Lasse Braun R.I.P. (1936-2015)

Lasse Braun (real name Alberto Ferro), the adult film pioneer and king of euro loops in the early 1970s, died in Rome on Tuesday 16 February of complications from diabetes.

Lasse Braun was the son of a wealthy Italian diplomat. After graduating from the prestigious Swiss college "Institut Montana Zuegerberg", he enrolled in the Law School of the Milan State University in 1955. Despite passing all his exams by 1960, he struggled to publish his doctorate dissertation entitled: "The Judiciary Censorship in the Western World" in which he argued against the "social damage" provoked by legalistic censorship. While preparing its defence, its contents and underlying radical ideas provoked so much controversy that it was promptly dismissed. According to Braun, the Academic establishment decided to "censor" his thesis on censorship.

Lasse Braun in 1969
By the mid-1960s Braun had decided to put his ideas into practice and began directing adult movies in Europe. In 1966, he founded a movie company in Sweden through which he produced a series of hardcore loops shot on 8mm or 16mm film. Early titles included: Golden Butterfly (1966), Chains of Eroticism (1968), Sex on the Motorway (1968), Suzie La Blonde (1968), Blow Up '70 (1968) and Dream of a Nymphomaniac (1969). He used his Swedish company AB Beta to distribute them.

In 1968, since the demand for his illegal porn loops was growing everywhere in Europe, he purchased the necessary equipment to set up his own color film lab. He built it in the suburbs of Stockholm and operated it in association with a Swedish technician named Rejo West. That was the world's first modern movielab exclusively dedicated to the mass-production of pornography.

"I make porn movies for two reasons: first of all because I'm fond of sex and secondly because it is forbidden." - Lasse Braun

The Lasse Braun sex shop in Amsterdam
In 1969 a Danish Member of Parliament translated Braun's university dissertation into Danish and used it as the foundation for the legalisation of pornography in Denmark. On 4 June 1969, Denmark became the first country in the world to legalise hardcore pornography.

Between 1969 and 1972, Braun went on to shoot almost 40 hardcore loops, working mainly with unknown women he met in bars, but also with established porn actresses such as Claudine Beccarie and Sylvia Bourdon. They were generally well-shot, often with interesting settings, costumes and themes such as Casanova, vikings or spies. These were not cheaply made fuck-flicks shot in a dirty basement!

Lasse Braun and Brigitte Maier in 1976
In 1973 he met his muse, Brigitte Maier. She was an the American porn actress working in Europe, and together they made half a dozen loops and two of the landmark porn films shot in Europe during the 1970s: French Blue (1974) and Sensations (1975) - [see Brigitte Maier's bio for further details on these movies].

Braun eventually shot a total of 86 hardcore loops between 1966 and 1977. By the late 1970s though, disillusioned by the re-introduction of obscenity laws in Europe, he eventually retreated to Italy and withdrew from pornography. Despite returning in the 1980s to make a series of porn films in America, only the excellent American Desire (1981) with Veronica Hart is really worth hunting down.

Lasse Braun was an idealist, a pioneer and a man of his times. Without his single-handed efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to legalise pornography in Europe, the industry would probably look very different today. It is impossible to discuss the history of 20th century adult entertainment without tipping your hat to this Italian maverick.

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