It’s really difficult to categorize Karley Sciortino. Is she a sex blogger, video artist, journalist, performance artist, or an actress? Is it possible that she’s all of these? What do you make of someone who’s made a super popular website (Slutever.com) about sexual fetish, made a video art series for Purple TV, made a docu-art series for Vice TV, produced British TV shows, and interviewed Pharrell, Alicia Keys, Chloë Sevigny, and others for a ton of different magazines? You just allow yourself to be impressed with the hustle and keep it moving.
We were all in our early twenties, we didn’t have jobs, we didn’t have to pay rent, we lived with two drug dealers, and we didn’t need money.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Well I started Slutever.com in 2007, but I don’t feel like I really started putting time into it until 2009. At the time, I was squatting in London with ten people in an old hostel. All these weird things were always happening. I felt like our house was this breeding ground for crazy stuff to happen. We were all in our early twenties, we didn’t have jobs, we didn’t have to pay rent, we lived with two drug dealers, and we didn’t need money. We had all of this free time. In essence, it was kind of disgusting, but it was really fun at the time.
Everyone was always saying, “Someone should be documenting this. No one’s gonna remember what’s going on.” Originally, I started the blog to document everything going on in the house. I never went into it saying, “I’m going to start a blog that I want everyone to read.” It was something I was doing for us.
I had just started interning at magazines, one of them being Dazed, and I thought of it as my “healthy practice” of writing, so to speak. I interned at every magazine ever.
Backtracking even further, why were you in London in the first place?
I went there to go to college at Kingston, but I ended up dropping out because of how expensive it was. I was an exchange student there, and I just wasn’t that into my course. I was studying drama, which is funny now. [Laughs]
Slowly, I started to realize that I really liked writing. I wouldn’t write a post for a month, but the more readers I started to get, the more interest I had in it.
It changed organically. In the beginning, it wasn’t just about sex. It was to an extent; I’ve always been a sexual person interested in sex and talking about it openly. I was originally writing about sex as it pertained to myself and my life, but then gradually, I started interviewing other people about sexual fetish.
When people say, “How do you describe your blog?” I like to respond, “It’s an investigation into sexual behavior,” but maybe I'm just trying to make it sound smart. I don’t know. [Laughs]
I think you strike a great balance on the site, whether you’re presenting your work or someone else’s. It’s intelligently written but relatable at all times. It’s difficult to do.
Yeah, how do you make it intelligent, but also sexy, and also funny, and really like you don’t care? The thing is, I do care obviously, but I’m not going to pretend that it's too much more than a blog written by me.
You say on the blog that it’s “intended to trick strangers into thinking your life is more exciting than it actually is.” Does that mean you sensationalize or make up some of it?
Yeah, it’s sensationalized, but nothing is ever made up or exaggerated. I’m just not writing about the boring aspects of my life. It’s like with social media, we’re supposedly “curating our lives.” You untag and edit your life so that it appears a certain way to certain people.
Did things on Slutever pick up while you were still in London?
I was writing for Platform and Vice at the time, but when I moved to New York, things started to happen. When I was living in London, my life was so retarded. I was so wasted all the time. [Laughs] At one point, we lived with three drug dealers.
The whole idea of it is to humanize fetish in the media.
I was coming back from Paris, and I didn’t have my visa anymore, so they told me I had to leave. I didn’t get deported in the sense that I couldn’t come back, but I couldn’t come back in 2010. [Laughs] I was kind of depressed leaving London, because I had lived there for seven years, but it was a blessing in disguise. I needed to sort out my life. I was 24, and I realized that, at some point, you just have to not be drunk all the time. [Laughs]
I grew up in upstate New York in this really small town, and returning to New York just felt like the right thing to do.
What are your favorite blogs and magazines?
It’s cliché to say, but one of the only blogs I really follow is Style Rookie, Tavi Gevinson’s blog. It’s so different. One day, she’s going to be like Oprah. What I take from her is honesty. It feels really unfiltered, and I like that.
I also really like this magazine called Richardson. It’s an art/porn magazine essentially, and it only comes out once a year, but they update their website. All the covers are different porn stars. They had Sasha Grey on the cover, and the next one is Belladonna. It’s not a typical magazine that you’d look at to jerk off or something, it’s about porn, the psychology of porn, and what it means in our culture. It has interviews with porn stars about what it's actually like to work in the industry.
I actually interviewed Danny Fields for the next issue, who was a big figure in Punk in the 70s and 80s, but he also made a bunch of porn for fun that never really went anywhere. We went through his archived photographs and polaroids that he never did anything with.
And now we live in a time where you put everything online immediately.
Yeah, and all of these people in the photos were clearly really into it. Danny reminded me, like, “Hellooo, this is before the internet, people weren’t so paranoid about everything.”
So let’s talk about your filmmaking, performance art, and particularly your two TV series. Can you talk about your work with Purple TV and Vice, and what the distinguishing elements are between the two?
Well, I began making really, really, REALLY D.I.Y. videos for my blog called “video memories” and really simple vignettes or talk-to-camera type things. One of the girls from Purple said they were launching Purple TV, and I love their magazine, so of course I said I'd be a part of it. I love it; it’s very French. They gave me the option to do whatever I wanted.
At first, I was really scared, but after I watched Tiny Furniture by Lena Dunham (who’s now making the HBO series, Girls), where the message is that, “Anyone can make a movie, you just need the confidence to do it,” I realized that there are people who do it for no reason. We live in a day and age where you can pick up a camera and make quality films.
For Vice, it’s been in the works for a long time about potentially doing a video series, but we didn’t know what we wanted to do. We flirted with another idea in the beginning, but then realized it was shit, so Vice was like, “Why don’t we just turn your blog into real life? Maybe this is a better angle.” It’s cool because this is the first show they’ve ever done that’s by girls, for girls. Adri Murguia is the director and producer.
Do you write it?
I write all the voice-overs, but it’s really half-written/half-improvised, because you don’t know what people are going to say, of course. I think the whole idea of it is to humanize fetish in the media. When we think of sexual fetish, we think of leather-clad freaks in a dungeon. However, it’s something normal people engage in all the time, whether it’s at home with a boyfriend or hiring a dominatrix. We’re trying to create a dialogue about weird sex and sexual fetish so that it’s less weird to bring it up.
Can you talk about the satire in the show? In the beginning of each episode, it seems like you’re satirizing Sex and the City. Slowly you make your way into the humanity of the people you’re interviewing, but there’s a humorously tongue-in-cheek way you get there.
At a certain point, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, too. It doesn’t have to be so serious. Like in one of the more recent episodes with Sissy Sarah, he has a sense of humor, and he realizes he’s a little bit ridiculous. Even if it might seem like we’re poking fun, they’re laughing at themselves, too. It’s sincere, but in a way where they’re self-aware.
I like Bruce LaBruce. I love how his attitude is like, 'Yeah, I’m gonna make porn, I don’t care.'
Do you feel that shows like Sex and the City mislead people in terms of sex?
I think it’s a mix. Sex and the City is a show that I really love, respect, and have seen every episode of four times, but it’s not an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to live in New York. Their sex lives are so pathetic, you know? They’re all really sexually boring and desperate. I thought satirizing the show in the intro was a good launchpad, because we simplify the concept, saying, “Sex is so confusing,” which makes it more relatable. I’m a girl in New York, too, obviously, but I’m taking a different approach to the subject.
What’s the future of the show?
We just got approved to do a second season, so there will be eight more episodes at least.
Do you ever want to centralize the various work you do, or do you like to be involved with different magazines and mediums at all times?
I’m definitely streamlining my work a little bit towards my specific interests. I like the idea of making short films. Purple really inspired me to do it. I’m making a show with my friend right now for Channel 4 in England. The first one aired, but we’re making the second one ten minutes long and filming it in L.A., which is cool. It makes it feel real. I like the journalism aspect that I’ve always had, but I’ve been doing it for so long already.
I’m trying to write a book, too. It’s kind of a novel, but it’s based realistically on my life in London and moving here. I write from about midnight to 5 a.m.
Would you ever make a full-length film?
Yeah, I really want to do more. I like doing both film and writing, because writing is such a solitary experience, and film allows me to work with other people. The central part of the blog will always be the writing, and it’s going to stay that way.
If you could have anyone read the blog, alive or dead, who would it be?
Have you heard of Dennis Cooper? When I first started the blog, the editor of Vice in the U.K. told me he thought I had based my blog on Dennis' writing, but I had no idea who he was. He’s a writer and an essayist, and a lot of his work talks about obsession. He updates a blog daily called The Weaklings, and it’s really, really good. He’s someone I really admire, and I’d love it if he read the blog.
What fine artists or musicians are you into?
My friend Blood Orange is a musician; he’s one of the characters on my blog. He scored all the Purple films. I just think his music is the greatest music ever made, not even just because he’s my friend. I’m so in awe of how talented he is. I love Matthew Stone’s work, he’s my friend, and he’s one of the people I used to squat with in London. Aurel Schmidt is super sexy and talented. I love Nan Goldin’s photography, especially her photos of couples that can be both sexy and sad at the same time. I like Bruce LaBruce. I love how his attitude is like, “Yeah, I’m gonna make porn, I don’t care.”