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Why I’ll miss Candida Royalle – the feminist porn queen

Candida Royalle – the legendary feminist porn director and animal rights activist – has died after long battle with ovarian cancer. Fellow porn director Petra Joy explains what she did for women everywhere

By Petra Joy

Candida Royalle former porn star and film-maker in her New York flat in 1997

Today is a very sad day for many women, feminists and erotic artists around the world. As the news spread that yesterday morning Candida Royalle died at her New York home aged just 64, her Facebook page is being transformed into a colourful kaleidoscope of an amazing life. Every few minutes someone new leaves a tribute for this truly exceptional woman that paved the way for porn from a female perspective and opened doors to the many feminist pornographers – myself included – that followed in her footsteps. All the pictures posted show a radiant woman with a smile that said “I love live, will live it to the full, let’s go and have an adventure!”

Candida was born Candice Vadala on the October 15 1950 in New York. The daughter of a jazz musician, she too was drawn towards a creative lifestyle. She studied music, art and dance and was a flamboyant and beautiful young woman. Experimenting with her sexuality and being drawn to filmmaking, she decided in the seventies to become a porn performer. In the ‘Golden Age’ of porn she starred in over 25 adult films, including titles such as “Kinky Tricks” and “Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls”.

Candida prioritised women’s pleasure and orgasms

As time went on, she grew tired of portraying female sexuality through the eyes of the men that directed her and craved taking the reins of production. In 1984, at a time where the first feminist porn movement was at its peak and when “feminist porn” was also the ultimate oxymoron, she founded her own adult film company, Femme Productions. The old boys club that ran the porn industry at the time was bemused and did not expect what was to come: Candida produced and directed 17 award-winning films, including her debut “Femme”, the “Eyes of Desire” series and “Stud Hunters”. She was way ahead of her time and proved to be right – women were voyeurs too and the moment was ripe and ready to produce porn from a female perspective.

So what made her porn different from mainstream porn, created by men and for men? Put simply – Candida prioritised women’s pleasure and orgasms. And she didn’t end every scene with the male ejaculation – the so called “money shot”. She featured a variety of sensual and sexual play rather than shooting what she used to call “predictable and soulless porn painted by numbers”. Her films showed hot men who were skilled lovers, ran credible storylines that were full of humour and spoke to a large audience who were tired of soulless wham-bam-thank you-mam porn. She was a very skilled business woman but was never motivated by financial gain. She created her films because she had a burning desire to put female sexuality on the map, inspire other women to live out their fantasies, and bring pleasure to people’s bedrooms.

As an activist for feminism and female sexual liberation, she branched out in 1999 when she developed the “Natural Contours” line of body massagers. Candida brought innovation to the sex toy market that was then saturated with giant plastic phallic rods by developing ergonomically shaped toys that hit just the right spots to make a woman orgasm. In 2004 Candida moved into writing – penning “How To Tell A Naked Man What To Do”, encouraging women to ask for what they want long before Nicki Minaj said women should demand orgasms.

Candida Royalle was all about female pleasure long before Nicki Minaj

That was also the year I started shooting my version of porn from a female perspective. In Europe back then, feminist porn was still unheard of. My style is different from Candida’s as I do not feature dialogue, but we shared the vision of porn as art and using is as a vehicle of sexual empowerment for women. It was through the legendary ‘ecosex’ artist Annie Sprinkle that I met Candida Royalle in 2008. Candida kindly viewed my first full length feature “Female Fantasies” and was full of praise. I was humbled by the amount of time she gave me and genuine support when she suggested publishing my films under her coveted “Femme” line in America. Our professional co-operation continued over the years. I published some of Candida’s classic films on my “Her Porn” anthology series and was chuffed when she agreed to be a jury member for the Petra Joy Awards I had set up for up- and coming filmmakers. To discover and mentor new talent was very close to her heart.

We shared many magic moments such as in 2009 when we were both honoured with the first Poryes award in Berlin and then two years ago when we met at the Dusk Porna Award in Amsterdam. I was baffled to win it and asked Candia onto the stage to join me. After I handed her a bunch of flowers to thank her for all she had done for the sisterhood, I walked off stage, only to be called back by her with these words: “I am very happy to step aside and just honour you and all these wonderful filmmakers who are picking it up and doing it now.” I was speechless and we hugged to thundering applause – a moment I will never forget. She was, as someone said on Facebook, the Grace Kelly of porn – a sophisticated and beautiful woman of incredible integrity, big enough to allow others to shine.

Candida was not just a colleague but became a close friend. In September 2013 I was very happy to entertain her in my home for several days where we shared beach walks, cream teas, and spoke at length about nature and environmental issues, issues close to both of our hearts which served to strengthen our bond even further. Her last post on Twitter was: “Icelandic whalers are about to start harpooning endangered fin whales again but we can stop them! Act now”.

Snettisham Bird Reserve lies on the edge of 'The Wash', one of the most important bird estuaries in the UK, supporting over 300,000 birds. A few times every year higher than average tides force thousands of waders including Knot, Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Black and Bar Tailed Godwit and Plover to take flight, and advance up the mud flats in search of food. The event is one of the most incredible wildlife spectacles in the UK

She loved her wildlife too and was a passionate animal rights campaigner

We also both loved to feed the wildlife in our gardens and that was always a big concern to her – who would feed her birds when she was gone? She did not want to go and fought over five years a very hard fight against ovarian cancer. Only two weeks ago she was full of optimism and we emailed about her bringing my new film to America and she loved a picture of the starlings in my garden I had sent her.

So how to pay tribute to the feminist icon, animal rights activist and inspirational woman that was Candida Royalle?

Maybe it could be an apt one to start feeding your local wild birds. Alternatively, simply enjoy one of her films or toys and have an amazing orgasm in her name. I think she would like that.

Complete Article HERE!

Casa Rodrigo, Yee-ha!

Hey sex fans,

The summer holidays are over and we’re all back at the old grind. Bummer, I know. But I have what I think is the antidote.  It’s a little something that, I believe, will brighten your day.

  • Ya’ll know how fond I am of smart and smutty erotica, right?
  • Ya’ll know that for nearly seven years I produced a podcast series, The Erotic Mind, right?
  • Ya’ll know that each and every one of these marvelous shows, that feature conversations with erotic artists of every stripe, literary and graphic, are archived right here on my site, right?
  • Ya’ll know that all you have to do is use the pull-down PODCAST menu in the header to find them, right?

Good, I thought so.

Anyhow today I have something that will sure enough make you sit up and say; “oh boy howdy!”Casa Rodrigo cover

I want to introduce you to Casa Rodrigo, the 12 person audio play written and directed by award nominee, and my new friend, Johnny Miles.

Like I said, Casa Rodrigo, an audio play featuring 11 characters and a narrator, as well as an extensive sound engineering that transport us, the listening audience, back to Spain and the Caribbean during the mid-1600s, allowing us to feel the dangers and excitement the era had to offer. Four and a half hours of pure aural experience awaits us. The story is richly layered and textured, with effects to help stimulate our senses. It’s an immersive experience not to be missed.

The good folks at Mania Media, the producers of audio play, believe it is important to provide their audience with a great entertainment experience and Casa Rodrigo certainly fits that bill.

Johnny Miles began his writing career in 1985, when his first erotic short story was published by Numbers magazine. Since then, his work has appeared in various adult magazines. After several decades of working in various careers, Johnny re-entered the world of erotica in 2008 with the release of his first full-length novel, Casa Rodrigo. Published by Loose Id, the controversial story was followed by Lauderdale Hearts, Learning To Samba, The Rosas of Spanish Harlem, Yuletide Knights, and Yuletide Knights: A Spring Frost, and The Last Stop: USA, all of which you can find on Johnny’s site.

Johnny has asked me to share with you the first two chapters of the book. You’ll find the links below. And when you’ve finished the sampler, you can mozie on over to Audible to pick up the whole audio play, or Johnny’s snap up the e-book.

Have a ball, ya’ll!

A Farewell to a great man

Dear sex fans,

I realize this is a bit off topic for this blog, but I want to acknowledge the death of famed British neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks.

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City. (Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City.

In February, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times revealing that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer, after earlier melanoma in his eye spread to his liver.

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he wrote. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

Earlier this summer I read Dr Sacks’s memoir, On the Move.  I love it.  It’s an interesting memoir by a fascinating personality.  And while reading I discovered that we had a dear friend in common, Thom Gunn.  What a small world!  So I decided to send him a note.

Dear Dr Sacks,

I just finished reading your memoir, On The Move.  What an amazing life you’ve lived.on-the-move-by-oliver-sacks

Of all the marvelous things you’ve done and all the fascinating people you mentioned in your book nothing surprised me more than your close friendship with Thom Gunn.  I was a friend of Thom too and I lived directly across Cole Street from him.  I moved to the flat at 1207 Cole Street in 1979.  At the time I was working on my doctorate in clinical sexology at the Institute For The Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.

I didn’t know Thom well at first.  However, I would regularly see him walking both in our neighborhood and elsewhere in town.  He was always in his leathers, rain or shine, and used to think to myself, “What a mensch!”

It finally dawned on me that he lived across the street from me.

Once he saw me in my roman collar.  (I was ordained a catholic priest in 1975 at the age of 25 in Oakland, CA.  I had come out to my local superiors; I was a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, before I was ordained.  Like I said, I was working on my doctorate to become a sex therapist and prepare for an upfront gay ministry.)  Thom smiled at me when he saw me; I blushed and told him what I just told you.  He was fascinated, but I also believe he thought I was a twit.  He probably was right.

I knew nothing about Thom other than he was my neighbor.  Then one day I was in a bookstore on Haight Street and there was a photo of Thom in the window advertising a reading.  That’s when I started asking around about him.  Despite his cult status within the gay community, he was the most unassuming person.  I was honored to have a personal connection with him.small_front

I finished my doctorate in 1981.  My dissertation, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance was directed by Wardell Pomeroy.  A firestorm of media attention followed.  The media branded me as THE gay priest, as if.  I think Thom read about me in the New York Times because next time he saw me he clapped me on the back and said, “Well done.”

No sooner did I complete my doctorate, and because of the media attention my public coming out caused, the leadership of my religious community in Rome began a process of dismissal against me.  I was devastated and lost.  I was even getting death threats.  Thom was always so supportive and encouraging.

I fought the church for the next thirteen years in an effort to save my priesthood and ministry.  Alas, the writing was on the wall back in 1981 and it was only a matter of time till they had their way with me.  I wrote about the travail in a book that was published in 2011, Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church: The Systematic Destruction of an Oblate Priest.

Thom was always so solicitous about my wellbeing.  He knew how difficult life had become for me.  And both of us found ourselves on the forefront of caring for friends who were dying of AIDS.  One of my landlords died in 1986.

Thom introduced my housemate and I to Augie Kleinzahler and his girlfriend, Caroline Lander, who lived only a few blocks from us in Cole Valley.  We all became great friends and copious amounts of strong drink were consumed.  I wonder, do you know Augie?

When Thom turned sixty I surprised him with a homemade German chocolate cake.  I told him he was the oldest person I knew.  This made him laugh and he called me a whippersnapper.

In 1992 the surviving landlord sold the Cole Street duplex and I and my housemate moved to Oak and Ashbury.  Sadly, I didn’t get to see Thom as much as before.  I move up here to Seattle in 1999 because I could no longer afford to live in SF.  I was deeply saddened to learn of Thom’s death in 2004.  He was such a great guy, what a marvelous soul.

Again, thank you for your memoir; it was grand getting to know you on a personal level.  I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat when it came out in the mid-eighties and loved it.  But I never guessed you and Thom knew each other or that you actually visited him when I lived across the street from him.  What a small world.  I wish I had known you back then.

Anyhow, thank you for the bringing me this unexpected flood of memories of Thom.  I wonder what he would have made of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges).  I contend that we got marriage equality only because we walked through AIDS first.  I think Thom would have agreed with me.

All the best,

Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS

To my astonishment, Oliver wrote back; I mean that literally, a handwritten note.  Apparently, he never used a computer.

Dear Dr. Wagner (can I say Richard?),                                                          6/60/15

I am greatly interested and greatly moved, by your letter — your courage in being honest and forthright, at a time and on a subject bound, sooner or later, to cause your ejection from the priesthood. In another few years perhaps, with Pope Francis at the helm, these last bastions of Catholic bigotry may have fallen.

I like to think of you as living across the street when I visited Thom, and glad to know that he appreciated you and your works. I still miss him deeply — there were not too many people with whim I could be entirely open — and I like to think that his ghost is pleased that my title came from his poem. (I find it a huge relief being open now to all and sundry {Oliver came out earlier this year} — I am so glad I completed my book before I became ill).

And what a liberation, an affirmation for us all that the Supreme Court voted as it did. I suspect that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, quite ill now, stayed on to ensure the 5/4 decision.

Thanks for your letter and my very best wishes,


Oliver Sacks01     Oliver Sacks02

Click on this link to see a copy of Oliver Sacks’s note.

Thank you Dr Sacks and farewell!

I’m just along for the ride

Dear Dr Dick,
My husband (34) and I (31) are coming up of ten years of marriage, and for the most part our sex life has been what I would consider average. He’s pretty much been the aggressor in our relationship, which has worked out fine until now. I guess after ten years my husband would like it if I occasionally expressed interest and initiated and told him what I like/don’t like etc. I really have no idea how to do that! I told him that and his comment was that maybe I wasn’t even sure what I liked/don’t like and that I’ve pretty much just been going along for the ride all these years. He’s probably right.
We used to kiss and cuddle etc. to work up to sex and now it’s, “hey, you wanna have sex?” which completely turns me off (which he knows). I’m sure this is partly due to his work schedule and having a four year old so by the time we get to bed we’re wiped out most of the time, but I’m so not into the, “hey, you wanna…” approach.
Anyway, I guess my question is how do I get started in figuring out what I like and don’t like, how do I work up to feeling comfortable enough to verbalize it and especially verbalize or show him that I’m in the mood, and then how do I tell him I don’t like something without shutting him down. There are times, I know I don’t like something but I go along with it because I don’t want to shut him down.
I should preface by saying I’m not a very confident person and tend to be a people pleaser?

You’re husband’s right. It is fuckin’ time you started lifting your share of the sexual initiation load. I mean come on! Most women would kill for a man in their life that would show an interest in what they like and don’t like. This going along for the ride stuff has got to end, darling.

female nude159How do you get started in figuring out what you like and don’t like? Masturbation! That’s the shortest and most to the point answer I can think of. Once you discover what turns your crank through masturbation you will have loads of very important information to share with you man. And hey, don’t forget toys, vibrators in particular.

How do you work up to feeling comfortable enough to verbalize what turns you on and verbalizing or showing him that you are in the mood? The answer to this question is as simple as the previous question. You masturbate for him.

Now I know that a lot of people, and that includes most women, have been socialized to think that masturbation is wrong, or at least it’s a private affair that one should keep to herself. But I’m her to tell you that’s just bull-hockey. And this is true for both women and men, gay and straight and everyone in between.

How do you tell him you don’t like something without shutting him down? Well, it’s probably much easier to tell him what you like and how you like it rather than approaching the tutorial from the negative. If he’s not completely brain dead, he WILL get the message. If, however, he starts to do something that is rubbing you the wrong way, so to speak, simply tell him as calmly as possible that he will get a much bigger and better rise out of you if he did it THIS way. And then show him…again.masturbation001

That fact that you sometimes don’t like something but that you often if not always go along with it tells me that you’ve socialized your man into thinking he’s an adequate lover when he perhaps isn’t. Its time for a confession, girlfriend! Be as gentle as you can, but for god sake, it’s time to come clean.

Take responsibility for keeping him in the dark about his lack of sexual prowess. Then tell him that there’s a very easy and fun fix for the problem and show him what you need and how you need it.

If you indeed lack the confidence you need to be honest with the one you love and who loves you back, then frankly Brandi, you deserve what little you get. But if you can muster up the gumption to throw off the tyranny of that whole people pleasing bullshit you’ve been laboring under all these years, then you have a real shot at some happiness and sexual fulfillment. It’s gonna be up to you to make this happen. If you need some support find a sex positive therapist who will help you grow some balls.

Good luck

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