Thursday, 3 May 2012

Interview with Karley Sciortino

My most recent piece of University work, an interview with Karley Sciortino...

Karley Sciortino is the kind of girl you want to be friends with. This is for a number of reasons; to hear all the gritty details of her insane time as a squatter, be part of her New York City lifestyle as a freelance journalist, or to meet her wonderfully weird Internet friends. On the surface, Sciortino is an established writer, contributing to magazines including Vice, Purple, V and regularly to Dazed and Confused. What gives Sciortino an edge is her blog, Slutever, where she explores every aspect of sex, in a truly frank manner. The obscene circumstances recorded on Slutever are enough to make anyone envy her eccentric and erotic choice of lifestyle, and wish that you had the guts to live her way. Her blog soon began notorious, as her dirty little sex secrets spread and became an online sensation. The 26-year-old, curvaceous blonde is currently living in an apartment in New York, a little different from her old home, ‘Squallyoaks’, a squat in South London, where drug fuelled parties and masturbation rituals were the everyday norm.
Back in 2005, Sciortino was your average 19-year-old all American girl, who moved from a small town an hour north of New York, to London as an exchange student. After a stint at University, she realised that the life of astudent was not for her. She dropped out after six short months but loved the insanity of London so she decided to stay and that’s when she began living her bizarre lifestyle. Alone and homeless, Matthew Stone, an artist and friend of Sciortino came to the rescue and introduced her to the hedonistic lifestyle she fell head over heels in love with. “At the time Matthew Stone was squatting in this gigantic abandoned shopping complex thing in South London with a group of about ten people. The building was insane; it had a gym, a church, and a nightclub in it. I would go over to visit and be totally overwhelmed.
Entranced by the young squatters way of living, there was no turning back for Sciortino anytime soon: “The way they lived was so weird and exciting to me.” Sciortino didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford to pay rent, so Matthew offered her a place in their squat, an offer she couldn’t resist. “I knew it was an environment I wanted to be in. I guess I was aware that what I was doing was weird, but I was more excited about it than scared.” Stone had moved on from the shopping complex to an abandoned lift factory in South London with 10 other people when Sciortino moved into her first squat, nicknamed “Squallyoaks.”
Even though her bedroom was a factory stairwell platform, Sciortino felt at home. “Squatting creates a sense of community that doesn’t always exist in normal houses, because there’s this sense of ‘we’re in this together,’” she explains. Sciortino was warmly welcomed into the squatting family and fitted in perfectly, however not anyone could move into their humble abode: “Whenever someone new wanted to move into the squat, all of the housemates would get together and vote on whether they should live with us or not. It was very democratic.”
Leading such an unusual lifestyle, it’s only natural to want to document in some shape or form so in 2007, Slutever was born. Updated regularly by Sciortino from her squat, Slutever was her blog that was similar to a secret diary, letting the outside world become involved in her extreme way of living. At the beginning Slutever was only read by the people she was living with but as Sciortino started contributing online to Vice and Purple, she would leave links to her blog, which attracted many readers who took pleasure indulging in her tales.
Living in this environment, Sciortino was never short of stories to tell: “It was the sort of house where it wasn’t out of the ordinary to come home to a living room full of naked people on DMT having ritualistic sex, or a homeless Romanian family baking bread in the kitchen.” Sciortino and her squat mates decided that the legendary “Squallyoaks” deserved to become a state in its own right, where ecstasy pills and condoms would be the currency. There’s no exaggeration Sciortino was living her dream.
If she can make any sort of comparison to squatting at all, Sciortino can relate it to living in student housing. “It was a bit mad and full of young people with a lot of free time who make too much mess and have too many parties.” Of course, it was a lot more out of control than a student house: “There were no set ‘rules,’ for example; you can’t destroy anything. There tended to be a lot of destruction at parties,” she remembers fondly.
Life in London came to an end when Sciortino’s visa ran out and she was deported back to the United States. A drastic change in lifestyle took place, as she exchanged squatting for living in her first rent-paying apartment in New York. A new city meant a new angle for Slutever, and Sciortino shifted the focus of her blog from her online diary to an investigation of sexual behaviour. “I’ve grown up a bit, become less ketamine-centric, and started to focus on interviewing other people about their sex lives and fetishes.”
Sciortino has interviewed anyone and everyone about their sex life on Slutever, from adult babies to prostitutes, to the handicapped to those turned on by masochism. “My goal is to create a place where myself and others can talk about sex, our sexual desires, experiences and fantasies, very openly and honestly, and in turn help ourselves and others to better understand our sexualities,” she explains. Sciortino has become involved in discovering the widest spectrum of sexual eccentricities that have included hiring a slave, peeing on strangers and shadowing a dominatrix.
Recently Sciortino has moved from behind the screen to in front of it, by writing and starring in short films for Purple and Vice. While the videos for Purple are more aesthetic and scripted, her short series created for Vice, is like a satirical take on Sex and the City. Named after her blog, the series is a visual version of Slutever. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, Sciortino isn’t looking for love, but answers to her questions about polygamy, oral sex and being a being dominated in the bedroom. One film followed Sciortino to London to meet Sissy Sarah, a 54-year-old male cross dresser, who took great pleasure in drinking her urine. “It’s admirable that people are brave enough to admit their true sexual desires, rather than continuing to suppress it. I’m sure many of us can relate to the desire of wanting to consume someone’s bodily fluids.”
Sciortino’s genuine interest in exploring sexual behaviour comes from the ideology of being able to create an open dialogue about the subject. She features the most extraordinary sexual experiences out there on Slutever, but with her candid approach she manages to highlight just how normal it all is. Slutever has come a long way since 2007 and Sciortino intends to continue delving into the world of unheard of desires and peculiar pleasures. “Sex is really weird and complicated, and deep down, we’re all equally disgusting. We might as well embrace it.”

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