Let’s Talk About Sex: An Interview With Filmmaker Katherine Linton


In six half-hour episodes, here! TV’s miniseries Lesbian Sex and Sexuality takes viewers on an eye-opening — and sexy — tour of the state of lesbian sex today. "The research wasn’t bad," said executive producer Katherine Linton with a laugh. She recently spoke to AfterEllen.com about making the series, which is available on DVD this week.

The first episode, "Porn Today: Pushing the Limits," talks to envelope-pushing producers Shine Houston (Pink & White Productions) and Dana Dane (Erocktavision). "For Your Pleasure: Erotic Dancers" goes behind the scenes with burlesque performers. "The Evolution of Erotica" examines the development of lesbian erotica in print and video.

"Fulfilling Fantasy" features interviews with photographer Phyllis Christopher, the pin-up girls of the I Heart Brooklyn Girls calendar, and a hilarious "audition" from comedian Julie Goldman to be the host of the series. "Relationships Outside the Box" delves into the lives of women in polyamorous relationships as well as those involved in BDSM. "Selling Sex to the Mainstream" focuses on lesbians who work in the mainstream adult film industry, including Skye Blue of Platinum Blue Productions.

Filmmaker Katherine Linton, who was a long-time host and producer on the PBS gay news magazine In the Life, also produced The Evolution Will Be Televised, the inaugural program for Logo, AfterEllen.com’s parent company, and the critically acclaimed documentary Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig. She talked with AfterEllen.com about the most surprising thing she learned in making the series, what she’s working on next, and why polyamory’s not for her.

AfterEllen.com: Tell me why you made Lesbian Sex and Sexuality.

Katherine Linton: I’d met with Meredith [Kadlec, vice president of original programming at here!] about some other ideas, and she said, "You know, I’ve never seen anything done well on lesbian sex." And I said, "Me neither." So we both got really chatter, chatter, chatter about it, and then she said, "Could you work up something about that?" So I just wrote a proposal for the series, came up with all the topics, and we went from there. So it was really — you know, wow, it hadn’t really been done.

I’ve said this over and over, and that’s partly because there’s really not been a venue for it to air on TV. So here! is a venue. They can do that. I mean, they have HBO standards, but Logo couldn’t do Lesbian Sex and Sexuality.

AE: Right. Have you ever seen the HBO series Real Sex?

KL: Yes, I know that HBO has done stuff. I’ve only seen a couple of them, so I haven’t seen anything that they’ve done on … lesbian sex. But I think the difference — I guess I shouldn’t say anything because I don’t really know the series that well, but I think it’s more about titillation, and that wasn’t our intent.

AE: Right.

We wanted to make it hot and make people blush, but we also wanted people to walk away learning something, you know, and [to] see these as really bold, empowered women. We tried to contextualize things.

AE: So in making this series and meeting all these people and watching all that porn, what did you learn about lesbian sexuality that most surprised you?

Wow, that the girls are busy [laughs] doing a lot more things than I had imagined. I mean … I’m 40. I’m in the clubs all the time seeing everything, but I just think that more and more — and it’s a generational thing — I think that the younger generation is much more overt and open about talking about sexuality.

I think that for so long we were — I mean not just as women but as lesbians — sort of marginalized from talking about our sexuality or anyone talking about our desires, etc. … I think that had an effect on generations previous to me and to even probably trickling down to mine.

I think that I was most surprised at how incredibly bold — I mean the Shine Houston girls, boy, their conversations would floor anybody. [Laughs.] What they would talk about in terms of sex was like, wow, you know, over lunch. … Also I had never considered or given any thought to polyamory. I didn’t know much about it.