Pornceptual: Can you tell us about the concept of Trust Me?
Igor: I talked to François a year and a half ago about collaborating on a music project together. We agreed on something very electro/techno/pop––to make people dance. After some research on SoundCloud, I found Jona Davis from Berlin, we really liked his music and production. I already had some lyrics, François came with the dialogue and story.
François: I wanted to go with imagery to contrast the very 2037 electronic club sound of the track. To tell a ‘70s like’ gay horror story. The first reference I shared with Igor was this video called ‘bad gay porn acting.’ No one really got the joke in the Trust Me introduction, complaining the acting was so bad––People, wake up.
Had you worked together before?
Igor: François and I modeled together in the Yaz Bukey shows. I know Elora from the film she directed, CHARBON, a collective project on underground artists in Paris.
How has porn and the porn industry influenced this clip and your regard upon film and artistic mediums in general?
François: Unintentionally, like a curse, porn remains present in my non-porn projects. That’s why I decided to embrace it. Because as a sex worker, the more you deny it, the more it comes back to you.
Igor: The broke down car, the fetishism, lingerie, dirty talk––there is a lot to get inspired from. I appreciate the creative sets and cinematographic qualities of 70/80s porn.
Elora: Unlike a porno, everything in this clip was about suggestion: suggesting, in lieu of showing, laughing rather than moaning.
Is our sexuality applied to art, or can the two be unrelated?
François: Sexuality, death, anger, love, war––life. Sexuality is one of the essential bases that art relies on. I don’t think sexuality relies on art though, or not necessarily.
Elora: Of course they’re related. Tom of Finland’s drawings for instance.
Igor: La Cicciolina and Jeff Koons are good examples as well.
Elora, as a woman working with two gay men, did you ever feel you saw something they didn’t?
A lot of people told me it was obvious a girl directed it. I focused not just on dicks and butts, but what attracted me. It’s true my vision was not the same as Francois or Igor’s, but we agreed a majority of the time on how to film. We adapted our plan of shooting day by day. If François said a tree was pretty, we shot it. If Igor said, “I really want a close up frame.” We shot it.
Your video was banned on Youtube, why do you think that was? Is there any point in the video you feel violated their code of conduct, or was this blatant discrimination?
Elora: It was clearly a homophobic choice to ban our video. I received each sexual restriction bullet point and none of it was in our video: no penetration, no fellatio, no underage abuse––the only reason why they put it back was because we didn’t stop emailing them, stating we would not accept discrimination censure.
Igor: Effectively, we didn’t violate their codes, but they said it may shock a young public. A lot of gay content disappears from Youtube, or they make it harder to find it––like my videos.
François: Trust Me is much a fiction as Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No one gives a second look at graphic violent movie scenes. Calm down people.
The porn we are exposed to is not reality, nor is the clip for Trust Me. Social media has become a foundation of our lives, is there an age where porn is harmful?
Igor: I’ve been watching the porn films of my father since I was six. I don’t think I was shocked, I just knew that I was mostly interested by the dicks––maybe that’s why I’m gay [laughs]
François: I watched my first porn very early on a VHS by myself when parents were gone. I was around nine. I think it was a good way of discovering the anatomy on each sex. Is it suitable for a child of that age? maybe not. I made the decision to watch it, it was my own responsibility. It’s good to have limits in place, but to what degree? RIP Tumblr [laughs]
How do you think the video would have been received if the characters were two women? or a man and a woman?
Igor: if I [Igor] were playing a man, and François, a woman, no one would be shocked. If I was playing a woman––the fact of having a woman controlled by a man––may pose a problem. When it comes to films, I have the impression that people get that it’s fiction. There is a different perception when it comes to a music video though. We received lot of messages saying that we are promoting rape and violence.
François: The video had great reactions from a younger queer audience, more aware of fantasy, eccentricity, and gender fluidity. But I felt a lot of anger and ignorance towards us from an older, gendered intoxicated gay community. I’m not gonna apologize for wearing high heels and a silk bathrobe.
Igor, in all of your music videos, and many of your performances, you wear clothing that has been made with the intention of a woman wearing it.
I mostly wear “woman’s” clothes, because I like it. I like the differences of the silhouettes and styles––the choice. I’ve loved to wear heels since I was a child.
In my videos I like to play characters, and mostly prostitutes, I don’t know why. They inspire me a lot. I like to explore this sex related world and the characters within it.
In regards to those who commented on the video saying it promoted rape culture, what do you reply?
Elora: That there is no rape. It’s role playing. None of us will never ever promote or sublimate rape culture cause there is no discussion. This is a horrible crime.
François: If I want to incorporate a rape scene in the story, with a great director and a great camera and art direction, that doesn’t make my project a film about rape. Quentin Tarantino never doubted the importance of his work; violence, rape, death has never been an issue in his explanations and he is one of the most successful directors of his era. When you create a movie, you shouldn’t question yourself. Period.
Do you think rape culture is something which exists as prominently in the gay world?
Elora: I really don’t know, but to me, rape is nothing linked to culture or beauty. It’s something I wish could be eradicated.
In the global entertainment industry, nude photos, for the most part, are regarded as a stain on a career. Many release statements, citing them as harmful. How can porn be turned into something public and acceptable?
Igor: I think the best way is to completely embrace it. There are nudes pictures on the web of me, and I totally embrace it and like it. But still I’m a bit scared of doing sex scene for art projects because I know that it’s something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. I would be categorized as a “porn actor” doing art, and not the opposite. When I was young, I was a super fan of Catherine Ringer from Les Rita Mitsouko, and there were always someone to remind me that she did porn, like if her talent was not legitimate.
François, porn has helped you on a personal scale, you’ve built your career upon it, but have you ever felt that it hurt you on a larger one?
Does it hurt? It doesn’t. Society wanna make you feel that it hurts, that’s all. I’m banned from many mediums, such as the mainstream movie industry. I could say it’s homophobia, but it’s more than that. As a sex worker, I could redefine this as a sexual objectification and violence toward what they consider a ‘weakness’ following the same discrimination that leads to misogyny.
François, do you ever look back on your career and think you could have done things differently?
Everything I will try to do artistically (or not), outside of porn––whatever I do, or whatever I try to prove to others, will always be an illegitimate choice. But hey! I was the one who chose to make a pact with Lucifer [laughs]
I love sex. I love porn. But we are far from the evolution we believed in at the beginning of the 21st century. It’s a hard path, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
That’s just the way it is.
Interview: Tristan J Boisvert
Trust Me music video directed by: Élora Thévenet