Cabaret Desire: Sexy and Seductive New Film from Erika Lust

With her latest film Cabaret Desire, Erika Lust adds a new touch to her modern and urban Sex and the City styled porn. Inspired by the New York Poetry Brothel and its Barcelona sister branch, the film elicits the lush burlesque feel of fin-de-siècle Europe with its bohemian free-love poets and artists. Inviting the viewer in the opening scene into a vintage nightclub packed with atmosphere–the music tense and vibrating with energy as a man in leotard spins around a pole–we are promised an evening full of passion, live music, dance and erotic readings from poets who will seduce and delight with tales of intimate erotica, evocative imageries and much more.

The film lives up to the hostess’ promises. Narrated by actual poetry “whores” who are skilled at reciting their work on an intimate one-on-one basis to their “clients,” the film includes four stories. Each of them begins in the “brothel”–a lavish dimly lit nightclub where the poet retreats to a quiet corner for his or her reading–before sexy and seductive illustrations of the poet’s story fill the screen.

With each short story, Erika delivers more of her modern and urban slickly styled porn that could qualify for HBO or Showtime, displaying her meticulous filmic techniques with professional photography and strong editing. The untouched up characters are all very attractive, donning sexy taboos and their own individualized styles. None of them abide by the porny ideals of commercial media and nothing of what we see them do has the look or feel of mainstream porn. The quality is polished and Erika manages to make every little detail look sexy, be it a drop of sweat or putting on a condom. Barcelona’s urban architecture with its chic bars and cafés is well incorporated.

In terms of content, Erika has made it her point to feature strong women who refuse to fit labels or abide by conventions. In the first story, we follow the affairs of a short-haired lushly bodied woman. Tired of having to define herself, she secretly pursues an affair with a woman and also an affair with a man.

Embracing the ease with which her simultaneous relationships allows her to repeat scenarios and moments while she gets to savor the different flavors and smells of her two different lovers, the film develops the excitement she feels well through erotic cross-cuts from scenes of her two love lives, accompanied by an electric soundtrack that matches the ebb and flow of their pleasures and desires.

The second story takes us back to a woman, revolutionary in her time for her pursuit of counter culture as a painter and an art historian, and also as a single mother. Told from the perspective of her grown son who remembers her as a fascinating mom, discrete and secretive, steeped in knowledge while surrounded by rumors of affairs, we learn about her particular fetish as an art thief. And we follow her one night dressed in a black catsuit equipped with knives and scissors as she sexually dominates a man–an author famous for his experiential work on sex, seduction and equality of the sexes–to obtain “her masterpiece.”

The woman we meet in the third story is a modern and sexually liberated young woman surrounded by good friends. In the opening scene, she reflects on how different her life has turned out from how she pictured it as a young girl when she thought she’d grow up to embrace a life with “a fulfilling career, a handsome and adoring husband, two kids and a dog.” But how our “white picket fantasies” change as we transform and become who we are. Instead of marrying, she’s pursued a life of freedom, sexually too. With every birthday an occasion for the friends to showcase fun new sexual playthings, we in this episode see her savor the erotic treat her friends planned for her as a gift for her thirtieth birthday.

The final story follows a woman on her way to a date with a man she had sex with a year or so ago, interspersed with sexy cross-cuts from their affair. Featuring more of Barcelona’s city landscape and a gorgeous sunlit apartment they once locked themselves into for days of steamy lovemaking and easy lounging, the film also charmingly captures the insecurities of the woman and the man before “a first date.”

As bonus materials, Cabaret Desire includes a “making of” film, two erotic short films (“Room 33” and “Handcuffs“), and a documentary on the poetry brothels. Including interviews with some of the poetry “whores,” we learn more about the way they work and why: how they embrace reading their work on a one-on-one basis as it allows them not only the opportunity to convey the attitude and voice intended to their audiences, but also a unique intimate interaction with them.

You can visit Cabaret Desire at Erika’s site and read more about Erika’s films in my article Lust Films: Modern and Urban Porn.

Quizzical Mama

Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, PhD, is a former academic turned public educator, author, speaker, freelance writer, and mama- and sex blogger. Her book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters (Zer0 Books, October 2012) has been called “a goldmine for all sex-positive women and men,” and a “candid, well-informed personal story of how a good girl became involved in porn." She writes mores about progressive porn and sex-positivity in her New porn by women blog and at her resource site Love, Sex, and Family, and she muses about life and parenting in her Quizzical mama blog. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota, a small college town just south of the Twin Cities, with her spouse and their preschooler daughter. You can follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @quizzicalmama.

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