When I first met MakeLoveNotPornstar Cristina Pitter through my work in New York, I knew immediately that she was really special. A self-proclaimed “fat queer babe,”Cristina is the type of person that adores every inch of herself and makes no apologies for it. You wish you could move through the world with such grace and charm, too.
Recently, I chatted with Cristina about her experience creating her first #realworldsex video for MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, and her work as an artist and educator. It was enlightening conversation about sex, love, storytelling, and building the world we want to live in.
AV: You’re a sex educator and creator in many different arenas. Can you tell me a little bit about your work?
CP: Yes indeed! I work as an interdisciplinary artist, weaving together my skill sets in fine and performance arts, and my experiences in the world of sex and sensuality, into my creations. I am passionate about stories, especially those involving relationships to sex and sensuality, and how they influence our lives, our relationships, and other human experiences.
So storytelling is the thread that runs through these various disciplines. Can you expand on your relationship with that form of expression?
Storytelling is at the core of every human being, we just have different methods of expressing it. Once I made that realization, I was free from thinking I could only tell my stories through traditional media such as writing or acting, and it opened a whole new world of connection with other people.
Operating from a place of knowing that everyone has a story to tell allows me to have more compassion and curiosity in my work, as well as fight for oppressed and marginalized voices to be heard.
That’s really beautiful. I’m thinking about how our ancient ancestors kept their legacies alive before the written word. Oral storytelling was absolutely essential at the time, but that instinct has never left us, though the methods through which we honor it have expanded.
Exactly! We need storytelling to keep history alive, to shed light on worlds that were kept secret, to undo shame and to be free in a world that really wants us to not exist, and by “we” I mean people of color, queer people of color and trans people of color especially.
Hear, hear. In a way, that’s all Make Love Not Porn is: visual storytelling about ourselves as sexual beings. Can you tell me about the path that led you to becoming a MLNPstar?
I couldn’t agree more! I love MLNP and the new path of expression they’re cultivating in regards to the Social Sex Revolution. When I think of social media, I think of stories, and the potential healing that comes with it. I am all about busting social norms, and MLNP fits right into that.
I was first introduced to the company via my dear friend Ariél, while we were working together at Babeland. I was immediately intrigued, but also working through a lot with respect to my identities as an artist and as a queer woman discovering and embracing new aspects of myself.
My gut told me this was the right move, in terms of taking the next step in bridging my creative worlds. I had always been very sexual and sensual, subversive in my explorations, and fought against the standards put upon women in terms of their sexuality, and how they get trapped in the Madonna/whore complex. I hated the idea of hiding and knew that freedom lay in radical truth. My truth was to live my life openly and unapologetically.
Obviously there are details of my life that are private, BUT I wanted to be a light for those afraid to speak their truth, be it deviant or not. I wanted to show that I contain multitudes and enjoy pleasure. That shouldn’t stop be from being worthy of respect, or imply that I’m not capable of doing my job as an artist or teacher or performer, you know?
You can’t see me, but I was snapping my fingers through that whole answer!
Yes, thank you! Ugh, I love ya.
My friend, I MISS YOU, you don’t even understand! Every time you walk into a room you just radiate love and positivity and I, and everyone else, just float over to you to absorb that light. Have you always been so comfortable in your skin?
Aw thank you, babe! That means a lot to me. Especially because that light wasn’t always so bright. I’ve been through the ringer, dealing with body dysmorphia, body insecurities, the whole damn thing. It didn’t matter that I had people who loved and supported me, who believed in me or engaged with me in a sexual or romantic way. I went to a very dark and depressing place where I didn’t even want to be in my own skin. I didn’t want to die, but I did want to waste away.
I can absolutely empathize. I’ve had a lot of trauma that really interrupted the development of my self-identity, and when you don’t have that, you don’t feel fully human. It’s not something the love of other people can fix. What helped you move out of that place?
Preach. Remembering the joy of creating art helped me. And knowing that I have a responsibility to something bigger than me. I know that sounds a little otherworldly but I knew I had gifts that needed to be honored. Ancestors that needed to be honored. That work had to be done by me, for me. I knew that I had to get right with myself if I wanted to succeed in this world. So I did it.
It was a slow process, but I pieced myself together again with radical self-love and acceptance. It’s a forever process that shifts and grows, and rather than dreading it, I move towards it with hope and faith. I know I have a lot of power and I’ll be damned if anyone wants to take that away, including myself.
I want to go back to your work for Make Love Not Porn. What was it like shooting your first video at The Mermaid Ranch?
Shooting for the first video was WILD. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support and love of Ariél. She is such a powerhouse of amazing queer femme energy that really cracked open my path into owning my identity.
Being on Mermaid Ranch was hella fun and getting to know the other MakeLoveNotPornstars was wonderful. It was a beautiful experience to have that time there, which made shooting the video easy. Especially because Ariél offered to film it, as I was silently freaking out about how I’d get that part done.
So speaking of identity, it’s important to Make Love Not Porn for its roster of creators to reflect the identities of viewers and the world at large. It’s moving in the right direction, but not quite there yet. Black bodies in particular are lacking on the site. Why do you think this is?
I believe it has to do directly with lacking representation on the team behind the scenes. I can only speak for myself, but I feel pretty confident in saying that when people of color don’t see themselves represented among a body of decision-makers, they don’t think that space is safe for them. It’s unfortunate, but true. This is starting to change, but it’s a slow process. There is also a huge culture disparity thing to unpack, but that’s too much for one interview.
Oh yeah, that’s a whole book. I feel like a large part of it is that Black people, especially Black women, are painted by white supremacy as being hypersexual, which majorly hinders how we’re able to perceive ourselves as sexual beings. We learn that in order to be “respectable,” we need to distance ourselves from that, which is the furthest thing from the truth.
Couldn’t have said it better myself! It’s just so much to overcome on top of everything we deal with. Also, for the record, I identify as a woman of color because I’m mixed and didn’t grow up with Black American culture, so I don’t feel it’s right for me to speak on behalf of it. Does that make sense? I didn’t even know what Juneteenth was until three years ago.
Oh my god, me neither! The fact that I was never taught about Juneteenth in any educational institution, and that it’s not a federal holiday, is deeply offensive to me. The only reason this country wouldn’t want to celebrate the true end of slavery is that too many white people aren’t all that happy about it. That is so painful.
Sex-ed duo Afrosexology did a great interview with Broadly recently. They talked about how a large part of their work as sex educators is centered around helping Black women release their shame around sexuality. How did you grow up understanding the intersection of your racial presentation and your sexuality? I understand that you don’t identify as Black, but given this is how the world sees you, that perception would have inevitably shaped you.
The intersections of my sexuality and the way I present in this world really didn’t come into play until my early twenties. It was then that the terms “exotic” and “light-skinned” were used as compliments when in actuality they’re degrading, presented as a means of competition between other women of color, specifically darker skinned Black women.
But of course, when you’re in a place of constantly trying to validate your worth, as I was, any compliment that could soothe the ache that insecurities bring was welcomed. This played right into my sexual encounters being primarily white men. I of course date all colors, shapes, genders, and so on, but there is something to be said for my leaning to cisgender white men and women, the power they have, and what what is represented as beauty in the media. This is what I’m focused on in my piece “Decolonizing My Vagina” and the development of a new piece, “Decolonizing the Color of Queerness.”
In your opinion, why is it so important for people of color to be depicted on a platform like Make Love Not Porn?
As with everything in this world, representation matters. It is crucial because it allows us to be seen, heard, and respected. This visibility is validity. It is power. It is the shedding of shame and repression. It is the beauty of differences being shown and unity being discovered through pleasure and humanity. We need to be seen by all and given agency on all platforms.
All of that is so important. I also think it’s equally crucial for us to see ourselves. Not seeing fundamental aspects of your identity reflected in your external world causes deep psychic wounds. Complete erasure of your life experience is, frankly, dehumanizing. There’s so much power in abundant, and proper, representation. It’s the only way to heal that truma, and it’s why I’m so dedicated to my work. The world needs to see more people like us doing it.
I stand with you in complete solidarity my friend and am so happy we’re doing this together in our own ways. The work is overwhelming and daunting, and at times exhausting, but it’s so necessary. The world can change for the better and there are many ways to make those shifts. The pleasure principle is my guiding power to healing, and I want to bring that to others.