Undressed Reviews
Barcelona Sex Project by Erika Lust

Barcelona Sex Project by Erika Lust


Of the five videos we received from Blowfish, we were the most genuinely interested in Erika Lust’sBarcelona Sex Project, claiming to offer “six portraits of true intimacy, personal interviews, and real orgasms”. Underneath the description of the film and a brief mention of Erika Lust’s awards and acclaims, there is a section headed with “We Care”, which states that Lust Films of Barcelona (co-founded by Erika Lust) “supports NGOs combating sexual exploitations and fighting for human rights for women” by contributing 5% of their film’s revenue to Coalition Against Trafficking Women, Equality Now, and Womankind Worldwide. Pretty swank. It wouldn’t be your average porn, that’s for sure.

Each participant – three men and three women – sat on a stool amidst a completely white background and spoke candidly about his or her life, including jobs, hobbies, romantic interests, pets, and other comfortable, casual subjects. They were also allowed to bring a camera so that they might offer the viewer an extra peek into their intimate, everyday lives. Then, after the some more sexual questioning about masturbation and fantasies, we get onto the masturbation.

The settings, although sparse, are carefully chosen to create a clean, stylish sense of place, separate from “normal” life. I can imagine that masturbating and achieving orgasm on camera is not terribly easy, especially if someone needs to come in and powder your forehead, but based on the behind-the-scenes footage, Erika Lust and all of her crew appeared to approach the work in a very encouraging way, with humor and consideration.

Admittedly, the interviewing sequence can be a little boring at times because just like in real, regular old life, you simply can’t be interested in everyone you meet. Some people just don’t do it for you. However, if nothing else, I could imagine him or her naked or masturbating, then compare that with the semi-orchestrated reality of the screen. As an American who has never been outside of the U.S. and Canada, it was also interesting to see a film made in another country with an emphasis on the inhabitants and how they live, sexually and non-sexually.

I spent a good portion of the film and thereafter comparing and contrasting in my mind, on various levels, and much less of it feeling extensively turned on. It may be because I do not fantasize much about other people masturbating alone. I am much more turned on by watching the interactions of two, three, four, etc. individuals, or if someone’s masturbating could mean some play for me. So while I could recognize that certain portions were hot, I still did not feel inclined to whip out the Hitachi and buzz myself to bliss.

If you enjoy watching people masturbate, and especially the idea of gorgeous, “average” people masturbating, then this DVD will probably be more than thought provoking for you. It contains none of the ugly, mainstream porn aesthetic (brownie points, indeed) and, best of all, the atmosphere is one of respect and positivity. Fabulous.

As a writer, director, producer, and activist encouraging a positive, feminist perspective on sexuality, Erika Lust has been added to my mental list of people who should be paid attention to, and most definitely adored.


Because of my overall distaste for porn, this film was the one that I was most interested in out of the movies that Blowfish sent to us.

Since the breadth of how it is different from a typical porn case (hot blank on blank action) is covered quite well in Her review, I will just say that to me it reads more like a documentary complete with obligatory percentage to charity. Which is good. Which is fucking awesome.

After watching it, I maintain that it is more of a documentary than a porn. I guess you could call it an orgasm documentary. I think that the interview portion before the self therapy commences is wonderful. At first I actually liked the candid interviews better than watching people gild the lily.

As I watched on I became more pleased with the pleasing oneself section. I originally liked the interview part better because I felt more of a connection with the individuals talking about their jobs, family, day-to-day lives, etc than when they were beating around the bush (Get it? Huh, huh?). However, after seeing a few of them churn the mayo, I felt like both sections were equally intimate.

The fact that I thought listening to these people answer some fairly cursory questions was more intimate that watching them masturbate is a good illustration of what I have come to expect from porn. After seeing countless people have sex on screen, I began to feel more and more detached from them. And it is not hard to see why. Traditional porn does nothing to try and make the experience feel organic or intimate at all. The average porn scene is full of fake body parts, fake noises, fake sentiment, and fake standards. Being contrived and ridiculous is now a standard. I’ve come to associate porn with detachment so strongly that I don’t even expect a sex scene to be interesting anymore.

The Barcelona Sex Project was just the opposite. Care was taken to make these scenes feel natural. The people were encouraged to do whatever they wanted, they brought their own toys from home and the sets were carefully matched to each person’s personality. All of this care and personality really shines through and by the second half of the film, I was enthralled by the wankin’ scenes because it felt like an extension of the interview, like another bit of that person’s personality rather than a calculated bit of pornography.

Erika Lust single handedly revived my hopes for porn. With more people like her behind the action, porn could eventually become something worthy of attention and respect. It could become the art form that it should be. Sex is beautiful, intimacy is beautiful, film can be beautiful so it stands to reason that porn should be beautiful instead of the garish and exploitative thing that it is.

God’s speed Miss Lust.