Candida Royalle was not the first female adult film director. Yet she was the first adult film director to make films for women.
The director of 16 films released through her company Femme Productions, Royalle’s productions could be easily distinguished from other offerings widely available on the back room shelves of video stores. With titles like Three Daughters, Femme, My Surrender, The Gift, Bridal Shower, and Stud Hunters, these movies featured strong women, gorgeous men, compelling plotlines, tasteful but still sexy covers, and exotic locales. Always exciting and never offensive, these were the movies that husbands could share with their wives; and that women both married and single could share with gal pals.
After fighting a valiant battle with cancer, Candida Royalle died Sept. 7, 2015, at age 64. Yet her artistry and influence live on in the minds and hearts of anyone who supports the concept of erotic entertainment for women.
“I’ve often referred to Candida Royalle as my ‘porny godmother’. It was her vision and her work that blazed a trail for the rest of us,” Ms. Naughty, an erotic filmmaker, blogger and webmistress who herself has blazed trails in the field of feminist porn, told Scandalouswomen.com. “She showed the industry that women really were interested in porn and she pioneered ways of showing sex on film that were female friendly and feminist. To be a female director in the man’s world of porn, to eschew the ‘money shot’, to show real female pleasure… her work was so important. We stand on her shoulders. I owe a great deal to her and she will remain one of my heroes. I only managed to meet her briefly in Berlin in 2009 but I will cherish that forever. She was a gracious, intelligent and loving woman who will be deeply missed.”
Aside from writing, directing, producing and even appearing in her own films (indeed, she made a hilarious cameo as a ‘bad porn’ protestor in the humorous Stud Hunters), Royalle also released and distributed the work of other prominent female directors, including African-American feminist porn pioneer Venus Hottentot and leading adult film director and activist Petra Joy.
“Candida was way ahead of her time and proved to be right – women were voyeurs too and the time was ripe and ready to produce porn from a female perspective,” Joy wrote. “What made her porn different from mainstream porn, created by men and for men? Candida put the women’s pleasure and orgasms first, rather than ending every scene with the male ejaculation – the so called ‘money shot’. She featured a great 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, featured credible storylines that were full of humour and spoke to a large audience who were tired of soulless wham-bam-thank you-mam porn.”
And Royalle, who also co-founded Feminists for Free Expression and started her own Natural Contours toy line, was a fan favorite among smart women who appreciate good porn. Erotica author and short filmmaker Jana Cleveland counts the Royalle films Stud Hunters and Under the Covers among her favorites.
“I’m so sorry to hear about Candida,” she told Scandalouswomen.
Indeed, in an industry that seems to be getting rougher and less female friendly with each passing day, Royalle’s gentle, artful touch is already being missed among the fans, friends and sister filmmakers who loved her.
“Candida was the first to acknowledge that women are also an audience, not just sexual objects,” wrote feminist adult filmmaker Erika Lust. “She had a clear view and a critical mind about chauvinism in adult cinema, because she performed before directing. She was unhappy about the misogynistic predictability of mainstream porn and started Femme Productions in the early 80’s to create films based on female desires, creating erotica that moved away from tired male-centered clichés. Her pioneering films aimed at women and couples were praised for portraying healthy, realistic depictions of sex.”
“Her work helped open up adult cinema to women,” Lust wrote, “and made them feel comfortable watching adult content.”
Explore the work of Candida Royalle here.