“I never really identified as a film producer. I’ve always identified as a pornographer.”
The Porn Festival is fast arriving and with it, an international array of perspectives on how to show fucking on screen, from Indie-queer to mainstream. On the queer feminist porn end of the spectrum is US director, actress and auteur, Courtney Trouble.
Starting where most entrepreneurs begin, on the internet with her website NoFauxxx.com, Trouble became an international sensation when she started producing her own feature-length porn films – famous for their rebellious portrayal of sex with all different genders, sexual orientations and body types.
For the second consecutive year (2010) Berlin’s one and only PornFilmFestival will be screening her movies, this time with a special bonus: as a ‘Filmmaker in Focus’, Trouble will present three segments of her recent work and discuss it with the audience. Courtney Trouble chatted with us about the state of porn today and how one can work with integrity in one the most exploitative industries on the planet.
How do you see the future of queer porn, especially in relation to mainstream porn?
It’s hard to say, things change fast. I’d love to say that someone in “the mainstream” is going to hire me as a director and allow me to keep my casting integrity, authentic content, safer sex guidelines, and on-set ethics – but that’s not usually how “selling out” works. I’m pretty sure that queer porn is going to stay in the indie realm for the most part, although I am anticipating copycats from the mainstream who will fail to bring the same magic that we bring.
Do you think the world is opening up to porn more now than it is has been even in, say, the last five years? If so, what does this mean for pornography as a whole?
I think so. It’s becoming less private. When Deep Throat happened and the Mitchell Brothers started making films, etc. – there was a surge of adult movie screenings in public theaters, and people started talking about porn and watching it together. I see that happening again now with indie filmmakers and more artistic projects. If you give folks a safe, open space to talk about private things, and reward them with higher-brow content – I think you’ll see people open up to it.
Also, sexual freedom as a whole seems to come and go in waves in society, so while we might be more open to things like porn now, and have been in the past, it’s not to say that society will continue on that path forever. The Roaring Twenties, followed later by the 1950s come to mind, at least in American history.
Do you feel a struggle between artistic integrity and commercial demands? Can you possibly keep your freedom and still support yourself with your art?
I can’t always shoot, edit, and distribute exactly what I want. For instance, I cannot show fisting in my commercially-distributed work because some stores won’t carry it, and some communities actually have the right to deem it obscene and get my distributors in trouble. And of course, fisting is kind of the bread and butter of queer porn amongst female-bodied people – that’s what we do! – so I balance that censorship by shooting it anyways and saving it for the internet – I’ll post fisting on Nofauxxx.com or QueerPorn.tv.
What do you think is the difference between internet porn and video porn? Do you think people still hold a higher place for video porn?
I’m kind of torn. I’d love to say that I have an extreme preference for producing internet content, because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight or nine years. To me, being able to create something and put it up on the internet and have a home and community where people can talk about it online, it seems like it’s more acceptable. The fact that you could comment on it or talk to other people who are watching it or who are members of the site seems really cool to me.
However, when it’s a good movie, when you’ve made a whole movie and you put all this money and effort and creative energy into it, and you’ve put all these man hours into creating a full-length film, that is something that I’m sort of surprised I’m doing.
What would you say to other people trying to break into the porn field?
Make your own porn. Technology is your friend – buy a cheap digital camera and experiment with yourself and/or your friends, show it at your local film festivals, put it up on a website. Don’t expect to get rich from it – you won’t – but you will be rich in experience!
What kind of lessons from the world of porn have you learned that might transfer into other fields or parts of life? Something that might be amusing?
If anything, I’ve learned to always trust my gut. If you love something, do more of it. If you don’t like doing it anymore – quit while you’re ahead. And also, if you feel like you don’t belong, you can always start your own club – you’ll be surprised how many like-minded freaks will join you!
Do you find Berliners to be as kinky, more kinky or less kinky than their reputation?
I’m not sure yet… from my own personal sexual experience with Berliners, it’s gone both ways. One was way kinkier and fancy-free and the other shocked me with romance. Both were good. Perhaps I need to do more research…
What do you think of the Porn Film Festival Berlin? What purpose do you see it serving now and what space do you think it should fill in the future?
I see the Berlin Porn Film Festival as ground-breaking, and am happy to see others popping up in different places. I would love to see the format brought to America. It’s fun, a lot more lighthearted and less serious than non-porn film festivals I’ve been to. I think it serves as a space for people to gather and celebrate all kinds of sexuality in one place, and I see it continuing to inspire folks to be more open about watching, enjoying, and making porn.
Originally published in Oct 2010.