To most Germans above a certain age, Antje Nikola Mönning is remembered for her role as ‘Jenny’ the nun in the long running TV series ‘Un Himmels Willen’. But over the past decade, she has become an integral part of Roland Reber’s independent film production house, WTP International. Apart from acting, Ms. Mönning produces, co-writes, and assists directing WTP films, and even finds time to pursue a career in music. 2018 had been an eventful year for Ms. Mönning, not least for the DVD-release of her daring portrayal of protagonist ‘Nikki’ in WTP’s latest film.
“Der Geschmack von Leben” [Eng. Title: Taste of Life] is about a free-spirited woman living and ‘tasting’ life to the full, on her own terms, and publishing her consensually filmed sexual encounters in her blog. I used the opportunity of preparing a film review for this site to discuss with Ms. Mönning the film, her daring sex scenes in it, and her outlook in general. And thanks to Marina Anna Eich’s great help in arranging the interview, here are the excerpts:
An interview with Antje Nikola Mönning
Hello Antje, a thirstyrabbit welcome to you. You’ve been credited as one of the writers for your latest film, ‘Taste of Life’. What were your thoughts and what were the issues you wanted to talk about while scripting?
The script of ‘Taste of Life’ is based on fragments of Roland Reber’s collection of texts and of the ideas that Roland, Mira, Marina and I developed over several car trips. My wish was to show a person who is totally enjoying her life and who is curious about other people’s ways of living without judging or ‘missionising’ them. Life is sometimes presented very negatively in media, creating anxieties that are not necessarily yours. By choosing Nikki’s special character, I wanted to show how you could live joyfully and free-mindedly without being too concerned about other people’s opinion. But of course there are many more themes that we’ve explored in the movie. You could say that ‘Taste of Life’ is a kaleidoscope of topics like sex and relationship, guilt and religion, sense and nonsense of conventions etc.
Was the film in some way a counter-narrative to the puritanical streak we’re seeing in Hollywood today which, while conveniently appropriating itself to the #metoo movement, essentially remains conservative at its core?
We have scripted and realized the movie shortly before the #metoo movement came up. It was never intended to be a comment on this topic, but to give a glimpse of different people’s desires and longings. There are as many life plans, stories, wishes and fears as there exist human beings. Even in these times of #metoo there isn’t just ONE female or male way of perceiving life. But I have noticed for many years already that there is a tendency in society and especially in American movies to become more and more prudish. If you watch how sex scenes are pictured, you will, for example, find woman having sex in bras, which I find unrealistic. Why not show sex naturally and unpretentiously if you want to picture it at all!
The protagonist in ‘Taste of Life’ is a free-spirited woman who’s unapologetic about seeking sexual fulfilment outside the confines of love and societal obligations. Can we assume that this is your post-feminist response to ‘classical’ feminism?
To be honest, I didn’t want to respond to any kind of feminism. But I notice that women who have non-binding sex with diverse men are still labelled as slags or sluts. That’s why I wanted to show the other side of reality; Nikki is not only free-minded, but self-defined. In this case, she is the one who chooses when and how often she wants to suck one’s penis without being submissive at any time. She really enjoys her sexual life, and life in general. To me, sperm is a symbol for life (as it is literally giving birth to a new life), and by showing the pleasure Nikki experiences when she licks off the sperm, I wanted to convey this symbolism as a tribute to life itself.
As you said, being the film’s protagonist, you perform fellatio (leading to a ‘finish’) with two different actors. That’s going an extra mile on top of the extra mile actresses normally go, when performing unsimulated sex for cinema. Did you have any reservations at all in doing these scenes? If so, what were they?
No, not at all. I think it’s funny that I always get asked if sex scenes in front of the camera are difficult to perform. But no one ever asked me if it was heavy stuff to slip into the role of the manipulating author in ‘The Truth of Lie’ who was playing games of life and death with two women by keeping them locked up for some weird experiment.
You have a point there. Is Nikki the alter-ego of Antje Nikola Mönning, and are her desires and outlook the same as yours?
The role of Nikki contains a lot of my way of thinking. I look at life in a very positive and open way, and like Nikki, I don’t care about what other people think of me. This creates the greatest freedom you can imagine!
Where will you draw the line when it comes to participating in explicit sex scenes in film. What are your limits, if any?
I guess, I would do almost anything that I think is important to describe, and define the character that I want to play. My personal limits are rather not to harm anyone. But explicit sex scenes are not always necessary. Often you can stimulate the imagination a lot more by not showing everything. It always depends on the role and what you can express with it. As an example, Lucy in Angels with Dirty Wings needed her orgasms to feel herself and to feel alive. So I found it important to show real orgasms to support my character.
That’s interesting. On a different matter, you were recently fined €300 for exposing yourself in front of two plain-clothes police officers in Bavaria. I quote your brilliant statement to the court, “I cannot believe it is a crime for a woman to show her body naked. We all came into the world naked. So should we sue God?”
Do you think this hypocrisy in society concerning nudity will ever change, at least as far as Germany is concerned?
I really hope so. It is bizarre that our society is almost oversexed by our commercials and media, but when it comes to an approach to real sex and nudity, media responds with a huge outcry over what it thinks doesn’t fit into social norms and habits. As I said earlier, at the moment I have the impression that our society is becoming more prudish. But when we look at the acceptance of homosexuals for example, we can see an enormous progress between the nineteen fifties and now. So let’s hope that other sexual orientations will gain acceptance, too.
Just being curious; have you ‘exposed yourself’ to random strangers in public before this unlucky episode?
Fair enough! Would you like to tell us something about your forthcoming projects?
At the moment, we are brainstorming for our next movie that we plan to make this year. It will be some kind of revue with musical interludes.
A musical – fascinating! Is rebel nun ‘Schwester Antje‘ here to stay, and can we expect to see more of your free-spirit in forthcoming films?
Since the press is calling me TV-nun, Naked nun, Sex nun or whatever nun for almost ten years now, I decided to name myself Schwester Antje (Sister Antje) and to play with this image. I don’t take myself too seriously, but it’s more or less just an artistic name to launch my music. Luckily I am still Antje Nikola Mönning and have not transformed into any kind of artificial figure. And I want to challenge myself, so I always choose new characters. The next role will definitely be different to Nikki.
Thank you Antje, and we wish you and WTP International a Happy 2019!
(Ms. Mönning has since made a hilarious YouTube video following the court ruling against the traffic police incident, worth checking out.) 🙂