Erika Lust’s 5-minute erotic film experiments on YouTube

Update 11:31am CT, May 26: The video has been pulled from YouTube, and has been uploaded to Vimeo. YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to why. A statement from Lust’s team noted that she is in the process of appealing, and plans to respond with a new video

Erika Lust is experimenting with what a “teaser” can be on YouTube

The feminist porn director uploaded the five-minute short Do You Find My Feet Suckable? to YouTube on May 13. More than 144,000 views later, it remains, ostensibly because it hasn’t violated the platform’s rules on nudity and sexual content

Lust’s clip, which is part of her crowdsourced XConfessions series, might be considered by some to be a foot fetish video, but it falls more in line with a trailer for a new indie film or webseries than something you’d find on Pornhub. In the past, YouTube has allowed channels showing live animals being crushed, and often, sexually explicit content is allowed if its labeled “documentary” or educational, so the line between “not safe for work” (NSFW) and SFW is blurry. 

YouTube’s guidelines go on to explain that a “video that contains nudity or other sexual content may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific or artistic, and it isn’t gratuitously graphic.” There is toe-sucking and the removal of a woman’s underwear in Lust’s short, but the focus is on the sensual dynamic between man and woman; on the eye contact and body language.  

Lust is part of a growing movement toward sex-positive and ethical porn, which eschews smut mills like Pornhub or YouPorn and gives more power to filmmakers and performers. The YouTube experiment is an interesting one: It’s opening her work up to newer, younger audiences.  

“Everything is audiovisual now, and YouTube is one of the biggest audiovisual platforms for the upcoming generations,” Lust said in an email to the Daily Dot. “So for me, it’s a way of reaching that new audience so they can experience my films, be inspired, and see that there are more options out there than just the mainstream. It’s our responsibility that they have that choice and aren’t warped by bad, chauvinistic, and badly made adult content.” 

She added that it’s not about “showing SFW porn” or getting past censors, since her channel is listed as age-restricted. 

“[I]t’s about illustrating fantasies, sexualities, and erotica in a non-explicit way,” she said. “The short films I am releasing are special edits that contain all the narrative, context, and eroticism with strong characters and great cinematography, but all without the explicit sex. It’s a way to show how the films can still be erotic in a more suggestive and teasing way, and can show sex-positive attitudes where consent and relatability are paramount.”