by Rich Moreland, July 2015
This is the second segment of Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ discussion with Candida Royalle and Jacky St. James. I neglected in the first installment to let everyone know that Mindbrowse is produced by Sssh.com, an erotica for women website that keeps the modern sex-positive female up-to-date on issues that move her world.
The owner of Sssh and Mindbrowse producer is the well-known voice for women’s sexual growth and exploration, Angie Rowntree. Launching Sssh in 1999 as one of the first “for women” sites on the web, Angie’s fame has moved forward in leaps and bounds. In 2014, she entered the AVN Hall of Fame Founders Division, a mark of elite recognition in the adult business. At this year’s XBIZ awards in LA, Sssh was honored as the “Alternative Adult Site of the Year.” Sssh.com continues to grow and has been featured on MSNBC and Nightline and in publications such as Playboy, Psychology Today, and Time Magazine. It can be visited here.
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“I hoped that I would inspire other women to get out there and have the courage to . . . create their own vision,” Candida Royalle says.
Jacky St. James offers her view. “I really want to create content that reaches people . . . challenges them to think about their sexuality and their own sexual fantasy.”
The topic is porn and its nuanced expression of fantasy and art and the female influence in shaping both. Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ mindbrowse interview featuring Candida Royalle and Jacky engages the discussion from a feminist perspective.
Though a porn generation apart, Candida and Jacky represent a style of movie making that reflects the growing liberalism in our personal lives. We are freer today to talk about our sexual imagination. This is particularly true for women who realize that there is “fine line,” as Jacky says, between art and porn. Women can swirl them together to create their favorite fantasy.
An example for Candida is the rape fantasy. It’s “one of the most popular fantasies for women,” she says. Because society circumscribes female sexual behavior, women need “permission,” a way of “letting go enough” to be “pleasured and have an orgasm.” Sometimes that involves “being forced.” But remember its just fantasy, Candida insists, “you’re in control.” That’s important because no woman wants “to go out and get raped.”
Jacky brings up another fantasy that is on the popularity radar: incest. “But, it’s not like they really want to have sex with a family member,” she declares. Jacky is now filming “fauxcest” porn that tells stories about step-relations. However, a bit of the luster is lost because legalities insist that “step” is emphasized in the film (none of the performers are related) and everything is consensual.
Despite their feminist critics, both filmmakers agree that women find empowerment when they fantasize about giving up control. BDSM movies, another hot topic for porn these days, is a perfect example. It’s the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
Dr. Tibbals asks about the future. Where will porn be ten years from now?
Candida hopes it will be less stigmatized as more women get involved in the industry. Jacky’s focuses on financial survival. Creating content people are willing buy is the key to stemming the rising tide of tube sites.
“Higher quality” porn will keep the companies going, she thinks, “the scripted kind of content that people do pay for.” For her employer, New Sensations, DVD sales are still strong, an indicator of success.
Truth and Ethics
Before the interview wraps up, Jacky asks Candida about her greatest hurdle in her early days as a filmmaker. Not surprisingly, the pioneering director mentions the industry’s male-dominated attitudes. Money talks in adult, Candida says, and her movies sold well enough that she gained respect quickly.
There was, however, “this sort of gang of outlaws in California back then,” she mentions. A time of transition, the industry was leaving the East Coast to settle out west and Candida was based in New York.
“They wanted to keep it [the industry] a renegade world. They didn’t want women entering it and they were very critical of my work.”
Candida took them on and held her own. Overall, she concludes, “I’ve been treated well by the industry.”
The question of ethics in filming comes up and Candida explains that her “rule of thumb” concerns female performers. “As long as the woman appears to be enjoying herself and seems to be really into it, I can enjoy what I’m watching.”
Candida believes it is important to be as ethical as possible. Porn companies have to stand behind the content they produce and how they treat their talent. When anything “ethically questionable” arises, freedom of expression is tested and everyone might suffer if the Feds intervene.
To stress her point, the owner of FEMME Productions comments that too many young people in adult today don’t remember the 1990s when the government “assaulted” the industry. It could happen again.
Jacky St. James gets that picture.
“I live and die by ethics,” the multiple award winner declares. She has three important tenets in filming: make sure talent is aware of what is expected before they are booked, let them know who they are working with before they arrive on set, and always communicate limits.
As for content, some of hers is considered “unethical” by the occasional critic, but Jacky reminds everyone that she’s “creating a fantasy.” Of course, with BDSM and “fauxcest” the risk is promoting certain activities that make some people uncomfortable.
In the end, it’s up to the individual, whether performer or viewer, to decide if porn is for them. It’s called responsibility.
Candida departs with the hope that the industry will be legitimized as “another form of entertainment.” If that happens, the renegade reputation that has surrounded porn for decades will be pushed aside and the number of talented and ethical people who want to work in the business will increase.
Finally, both women encourage fans to support porn and pay for what they enjoy.
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Many thanks to the good people at Sssh.com for their permission to use portions of this important discussion.