Not many in the adult film world today recognize the first name. Of coarse we all know the last, but what is something so trivial in this industry, is how much growth has occurred in just the last 75 years and much of that can be credited to one amazing man, Lasse Braun. In this new era, where we are fighting for our freedoms in the industry in what seems like an endless tirade from private interests and the government, Lasse Braun knew this fight all too well in a time before most of our parents even knew what a “porno” was and we were all but a twinkle in their eye, as the industry was exploding here in the states. Lasse is a true hero in this business. His colleagues are the reason that there is adult entertainment the world round and I think the general porn fan has no idea that our industry began with such humble beginnings as peep show booths and yes, gentleman’s clubs and other risque wonders that either do not exist anymore or have become a thing of lore. The one thing I can tell you about Lasse, is that we truly owe so much to him, he was one of the very first to be a writer, a director, a producer and eventually novelist. Mr. Braun was one of the first people in this business to take his dream and his desires and make them a reality and this was a man who faced blatant censorship and beyond harsh criticisms and persecutions. This story I am about to tell is about Lasse Braun, a man who is the definition of a pioneer.
I myself sometimes wonder. Do American’s know what exists outside of their shores and “safe zones?” Do the people of the grandest country of them all truly know how the world lives all their life and what cultures are like in lands where the Americans are the foreigners? In the land that is the San Fernando Valley, once deemed “Pornucopia” by some folks at Time Warner, I think about how many know about the world of debauchery, lust, passion and fantasy in places like France, Germany and Italy, the birthplace of this months pioneer.
See, having traveled the world for a few years now, I was so shocked to see how open the the world was to sexuality, yes, they have their bumps in the road like we do, but there is a more general acceptance in my opinion when it comes to the pleasures of the flesh and mind. I studied for some time about how things where in places like Italy and France and what I discovered was that they too went through trial and tribulations, to break free of things that hold back society. This researching brought me to Lasse Braun a man who was not known as much as he should be in the the adult circles in the United States. Being that his son is the most candid, deep, passionate and charismatic film director there is today, I know from experience that Axel would want this story told about his father, who was his mentor, his friend, his teacher in all things that are known in life as well as movie production.
There was a series once on Showtime called Family Business, which was about a family in the adult industry that actually worked together in the “land of fantasy” to bring us fans, critics and nay-Sayers, all the wonderful films they do, that do indeed make up what is this thing known as the “human culture.” The truth of this is, that another family passed down it’s heritage and family business well before, the Brauns and as you will see, both father and son I think were destined to do what they did, it is in their blood but I think it was also in their character as you will see shortly.
Lasse was a man of strict intelligence and a man who knew the ropes in all facets of what his fellow man could throw at him. Having earned a law degree from the University of Milan, one of the most important uinversities in all of Europe after he had already attended the prestigious Swiss Institut Montana Zuegerberg. The university of Milan is a school that is apart of LERU (The League of European Research Universities) and the structure of this campus has been used in everything from video games, (Assassins Creed 2) to such wonderful films like Andrew Blake’s The Pink Panther. Lasse had to have gone through many pain staking hours of research just to gain entrance into such an honored and accomplished school. Lasse was destined to become a diplomat, which I understand to the fullest extent being that he is lineage of Alberto Ferro. As his son would later do, he was a master at translation and he was someone that could be counted on to reach the masses with the way who could reach people by telling him the words others were saying. It was from here that he began to study and learn the ways of “pornographers” before him. I think few people know where the term “pornography’ was coined. It was in the tradition of Rétif de la Bretonne that Braun placed his passion and goals for his work. It is amazing that the father of some of the innovations of the industry was a man who came from such political power, from a history of deep association with people, life and the things that people do to survive, live and show one another. Braun was one of the first to show, titles mean nothing and we are always students in this world.
Lasse’s work would be second to none when it came to his adult films. Having come from the aristocratic background that he did and having the devotion to film, acting, sensuality and raw out spoken human emotion and pleasure, was something that made Braun’s films more than just something pleasing to the eyes and the heart, but before we get to carried away in his marvelous film career, the thing that kept repeating itself in all that he was from the get go was his genuine, I don’t want to call it hate, but his dislike of censorship and all that it represents of the human mind. Braun saw it as a suppression of the human spirit, to deny the mind and body sexual pleasure and understanding. In his time, the term “stag” film was widely used by politicians and religious activists who looked to show others work in the industry as evil and obtuse to the life of the ordinary man. Braun sacrificed so much to bring to us fans today what we seem to take for granted. His passion for erotica and spreading it’s meaning became his day to day life at every turn.
It was said that he was forced to move from place to place, having to use fake names and assume identities when authorities looked to throw the book at him and make him an example for doing nothing more than giving the people what they wanted. He traveled Europe, was forced to smuggle in camera equipment, film and other necessities of the trade in order to continue his passion. He even had to get his films to his beloved fans through the the underground, due to how many people looked to punish him worse that they would a murderer for simply following his love for sexuality, passion and all the amazing tidings that come with with those things.
I can imagine it was all this running that led him to purchase a large warehouse in Breda in order to create one of the first true movie studios dedicated to making the films we love. He used beautiful women in amazing stories. While others were simply looking to capitalize on the variances of the flesh, Lasse Braun was bringing stories of Viking conquests, spy thrillers that mimic what perhaps what Jason Bourne would be today.
As I stated in the beginning of this article, few American’s know the extent of how the world views the films of our industry. Many people first discovered that the Cannes Film Festival also gave out awards for adult cinema just like they did for independent “mainstream” titles. Few people may actually know that it is Lasse Braun who introduced the first hardcore sex film to the viewers of the festival. It was his tactics in “smuggling” he had learned while avoiding the censors of the world, that led to masses filing in to see this film for seven consecutive nights at Cannes. I can only imagine what it took to keep the people at bay who where clamoring to see his work. It was said the French Police had their hands full as people filled the streets just to get a glimpse of his unique and one of a kind film. That type of risk, that type of passion is what defines Braun and it was from that instance, that moment, that AB Beta Films was created. Braun found out he had hit a chord with the masses, he was opening people’s eyes to what they already had within themselves and he planted a seed that has long since blossomed into not only the films his son makes today but many vast number of directors who have credited Braun with the inspiration to their making of other masterpieces in adult cinema.
So much innovation can be credited to Lasse Braun in our modern era. He was one of the first great minds to purchase a studio lab strictly dedicated to the developing of film and mass production of adult cinema. Some of his critics will say he “changed the minds of ignorant people into consuming sins of the flesh.” which is so far from the truth, any modern scholar or historian will tell you he gave people what they wanted, what they demanded, the proof was at Cannes.
He gave them another outlet they had not seen. He allowed the voyeurs of the world to not have to hide in the shadows and the people who indulged in this sexual lifestyle, a means to actually be who they are without fear of something sinister from politicians and religious zealots always looking to tell us what is best for their own lives. Lasse Braun continued to make film after film that simply took audiences breathe away and in a crazy fact that most American’s will not know, Braun actually took out a full page ad in the New York Times in 1975, promoting his masterpiece, Senstaions. This film is regarded as one of the greatest films ever shown at Cannes and after seeing what it was capable of, with the help of Rueben Sturman, he brought something that changed our world forever to the shores of America. Those are risks that are revolutionary, those were actions that can never be duplicated again. No, not because revolutionaries are dead and the term seems to be fleeting in modern society, but because there will forever only be one Lasse Braun. A man who moved his passions from the underground to the blazing lights of New York City, that was something that is simply the richest of histories when it comes to adult films.
Lasse was one of the biggest contributors in fighting censorship. His actions showed us all the tools we needed to continue the fight we have today, no matter if it is in California or Las Vegas, or the next state those with power choose to come after, because of the threat of understanding sexuality to the oppressed and never satisfied power driven monsters that also have a family lineage that consists of fighting what we love as fans and people. He proved it can be done and that yes we can win if we want our freedom of choice bad enough. He proved that in his native Italy. From his start, to his innovations, Lasse Braun had to have a smile, to at least see that his reach stretched across oceans and continents, giving people like me the opportunity to write what I am without fear, or remorse. That ladies and gentleman is Lasse Braun’t greatest gift to the world. After his retirement, he left his heritage to a new generation and it is said a lot of what Lasse saw and thought about the industry in his last days were not good.
I will not even begin to speculate what that great man thought of our modern industry, but I think we indeed owe it to him to bring back the things he fought and bled for, a type of film and cinema that simply rocks everything inside of you and shakes you to your deepest core. That is what gave birth to our modern industry and as his only son could tell you, that is what true story is. It is not about the flesh, it is about being free, it is about seeing something on screen and forever being changed by it. Some would say that is not possible in today’s era but after you have read what Lasse Braun went through in order to bring us what we have today, I hope people see that the only thing that can contain greatness is the extent to how far we are willing go to change things forever on the most grand of scales and one man proved it can be done and that it can happen again. For if one man like Lasse Braun could change his countries view on censorship, bring us all the pleasures we endulge in today, imagine if we all band together to accomplish them same. There is no telling what wonders the future may hold if we all indeed do that.