The Valley Exposed: For women only

first_img“I think a lot of it is women giving themselves permission to watch porn. Women have been told for many years that they are not supposed to watch anything stimulating.” Industry experts can offer only anecdotal evidence on how many women are among the estimated 40 million people who view Internet porn each month, or how many purchase films from the more than 15,000 outlets that sell the movies. “No one has done a full-blown market research of any kind into either the brick-and-mortar or the online adult consumer market place,” said Tom Hymes, publisher of XBiz, a trade magazine about the industry. “My own personal feeling of this is most (consumers) are still men, but I have seen more women coming into the industry to make content for other women, to build Web sites for women. The issue of women being creative and significant in the industry is not going away.” One of those most credited with paving the way is Candida Royalle, who during the 1970s starred in 25 adult films, including “Blue Magic,” which she also wrote. After some soul searching about being involved in a business some still view as deviant, Royalle concluded she wanted to be part of a movement that would change the negative stereotypes of adult films. What she envisioned was what she calls sexually explicit erotica from a woman’s point of view, stories couples could watch together. “Women are not the shy flowers that people think they are,” Royalle said. “They want to watch sex, but they want to see it done well. I wanted to foster that.” Praise for her films Her catalogue of self-produced and -directed films includes “Caribbean Heat,” “The Bridal Shower” and her latest, “Under the Covers.” Royalle acknowledges her life path is anything but typical. The daughter of an accomplished jazz drummer, she trained and performed in music, dance and art. She was active in the feminist movement of the 1960s and early ’70s. Her films have been praised by sex educators and mainstream film reviewers, and Royalle is a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and a founding board member of Feminists for Free Expression. Yet she remains somewhat critical of the direction adult films have taken in the past few years. Thirty years ago, women in adult films fought for equality. These days, equality equals vulgarity, she said. “I get frustrated by the cookie-cutter images, the lack of diversity,” she said. “In the porn industry these days, beauty is even more exaggerated, and it’s about time that changes.” That’s why she tries to feature women in her films of “all shapes and sizes” and from a diverse background. “We just need more women to come in and offer more alternate visions,” Royalle said. “We need something else other than the slut image. We need real women, with real bodies and real stories.” What women want to watch varies, just as women themselves do, said Royalle and others. Their tastes range from the quick-hit scenarios men enjoy to more sophisticated productions, complete with costumes, storyline, dialogue, hunky males and plot. “People like Candida Royalle and other female directors started making films more for the taste of what women wanted to see, and one of those was seeing attractive men,” Semans said. “Storylines are definitely a big part of it because women like more foreplay, or a good yarn.” Others want to be entertained while they learn new ways of giving pleasure. “I think women’s demands are growing,” said Waxman, who co-wrote and produced her first major adult film, “Under the Covers,” with Royalle, who has found a whole market niche of women and couples who want how-to sex videos. “We saw a big burst with (HBO’s series) `Sex and the City,”‘ she said. “The more there are options for women, the more women are comfortable in watching.” She recently completed shooting “Personal Touch” in Los Angeles and Northridge for Adam & Eve Productions. “One of the reasons I want to make adult movies is I feel like we’re in a distorted state of what sex is,” Waxman said. “When you go to school, you learn a little bit about sexuality, but where you see people doing it is porn. Porn is the teaching tool that is getting out there.” But not all those messages in porn have been positive for men or women, said Waxman, who credits Royalle and Nina Hartley for helping to change women’s roles in the adult-film industry. “If we want to accurately portray positive sexuality, we can do something about it,” she said. “I can only make films I am comfortable with.” That includes banning stiletto heels for her actresses, preferring that they wear socks, and hiring performers with or without breast implants. “These are the small kinds of things that women are much more attentive to, which is what people are wearing,” she said. Waxman also said she believes the industry can go further in protecting women and children by raising the minimum age of actors to 21 – it’s now 18 – and better monitoring what can be accessed by children on the Internet. For adults, VCRs and the Internet have expanded the opportunities for anyone to create sexual content, but Semans said she believes viewers are getting burned out on the low quality of today’s films. “Now we’re seeing the pendulum swing back, because there’s more of a demand for quality,” she said. “What’s interesting to me is what’s selling, and those are films that are award-winning.” For women, watching sexually explicit movies is a whole different experience, Semans said, which is why the boutique’s Web site features a lengthy guide of carefully selected films. What the site won’t include are any films in which anyone is violated or hurt. “Getting introduced to porn,” she said, “is a critical turning point for many women.” [email protected] (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Increasingly within the adult film industry, triple-X means more women like Waxman are calling the shots. They are creating Web sites with adult content, reporting stories and jumping from being performer to writer, cinematographer to director or producer, industry experts say. And more women are viewing or buying pornography, taking advantage of the movies and merchandise offered on cable TV, the Internet and specialty stores. `Giving permission’ “We’re definitely seeing more women and couples buying and watching adult films,” said Anne Semans, spokeswoman for Babeland, an adult boutique that includes shops on Melrose Avenue that was founded, owned, operated by and geared toward women. Jamye Waxman’s parents know what she does for a living. There is no shame, no scarlet letter emblazoned on her forehead. For Waxman, a sexologist, writer and producer with a master’s degree in sex education from Widener University in Pennsylvania, being a woman in the adult-film industry offers her a position of power, and with that, the power to influence in a positive, respectable way. “As more women infiltrate the industry and show they want to be there, the more positive the product will be,” Waxman said. “There’s all these things that adult films can offer you if you don’t look too deeply into it.” last_img