Blanka Lipińska, author of ‘365 Days’, on sex scenes, controversy and rape culture

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In 2020, the Polish erotic thriller 365 days premiered on Netflix out of outrage. The movie, which Variety called a “completely terrible, politically objectionable, sometimes hilarious Polish humpathon”, received a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and was met with campaigns to remove it from the platform for its glorification of rape culture. But despite the backlash, the film, based on Blanka Lipińska’s book, was also a huge success: it spent more than a month in Netflix’s Top 10, went viral on TikTok and spawned two sequels.

Now, with the third and final film in the franchise newly available to stream – and the corresponding book released in the US in September – 365 days the author has a message for his detractors. “All the women around the world who have been screaming so loud about women’s rights and how bad my book is for women, I’m waiting for them to come up to me and say, ‘Sorry, I was wrong. “” Blanka Lipińska told Bustle. how she hopes people will perceive the conclusion of her trilogy.

Lipińska published the first 365 days, which followed the relationship between Sicilian mob boss Massimo and Polish hotel manager Laura in Poland in 2018. The book begins with Massimo kidnapping Laura and giving her a year to fall in love with him before he kills her. released. It’s a controversial conceit, but one that Lipińska says is no more problematic than the plot of The beauty and the Beast. “It’s the same story. So maybe we [should] focus on Disney cartoons, because what kind of independence [do the women in those films] have?” said the 37-year-old, adding that the two 365 days and The beauty and the Beast should be seen as cautionary tales. “Little girls watch these cartoons and think, ‘Oh my God, I want to be a princess. I want to have a prince on the white horse. No you [should] want to have your own castle because you will have money to buy this castle.

Whether or not the third book will convey this message of female independence and redeem the series in the eyes of Lipińska’s critics remains to be seen. (The fact that the final film is drastically different from Lipińska’s book probably won’t help her.) But when Lipińska started publishing her book, she had another goal in mind: to push the boundaries of eroticism. And with tweets about the movie like, “It made 50 Shades look like a Disney movie, MY GOD,” we can say that she succeeded. “I started a revolution in my country. But at the same time, people were in shock, like, ‘How dare you talk about sex like that?’ “, she recalls. “I say, ‘I don’t care.’ So I hope that my book, my interviews and the way I talk about sex will give women the courage to make their [sex] better life.

Below, Lipińska talks about the intimacy coordinators, her role in directing the film’s sex scenes, and contemporary erotica.

Before 365 days, you run a nightclub. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I never said I was a writer. If you are a writer, you feel this need to write within you. I don’t feel that. I just created my book because I was in a relationship where my boyfriend didn’t want to sleep with me. I was 29, and after a year and a half of life without sex, I started reading a lot of [erotic] books. But the sex in the books was very weak. It was for teenagers. So I decided to create my own story with good sex.

The book [I wrote stayed] in my computer for years. My friends read it, my friends’ friends, and all the girls said, “Oh my God. When will you publish the book? But I didn’t feel comfortable showing people what was inside Blanka Lipińska. Then after three years, I grew up and said, “I don’t give a fuck. I published this book because I was so pissed that bookstores didn’t have good erotic novels to read.

What is it about contemporary eroticism that hasn’t impressed you?

I was just tired of the language the writers used in the books. Like when you have a dick, you have a dick. Not “a big piece of wood in his pants”. Or [people would write] peach, not pussy. It’s not a peach! The peach is a fucking fruit for your kitchen. Your pussy is your pussy, your dick is a dick. I also wanted to give women a voice to talk about sex in their relationship. You have to know what excites you and that was the most important thing for me when I published my book.

365 days was first presented to American audiences in the form of a film. What was your involvement in the production of the film?

It was a very bad idea for the film crew [to invite me] because when we made the first movie, I was the most powerful person on set. I decided everything. I also directed the sex scenes. And let’s be honest. [The sex scenes] are the value of this movie. Because people like it to be so real. It’s not, but what we created [seemed] so true.

The boat scene – where Massimo and Laura sleep together for the first time, then have sex on every square inch of his yacht – has become one of the most talked about sex scenes in recent history. Explain to me how to direct this sequence.

From the beginning, I wanted to know my actors. I spent weeks [with them]. Michele [Morrone, who plays Massimo] came to Poland for two weeks before we started shooting and he was living in a hotel, but he was bored in the hotel so he stayed at my house. I talked with him [and Anna-Maria Sieklucka, who plays Laura] very honest about my sex life. We talked a lot about our sexual preferences, what we like, what we don’t like. So when we started shooting sex scenes, it was at the end of shooting, because it’s most important that the actors feel comfortable with each other.

So we had a rehearsal, the three of us alone in a safe place, and we decided what kind of emotion we wanted to put inside the scene. Then we got on the boat and I said, “You’re going to start sex in a dominant way, then you have to do such and such a position. So it’s totally up to you guys. It’s a free style. Show me what you got.” So they’ve done it like three times and they know exactly what I want to see on screen. Even when [Michele] did this thing…

Spit on her vagina?

Yes! Because when we talked about all these things one day, I said, “Oh my God. I love when a guy does that. And he said, “Okay, I’ll do it for you.” It’s super cool, because it’s fun for us to do it. But on screen, it was so sexy.

You’re obviously very active in these sex scenes, but do you also have an intimacy coordinator on set?

On the second and third films, we had one. Of course, it’s Netflix’s rule and we play by the rules, but I think we know each other so well and we’re so honest on set with the actors that the job of intimacy coordinator, in the first movie, was my job.

When the first movie came out, the internet was divided. People loved it, but it got a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was Netflix’s most-watched movie, but people were asking Netflix to take it down. How did you handle the reaction?

When I published my book in Poland, it was the same. He glorifies rape, blah, blah, blah. When you only read the first part, you probably have the right [to say that]. But [if you read] all three and you have a brain, you would never say such a thing. When you have read the three books and [still] say something like this, then I will talk to you.

Despite all the fanfare and controversy, are you going to write another book?

Probably because my fans really like this story and they want to know everything about this story. So I decided to give them a book number four. This story will be from Massimo’s point of view. What was going on inside Massimo when he met Laura? When he kidnapped her? The fans are very curious and I want to tell them this story.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity..

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