I traveled to Sydney and Melbourne in 2013 and got some pretty amazing press. Here is the text from my print feature in Time Out Magazine, with JD Samson on the cover!
American queer feminist pornographer and activist Courtney Trouble established the term ‘queer porn’. Her award-winning work embraces all desires, all bodies, and a sex-positive ethos through her company TROUBLEfilms and website IndiePornRevolution.com (previously NoFauxxx.com).
You started your website NoFauxxx at 19. What pushed you to jump into the world of porn?
I was working as a phone sex operator, sometimes up to 40-50 hours a week. The work was great, I was making a lot of money for a young person in a small town. But the majority of that job is pretending to be someone that I’m not – straight, fit, ‘standard’, and of course take on a thousand different fetishes and sexual personas – whatever the customer desired. I started a photography project to document my own sexuality and desire, and kind of created this idea of a phone sex or porn star caricature that was all me – who would you be if you were a porn star? Without faking anything, what would your porn look like? That’s where No Fauxxx came from and it’s the mission behind most of my work to this day! NoFauxxx still exists, but on its tenth birthday I changed the name to IndiePornRevolution.com to reflect what the project has become.
You coined the term ‘queer porn’ as a genre in the mainstream industry. What is queer porn and why do we need it?
I see queer porn as an art and activism venture, to create queer erotica with a solid political goal of raising the level of positive visibility of the queer community and all of its sub-sections. What I was trying to accomplish with the term ‘queer porn’ was to take the idea of queer as an umbrella term (for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, fluid, gender non-conformist, etc) and use it to deny the concept that porn has to be segregated. Having lots of different kinds of porn in the same place reaffirms that our human sexualities don’t belong in boxes. I like to challenge my audience to find new things sexy, and maybe that attitude can transfer to how we treat people we think are ‘different’ in our daily lives.
What makes your porn ‘feminist’? For example, is it free of practices like facial cum shots and gagging?
Actually, you can find gagging and facial cum shots in my porn. I think what makes my porn feminist is that I am a feminist and that I utilise feminist theory in my work – but that doesn’t limit me to soft core. I don’t direct my performers the usual way – I let them direct me. If someone really wants to do a facial cum shot, that’s something that I respect and will allow. I myself like a little bit of gagging and rough sex so you’ll see it in my performances – but I usually say something before hand that shows the audience my consent. I do that a lot with more taboo subjects, but I don’t think that feminist porn has to stay away from taboos. I think it’s important to embrace our fantasies as feminists.
Some things that I do to let people know that my work is feminist is pull back to a wide shot so you can see both partners in full instead of always showing the often objectifying shot of bodies without heads. I show the whole picture. And I never end a scene with a cis male cum shot. If I’m shooting straight porn, there’s often plenty of sex after the man orgasms. I think that’s my chance to have a teaching moment with the men in my audience – it doesn’t have to be over at that point. I think finding moments to really visually empower the performers in the scene or empower the audience is where porn can become feminist. I like finding creative ways to share my ideas – things that make you think about how you have sex and how you can make it better for everyone involved.
What are the different things that you think motivate someone to become a porno artist?
In the queer porn scene, a desire to explore one’s sexual identity or represent themselves within the industry can be a great motivator. Many of us are active sex workers in other fields, and porn is an easy gig that can give you exposure if you’re also a stripper, escort, model, BDSM professional or webcam model. Queer porn can be an important side gig for a sex worker who has to play it straight and narrow in their day job – you can get paid to do your job and be yourself. It can be a nice break from your usual gigs, you know? I think money is a real strong reason that many people get into porn – and in queer, indie, and/or feminist porn I think you’ll find a lot of people who would gladly do it for free, even if just for the chance to express themselves, tell a story, or have a particular kind of sex! (Though, any porn gig can and should pay you, even if you’re just doing it for fun.)
What practices would you like to see abolished?
As a strong believer in free speech I don’t think I can say that anything in porn should be abolished. I do wish that a performer’s desire to use safer sex barriers was more widely respected in the mainstream industry – I think a lot of work could be done to help protect the workers beyond the hoops they go through themselves to stay safe on set. A lot of producers care more about their profits than the safety of their performers. Not all of them, but a few. There are still a few dark corners in the industry and that’s to be expected – until sexuality is more acceptable in our society there will always be black market operations willing to exploit our (performer, producer and consumer) own shamefulness.
What’s your stance on bareback porn, given the recent revelations of HIV infection?
My stance has not changed given the recent outbreak. I don’t think that barriers should be mandatory, but I do think that respecting a performer’s preferences should be mandatory. I think it should be illegal to not provide and accept the use of barriers on a porn set if requested by a performer. I think workers should be able to use protection and have regularly tested co-workers without being shamed or threatened with blacklisting by the company they are working for.
I also think that education on prevention should be way, way more prevalent in the industry than it is now. There is nothing in place to teach new performers or producers how to spot and prevent STIs, and I can’t say that our high schools here in the US are doing much to educate people either. It’s clear that the current standards are not working. I’m against government involvement in this issue, but I do have to wonder what the industry could have done to prevent this government interference. The gay porn industry is largely condom-only and that has been self-regulated. I think the straight porn industry could easily follow suit and make some new rules for themselves.
My production company is mostly safer sex by choice, it’s part of my mission statement to normalise and eroticise the use of safer sex barriers and I will be keeping it that way. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to promote the use of safer sex tools in the queer community. It’s not about turning porn into sex education – it’s about understanding that porn can set trends in society’s sex lives and we should be starting good trends.
Name five people you’d love to direct in a gangbang. (This is our update on the dinner party question.)
You’re the 2013 BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) Fanfest Director of the Year and your work includes women of all sizes. How important to you is it to see bigger women in porn?
I wrote a few zines and ran an online community about being fat before I started making porn, so it’s always been part of my internal politics to create awareness around fat positivity, self esteem, and fat sexuality. If anything, my desire to include people of all sizes in everything I create has been around since the beginning. Wanting to represent fat sexuality in feminist or indie porn was one of my main reasons for starting the No Fauxxx project. So, I guess you could say – it’s very important to me to see bigger people in porn. It’s essential that we include all kinds of human bodies in erotic art and expression. It’s important to find ways to include all humanity in any kind of documentation of our society, which I do think feminist or indie porn does in most forms. I strongly believe that if there’s someone like you in the world, then there are people who like you in the world, and want to see you when they search for any kind of entertainment or media.
What do you prefer, performing or directing queer porn?
For me, it’s important that I do both. Being a performer severely informs my ethics as a director. I know how I would want to be treated and taken care of on a set when I am there to have sex on camera, and I do my best to utilise that knowledge to set up the sets for my sites and moves that star other performers. I have learned a lot about myself as a porn performer, and can attribute my experience as a sex worker to having a stronger sense of self, particularly around my gender and my sexuality. The first pornography I ever created was of myself, and I believe the relationship between creator and model is symbiotic for me. It’s so connected that I question my interest or ability to produce or perform if I were to ever retire from the other. My overall work would certainly shift.
You’ve been working in porn for 11 years and won a stack of awards, from 7 AVNs (Adult Video News), pretty much the Oscars of porn, and five Feminist Porn Awards including Hottest Dyke Film for Lesbian Curves. What keeps you motivated?
While the nominations and awards do keep me motivated to create films and longer projects, it’s the online community around IndiePornRevolution.Com, QueerPorn.TV, and CourtneyTrouble.Com that keep me motivated. I get probably the best fan mail of anybody I know. According to my fans, I have saved lives and inspired a generation of queer youth to be themselves, to be rid of any shame surrounding their queerness. I’ve helped people find their bodies, discover erogenous zones and sexual desire, be more sensitive and accepting of other people, and build stronger connections with their own identity. This is huge for me. I know it sounds ultimately silly, childish, or overly optimistic but I think that I may have been put here to change the world for the better and I take my work and it’s ability to inspire positivity very seriously.
(Source Page: Time Out Australia)