Tag Archives: Jacky St. James

The Meaning of Consent: Directors

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

The series of posts on consent in the adult industry begins with the directors.

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Directors are the captains of the porn ship, so to speak. Everyone’s job on set is smooth sailing when the weather is good. . . until a disgruntled performer stirs turbulent waves that can wash over everyone’s day.

From a director perspective, coaxing anyone to go beyond their limits invites turmoil, such as speed dialing an agent to complain. If anyone walks, kill fees are offered to keep peace and the day is lost.

Though I’ve never seen this on any set I’ve visited, I’ve often observed models interacting with each other before their scenes. It’s not idle conversation. They are taking care of business, clarifying what they are good to go with and what they are not. It calms the waters.

Girlfriends Films

gfs logoThough directors have different levels of flexibility, they review the scene with talent before shooting commences and often work a camera themselves.

I queried two award-winners, the legendary Dan O’Connell and B Skow of Girlfriends Films, and got responses corroborated by performers who have worked for them.

Here’s Dan’s view. He shoots only girl/girl scenes, by the way.

“[Consent] has never been an issue on my sets. Everyone arrives knowing what is expected of them. We talk about the sex scene beforehand and go over each girl’s ‘don’ts.’ So nobody goes into the scene not knowing what to expect.

“I tell every girl that she can, should, and is encouraged to stop the scene if she wants to use the bathroom, consume water or discuss what’s going on. Nobody has ever stopped a scene except for water, to use the bathroom or blow her nose.”

Dan O'Connell reviews the scene with Jorden Kennedy and Aidra Fox

Dan O’Connell discusses the scene with Jorden Kennedy and Aidra Fox

B Skow sends a similar message.

“I never shoot scenes that push limits like the type that Kink.com or James Deen shoot, but I can tell you if I felt either performer was uncomfortable, I would stop shooting and make sure everyone respected each other’s boundaries and start shooting again if we all agreed.”

B Skow

B Skow

Skow does mostly boy/girl work, shooting gonzo and features. In Dan’s case, his content is the vignette, a short story with a sexual theme. My reviews of their films, which are offered on DVD, can be found on this blog and my column at AINews.com.

The Feminist View

For a theater-oriented director like Jacky St. James, whose content is marketed by New Sensations/Digital Sin, her set is geared to bring out a performer’s acting ability.

Jacky says, “I don’t delve too deeply into what is required of a performer prior to a shoot unless I am tackling territory that might be challenging for them.”

She mentions The Submission of Emma Marx, an award-winning three-feature series she wrote and directed, as an example of establishing limits. Jacky wanted to make sure the star, Penny Pax, “was comfortable with each of the BDSM activities we were going to film.”

Jacky St. James

Jacky St. James

Overall,  the feminist director emphasizes, “I would never ask talent to do something that made them uncomfortable. Basically I set the precedence that they must be prepared and work hard…and I’ll help take care of the rest. I want to make their lives easy on set so that we can really focus on the most important components of the production, namely, nailing their characters.”

Gonzo on the Internet

Internet sites, natural vehicles for gonzo or all-sex shoots, aim to satisfy the sexual tastes of their online members. How does this influence limits?

To explore that question, I chatted with Billy Watson who directs for the DogFart Network, an interracial conglomerate of over twenty sites. He runs his own studio in LA and has a variety of sets available for his scenes.

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“Essentially, when someone walks into my studio, I always go over what’s expected and what I want and what I need,” Billy begins.

He uses licensed agents exclusively and relies on them to tell the girls what the shoot entails, “so they know what they are getting into when they come here.” He mentions gang bang and cuckholding scenes as examples.

While the girls are in the make-up chair, a feature of Billy’s studio complete with artist on hand, he reviews the scene coming up, everything from “the sex positions themselves to what names we can call them during the shoot.”

Responses that vary from “Oh, you can call me anything, I don’t care,” to “Don’t call me a bitch,” and everything in between. The same with on-screen behavior. The native Arizonan gives the following example, “Pull my hair, choke me, but don’t spit on me,” or “You can spit on me, but just don’t choke me. You can slap this part of my butt . . . whatever.”

For the DogFart people, it seems language is a sticking point. Occasionally in a gang bang scene the girl will explicitly state she does not want to be called a bitch. “Invariably somebody will actually slip,” Billy comments with a shrug.

Apologies immediately follow, “‘Oh my God, I didn’t mean to do that,'” and the shoot moves on.

A Tricky Thing

However, Billy runs into an issue most other directors don’t encounter.

Jim Talks Business Photo by Bill Knight

Billy Watson

“We show a lot of interracial porn and a lot of the members love it when the girls call the guys the n-word. This is a tricky thing because it goes both ways.”

Some male performers don’t mind. In fact it cranks up their engine. However others “won’t accept that kind of language.”

Has he had an incident that caused filming to stop?

“No, never. I’ve never had any kind of drama because we’re really careful not to violate anybody’s boundaries.”

Billy Watson checks member responses

Billy checks member responses

There are times, however, when “my boss says the members are looking for a really crazy, over-the-top scene.”

In those cases, Billy will book a girl with guys who are comfortable around the n-word. But that may not apply to all the male performers that day and the ones who don’t want such language directed at them will make their boundaries known.

In this reversal of the norm, it’s the men who feel violated.

Billy recalls a particular shoot that starred a model who was free with questionable language. It was a ten-man gang bang and getting all male talent on the same page had its issues.

“A couple of the black guys came up to me and said, ‘that girl’s not going to call me a n—‘ and she had to hold her tongue because I didn’t want the black guys to get upset with her.”

Gone Away

Performers have hinted to me in casual conversation that there are some directors who will look the other way when problems arise.

Bringing this up with Billy evokes an honest assessment.

“It depends on the producer and director and your crew. There’s still some people in this business who think the girls are kind of like chattel. Bring them in [and do what you want] because we’ll never shoot her again.”

However . . .

“A lot of those guys seemed to have gone away,” he remarks.

“The 2008 perfect storm killed a lot of those dudes. [That’s when] Brazzers perfected the tube site, basically the fine art of piracy. They all started off as search engine guys in the early 2000s and have gone on to all the things they’ve done to ruin this business.”

Or challenged it, for sure. But they may also have run off the worst of the lot when it comes to ignoring the performer.

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A Nice Girl Who Howls at the Moon: Part Four, Making Magic

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

The success of the short film Gone is sparking industry accolades. In the final part of our interview, Madeline Blue talks about her working rapport with director Angie Rowntree.

My thanks to Sssh.com for the photos included below. Incidentally, my review of Gone can be found here.

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“We knew it was important before we filmed it . . this felt like a great opportunity to do something special.”

Madeline Blue talks about her role as Rebecca in Gone, Angie Rowntree’s masterpiece of love, loss, and acceptance. But, Madeline reminds us, the film has “many different themes from personal, intimate and emotional to national and patriotic.”

The budding porn actress was captivated by the innovative director’s vision.

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“Angie was making a crossover indie/porn film and then took it further by having the porn and the story depict a loving BDSM relationship. It all seemed radical and forward thinking.”

Of course, a vision does not a movie make. Performers and their skill turn ideas on paper into art. Such was to be Madeline Blue’s journey and Angie Rowntree recognized the potential the emerging performer presented.

Getting Personal

“I tried to be whatever the scene needed,” Madeline says.

Conceding she is not a trained actress, the native Bostonian does have a background in performance art, particularly dance and music, avenues of expression she has traveled since a young age. The downside of that, however, is a lack of speaking roles. So Madeline had to learn on the fly what a script entailed and that meant getting intimate with the character she created.

“I tried to empathize with what Rebecca was going through. I related similar personal experience or emotional times in myself to the tone of the scene. I tried the personalize Rebecca to myself as much as I could.”

gone-02-PROMOThe “more demanding” scenes required flexibility in point of view and acting, Madeline declares. “I still had to be Madeline externally, but internally I was focusing on Rebecca.”

On a set she describes as a “multi-tasking/multi-personal” experience, Madeline was given the space to expand herself and her character.

Angie Rowntree

Angie Rowntree

“Angie is very gentle and kind when directing. I never felt rushed,” Madeline recalls. Gone is “a sensitive movie,” and Angie “made it feel warm and cozy so I could feel safe going to the intense emotional places she wanted me to convey.”

Who is Rebecca?

Madeline explains the film’s premise regarding fetish sex. “Gone shows two willing people who want to play [the bondage scene] together. She [Rebecca] wants it and likes it, and they feel connected and bonded through their role-playing and dungeon activities.”

Angie Rowntree insisted that Rebecca be portrayed as “a real girl.” But what does that mean? In porn language, it’s putting aside any over sexualized image inflated with makeup and behavior that borders on trashy. In other words, Rebecca’s appeal had to be “relatable” to the audience. Her “vulnerability and strength,” woven within an equal relationship with her lover, needed to be defined through her emotions. No walk in the park obviously, but Madeline was more than receptive . . . and most capable.

“I felt like that was a gift to me, that she [Angie] would trust me to try to pull that off. I often see a lot of female characters that are just one or the other, strong or weak, and I was excited to have the chance to play a real complex woman.”

Gone-Cover-BKFit the Lines

Like super talented directors in adult–Jacky St. James comes immediately to mind–Angie Rowntree believes in sticking to the script, but designs the scenes to accommodate the performer.

Communication is the key.

Madeline and Angie discussed the development of Rebecca through the years covered in the film from meeting Todd (Gee Richards) and their BDSM play to the final denouement of loss and rebirth of a self-confident, courageous female character.

Gone_01“I felt she really let me fit the lines to how I could best say them. She was very open to my suggestions, what I thought the script meant. . . so I could find the way to play Rebecca that felt right.”

Being guided through the shooting process from start to finish and into post-production, Madeline remembers that to be on an Angie Rowntree set “was empowering.”

“She has a really true vision and then includes you on all the details and nuances to make it come to life. You get the impression she is making magic.”

Magic? Perhaps, but nothing comes without hard work and Madeline lays the credit on Angie’s doorstep.

Boundaries

Kind and gentle with “capable hands” are words Madeline uses to describe Angie’s directing. Yet, there’s much more. “She is a planner and lays everything out for you” which includes script alterations. But like good directors, Angie demarcates her boundaries.

CMJlEKGXAAAJ6nF“She didn’t give us too much freedom with the script. There were some scenes that I had questions about, some lines we changed together when finally on set . . . But we really did keep to script as written and when we did make a change, we discussed it in-depth.”

Madeline then cuts to chase and relates what I’ve heard about outstanding directors and the films they make.

“We all became very invested in the project once it really got going. It felt personal to everyone involved, including the crew. I felt honored to be a part of it.”

And we, the viewers, feel likewise appreciative of a mature actress who is discovering her artistic soul in a new way. Madeline Blue is a name to remember and a pleasure to watch. There is, I’m guessing, much more to come (pun intended) in her film career.

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Take a look at Gone by visiting Sssh.com.

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A Nice Girl Who Howls at the Moon: Part Three, Playing Either Role

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

This is the third part of the Madeline Blue series. Photos are courtesy of her social media.

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Living Piece of Sensual Art

Gone, Madeline Blue’s breakthrough film in adult, features dungeon scenes which suggest the movie is BDSM oriented. In the final part of this series, we will see that is not the case. However, the bondage element prompted me to ask her about her fetishes and what she relishes putting on film.

Despite appearances, being “restrained during sex,” Madeline declares, does not immediately come to mind. Rather she lists alternative pairings like girl/girl and boy/boy/girl as “the first thing that pops in my head.” The all-girl shoot is particularly appealing because Madeline is new to the porn subgenre. But she’s always had “secret crushes” though she never got involved with “females sexually until the past year or so.”

CNL4mReWwAAAAI7Ropes and ball gags may not be her favorite shoots, but they have their place. Madeline expresses a liking for “the sensory deprivation aspect” of bondage play. It’s “a big turn on,” she says, then relates a particular fetish scene that left an impression with her.

“The photographer blindfolded me . . . put white noise in my ears, and restrained me.” He progressed to “soft touches” before turning up the action with “hard thigh grabbing and spanking.”

It was “insanely hot” and “I was a living piece of sensual art,” Madeline gushes, “I would do that kind of stuff off camera . . . depending on the Dom, of course!”

For those of you who have seen Jacky St. James’ The Submission of Emma Marx, you may recall the final scene of the film when Emma is pleasured by Mr. Frederick. It is much like Madeline’s experience.

The Fifty Problem

Similar to others in the adult industry, Madeline found the filmed version of Fifty Shades of Grey to be disappointing. Confessing she did not read the book (I did and E.L. James’ repetitive, middle school writing style caused me to skip through portions of it), Madeline believes the movie “had the opportunity to bring the BDSM lifestyle into mainstream light.” Unfortunately it was “a bust for the progressive sexual movement,” she declares, though the novel did open doors to BDSM as a “household topic.”B_Q-hUNWsAAj_sp

The power dynamics portrayed in the film are unrealistic, Madeline believes. “How many billionaires are out there scooping up virgin college coeds and asking them to be contractual subs? It seemed totally absurd.” Fifty presents the Dom, Christian Grey, as “a controlling jerk” and the movie appears to support “conventional relationships as the only safe way [to enjoy sex],” she points out.

Madeline has a convincing argument because Christian Grey is a reclamation project for Anastasia. Once she shows him love, the story implies he’ll put away his fetishes and become “normal.” If nothing else, the narrative is an insult to the BDSM community.

The native New Englander adds a final criticism that is spot. “I think the story was the wrong one for mainstream, Gone should have come out first . . . . because it shows two willing people who want to play together like that. She [Rebecca] wants it and likes it and they feel connected and bonded through their role-playing. Rebecca and Todd are devoted, loving, and deeply connected and express themselves healthily.”

The Right Mood

Madeline and her husband-to-be, Gee Richards, are not BDSM lifesylers. They have no “established” dom/sub dynamics and no bondage play in the bedroom except for an occasional spanking.

CIcAI0vVAAAk8TSHowever, in the world of paid professionals, Madeline’s fans can find her trussed up with the best of them. She describes her early bondage shoots as “mostly ropes, ball gags, blindfolds, spanking, rigging, and collars. I played the sub role pretty much exclusively as those were the opportunities I was presented.”

But there were rewards. “I enjoyed the spanking, and like the feel of the ropes, it was exciting,” she declares, but her personal sexual growth has steered her to the other side of the BDSM equation. “I am in an exciting place in my life right now where I don’t want to feel controlled. I need to be in the dominant role at least for the time being.”

It’s about her inner self. “I have a personal emotional range and I am pretty sensitive. If I am not in the right mind space and don’t have the right Dom, being a sub isn’t fun.”

By the way, other performers who have been topped on camera tell me the same thing.

She’s a quiet and polite person, Madeline says, but her introspection is more characteristic of the “strong silent type” that’s not suitable for subbing. Yet nothing is set in stone, she implies. “I have to be in the right mood to play either role.”

If anything, Madeline Blue has an honest sexuality that her fans can see in her expression of body and soul.

The Professional Cut

As mentioned earlier, Madeline has her own Clips4Sale site called Madeline Blue Kinky Times. The content is building, so don’t expect a vast array offerings quite yet.

“All of my photos, all of my video work, profiles, all of it has been done in the last year or so.”

Learning as she goes, Madeline declares she is exploring herself in the process. Working with Gee, who has his own store Eordyssey, they are building Madeline’s site. The shoots are under her direction story-wise.

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“It’s fun to create something start to finish and have control over the content and the production. I always fancied myself a screenwriter/director.”

So take a look for yourself and stay tuned for the final part of Madeline Blue’s Odyssey, the making of Gone.

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New Wave Porn: A Review of BrightDesire.com Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2015

This is the first of a two-part review of BrightDesire.com. All photos are courtesy of the website.

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BrightDesire.com is the Australian website of feminist pornographer Ms Naughty. Advertised as “a different kind of porn,” the site offers a couples-friendly product that ditches “old clichés” and the “negativity of standard old-style pornography.” It’s a bold “new wave” claim that lives up its billing.

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The descriptors “fresh, inclusive, and intelligent” enhance the website’s mission statement. In other words, it’s a thinking woman’s eroticism that highlights fantasy and emotion while injecting just the right amount of pure sex for the joy of it.

The site is packed with content that has something for everyone—straight, gay, couples and fetish. Erotic stories, photo sets, short films, and book and film reviews are among its offerings. Be it film or print, BrightDesire delivers on its promise. It’s a breeze to navigate and visually pleasing, but keep in mind that not every model has that pornified look and the films generally avoid the Porn Valley shtick of acrobatics and opening up that defines sex for the professional. As the website’s welcome mat touts, it’s all about “smart, sensual sex.”

The site is no stranger to accolades, having received in 2015 XBIZ’s Adult Site of the Year and AVN’s Best Alternative Site. Similar noms are on tap for 2016.

Within the feminist porn universe, BrightDesire is a widely known. Toronto’s Feminist Porn Awards have honored MsNaughty’s work and the site sponsored the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference held in conjunction with the Awards week.

Curious? Check out the site here. You can get a free seven-day trial which I highly recommend.

Membership information is available in FAQ found in the banner. The first month is $19.95 with recurring months at $9.95. Or, $34.95 will get you ninety days non-recurring. New content is posted weekly.

What You’ll Find

The heart of BrightDesire is a plethora of short films that will stoke the erotic fires in every porn fan. Selected scenes are included in Part Two of this review.

From "The Scent of Her"

“The Scent of Her”

A variety of authors have contributed stories that are quick reads, just enough to fill a few pleasurable moments during a busy day. Among the list I found appealing are “The Scent of Her” about a couple who play an odd game of seduction involving another woman and “Memo from the Boss,” a brief tale that involves a female executive who seeks stress relief from an underling at the office. Both stories use bondage as focal points. In “Scent,” passion oozes from the page; “Memo” is a safely underplayed workplace routine kept private.

"Purple 80s Porn"

“Purple 80s Porn”

There are sections for columns penned by MsNaughty, a blog she maintains, and news updates. Also, photo sets original to the site, along with some from other production studios, can be viewed in the traditional magazine approach to still photography. They feature straight, gay, multiple partners, fetish, and people of color. One of particular interest is “Purple 80s Porn,” a retro look at adult film. The write-up points out that the shots are from an old film and the actors are not known, though one of them looks remarkably like the infamous Traci Lords who was in the business from 1984 to 1986.

The interview section contains short vids of selected people featured in MsNaughty’s films. Typical of the BTS segments found today in DVDs, performers talk about what is important to them, things like attitudes about sex work, shooting porn, and feminist porn as a political and social statement. The website explains that the interviews are integral to “ethical, feminist porn” and “personalize” the performers, not all of whom are professionals. Unfortunately, I did have a few technical problems downloading a couple of interviews.

Jay and Kim

Jay and Kim

After reviewing their BDSM shoot for Part Two, I tuned in to Kim and Jay’s interview. They explain how they met online and the mutual pleasure that comes from acting out their fantasies. It’s a must see for all fans of D/s relationships.

The interviews frame those who make porn in all their naturalness. Sex workers have been around since the beginning of recorded time and many enjoy what they do. In her segment, Livia Vye (who appears in “The Birthday Wish” also reviewed in Part Two) adds a euphoric touch to her sex worker persona when she talks about choice and the freedom to express herself on film.

Livia

Livia

There is much more to explore at BrightDesire. The “Under the Bed” section contains more photos and short films (“Tea or Sex?” is a personal favorite). Reviews highlight books and films. Jiz Lee’s “Coming Out Like a Porn Star” and Jacky St. James’s groundbreaking “The Submission of Emma Marx,” both offerings I’ve reviewed for this blog, are included.

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Speaking of reviews, a look at a few of MsNaughty’s films, all of which are individualist without being egoist, are next in Part Two. Needless to say, the quality of her work is excellent.

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Fantasy and Ethics: Part 2 of Mindbrowse with Candida and Jacky

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.

Fantasy

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 on the set of "fauxcest" film, Our Father, with Steven St. Croix and Carter Cruise. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky on the set of “fauxcest” film, Our Father, with Steven St. Croix and Carter Cruise.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

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.”

A Candida Royalle Classic Photo courtesy of Adam and Eve

A Candida Royalle Classic
Photo courtesy of Adam and Eve

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.

Angie Rowntree Photo courtesy of AVN

Angie Rowntree
Photo courtesy of AVN

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Controlled by Dinosaurs: Part 1 of Mindbrowse with Candida and Jacky

by Rich Moreland, July 2015

For porn fans unfamiliar with what’s on the web (there are probably few of you actually), let me draw your attention to a podcast called mindbrowse.com. The host is Chauntelle Tibbals (Ph.D) and her show is moving the industry closer to mainstream entertainment. For a taste of what mindbrowse is about, here are some takeaways from a recent show featuring feminist filmmakers a generation apart: Candida Royalle and Jacky St. James.

Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals
Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

Over the last thirty years, a woman’s voice in adult film production has moved from its embryonic stage to a viable maturity. More than anyone, Candida is responsible for this sea change.

Her company, FEMME Productions has cleared a space for women in porn’s patriarchal boardroom. Creating content for women and couples using “a woman’s point of view” is Candida’s raison d’être. But, cultural attitudes are tough to overcome.

Pick up a Camera and it’s Feminist Porn

Our society is invested “in this idea that women are innocent, that they are delicate and don’t want hardcore pornography,” Candida says.

It’s a double standard, the New Yorker points out, which allows men to have sexual adventures while women keep hearth and home. Traditionally, women are “arbiters of morality” and that extends to pornography. But attitudes are in flux. For the most part, Candida says, younger women “are much more comfortable watching porn” now than ever before.

This has fueled a “leap forward” in the business, she declares. Modern female filmmakers in adult are “creating their own vision,” but there is a downside.

Candida with her book! Photo courtesy of rottentomatos.com

Candida with her book!
Photo courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

“Whenever the culture sees something new happening,” it becomes a media darling, before being “eaten up” and losing “its intensity or significance.” Candida says.

This has happened with adult filmmakers. “All you have to do is be a woman and pick up a camera and its feminist porn” she states. In other words, if it is female created, it must be feminist. That may be too simplistic.

In fact, Candida prefers to avoid porn in describing her films because it is a broad avenue that includes content she would not shoot, like facials and harsh gonzo.

“Some of what I see is not very different from what the guys are doing,” Candida concludes, hinting that modern female directors and cinematographers shoot their scenes with a harder edge than does FEMME.

But the future looks bright. Candida hopes as more women come into porn, they will “do something that is truly different and truly unique.”

Return on Investment

Add a couple of decades to Candida Royalle’s perspective and we have Jacky St. James, the leading woman filmmaker in adult today. Candida is the pioneer and Jacky is the benefactor who is moving the legacy forward . . . with a broadened approach.

The native East Coaster offers that a woman’s fantasy cannot be put in a box that insists “it has to be a certain way or it’s not pro-woman.” Hardcore porn can be shot with “a feminist perspective,” she insists, and there are several filmmakers, such as Spain’s Erika Lust, out there today doing just that.

Jacky brings up tube sites which she finds troubling. Their content is free and reflects the triumph of gonzo. As everyone knows, tube sites are damaging the industry financially while shaping viewer preferences in the process. Hard and nasty are as popular as ever.

For all pornographers, the most important factor dictating content and profit is distribution which may not be important for tube sites since they are piracy in action.

We have “to cater to whose distributing our films,” Jacky says, and that determines what she can shoot. To make matters worse, “a lot of us don’t have full control” because many “distributors are owned by men with certain expectations.” Jacky asserts it’s about “return on investment” and “they might not be in line with what your overall perspective is [as a feminist filmmaker].”

Jacky shows the best of her work. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Jacky shows the best of her work.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Pleasing other people in a business sense is every woman’s albatross in today’s market. “Until you are your own producer, your own distributor, it’s kind of hard right now.”

There are parameters imposed on shooting that include the time devoted to each sex scene and the amount and variety of penetrations. That robs filmmakers of “creative control.” For women, it’s the oldest struggle in the business, Jacky insists,“fighting the men” on what to shoot and how to shoot.

The Market is There

Listening to Jacky, Candida asks, “Is it still that way, because it was always that way?” She fortunately had her own investors in her early days which helped tremendously. Candida believes a woman should “start her own distribution company” if possible, “because the market is there . . . there is a huge audience out there waiting for something truly unique, artful, and interesting.”

Like Jacky, Candida used “a traditional distributor” which meant that “you had to do this, you had to do that” held sway in content.

Not much has changed. “We’re still controlled by dinosaurs, unfortunately, who think they know what people want” and maintain a tight grip on budgets, Candida adds.

Despite these restrictions, Candida Royalle and Jacky St. James are feminist all-stars in the porn universe, verifying that the wisdom of two generations, mothers and daughters if you will, indicate the future is bright for sex, romance, and a woman’s view.

 

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Tommy Pistol on The St. James Way

by Rich Moreland, April 2015

Tommy Pistol is among the elite male performers in adult film, having entered the business in 2003 through his friendship with producer/director Joanna Angel. Today, he defines what stardom means for men who make porn a career. The former stage comedian is smart, artistic, and an exceptional actor in a business that does not reward such skills as it should.

We chatted in Las Vegas the day before Tommy was to host the 2015 AVN Awards show. Here is a portion of our conversation.

Tommy Pistol Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Tommy Pistol
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

A Little Too Close to Home

I bring up Jacky St. James.

“Amazing” is Tommy immediate assessment of Jacky’s work. “She writes her scripts and goes about it [directing] in a way that a male is not going to do.” Best of all, Jacky is bringing needed change to the industry, he adds.

The New Sensations film maker is hands-on, taking her time with the talent to explain what she wants. It’s a personal touch actors can sense. “She talks to people,” Tommy says, creating a comfortable atmosphere that transforms written words into artistic expression.

Verisimilitude is Jacky’s specialty. She “hits home” with scripts that are “driven by actual events . . . things that could happen” to anyone, Tommy explains.

“She’ll put me in certain situations I can actually relate to.” His acting skills flourish and the results are personally pleasing.

“I really appreciate the scripts that I’ve gotten with her.”

Tommy highlights The Temptation of Eve, a movie he shot with Remy LaCroix and Xander Crovus, as illustrative of what filming for Jackie means.

The script called for his character to be “the provider, the working man” in his relationship with Eve, Remy’s character, but he was unemployed. “There were scenes where we had conversations of me feeling like a failure [with Remy] supporting me no matter what,” Tommy recalls.

“I was at a point in my [personal] life where things were a little rough,” Tommy continues, so “the scene hit a little too close home.” Jacky was sensitive to his situation. “I really appreciated the way she went about everything,” he says. “It was awesome.”

The native New Yorker also has kudos for Remy.

Tmmy and Remy on the set of The Temptation of Eve. Photo by Jeff Koga

Tommy and Remy on the set of The Temptation of Eve.
Photo by Jeff Koga

“She was amazing, very professional, and knew her lines . . . We did really well together,” he remembers.

Remy’s humor and graciousness made being on the set a pleasure. Tommy adds a further compliment: the diminutive superstar “knows what she is doing and loves sex.”

Tommy Pistol also offers the film high praise. “It was a lovely thing to see it [the story] come full circle and to see how Remy stayed with the man she loved” despite being tempted to give in to Xander’s character.

“I was really glad that movie got as much press and awards that it did. It totally deserved it.”

Trading off Jokes

Jacky’s professional partner is cinematographer/director Eddie Powell. What is it like working with him?

Eddie keeps the atmosphere upbeat. He wants his talent to be happy, relaxed, and at the end of the day leave the set with a smile. Friendliness is the Arizona native’s forte.

In fact, Eddie “makes life almost too easy [because] he’s very tuned in and knows what he’s doing,” Tommy declares. “He’s not wasting anybody’s time.”

Unlike the close-ups of gonzo’s piston shots and oral workouts, romance movies require focusing on facial expression. It’s tricky business for those performers who are in porn for reasons that don’t emphasize roleplaying.

Does Tommy notice the camera work in those intimate moments?

“I do,” he responds, noting that performers are doing something not previously seen, having “real emotions.” Might the industry be moving in new directions with these theatrics? Tommy is inclined to think so. “People are going to adapt to that [emotions in porn] a lot more.”

Jacky and Eddie ready to shoot. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Jacky and Eddie ready to shoot.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

The former singer believes that the St. James/Powell approach has “opened up a whole new door to selling movies.” Jacky and Eddie are “totally knocking it out of the park . . . making something beautiful.”

Are they edging closer to mainstream as film makers?

Absolutely, Tommy says. “They’ve got full scripts, they’re shot beautifully, [and are] well-lit [and] edited. The dialogue is always great.” With expanded scripts and a more soft-core feel, Tommy believes, the duo is flirting with the independent film market.

“Keep what pays the bills, but branch out. They have such talent; it would a shame if they didn’t expand.”

To Shine Light

Before wrapping up, Tommy wants everyone to know that he and his girlfriend, Nikki Swarm, are putting together a documentary, The Unbearable Lightness of Boning. “A very positive piece about who we are,” Tommy says, the film is a look at today’s adult business with the conversations restricted to “people on the inside talking to people on the inside.”

Tommy and Nikki in a fun moment. Photo courtesy of Nikki Swarm

Tommy and Nikki in a fun moment.
Photo courtesy of Nikki Swarm

Adult film professionals are “normal” and “comfortable with their sexuality,” he says. “We’re doing this [performing in porn] because we love it.”

“The goal is shine light on the industry and hopefully change some minds because this country is very close-minded.”

As the author of a book with a similar purpose, I could not agree more.

Follow Tommy at TommyPistol.com and on twitter @tommypistol. Nikki can be found on twitter @nikkiswarm.

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