Doll interviews: porn star Valentin Braun

Valentin Braun is a gay porn star and sensational male model. His Instagram, @aubergine.diaries, features incredible nudes, thought provoking captions and boundary pushing concepts. Here we talk about how the divergence of ways in which the art of nudes can be perceived, how working in porn can affect one’s career, why sexting sucks, and the stigma around sex and the naked form.

Doll: Firstly, I adore your insta username! Is it inspired by the phallic imagery we associate in this age with the aubergine emoji that stands in for a lack of an explicit emoji?

Valentin: Ha, thanks! Yes, the phallic connotation of the emoji was definitely a reason that I chose the username. I wanted a name that describes my adventurous journey into the world of erotica that began in 2015. It was important to me that it was playful and silly yet slightly sexually charged at the same time. Also, I really like the vegetable aubergine.

Doll: Ha, Aubergines are one of my favourite foods, and for no reason associated with my hunger for dick! I chose my own username in wanting something playful and suggestively sexual too, I can see your thought process behind it.

How would you describe your art?

Valentin: My biggest inspiration is my body, or bodies in general. I see it as my tool and instrument that is a vessel for my mind, it grounds me in this world and allows me to interact with my surrounding and other people. Being a professional dancer, I started taking ballet classes at the age of 4 and was therefore educated to use, work and live with my body from a very early age. I am obsessed with body language, body awareness and also more abstract things like the analysis of the body in space and time. Observing the composition of people walking in a busy street, watching strangers having unheard conversations on public transportation or reading the subliminal messages of a couple on a date… There is so much information that humans constantly send through their bodies. Body language and behavioral studies form a very complex universe that I love to tap into and play with.

Until I was 25, dance used to be the only field in which I explored being and working with my body; I studied various dance techniques, trained daily and performed a lot. But 3 years ago, I got into nude modelling and that gave me the impulse to extend my fields of research to photography and later on film as well. Sexuality is mainly expressed through body language, and because 3 years ago I was also diving into the queer world of Berlin and experimenting with my sexuality a lot, my journey within photography immediately went in the direction of erotica and pornography. I make my work for myself, it helps me to cope with my insecurities and find answers to my questions. I think of it as an artistic reflection of my personal problems and challenges I face in my life.

Doll: How did you first get into nude modelling?

Valentin: By accident. The photographer Manuel Moncayo wrote to me on a gay dating website, asking if I would be interested to pose for him. Growing up gay in a small town and working as a professional ballet dancer gave me severe body dysmorphia, so I was very hesitant at first to expose my body so much, but eventually I was curious enough to do it. That’s how it all started.

Doll: Was it/is it more a way to make an income or an expression of art?

Valentin: I never got paid for being a nude model, but I do get paid for being a porn actor. Also, sometimes my work as a nude model and a porn actor leads up to paid gigs. Putting my pictures out there has brought me some really fun and interesting jobs already. My main source of income is still through dancing though. After my first nude shoot with Manuel and working with a few other photographers, I realised that nude modeling has had a healing effect on my body dysmorphia. Seeing the pictures and comparing them to what I saw back then when watching myself in the mirror significantly helped me to overcome the distorted way I saw myself and put my life back on track in many ways. Self-healing is the origin of my work as a nude model. Artistic expression and playfulness came later on, once I was feeling better.

And becoming a porn actor was somehow the next logical step of my exploration of my own sexuality. I was just curious to test my boundaries and see if I could do it as well as if I would stand a chance of having a career in this industry. Today my set of ambitions have changed. I am inspired to do my work because I want to send certain messages out there. For example, I live straight edge because of personal experiences that made me want to never touch alcohol, cigarettes or drugs again and I believe that it is highly important to fight for a better awareness of the problems caused by drug use in context with sexuality. There is very little to no effort at all in the porn industry to support this notion and I would love to change that. It is difficult to find ways of charging my work with so much meaning and I don’t think I have fully understood yet how to get all my intentions across, but I hope I’ll get there.

Doll: That’s beautiful that you are using your power of exposure and influence to dig through deeper issues than to just enjoy recognition.

Has working in porn ever affected your career as a dancer?

Valentin: I don’t know if it affected my career so far. I don’t make a secret out of anything I do and purposely use my real name everywhere, especially for pornography, because I want people to know that it’s me. If it will ever affect my career then it’s their loss, because I think that I am good at what I do.

Doll: It’s super chic and powerful that you use your real name. How do you feel about the stigma around nude modelling and being a porn actor? How do you feel when onlookers of followers objectify you? 

Valentin: The negative feedback online comes from people who have a preconceived image about me once they find out what I do. Those I can categorize into mainly two groups: either they judge me for doing something that they see as non-conforming with the society’s norm and allegedly immoral. Or, there are those who project their sexual objectification upon me and try to engage in a heavily sexualized conversation, often combined with selfies, dick pics or even videos of them having sex. But I don’t bother to deal with them. I don’t want their negative energy in my life and it would be too exhausting to try and educate each and every one of them. Offline I have only received positive feedback from people so far. Luckily it doesn’t happen very often, because I get shy and don’t know how to deal with it, but sometimes I get recognized and the responses then are very endearing and motivating. I guess the people who have a problem with my work don’t really have the guts to tell me in person. Overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, which I was very surprised by. I am aware of the stigmata of my jobs, but so far I managed pretty well to not be affected by them. Despite the public opinion that forms these stigmata, I do think that my work has the potential to be educational, powerful, deep, touching and tasteful, and that is why I am doing it. I hope to inspire as many people as possible to live their lives as authentic and freely as possible

Doll: It seems like we have very similar experiences with people’s reactions. I guess it’s similar after all for both males and females, the negativity always comes from people who don’t understand their own sexualities, either by repressing it entirely, or by being so ignorant as to not understand how to respect somebody. And how do you feel about Instagram’s guidelines on nudity and pornography?

Valentin:  I believe that the guidelines of Instagram and Facebook educate the world towards a very dangerous conception of sexuality and cause body image issues by enforcing taboos and filtering free speech. There are 7.6 billion people on this planet and most of us are the result of sex, so given the fact that so many people do it, naturally there should be sex all around us in our daily lives, just like food, another basic human need. But unlike any other species on this planet, humans chose to hide, ban and taboo sexuality, which is a basic human need and instinct that essentially keeps humanity alive and therefore rather should be celebrated. This taboo is the result of uncountable historic events that happened in an attempt to suppress people and secure structures of power and domination throughout our development as a society. Some of the many effects these events still have today are specific to certain groups within the population, like misogyny is socially acceptable or homophobia found a way into the legislation of many countries, but generally speaking they have made sexuality unapproachable for everybody and therefore an unprejudiced public discourse about sexuality on a political, social or any other level nearly impossible.

Therefore the vast majority of people waste years, decades and sometimes their entire lifetime trying to overcome the obstacles of sexual repression in order to live a humane and fulfilled life meeting up to its potential. In addition to being healthy, consensual and respectful, our approach towards sex – just like our legislation about sex – should be as easy, nonchalant and uncomplicated as our approach to food, water or warmth, yet the taboo on nudity and sex, which is constantly reinforced by individuals who have been brainwashed by the taboo, hinders the free unfolding of literally everybody’s sexuality; it is a vicious circle. We live in a world, where wearing the skin of a murdered mammal is legal, yet running around naked – which is the way we were born – is considered a public offense and illegal. That does not make sense. Regarding the censorship of social media, I actually believe that young people would benefit from having access to information and images of nudity and consensual sexuality of all sexual orientation, as it would prepare them in a natural and very relatable way for their individual experience with puberty more than anything else. And hands down, this is actually already the case, as most of the kids today have smart phones or internet access.

Nowadays, pornography is accessible to almost everybody, but both adults and kids have to turn to websites that are run by the porn industry. Embarrassment and shame as well as ignorance and inexperience prevent adults from giving children worldwide the necessary sexual education and support they would need in order to grow into sexually responsible and capable people. There is no other entity than the porn industry that provides us with pornography in this world, and I think, considering the fact that right now porn is the main source of information and emotional guidance worldwide when it comes to sexual education, it seems careless when big media platforms like Instagram, Youtube or Facebook not only ignore their chance to provide information and help but ban the topic entirely up to a point where even nudity is forbidden. This censoring just educates us to think that sexuality is something wrong that needs to be hidden, banned and controlled and cannot be talked about openly. It puts our bodily needs and an important part of our personality out of reach by silencing our expression of and conversation about our sexuality on platforms that otherwise seek to access literally ever other part of our lives. It separates our sexuality from the rest of our existence, which is dangerous and unhealthy.

Doll: That’s something I cannot stand about our society – almost all freely accessible nudity and pornography is mostly extremely detrimental to a vulnerable, impressionable and ignorant mind. Even with liberal parents, I still grew up thinking masturbation was wrong and dirty and that I probably had something wrong with me because I couldn’t resist the urge to do it. I wish I could have had access to real women talking about period sex and what cum actually tastes like etc, haha. And I’m super grateful that at least my parents didn’t shame nudity, and having baths with my mum when I was young etc, at least gave me some exposure to normal adult bodies. If all you ever see are clean shaven, plastically enhanced bodies with bleached anuses, you’re gonna have serious body issues of your own when you can’t match up to that.

How would you describe your sexuality?

Valentin: I used to define myself through my sexuality a lot – I am gay, and I think the overt self-definition through my homosexuality was an important phase of my coming out, helped me to navigate in a straight world and find my place in the queer universe. There have been a few struggles because of my sexuality in the past, first the body dysmorphia paralyzed me sexually and later on I developed a sex addiction. But I have recovered now. Today, my sexuality is one of the many aspects of my personality that can give me joy and pleasure and motivates me to connect to other people. The gay flaunting is still there, but it transformed into a form of humor I would say and is not constantly present anymore. Most of the time I got my dysmorphia in check and I luckily survived my phase of sex addiction without getting any untreatable STDs.

Doll: Do you ever equate the nudity in your pictures with sex?

I don’t think that nudity equates to sex. Sex and nudity are two separate things yet, because you find them happening at the same time a lot, it is easy to mistake one for the other, despite the clear difference. Nudity is simply naked skin. Sex is, besides the act of sexual intercourse obviously, sending sexual signals with your body language, but that can happen both dressed and undressed. Sex is independent from nudity. Being naked is not asking for sex and assuming so is a problematic misconception.  On my Instagram you can find both nudity and sex by the way. I love exploring the blurry line between being naked and being sexual.

Doll: I totally agree. My most sexual posts are probably head shots, where I’m fully clothed and you can’t see my body anyway. And they’re sexual because I’m licking something seductively. It brings us back to the absurdness of banning soft-core nudity, female nipples for example, yet allowing extremely sexually suggestive captions or facial expressions. The line is being drawn in the wrong place. The line should be focussed on respecting people’s pictures and expressions, that’s where all the guidelines should be derived from and orientated around.

Do you have any advice for readers on how to be confident in their own skin, and confident when naked?

Valentin: I would suggest talking about your fears to others and being able to pinpoint exactly what it is that scares you. The more you are able to specify your feelings and put them into words, the more you can distance yourself from them.

Doll: Do you ever take self portraits? Are you a fan of selfies? What do you think about nudes and dick pics?

I am not good at photography. So no, so far I have never taken a self portrait. Also, I always prefer the collaboration with others over doing something by myself, it’s much more exciting. I do take selfies on my phone, but just for private purposes and again, I am not very good at it. I just don’t care enough I guess. I used to be a huge fan of sexting and always had a lot of pictures and videos ready for it on my phone, but that changed a while ago, when I realized that sexting always leaves me with an empty feeling and never really satisfies my sexual needs. Nothing beats real human touch and intimacy. Sexting is like being hungry, but only ever eating crisps and not full meals. I can only advise everyone to invest their time and efforts into finding the real deal, rather than wasting it on sexting.

Doll: Like you, I used to have an extensive folder of sexy selfies that I was ready to send at any moment of the day, even if in reality I was catching up with family. I used to sext a ton when I was a teenager, and at the time, it was not about building an exciting sexual relationship with whomever I was sexting, it was always done when I felt insecure and I used it as an easy way to make myself feel validated. Now that I’m completely comfortable in myself, I know I can be sexy, I would never waste my time sexting anyone, I just wouldn’t get anything out of it. If anything, I find it a turn off and get too focussed wondering why the fuck the dude has never thought of buying a thesaurus.

Speaking of sexy pics… There is a suggestively very explicit picture of your butt on your insta, booty in the air, butt cheeks spread, censored of course. You captioned this ‘I love getting objectified by @’photographer’. Of course, I don’t take any insta captions too literally nor without a pinch of salt… But what is the meaning behind this caption/pic combo?

Valentin: I don’t like to be objectified. Of course I know that objectification comes with this job, but one of my aims in my work is to find ways that speak to people beyond their preconceived ideas about me and what I do and open up their minds. This caption is an eye wink to the caption of the tumblr of Florian Hetz, who took this picture: ‘Objects, by Florian Hetz’ it says, yet he only photographs naked men. You should check it out, it’s rather phenomenal how he manages to objectify men’s bodies in an un-objectifying way. As a nude model, I want to offer more than just my naked skin, ideally I want to share my story, my values and experiences. The same goes for my work as a porn actor. I want to make the clear distinction of making love and having sex. If done right, sex can be amazing, and in that sense porn actors fulfill a very similar task as for example yoga teachers, both of them focus on a body function and demonstrate how to exercise it the right way. In my opinion, the work of a porn actor involves demonstrating the variety of emotions that come with sex on top of the physical elements.
People who objectify me as a ‘filthy porn actor’ or reduce me to a ‘hungry bottom’ etc. miss out on that, which I find is a shame.

Doll: I couldn’t have agreed more with everything you have said! Thank you so much for sharing your insight and knowledge ❤

One thought on “Doll interviews: porn star Valentin Braun

  1. Ninny says:

    This is the most interesting , intelligent and impelling person you’ve interviewed to date. I feel privileged to have an insight into Valentin’s philosophy and art….

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s