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Scottish Government Reconsiders Giving “Hardcore” Sex Film Over £100,000 In Public Funding After Widespread Backlash

Jack Hadfield

Creative Scotland is reconsidering the funding of a “hardcore” sex film that is set to be given almost £110,000 of public money after a widespread backlash.

“Rein,” created by director Leonie Rae Gasson, describes itself on its website as a “fantastical 45 minute, multi-screen, moving image installation that immerses audiences in a raucous communal exploration of dyke sexuality.  The work will be created and performed by a Company of Dykes –  a mix of dancers, sex workers, performers,  who play with dyke archetypes in a magical, erotic journey through a distinctly Scottish landscape.”

Another section, which has been recently deleted, invited audiences to “come see the Daddies lurking in the woods; a muddy wrestling-cum-fucking bog; princesses playfully trying to drown each other on a loch; bare arsed lovers frolicking in long grass. Your climax: a secret cave sex party featuring a feast of fisting, squirting, wet work and mess, exploding onto the screens. The relentless pace of the work slows into a warm, spacious scene of aftercare, for the performers on screen, and the audience.”

To help create the film, set to be released in 2025, Gasson launched a casting call for six “dyke identifying performers”

“We’re looking for trans dykes, poly dykes, stud dykes, baby dykes, bi dykes, asexual dykes, femme dykes, elder dykes, enby dykes, fag dykes, stone butch dykes, trans masc dykes, ex-dykes, daddies, brats, switchy princesses, bunnies, riggers, soft bois, service subs, and dykes of all combinations, shapes, sizes and in-betweens,” the casting call notes.

“Some roles will involve just snogging, others will involve vanilla sex and others more hardcore acts,” it continues. “If you are selected to be in the cast, our intimacy co-ordinators will support you to more clearly identify your detailed needs and boundaries with the sexual aspect of the work.” The call confirmed that “any sex that features will not be simulated, but performed by cast members.”

Creative Scotland, the Scottish government’s public body responsible for funding arts, had awarded the project £84,555 in lottery money to support its full development.

In August 2022, Gasson received £23,219 from Creative Scotland to make a short “research and development” film for Rein. The development teaser included a cast of 3 performers playing out a “short multi-screen sequence set in a cave where the characters could riotously hump, languidly lick, and shake their manes.”

This past weekend saw a major public backlash to the project after it was revealed that it had received taxpayer funds. A spokesperson for For Women Scotland told The Scottish Sun on Sunday that they were “revolted” that public money was being used to subsidize pornography.

“At a time when genuine arts projects struggle to find funding, it seems that Scottish Government supported bodies are eager to splash the cash on projects that dehumanise women and promote unhealthy and dangerous relationships,” they added. “The porn and prostitution industry have never been short of cash, we are not sure why their profits should be boosted by unsuspecting Scottish workers. If they are making porn on the public purse, who signed off on this? The public will be disgusted and will rightly want answers from the Minister in charge.”

Neil Bibby MSP, the shadow cabinet secretary for culture for Scottish Labour, said that there were “serious questions to answer about how this project was awarded public funding,” arguing that “this specific case needs to be investigated as a matter of urgency but there should also be a review of the criteria applied to all funding applications. Every penny of this money should be clawed back and used to support the excellent cultural organisations who the Scottish Government are failing to properly support right now.”

In a statement, Creative Scotland confirmed that they were “reviewing” the amount of money awarded for Rein.

“We support freedom of expression and artists being able to push the boundaries of radical performance. However, the project, Rein, is considerably more explicit in its execution than was indicated in the application received to our Open Fund,” they said. “As such, we are reviewing this award and will be discussing next steps with the applicant and with the other partners in the project.”

Gasson, who is based in Glasgow, describes herself as a director who “works across live performance, film and virtual reality” and specialises in “bold, conceptual & visually arresting work from a queer and neurodivergent perspective.”

One past show of hers, entitled Love and Machinery, had described itself on her website as being a “party on a stage,” featuring “some teenagers and a child explor[ing] what they think about relationships, sex & what it means to have a good time.”

The “participatory theatre” was understood to have encouraged the cast to “make sex toys out of the audience’s possessions.” The description has now been edited to remove the reference to children and sex toys.

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