Courtney Trouble and Kitty Stryker
COURTNEY TROUBLE talks about:
00:03 # Queer porn and the network
03:09 # Fisting and menstrual blood
05:00 # Queer porn and whiteness
I interviewed Courtney Trouble of Trouble Films, a San Francisco based production company that focuses on “diversity of desires” by making erotic, explicit, sex-positive, embodied pornographic films. It highlights the creative involvement of feminist, queer, and otherwise progressive-thinking porn making. The company also serves as a wholesale distribution point for other porn projects, like April Flores's Fat Girl Fantasies, and trans-porn by James Darling and Tobi Hill-Meyer.
The company was founded by Courtney Trouble who has a long history in porn making and in 2002 set up the porn site nofauxxx.com which was later re-baptized as indiepornrevolution.com. It began as a small personal project, and became a legend when friends, media, and the adult industry took notice. Like Pink&White, they cater fundamentally to a diversity of models: “gorgeous women, femmes, couples, dykes, bois, trans women, punks, sex workers, ftms, queer men, bbws, lesbians, husbands, gender queers, gender fuckers, bisexuals, queer porn stars, people of color, people of size, people of love, people of indie porn.” It features all these types of people and is a transpositive company known for featuring transgender/ transsexual models and their ways of having sex.
They have a fanbase who enjoy a strong focus on sexual and ethnic diversity, as Trouble explains:
"The way people have responded to my work has always been 'We love all bodies, We want more.”'They never say, 'I'm having a hard time grappling with this or that race.' We don’t get a lot of racist reactions from our fans or customers. We actually get requests for more. Particularly since there are mostly white people running this company, as a tastemaker and cultural leader, I like to seek out other people and collaborate with them. And of course my activism needs to include more people of color."
During the interview, Kitty Stryker adds that It is really important to konw that the company pays all of their performers the same rate, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds:. "That is a rarity in making porn because different body types and different ethnicities get prioritized or de-prioritized in other companies. I think that it’s actually radical thing that we do by paying everyone the same. I think that there’s also a sense of everyone’s body value the same that you don't actually get in other places."
Trouble and Stryker believe that the boundaries between mainstream and queer porn are blurring as mainstream porn distributors such as Pure Play media are picking up their products and cater to much larger groups of female and male audiences. Porn stars such as Julia Ann are getting a much larger female fanbase than ever before and are active on social media to cater to a new generation of female porn consumers who are more keen on ethically produced content. Trouble believes that this is a very significant development as women’s sexuality is still being policed and "Womens 'porn identities' are ripped from them from the very beginning.” Stryker agrees: “Women experience so many micro-aggressions everyday so we’re going to have very different relationships for example to derogatory words, to slaps on the face. Like we might still want to watch it in porn but we’re gonna have a very different relationship to it then a guy who is not accustomed to experiencing these things in the same way.”
There are also still difficulties in breaking through to mainstream audiences as e.g. straight male film critics may not be able to publicly endorse any elements gay male or trans sexuality. Trouble explains that these people may enjoy such moments of queer sex privately but would rarely bring it open into the public.
They both see their work as being an examp[e of sex education; For Trouble it is like representing queer sex as part of a larger authentic experience; for Stryker it means that you can for instance show BDSM partners giving consent to each other. Trouble emphasizes that it is an aesthetic experience: “I want to introduce people to good music, film sound tracks. I want to introduce people to queer fashions and punk and subversive expression through the way people dress and carry themselves, like how they pierce and tattoos themselves, and in the ways in which we fuck.”
Both Trouble and Stryker moved to San Fransisco many years ago and have been connected to a queer sex workers community. Trouble explains that this network is still strong but it nonetheless having struggles due to the rising housing costs, justification and displacement: "A lot of people are leaving honestly. There aren't enough work opportunities for that to actually be financially viable. There’s a lot of pressure. A lot of queer people working or competing for the very few number of jobs that embrace queer identity within sex work. A lot of people may compromise that they work for companies that are queer or do more straight sex work in order to survive. Or they get a different job entirely which of course if you’ve been a sex worker, it’s a lot more difficult to do."