Watch Our First Documentary: ‘Join the Social Sex Revolution’
We’re proud to announce the release of Chandelier’s first documentary film, “Join the Social Sex Revolution,” exploring the mission of MakeLoveNotPorn, Cindy Gallop’s feminist counterpoint to clichéd porn, celebrating "real world sex" in all its glorious, beautiful, silly, messy, reassuring humanness. Directed by The Front’s Thalia Mavros, the 15-minute feature was filmed during MakeLoveNotPorn’s week-long residency at Mermaid Ranch. After the recent premiere at the Ace Hotel, we sat down with Cindy and Thalia to talk about the film and why the future of sex is shareable.
What makes MakeLoveNotPorn so revolutionary to you as a filmmaker? Why make this film?
Thalia Mavros: It’s exciting to see the beginnings of what I think is a brave new world, like it's one of the big, last frontiers. With sex, we’re uncomfortable having these conversations, and this documentary, I think, is a service. Seeing the real people behind MakeLoveNotPorn, how truly authentic, genuine, passionate, motivated they are, and how they really want to change the world and are actively doing so — that's what the documentary wants to bring into the world. That's the heart of it.
Is that what you want people to take away from the film, a better understanding of what you’ve called the “social sex revolution,” Cindy?
Cindy Gallop: Everybody's dying to talk about sex, which is why MakeLoveNotPorn is doing what it's doing. I hope the thing people will really understand when they see this documentary is why we call ourselves the social sex revolution, with the emphasis on "social." Too many people think it's the sex. Actually what’s revolutionary about what MakeLoveNotPorn is manifesting in the world for the first time, is the social aspect of sex in a world where every other part of our lives is social. I think that Thalia really captured that brilliantly in the way that she directed and brought our vision to life in this documentary. That's what I want people to really get out of it, why this is the social sex revolution, but why the most revolutionary thing about it is social.
When you started this work, Cindy, was there a catalyst, an "a-ha" moment?
CG: Well, not in the way you're talking about, no, because MakeLoveNotPorn is an accident. I began realizing, through dating younger men, and the men I date tend to be in their twenties. Nine or 10 years ago, when I encountered this issue of porn acting as default sex education, I thought, "Gosh. If I'm experiencing this, other people must be as well." I didn't know that, because as I say nine or 10 years ago, the media had not discovered this, no one was talking about it, and I was on my own in isolation going, you know, "I guess, this must be happening to other people. I'm going to do something about it." Purely as a little side venture, I put up this little website and the entire world responded in a way that was absolutely staggering.
Would you say MNLP is on a mission then?
CG: Our mission is one thing only, to help make it easier to talk about sex. Actually I decided to take every dynamic in social media and apply them to the one area no other social platform will do, to socialize sex: to make real-world sex and talking about it socially acceptable and therefore ultimately just as shareable as anything else we share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
And how did it evolve?
CG: I've received thousands of emails to my MakeLoveNotPorn inbox, and by the way this is ongoing. They come from everybody: young and old, male and female, straight and gay, from every single country in the world. Beyond the actual site I'd put up, what amazed people was simply that I'd stood on a stage in public and talked about something everybody knows and no one ever speaks about. As a result, people felt able to tell me anything. They poured their hearts out to me in email. They told me things about their sex lives and their porn-watching habits they'd never told anybody before. They wrote to me for advice. 15-year-old boys wrote, 50-year-old women wrote, and it was the sheer human impact of all of these emails arriving day after day after day that eventually made me feel I had to do something.
Thalia, your filmmaking company The Front describes itself as “born out of fire, frustration, and passion.” It seems to share that quality with Make Love Not Porn. Can you tell us a little bit about your kinship with MNLP?
TM: One of the reasons why I was attracted to this doc initially was Cindy and her reputation for being a provocateur, an arbiter for social change, which is right in line with our values. We’re a creative force built on feminism and making sure that underrepresented people, females, female identified humans are, have room at the front. We can create room at the front for them. We shared the same value system. We share the same ideals. Cindy asked for a female director and an all-female team, which was exactly what we intended to do. It was just a perfect alignment of the stars.
When we subscribed to The Front’s newsletter, we noticed it said, "Troublemakers unite." For each of you, how does this idea of troublemaking inform the documentary people are going to see?
TM: When people ask me, "How do you find your story?" I always say, "I look for trouble." I think really what it comes down to is curiosity: the ability to see what's next, what the world has perhaps accepted and hasn't questioned in a while. As troublemakers, our role is to stir things up, to make people question, think about their own intentions and motivation. Really, they're the change agents in the world. I’m proud to call myself a troublemaker, and I think it's something that we built the whole company on. I think we're all fearless, which is another word I love. When I say fearless, it's fearless of the consequences, fearless of what other people think, and fearless to chase what we believe in.
CG: The question is interesting. I don’t describe myself as a troublemaker. Last year I spoke in Sydney at the Mumbrella 360 conference, and on the conference website, they described me as "Troublemaker Cindy Gallop." A number of women and men challenged them on that description, because they felt that it was a biased description of somebody simply talking about how to do business for a new world order. I wasn't bothered either way, because I don't care what people call me. I will just say that I think that description comes out of the fact that anybody who challenges the status quo is seen as causing trouble, and of course my point is, women challenge the status quo because we are never it. I'd say all I'm doing is acting on things that I feel very strongly about. I would love to see a world one day where that doesn’t necessarily translate into the descriptive “troublemaker,” because we're all doing it.
“When people ask me, ‘How do you find your story?’ I always say, ‘I look for trouble.’” — Thalia Mavros
A big part of what we do with The Mermaid Ranch is incubate thinkers and make space for projects that challenge the status quo. How did you feel about having that space to work in? How did being there inform the documentary as a whole?
TM: It permeated every decision that we made. Being able to bring all these wonderful people into a space and be together with the actors there, really allowed us to get to know each other. To go deep and really uncover some of the deeper motivations and all the different interesting facets that everybody brought to the table.
CG: This was the first-ever corporate show of support I've gotten from within my own industry. Chandelier really got it. Got what we were doing and saw the importance and power of it. Offered us a space to be able to develop it further. That was just a really amazing opportunity that my team are so grateful to have had.
“The documentary challenges the iconography and visual cliché of sex in our culture. We’re so closed-minded about sex, because we force it into the shadows.” — Cindy Gallop
Whether they come to the premiere or watch it online later, is there anything else that you want to share about the documentary?
CG: Yes, I'd like to bring it back to what I was saying at the start of this interview: why in the social sex revolution, our emphasis is on the term ‘social.’ The documentary challenges the iconography and visual cliché of sex in our culture. We’re so closed-minded about sex, because we force it into the shadows. A very important part of this documentary is that we don’t operate in the shadows. We’re social in everything that we do.
What, ultimately, do you hope the film conveys to people about the social experience of sex?
TM: That it’s about opening up into the sunlight, into the world, making it feel warm and approachable and not something that people have to hide behind.
CG: What we have is a beautiful, bright, gorgeous, shareful, joyous, happy, life-affirming, celebratory, communal, phenomenal, viewing experience. Which is the absolute opposite of dark, in the shadows, secretive, uncertain, guilty, embarrassed, shameful. I love the fact that this documentary is a visual manifestation, an emotional manifestation from everything that we're about. Being able to own our sexuality, acknowledge that we're all sexual beings, and ultimately create a much happier world accordingly. It's the perfect start of a journey, when everybody joins the social sex revolution.
Words by The Editors. Photo (c) Christo Katsiaouni.