Are you confused about lesbian sex? Have you ever wondered whether size matters to lesbians? Are you convinced French people are better at sex?
Well, the lesbian sex scene in the short film Vagina Is the Warmest Color will not answer your questions. It features a lovelorn vagina played by director Anna Margarita "La Chocha" Albelo ("la chocha in Cuban means vagina," she explained) and it has to be seen (below) to be understood.
Sitting at a café in Hollywood, Albelo said her short was meant both to promote her feature, Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?, and to critique the 2013 Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color. She was thrilled to see a lesbian love story getting so much attention, but nonetheless disappointed that the object of all this attention was another film about lesbian misery. "That's why at the end of Vagina, I say, 'Fuck you.'"
In her 12-minute comedy, she made the sex scene nearly two minutes, patterned after the very, very long sex scenes in the widely celebrated lesbian drama, which Albelo called "ridiculous" and characterized as "flopping and flipping and smacking."
She was surprised that much of the outrage in the lesbian community focused more on the presence of scissoring in Blue than on the nature of the scenes, which Albelo found exploitive. Some said the sex wasn't realistic. "I guess younger generations are not enjoying vagina-vagina, but not where I go," she said.
That's exemplary of a larger shift in lesbian culture that Albelo has witnessed: As physical lesbian spaces disappear, there is less interaction between queer women of different age groups, and the culture is, in a way, eroding.
People have asked her multiple times if there is still a need for gay and lesbian film festivals where her work is making the rounds, as though LGBT people don't have a distinct culture. "Now we're really just like anybody else," she said; you can be a lesbian without knowing Gertrude Stein or the film Go Fish, which was co-written by her friend Guinevere Turner, one of the stars of Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?
That feature, which is available online, is another contribution to the lesbian culture in which Albelo is embedded. It's a midlife crisis love story loosely based on her life and featuring the giant vagina costume — an anatomically correct giant vagina costume, but a "Disney, kinder, gentler, fun vagina," the director said, with ruffles and pockets behind the labia for cigarettes and keys. The commitment to vagina realism for the costume she wore prompted some sobering questions: "A lot of people are like, 'Where's the clitoris?' I'm like, HELLO? Now I understand why women have always had so much trouble having orgasm, because even you don't know where the fucking clitoris is. It's my FACE."
In public places, the vagina elicits stranger responses: When Albelo went to a parade in the costume to promote her movie, she had "never been so manhandled" — people wanted to take photos with her, touch her labia, and even lick the vagina, which was gross to her because it's not the cleanest.
"I have dry-cleaned it, and sometimes with strange looks and almost resistance from dry-cleaning places," she said. "My mom was like, 'Anni, you need to wash that vagina.' That's all she would say. She's like, 'How many people touch your vagina?!'"