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Candida Royalle Interview

Acclaimed Adult Film Director Talks about her Recent Releases, Under the Covers and Afrodite Superstar

By Ross

Candida Royalle may be just as well known for what sheleaves out of her porns as for what she puts in them.  For example, in her latest feature Under the Covers (in which Babeland hasa starring role!), you?ll find steamy group sex, light bondage, a scaldingstrap-on scene with two women, and lots of masturbation with sex toys.  So, what won?t you see?

?A facial!? laughs Candida. 

In place of porn?s ?money shot?, you?ll see things woefullymissing from most of today?s adult movies: sexual tension, smolderingchemistry, a decent plot, and dialogue that won?t make you cringe.  In an industry lucratively buoyed on its maleconsumers, Candida Royalle is a renegade, who started her own productioncompany Femme to exclusively make films for a female audience eager forsomething more appealing. 

?When my original partner and I were setting out to do ourfirst Femme movie,? says Candida,  ?wepaid an established and successful porn producer to meet with us so that wecould ask him a few questions before stepping on to our first film set. When heheard we were going to absolutely eliminate any cum shots, he flipped out.  And after we left, he called our investorsand warned them that we were going to lose all their money. All these yearslater, he?s long gone out of business.? 

Femme Productions, of course, is still going strong--perhapsstronger than ever in its 23 years of operation.   This summer saw the release of Afrodite Superstar, the criticallyhailed debut from Femme Chocolat, a new line of Femme Production devoted toethnic diversity.  Not only that,Candida?s line of sex toys, Natural Contours, just won the ?Vibrator of theYear? award.    Recently, Babeland caughtup with a very busy Candida Royalle to discuss her latest movies, sex toys, andthe changing face of the porn industry.

Babeland:  Before the first scene of your new film Under the Covers is finished, it isclear that this is not the typical porn movie. There?s chemistry between the actors, sexual tension, seduction,tenderness, and the words ?I love you??all things not commonly seen in thetypical porn these days.  As a director,what are the challenges in bringing multi-dimensional erotica to the screen?

Candida Royalle:One of the biggest challenges was getting distributors and wholesalers tounderstand the concept, learn how to sell it, and to put in the extra effort ittakes to convince retailers to pay a little more for it. Femme Productions wasa whole new concept in adult films. No one had heard of movies that appealed towomen back then. I had to deal with retailers who had no clue as to howto sell this new line. The way I dealt with this set of challenges was tocreate the demand. I learned how to get great media coverage so that when women(and men looking for something to share with their wives) would read about myFemme movies in Glamour or ?O? (Oprah?s Magazine) or Redbook or the New York Times,they would go in to the stores and demand it. And of course now they justGoogle my name and find it on web sites like Babeland.

On the directing front, it was difficult in the beginning tokeep the stars from acting like they do in regular porn movies. Women wouldimmediately drop to their knees as soon as the scene started and I?d have toexplain to them that I didn?t want the typical male fantasy scene. In the Femmemovies women had their needs cateredto as well! They could lie back and enjoy it for once! Now it?s a bit easier asmost women that I hire know my work and are eager to be able to do somethingdifferent. And men have always liked the idea of working for a female directorwho lets them get to be the stars too rather than just ?stunt cocks?!

Babeland: Under the Covers flirts with severalsexual themes: homemade porn, sex toys, group sex, and BDSM to name a few.  Were you trying to introduce kink to the lessexperienced in the audience, or were you just making sure there was a little somethingfor everyone?

Candida Royalle:I suppose I was trying to do both.  But Ireally think that viewers are more sexually sophisticated and adventurous thesedays, even my audience. It?s important for me to push the envelope a littlewith each movie I make.  Besides, I?m notjust calculating what I think people want to see. Certainly I take that in toconsideration, but I?m also creating from my own fantasies and desires. Iffilmmakers don?t produce from a personal place, a reservoir of their own desires,the movie is going to fall flat and feel contrived and mechanical. I?m not asvanilla as my earlier movies might lead one to think. While I honestly do lovethe build-up, the sensuality, the tenderness and the ?I love you's?, I alsolike it nasty and I love to play with surrender. I?m not so in to group sexmyself, but I like it on screen?.if it?s done well!

 

Babeland:  Recent independent films such as Shortbus, 9 Songs, The Brown Bunny,and Anatomy of Hell all featureexplicit sex while your film AfroditeSuperstar has as much screen time devoted to character development and plotmovement as it does to sex.  Is the linebetween porn and art becoming even more blurred?   Is this the beginning of a new genre of filmwhere explicit sex is more mainstream?

Candida Royalle: Yes, I do believe that explicit sex will become more a part ofmainstream movies. While I think it will always remain a taboo, at least in ourlifetime, that is much of what is appealing about it for people. It?s walkingthe edge between legitimate and forbidden, acceptable and taboo. Once itbecomes commonplace, it will lose its excitement. But that will be a long waysoff. What I do notice, though, is that none of these mainstream movies thatfeature sex, at least the ones I?ve seen, are actually sexy. They?re all darkand in some cases downright gloomy. It?ll be a real breakthrough when thesefilmmakers show people really enjoying themselves and being sexy rather thangetting away with it because it?s not really sexy.

 

Babeland: Is the talentpool for porn actors growing?

Candida Royalle:Yes, because the glamour surrounding stars like Jenna Jameson are making itseem like a viable career choice, particularly for young women. What I noticedwhen I shot Under the Covers is howmany smart and ambitious women are entering the talent pool as a way to expressthemselves, whether it be just an exhibitionist streak or a desire to performon screen with their partners. One of my actresses tells us in the documentarythat?s on the DVD that she?s a clinical psychologist by profession while her onscreen and real life partner shares that he does this to make her happy!Another of the actresses is a full time college student who also works with herboyfriend on screen.

 

Babeland: Afrodite Superstar in some ways feelslike a nod to porn from the 70?s that emphasized characters and plot.  It also devotes a generous percentage of thescreen time to its original hip-hop songs, compelling story, and excellentacting.  What inspired such an ambitiousproject?

Candida Royalle: Afrodite Superstar is the first in whatI hope will be a continuing line called Femme Chocolat, a line that features amixed ethic cast and will appeal to women and couples of color and anyone whowould like to look at beautiful people of all shades and colors ? black, white,Latino, Asian. I?d wanted to do something that appealed to the long-ignoreddemographic of discerning viewers of color, so when Venus Hottentot (a name shechose to honor the ?Hottentot Venus?) approached me about wanting to directsomething for Femme, with her talent and experience, I knew I had found theperfect opportunity.

Babeland: Under the Covers also features NaturalContours, a line of sex toys you helped develop.  What inspired you to get into the sex toybusiness?

Candida Royalle:  I had always thought it would be great to beable to branch out into other types of erotic products that would fit in withthe Femme concept: hot and sexy but also tasteful and high end. A line ofvibrators that were ergonomically correct and would appeal to the average womanwho found the typical vibrator embarrassing and may have been uncomfortablekeeping one at home for fear of discovery, especially if she had children. Welaunched our first three models in 1999 and broke in to the mainstream marketby being the first to get into major women?s health and lifestyle catalogs.Natural Contours made vibrators an acceptable mainstream accessory.

 

Babeland: If youhad an unlimited budget, what would be your dream project?

Candida Royalle: I?dlike Femme Productions to become the launching pad for a whole new generationof erotic filmmakers. Nothing resembling what?s out there now, but bold,innovative ideas. There?s all this media talk about the ?mainstreaming of porn?and how acceptable it?s becoming. I think the numbers they?re pulling this fromreflect a relatively small group of loyal porn fans, guys who keep coming backfor more, and huge numbers of first time viewers who never come back for asecond look because they?re disappointed by the clumsy, unimaginative drek thatconstitutes most commercially available porn. I really believe if there weremore opportunities for serious filmmakers, unhindered and left to create theirvision, we?d see just how huge a market there really is, for something yetun-made. I think I could deliver that given enough backing and support.  It?s not easy being ahead of your time, butthe reward is being able to say you were the first.

And being ahead of her time is something Candida Royallewould know a lot about.

Check out Candida Royalle?s Femme Production Films:

Under the CoversAfrodite SuperstarMy Surrender

 

Also from Candida Royalle

How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do (book)