Interview with Emma Sturm, porn-maker and Math Magazine Team Member

 

Can you tell us about the two short films you’ve made?

The first was a wet and messy scene between two women, who destroy a cake and rub it all over one another. The other was a painful stinging nettle scene done under the guise that it might help someone’s cramps. They were both made for a 90 second film festival hosted by a local housing commune. In both, I intentionally kept it ambiguous whether the women are in a platonic, sexual, or romantic relationship, andsimilarly I think the films as a whole ride the line between being pornographic or not. I think that this grey area is very reflective of my own sexuality and allows me to access an audience that might not normally watch porn or consider it a culturally significant form of art.

What is your process like?

My friends and I are always bouncing ideas off one another, but a lot of the projects that end up getting made are done out of resourcefulness. For example I got the idea for a nettle video because it grows all over my yard. Or a few weeks ago we ended up doing a sploshing/wet and messy photoshoot with a bunch of yogurt. We didn’t originally plan on it being a yogurt specific shoot, but a few days before a friend, who works at a local probiotic coconut yogurt company, dumped a bunch of incorrectly fermented jars on a friend’s free-shelf. It was more or less inedible so we decided the only good use for it would be to rub it all over ourselves. Sets and props are also usually done with whatever we can find at my house. Some stuff has been shot in my childhood bedroom, some stuff in a friend’s backyard, it’s just whatever we can have easy access to.

What’s the last porn video you watched?

I think it was the lovely film Triple P (Political Pussy Pounding) by Allie Oops (@cummanifesto), but my normal porn go-to is reading hentai. I find still images to be more immersive than video because I can go at my own pace and can visualize and anticipate whatever is happening between frames. I also like the fantastical elements that can be present in hentai. Realistic and amateur content is super important, but I think porn is also a powerful tool for exploring things I know aren’t realistic and could never actually happen in our reality. The unconfined freedom to feel intense emotion and pleasure in a very distant fantasy helps me figure out what I’d actually like to experience with other people.

nettle still 1.jpg

What’s the best and worst thing about porn right now?

Best: I think the internet has done wonders for porn. Yes, it has allowed for more porn to be pirated and forced content into “searchable” categories, but it has also opened up opportunities for community and buying direct from the performers (e.g. manyvids.com). With so much political tension going on right now it’s even more important to provide safe, accepting online spaces. Millennials are often chastised for escaping reality through the internet, but who can blame us when there is so much hostility and uncertainty in the world.

Worst: The unnecessary and harmful stigma around porn and sexuality in general. I have a background in health psychology and I think shame can be so detrimental to sexual health and mental health, whether we’re talking about individuals not honestly disclosing sexual practices to their doctor (and therefore not receiving adequate personalized treatment based on their specific risks) or performers constantly fighting to be included in the drafting of legislation that affects their health and healthcare related privacy.

Who are your favorite filmmakers?

For “normal” film I really admire writer and director Anna Biller for her strong aesthetics, and Céline Sciamma for her visual storytelling and willingness to portray darker themes in childhood. For porn, I think Joanna Angel of Burning Angel Entertainment does an amazing job of reworking stereotypical porn tropes to make them full of exaggeration and humor. They feel like a critique of the mainstream production companies while still being approachable and hot enough to appeal to a mainstream audience. 

Can you tell us about your inspirations and collaborators?

Taylor Chase is my amazing videographer/editor and Pussy Grime has been an amazing co-performer. Other performers and assistants are close friends of mine. In terms of inspiration I really love vintage, printed fetish publications like Nugget and Splosh! I especially love the Splosh! ethos of being a little bit campy and ridiculous but in a way that’s still polished and self aware. Everyone in Splosh! Looks like they’re having such a grand time, yet everything they’re working with is stuff anyone could find, food in the pantry, mud in a field, etc. 

nettle still 2.jpg

What do you hope people get out of your film work?

I hope my work will spark discussion and make kink and sexual expression easier to talk about. I’m creating this work in a  fairly isolated, semi-rural, outspokenly conservative part of California, so I also hope I can make people feel a little more at home and accepted here on a local level. Physical spaces for collaboration and expression are so important (e.g. meetups, mixers, screenings, play parties), but I think the opportunity to watch something alone in your room can be just as valuable, especially in isolated communities where IRL spaces may not even exist or be accessible to everyone.

What’s the most surprising responses you’ve gotten for this work?

The delayed responses are always really sweet and surprising. I’ve found that I don’t get too many responses from people online when I first post things, but then I’ll run into people months later and they’ll say they’ve been thinking about doing a cake scene, or in some cases that they have done a cake scene! One friend event sent me stills from a video she shot for a long distance partner’s birthday.

cake still 2.jpg
cake still 1.jpg

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m still exploring which mediums I like working in the best, so hopefully an array of different things! I’ve been doing collages that explore porn tropes and food imagery and have just begun to incorporate real foods I’ve made into those projects. I’m also illustrating the Math Magazine XXX Coloring Book! Outside of producing art directly, I want to keep advocating for the importance of art and social science fields, and promoting radically accessible and comprehensive healthcare for all.

For more from Emma: 

https://emmapsturm.myportfolio.com/

IG: @emmapsturm

 
 
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