Photography courtesy of Hailley Howard
We approached the oddly shaped building with freshly sun-soaked skin. Colorful graffiti splashed across aged cement greeting our curious eyes. As we entered the dimly lit venue, we were welcomed with warm smiles and directed towards the back where cardboard boxes filled with silicone dildos and branded can cooler awaited us.
After setting up, we explored what the walls around us held. A freshly shined poll, mid-century modern arm chairs, rustic wooden cabinets, and several rows of lonely seats in front of a large empty screen. There was a bustle of preparation and excitement hanging thick in the air.
At seven pm sharp several casually trendy folks started to spill in, stopping first to wet their whistle with complimentary kombucha and sake, then pausing to inhale the subtle seduction taking place around them. Heavy and hypnotizing beats oozed from the DJ booth as sensual dancers with partially exposed thongs slowly grinded and dropped to and from the floor.
The lights flickered as everyone was directed to take a seat. We didn't know quite what to expect, but we knew Erika Lust flew half-way around the world to debut her XConfessions series for the first time in the states. So we felt special.
Five short films took us on several different journeys. Filled with exquisite cinematography, tasteful tunes, and uniquely beautiful humans, her films flirted with compassion, humor, relatability, self exploration, and raw passion. Angling eroticism from a female perspective, these films were true pieces of art.
As Erika approached the stage, nodding and smiling at the standing ovation, she looked overcome with elation. She spoke about her role as an erotic film director, gracefully identifying porn as a discourse that connects sexuality, gender roles, and power play. The energy in the room was tangible, it filled up every corner and connected each individual through the common ideal of radical self expression.