Let’s talk about sex: Noel Alejandro – filmmaker
Filmmaker Noel Alejandro creates gay porn that is a long way removed from our traditional perception of cheesy storylines and bad acting, or rough and ready footage of hardcore anonymous encounters.
Alejandro is a storyteller, giving us fully realised characters and erotic scenes charged with emotional connection.
His latest release is Call Me a Ghost – a psychological drama that thoughtfully explores human melancholy, and the roles of sex, pleasure, and intimacy in the life of a man who is losing hope.
I spoke with Alejandro to talk about porn and sex:
How did you get started as a creator of porn?
In 2012 I started to work with Erika Lust, the most important feminist adult filmmaker we have now, and I realised the lack of variety we had in porn — not only in straight porn but also in gay porn.
In the last few decades, porn has become something completely flat and fake – most of the actors seem to be more worried about showing off their perfect bodies, instead of having a nice experience with their partner.
It hit me first when I filmed Eloi & Biel back in 2013 — the task of portraying a sex situation with two people that also were in love, and a real couple. In the moment it seemed terrifically easy, and I couldn’t understand why nobody else was trying to give a different look to adult films. So I decided to do it — to fill that gap.
As a director of gay porn movies, does that make you an expert on sex?
I give my actors all the freedom they need to get into the situation — I don’t like to interfere with directions because, for me, the most important thing is to film natural sex.
I guess that’s an indication of the kind of sex that I like. I’ve had encounters with some people who had sex as if they were in a bad porn film, and you could feel that through their fake attitude, their showing off, the lack of any real connection with what they were doing – it was definitely bad sex.
I’ve watched a lot of gay porn over the years, and I tend to watch it by myself as my boyfriend isn’t that interested in watching someone else having sex. Why do you think that porn appeals to some guys more than others?
I have a theory that most people can only be themselves when they’re completely alone, and porn is a good tool to help us to explore pleasure with ourselves – to masturbate.
Maybe your boyfriend is one of those who prefers to watch porn alone than in couple.
What sort of porn appeals to you?
Porn is only interesting to me if the people on screen are really having a good time. Most porn features people who are clearly faking pleasure and that’s not interesting. So if porn features real chemistry between the performers, then it’s not difficult to connect with the audience.
We generally talk about porn as potentially having a negative effect on gay men — that it can create unrealistic expectations, or that we can become addicted and lose our ability to connect with real people. Can porn have a positive role to play in our sex lives?
Maybe the unrealistic expectations might come when we expect to have sex with the guys with those incredible bodies that we see everywhere in mainstream porn. At the end of the day, sex is about making a connection with your partner, so porn might be empowering the wrong values.
Mainstream porn often offers an unrealistic vision of sex and the male body, and that’s something that could have a negative impact on you if that’s the only kind of porn that you consume.
In the interests of storytelling, or keeping the action moving, porn often glosses over some of the practicalities and logistics of sex. From your experience in working with guys who are having sex, what are some insights that might help me improve my sex life?
I would suggest that you forget everything that you learnt about sex from porn.
I always think of lube as being one of the essentials of good sex. Do you have a particular brand or type of lube that you tend to use on set?
I don’t use any specific brand, but I would suggest to use water-based lube when there’s a condom involved, and an oil-based lube when there’s not.
Are there any hints or tips that you’ve got regarding lube? How much do you use? When should it be applied?
Penny Flame used to say: “When it comes to anal sex, the wetter the better.” If it hurts it’s because you’re not doing it right.
Whether you’re the top or the bottom in an encounter, really pleasurable anal sex can take a bit of practice. What sort of preparation do the guys that you’re filming undertake before anal sex?
The professional actors that I work with have a lot of control over their bodies — they’re capable of forgetting everything around them and just concentrate. They come to the set clean, and they take some time in the bathroom before shooting. When I’m filming I always offer a comfort area, with lubricants, condoms, and towels for anything that they need.
Do you think that guys are naturally either a top or a bottom, or is that a bit of a myth?
I can’t understand why some people would reject being penetrated, unless they’ve had some bad experience and aren’t capable of relaxing.
Wanting to be penetrated is not exclusively gay, or about being a bottom. Straight, gay, and bi people experience the same need to be penetrated to achieve that level of intimacy.
I’ve spoken with straight men who’ve had their girlfriends use dildos on them, and they don’t think for a moment that their virility has been tested.
I’ve never really had much success with dildos. Partly I think it’s a confidence thing, maybe I just haven’t practised enough. What role do dildos play in the sex scenes that you film?
I don’t like them either. All my experiences with dildos have disappointed me. I really need that dildo to be stuck to a man — I need a person to be in me, not plastic.
But a lot of people love them, so I guess we just need more practice. Everybody needs to find their own way to pleasure.
I haven’t ever shown the use of dildos in my films, but maybe I’ll give it a try.
Do all the guys that you’re working with use something like Viagra to ensure that they can perform when required?
In mainstream porn the use of Viagra, or other medical stimulants, are completely normal. You need to understand that this is an industry, and the actors have to deliver. An actor who isn’t capable of having a boner on set is putting the whole scene at risk.
In my films normally the actors don’t need it — I know a lot of tricks, we might focus more on the foreplay, we might use some clever editing, or maybe it’s not all about someone being penetrated.
What advice would you give to a younger guy who was just beginning to experiment with sex with another guy?
Don’t take stimulants to have sex. Use protection always, and always look for somebody you can really connect with — so you make it an incredible experience.
What advice would give to someone who’s a bit more experienced on how to improve their sex life?
If you are in a couple, I would suggest to start your foreplay with some porn – whether that’s mainstream or something a bit more sensitive like mine.that can go from mainstream to more sensitive, like mine. It’s a really good starter and often you’ll only resist five minutes until you get excited enough.
Depending on your confidence, and the current situation of your relationship, you can include somebody new on the menu. If you and your partner don’t feel ready for this kind of situation, then I really recommend you focus on kissing a lot. To me, kissing is one of the hottest games you can start sex with.
If you’re not in a couple, then it’s simple — improve your sex life by having a lot of sex with different people. But always, always have sex with people you really connect with in bed, and that you trust.