I think this was one of my favorite interviews. I answered them really quickly so a lot of what I’m saying is right off the top of my head.
Though it may cause my mother undue stress to read this, I have to get it off my chest: I’m a radical feminist who loves good porn. And it goes without saying that there’s all too much terrible porn out there — porn that’s degrading, misogynist, or even just poorly lit/scripted/acted. So when I get my grubby little hands on a DVD that portrays sex — queer sex, to be exact — in all its raw honesty, undeniable chemistry, quirks, and messiness, I get pretty excited. And that’s what I’ve got in my hands right now: friends, I bring you Courtney Trouble’s debut film, Roulette.
Fresh from an avalanche of community recognition, accolades, and awards, Courtney has agreed to let me pick her brain and show you what I find. (Thanks, Courtney!) But before I do, a little background: Courtney’s the founder of the alternative web porn site Nofauxxx.com, and she’s a pioneer in the world of showing queer bodies and sex for the gorgeous, wide-ranging, flawed, and delicious things they are. Join me, won’t you, as I get inside her head a little bit about what it’s like to break down sexual boundaries through a steamy camera lens.
Babeland: What inspired you to make Roulette?
Courtney: I wanted to expand my porn site (NoFauxxx.com) into video, and I wanted to make something that people would be inspired to show their friends — so much porn gets hidden under beds or tossed, and I wanted to make something that people could hold on to, or throw a porn-viewing party with. I liked the idea of the word “roulette” in the sense that you never know what you’re going to land on, and because it’s a game. And we all know that sex is really just the way adults have playtime.
Babeland: And this was your first porn film, right? What was that like?
Courtney: Well, I’m a trained photographer, but before Roulette I had never really filmed anything more than a punk show! Shooting and editing was challenging at first, but when I finally saw everything come together and screened the final version at an old-fashioned theater to an audience of hundreds, people really loved it, and they did think it was special and meaningful for our time.
Babeland: I wish I could’ve been there to see it with so many other appreciative viewers! I see a lot of porn, and Roulette is one of the most successful I’ve seen at portraying so many sexualities and gender identities in a thoughtful and totally hot way.
Courtney: Thanks! It was so rewarding to have made a porn that could be viewed in public as a piece of art, and to have people leave the theater feeling like they just witnessed queer history…it’s something I hold on to as I move forward with my work.
Babeland: And you won some awards for Roulette, yes?
Courtney: Yes! We won “Most Deliciously Diverse Cast” at the 2009 Feminist Porn Awards, and NoFauxxx.com just won SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay award for Best Queer Porn. It’s so amazing to be recognized for my first film for diversity, as that’s something that NoFauxxx has always tried to reflect with race, gender, sexual orientation, and behavior in general. I don’t like to think of “queer porn” as dyke porn — it’s a diverse mix of men, women, and all the people who identify in between, who will themselves to be proud and flamboyant with their fluid sexualities.
Babeland: And there’s so much porn out there that just plays into tired stereotypes, so this is truly inspiring. What do you think the biggest deficits are in the world of porn right now? And what are your favorite porns to watch these days?
Courtney: Well, I do dream of making “alt porn” for gay men. There’s a lack of that punk rock/subcultural appeal in gay male porn, and it’s such an untouched arena. I would love to see more porn made by trans women, and starring trans women. I think there’s more porn coming out lately that’s artistic and creative — I’m a big fan of Carlos Batts and Kimberly Kane’s directorial works. If your fantasies are on the dark side and you’re open to some creepiness, her stuff is so incredibly edgy and sexy, and shot so beautifully. Carlos Batts’s stuff is so sexy and hilarious; I’m really, really looking forward to seeing more of it.
Babeland: Well, maybe some of your viewers will also be inspired to make their own porn after seeing Roulette — I wouldn’t be surprised. Any advice for budding pornographers? What do you do to help set the mood?
Courtney: I make sure the performers are fed and comfortable throughout the day, and I give couples ample time to cozy up and talk about what they want to do. And all the scenes in Roulette are creative collaborations between me and the performers; I think there’s comfort in working for a director who trusts their own vision enough to include your ideas, wants, and needs into the shoot.
Babeland: And finally, what’s next for you?
Courtney: My next movie, Nostalgia, comes out August 17th. My third movie, Speakeasy, comes out in September. I’ve got a whole lot up my sleeve for the rest of the year, and I’m looking forward to having all of it at Babeland!