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My Experience as a Porn Director: Why Representation Matters.

Updated: Apr 15

Lucifer Charlie Benedetti pulls back the curtain on the erotic film industry, enlightening us on its operation, and showing us how much things still need to improve to safeguard those who work in it.

by Lucifer Charlie Benedetti


I never thought I’d end up directing porn / adult movies in my life, but after spending 4 years in this industry I strongly believe this is the most fertile environment in which the LGBTQ community can express and represent itself and in which we can keep breaking boundaries in the most impactful way. This is the place where I finally feel like I belong and I can contribute to make a little difference inside our community.


Lesbian and Queer Representation - what's missing.

What is missing is good LGBTQ+ porn. Besides the amateur porn shot by couples or queer people, it was the lack of genuine representation that made me knock on Erika Lust’s door.


I’m grateful I had the chance to direct movies in which I could explore lesbian heartbreaks as much as the “girls just wanna have fun” trope. In my latest film I also represented how asexuality and porn can belong together.


It’s by making these movies and watching the work of other queer directors that I realised that truthful LGBTQIA+ representation in porn is one of the most empowering and subversive tools we own, since our discrimination, fetishisation and self-sabotage is primarily based around sex.


It all started because I was sick of the fact that “Lesbian” is one of the most watched categories in mainstream porn and yet it’s primarily made for the male pleasure. Once again the male gaze appropriates of something it should be excluded from by its own meaning: Lesbian.


This “lesbian” representation is nothing but a stereotypical remake of the heterosexual sex-dynamic depicted in mainstream porn (which are also quite far from the reality) and it has a direct impact on my life, up until I get perceived as a woman who loves other women.


Whenever we kiss in public or even worse, inside a club, there will always be a man watching like he has a pornhub tab open in front of him. This is one of the most invasive feelings I have to experience throughout my whole life. I have no idea how many times a complete stranger approached me and my partner asking for a threesome. I have no idea how many times I have been asked in mocking way how can lesbians have sex without a penis, or how many times they were convinced we always use sex toys in order to reproduce “what’s missing”.


This “what’s missing” is based on a heteronormative sexual relationship. Thinking about pornography and the male lens that it is most-often shown through, intercourse is almost always linked back to a male necessity.


In this way, we can see that the portrayal of most pornography which depicts straight relationships, shows sex as a vehicle to accomplish a man’s sense of pleasure and encapsulate their desire first and foremost. In this sense, a woman’s sexual pleasure is always seen as secondary and our body is primarily seen and ruled as a life incubator, without any or very little agency.


The CisHet Gaze and it's grip on the porn industry.

This is how the heteronormative guidelines preserve their hold on patriarchal power structures. Through my experience in this industry so far, I have learned that the most widely distributed depictions of sex in this society are much more about beholding power and very little about owning our pleasure.


It's the cishet gaze that has always decided what’s normal, what’s not. What’s desirable, what isn’t.


Mainstream porn feeds and reinforces the stereotype that the male gaze and the media created about toxic “beauty and body standards”. Cis women’s “conforming” bodies gets constantly objectified while all the rest gets fetishised : POC, trans, lesbian, bi, curvy and people with disabilities - to name only a few examples.


In order to combat this way of thinking, there are a few key questions we need to ask ourselves:


Why is there such easy/free access to mainstream porn? Is it really free or are we paying in ways we don’t even realise?


What’s behind it? Have you ever heard about Mindgeek?

Mindgeek refers to itself as an “information technology company that offers digital media content delivery, search engine optimisation, advertising, and hosting services”. What Mindgeek doesn’t say, in easier words, is that they are the owners of the majority of the mainstream porn sites all over the internet: Pornhub, Youporn, Brazzers, Xtube, Men.com, etc… therefore they basically own the Monopoly of Porn.


When YouTube made its debut, its success was almost instantaneous, so other internet developing companies tried to do the same. Mindgeek then probably asked themselves “what’s the kind of video that once put online will receive millions of views (traffic) almost instantly? The answer was very easy: “a porn video”. So they started pirating videos from porn production companies and sharing them through their “Tubes”.


This by itself is illegal as we are all aware, but despite their work being stolen, for porn production companies to be shared for free on a tube platform was the easiest and fastest way to get a lot of publicity and this gave them a number of revenues they’d never accomplish by themselves.


Between Mindgeek and porn production companies, there was a tacit agreement which started generating one of the wealthiest businesses online, up until the point that Mindgeek was able to buy the majority of those companies. Therefore the majority of its produced content is not pirated anymore. it just keeps feeding itself under hundreds of different names, hundreds of pockets of the same suit.


According to global website traffic data from Statista, the top 3 porn sites in the world receive a combined 5.81 billion website visits per month. Just through its traffic Mindgeek revenues are exponential and even though the majority of people don't pay for porn, if only the 10% of those almost 6 billion per month pays for it, you can imagine how high the profits still are.


The other thing that Mindgeek doesn’t say in clear words is that they are data collectors, so even if we don’t pay to watch porn on those sites, all our data gets collected and resold to marketing strategy companies. So we are in fact paying with our data without even knowing it.


It is when we start considering how the industry really works that we can realise what really needs to be changed, and how we can create space for those who want to express themselves in a safe environment, ensuring that narratives aren’t twisted to suit existing well-established stereotypes which have damaging effects on marginalised communities.


What's improved, and what still needs improvement.

Thankfully there are many people working inside the industry who are taking space for themselves in order to pave the way for positive change; deconstructing and rejecting these standards and creating their own.


As we all know, representation matters. As we all know, representation saves lives. As we all know, representation can open the eyes of the most unaware. And while it’s not the easiest to find under the huge amount of mainstream porn, queer-made porn is becoming more and more available.


This leads to a wider awareness, diversity, empathy, feeling of belonging, gender and sexuality euphoria. And after experiencing so much shame throughout our lives, watching this kind of porn finally feels like a huge relief. Where there’s no wrong sexuality, no wrong genitals, no wrong bodies. This is especially important considering that the most erased community as far as the porn industry is concerned, is those with physical disabilities - due to the overwhelming preconception that disabled people are not sexual beings.


I have no doubt that we will keep on gaining more and more representation, but I believe that also the ethical porn industry needs to work on being more accessible to the majority of people. Representation without accessibility, unfortunately does half of the job that needs to be done.


The welfare of sex workers & LGTQIA+ Community.

The whole porn industry, both indie and mainstream, is starting to follow guidelines that get more and more strict in order to create a safer environment for performers. However, until sex work is regulated, we cannot guarantee the protection of sex workers - without regulation, there is no such thing as true “Ethical” porn. How can something be ethical if it’s based on the workforce of people whose jobs are not recognised and fairly regulated?


The hate reserved for sex workers, trans women, POC women is always the most violent. This is a battle that our community must really take on its shoulder as based on my personal experience in interviewing sex workers, in the last few years I've realised that the majority of them belong to the LGBTQIA+ community.


Let’s never forget who were the people who thrown the first bricks at Stonewall: trans, POC, with disabilities and sex workers. Still nowadays, they are the most marginalised in this society and inside our own community.


This is something we must take responsibility for, especially gay cis men who possess the most privilege and influence within the LGBTQIA+ community.


Conclusions.

It would be right to be able to see porn only as a form of entertainment, but while we live in a society in which sex education is so strongly hindered, it’s undeniable that mainstream porn is the first source of research and exploration of sex for young people. Because of this lack of sex education, it’s difficult to realise how problematic it can be, and how we tend to replicate it subconsciously.


Even though the issues within this industry are several, I believe that demonising it is pointless as much as glorifying it's alternatives. Porn will never be erased and it shouldn’t.


What we need is to be constantly and usefully critical about it, so that it can improve and evolve into a much safer product. We must always remember that sex work for many people in our community is the only source of income and survival. So attacking it means attacking our community also.


The most important thing going forward is to keep on creating spaces and opening and sharing them, especially with the less privileged people. We should all place priority on the need to be responsible producers and consumers taking into account everyone’s pleasure, desires and bodies.


Therefore it is also extremely important to understand that paying for porn is absolutely necessary, as for any other streaming platform, whilst also having accessible prices.


We’ve come a long way in how we’re finally able to see our community represented in the media, movies and tv shows… but so much still needs to be done and porn made or inspired by queer people is the real game changer.


If you want to have a glimpse of what it can also look like, here is where you can check my movies as well as the ones of many other talent queer directors.


An image of Charlie. They are white, with blue eyes and short curly blonde hair. They are wearing a blue jean jacket and pearls around their neck, and a small black hat.

About Lucifer Charlie Benedetti (they/them)


Lucifer is a genderqueer Italian director/actor. They believe in a future in which sexuality won't need any label, but they also understand the need of many diverse humans to feel represented, reassured and safe nowadays.


You can find more information about Lucifer and their work here.



If you would like to book Lucifer as a speaker for a workshop or panel event, please get in touch with us via email at hello@wecreatespace.co


 

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