Filminstruktør har bedt verdensberømt forfatter dyrke sex for rullende kamera i timevis. Nu forklarer han hvorfor
Solveig Gram Jensen, Berlinske, 2023 January 31
Translation to English
Film director asked world-famous author to have sex for hours on camera. Now he explains why
French superstar Michel Houellebecq allegedly agreed to be filmed during hours-long sexual encounters with young women. The whole thing was organised by a controversial Dutch film director. He now explains to Berlingske what he wants to show the world by filming the author eating oysters and having sex in an overheated hotel room.
He sits shirtless on the bed in the hotel room.
Slightly sweaty and smiling. The eternal cigarette between his fingers. Soon after, a young woman is lying on top of him. He kisses her as if he were newly in love.
The world-famous French writer Michel Houellebecq has never shied away from shocking and provoking.
But few would have realised just how decadent he is.
We are likely to get an idea of this when a new film is released soon.
In this film, the Frenchman seems to be going against the grain of what most of the world has been doing since the #metoo wave washed over us just over five years ago.
Houellebecq doesn’t deal with that sort of thing.
Instead, over the Christmas period, he took on the role of a spring-watching and very persistent lover in a 35-degree hotel room in Amsterdam. Each time with a different young woman.
Here is the story as told to Berlingske by Dutch artist and film director Stefan Ruitenbeek:
Abortion and feminism
It all started improbably far from the three-hour-long shag Houellebecq reportedly ended up having.
The thing was, he appeared in the public debate in the Netherlands in 2019 because a far-right politician, Thierry Thierry Thierry, had
politician, Thierry Baudet, wrote an essay about him in the American Journal.
Baudet uses the French writer to express his opposition to abortion, euthanasia and feminism. More importantly, he interprets Houellebecq as wishing for the return of Christianity and the nation state.
This interpretation was later discussed in a film created by the highly controversial Dutch artists’ collective
artists’ collective called KIRAC, which stands for Keeping It Real Art Critics, for which Stefan Ruitenbeek is responsible.
While the protagonists rejected the interpretation, one of them thought Houellebecq was “sick in the head” – by which he meant half-crazy, perverse or at least not quite normal.
Afterwards, Stefan Ruitenbeek sent an email with a link to the film to the author himself.
And then he got a short reply back:
“I’m not insane.”
This was the start of a longer conversation by email. And Houellebecq was added to the list of people Stefan Ruitenbeek keeps informed about his new films.
So two years later, Houellebecq saw a film called “Honey Pot”. It came about when a 22-year-old left-wing philosophy student named Jini van Rooijen posted on a news website a call for men from the other end of the political spectrum who were willing to have sex on camera.
The idea was partly to unite the opposites through pornography and partly to attract customers to van Rooijen’s OnlyFans website.
But although a right-wing philosopher and politician signed up for the exercise, the two never found chemistry. Instead, she rejected him and he ended up feeling so humiliated that he withdrew permission to show the film. KIRAC did not respect that.
On the other hand, the film aroused something in Houellebecq, who wrote and offered himself. Later, Jini van Rooijen came to Paris, where the film was more successful.
“Michel Houellebecq fucked her for three hours. He was very energetic, very serious and not shy about the camera,” explains Stefan Ruitenbeek.
Fear of beheading
The session is now part of the film, but much more footage has since emerged from a subsequent trip to Amsterdam over Christmas 2022.
This came about because Houellebecq later wrote an email complaining that he was afraid to go on an otherwise planned trip to Morocco.
Houellebecq has recently – once again – criticised Islam. He therefore feared he would be beheaded if radical Islamists were to find him in the North African country.
Ruitenbeek also learned from Houellebecq’s wife, Qianyum Lysis Li, that the trip to Morocco included a number of paid visits to prostitutes, which she had organised herself.
When a German art critic calls the French writer Houellebecq “sick in the head”, he rejects it by e-mail. And so begins a conversation in Amsterdam that has ended with a new film by the controversial art collective KIRAC.
When a Dutch art critic calls the French writer Houellebecq “sick in the head”, he rejects it by email. And then
then begins a conversation between Paris and Amsterdam that has resulted in a new film from the controversial
art collective KIRAC.
“Then I said to him, there are several girls here who would like to have sex with you.”
The travel and hotel accommodation was paid for by the art collective’s patron, Philip van den Hurk, a huge Houellebecq fan.
And a few days before Christmas, the Frenchman arrived in the Dutch capital, where young students and aspiring actors were waiting for him.
“We only filmed a few of the meetings, but there were about ten girls in total.”
That is, the author had sex twice a day.
“He is capable of a lot. He started the very first night,” explains Stefan Ruitenbeek, who actually opens the trailer for the film with a tender scene from the maternity ward moments after his own son is born.
“So I come from my own family and I walk into this dark room where the heat is turned up to 35 degrees. He wouldn’t let me air out. It was like a depressed dungeon, the den of the beast. He was there and he wanted to fuck these girls.”
How much were you able to talk to him along the way?
“Frenchmen like to talk and have sex. He would lick pussy for half an hour and then have a philosophical chat in between.”
According to Stefan Ruitenbeek, Houellebecq generally seemed deeply depressed, although he laughed and joked from time to time. He also never left his hotel room, just ate fish and oysters inside.
Berlingske has asked to see the film in its entirety or clips documenting how it was made, but the director refuses. He will only give access to the trailer that can be seen at the top of this article.
“The film is art and I’m not going to document anything. You’ll have to wait for the film to be released. Write what you find culturally interesting about the project – the film – rather than looking for evidence that the penis was actually up the vagina.”
Stefan Ruitenbeek is well aware that the film risks strong reactions because giving powerful men access to willing young women is a thing of the past.
And he also realises that there may be political and moral reactions to the film. That many will say that Houellebecq is an old pig.
“And the reactionaries will say that Houellebecq should rather promote values such as marriage.” But the fact that Houellebecq has sex with groupies is not really interesting, he says. So what is the message of the film?
“There is no message. I’m not a propaganda artist. But my ambition is to tell something genuine about the relationship between art and beauty and desire and love and loneliness,” explains Ruitenbeek, who notes that he is convinced that Houellebecq must be clinically depressed.
“He often writes about a feeling that there is a layer of glass between him and the world. I hope that people will discuss art and sex in an honest way, and that they will look at Houellebecq and his relationship with intimacy as a state of mind. That’s what I’m going for.”
Houellebecq, too, says Ruitenbeek, has expressed concern that the film will shock the conservative part of his worldwide readership.
“But he hopes that the film will in turn improve his relationship with feminist readers.” It’s doubtful that will be the outcome.