Berlin’s Alternative Porn Actors Reveal All: Part 2

Feminist, Queer and Trans porn is finally taking off around Europe, but no city can boast an alternative culture like Berlin.

In light of our first series of interviews, we offer a second set of interviews of Berlin’s alternative porn actors. In defiance to mainstream, heteronormative porn, these actors give expression and representation to a greater range of bodies and sexualites.

The actors explain why Berlin offers a fresh take on a global industry dominated by mainstream productions. They offer intimate and surprising experiences of what it’s like working in the porn industry that we all are familiar with, though ignorant of those who actually make it.

Kay

Kay © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Kay, I’m 39 and I’ve been a sex worker for seven years. I’m an artist and I work mostly on themes of gender and sexuality. I’m also an escort.

How did you start working in pornography?

When I made my transition, I met a person who was 18 and had been waiting to turn 18 to start working in porn. It was what she wanted to do. She was an activist and she gave me a new perspective on sex work.

For me, porn means to show my trans body and portray different types of sexualities

Soon after, I started my career. I performed in my first film in 2008. There aren’t a lot of trans dudes that do porn.

What does it mean for you to “do porn?”

For me, porn means to show my trans body and portray different types of sexualities. Trans women are already pretty stereotyped in porn. They have more opportunities to perform than trans dudes but usually in ways that don’t reflect their own sexuality. It’s all such a caricature. Us dudes, since we’re still not exactly on the radar yet, we have the advantage of being able to express and develop our sexualities.

Kay © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Kay © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

As a trans male, is it more difficult to work in the porn industry?

It’s more difficult because we don’t have access to mainstream productions, who represent the majority of porn. For queer porn, I do about two or three films per year. I started to make my own films so hopefully I’ll be making more but it’s impossible to work like the mainstream actors, gay or hetero, cause the access just isn’t there.

From your point of view, what have the Tubes done to porn? What has changed with them?

With the explosion of the internet, the porn industry has completed changed. Almost no one sells DVDs anymore. Everything’s on the internet and what works are these websites, the tubes. These websites allow amateurs to upload their films easily, but unfortunately, the quality is never really that good.

Do you watch porn?

Yes. There are some people who perform and don’t watch it, but I’ve always watched it.

Is porn in Berlin different than in other cities? What is different here that you don’t find anywhere else?

Berlin’s a city where there are a lot more artists and creativity, so there’s a lot of porn being made by Americans who come here to film. It’s cheaper and there are a lot of actors, so it’s easier to find people. In Berlin, the alternative scene is more developed. Plus, the mainstream scene is probably a little less developed than other places…In general, a lot of things are made in Berlin. For example, the Berlin Porn Film Festival.

Kay © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

How do you think, or hope, that sex work will evolve in the next few years?

What I see happening is more people creating platforms. In the United States for example, there are tons of queer platforms for porno. I think that’s going to continue to develop in this direction. What will be good is that mainstream porno will start to open itself up more to other types of bodies and sexualities.

What pronoun should we use when talking about you?

I use the pronoun “he” because it’s easier, but if there were a neutral pronoun in french or german I would use it.

Are you working on any projects?

I’ve always written a lot and, in the beginning of my transition, I needed some way to express myself because a lot of shit was happening to me so I wrote a lot about that. I wrote about everything that happened to me for one whole year. Now I have to go through the editing process. I need help though, a place to work and a person on the outside who will read my work and give me feedback. Alone, I won’t be able to do it.

Lina Bembe

Lina Bembe © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Can you introduce yourself briefly please?

My name is Lina Bembe, I am a porn performer. I act in sexually explicit films and write about it occasionally.

How did you end up working in the porn industry?

For a long time I was fascinated by porn and the powerful vibes I got from many female performers. Later on -in Berlin- I found out about directors doing films I found very refreshing and interesting. I had a gut feeling and just got in touch with them!

What does it mean for you to “do porn?”

Porn for me is a complex and important form of exploring sexuality and human relations in an explicit way. To me, ‘doing porn’ is taking sexuality as a serious matter and expressing different ideas through it.

Porn is my dream job, way better than anything else I’ve done before

Having fun, giving and receiving pleasure is far more powerful and political than what we’re used to thinking.

From your point of view, what have the Tubes brought to the porn? What has changed with them?

I normally don’t check the Tube sites. Before getting into porn I used to hate their poor image quality and would get bored after browsing and going through a lot of stuff I found boring. Later on, when I got into porn I found out about their abusive strategies and how they made money from stealing other people’s work, so I became even less interested in exploring them. I know tube sites are used as a tool for promotion by some performers and companies, but in general, the way things are, I find them more harmful than beneficial.

Lina Bembe © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Lina Bembe © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Do you watch porn?

Yes, at special screenings, festivals or on the websites of directors and producers I find interesting.

Is it important for you to pay for the porn that you watch?

Absolutely. It’s crucial for the financial sustainability of a production company or performer. A porn film reflects the work of a group of people in front and behind cameras, that work deserves to be remunerated just like any other job. It’s terrible that so many people take watching stolen content as normal. It’s an insult to the performers they pretend to like.

Is porn in Berlin different than in other cities? What is different here that you don’t find anywhere else?

I think that Berlin is the best city in Europe for doing porn because of the diverse and creative atmosphere you can find here and the fact that many people do it out of passion rather than for money. So there’s a unique variety of aesthetics, stories and perversions beyond the typical mainstream porn.

Is porn for you work just like any other work?

Not really. Porn is my dream job, way better than anything else I’ve done before.

How do you think, or hope, that sex work will evolve in the next years?

It’s hard to say because sadly enough we live in very conservative times and we still find ourselves fighting against censorship on different fronts. There’s an inherent precariousness in being a sex worker these days and there haven’t been many major changes that point towards better conditions. On a brighter note, sex work demands a lot of creativity and independence in order to be sustainable. We depend a lot on the internet to get our messages across, so we have a very important tool we can use to advance our careers and make our points towards ending the harmful stigmas around sex work. A lot has been done so far and I’m positive there’s a lot more to come!

Lina Bembe © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Do you have any project for 2017?

I started writing some blog articles about sexuality and porn for a platform called Lustery. I’m very happy about jumping into writing and want to continue doing that. I’m also pushing myself into writing and directing my own films, hopefully I’ll come up with something interesting this year!

Do you want to add something that is important for you?

Porn is far more important than what we are used to thinking. We often treat it as the trash of our cultural industry, but we are actually expressing -and controlling- our sexual desires and values through it. I really hope for a broader acknowledgement of the value and power of porn as a complex genre in its own right, while pushing for more diversity in all aspects of the industry.

Parker Marx

Parker Marx © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Can you introduce yourself briefly please?

I am a nice British guy who left home and became something else. Now I’m a porn performer, escort and pro dom here in Berlin

How did you end up working in the porn industry?

I always had an impulsive fascination for the sexual. It has always been a comfortable arena for me to operate in, so in retrospect I think that working in the sex industry has been a direction that I was always heading. Every major step I have taken in life has been one away from normalcy, away from the conventionality of the world I was born into, and a step towards playfulness, craziness and sex. I had been roaming the world of BDSM and moving in various sexual subcultures for nearly a decade before it became professional for me, although I had thought about it often.

Pornography has to bring up something impulsive and bodily and maybe a little dangerous.

It was a moment in my life when all my circumstances aligned. I found myself single, without any particular work, looking good, looking for something – I didn’t know what, and mentally free and together enough to work the sidewalk on Gropecunt Lane. It was in this moment that I met Pandora Blake at a friend’s party. We chatted a while and she was nice enough to let me buy her tea to pick her brains about porn. She put me in touch with a pornographer who was looking for guys who could do an MMF (Ed. a threesome involving two men and one woman) scene. That didn’t happen in the end, but Pandora invited me to come to Berlin for the 2015 Pornfilm Festival. We lined up a shoot together for Bright Desire, who liked me and recommended me and it grew from there.

What is porn for you? What does it mean “doing porn?”

To me pornography is a functional media. It’s not just telling a story, and it’s not just media about sexuality; it has to form part of a sexual relationship with the viewer. It has to illicit something in the audience that is not just contemplation or appreciation or understanding; it has to bring up something impulsive and bodily and maybe a little dangerous.

Parker Marx © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Parker Marx © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

From your point of view, what have the Tubes bring to the porn? What has changed with it?

It’s easy to knock the tube sites. And I do. But there are some aspects of them that are positive and that’s something I think you have to acknowledge too. They have certainly normalised pornography and made it part of broader culture. They have brought it out into daylight, made it accessible to a wider audience, made it discoverable, made the decision to watch porn much less loaded. These things are liberating and good in my eyes.

I hope that full decriminalisation of sex work becomes a universal paradigm

But with all that has come a bunch of problems; particularly that making porn is now much more risky financially. Beyond the effects of poor pay and worse working conditions, the increase in financial pressure that large scale pirating operations like Mindgeek put on producers (who, incidentally, are not mafia, or massive corporations, but usually themselves performers and sex workers, or artists, photographers, filmmakers and other passionate individuals), the increasing financial pressure put on them means that the kinds of porn it is possible for them to produce are far fewer than they have been. That means a move to the mainstream, a homogenisation, a reinforcement of hegemony and a particular, false idea of what “porn” is; an idea that anti-porn campaigners continually use as their only reference.

Do you watch porn?

Of course. These days I tend to watch with a notebook in my hand, but I get distracted.

Is it important for you to pay for the porn that you watch?

It is important to me that I consume porn in the way that the producer chooses to make it available to me. It’s important that I consume porn, and any media, in a way that respects and supports the people who made it. Not necessarily the profiteers (I’m thinking of academic publishers) who do little more than set themselves up as gatekeeper and charge a toll to pass through.

Parker Marx © Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

© Adlan Mansri/HEREYOUARE

Is it for you a work like another?

No. I don’t think it’s like just any other work, like working in an office or a shop. I don’t think I could do it if it were. I have a lot of respect for people in that kind of work, partly because I have never been able to do it successfully. There is something about it that is just alien and incomprehensible to me and I think the guys who give out these jobs sense that in me. But porn is like other work in that I have to eat and keep a roof over my head and I need it to pay so that I can do that. It seems to be a lot like other performance work.

How do you think, or hope, that Sex Work will evolve in the next years?

I hope that full decriminalisation of sex work becomes a universal paradigm. It really is the best way to protect people’s safety and basic rights. I hope that people who argue against it come to accept that consideration of the material reality of people’s real lives is more important than the symbolic reality that they perceive. After that there are still a lot of changes to make, but it’s a necessary first step.

Do you have any project for 2017?

I just started taking clients for domination sessions here in Berlin. I am lucky enough to be working out of an amazing space called Studio Lux, so a lot of my focus is going to be on that. It’s really great to come back to BDSM. I really do love it. I also have plans to start directing and working behind the camera too, and maybe one or two other surprises along the way.

This article has been edited for clarity and conciseness

Adlan Mansri is a young Berlin based photographer. Through his lenses, he brings his sight of the world and the humans he meets with a reporter's eye.
  • Abra Willows

    I like how you used the image of the one female from the interviews as the click-bait header image. very bait of ya.

  • How dare we! It’s so shocking to use a picture of somebody we actually interviewed and who actually replied to us for the cover of the article. Shocking! Please call the Internet cops.

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