Petra Joy, alternative and independent porn film maker since 2004, about masturbating men, sexual education, censorship, and female orgasms.
- Interview: Ute Gliwa
Images: Emma Watts / Petra Joy
"There is not only one kind of porn anymore. Many successful attempts to revolutionize and reinterpret the genre have been made."
Séparée: You are a pioneer of female porn. Were there women before you who worked that field?
In the US, they have had female porn directors since the late 80s. In Germany, there were only female filmmakers in the fetish and lesbian sections, but their films never appealed to the average heterosexual woman. This began to change just after 2000. In 2004 I filmed “Sexual Sushi”. With that, I guess I was the first in Germany.
Did you have role models among the American directrices?
I always loved the work of Annie Sprinkle and Candida Royalle who have been friends of mine up to this day, but what always annoyed the public and me was the look of the 80s. Candida Royalle managed to lay the focus on female lust and put a sense of humor into her films, but I did not like the fake-busted porn stars and the styling. I never intended to imitate her work. “Sexual Sushi” was just an experiment. I never said to myself that now I am starting my own porn film company. Even today I still say that it is the most expensive hobby in the world.
How did it all start?
Originally, I began with TV broadcasting. I made documentaries and in 2004 I began taking erotic pictures of women and couples. While doing so, the question arose if there were authentic and artistic films in that area, but I could not think of any. At that point I thought, well I have this little camcorder and I often go to sex parties and events, why not make my own film. And so “Sexual Sushi” was filmed together with a couple I knew well over the course of several weekends at my apartment. No crew, no make-up, no professional tone or light, just me and my camcorder. It was great fun but then it took ages before the film finally came out. I took a demo-reel to the Venus Fair in Berlin and was met with a wall of disapproval. What is this?, they said. You do not finish the scenes with a cum shot? You do not have porn stars? You have scenes with just silhouettes? It looks quite nice but we cannot sell it. Nobody would buy this. The retailers did not understand it at all. But despite all circumstances “Sexual Sushi” became a success. When the film made it into the first shops, the public decided to buy it. Today, eleven years later, I still sell it. It was just the right time for something different, sushi instead of hot dogs.
You work with your own personal fantasies and those of other women. Do they change over time or only the way you shoot them?
Most are the fantasies of the actresses or stories other women send to me. One woman, for instance, wrote that she has no partner and also does not want one. Instead, she books a male escort every three months and lets herself be spoiled in a 5-star-hotel. That inspired one scene I later filmed. It is so much fun visualizing other women's fantasies. One woman asked for a scene with two men who would also interact with each other. The actresses are extremely important because it is vital to show authentic lust. I would never book someone through an agency and ask for this and that. Usually people come to me and ask to perform and then I see who would go with whom.
What about your own sexual fantasies?
My personal fantasies do not change. I like to watch men masturbate. It is the tiny details every man does differently that still turn me on and that I still like to film. Having a woman at the center of the sex scene is also important to me. There will always be a heroine in my films, rather than a hero. I like to get what I want and I want women in general to get what they want. I also toy with clichés and turn them on their head. I think that also inspires viewers. Just to think differently. And maybe they will find that it is absolutely hot when their boyfriend walks in high heels through the bedroom.
How can you free porn of its dingy image and establish it as a legitimate film genre and as a part of sexual play for a wider audience?
I think I have already been contributing to this for the past years. Earlier, I called my films “Artcore”, later the label “women's porn” came up, but I am not happy with that title because my films are not just for women. They are made from a female perspective, but for everybody, whether man, woman, transgender or whatever. More and more filmmakers, female and male, stop filming with harsh lighting and legs spread open, but gently and with a nice blurred background. A lot of effort is made in that direction. I think the crossover, where one cannot be sure whether it is porn or art, is already happening; it's not just a future vision anymore. Many of these films are celebrated at a lot of festivals worldwide, which proves that films can be both explicit and beautiful at the same time.
The entire interview is to be read in Séparée International No.1.