Behind the Scenes with Afrodite Superstar

An interview with the film’s director, Abiola Abrams

By Jamye Waxman

 

Afrodite Superstar

Afrodite Superstar is an AVN award-winning film produced by Venus Hottentot, a pseudonym for Abiola Abrams, who chose to reveal her real to Babeland during our interview. Executive-produced by legendary feminist filmmaker Candida Royalle, Afrodite Superstar was nominated for 7 AVN Awards and won the category for Best Musical Score. Abiola Adams, TV personality, art filmmaker, hip hop feminist, and chick lit author has chosen to “come out” as the director of Afrodite Superstar.


Babeland
: Abiola, tell us about your movie, Afrodite Superstar.


Abiola Abrams
: Afrodite Superstar is a film about a wealthy and naïve socialite who isn’t sure what it means to own her body, or what the label sexiness means, and her humorous romp toward figuring it out. For me as a filmmaker, story is everything, and I worked really hard on this short film script, which then incorporates a variety of explicit sex scenes to become a featurette.

 

Babeland: That sounds great—so why direct the film anonymously?


Abiola Abrams
: It’s very hip hop to have a tag or pseudonym, and I didn’t want this work to conflict with anything else I was doing. I chose the name Venus Hottentot to commemorate the life of a forgotten South African woman who was sexually exploited in Europe in the nineteenth century. I made the film to empower women like me. That’s why I have chosen to come out now as a part of a promotional tour that I am doing for all of my work called Dare to Be a B.A.D. Girl  – Beautiful and Daring. I have an amazing fan base, and I want to be honest with them. If I am telling them to be B.A.D. – beautiful and daring, I have to dare to do the same.


Babeland
: You are a TV host, art filmmaker and chick lit author. How did you come to direct erotic film Afrodite Superstar?


Abiola Abrams
: All of my work is about empowering women culturally, politically, emotionally, and sexually. My previous films have included the topics of mental illness, communication, race, and gender. I was giving a motivational talk about sexual self esteem in Harlem, and it struck me that a different kind of sex education was necessary for adults in my generation, the hip hop generation. HIV and AIDS numbers are rising. Abstinence messages, though noble, are not working. For me, the images that are currently being reflected in pop culture of women of color – largely by people of color—are exploitive and degrading. I decided that there had to be an alternative, an alternative message and alternative images, a way to contribute to helping to raise our sexual self esteem. Our full range beauty is also absent in the media in a non-exploitive fashion.


In communities of color, despite what you see in the media, we are extremely conservative. We don’t talk about sex in our homes, and so there is an information gap where sexuality is concerned. We have a history of being exploited, but we are not victims, and have a right to pleasure like everyone else. The experience of making this film was amazing as it forced me to deal with my own sexual insecurities and fears around having honest sexual conversations, an evolving process for me. In this area, I am learning as I am teaching. One interviewer called me / Venus Hottentot, the Zane of film, which I do take as a compliment.


Babeland
: What other things have you directed, Abiola?


Abiola Abrams
: I have directed a number of different socially conscious films – narrative shorts and documentaries, some comedic, some dramas, that have screened in museums, galleries, and festivals worldwide. After getting my undergrad degree from Sarah Lawrence, I got my MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I also work with Eve Ensler and V-Day to stop violence against women and girls. I have always been intrigued by what makes people feel empowered. That’s why I really wanted to “come out” at Babeland first, because I really respect what you do. You cannot be politically empowered if you don’t feel like you own your body.

 

Babeland: We hear that you don’t like the term porn. Tell us about that.


Abiola Abrams
: Working with the legendary Candida Royalle, who is credited with directing the sex scenes in Afrodite Superstar was wonderful. She is a pioneer for directing women-friendly erotica.  I don’t like to get caught up in the semantics of language, but my intention was to direct an indie film that was also sexual, not a sex film, so I don’t use the word porn to describe this film. It’s gorgeous, intense, hot, steamy, sexy, but not pornographic. However-- call it whatever floats your boat, however, just see it, and experience it!  We are changing the cover for marketing purposes, but this first cover (please insert) will always be my favorite.

 

Babeland: What is your impression of the finished film?


Abiola Abrams
: People tell me that this is such a fun and moving film to watch. In addition, certain things were important to me in this film—condom usage, dark skinned black women with natural textured hair and natural bodies. Dark skin, stretch marks, small breasts and afro textured hair are viewed largely as beauty liabilities. I wanted to create those things as a part of the visual landscape of this story. I promise you, you will probably encounter no other film with sexual content that quotes Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks.

 

Babeland: What’s next?  Any more erotic films in your future?


Abiola Abrams
Afrodite Superstar is a powerful movie—beautiful, alluring, entertaining, sexy and feminist--  so as an artist, I don’t feel the need to direct any more films with explicit sexual content. Simon & Schuster just published Dare, my debut novel and on its interactive site www.daretogetalife.com you can see my other films, learn how to start a Dare Club or read excerpts. Dare is a chick lit version of Faust set in the world of hip hop. In addition, I host a national TV show, and an upcoming online show called Planet Abiola. All of this, along with motivational audio and video is at www.thegoddessfactory.com or my blog: www.thegoddessfactory.blogspot.com. I say that I provide inspiration for the rest of us. In other words, this is not your mother’s motivation!


I am very proud of Afrodite Superstar, and the questions that the story raises about sexiness, confidence and beauty. I am also proud that it’s a film that a woman can feel comfortable with sexually, and introduce to her partner. Men actually love it. People can buy Afrodite Superstar here at Babeland, and learn more about sexual self esteem on the website www.venushottentot.com . I can’t wait to see who Candida Royalle gives such a great opportunity to next under her Femme Chocolat banner.


Babeland
: Thanks Abiola! And readers--Afrodite Superstar has been recommended by both Essence Magazine and the Village Voice, as well as the American Association of Sex Educators.


Buy Afrodite Superstar now!

 

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