When Judy Hologram and I decided to do a series of interviews on women gonzo directors, we really hoped that Angela White would be interested in participating. Angela has been able to incorporate her talent, passions, and political concerns into her work. Regardless of industry, it is always a challenge to be able to do the thing you love and get paid for doing it, and if you happen to be a woman working in porn there are additional challenges. Yet, Angela has grown as a performer, director, and business women in addition to finishing her academics and advocacy work. Make no mistake, Angela is a scholar, but she is in the business because she loves expressing her sexual desires in a public forum. She is a refreshing combination of confident and humble, and we were very excited to have the chance to ask her about her career and plans for the future.
HMFH: While performing, you’ve graduated from the University of Melbourne with honors in Gender Studies, and you ran a political campaign for the Australian Sex Party in 2010. What motivated you to become politically active during this period of your life?
AW: It was actually my involvement in adult entertainment that fueled my interest in politics and gender studies. I was confronted with feminist critiques of pornography as degrading and harmful to women, yet I felt empowered by having a safe space to express my sexual desires. I wanted to develop a greater understanding of the politics of pornography so that I could challenge the myths and stereotypes that surround the industry, particularly the assumption that any woman who claims to have chosen to perform in pornography suffers from false consciousness.
I’ve heard you describe your webcam shows as “Tits Out Therapy.” How does webcamming relate to therapy for you, and how does this type of communication with your fans help or inform your film performances?
There is so much shame surrounding sex and sexuality in our culture that it can be profoundly validating to have someone simply accept you and your sexual desires without judgement. Through my webcamming, I try to create a safe environment for my fans to express their fantasies without guilt or embarrassment. My webcam regulars come for the tits, but stay for the therapy.
I’ve produced scenes that are directly informed by my intimate encounters with fans on webcam. For example, I’ve learnt that some fans who have limited mobility can feel alienated by physically intense scenes where I am picked up and fucked or thrown around the room – something that they cannot replicate. So as a result I’ve shot a number of POV scenes where the male talent is completely stationary. I’ve learnt that despite our cultural assumptions about masculinity, many men feel vulnerable about their capacity to be loved, so I’ve shot scenes which simulate a “girlfriend experience.”
Since you direct and perform in all of your content for your website, do you have any plans to only direct and not star in any scenes?
I still have so many things I want to explore in front of the camera that I’m not ready to step back yet. When and if I’m ready to step back, I will probably focus on showcase films. I like the idea of spending a lot of time with one performer over a number of scenes so that I can go on a journey of getting to really know them deeply.
What challenges do you face when directing a new scene with someone you haven’t worked with before?
I find working with someone new more exciting than challenging. I don’t like to fully script scenes because I enjoy creating a space for spontaneity which also allows for my onscreen partner to have the freedom to express themselves within the bounds of the scene. Every scene I produce is collaborative, and I make this explicit by the way that I title all of my scenes. For example, you’ll notice on my website and in my movies, scenes will be titled: Angela White X Carter Cruise or Angela White X Manuel Ferrara with the “X” designating a collaboration between two performers as it does in art, music, and fashion. Everyone that I perform with has a unique talent and vision and I encourage them to share that with me in the scene. When I get the chance to perform with someone new, not only is there a novelty factor which heightens my arousal, but there is also an opportunity to capture genuine surprise and unexpected pleasures.
I have to put a lot of trust in my crew to help me capture my vision, but I’m lucky to be working with great videographers and cinematographers. It helps that my style of shooting allows for and even encourages spontaneity. I think it would be a lot more difficult if I had a very strict shot list and script. I prefer to explain my objectives to the talent and crew and then for us all to work together in the moment to see what we create.
It seems like your university experience and your adult work have informed one another. Forgive me for paraphrasing, I think this is from the end of your thesis; you talk about how performers have a unique opportunity to experience pleasure devoid from desire and restrictive sexual identity categories. Could you please elaborate on how performing in porn has helped to shape your sexual identity?
Performing in pornography has allowed me to express and explore my sexual desires in ways that would be very difficult outside of the industry. I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” on camera, ranging from my first time squirting to my first double anal penetration. When I entered the industry in 2003, I was already identifying as bisexual, had done a lot of experimenting, and would have considered myself to be very open minded. Now, I’ve completely expanded my definition of the sexual. For something to be sexual or sexy to me it no longer needs to be genitally focused nor orgasm-centric.
How does your sexual identity inspire the content you create?
My sexual identity inspires everything I do. My sexual desires and fantasies are the driving force behind every scene I produce.
I am acutely aware that most of the paying members of my site identify as male, so I do produce scenes where I speak directly to an assumed cis-male audience. However, I have a lot of female identified fans, couples, and transfolk who enjoy my work, so I also make an effort to make many of my scenes gender neutral. If the specific audience is ambiguous then a scene can become more inclusive.
You have a new movie coming out (Angela Loves Gonzo) where all the performers are partially “directing” the scenes by their participation with POV camera work. Why did you decide to shift the point of view between performers?
While all of my other DVD releases do away with scripts, they are still heavily produced in terms of lighting, makeup, camera crews, etc. For Angela Loves Gonzo, I wanted to remove all artifice in an attempt to showcase genuine chemistry and spontaneity. I wanted the camera acknowledged but I didn’t want the camera in the male performer’s hands at all times. I didn’t want it to become just an extension of the male performer’s vision and to be only representing the male gaze. This is why you will see that at points I will hold the camera, Anikka Albrite holds the camera, the camera sometimes ends up on the floor or on a table. It’s about showing the female performer’s agency while also acknowledging that audiences, whatever their gender, do enjoy seeing male bodies, even though the constraints of masculinity don’t always make it possible for everyone to admit this.
There are many ways to define the genre and mine is not definitive. I think it’s very important to be inclusive when it comes to categories, but when I think about the gonzo genre I envision a scene in which the camera is acknowledged and that artifice is removed. I think of sex that is unscripted (or less scripted) and that allows performers to do less “performing” and more expressing and exploring of their own desires. Of course, gonzo now has a very bad name for being the roughest of porn genres. But for me, the opposite is also true. I think that when you remove the pressure and artifice of a camera crew, gonzo can showcase authentic intimacy and incredibly tender moments, and I think fans will definitely see that in Angela Loves Gonzo.
There have been a lot of critics recently talking about what porn for women consists of. There seems to be an overriding idea that porn for women is a specific camera angle, or romance-only narrative, and definitely not gonzo. What is your take on the terminology “porn for women?”
There are a couple problems that I have with the term “porn for women.” Firstly, it contributes to reifying the category of “woman,” which is often exclusionary. It doesn’t take into account that not every person who identifies as a “woman” has a vagina, and not every person with a vagina identifies as a “woman.” The term “porn for women” can also prescribe what “women” as a collective group want. There are plenty of women-identified people who enjoy rough sex, BDSM, gonzo, blowbangs, and other acts and niches not generally associated with “porn for women.” I think it is better to categorize porn scenes based on genre not gender. However, I understand that “porn for women” grew out of a movement to give greater focus to female pleasure in porn, to present a female-centric vision, and to make this porn easily searchable for audiences. When it comes to the term, “porn for women,” I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but it’s important to recognize that it isn’t without its problems. Much like the existence of the “interracial” genre.
The best way for fans to support me is to buy my DVDs, join my website (angelawhite.com), and to get one of my signature Fleshlights. However, fans can also show their support and appreciation by retweeting and liking my social media posts and telling their friends about me.
The women at HotMoviesForHer are looking forward to all of Angela’s future endeavors. We are so happy to have such an awesome woman like Angela in the industry making beautiful movies that showcase empowered women in porn. Check out more of Angela White here!