From Iceland — 'Opening Up': A Tale Of Queerness, BDSM, Sex and Self-Acceptance Comes To Fringe

‘Opening Up’: A Tale Of Queerness, BDSM, Sex and Self-Acceptance Comes To Fringe

‘Opening Up’: A Tale Of Queerness, BDSM, Sex and Self-Acceptance Comes To Fringe

Published July 3, 2020

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Provided by Sindri Sparkle Freyr

Oh, you thought just because there’s not much international travel right now that Reykjavík Fringe Festival would be cancelled? WRONG! It’s back and wackier than ever, with a week-long showcase featuring the best of local performers along with a selection of special live-streamed acts from abroad.

At the Grapevine, we are unapologetic Fringe-addicts, so we’re happy to now present a series of interviews with some of our favourite performers of this year. Here, it’s all about Sindri “Sparkle” Freyr, who is presenting a new film on queerness, sex, BDSM, open relationships and more, entitled ‘Opening Up’. The film will be screened on July 9th, 10th, and 11th at 18:00 at Samtökin ’78. Tickets are 1,000 ISK.

Thanks for talking to us Sindri! So, ‘Opening Up’: What was the inspiration behind the film? What can audiences expect?

I was in a self-portrait painting course and I didn’t have any canvases. I stapled some curtains onto a board, painted a portrait of me tied in ropes, and then hung the painting up with those same ropes. When the painting was finished I realised the symbolism of curtains being something used to hold secrets inside. It was my first time making art about this subject that meant so much to me and I wanted to be more open about it.

‘Opening up’ is not your traditional movie with a hero, villain, and a MacGuffin. Its a series of stories I tell from my life, illustrated by paintings relating to said stories. The topics of the stories mostly revolve around queerness, sex, and relationships with a focus on internal narratives. Expect something weird, funny, and hopefully moving.

opening up

What is it like, emotionally, to document your own journey (rather than someone else’s)? Was is difficult? Healing?

There was a story that took me probably eight drafts before I was happy with it. It was a difficult subject and one of my lowest moments. Any time I sat down I’d have to force myself to keep writing. When it came time to film it, I knew it had to be one continuous shot. I read over the script, again and again, trying to remember everything but when I started rolling it all came out naturally. It was a little surreal because I’d never been able to talk about it without a layer of sarcasm to keep myself emotionally distant. When done honestly, telling your story has a tendency to make you notice exactly what you need to change about yourself.

But yes, telling your story can be healing. Telling it honestly and without any filters even more so. Stories help us make sense of the world. You can get stuck in a narrative too and I talk about that in the movie. Making ‘Opening Up’ meant unraveling myself and reconstructing my narrative. It was intense and I oftentimes felt like I wanted to quit. In the end, I think it was worth it though. I’m in a much healthier place now.

Obviously the attitudes relating to things like queerness, open relationships, BDSM, and much more have changed drastically through the years. What do you think the current attitudes towards it in Iceland are right now? What did they used to be?

We might not be beaten in the streets like the “good old days” but things can definitely be rough here. It’s better than a lot of other places but my friends have lost jobs over BDSM. I’ve lost friends because of my open relationship and that’s not to mention the almost daily xenophobia you see in a lot of our news media. I think the biggest problem here nowadays is the groups who can’t speak out or get drowned out by the mainstream social discourse. People get really uncomfortable around certain issues. For instance, you can’t exactly come out as BDSM without most people saying, “You shouldn’t talk about that,” or, “That’s a private thing.” I’ve heard people say, “What you do in your bedroom is none of my concern,” too many times to count, but if no one knows it’s normal to be attracted to these things, people are still only gonna see us as freaks. People are even afraid to tell the person they love and trust the most that they have a fetish. How fucked up is that?

Do you have any advice for queer or non-traditional people who are coming into their own?

You have to learn to laugh at the absurdity. I don’t mean self-depreciation, I mean full on belly laughing at both bigots and microaggressions. You can’t really debate if you should be allowed to exist because the question is just absurd. Make sure those assholes know that, to you, they are the butt of the joke. Existing as what you are and stumbling to find yourself is hard but always worth it. Shame is a powerful feeling and it will hurt but the opposite of shame is pride. Be proud.

What would be your dream project to do next? Do you have any plans?

There are a lot more stories I wrote out that didn’t make it into the final draft of ‘Opening Up’ and I’m still writing more. I’m probably going to collect them at some point into a book or a graphic memoir but that’s a few more years away. I also really want to get an open mic storytelling show going in Reykjavík when bigger events start happening again. Other than that my main goals this year are drawing, painting, doing drag, having kinky, kinky sex, and making a lot more stories.

Read more Reykjavík Fringe coverage here.

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