Erotic Filmmaker Candida Royalle:
An Artist’s Interpretation

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project is a collaboration between us and imaginative artists we choose to depict superachievers from our upcoming book from Plume/Penguin coming out Jan 29, 2013. (Which you can preorder here!)

When we wondered who could best portray the trailblazing erotic filmmaker Candida Royalle, we immediately thought of fine artist Robert Piersanti who has devoted the last ten years of his life to painting a stunning cast of sensual and strongly independent women including rock n’ rollers, burlesque performers, barmaids and other locals from his Jersey City neighborhood.

Royalle (who we interviewed for our upcoming book in a chapter on How to Make Erotica that Turns Women On) was a porn star in the 70’s and early 80’s. She came to hate the way the business represented women as sex objects to serve male fantasies. So she quit. And then she struggled with what to do next. She believed in a cinematic sexuality that would celebrate the human body without demeaning women but she felt that the traditional male-centric adult film industry had gotten it wrong. The question she asked herself was:

“What would erotic films be like if they were made from a women’s perspective?”

In 1984, when few believed there was a market for erotic films for women Royalle took the leap and formed Femme Productions. She opened up a whole new way of portraying women’s sexuality by producing films with realistic plots, believable actors and depictions of naturalistic lovemaking rather than the gymnastic, porn-by-the-numbers, money-shot-ethos of traditional pornography. Royalle was a game-changer in her industry and a godmother to women filmmakers who followed in her field.

Despite what you may think about adult films, Royalle can be a model for those of us who have become disillusioned by our workplace or the industry we work in. Rather than to wallow in the psychic space of feeling exploited and discouraged by working in a business whose values conflicted with her own, Royalle challenged the status quo. Of course, she had no guarantee of success. But just as with pioneers of other industries, if she hadn’t tried she never would have come up with a whole new way of doing things.

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