This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you consent to our use of cookies unless you have disabled them.

Tour Search | Dating | Theatre Tickets | Accommodation | eMag | Directory | TNT Jobs


For Anna Arrowsmith – or Anna Span, to use her industry name – pornography is not only good for society, but she feels it is her mission to encourage more people to watch it.

She became the UK’s first female porn director in 1998 and her debut film, Eat Me/ Keep Me, aired on Television X in 1999.  

“I want to make it acceptable for women to buy it – that’s an important part of my job,” she tells TNT over the phone from her home in Kent. She’s as unapologetic about her views as you’d expect from someone who, a decade into making pornography, became the Liberal Democrats’ candidate for Gravesham.

Arrowsmith will take on formidable Aussie feminist Germaine Greer at a debate on porn’s role in society this week, hosted by Intelligence Squared at the Royal Institution in central London.

The evening posits the idea that, rather than turn viewers into desensitised, sick-minded slavering fuckbeasts (TNT’s words, not theirs), pornography in fact has a positive impact on people. Arrowsmith will be arguing for that motion and Greer – no surprise – will be railing against it.

Whatever your feelings on the subject, there’s little doubt Arrowsmith is a pioneer. Her work, which she terms “female point of view” porn, tries a different tack to the typical stuff coming out of the US industry (so to speak).


Anna Arrowsmith

“I don’t say I make porn for women, I make it from a female perspective,” Arrowsmith tells us. This involves subtle tweaks to the format, such as greater attention to realism and plot.

“I didn’t want to do the, ‘here’s a prim and proper young lady and here comes the pizza boy to show her what sex is all about’,” Arrowsmith explains. Instead, there are more believable storylines. Think 2003’s Pound A Punnet, which is about women working on London market stalls and having sex in their lunch hours.

There’s also more variety: “I don’t market it by single sex acts, so I don’t just do all anal or all gang bangs or whatever.” Presumably mixing it up is more in keeping with a woman’s ability to multi-task than a man’s one-track mind.

Another thing Arrowsmith has brought to the industry – and which the ladies both working in porn and watching it are probably most thankful for – is good-looking men.

“When I started shooting in ’98, there was very little choice and I had to go out of my way to audition a lot of guys and get new men into the industry,” the director reveals. “In America, [there were just] pig-ugly, 40- or 50-year-old men with 20-year-old women.”


US porn industry director Max Hardcore and star Layla Rivera 

She says this has largely changed throughout porn moviedom now, but her films remain progressive by including shots from the “female eye line” that linger on male actors; Arrowsmith points out that porn is traditionally “shot from a man’s perspective”.

Breaking into the boys’ club that is the porn movie business hasn’t won the director all-round plaudits – although the industry itself has awarded her a number of accolades, including Indie Porn Pioneer at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto and Best Director (twice) at the UK Adult Film & TV Awards.

Her first forays into making pornography were when she studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Arrowsmith wrote a dissertation called Towards A New Pornography and submitted an accompanying film (“My adverts for performers to appear [in it] were defaced and torn down by members of staff and my final film was refused a public airing,” she confesses).

She also faced a few stark realities when working on her first porn shoot: “The man couldn’t get an erection, which I hadn’t even thought of! It was outside in October so that may have been why.”


Porn industry star Jenna Jameson

Funnily enough, it seems to be largely women who take offence to this well-educated female who enjoys filming people shagging; Greer won’t be the first feminist that Arrowsmith’s butted heads against.

Gail Dines, an internationally renowned feminist and anti-porn activist, once said of Arrowsmith: “Women who work in the sex industry and promote this in the name of feminism are the scabs of the feminist movement.”

Sure, Arrowsmith identifies herself as a feminist, telling us the mainstream porn industry is “sexist” and that she’s against the “sexualisation of imagery of women”. If you find that hard to process along with the fact Arrowsmith has made money from asking women to have sex on camera, it’s not as nonsensical as you might think.

“If you’re dealing with sex then using sexual imagery is justified,” she reasons. “If you’re selling carpets and using female beauty to do it, that’s unjustifiable.” It seems in Arrowsmith’s view, advertisements in which women are always doing the cleaning and looking after the children are far more damaging to society than porn.


Talkback


Subscribe

Receive events, music & gig alerts

Sign me up

Don't Miss in London

Stay connected on social networks
Like us on Facebook
Follow TNT on Twitter