Beyond the Porno-Manifesto...
Ovidie - French adult-movie-star and feminist pro-porn-activist
Q&A by Martin Kreischer via Email in January 2005.
1. According to your biography your interest in pornography started ex negativo: out of a classical feminist critic of pornography. How did your attitude change back then?
When I was younger (almost ten years ago) I was involved in anarchist / feminist movement. I left them because : - They didn't know what they were talking about. Especially about porn, they thought they were able to write texts against porn but they didn't know anything about this. They write feminist theories after watching one or two movies and say "porn is always like this, and always like that...". Someone like me is able to talk or to write about porn. Why ? Because it has been my job first as an actress, then as a director, and now as a producer, for more than 6 years. Because I've watched thousands of movies and have an excellent culture about this. Since 1969, about 200 000 porn movies have been directed. How feminists could write theories after watching two or three movies ??? Contrary to them, I'm able to make a difference between interesting directors and bad directors, feminist movies and misogynist movies, good plots and bad plots, etc... - They don't follow their own desires even if they say they are anarchists. They are submitted to their politically correct dogmas. - Most of them are anarchists until they are 25 or 30 (usually when they are students, when they don't work and pay taxes, and when dad and mom pay their studies), not more. Those who are still anarchists after 30 are jobless losers (excepted for those who try to create their own community). I don't think it's a revolution to live stealing and receiving social aids.
2. Is there a porno-prototype for you, someone you’re are especially interested in?
Annie Sprinkle is the porn-star I admire the most for years. I also admire Candida Royalle and Véronica Vera. Because those women were the first porn-stars who directed their own "women-friendly" porn-movies 25 years ago. They destroyed the usual idea that porn is made by men for a male audience. They created the pro-sex feminism movement and never rejected prostitutes feminist movement, even if they were not doing the same job (excepted for Annie Sprinkle who also experimented prostitution for 18 years). They also proved that porn and art could be mixed when they signed the "Post-Porn-Modernist Manifesto" with other women. Annie Sprinkle is now a sex-educator PHD.
3. What do you think about the extremely misogynist and violent films Rocco Siffredi and John Stagliano, e.g. ANIMAL TRAINER or FASHIONISTAS?
When I was an actress, I acted in a movie directed by Rocco. Of course it was a girl/girl scene, not a heterosexual scene because I was not working without condom (and Rocco's movies are condom-less) and because I didn't accept anal intercourse (I was the only actress in Europe who refused anal sex and worked with condom only). Rocco was charming and very respectful with the actresses. About Stagliano, I never met him. Of course I watched many of his movies because I was curious. Once he produced a movie made by Tristan Taormino who is also a pro-sex feminist. So I don't know if he's really misogynist. Anyway, I'm just shocked that today's porn is only about incredible anal scenes. And it's true that Rocco's and Stagliano's movies are only about butthole. Anal sex is something you do with someone you trust, you don't do it every time you fuck, most of the women (or men) don't do it as strong as you can see in films, and usually it's something you try when you feel experienced enough (not when you're 18). I think this could be traumatizing for young people who are discovering their sexuality - to imagine that fucking with someone always ends in the ass and that it is "normal" to ejaculate on woman's face. Those are fantasies you can enjoy with your regular partner because nothing's taboo when you're in love, but it is not "usual".
4. In your own film sometimes condoms are used, but not always. Could you comment on your perspective concerning safer sex and contemporary pornography?
In my own films, I mean in the movies I direct, condoms are ALWAYS used. Excepted for actors who are real couples in their intimacy. I also ask my actors to bring a one-week-old HIV test. As an actress, I always worked with condoms + tests, excepted for my very first movie when I was 18. I did one without, and about 60 with. I created a very small movement in France and other actresses also started to ask for condoms. But now it's over. A new actress who would hope to follow a condom-only career will be jobless. Nobody works with condom anymore.
5. Early in your career you appeared in a s&m-sex-scene in Jean-Jacques Beineix’ comedy thriller MORTEL TRANSFER (picture above). How did this come about?
I met him and we enjoyed talking to each other. He decided that I would act this small role. I'm still in contact with him.
6. Later you had a bigger role in THE PORNOGRAPHER with Jean-Pierre Léaud. Do you consider this a meta-film commenting on your usual role as a ‘pornographer’ yourself?
It's a fiction. And I acted a role in this movie, I was not myself. There is no link between this movie and the reality of my job as pornographer. And the director didn't mean to make a kind of "documentary" because he admitted he didn't know anything about porn business. The plot is more about the relationship between a father and his son than about porn-business.
7. Do you think that Pornography is a dead end for many people starting their career in this business, never to be able to get out?
Yes I think so. Only the more intelligent people like Brigitte Lahaie in France or Annie Sprinkle and others in U.S. are able to follow an interesting career even they are now 45 / 50 years old. I think I'm following there steps with my sex-educator job and my books. But we all know that it is impossible to definitively leave the "sexual area". I mean, I'll never be a famous mainstream actress or director because I come from Porn. I'll never have a "classic" job. I've been obliged to stop my philosophy studies because I was "Ovidie" and not a normal student. I'll be Ovidie all my life. Especially in France where I can't even go shopping alone because of my fame there.
8. What was the thing you hated most about the business?
I never hated people involved in porn business. But I do hate people in the street, people who talk behind my back, men who imagine that I'm not loyal and try to seduce me even if they know I'm sharing my life with someone, men who ask me if I could fuck with them for money, feminists who pretend to know better than me what Porn is, people who imagine that you start porn because you need money or because you're sex-addict, people who believe that every pornstars have been raped when they were younger, people who think that you are talent-less, etc...
9. Do you plan to appear in other more arthouse films?
I already did. Especially in short movies or music video clip. I'm preparing a vampire movie with Jean Rollin where I'll act the leading role.
10. Are you in contact with other transgressive filmmakers
France is a small country. I'm in contact with Catherine Breillat, I met her many times. I'm not fond of her movies but I respect her. I met once Gaspar Noé during a party and I didn't even want to shake his hand. I'm deeply shocked by his movies, and especially IRRÉVERSIBLE. He's obsessed by his butthole (many of his movies talk about butthole) and he's really aroused by sexual violence. I'm sure he was aroused during the shooting of the rape scene with Bellucci. Those kind of movies are dangerous, much more than any porn movie.
11. What did you think about BAISE-MOI as kind of
I know very well Coralie Trinh Thi (the co-director). I also know Raphaella (actress). Karen (the other actress) recently died, she committed suicide. I don't know very well Virginie Despentes but I already met her. I respect their movie. Most of the people involved in this movie come from porn business. They are sincere and really tried to do their best. I don't think it is THE movie of the decade, but it was at least interesting. It remained me 80's underground movies.
12. Unfortunately your book “Porno manifesto” is not translated into English or German so far. Could you please comment on what your aim was when publishing it? Whom did you want to reach? How were the reactions you received?
Yes, unfortunately... I don't understand why... It has been well sold also in Italy... I wrote this text because I was angry. Angry toward the ignorance. Journalist's ignorance, feminist's ignorance, sociologist's ignorance, everyone's ignorance. I think my book is the less stupid book written in France about Porn. Why ? Because I was the only one who decided to get a porn culture before writing something about this. Most of the people have an opinion about porn even if they don't know anything. Would journalists write a book about Chinese cinema if they only watched two or even ten movies ? No. So, why do they write books about porn ?
13. Is there anything in your career which you regret today?
I regret I never can feel safe when I'm alone in the street.
14. Did your decision to become a porn-actress affect your relationship to your husband?
At the beginning he was jealous. Then he came to a set once and he understood that a professional shooting is a place where you work, not where you fuck. My job never affected our relationship. Anyway, we had many other problems and we are divorced.
15. Concerning the interview with Geoffroy D. of the French military-pop-band Dernier Volonté – are you generally attached to the Gothic/Industrial underground?
I'm interested in the gothic-industrial underground. But I'm not a "fan". I really love very few bands. But I also listen to other kind of music : 60's garage, psychobilly, Oï! music, and even disco ! I did this interview with Geoffroy because I really enjoyed his music. I thought he had a wonderful voice and I was curious because he was French and he never did any gig in France. We didn't know each other at this time : I knew his music, and he saw me in many TV shows, but we never met before.
16. You have some piercings and tattoos. Do you have a further interest in modern-primitive body techniques? How your work for the porno business affect the view on your own body?
No, I'm not especially interested. It's only joking. I pierced my nose with a ear-piercing-gun when I was 15 (when only punks were body-pierced) ; I pierced my belly when I was 14 for fun before going to school and two days after there was an infection ; I pierced my lip when I was 16 because I was the only one at school (now I still wear this piercing because I don't want to have a small hole on my face) ; I pierced my clitoris because I was curious ; I tattooed "Lay down your soul to the gods of rock n' roll" because it was a joke with a friend (we were listening to Venom and we decided that we would look stupid with such a sentence tatooed on our body, so we did it laughing like kids) ; I tatooed the same tatoo as my dog so that I'll never forget his identity number ; and all my tatoos have this kind of story... I'm not néo-primitive, I just have a special sense of humour. But I decided to stop. And my work in porn never changed anything about the view I have of my own body.
17 .Some scholars want to integrate Pornography into a academic context, claiming that this is also a film genre worth researching. Do you agree that Pornography is the "neglected genre"?
Yes, it is a neglected genre. I also sometimes work with universities for conferences. Few weeks ago I've been invited by an art school : they asked me to work with students for few days and learn them how to shoot a short movie. I would love to teach porn history for cinema students for example.
18. You are also owning a Sex shop only for women. Do you think that feminism is still lacking in the Sex business? That there are not enough women standing for their rights of a female version of pornography?
I love my job in this shop for women. They feel comfortable, they talk a lot, they sometimes cry... They find something they'll never find in any sex-shop or sex place : someone who listen to them. And about porn : no, there are no women anymore standing for a women-friendly porn. It is worst than ever. In U.S. they decided to specialize in sexology. And so do I. Nobody encouraged us, so fuck off, we leave you with your boring and talent-less porn.
19. Do you think that "mainstream" cinema is slowly opening up to a more realistic, less hidden realisation of sex scenes, as movies like those of Julio Medem, Michael Winterbottom (NINE SONGS) and INTIMACY might prove?
It's funny you talk about NINE SONGS because I've watched it yesterday and tomorrow I'm invited on a tv show to talk about this. It's the biggest shit I've ever seen. It's worst than any porn film : no plot, no image quality, boring sex, boring pop bands excepted one song of the Dandy Warhols. You say it is more "realistic" ??? It is so soft ! In porn movies, sex is not realistic because it is "too much". In this movie, even if you sometimes see close up images on the genitals, it is realistic only for people who swallow a lot of Prozac ! And I noticed one thing : everytime there're "explicit" scenes in mainstream movies, the girl is always skinny like a boy ! Because if you ask a "real" woman with breasts, belly, etc., to act in the same kind of scene, it would be too erotic. And if it is too erotic, it is not art anymore, it is porn. Bullshit.
20. INSIDE DEEP THROAT shows the hardshipness of the ‘first’ porno- flick. Do you think it is necessary to show people this "bad" side of the coin?
The problem is that when you talk about porn in mainstream medias (cinema, TV shows, magazines, etc) you ONLY talk about the bad side. Nobody never talk about the good side. And there is also a good side : I've experimented it for years.
21. In the USA this film spawned a new Puritan discussion regarding the banning of Pornography. Do think such a debate could also flame up again here in Middle Europe? There are still European countries were porno is strictly prohibited (Sweden).
The country where the censor is the stronger in Europe is France. Because we censor in the name of "liberté, égalité, fraternité", not in the name of God. We censor porn in the name of "la liberté et l'égalité" of women and child, etc...
Try to organize a neo-folk gig in France and you will understand... First you'll probably arrested by the police, then you'll have to cancel it. You'll be threatened by anti-racist groups, etc... The problem in France is that leftwing movements are more fascist than the fascists : they want to forbid everything that is not made by them.
Ovidie, thank you very much for taking your time to answer these questions! And let's hope that some day a wise publisher will bring out the Porno manifesto at least in English...
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