In the wake of last week’s heinous attacks on Paris, I found myself thinking about the power of words. There were many to choose from. As we’ve come to expect after attacks in the Occidental world attributed to the Middle East, talking heads were inescapable and they all had well-worn tropes to flog. Us versus them, the existence of evil, the need for us to come together against – what, exactly? Speaking from Vienna, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the world of, “our resolve to eliminate the scourge of extremist groups from the face of earth. Make no mistake, this resolve only grows stronger in the face of this unspeakable brutality.” He hinted at the most triggering word of all: terrorist.
Statements like Kerry’s are made all the more frightening by their ambiguity. The definition of an extremist group, after all, depends on what you think the norm is. It’s a big world, there’s a lot of normals. Is it terrorism when a country builds a military base overseas, when a local economy is decimated with the influx of international corporations, when a community’s fresh water source is privatized? Surely those count as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”? Nonetheless, the word terrorist invokes absolutes, pure malevolence against a tenuously defined “us.”
Given the word with which she self-baptized, Mexico City artist Pornoterrorista must be unafraid of being perceived as the other. “Really, the name works as a kind of witchcraft,” she told me last week at her friend’s apartment in DF’s Doctores neighborhood in the middle of a fundraising campaign for her new book on the female prostate. One would imagine “Pornoterrorista”’s fusion of sex and violence deterred basic bitches – and likely, any pesky heart attacks — at her performances.
The artist (originally named Diana Torres, originally from Madrid) bases her fundamentalism on the human body, the vast potential and intricacies of its sexual drive. Pornoterrorista looks to strike fear into the heart of the capitalist, patriarchal system that robs us of knowledge of our most private selves. She told me that she retired from performance this spring, but in her 12 years on stage she eviscerated traditional notions of respectability: penetrative sex was common within her canon, as well as having her assistant fist her to squirting orgasms that drenched the front row of audience. I like her, or maybe I should say her vision of normal squares with mine. We have the same enemies.
Pucha Potens is Pornoterrorista’s second book (her first, Pornoterrorismo, serves as Torres’ manifesto and memoir.) Torres is adamant that we learn more about women’s prostates — commonly misidentified as the G spot — and whose potential for facilitating sexual pleasure is obscured by modern medicine and our skittishness about all things vagina-related.
After a hiccup with her publishers, Pornoterrorista will be printing the thing herself on Papayita Editions, her brand new imprint with which she plans to publish the works of other feminist sex writers going forward. The book will be released in Spanish – and though she had a wildly successful fundraising event in Mexico City last week, she’s always looking for more support if you want to throw some $ towards the publication of feminazi propaganda in Mexico.
I read a review of your first book, Pornoterrorismo that locates that term as proof of your fundamentalism – you put the body and it’s functions above all else. Was this the reason you chose the name?
Pornoterrorism, I like to think, is everything that the whores can shake, to shake the capitalist, patriarchal society that we live in.
We created the word in a performance group in Madrid in 1998. It was a group that was really into gore – throwing blood at the audience, intestines. We’d hit ourselves, we’d fuck. Very extreme. In 2001 when the Twin Towers fell, I noticed the word “terrorist” began to take on a different kind of meaning. They used the word to install a system of terror in the citizenry, a different kind of fear. We did a performance that we called “Pornoterrorism” in 2001 in which I came out in a burka and the other actor came out in an American flag and I beat him up, fucked him in the ass. Very extreme. Afterwards, I brought the term back in 2006 because it seemed like a very powerful word and that it went beyond what two crazy teenagers had done in the ‘90s.
I have the privilege of coming from a family that was – well, kind of hippie. My house had open doors, macaroni curtains. So I learned about what I was hearing and seeing, the sexuality of my parents, since I was little. As though it was a natural, normal, healthy thing. Like, you go to bed with someone and they tell you they don’t touch themselves. It’s like, dude I’ve been touching myself since I was four and no one ever told me that it was bad! That’s a privilege. And what do you do if you have privilege and you’re an anarchist? You share it. Or you try to make it so that it benefits others who don’t have it. I’ve never been raped, never been attacked, they’ve never infected me with a religion. I’ve never been baptized. This is an advantage.
Why did you choose to focus on the female prostate in Pucha Potens?
Well, really I didn’t know what the prostate was until I was pretty far along in the investigation. What interested me was how it was possible that a part of the sexuality of some many pussies be so unknown. The majority of us who produce liquid [from the prostate] think that it’s something bad. But from the beginning — why are you looking at me like that, has it never happened to you?
Well it has always happened to me. I’m lucky enough to have come from an extremely sex positive family and my body has never been a source of shame for me. But when I started having sex with women, I realized that this [the squirting] wasn’t happening for them. That’s something to think about, no? Something to investigate.
I’ve been looking for information on this for six, seven years. I came across an organ that is next to the urethra that is known as the Skene’s glands. I started researching this organ in academic texts — which were really hard to get access to when you’re not a scientist, or when you don’t have your medical doctorate. I think it’s very important to reclaim our knowledge of our bodies. It has to do with feminism, so that we know what happens when we fuck, basically.
There’s a common perception that in Mexico, sexual education is not a priority. Have you found that to be the case?
When I arrived, I integrated in a very specific circle of people who were interested in themes of sexuality. The rest of the country? Well I’ve only been to 13 states. It seems to me that there’s this European ideal that in Mexico everyone lives in caves. I think that’s the rancor from having lost the colony. I’m a little nervous to enter into those kinds of prejudices. I’m working with my own interior colonialism, being from Madrid.
I understand. I mean, I’m from the United States. How would you characterize the audience for your books?
I write them so that anyone can access what’s written in them. In general, women. And men, and trans — but men that have a certain type of consciousness. Look at what the book is called, to begin with. The first was called Pornoterrorismo. Who is going to approach a book that’s called that? You have to have a certain kind of interest for that to draw your attention. It’s the same with the second book, it’s called Pucha Potens – in Spain it was called Coño Potens, but I love the Mexican version, “pucha” is just wonderful to me. Basically they’re meant for anyone who wants to open their mind and body, to be more critical of the forms of manipulation of the system, forced heterosexuality, all these tricks.
Tell me about your campaign to promote Pucha Potens.
My publishing house here told me 15 days before the book was supposed to come out that they just didn’t have the money. I was like wow, what do I do now? You know, 200 pesos in my pocket, planning on getting that $1,000 advance check in October that I could live off of for three months. So really it was a shock. But I’ve always wanted my own imprint. I have a lot of friends that write amazing things and no one else wants to publish them. I want to publish them.
That’s how life is, one month goes by and you have a completely different mission – to help. In Madrid, in May I did my last performance. I am used up.
You killed Pornoterrorista?
No, because luckily the idea has expanded. No, no I didn’t kill her. Actually I want there to be more Pornoterroristas, on stages, in the streets, among the militant. I have this idea to give workshops on Pornoterrorism.
How sweet! I want to take a pornoterrorism workshop.
Doing performance, it tires you. To be doing a performance each month for 12 years it’s like, enough. I’ve lost a lot of blood.
Header + final image: Marc Garcia