Aroused is a brand new documentary featuring 16 women from the adult entertainment industry. The film aims to capture the real women behind the porn actress personas. In this interview, Director Deborah Anderson talks to Bronwen Winter Phoenix about the film.

You can read the interview below, or click on the video above to listen to the audio (apologies for the interference on the video).

Bronwen: Hi Deborah, how are you?

Deborah: I’m very good thank you, how are you?

Bronwen: I’m great thanks! So, let’s get right into talking about Aroused, it’s out in theaters and VOD on May 3, is that right?

Deborah: Yeah, it’s actually out on Thursday 2nd in California, in Hollywood, and then on the 3rd it’d be the rest of America.

Bronwen: And it’s brilliant in that it’s an up close and personal look at the women behind the porn personas, most importantly showing that these women are really just like anyone else; they’re intelligent, beautiful, well-spoken individuals. How do you feel about the end product, do you feel like you’ve achieved what you set out to do with it?

Deborah: I’d say that yes, I feel very proud of what I managed to get out of the situation. Because I’m not an actress, I’m not a Barbara Walters and there I am trying to create my next book and I have these incredible women sitting in front of me waiting to reveal who they are and elements of their lives that they haven’t felt comfortable to speak about before – and they did that for me. They gave so much, so yeah, I’m very excited about what I was able to create from their stories.

BWP: In the film you also talk about the bigger picture, how we’re using sex to sell, we’re watching porn yet we don’t always have a great opinion of the people who make it – do you think our attitudes are changing in that way, or is that why this documentary is so important?

DA: You know I don’t think attitudes so much are changing, I think we’ve still got a very warped idea about what sex really is, and I think that the beginning of this project really wasn’t a story about porn, it was about creating a platform for these women to be heard, to be humanised, and therefore not be seen as sex objects. And therefore we could ask the viewer take a hold of our viewpoint when it comes to what we think porn and sex and home sex are and you know, how we look at sex and really what our own issues are when it comes to sex, so it kind of became this whole dialogue of the over usage of sex in everything. Creating these massive billboards in these big boulevards where kids are seeing them, looking at what we’re teaching our youth, and you’re seeing the kind of fornication energy there; we’re all trying to aspire to be sexy. It’s like why have we gotten to that place, and  just to open up that dialogue, I thought best people to speak to would be the most sexualised women on the planet.

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BWP: Did the whole process change any of your personal views or beliefs about the industry itself?

DA: Yeah, of course, I think we all have pre-conceived notions about what the industry is and I have met the most amazing people throughout the journey of creating this project. I’ve made friends that I didn’t think I would make. The agent Mike Moz who gathered all the girls together for me couldn’t have been more gracious, more commending of my work as an artist, and seeing the bigger picture he really called in the right girls for this project. Now I’ve made friends, I’ve been on holiday with a couple of the girls, I’ve created a bond on a human level. You know they’ve chosen to do a job that I personally wouldn’t want to do, but the fact that they do it and they have a very business-minded aspect to that, within them; they’re very powerful women so there’s something to be said about that. Before I even got to the filming time-period I was having a difficult time with strangers and the like saying I was about to do this project and just watching them react to me, that what was so beguiling, and I just realised I had to do this. Everybody had an opinion, everybody had a question.

BWP: You said in the film you didn’t watch any of the films the actresses had been in prior to the shoot, but did you go back and watch any of their work afterwards, and how did you feel about that?

DA: Of course, of course… it freaked me out! (Laughs) Because I’ve met these incredible women who had some great stories to tell and the next thing, they’re doing things that I’m bending my head to the left going ‘Oh my God, how do you do that’, and it was really quite shocking. I can’t lie, I was a bit thrown I think, having met them as women and then realising that was what they were doing as a job, and how they came across as women and I met them on that level… Then seeing what they do for their fans, and the personas they’d created – it really was eye-opening on many levels and I think I recall calling a couple of my friends afterwards going ‘Oh my God, you have to look at this!’ I understand the girls want to get tied up and asphyxiated and various different kind of things when it comes to their performance, but that was shocking because the girls I met didn’t come across as that girl. So yeah, I was definitely moved by the work, but still there was no judgement, it was more a case of ‘oh, I get it, this is what they do, this is what they’re good at’ and you know, as long as you stand back and you’re viewing it as some form of expression, rather than judgement, then each to their own – as long as it’s not harming themselves. The girls that I met I feel know what they’re doing and they understand the nature of the business of sex, and that is what they are doing, and they’re good at it.

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BWP: Yeah, I mean they seem really confident, powerful, intelligent women which is why it was such a joy to watch. I was a bit shocked when Fran Amidor said that every time one of these women does a scene on camera, that a tiny bit of their soul disappears, and that they’ll need a good amount of therapy afterwards. What are your personal thoughts on that, do you think that’s true?

DA: I feel that it’s a personal viewpoint, because Fran’s seen it all. She’s not just seen the successful girls, she’s seen the girls that come in that are pretending to be of age to get into this industry, that are lost, that are looking for some sort of adoration and love, so Fran’s got a very different viewpoint. She’s seen that industry and that business. As far as my personal thought when she said that was ‘yeah, I understand if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and you’re doing it because you’re pressured and you are drugged up and you are not honouring who you are as a woman. The girls that I met I felt they know what they’re doing. They are not on drugs, and they realise the business so I think that when you’re doing something that’s not honouring who you are then you’re chipping away at your spirit, at your soul, and you don’t have to be a porn star to do that.

BWP: Absolutely, I completely agree with you there. Would you consider exploring the industry any further after this project?

DA: I thought you were going to say ‘would you consider becoming a porn star (laughs), I was like ‘are you going to go there with this question?!’

BWP: (Laughs) Well, would you? (jokingly)

DA: Well, it was never meant to be a porn story, it was never meant to be an exploration of that industry; it was always to be an exploration of sex and the women who work in the industry of sex and the energy I wanted to give them was just to give them the platform to tell their story. You know, we can use that to better understand who we are as human beings outside of that business and why we find that so attractive and why we are so addicted to this, watching porn, being entertained by porn, looking down upon these women in porn, that’s what I was really so interested in. So for me, I’m not interested in doing a male version, I never wanted to make a train wreck movie, I wanted to make something empowering for these women and men, us as humans looking at our own sexually; I think that is what this is all about, and it carries into the porn story because that’s the nature of the girls that work in the business, so I tried very hard not to have that take over the essence of what this is, so no, I don’t – I think I did it.

BWP: Okay, so onto the next project, what are you working on just now?

DA: I just signed the deal to do the Bibi campaign, which is a fashion brand that is worldwide, and we’re basically redoing the face of the brand, we’re truly rebranding the entire look of the company visually which is a joy, that’s why I love to do, and we start shooting in a couple of weeks! And they will be on billboards across the world, which is very exciting.

BWP: Excellent! Well, thanks very much, Deborah, for your time today. It’s been a great interview.

DA: Thank you so much!

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