San Francisco adult stars storm the red carpet at the AVN Awards, a.k.a. the 'Oscars of porn'
For one, it fills a masturbatory niche for those non-plussed by the heteronormative and Barbie-on-Barbie couplings of mainstream adult entertainment. But no less sexily, queer porn is an activism unto itself. "There are people out there that don't see representation for themselves in porn," St. James said. "Queer porn offers representation for everyone in the community." By having sex on camera, queer adult film stars are taking their brand of sexuality from out of the shadows.
"Politically, trans visibility, queer femme visibility, and feminism are all very important things to me," says Trouble, for whom 2012 marked her fourth year in Vegas for the AVNs. "If I didn't do this every year and try to get as many folks as I could out there on the floor, a lot of us would just dissolve into the background of the industry. Every year I'm like, I'm going to rip this year a new one."
So despite being there to party and bang each other, the queer porn stars were out to make a point. Sometimes explicitly. On Friday night, I sat on the floor of a mid-range hotel suite for an expert panel on the queer porn biz that featured Trouble, St. James, Horn, actors Tobi Hill-Meyer, Dylan Ryan, and to the glee of all involved, the legendary Nina Hartley, a bisexual feminist porn star who rose to fame in the 1980s. An intimate crowd wearing equal parts street and fetish wear listened to frank, cerebral discussions of what it's like to be in the queer porn biz, about the disappointments and the rapturous moments when a particularly good physical or mental climax is reached. I left feeling uplifted, like I'd witnessed something important.
THE LESBIAN HUGH HEFNER
Chris Thorne is the founding editor of Xcritic.com, an adult DVD review site. He's a member of the AVN Awards academy, and I called him pre-AVNs to get the inside scoop on the arduous process of voting in the 41 porn categories — but we would up talking about the rise of non-traditional porn titles.
"The biggest growth category for adult film right now is lesbian sex on film," he said. "Hands down. Girl-girl porn has three dimensions right now. On one side, it's a male fantasy, on one side you have girl-girl porn that appeals to females and straight males, then you have queer porn that is lesbian porn. The lines on all three of those are not clear. That middle part is where there's a huge growth."
The queer porn crew isn't the only one that considers its offerings an alternative to mainstream skin flicks. All too early the next morning, I was at the fan expo interviewing Jincey Lumpkin, director of the Juicy Pink Box films, distributed through Girlfriends Films. The media is fond of calling Lumpkin "the lesbian Hugh Hefner."
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 queer community.) Lumpkin used to be an attorney who specialized in banking litigation, working 80 hours a week. Her coworkers — mostly straight, mostly male — were intrigued by her love life, and to satisfy their curiosity she started a confessional blog called Single White Femme.