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A still from Sarah Baker’s Angel
A still from Sarah Baker’s AngelCourtesy Baron and Baroness

Get your pulse racing at London’s last erotic cinema

Baron and Baroness magazine question what sexy means by hosting a series of films that they hope will be thought about rather than just wanked upon

It’s staggering to believe that in sexually liberated 2016, there isn’t a cinema where you can go and watch sexy films. Yes, we have peep shows, but look for somewhere to watch a thought-provoking, well-made, artistic film that just happens to get your pulse racing and you’ll come up empty-handed (literally).

At the end of this month, purveyors of the perverse, Baron and Baroness magazine will team up with Ditto to launch a 30 seat erotic cinema called The Erotic Paradiso Cinema in London. Artists such as Oriana Fox, Edith Bergfors, Eloise Parry, Tyrone Lebon, Sarah Baker (whose film we exclusively premiere here), and Sharma Osbourne have all been invited to show new or existing works that explore sex and sexuality in what is promised to deliver “the finest films about sex and sexuality around”.

Expect to see Eori Wakakuwa’s lesbian rom-com, Tokyo Midnight’, plus new releases, such as cross-dressing thriller, My Little Cupcake (Eloise Parry); a sexy thriller for the lady about town and her gay best friend, Angels (Sarah Baker); and the debut of Baroness’s erotic pop video, Xstasy, masterminded by Emma Gruner and electronic musician Viva Victoria. Of course, popcorn, issues of both mags, new fragrance “Heaven”, and, of course, hand wipes, will be on sale in the cinema’s shop.

As it prepares to open its doors on 27 October, we spoke with creative director of Baron and Baroness, Matthew Holroyd, to find out more.

This is the last remaining erotic cinema in London – why do you think that is?

Matthew Holroyd: Yes, it’s the last remaining adult and erotic cinema in London. Period. I went to the last one in Deptford, as I wanted to work with them, but they got closed down and moved for a week somewhere east, but it got closed again. It was the same business that owned the infamous City Road Cinema. I loved both venues actually, they were kind of quaint, you could bring your own beer and sausage rolls, have a chat with the visitors, who were mainly 60 plus and then get sexy if you wanted to. It wasn’t that dissimilar to visiting a social club, as lots of the viewers knew each other and regularly attended.

What, in your opinion, is the significance of the erotic cinema?

Matthew Holroyd: For me, the very fact that a venue is closed down for showing copulation is insane – again, evidence that culturally we find sex and sexuality incredibly perplexing. Reflecting over Baron and Baroness’s past issues, I think what we have done really well, on a very small scale, is to rethink how we visualise sex or what is sexy and I wanted to bring that to moving image.

Why was it important to bring it back?

Matthew Holroyd: It’s incredibly important to me – as pornography and the surface of pornography influences so much of cinema and TV – whether it’s casting choices or show dynamics. Pornography is the main source of inspiration as it supposedly represents what the majority find sexy and our sexual desires. The cinema, in many ways, is a critique of that.

Will this be an ongoing project?

Matthew Holroyd: Yes, I would love it to be. We are currently experimenting with different ways to work with moving image and I want a platform to show it on. We are launching over November a new postmodern pop star called “The Baroness”. I have been working on (it) with the performance artist Emma Gruner and electronic artist Viva Victoria and it will be premiered at the cinema.

“The films on show are to be thought about rather just be looked/wanked upon” – Matthew Holroyd

What does erotic cinema give us that Hollywood sex scenes don’t?

Matthew Holroyd: As mentioned before pornography influences so much of Hollywood, I mean you just have to look the appearance of Hollywood actors and actresses to see what I mean. Unlike Hollywood, The Porno Paradiso will present films that are to be thought about rather than just to be looked upon and also to challenge ideas on what we find sexy.

What were you looking for when curating these films? Was there an element in particular?

Matthew Holroyd: I was really interested in films that would critique what we find sexy. I was also interested in picking films that in many ways were paradoxes, whether they were hyper-stylised and constructed, and placing that with films that are more candid and truthful. The films are all fairly amusing, which has always been incredibly important to the formula of Baron.

What’s your favourite sexiest moment on screen?

Matthew Holroyd: The artist Sarah Bakers’ film Angel, is amazing – lots of close-up film action.

What do you hope people take away from the cinema?

Matthew Holroyd: The line-up is new and stimulating and the films on show are to be thought about rather just be looked/wanked upon. 

The Erotic Paradiso Cinema launches 27 October at London’s Ditto studios. Tickets can be purchased here