Review: Barcelona Sex Project (DVD)

April 14, 2009  |  reviews

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The fabulous Blowfish has just released the Barcelona Sex Project, a documentary-style porn which interviews subjects about their lives, their interests, their sexualities, their turn-ons and turn-offs, before filming them (beautifully, in fact) while they masturbate.

Kristen & I watched it a few weeks ago, after the DVD arrived, and I have to say, I was not so impressed. We fast-forwarded through the last few because we lost interest. It is beautifully filmed, and a really interesting idea that gives the viewer much more of an intimate experience with the visual erotic images of this person getting off than most porn does, which is new and interesting. Yet … I guess my main complaint is the lack of diversity represented. ALL five of the people in the film – the guys and the girls – are completely clean-shaven, for example. Everyone is very “ideal” in terms of body size – pretty slim and fairly muscular. There wasn’t much a range of gender representation, either – the girls were girly, the boys were masculine.

I do admit that I fast-forwaded the end, though, so perhaps there was some content that I missed, more queerness or genderqueerness that I didn’t catch because I got a little bored. So maybe there’s more on here than I realize.

It’s beautifully filmed, I do have to say that. The interviews are interesting, the cinematography is sparse and quite beautiful. I like the way the masturbation scenes were filmed, mostly with very minimalist props or furniture, which was visually interesting – and at times stunning. The girls did use some vibrators, but I didn’t see any actual dildos or much kinky stuff. But hey, what about a range of age? Everyone was so young. What about a range of race or ethnicity?

This brings up the question for me, though, which I think about in terms of Sugarbutch a lot – what responsibility do artists have to represent many experiences or a wide range of diversity? I know I have a fairly slim representation of girls on my site, for example, partly because I know what I’m attracted to and I tend to write about my experiences with those girls (who are femme, duh, and bottoms, duh again, and tend to be smaller than I am). I explain that by saying that this is a personal project – so maybe I should look at Barcelona Sex Project the same way? As a personal representation of what the filmmaker would like to see, and not necessarily as a representation of all of Barcelona or all sexualities and genders or all folks who are into sex. Of course, it couldn’t really be a representation of all of those things, there is way too much inside of sexuality & gender to fully represent anything.

Maybe diverse representation of human bodies and sexualities is not a realistic expectation for a DVD … folks like Pink & White do it, but they also have dozens of clips and dozens of models and actors involved in their work, which makes it easier than working with only six.

Interesting things to think about, I suppose. Regardless, it’s quite unlikely that I’ll be watching this again, and I wouldn’t really put it on for jack-off material or in the background to set a mood. Still, it’s beautifully done, and a new interesting concept which combines a lot of intimacy and destigmitization with erotica/porn and masturbation, which I’d like to see more of in general. Perhaps that makes it worth checking out.

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Swiped this image from Urban Junkies Barcelona (thanks!)


About the Barcelona Sex Project, new from Blowfish Video:

Barcelona Sex Project is a smart, funny documentary about half a dozen sexy twenty- and thirty-somethings living in Barcelona, Spain. Director Erika Lust is adept at drawing them out, getting them to tell their life stories (including cross-continental moves, divorces, sexual fantasies fulfilled, career dreams and career realities, etc.). While there’s a fair bit of talk about sex, the emphasis isn’t exclusively erotic… until the sex scenes, of course. These are people you’ve gotten to know through their interviews, making it that much more real when they strip off their clothing and masturbate. There are three men and three women, all of them quite beautiful and relaxed when it comes to self-pleasure for your viewing pleasure. Cute, pierced, and tattooed, 20-year-old Silvia is adorable in stripey stockings and oversized headphones, while Brazilian transplant Dunia has a delectable dark and luscious body, and geek-girl Irina enjoys herself with a toy. The boys are all buff, smiling, and well-hung. Stripper Joel is the most theatrical, stroking himself before a full-length mirror and finishing with a cumshot on his own reflection, while the unselfconscious Joni has a sweet session and finishes by spurting on his own belly. It’s a masturbation video with a twist, providing a fascinating look into the psyches of the subjects before you get a look at their more physically intimate moments. Nominated for the 2009 Feminist Porn Awards.

Trailer: QuickTime formatWindows Media Player format. (2008, 112 min.)

Also check out Barcelona Sex Project.com for more information, clips, and photos from the film.

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5 Comments


  1. I appreciate that you brought up the issue of size diversity in this project and in your blog. It kind of bums me out that so many sex positive sites are not fat friendly and the other sites fetishize fat. Just looking for a wider lens that beauty can be seen through.

    Thank you for your thoughtful review.

    Ani

  2. This comment's a few days late, but…On the topic of an artist's duty/obligation to represent diversity, I think it very much varies. I think that it can actually be more harmful than good to force "diversity" into a project simply for the sake of saying "it's diverse!" I think that can actually be very tokenizing and ultimately damage the project's goals and the artist's good intentions.

    That said, it's frustrating when the majority of people only depict one type of person. So where does the obligation lie? Do I wish that there were more mainstream depictions that included what I find to be attractive (i.e., queer men and/or masculine, androgynous, or butch women)? Of course. But I would much rather let the queer community depict itself than have some well-intentioned but ultimately ridiculous straight/white/male/cis/vanilla person botch it up horribly.

    Ultimately, I feel like individual artists do not have an obligation to represent "diversity," but in fact have a duty NOT to represent an experience that they have not had. When companies or studios get involved, though, I think they DO have an obligation to reach outside their comfort zone and find people that can portray a variety of experiences authentically.

    Thoughts?

  3. i guess this describes why i always feel somewhat alienated from the queer community. i pretty much never see myself represented in any queer medium (i'm a black femme) and half of the time i can only partially relate to some the issues discussed in lesbian forums because i have to contend with another system of a oppression many white lesbians don't even care to realistically acknowledge; racism…which makes me incensed and feel even more alienated. such as the prop 8 mess; because of the scapegoating of black people in the aftermath of prop 8 in cali, i don't feel comfortable participating in any organization specifically pertaining to prop 8, although i'll continue to work with organizations that i have previously worked with that fight for marriage equality. and i will never support dan savage on any level ever again after reading his diatribe steeped in white male privilege about homophobia in the black community, while he gave something of a reprieve to racists in the queer community all while invoking my precarious position in both communities as a black lesbian and telling me which system of oppression personally affect me more (black homophobia over queer racism according to his arrogant ass) .

    i guess what i want for artists, since the most widely disseminated and distributed art is by white people, is to make an effort to open their horizons and be more aware of the plethora of cultures in the world around them and to use that awareness in their work so it won't be coming from a place of disingenuous tokenism. i really believe a documentary with this kind of subject matter could have only been improved with some more diversity in race, age, gender identity, and size. and i think that it's kind of obvious that whoever directed this film made an effort to only document a certain kind of person; young, thin, and white. and whats so radical, progressive, thought provoking, or even interesting about that? i think that more social awareness on the part of artists would eventually reflect in an even more well-rounded output of art that could increase the amount of art that people personally relate to and find inspiration in. i don't think an increase of education and effort leading to more diversity ever hurt anybody.

  4. i meant : that could only increase the amount of people that personally relate to and find inspiration in art.

  5. This is great. Like the diversity of people and the diversity of location as well. Fresh new look!

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