The adult industry lost a pioneer and advocate on September 7th of this year. Candida Royalle was a true innovator in film and in sex-positive education. Her work has inspired other filmmakers as well as helped viewers to better express their own sexuality. This XRCO and AVN Hall of Fame member produced, starred, and directed some of the first female-centric adult content in the United States, and continued to lecture, shoot documentaries, and mentor women throughout her lifetime. Her body of work and her life-long friendships with other women in the industry created a subculture of feminist porn, which began as a niche interest, and has since developed into a vocal and powerful genre.
When Royalle began her career in the adult industry many of the popular films were centered on the male orgasm, and often the objectification of women. Knowing that she could create films that focused on the pleasure of both participants, Royalle began to write scripts and create scenarios based around real people and their desire for authentic intimacy. These films have been regarded as helpful tools for couples who seek to expand their sex lives, not only in a physical sense, but enabling partner communication to evolve from experimentation in a safe, respectful story line.
Royalle was born in New York City, and was classically trained in liberal and creative arts. She attended the High School of Art and Design, Parson’s School of Design, and the City University of New York. After school, she traveled to the West Coast, and became friends with some of the original members of the infamous Cockettes while she was living in San Francisco. Royalle’s first performance in adult films was in 1974, and she continued to perform until 1980. Royalle returned to New York in 1980 and began directing films that were centered on couples’ intimacy. In 1984, she created Femme Productions, an erotic film company focused on female pleasure.
Continuing to tread the path toward women’s sexual empowerment, Royalle partnered with Dutch designer Jandirk Groet, and together they created the Natural Contours line of discreet, luxurious personal massagers. The line debuted in 1999 to favorable reviews and quickly became a bestselling in women’s mainstream health catalogs. In later years, Royalle moved on to the role of mentor, guiding aspiring female directors in the approach of sex-positive films and the continuance of the Femme Line, while still expressing their own visions and ideas. Royalle has made her mission of women’s sexual empowerment multi-cultural by producing the film Afrodite Superstar, a breakthrough film nominated for seven AVN Awards in 2007. She also created a new line of ethnic erotica for couples called “Femme Chocolat” in order to provide high quality, intelligent erotica for the largely under-served, and under-represented women of diverse ethnic backgrounds and couples.
Royalle’s well-received body of work generated substantial interest in her discourse, and soon Royalle became a sought-after speaker on the sexology lecture circuit, speaking at venues such as the Smithsonian Institute, the American Psychiatric Association’s national conference, the World Congress on Sexology, as well as Wellesley College, Princeton, Columbia, and New York University. She is the first erotic filmmaker to have been invited to become a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) due to her message of sex-positivism in her films. She is also a founding board member of Feminists for Free Expression.
Recently, Royalle had participated in several panels featuring women in the adult industry who have shaped a culture of ethical porn-making. In 2014, Royalle, was honored with the degree Doctor of Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Along with Veronica Hart, Veronica Vera, Annie Sprinkle and the late Gloria Leonard, Royalle was a part of Club 90, the first sex work support group. In June of 2015, Royalle was on a panel for Mindbrowse.com entitled “Pioneers of Feminist Porn.” Co-panelist Jacky St. James stated, “You cannot talk about female pornographers and not mention Candida Royalle, whose work in pornography is every bit as groundbreaking today as it was thirty years ago.”
HotMoviesForHer is grateful for the influence Candida Royalle had on not only pornography, but generations of women who aspire to create and perform in adult entertainment, as well as couples and individuals who have benefited from the insight and care her films and advocacy have contributed to their lives. Her impact on the adult industry, feminism and sex positivism is an integral part of our mission at HotMoviesForHer, and we will forever be inspired by her legacy.