Cabaret Desire

Lust Cinema
A film by Erika Lust
CABARETS AND CABARETTES Toni Fontana, Sofia Prada, Saskia Condal, Mario Mentrup, Lady Diamond, Matisse, Liandra Dahl, Didac Duran, Samia Duarte

Here’s why Erika Lust’s films are so awesome: they’re really films. I don’t mean that they’re super-arty or intellectual, even though sometimes they are. And I don’t mean that they have totally engrossing plots and developed characters, although that’s sometimes the case. I mean that Erika Lust makes films that are about sex and that are totally unafraid of showing the sex graphically, but that’s not all that’s going on. There’s music—really good and very sensual music—and background and imagination and realism and eroticism all rolled into sleek, utterly sexy packages. They are entertaining to watch and definitely breathless enough to spur couples to shag or singles to whack it. And they are made with loving care — Cabaret Desire, for instance, was filmed this summer and has just been widely released. For comparison’s sake, most porn movies are released within a month of shooting. Lust Cinema gives more than a shit about its films — it gives a heart. Cabaret Desire has all of the above going for it, and perhaps more. It’s taken the best of Lust’s films and boiled them down into a slick, delectable mix that’s driven more by desire than by sex, a difficult balance to strike and an even more difficult one to keep.

Cabaret Desire is a heady series of vignettes tied together by storytellers at the eponymous cabaret where poets and storytellers mingle with burlesque dancers and jazz singers in a sensual environment, titillating clients with tales of lust for a fee. Members of The Poetry Brothel from New York City and Barcelona serve as narrators for the four carnal encounters that unfold as actors pound out the action to great effect. I’m not sure how she does it, but Erika Lust always pairs actors who seem to have been wanting desperately to get into each other’s pants for years. The chemistry on screen between Sofia, for instance, and her two lovers of different sexes both named Alex, is face-melting hot. Sofia fucks both of them for the viewers’ pleasure, but in two different scenes spliced together into one fluidly delicious scene that manages to be explicit, immoral (in that she’s sleeping with both of them behind their backs), and tasteful all at once.

With a deftness that would be dazzling on its own if it weren’t overshadowed by the panties-moistening sexiness on screen, Lust juggles casting both male and female actors in an equally desirable light, a feat that American pornographers and even mainstream filmmakers are generally incapable of accomplishing. Not only are the men in her films usually as well-rounded in character as they are in their jeans, they’re shown to be objects of not just lust, but full-fledged desire: in a cat-burglary scene that could easily have become a woman-in-latex ogle-fest, Lust instead decides to undress and expose a skinny older man who is physically unimpressive while leaving the curvaceous actress entirely sheathed in a catsuit — except for her crotch. And even with her face in a mask and her body concealed, the degree to which she wants to bone the scrawny old naked dude is undeniable and carries the scene from creepy territory into absolutely fappable land. It’s like magic: desire can transform people.

Ok, let’s be honest. I could go on and on about Cabaret Desire. It’s a film by one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s European and therefore exotic, but it stars several people I happen to know personally from The Poetry Brothel, which makes the super-sexy mood even more surreal. It’s filmed in such a way that fans of softcore (are there fans of softcore? I don’t know any) can enjoy it, but hardcore hand-lovers still have plenty to appreciate. The scenes are cut together so that the sex is part of the story: flashbacks layer over the present and sex mingles with background in beautifully filmed patchwork that gives the brain something to do while the body responds. The music is fantastic. The cabaret environment is stunningly sexy. The whole film drips sensuality and sweats eroticism. You should watch it. Right now.

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