amateur quality. Both get their clicks for a reason, but sometimes you might want to seem something that seems a little more realistic, honest and vulnerable. Bright Desire is that thing. Thought of as a ‘celebration of sex’, the videos are a collaborative process between videographers and real-life couples, focused on exploring intimacy, laughter, pleasure and realistic scenarios. Cute stuff.
You can watch it here.
The Peach Booth
Okay so, phone sex operators are kind of funny. It’s people sitting on a phone, describing sexual activities to people that they don’t really know and have little context for: possibly in strange accents. It’s also a type of sex work that seems distinctly vintage. The Peach Booth is the platform bringing it back. Essentially, subscribers will listen to recorded conversations between The Peach Booth’s operators and customers. The customers know they’re being recorded, so don’t worry about that.
You can subscribe here.
Honourable mentions go to:
- Slutever: a Vice docu-series hosted by Karley Sciortino. This is a show that explores various themes of sex as it relates to love, intimacy, relationships and work. Through the show, Sciortino takes you on a tour through Tokyo’s dildo bars, talks Cannabis Intimacy and chats with sex workers on how to enter the business.
Entry point: Inside the Controversial World of Medically Assisted Sex.
- Easy: this is a Netflix show about love, sex and relationships. Each episode focuses on a different person, couple or family working through their intimate relationships and complicated dynamics. Sometimes things go smoothly and sometimes they don’t. The show is well written, inclusive and it’s easy to binge watch over a couple of days.
Entry point: Season 1, Episode 2: Vegan Cinderella.