We can all agree on the fact that sexuality is something like nuclear energy. It’s dangerous, it’s incredibly powerful and even in our progressive society there are elements still regarded as taboo. Pornography might be considered one of them. That it exists and people find pleasure in it we have accepted, but the representation of gender roles or the discussion about good or bad porn is still a loaded topic. Last summer, at a friend’s place, I met Åssie Enoch a.k.a Lo-Fi Cherry a Swedish porn director and actress. She came across as a very joyful and innocent character and I was surprised to hear about her pornographic passion, as I hadn’t pictured her to have one. Embarrassed to admit that I unconsciously had made preconceived ideas about a person’s sexuality and neglected the pornographic imagination in this vision I happily accepted her invitation to the premiere party of her latest film. Her calmness and stirring talks about pornography and female sexuality intrigued me deeply that I quite fast asked her for an interview to understand better the female side of the pornographic imagination.
We grow up in a highly sexualized society and quite early we enter the sexual world to discover our appetite. When did you become interested in the pornographic world and how did it change you?
My fascination with porn started around the age of 16. We were living in the suburbs of Stockholm, in a nature-like landscape and at that time I started to live my own life more. Going out a lot in Stockholm, taking night buses that took double the time to bring me home but that created a space of freedom for me where I could do my own thing. Still this change in rhythm made me have sleepless nights. To get me through those nights I started to watch a lot of television at night. One night, I came across the porn channel by accident. It was blow-job scene, very mainstream, very boring, so I switched the channel thinking “god this sucks” and watched something else, probably boring too.
I later discovered that my body had reacted to this image. It made me very confused. In my mind nothing had happened, I even had thought of it as boring, still, physically I was in complete excitement. I wondered how this could have happened. Did the opposing reactions mean that I was unconsciously censoring myself? Because of this experience I started to watch more porn at night and my fascination with this genre was aroused.
One of the most prominent arguments against porn is the representation of gender roles. Were you as a 16-year old aware of this? And did this representation influence you?
I always saw myself as a feminist and was very conscious about gender roles in any representation. I didn’t see a difference between the unequal relationship of man and women presented in porn as it was presented in regular films. Maybe the only strong difference was that in porn it’s supposed to be sexy.
Only to me, in that age, it was not sexy, I didn’t like the blow-job scene but I was still intrigued by the effect of it. It became important to me to search for the thing that I did found sexy. You can say a lot about porn. I know there are a lot of bad things about how female roles or female genitalia are being exposed in mainstream porn, but I think, what is being undervalued in these arguments, and what for me was a very good thing, was that for the first time I could see everything of a female body. As a young girl how many times are you exposed to a front side vagina that is brightly lit? Never.
In porn you will be exposed to this, and this was very good education for me to get better contact with my own body. It actually helped me reach my very first orgasm. The discussions about good or bad porn can be very frustrating, especially when the arguments given are hold by people that never watch porn. At school people knew I was the sexual liberal one, in theater class I would half jokingly suggest to do erotic plays, they knew I was starting to get interested in this, but when I became more serious about it we would have a lot of discussions about that in porn you can never avoid the power relation and that good porn does not exist. Even in the beginning, when in the middle of the night I would sneak into the pool-house to watch porn, I would always deconstruct the image that I was seeing. I think many of my classmates didn’t understand that element and could only see the obvious bad things. To me it’s important to understand why you like something and why you don’t like something else. To very actively think for yourself as this can be of such help in your own sexual understanding.
How did the interest change that you wanted to become an active producer?
I am a person who wants to make their own things. In relation to porn I never saw myself as a pure consumer. It has probably to do with who I am, if I like something I will actively do it too. That’s how I started to make my own porn. Not so much out of political ideas, I didn’t feel like there was no good porn around and I had to start making that. When I discovered the Internet I realized that everything could be found there. To be honest every kind of porn that you can think of has already been made. For me, making porn was not about making something new or different, I was looking for the personal relation and the personal experiences with it.
What was your first porn like, and how would you describe your film style?
My first porn was very much me. I directed, played and wrote it. The movie was about two girls that got stuck in the bathroom. They get bored and start having sex. In my movies I use the setting as the storyline. The setting will tell quickly where the characters are and what the relationship is between the characters after that introduction you go to the sex part.
There are standard models to make mainstream porn and I think soon even for queer porn. You build up, you go down and you have an ending. I never used those models. I am formed by the way that I watch porn. On the Internet you go from one clip to another so you watch different phases. My films are always fragmentary shot, with no clear chronology or a big happy ending. They basically just end. I consume porn the way I make it and viceversa.
If you want to hear my opinion in the good or bad porn debate, from my perspective and for me personally, the only good porn is personal porn. This will always be new porn as it will be new to me. My goal is to let people find their own sexual expression. I show them mine and they might make their own version.
You’re not only directing but also acting in porn. How is it like to be completely exposed? And what do you think of the female body representation in porn?
It was not a strange development for me to play in a porn movie. I am very used to being exposed in theatrical ways and I remember very clearly that I took the decision of never being afraid to look or be ugly in pictures, or never being ashamed of doing weird stuff that happen spontaneously. I just decided not to care and I have no problem with being naked. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t have any insecurities. Like any other woman, I have things that I don’t like about my appearance, but I think I am not afraid of them anymore.
I once saw a series of pictures of a naked body similar to mine with the thing I hated the most about myself. In the picture it was highlighted and so beautiful shot that after 3 pictures I started to think that it looked beautiful. It’s important to acknowledge different body types and in my work I would never say no to a person because of the body, as it can influence our surroundings so deeply. If someone sees a body similar to theirs, it can change so much in the way they see themselves.
Your latest project is focused on the Japanese style Tentacle Porn. What is it about and what interests you about this genre?
With my latest project I am creating a new version of Tentacle Porn. This porn style started as a consequence of a new rule in Japan that said that penises could not be shown in film. In Japan this resulted in films with objects or monsters that had several tentacles that looked similar to penises but were not the real thing. I was very inspired when I discovered this genre. They build this fascinating monster that focuses on just one thing. Personally I find it very sexy when the focus is on our sex drive. Still it’s a monster creature that is taking women with force and, in this regard, you’re visualizing a different form of rape. Of course not in all of them, but in many you can see women crying and I didn’t like that at all.
Because of these negative elements, I started with this project. I questioned if the tentacle had to be always a penis. And it made me wonder: how would a female monster look like and what will her weapon be? Picturing her, I see a lot of sucking and squeezing devices, and not to forget all the slime and wetness that is typical for tentacle porn.
This became a huge project. If I wanted to build a female monster, I needed to know everything about the female anatomy. For example, I needed to know in detail how the clitoris looks like, how big it is, what it can do and why it acts like it acts. I have been doing a lot of research and now I feel the need to share all this new knowledge with people. In the end, with this project I went from making porn to educating others about the female anatomy.
How do you see the future of porn?
There is a big amateur/underground/queer movement and I believe that this stream will only grow bigger in the porn scene. They will become a strong force in making a different kind of porn. Only money you cannot earn with it, that is only possible for the big mainstream companies. It’s contradictory but still I think it’s important that the underground scene keep’s on challenging the male gaze and keeps on standing in opposition to the mainstream pornographic imagination.
Interview by Janet Morales
Header image by Alexa Vachon