San Francisco adult stars storm the red carpet at the AVN Awards, a.k.a. the 'Oscars of porn'
Through means that are not quite explained during my interviews with Lumpkin and Girlfriend Films' founder Dan O'Connell, the blog led to O'Connell granting Lumpkin directorial control over a subdivision of his company [CORRECTION: O'CONNELL AGREED TO DISTRIBUTE JUICY PINK BOX THROUGH GIRLFRIENDS]. "I like that she's a lesbian," O'Connol told me. "You can't say it's not lesbian porn." Still, he says straight men like himself account for 40 percent of the films' audience. He guesstimates single women make up 30 percent, and couples the remainder.
Is Lumpkin's porn alternative? It's up for debate. She tries to "break away from the traditional script" of girl-on-girl porn, a style that has long been a part of the traditional porn canon. Lumpkin dismisses this kind of "fake" lesbian scene as "let's flutter our tongues together"-style porn.
She says her vignettes exclusively feature actual lesbian or bisexual women. Lumpkin won't work with women with obvious plastic surgery or fake nails. 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."
Her scenes' artful lighting might only account for part of this statement. "I would imagine if you asked someone in the Valley what San Francisco makes they'd say they make really nasty queer shit and really nasty kinky shit," comments Horn on the perception of the Bay Area in other realms of the porn world. Still, the boundaries between the Valley and the Bay aren't so defined — many actors like Arabelle Raphael and Ryan work in both places.
Everyone, it would appear, has a different notion of what makes queer and lesbian porn authentic. The Juicy Pink Box series, for example, does feature scenes with women scissoring. Lily Cade, a butch actor who is called "Porn Valley's gold star lesbian porn star" because she's never shot a scene with a man, eschews scissoring scenes on her own label Filly Films. "That's stupid," she told me at the AVN expo, clad in a suit ("I'm a professional, so I'm going to dress like one," she said of her outfit choice). "I'm not aroused by that, so I'm not going to ask my actresses to do it."
You'd be hard pressed, by way of another example, to find fisting scenes in a Filly or Girlfriends movie [UPDATE: Lumpkin writes to say that she is in full support of, and has shot fisting scenes, but that Girlfriends Films will not accept them on their label due to obscenity laws. More on that distinction here]. But Trouble's scenes have them — in fact, on October 21 the SF auteur inaugurated an international day of celebration for that particular rough sex act. Filly and Girlfriends stick to cis-gendered actors [ANOTHER UPDATE: That should read "tend to stick to cis-gendered actors." Drew Deveaux was the first transgendered actor for Girlfriends Films, in the Juicy Pink Box feature Boutique], and rarely use body types besides the taut standard of the porn industry. Trouble, a woman of size herself, is committed to portraying sexy fat people.
Perhaps another difference lies in the intended audience of each scene. Cade allowed that much of porn's audience — even the "lesbian" films of Filly and Girlfriends — is men. "Wet dreams!" wishes a note inside Girlfriends Films' Poor Little Shyla, whose plot line centers around Catholic school girls given hands-on lessons in lesbian sex by their wiser, big-boobed mothers. Though the blessing could hypothetically be geared towards women watching the flick, one suspects it's not.