From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lasse Braun (1936 – 2015) was an Italian pornographer, film director, producer, screenwriter, novelist and researcher.
Braun earned a law degree from the University of Milan (1956–63). He initially accumulated the funds for his lavish productions from the profit gained with so-called loops, ten-minute hardcore movies sold to Reuben Sturman, who distributed them to 60,000 American peep show booths. (Eric Schlosser (2004) Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market)
Braun was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Italian family, and was destined to become a diplomat, following in his father's footsteps. He passed all of his law exams at the State University of Milan (1956–63), and while preparing the defense for his doctoral dissertation entitled Judiciary Censorship in the Western World, its contents and underlying radical ideas provoked so much controversy that it was promptly dismissed.
Braun placed himself firmly in the tradition of 18th century pornographers such as Rétif de la Bretonne, who was the first author to coin the word "pornography" in his plea for the institutionalisation of brothels in Le Pornographe (1769) and to describe a comprehensive range of sexual variations in L'Anti-Justine ou les Délices de l'Amour (1798).
Another source of inspiration for Braun consisted of the Priapistic rituals and orgiastic festivals of the Dionysus cult, as well as ceremonies in veneration of Aphrodite (Porne), the goddess of lust and patroness of courtesans. According to Braun, censorship itself is obscene, and the suppression of sexual desire by the political and religious establishment over the centuries has only led to psychological damage and frustration. In his 740-page novel Lady Caligula, Braun goes against the grain by portraying Caligula as a brilliant character, instead of the deranged emperor described in Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and in I, Claudius.
Having withdrawn from the world of pornography out of disappointment with the purely commercial approach of American distributors and the resulting inferiority of video productions, Braun has dedicated himself to writing scientific works on sexology (L'impeto di Venere, dealing with the G-spot) and on anthropology, erotic historical novels such as Lady Caligula (both in English and his native tongue, Italian), erotic thrillers, a study of prostitution, and his autobiography.
From 1961 onwards, Braun took considerable personal risks by producing hardcore movies in Franco's Spain and Pompidou's France. He continually changed his nationality, used various aliases (Stuart Falcon, Alberto Ferro, Charles de Rossi, Miguel Dospassos and Al Harvey, among others) and moved from residence to residence to avoid being arrested. He used his father's Corps Diplomatique number-plates to smuggle his pornographic materials in the shape of movies, magazines and novels from country to country. After immersing himself in the technical side of cinematography in Sweden for a year, Braun set up his own studio in Copenhagen.
Two years later, he moved to the Dutch town of Breda, where he bought an old meat factory, to be renovated as his headquarters. Using photogenic women he had become acquainted with in European bars and discothèques, the polyglot Braun produced his longer movies starring the German-American Brigitte Maier, the voluptuous Frenchwoman Nathalie Morin and Catherine Ringer.
Braun's movies differ markedly from the traditional so-called stag films made from 1916 onwards; storylines featuring Viking invasions, James Bond spoofs, and exotic locales such as Caribbean islands, the Dutch castle of Groeneveld and an Amsterdam art gallery, not to mention props such as chocolate cake, champagne and bananas contributed to a more playful and relaxed atmosphere than commonly seen in this inherently limited genre.
After his French Blue had been shown at the Amsterdam cinema of City 2 from June until December 1977, Braun was offered a five-year contract to extend its run along with Sensations, but the Catholic Minister of Justice Dries van Agt terminated the public showing of pornographic movies by reintroducing an 1880 Law concerning fire hazard at public theatres that happened to contain more than fifty seats. Disillusioned, Braun decamped to Italy, where he made a number of softporn movies. Facing several lawsuits on charges of obscenity, Braun countered by arguing that recording the licit act of consensual sex on film could not be condemned as illicit. His only known son, Axel Braun, continued the family trade in the United States of America, after obtaining a doctorate in Psychology.
In 1980, Lasse Braun's former wife burnt the entire photo and movie archive out of fear for an impending police raid, but Braun has managed to retrieve three major movies and thirty short films with the help of collectors, and re-mastered the collection on DVD. He appeared in the television series Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation (1999) and in a documentary about himself, I, the King of Porn ... the Adventurous Life of Lasse Braun (2001).
- Lasse Braun is the first European movie director to have been inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame by Adult Video News.
- His son, Axel Braun, followed in his footsteps becoming the only other European movie director to have been inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame by Adult Video News in 2011.
- French Blue/Sensations/Body Love
interspersed with 30 short films from 1961–77 (2008)
- Night and Day
- Intrique (1999)
- Diamonds Are for Pleasure (1996)
- Tender Blue Eyes (1992)
- Zozzerie di una moglie in calore (1989)
- American Desire (1981)
- Sex Maniacs (1977)
- Body Love (1977)
- Love Inferno (1977)
- Satin Party (1977)
- Sensations (1975)
- French Blue (1974)
- Close-Up (1973)
- Cake Orgy (1972)
- "I believe pornography is at the center of the biggest cultural revolution of our century."
- " I make porn movies for two reasons: first of all because I'm fond of sex and secondly because it is forbidden."