By Ania Ostrowska
The Daughters of Fire (Las Hijas del Fuego) is streaming on MUBI until 22 April 2020.
You can rent Emilie Jouvet’s Too Much Pussy! Feminist Sluts in the Queer X Show for £8.52 here.
Welcome to #StayAtHome Week Four, and counting. As your piles of books to read – the same ones that in the pre-Covid19 era stared at you from the bedside table in an accusatory manner – are surely diminishing and your streaming services wish lists are getting shorter, I am here to save the day.
My suggestion, Argentine director Albertina Carri’s THE DAUGHTERS OF FIRE, is time-sensitive, which hopefully makes it even more desirable, streaming on MUBI only until 22 April. The blurb on the website describes it as a ‘queer road trip’ but to whet your appetite (warn you?), I wanna call this hybrid beast what it is: a mashup of road movie and queer porn. If porn is your thing, it surely has been comforting you in these weird times (shoutout to PornHub’s contribution to flattening the curve by offering free premium subscription worldwide). If it’s not… well, what better time to give it a go, especially if you happen not to be isolating with your usual sexual partner(s)? Carri’s film is a great guilt-free place to start your pornographic journey, too: high octane queer porn, it centres women’s pleasure in ethical and political manner.
Road trip and porn are entwined here from the very beginning, when we meet two reunited lovers Augustine (Michal Katzowicz) and Violeta (Carolina Alamino Barthaburu). The former, an open water swimmer, makes a plan to visit her mother who lives rather far away (on the pretext of stopping her from selling Augustine’s late father’s favourite car): a great excuse for a long road trip during which the journey soon enough becomes more important than the destination. The latter, a writer and filmmaker, makes her own plan to… shoot her first porno, a desire that moves the plot. To set the tone, one of the first scenes is of Violeta masturbating furiosly in some weird glacial cave, which we only later learn is in Antarctica, which she has just visited.
“The problem is never the representation of the bodies”, muses Violeta in a voiceover, “the problem is how those bodies become territory and landscape in front of the camera.” As the road trip in a second-hand van begins, we witness the creation of breathtaking landscapes comprising numerous women’s bodies that perfectly match the beauty of physical landscapes in Patagonia through which the women travel, from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego (48h away from Antarctica by boat!) to Puerto Madryn. If the great outdoors is your thing, you will surely appreciate the beautiful threesome scene playing out on a large blanket against the background of magnificent snow-covered mountains.
How come a threesome, you might ask? Well, Violeta and Augustine leave Ushuaia with a new friend, electronic factory worker Carmen (Rocío Zuviría) who also happens to be queer, hot and horny (but of course, that happens every day!). The triangular dynamic that initially almost resembles that from Trigonometry, recommended by So Mayer in the Culture Club’s first instalment, quickly becomes a polyamorous lesbian free-for-all romp. Porn audiences know well enough that the genre-specific take on Chekhov’s gun is the golden rule that any newly introduced actor is game for whatever sexual acts screenwriters (here, Carri and Analía Couceyro) have in store for them. In queer lesbian porn all these acts are emphatically consensual and revolve around women coming multiple times, in different configurations.
The van quickly becomes full of queer women, from old school friends visited after years, to random hitchhikers and athletic cyclists, and it really made me think of another van full of queer women, the centrepiece of Emilie Jouvet’s 2010 documentary Too Much Pussy!, which folllows a group of queer performers touring Europe with their sexually explicit Queer X Show. Back to The Daughters of Fire: one of the most endearing scenes must be one of women’s camaraderie when all seven van passengers/drivers pee together on the side of the road. “I can’t. I can’t! I’m too nervous!” squeaks one of them. This is greeted by a salvo of laughter from the others, and the sound of healthy streams of urine hitting the ground.
Taking my cue from Roger Ebert’s infamous 1973 review of Deep Throat, I want to note that there are ten scenes of explicit sexual activity in the film (most involving group sex), plus one extended scene of a big lesbian orgy in a dilapidated house. On the other hand, there are two explicitly political scenes, one of fighting back against a homophobic provocation in a bar in the beginning of the film; and another, a group of dykes kicking out a bully husband of one of their friends (both successful).
But the beauty of queer porn for me is that all these scenes are political. Queer Nation’s old manifesto, also soundtracking Jouvet’s documentary, still holds: ‘Every time we fuck, we win’. Close-ups of sweaty bodies, genitals and sex toys, punctuated by swishing of the whip, are important and, dare I say, super hot; but equally important is the aftermath of each intense sex scene: pile of entwined bodies, still quietly moaning in the poistcoital bliss, adjusting to each other, breathing together. Every time we fuck like that, we give patriarchy the big fat queer finger. Maybe we can all become the daughters of fire, giving and receiving lots of pleasure.
Will that strategy be effective against the novel coronavirus? I can’t promise you that. The very last scene of the film, though, is very appropriate for the times of physical distancing and I’m sure it would get the NHS seal of approval. Isolating herself from other orgy revellers not just physically but also sonically (big headphones), cute domme Rosario delivers an intense solo performance. I’m not gonna spoil it for you by telling you how many times she comes: you need to watch to the end to find out.