Queer and boning in Las Vegas

San Francisco adult stars storm the red carpet at the AVN Awards, a.k.a. the 'Oscars of porn'

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Vegas, baby: QueerPorn.TV actors puppy-piled in their AVN Awards weekend suite.
PHOTO BY TINA HORN

caitlin@sfbg.com

PORN AWARDS In a conference room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, diminutive porno starlets with improbable racks highlighted by latex or spandex-heavy outfits shifted, stilletto-to-stilletto, as lines of eager fans filed past to express their admiration for favorite scenes — and possibly cop a feel for their buddy's camera. Flatscreen TVs showed avatars having at each other in various positions, advertisements for recently-released X-rated roleplay video games. One booth advertised both granny and midget couplings, another adult parodies of True Grit, Training Day, and Mallrats.

This was the weekend of the AVN Awards, the Oscars of the porn industry that take over Vegas once a year to honor the most compelling orgasms, wittiest titles, and best double penetration scene of the last 12 months.

In the midst of the melee, queer porn star Sophia St. James from Portland, Ore. waited in line to meet one of her idols. "I'm so excited!," St. James told me when I chance across her on my AVN fan expo wanderings.

Most of the adult film aficionados present that Saturday afternoon in January had probably heard of the object of St. James' affections, Belladonna, well-known in the industry for her gonzo-style sex and smoldering-pixie looks. Perhaps fewer of them would have been familiar with St. James, though the Amazon-esque beauty has an eponymous strap-on model and has done scenes for one of the nominees for the Best Alternative Website award, to be presented that night at the awards ceremony.

Later that day, we sit outside a Hard Rock coffeeshop with a handful of St. James' co-stars from the AVN-nominated, San Francisco-produced QueerPorn.TV. I ask her how her fangirl experience went.

"I couldn't believe it!" St. James exclaimed. "I got to the front of the line and was bending over to put down my bags when I hear this voice go 'Sophia St. James.' And I look around and Belladonna is saying my name!" The two exchanged gropes, business cards, and the promise to keep in touch. St. James was beaming.

This is why queer porn went to the AVN Awards. Sure, QueerPorn.TV was nominated for an award, and it was a good excuse for its actors to have a ball and a biscuit in Vegas. But also, queer porn wanted its props. And it turns out, it might be having a bigger impact on the industry than you'd expect for a bunch of Bay Area alterna-kids.

"QueerPorn.TV got nominated for Best Alternative Website. Regardless of whether we won or not, we needed to celebrate," Courtney Trouble said. She was explaining why she booked a luxury Vegas suite for the weekend of the AVNs where 12 queer porn stars definitely slept, and possibly had an orgy. ("I've heard some rumors of that," she wrote me in an email that confirmed the hot tub was flop distance from a king-sized bed with a view of the Strip.)

Trouble is responsible for more than her fair share of the queer porn that is available today. Her San Francisco production company Trouble Films includes QueerPorn.TV and NoFauxx.com (which she started decades ago in Olympia, Washington). In addition, she and co-director Tina Horn make DVDs — most recently, Fuckstyles, a compilation of vignettes featuring trans men, lesbian sex, and pegging scenes that will be released this year on Valentine's Day.

Bereft of even the ever-diminishing profit margins of mainstream DVD porn (which are difficult to quantify — for a bare-all industry, the porn biz is remarkably adamant about hiding its sales figures) queer porn is largely a labor of love for its creators. During the weekend of the AVNs, its stars tell me the genre serves two purposes.

Comments

Thank you for interviewing me for this. You did a GREAT job...but I'm sure you know this ;).
<3

Posted by Sophia St. James on Feb. 07, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

Caitlin got a lot of things wrong in my portion of the interview, and I would like to set the record straight.

1. Juicy Pink Box is not a division of Girlfriends Films. We have a strategic partnership, and they are our distributor. Juicy Pink Box was founded in 2008, and we did not begin our relationship with Girlfriends until 2010. I love those guys, and our relationship has been great, but I control all of the business of Juicy Pink Box, including the content of what we shoot.

2. The article says "Lumpkin falls into that middle part Thorne was talking about. Queer she is not — she shies from the term and is also uncomfortable with "dyke," attributing her preference to her religious upbringing in Carrollton, Georgia (she says her move to New York five years ago the first time she was exposed to any kind of lesbian community.) "

No, I do not consider myself to be queer. I identify as a femme lesbian. I have tremendous respect for however anyone chooses to identify in the LGBTQ community. I would also like the same respect in choosing to identify myself. This doesn't mean I don't feel like a part of the community, because I most certainly do. In fact, I devote many tireless hours to helping out LGBTQ causes. While I don't see myself as an activist in the traditional sense, I do think we are all striving for the same goals- acceptance, love, and equality.

I had lesbian friends when I lived in Florida. What I said to Caitlin is that I had never been exposed to a "queer community" before moving to New York. When I grew up there were not even any out lesbians, let alone people who identified as queer.

I think that my background shaped who I am. When I grew up "dyke" and "queer" were bad words. They had a negative connotation for gay people, so I have a hard time "reclaiming" those words. I do not, in any way, identify as a religious person, nor do I attribute my views to my upbringing in a religious household. That is just completely incorrect.

3. The following statement was taken out of context:

"But when I asked her to compare her work to that of the queer genre associated with San Francisco companies like QueerPorn.TV and Crash Pad Series she says "my work has more of an emphasis on aesthetics. I'm sure they hate it when I say that."

Throughout our interview what I discussed was my point of view in making porn. That I wanted to create something that was in the middle ground. Real lesbian porn, but created with an emphasis on glamour and aesthetics. Since the quote is taken out of context, it appears as though I am dismissive of the work of my peers, which I am not. I admire my queer porn peers, and I could not be where I am today without the trail-blazing efforts of Shine and Crash Pad Series. I have worked with a lot of the same stars, and have taken influence from their work. However, I don't see anything wrong with creating work that comes from a different point of view.

When I say that I emphasize aesthetics, what I mean is that we spend a tremendous amount of time researching the look and feel of each series, and we collaborate with people in the fashion industry to achieve a certain look. I'm certainly not saying that the work of my peers is inferior or has no aesthetic appeal. In fact, I find Courtney's work quite inspiring, even though we have a different point of view in the way we create things.

4. I have never shot a scene in which my stars are scissoring. I have shot plenty of tribbing, because that is a way that many of us lesbians enjoy having sex. The closest thing to scissoring that I ever shot was in TAXI with Madison Young and Justine Joli, and that's simply because of the fact that Justine is tall, and the backseat of the taxi had limited space. I have never said, "OK girls, in this scene I want you to scissor". Never. If the stars wanted to do that because they genuinely enjoy it, that's a different story. I work with the stars to create the scene and let them define the boundaries.

5. I do have fisting scenes, which are available on the website. Syd Blakovich and Justine Joli fisted each other in TAXI's "Sweat", for instance. However, because Girlfriends is concerned about obscenity prosecution, my contract with them requires that I cut those portions out for DVD release. I supported International Fisting Day, and even wrote a column in the Huffington Post to publicize the cause and express my views on why I love fisting.

6. Juicy Pink Box does not shoot exclusively "cisgendered bodies". For instance, in BOUTIQUE, we shot the amazing Drew Deveaux. That was the first time a trans body had been distributed by Girlfriends.

To be honest, I'm upset with the way that myself and my company have been portrayed in this piece, and I would like to extend a heartfelt apology to my peers, because this is not an accurate characterization of the way I feel about them or their work. I'm working to change the industry in my own way, just as Courtney and Tina are.

Posted by Jincey Lumpkin on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 11:52 am

Thanks for your response. Bummed that you thought I misquoted you, that's not how I see it. I made some factual corrections above, and wrote a more complete response to some of your points here: http://www.sfbg.com/sexsf/2012/02/08/upset-pornographers-and-definition-...

Posted by caitlin on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

At least you got mentioned.

Apparently, Charlie Spats' half hour interview about Good Dyke Porn™, the website he helps me run, wasn't relevant this subject, even though half that hotel room is featured on our site and our site was also nominated for Best Alternative Website.

Don't take it personally, I think it's more of an "inner circle" issue than anything else. Although, I understand how you might be offended professionally.

But, like I said, at least you got mentioned. I don't think I'll add my own article here. If anyone likes good dyke/queer porn, feel free to check us out. You'll find myself, Charlie Spats, Courtney Trouble, James Darling, Dylan Ryan, Tina Horn, Sophia St. James and many other amazing queer porn stars (and other regular people).

Love,
Bren Ryder

Posted by Bren Ryder on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

good lord, the article alone had the wife and me all reved up to check out some of the beautiful bods behinds the funky cool names, great inspiration to play and have some FUN. Then I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments section. Buzz Kill. More grousing, moaning and entitlement issues that a Real Housewives reunion, LOADS less fun. Oh well, theres always a late night walk to window shop Good Vibrations to get the mood turned around again. Or.... maybe we'll just go to sleep. Bummer.....

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

hey Guest, sorry the comments killed your boners! killed mine, too. e-mail me at courtneytrouble@gmail and i will give you a complimentary free pass to queerporn.tv <3

Posted by courtney trouble on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

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