“I’m sure most conservative parties prefer to fight against sexual liberalism. It’s easier than facing their own fantasies and conflicts with themselves.” Spanish adult filmmaker, Noel Alejandro, discusses exploring the forbidden, why masturbating is self-love, the fetishisation and typecasting of minority groups and the importance of connection, trust and intimacy in porn narratives. Noel affirms the power of pornography as he repurposes how we interact with porn through conceputal filmmaking. His new film, “Serodiscordantes” examines the stigmatization and dynamics of a mixed status relationship. Read the full interview and synopsis of Noel’s new film, Serodiscordantes below.
YOUTH and WELLNESS
Three queer films that had a formative impact on your youth?
If by queer we mean with political connotations I’d say “I Want Your Love” by Travis Matthews, “Una Mala Educación” by Pedro Almodovar and “Girl” by Lukas Dhont. I would also include in this little list, “Mulholland Drive” for how the women own their sexuality.
Growing up, was sex considered a taboo subject or was your family open to discussing sex? How did they react to your career choice and have they seen your films?
I have to admit that sex has never been an open topic in my family. I’m particularly shy when it comes to being open about sex in a family environment and it took me many years to talk openly about my sexuality. I’m a victim of a heteronormative society and whilst I grew up in Barcelona which has always been one of the most progressive and open minded cities in Spain, heteornormativty affected me having any sex centered conversations. I’m maybe too sensitive when it comes to human connections and relationships so this too comes to mind and makes me wonder why…
Surprisingly my family were happy when I told them that I would be working in the erotic industry, however we still don’t’t talk about sex, they don’t express much interest and of course they would never ask to watch one of my films.
Do you delete your porn history, if not, when did you stop? Should we start an anti-shame movement of not deleting porn history?
I don’t delete my history since I don’t share my computer (lol), but yes, when it comes to privacy I’m very protective. I really believe that an anti-shame movement of not deleting porn would push people to ask why are we still so ashamed and it would help us understand how natural and spontaneous desire is. I’m sure most of the conservative parties prefer to fight against sexual liberalism because it’s easier than facing their own fantasies and conflicts with themselves. No nipples in an Apple store? They must believe “let’s just pretend that they don’t exist so we don’t have to deal with our inner sexual beings and all the trauma around”.
How has porn in the context of a consumer and director created a space for you to be able to explore your identity?
It was when I worked for Erika Lust from 2012 – 2015 I discovered how porn has been mistreated and misunderstood over past decades. Everybody would joke about it. Porn has always been treated by directors like a parody of life. I was with Erika thinking about how much potential porn has yet to reveal and I started to feel connected and touched for what I thought a serious sex film could be. When we have a significant sexual intercourse with someone we transform ourselves into someone beyond corporeal, how can that not be an intertesting cinematographic experience and narrative to explore.
Pornography still has a lot to offer and directors like Erika Lust, Antonio Da Silva or Travis Matthews have a lot to contribute.
What role does masturbation and sex play in attributing to your state of wellness?
You should masturbate as much often as your body needs it. Masturbation can be a great non stress pill and sex play is healing with someone you connect with.
“I always find it very interesting that mainstream porn avoids the little details in their footage such as an actor needing more lubricant, having a glass of water in the room or the small talk right after an orgasm.”
Can you comment on the representation and discrimincation of minority groups in mainstream porn and how these groups are often fetishised and typecast?
Gay mainstream porn is mostly white hyper-masculine centered. I admit that my films also attribute to this narrative but it isn’t related to my sexual preferences rather the people I’m working with on a daily basis. Producers need to be aware of how educational pornography can be. If they can try to be more inclusive this (for sure) will bring long-term acceptance to minorities.
The best piece of advice from feminist pornographer, Erika Lust, that you apply to your life?
I know Erika personally and closely, beyond the image that she projects in media and I can say that she is even more interesting in person. It’s not a secret that most of what I’ve learnt is from our time together. She is the one that encouraged me to love what I do and not to abandon hard work. In addition the feminist way of thinking that I’ve also developed during my four years with Erika Lust and Pablo Dobner.
Mainstream porn too frequently bypasses foreplay, instead escalating to penetrative intercourse within seconds. How important is foreplay in your films and the expression of connection, trust and intimiacy?
In my films I try to offer a realistic and reliable depiction of what sex is. I always find it very interesting that mainstream porn avoids the little details in their footage such as an actor needing more lubricant, having a glass of water in the room or the small talk right after an orgasm. These are the exceptional, peculiar moments that can enhance a film while editing an adult movie so that the performers don’t look like unsensitive robots uniquely materialized for a sex scene.
For example, have you ever watched a Rawstrokes movie? I personally have followed them for a long time. Of course many people might think that this style of porn has nothing to do with the porn that I make (and that’s beyond the question), but I simply like primativeness in sex.
Aesthetically your films go beyond the norms of mainstream porn films. How important is the language, location and juxtaposition of classical music in your films?
It is the best part of being a filmmaker in my opinion to play with the images, sounds and different music. It is incredible how much you can distort the audience’s perception with editing and the song choice.
Classical music in my films is just a spontaneous and intuitive choice. I adore the malice of mixing wild human emotions with delicate piano concerts and classical music, it makes us see everything with perspective, it pushes us to think about the reason for our behavior in society and to understand ourselves. I guess that is the purpose of my job as a film director – to help people try to understand and be more intune with who they are.
Do you have a process of criterion for casting actors given the criticism of porn perpetuating hyper-masculine and unreal body expecations?
I simply select my casting (as much as I can) following their look rather their bodies or “attractiveness”. If their look is captivating and they believe in the role, that’s a huge plus. It is very difficult to write a role for somebody who evokes a joie de vivre, I’m more up for tortured souls.
“I’m more focused on being considered a conventional director who strives to disrupt the misconception that a porn film cannot be enjoyed as a mainstream movie.”
A narrative or melange of emotions that you haven’t addressed yet in your filmography that you’re excited to explore?
The call of the spiritual life and the abandoning of the strictly scientist oriented way of reasoning. The fringe of being born outcasted, misunderstood and different types of relationships. Imaginary friends and the juxtaposition of alternative and parallel life dimensions. Again, forbidden love, loneliness, aliens, psychopaths and unthinkable crimes that I can’t even believe how much I need to film.
You’re vocal regarding the rights of sex workers and queer creatives and whilst porn is innately polemic and political, do you consciously create political work?
Filming two men having sex is political. Some people write me to tell me that my films have helped them to leave behind self-destructive thoughts that sex between men is not okay.
I would not say that my films are political, I don’t really try to do activism through my films even though this is needed in society today. I’m more focused on being considered a conventional director who strives to disrupt the misconception that a porn film cannot be enjoyed as a mainstream movie. But of course when you have been involved in this industry (regardless of how isolated from other studios I’ve always been) you can’t remain silent when it comes to defending sex workers for their rights.
Who would be your pipe dream to recieve a nude selfie from?
Lars Von Trier. Maybe Michael Haneke as well…
Are there any porn industry creatives that we should have on our radar for 2019?
I’d love to tell you someone but sadly there’s not many creative people immersed in porn today…
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
I guess I would draw a penis, I’m very classical.
“When we have a significant sexual intercourse with someone we transform ourselves into someone beyond corporeal, how can that not be an intertesting cinematographic experience and narrative to explore.”
The new film by Noel Alejandro
Serodiscordantes delves into the disquieting world of HIV-positive communities.
Based on the true life of the performers, told by the Spanish performer Alejandría Quince, the film captures the intricate moment when Evaristo (Cachorro Lozano) finds out that his partner Miguel (Quince) has been hiding his HIV-positive status. Miguel knows – as he’d been knowing for a while now – that coming clean is the right thing to do; yet, an alluvion of questions and self-doubt would take him whole. What will his HIV-negative partner think? How will he react? Where, and how, is he supposed to rest the guilt and fear around these three letters?
The film wasn’t originally in the movies scope of Noel Alejandro – in fact, the idea came up unexpectedly, after Noel spoke with famous Spanish actor Alejandría Quince to invite him for a role in another film. Alejandría Quince then mentioned his interest in telling his story as an HIV-positive gay person. Having lived this same situation with the acknowledged painter Cachorro Lozano – his partner in real life and co-star in Serodiscordantes – Alejandría helped Noel to bring their real story to the screen and reveal how profound and life-changing is the moment when you speak openly about their diagnosis. Always triggered by life challenges and real human stories, Noel Alejandro started working on a script that would bring this feelings to an adult film setting aside the melodrama and keeping only the genuine and truthful aspect of it.
After a series of deep, emotion-centered short films portraying psychological topics going from depression to loneliness to violence, Noel Alejandro pushes the boundaries once again by mixing one of the biggest taboos of gay community with sex, desire and storytelling.
Starring: Alejandría Cinque and Cachorro Lozano. Filmed and edited in Berlin (2019).
Watch Serodiscordantes here