Need to Know: Black Spark


By Phillip B. Crook

Who is the Black Spark? Ever since an anonymous 20-year-old filmmaker began posting videos of his sex life on XTube last fall, many viewers have interpreted this question as an invitation to search for his identity. But according to the man behind the mask, they've misunderstood the point. Many of these same people call his work -- artistically shot, LED-lit fantasies -- porn, which he, again, says is incorrect. Like Robert Mapplethorpe and Lars von Trier before him, the Black Spark contends that art can be a place for sex to mingle with substance. Who the Black Spark is and what he's doing with his flesh are questions poised to unfold as this filmmaker rolls out a blog, website, and feature-length film centered around his veiled character. Out spoke with the Black Spark to find out about his sexuality, his stance on porn, and where he plans to take us.

Out: I have to say, I don't think I've seen anyone have sex in a mask since Eyes Wide Shut.
The Black Spark: We all wear masks. It's not always literal, but we put on a different mask every time we meet a new person, so the mask that I wear is just a culmination of all of our masks. It was purposefully not a sexy mask. It's kind of a scary one that spoke to me. I put it on my face and I didn't want to take it off.

There's a dark undertone to your work that I think has a lot to do with the mask. It's sexy but there's something else behind the sexuality. What is that?
From day one, I set out to have a message. Sex scenes in movies sometimes speak to me, but in pornography, they don't. That's just two people flopping all over each other like a dead fish. Sex is powerful. You can have sex with someone and you can feel in love and drawn to them and vulnerable. I wanted to be able to show all the power that comes from sex. The Black Spark is a superhero and that is his power: lust.

Usually superheroes protect someone or something. So what is Black Spark protecting?
Creative freedom. I'm trying to save people from themselves. We live in a society where there's so much censorship, and I would like for people to be able to gather in a movie theater and see the content I create, if they choose to see it and are adults. A lot of people say, 'This isn't anything new he's doing. This reminds me of the art porn from the '70s,' and that probably is an influence on me. I don't see what's wrong with having sex mixed with substance. There can be a message through sex.

Why is it important for you to remain anonymous to do that?
Because the Black Spark and who I am in life are night-and-day different. People think this is his life and he's this super hypersexual this and that. And, yeah, that's a part of me, but my everyday life is opposite of that. It's important to keep them separate for my sanity.

What can you tell us about who you are in real life?
I'm a filmmaker. The Black Spark isn't the only thing I'm working on. I'm going to show at some festivals this year, and that's another reason why I'm anonymous. I don't want the Black Spark to hinder my large-scale future plans in film.

You obviously know there's a debate raging online about whether you're making art or porn.
It's not porn -- it's my life. What you're seeing is not a show I'm putting on. People need to know they're seeing something real and the reality of it makes it art. There are no faked emotions. When people in my work look passionate or in love or deeply in lust, that's all very genuine. Whereas in porn you put two people together and you're paying them $500 to do a scene. Just because two people are having sex and you get to watch it, doesn't make it porn.

Have you ever done porn?
Some people think I have.

What does that mean?
I read that a lot.

But is it true?
I can't really say. If I did do porn, I guess that would have been in my regular life. I will say this: I have no interest in doing porn.

You're still borrowing from porn, though.
How so?