Signe Baumane is a Latvian-born animation artist who often mixes children’s storybook-style animations with surreal, sexual subject matter. “Teat Beat of Sex” is a film composed of 15 short animated examinations on sex with comedic, outrageous turns. Her widely acclaimed take on sex flows from a woman’s point of view, and it was greeted with some censorship for being too explicit. She boldy addresses sexual matters from whether size matters or not, to what happens deep inside a woman if she hasn’t had sex for weeks.

Gallery: Carnal Cartoons

Q: As you grew up mostly in Latvia, what informed your interest in working extensively with animation with some pieces so openly exploring bodily, erotic concepts?
I don’t really know. Yes, I did grow up in Latvia but I am not sure how it influenced the choice of the subjects I explore in my work. It was always interesting to me, the discrepancy between what we tell to others and what we really feel.

Throughout my childhood, I noticed that there were certain things people didn’t like to name. For example, you were supposed to use a euphemism when going to bathroom. In Latvia there were many euphemisms for that. "Hawaii" was for an outhouse – I guess because outhouses are placed farther away from living buildings. "Looking for elves" was for when you were camping in forest and were going to walk away from the camp to make your deposit in the deeper parts of the forest – "trying horses" was mainly for men, "watering roses" mainly for women, etc.

teat_beat_inset2.jpgSo, one day when I was 10 I thought to say it straight, name it for what it was, to eliminate the winks. The fun at my expense, at my relatives' party table I got up and announced, "I am going to pee." The shock of that announcement was overwhelming. No one said anything. Everybody at the table turned their eyes away from me. One cousin giggled nervously. They recovered about 15 minutes after I got back to the table and carried on as if nothing happened. The next time I tried it with a date when I was 17. Needless to say, that kind of strategy eliminates all the prudish dates at the speed of sound.

Q: In exploring a woman’s most secret sexual thoughts, do you identify with some particular themes in the episodes, when considering questions like does dick size matter, is masturbation beneficial?
But of course! I wrote and recorded myself all 15 "Teat Beat of Sex" episodes. It all means something to me!  I have very strong opinions about several matters, although I don't take any of my opinions as an ultimate guide to living, and that helps to keep the humour.

I also have noticed that men have unrealistic expectations from themselves and women in the matters of sex. Like, there are socially accepted mythological guidelines that men are trying to fit to, and they are crushed when they don’t. It’s the same for women, unfortunately. Meaning, what is this noise about big dicks being better than small for every woman? Women are different, with different physical makeup, and they are at different stages of their lives, with different needs and demands.

When I was young, I truly did not like big dicks. It is true. I did not let in a dick bigger than a certain size. Now, when I am older, after a child birth and various life experiences, I am not so adamant about not letting big dicks in. But dick is only one 25th of the story. A dick is attached to a man, who has a personality, needs and twists and turns. Sometimes a man is a bigger dick than his dick. And what is this focus on one's penis anyway? Who can take pride or shame in something that one was born with? The actions of a man's tongue and fingers show more education and investment in woman-pleasing skills than showing off one's big penis.

As for masturbation, I think it is essential to keep one from trouble. As to pussy hair, I think the hair is there for us to enjoy it. As to virginity, I think, there is always the right time to lose it; if you aren’t forcing it, you'd know when you are ready, but I dont believe in keeping virginity for someone special because there is no one out there special enough. I believe in consensual sex. As to talking dirty during sex, I don’t believe it's all right to just blast it away without feeling out where your partner is and without involving her or him in your play step by step.

Q: The film narrative challenges the notion that women are less interested in the graphic qualities of sex than men. Your female character is very open. Are you interested in how women’s views, expressions of sexual matters are changing – differing from men?
I think all women are very interested in sex, but some of them get disappointed in it because they had too high expectations, expecting everything from a man: good income, great children, amazing lovemaking skills and ability to read her mind. Or they were brought up to be asexual, as they were told that a good girl should be clean, virginal, must wait for the right guy, is faithful, never asks for it, doesn’t show the enjoyment of sex, and so on. You know, I don't really know anything much about other women's views on sex. I can only speak for myself. When I talk to other women about their sexual experiences, I can't tell what is truth, what is denial and what is a fantasy.

teat_beat_inset.jpgI think the attitudes are changing, but I wouldn't be so sure. Recently I was in Italy and I encountered the same conversation in Rome, Venice and Milan - that young American female exchange students will have liberated sex, but only when drunk. That was a little disturbing to hear since alcohol is a great anaesthetic. It might bring down self-imposed restrictions but it prevents you from feeling anything.

Also, women are so different from each other. What works for one of us, doesn't work for another. Like, I can’t drink and have sex, it just makes no sense to me, while another woman will experience great orgasms while having sex hammered. I read about those in trashy books written by women, but none of my female friends have admitted having an orgasm after five cocktails, I personally think it is as impossible as having an orgasm while knocked out for surgery, but what do I know?

Q: You’ve mentioned in your film notes how even a show like Sex in the City was written by men. What do you think of the authoring of conversations about sex from female or male perspectives?
I think it all got so confused in our heads - what's male and what's female perspective on sex. You know, like putting on high-heel shoes and short skirts. Everyone these days will say that that is sexy and feminine, even women will say that, although to everyone who has ever put stilettos and short skirts on knows it is not the most comfortable outfit to wear. We put on short skirts and stilettos not to please our sensual selves, we put that on to feel our power over men. We want to project our sex appeal. And we know sex appeal is not the same as a sex drive or even an interest in sex. We just want to project it with our clothes and looks because an image of an exaggerated femininity gives us an immediate power

In any case, I am not against stilettos or tight jeans. I just find it amusing that we all talk about sex and sexy without knowing anymore what it really is. Being in tune with fashion disrupts your tuning in with your body. Tight jeans might look cool, but the crotch seam runs right over your clitoris and wounds it day after day after day till it gets insensitive. Big deal, you might say, I still have sex and enjoy it. But can you compare how much more you would have enjoyed it if your clitoris was more sensitive? Without the tight jeans, you say, I might not get partners to have sex with. Well, isn’t that ironic that men who are supposedly hungry looking for wet pussies and good times are looking for it in tight jeans that are killing the very joy they are looking for? Or they don’t care if their partners enjoy it or not?

Well, I don’t think that was what you asked me here. Conversation about sex from female perspective is a work in progress. I am not the only one to bring it up. What I offer with my approach is irony and, hopefully, humour. I was told women are not so keen on humour when the subject is sex, which I am not sure if I agree. Sex is an extremely funny subject and it would be a waste not to laugh about it.

Q: It seems you’re exploring some common gender dialectics in some of your pieces, like in your segment with penis envy, or when you’re looking at men liking to score, women to adore. What do you think of the dualistic aspects to sexuality between the genders?

A: I just don’t think women and men are all that different from each other as we are made to believe by bestselling books like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and many other popular culture shows and artifacts.The war between the genders is artificially constructed as far as our sexuality and humanity is concerned. (Equal pay and equal rights is a totally different matter.) At the end of the day we all want basically the same thing: a hug.

As to penis envy, it is a mirror reflection of pussy envy. We all have it one way or another, to make sex possible.

Q: When I saw your "Hair" episode, I thought about whether you are interested in more organic notions of the female body, over what porn has projected in terms of vaginal form?

A:"Hair" touches on a very important issue for me: pussy hair. The question: to pluck it or not. There are loads of women who laser off all their pubic hair just because their men demand it. If a man wants to have sex only with a woman who has no genital or whatsoever hair on her body (except for her head) because of his claim of perfection as seen on TV, that reeks of something so bizarre! Women (and men, too) have genital hair because 1) it is a sign of sexual maturity, 2) the hair is there to protect our genitals, keep them more sensitive, sensual. Insisting to having sex with a person with no body hair is not fair to the person who you are having sex with.

I hope they are mature enough to have sex with you, I mean, what are you fantasizing during sex with an adult hairless person? Would you prefer to have sex with a prepubescent minor? Eliminating genital hair deprives your partner from sensitivity and full sexual experience. Some sex books advise if you demand to fuck your lover in the ass, you should let her stick a dildo in your ass, too. Same goes for the hair. Why don’t men laser off their body hair?

That said, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting and shaving your hair time to time. Still, if lasering off your pussy hair is seen as a victory of civilization over natural state of matters, I wonder if the next step is cutting off your labia minora because in some cultures that is considered beautiful and sexy too? Why do we think no pussy hair is OK and cutting off labia minora is unacceptable? What's the difference? Where is the line? In any case, I am not sure if this latest craze of lasering off your pussy hair is induced by porno films. It probably is. 

Q: Are you interested in working more with animation and sexuality?
I am. I have another 50 "Teat Beat of Sex" episodes in me. Despite the immense popularity of the episodes, we haven't been able to find a distributor for the existing 15 episodes nor a producer for the new 50 episodes. Sex is a polarizing subject, and especially the subject of sex from a woman's point of view.



More info:

17 Comments | Add a Comment
amazing interview
Great interview and encouragingly honest and clear position. Thank you, Signe!
I read it! It's a great interview, and Signe's work is brave, new, racy, funny, honest AND educational !
In depth article, very eastern if I may say- smiles are forbidden! Best V
awwwweeee yeahhhh
You're a good and wise woman Signe Baumane!
Love it. Sharing.
Signe, you are the best!!! Great article
that's a great interview! thanks for sharing
great interview. Fun read
fantastic interview, Signe!
Just writing to say thanks for continuing to let me in on these things. Happy new year.
Thanks, Louise, giving me links to what I needed to know in 2009. Best wishes to you in 2010! You're the best in informication!
You sound almost too perfect...Or are you perfect?
Signe for President....!
Very provocative, insightful and candid!
*Your Name:
*Enter code:
* Comment: