I recently watched an odd video I found on a porn site. It was the title that enticed me to click on it, Playing With Things In The Supermarket. It was made by a German porn actress named Lucy Cat. She has a variety of standard-issue porn videos scattered around the internet, but there was something about this one that caught my attention.
The movie consists of Lucy wandering the isles of what looks like the German equivalent of Home Depot. She idly peruses the wares on the shelves and every so often takes one down, lifts up her skirt, inserts the item into her vagina, and briefly masturbates with it. Then she smiles at the camera as if she and the viewer have shared a little private joke and then puts the item back on the shelf.
There isn’t really much more to it than that. Sometimes someone walks by in the distance, but Lucy is always hidden, just barely, by a cart or a sign. Her attitude is playful and devilish. She looks at the viewer and includes him or her in her naughty game. It creates a kind of bond or intimacy.
With Lucy Cat, we get the transgression of breaking the store rules (although I doubt there is a written rule that specifically forbids what she is doing) and the transgression of being sexual in public. There are actually several layers of transgression at work.
Lucy is coopting a space reserved for shopping by secretly twisting its purpose to her own ends. She is also subverting the purpose of the items she is commandeering, which through extension subverts the whole domestic world of kitchens, and laundry rooms and turns everything into a sexual playground. On top of that, she is being sexual in a public space which transgresses the conventional divide between public and private behaviors.
She may be hiding her activities from the people in the store but she is not hiding them from us. The making of the film itself is transgressive. She is not only documenting her actions, but she is uploading them to porn sites. Lastly we the audience are required to transgress with her simply by opening up a porn site on our computer. Of course, there is something ironic about calling porn movies and Pornhub transgressive when every day there are 68 million searches for porn on Google, constituting one-quarter of the total traffic on the internet. However, this doesn’t stop porn and masturbation from still being taboo subjects.
As a piece of porn Lucy’s film is not particularly arousing. It doesn’t seem to be intended as a masturbatory aid, although one never knows. There is the visual eroticism of her body but what is more erotic is her depravity. Her behavior in the store implies that she is uninhibited and enthusiastic about her sexuality.
There is no shortage of porn videos featuring sex in public. Enough people get a thrill from the danger of getting caught indulging in such behavior that it has its own category on most porn lists. There is of course an endless variety porn genres. There is something egalitarian about porn in that once you are willing to cross into this forbidden world there is something for everyone. Whatever turns you on is embraced and provided for.
Still the majority of porn no matter what its form, is oriented for the male gaze and often reflects the same problematic dynamics. Women are most often depicted as playthings for men to use and dominate much like the objects Lucy is taking off the shelves.
In general Lucy, Cat does not seem concerned with the sexual politics that her videos are embroiled in but this video could be seen as less problematic than normal pornographic productions. The video is less about watching sex and more about something akin to a self-indulgent prank. One that empowers the prankster. The video celebrates her creativity and courage. She is taking objects that were meant for specific and banal purposes and commandeering them for her own ends. She turns an unimaginative, utilitarian, corporate, capitalist space into a site of exploration, pleasure, and discovery.
The film feels like a documentary. It does not appear that she is playing a role. She seems genuinely present and invested in playing this game. It is of course possible that it’s all just a disingenuous performance for money. It’s impossible to fully untangle the complete measure of her motivations. Her performance could be a chore done solely to earn money but it could also be motivated by excitement and arousal. It is most likely not purely one thing or another.
The video I watched was posted by teen2700 but the original title of the video as posted by Lucy was Fotzentauglichkeitstest Baumarkt or “Cunt-suitability test, hardware store”. A very German title to be sure. Accurate, but not the sexiest of phrasings. According to her site, she is a student studying transport operations specializing in logistics in Rostock, but everything about her from being a playful sex kitten to an aspiring student has the possibility of simply being a fictional persona meant to entice viewers. I did try to contact her but had no luck.
When it comes to the ethics of pornography it can be difficult to pin down exactly where pornography becomes a problem. It seems predictable and relatively unproblematic that artists would include depictions of sexual activity along with all the rest of human behavior, in their imagery, but as a society, we try to separate porn from art. Porn is a mass-produced commodity, an industry meant to satisfy sexual desires. Art is supposed to be a thoughtful depiction of the human experience, but these categories are easily muddied. Egon Schiele, Jeff Koons, or the Hindu temple at Khajuraho easily thwart any attempt at keeping art separate from porn
Lucy’s video presents this same challenge as well. It certainly qualifies as performance art. I went to art school and let me tell you Lucy’s video is tame compared to some of what goes on in the arty ivory tower.
Cultivating a deeper understanding of Lucy Cat and the larger context of Fotzentauglichkeitstest Baumarkt is not the point of this essay. The point is the four minutes of film. Since I found it on a porn site I was predisposed to thinking of it along pornographic lines but what is depicted in that 4 minutes could easily qualify as a prank, performance art, a joke, experimental cinema, or a crime. Some things have to be taken out of context to be understood. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it isn’t always a duck.
How the video is categorized or labeled determines its purpose. If it is art it provides some kind of comment about the world, if it’s porn it is meant to titillate. It does not fit particularly well into the body of her work as a whole, except that she does seem excited by the fact that her body has several orifices and she enjoys being aggressive with them. The majority of her porn videos are all brightly lit and in your face. Even for porn, her videos seem particularly immodest in their dedication to enthusiastic penetration.
As mentioned earlier there is the possibility that all these images are entirely false but whether she is an actress playing out a persona for clicks or a woman on a journey of sexual exploration the situation and the acts are real.
In the end, all we actually have is four minutes of video. A short film that has an unexpected complexity and richness due to the ambiguity of why it was made and for whose benefit. It appears in the film that the entire situation, including our watching it, is for Lucy Cat’s benefit, we are just along for the ride. In the end, what we see has as much to do with our own preconceived suppositions as it does with what is actually in the film.
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