Buttwoman does Budapest ­– Porn and the Postcommunist city. An Interview


My Interview partner Shamway is a porn critic for a very long time now for the German mag­azine „Splatting Image“ (
www.splatting-image.com). Shamway is Swiss and therefore as neutral as possible towards pornographic production. In his reviews he’s not rubbing on the surface of the movies but tries to penetrate the depths of the genre.

ALL OF A SUDDEN: BEAUTY

Anna: Quite a lot of US and German porn productions are shot and produced in Prague and Budapest. Why?

Shamway: The fall of the iron curtain at the beginning of the Nineties had a blossoming effect on the Western porn industry, respectively on the sex industry on the whole. For the fist time the porn industry in the US and Europe could decorate itself with women who were so beautiful they could compare with models. Not only one or two of them, but beauties galore. Deborah Welles or Anita Rinaldi were among the first ones, in a time when pornography was something that not much Western European or American women of such beauty would not have engaged in. I think this had a big impact on Western culture: the beauty of the women was something that helped porn to be faster and more accepted by consumers (certainly also with female consumers).

COLONIZATION

The opening of Eastern Europe and the liberal attitude that especially Hungary showed led to a kind of „colonisation“ of the East. Not only the women were used to refresh our sexualities, but also the places in the east. Budapest was so liberal in the beginning of the nineties that you could make a porn movie in a public transport (i.e. the famous scene in the first „Buttwoman“-movie). Italian Director Joe D’Amato could rent the elefants of the Budapest zoo for one of his historical movies and if you wanted a for example a train-station for a movie, some twilighty guy could arrange to empty a whole station of people. Everything was cheap, and everything was allowed.

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LIBERALISATION

A: Did the porn movies of that time depict the social changes in a society after the fall of the iron curtain?

The porn industry at that point certainly reflected the new conditions of society under a capitalist flag. Suddenly it was all about money. Some well-educated and intelligent Eastern European women blonded their hair and decided to play the part of the high-class porn-star. Intelligent and educated men decided to built up structures for the western sex-industry to take over. I guess people in Hungary or Czechoslovakia were sexually liberal before the fall of the iron curtain, they just adapted very fast to the needs of Western Europe and the USA.

NO SENTIMENTAL JOURNEYS

A: Is there also a nostalgic aspect in these porn movies? As I know there is a gay porn genre which plasy with the “pioneer” theme, starring young boys in socialist summer camps, shot on original sites.

There’s no nostalgic aspect at all, according to my knowledge. If army uniforms or camouflage wear appears it is always connected to war scenes. Especially the Italian porn movies from Rocco Siffredi to Mario Salieri are interested in the Yugoslavian war, because they like the idea that the communitarian rules don’t exist anymore. It’s a celebration of neoliberal values, where the only rule is money and domination (of women and sometimes weak men). Just like the other omnipresent structure in eastern europe society: the mafia circles. Many porn movies take place in mafia circles. The criminal organisation in these movies act according to the same rules.

NO MORE WASHING DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC

A: In recent years porn settings moved into interiour spaces, mostly luxury apartments, country houses etc.

Either nasty sex or sexual exploitation can be done more easily in private.  It’s a trend in society that the porn movies also reflects. More and more we live in a society which is concerned to sweep everything “dirty” under the carpet: We don’t smoke outside anymore, we don’t drink outside anymore,  we live in zero-tolerance-areas, we don’t practise nasty sex in public anymore. Therefore it is also more credible that you do it all at home, if you act sexually insane like Rocco Siffredi or Manuel Ferrara.

NEW GENDER APPROACHES?

A: Are there famous Eastern European studios or directors?

I’m not very familiar with Eastern Europe’s porn scene. Therefore I only know that there are famous casting studios in Budapest and Prague, dealing in performers and in locations. Keeping up with western standards former performer Anita Rinaldi started a directing career in the late Nineties and made some very stylish movies from a „female“ perspective (“Planet Sex”) and went to the USA as soon as she could. At the moment the directing duo Moire Candy have made movies of some quality: interestingly they originally focused on  psychotic and claustrophobic personas and scenarios in the porn movies (“Joy Virus”). Very interesting and very tough are the movies of performer Mandy Bright: She puts women in a very brutal way in abusive situations. They wear smeared make-up and torn clothes as if they were raped all the time. To me it’s not clear if Mandy Bright is doing this just to fullfill certain male gonzo dreams or if this is also some Dworkinesque sort of statement: Life for women after communism, and after (Yugoslavian) war, is cruel?!

A: From your list of directors it seems, women play a dominant role in Eastern European porn production. What about the depiction of gender?

There is not a way out of the cage of misogynist pornography, but the predominance of hard gonzo movies and the irreal beauty of designerporno is disturbed a little by the emergence of Alt.Porn, the „alternative porno“. This incorporates a lot of tendencies of the gonzo and designerporn, but is at times very open to new gender approaches or to making fun of the porn-genre. And with Eon McKai, the director who is the most „auteur“ of this group that grew out of the US-punk-movement of the Nineties, we can explore a whole range of different feelings such as desperation or sometimes even a political conscience.

 

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