Explicitly and unabashedly erotic, this humorous, fantasy-filled animation is a celebration of the joys of sex, set to a magnetic jazz score. Just under 5 minutes in length, this jubilant artifact from the sexually liberated 70's portrays a couple aided by additional lips, tongues, imaginings, and positions, featuring points of view rarely seen. In addition to all the fun, Desire Pie is also utilized as a teaching aid for women's studies, history of erotic art, sexuality studies and sex therapy.
Desire Pie has been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Tribeca Film Festival, Annecy International Film Festival, Light Industry, Yerba Buena Art Center, Ann Arbor Film Festival and Boston Independent Film Festival. It is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Written and animated by Lisa Crafts
5 minutes, cel animation ©1976
Desire Pie was made at a time when sexual liberation collided with the power of the women's movement, and created an environment in which women openly expressed their sexuality through art. Concurrently, it was a golden age of independent animation, a flourishing of experimental and personal films, which was documented in books such as Frames: Drawings and Statements by Independent Animators, compiled by George Griffin, 1978, The Animation Book by Kit Laybourne, 1979, and Experimental Animation: Origins of a New Art, by Robert Russett and Cecile Starr, 2nd Edition, 1989. Animation historian Cecille Starr wrote in Sightlines magazine, “The first wave of animated films made by “liberated” women in the 1970’s included many expressive statements about being female. In some, the animators bared themselves to the skin and revealed their most secret feelings, often light-heartedly….Some of the films had daring sexual imagery and themes, as, for example, Lisa Crafts’ Desire Pie (1976)…”
Heterosexual sex films of that time were primarily written and shot by men for men, often with themes of domination and exploitation of women; the sex act was presented as something performed by women for the pleasure of men. Desire Pie is from a woman’s point of view, and presents explicit sex with humor, fantasy, and warmth. Desire Pie was shown in film festivals, theaters, and in university animation and women’s studies classes. It traveled around Landmark theaters in the mid 1980’s as part of a midnight movie called “The San Francisco Erotic Film Festival.” It was included on a VHS collection called Adult Animation. Desire Pie was also distributed internationally by a radical sex-education group called Multi-Media Resource Center. They used it as a resource for sex educators and therapists, who used it to make people laugh and relax before serious discussions.
Desire Pie was part of a film program called Heart Throbs at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Off The Wall Cinema, a tiny, well respected art house. The Heart Throbs program was closed down by the Cambridge police for “obscenity”. After a week of being “banned in Boston,” and claims of censorship flying, the city and the theater negotiated, and the show reopened.
Over the years, Desire Pie had three distributors who kept and made prints from the original film: Serious Business Company, Picture Start, and Multi-Media Resource Center (who went by several names.) One by one, they went out of business. When the last one closed, they notified their artists by mail, but by the time the letter traveled from California to New York, their phones had been disconnected. The original 16mm. film was lost for years.
In 2003, Serge Bromberg, a film preservationist/collector/exhibitor in Paris who is also the artistic director of the International Animation festival in Annecy, had heard about the film, found a magenta-hued copy on Ebay, and screened it at the festival. From there, a curator in Germany obtained the same bad print from him, and those screenings brought more requests for this now legendary lost film. Then, in 2006, a surprise letter arrived from the Pacific Film Archives, saying they acquired the contents of a film lab that had gone out of business, and they had Desire Pie. It was returned and received a generous grant for preservation by the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, a program created by New York Women in Film and Television and The Museum of Modern Art, NY. The restored Desire Pie enjoyed its first public screening in 16mm at the Museum of Modern Art in November 2010, and in 2014, it became part of the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art.