Cara Delevingne is a English model and actor and one of the world’s most photographed people and an award-winning LGBTQ+ icon.
On this immersive journey, the self certified pansexual puts her mind and body on the line in search of answers, donating her orgasm to science in Germany; making art from her vagina in Japan; hitting up a women-only sex club; taking a masturbation masterclass, and visiting an “ethical” porn set, all in the name of understanding our deepest desires. In every episode, she shares her own personal experiences. Uniquely unfiltered and authentic, there’s no limit on how far Cara’s willing to go to explore what makes us all human.
Cara Delevingne wishes she had LGBTQ role models growing up: ‘I do think I would have hated myself less’
Cara Delevingne has long been praised for being one of the most visible queer women in Hollywood, after coming out as bisexual early in her career, publicly dating women including Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Ashley Benson. But as she continues to make statements about her sexuality through brand collaborations for Pride and even her red carpet fashion, Delevingne reflects on the silver lining of having previously been closeted.
“The one thing I’m happy about growing up queer and fighting it and hiding it is it gives me so much fire and drive to try to make people’s lives easier in some way by talking about it,” s
Planet Sex With Cara Delevingne
This is your first presenting role. Were you nervous?
It wasn’t easy. I’ve spent a lot of my career – for the last 10, 12 years – in front of the camera, but I’ve never really been myself in front of the camera, so that was difficult. It was very awkward. The first thing we shot was going to Dinah Shore [a lesbian festival], and I was so uncomfortable. I was sweating all over the chair, didn’t know what I was doing. I just was very, very nervous. I had to strip back everything I’ve ever learned and just be myself, which is very energetic, inquisitive, curious and vulnerable.
It’s a very personal film. Was that aspect of it hard?
Yes, but I think that’s the point of documentary making, especially with a subject like this which I care so much about. I felt like I knew so much about what was happening, what the stats were or what the general consensus was of people around the world, but I realised I knew way less than I thought about everyone else and also way less about myself.
Were these subjects – like gender, monogamy, sexuality – that you had been thinking about before you met Simon Andreae (Executive Producer and CEO, Fremantle UK)?
Definitely. I mean, I wasn’t thinking specifically about making a documentary but it’s what I think humanity at its base level is about: connection. That’s how I look at the world. I love psychology, I studied it at school, that’s the world’s currency in a way. Whenever I go to an event or dinner or something, I always ask these kinds of questions anyway. If someone’s got something that they’re not dealing with or an internal conflict or a barrier they have up, I like to break through it and find something out or expose something that they may not know – only if they want to, of course. So it was something I was already doing anyway.
Why did this feel like the right time to turn that internal curiosity into making a documentary?
That’s what I have to thank Simon for. There are a lot of things in my career that have happened because other people have suggested them. It’s weird, because I’ll be thinking about them and then someone will come out and be like, “Would you like to do this?” and I’m like, “Yes. How did you know?” I think I exude certain things. And we are now, more than ever, living in such an incredible time. People are becoming more open, but people are also becoming more closed off to things. So this is a great time to do this. I want there to be conversations – not arguments at all, but debate– for people to come out and talk about these things.
Which parts do you feel might be controversial?
Well, I think men might find it hard to hear about the orgasm gap. I think that families will find some of it difficult depending on their political or religious standpoints. But you know what? One person in a family watching this might have a hidden secret, whether it’s someone’s sexuality or a husband or wife married for 50 years and the husband has been having an affair the whole time. So it might make people think.
You’re non-judgemental on Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne. Is that how you are in real life?
I mean, look, I have a certain taste level, I have opinions on whether I like certain music or stuff like that, but within people – who they are, who is their inner-most self, or what they decide to do in their free time – I don’t think there’s any point in judging people. What right do I have to judge people? I’m no better than anyone else.
Tell me how you chose your contributors. Some of them have quite sad stories, but as a whole the series ends up feeling quite uplifting.
Every contributor has an unconventional story, which means that they have gone through some adversity. Like River: River’s story made me so upset, but to come to a place where they are so positive and they are such an advocate and such a spokesperson for intersex people was amazing to learn about. Gottmik is a friend of mine, the first openly trans man to compete on drag race. One of my favourite things to do was to have people that I knew well on there, but it was a mixture, because I also think it’s very important not just to have my friends.
Episode 1: The Orgasm Gap
What were your preconceptions going into the episode about female sexuality?
I think this is one of the ones I was more educated in, although I didn’t realise how far we haven’t come since the discovery of the moon landing, which was way before the mapping of a clitoris. I was dumbfounded. I was completely shocked by how little education there is.
It does come from both sides. You can’t just sit there and blame men, you also have to look at women and see how we’ve been trained to not ask for what we need, or not talk about what we want, or even know what we want. We always go for ‘less than’. [Sex] is always just to serve a purpose, which is usually the man, in my opinion.
You masturbate twice on the show: once at a science lab to measure your responses. Did you have any hesitation about doing that?
No, I find that easier than getting emotional. I find that way easier than getting vulnerable, because that is science and I’m excited by that. I’m like a little kid when it comes to science exploration. And this is for the show, and this will help people. Having an orgasm for my job, that’s easy. Being vulnerable and opening up, that’s way harder.
Episode 2: Out and Proud?
Why did you want to cover sexual orientation?
In the past it has been such a black and white topic where people would – and still do – say, “I’m 100 per cent gay”, or “I’m 100 per cent straight”, without trying the other side. I just don’t think you can ever say you’re 100 per cent anything unless you try both sides. Because you never know! Who the hell knows what’s going to happen? To decide that means that there’s some fear behind it. I had a conversation with someone the other day, he was like, “I’m 100 per cent straight” and I was like, “Okay, but if you had to sleep with a man, who?” and he said “Brad Pitt” so fast. I was like, “How the hell did you come up with that name so fast if you’ve never thought about it?” So that kind of thing is really important. And again, it’s changed so much. Every time I meet young people they’ll be like, “Well, I’m bi [sexual] until I find out I’m not”. That’s kind of the base level now, in my opinion.
You go into the sexual orientation episode with questions about your own sexuality. What did you learn about yourself?
I’ve always been an advocate for the queer community, and have done things to wave the flag, but actually, in the world that I live in, most of my friends are straight. I’d never been to Pride before making this show. I’m not saying you have to go to Pride to be a “good gay”, there’s no such thing as good or bad gay, but I just felt that there was more that I could have done with my voice and my platform.
Has that changed since making the programme?
Definitely. I’ve gotten a lot more entrenched in the community, for sure. I have a lot more queer friends now.
So, you’ll be down for judging more twerking competitions in the future?
One hundred per cent! Any time. If anyone sends me an offer, please. I’m sure there’ll be more.
Episode 3: Can Porn Be Good?
Tell me what preconceptions you had going into the episode about pornography?
I knew that all the porn I watched, and I’d stopped watching porn at that point, was dangerous. Not just for myself but for the world at large. The internet and what it can be used for in educational ways is amazing, but that whole system and that whole world is so dark and so sad.
I met a woman called Cindy Gallop who was having sex with younger men, and she’d really noticed that the way men have sex has changed in recent years because of porn. That adds to the reason why the orgasm gap is getting worse – or perhaps not worse but certainly not better. That’s one of the subjects that hasn’t moved along at all.
You talk on the programme about how porn often revolves around women just being there to please the man, and how it uses aggressive language.
I do, but also women’s whole mindset has changed. Very strong women can love to be objectified and that’s fine if that’s their choice, but it’s how you can feel powerful in objectification without buying into this toxic culture.
You also meet director Erika Lust who makes “ethical” porn, and you watched her cast having a consent chat before filming.
Yeah! I loved that they were so open about it. And of course, the women talked about where they wanted to be touched or not touched. But again, a lot of times women in the porn industry perhaps just don’t always know what they want, because they may have only experienced or seen violence in a sexual situation. And therefore that might be what they want because that’s what they think they deserve.
Erika made a film based on your own fantasies. What was it like to see that?
Unbelievable. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of porn. But that was amazing, especially in the sense of like, “Oh, wow, they’re actually good at sex.” In most porn, they’re not. That’s also the funny thing: I think a lot of women don’t ever expect to have an orgasm when they have sex, because they are just thinking that feeling anything is feeling something; so whether it’s feeling hurt, feeling objectified, feeling disrespected, that feeling of something, as long as it’s pleasing the other person.
What conclusion did you come to in that episode: is all porn bad?
There are so many porn makers who do make “ethical” porn, and I think there are good types of porn. But if it’s well made, you have to pay for it and I don’t know many young people who want to pay for porn. That’s the problem here. All the free streaming sites, they are still very much the easiest to access. Those are the ones which are male dominated, and the people appearing in them get no rights.
Episode 4: What’s Your Gender?
Gender is quite a personal area for you because you’ve been thinking about your own gender recently.
Not recently, always, and it’s less something that I think about, more something that just kind of flows through me.
On the show you talk about feeling different as a little girl: can you expand on that?
Yeah, I didn’t feel different at first. It didn’t feel weird until I got older, when everyone in society made me feel different. I didn’t feel different on the inside. It was more to do with not wanting to put a dress on and being like, “Well, I’m going to be climbing a tree so I need cargo pants that I can unzip and turn into shorts because that seems more practical, and I don’t want to play with oversized kitchen sets when I can be building different things that I can make myself.” And it just confused me that everything was so gendered and boys’ toys were blue and girls’ toys were pink. It was just weird.
If somebody tells me something isn’t right, but they don’t give me a good reason as to why it’s not right, I’ll continue to do it. So now I love playing with the extremes of gender. I love dressing up. My tits are huge at the moment and I love looking like Jessica Rabbit sometimes. I also love wearing a red lip and a power suit or being a drag king for a night. I love playing those extremes of gender. When I was younger, people thinking it was weird made me want to do it more.
There’s a bit where you get really emotional in that episode where you imagine what it would be like to say to your friends and family that you’re going to transition as a man. Can you explain why?
Yeah, because I think in terms of never coming out to my family and saying, “I’m gay” – see, I can hardly say it now – or “I like women”, I just can’t imagine what trans people have to go through a lot of the time. And my family are not bad at all. But imagining me saying, “I want to transition” – not that that’s how I feel at all – but I just didn’t even want to think about what that must be like. Some people will never understand that feeling of alienation, that feeling of being an outcast. It’s just horrible. How dare anyone tell someone that they are less of a person than anyone else because of how they feel inside?
You did suggest that you might have transitioned if you’d been more aware of it as a child, and you also dressed in drag for the first time. Did you draw any conclusions by the end of it?
No. There are no conclusions apart from the fact that I’m gender fluid and queer gendered. But my pronouns are still “she, her”, that hasn’t changed because I’m proud to be a woman. I still fight for what women deserve. But I also don’t feel that if your pronouns are women’s pronouns that you have to behave in or dress in a certain way. That’s kind of what I believe.
Episode 5: Monogamish
The next episode is monogamy and you undertook an experiment to see if you were genetically built to be monogamous or not. The results said you were not genetically a nester. How did you feel about that?
I knew whatever results came out they were going to annoy me because it’s genetic and to do with nature not nurture [laughs]! I’d been in a place where I had been single for two years, but I also know that I’m a person who strives for connection and I have a real problem with trust. So anything other than a monogamous relationship doesn’t really work for me, unless it’s something casual, but if I’m talking about love and real connection, monogamy is the only way I can trust someone. By the end of the whole series, I found myself going into a really lovely, strong relationship, because I think this opened me up into being really ready for it.
But the programme does explore the fact that polyamory works for some people.
Yeah, and what’s amazing about polyamory is that it’s an open conversation. Now what I take into relationships is that it’s good to be able to have a conversation and be honest about the fact that you think someone’s attractive or they find you attractive; to have a constant open dialogue and conversation is the way to stop things from leading to cheating and breaking someone’s trust. There are no rules, that’s the thing. You can be in a monogamous relationship and that might change. It’s just taught me that you’re not obliged to be with someone, your love is not a bind, and you can also be honest about the way you feel.
Episode 6: Do You Think I’m Hot?
The final episode is about beauty, in which you talk about your own insecurities, which seems ironic given you are often described as one of the most beautiful women in the world.
It’s all the hair and make-up teams! I said to my hair and make-up people yesterday, “I wouldn’t have a job without you guys”. Me in the morning – nobody’s going to hire that person. And besides, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has insecurities. I’ve met some of the most beautiful women and men in the world and they’re still like, “Urgh, my photos are so gross”. I really do think beauty is far more than skin deep, and I feel more of a beautiful person because I’m not a bad person rather than because of the way I look.
Do you feel less insecure as you get older?
Yeah, definitely. I just feel more accepting of myself. It’s not, “Oh, I’m really growing into my 30-year-old body”, it’s more that I love myself the way I am. I’m lucky to have a healthy body and to be alive.
You went to a plastic surgeon, but didn’t end up saying yes to botox. You said you’d think about it: what are your thoughts now?
I had botox after the show. I tried just a little bit between my eyebrows. I had to think first, “Do I really want this because I’m feeling bad about myself, or do I want this because I do actually have a really big line right down in the middle of my forehead right here?” And if it’s the latter, maybe that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I hate myself.
It’s something I want to talk about. When I was 16 I wanted a boob job so badly and I really hated myself so that’s more something that’s deep-rooted than having a tiny bit of botox.
It sounds like overall this has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for you.
Yeah, it’s very much changed my life. Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve also just never been so proud of a show or anything I’ve ever done. I’ve always said to people, “Oh, it’s really bad, don’t watch it” but with this I’m like, “Watch it. It’s amazing”. I feel really, really proud of what we created.
I’m excited. I’m ready for it to come out because I lived it, and it’s so interesting. When I see people I haven’t seen for a long time I say, “Guys, I went to a scientist where they put a probe in my vagina” and as soon as you say that, you just see someone’s mouth drop…when my family and friends have watched it they’re like, “What? When did you do this?”
What do you hope audiences will take away from it?
I just want people to watch it and see what they think. And they can disagree. I just want people to know the stats, to be educated. Because really, education is power. It’s something that can really free you. If we can change anyone’s minds to be more willing to accept themselves or someone else, that’s all I want.
Do you think you’ll make more documentaries?
Yes, for sure. I would love to. I’ve got ideas, there’s a lot more to discover in this subject matter alone: so much more.
This intimate and inclusive six–part documentary series is produced by Naked Television (a Fremantle label) and Milkshake Productions for BBC Three.
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