• How to Become A Porn Star - Candida Royale Interview

    Candida Royale. And studs. Photograph: Barbara Nitke.

    This week's guest is the incredibly talented and world-renowned porn actress, director, sex toy designer and jazz singer Candida Royalle. Having starred in many classic porn films and directed countless movies herself, who better than Candida to share her insights into the porn industry, what it takes to become a porn actress and, more importantly, what you should consider before taking your clothes off in front of a camera.


    Bad Kitty: Hi Candida. Millions of people the world over will recognise you as a porn star, but few know that you were actually trained in music, dance and art. What made you want to become a porn actress?

    Candida Royalle:"I never 'wanted' to become an porn actress, it just sort of happened. Unlike today's world, where Jenna Jameson has become an icon of sorts and the porn industry gets tons of media attention, when I got in to porn movies they were still relatively underground. Still terribly taboo and seen only in x-rated theatres, which most women wouldn't dare to venture into. It took a certain kind of person to venture in to adult movies... independent minded, non-conformist and unconcerned with what society thought.

    "I had left my native New York City and was living in San Francisco leading a very free 'alternative' lifestyle making art, performing in avant garde theatre and singing in jazz clubs. I went looking for nude modelling for extra money and was asked to appear in porn movies but had never seen one. Insulted, I stormed out, but my boyfriend decided to try it. He landed a lead role in Anthony Spinelli's Cry for Cindy. I visited the set and was impressed by how professional it was and how attractive the people were. The money was good for a struggling artist; cultural attitudes toward sex at that time were quite open and back then there were no serious life threatening diseases. The last movie I appeared in was Blue Magic, which I wrote and starred in, in 1980."

    BK: You were active in the women's movement during the late 60s and early 70s. How did your fellow activist react to you becoming a porn actress?

    Candida Royale. Smiling. Photograph: Arthur Cohen.

    CR:"By the time I became a porn actress I was living in San Francisco, far from my New
    York based women's group. I was no longer in touch with them and have no idea what they thought. I would guess, though, that it's probably safe to say they were shocked, couldn't understand my choices and did not approve given the negative take on sexuality that swept over the women's movement and the general attitude toward pornography that most feminists had at that time."

    BK: How did you feel when you shot your first ever sex scene and what did it involve?

    CR:"I did two 'loops' in one day to see if I could even handle it. Loops at that time were quickie films that were about 20 minutes long and viewed in peep show booths. Most major adult film stars at that time snuck off and did them for extra cash, but most would never admit it! I shot my very first one with a woman I did not know. She seemed completely uninterested and the kinds of things we were required to do with each other had little to do with how women actually pleasured each other, so there was really no heat or fun involved.

    "The second one was with a guy whose name escapes me but with whom I worked with again. He was very sweet and considerate, he knew it was my first time and he made it much more bearable. The director was everything one would expect at that time: kinda' sleazy and gross! Plus he really embarrassed me by exclaiming loudly that I had "quite a bush!" I was humiliated! Remember, these were still the days of hippies and hair and no one knew about waxing or even trimming pubes. I sure learned after that!

    "I'm happy to say I went on to do some much better work, worked for some nice directors and managed to actually enjoy myself in some of them. It all depends on who you work for and work with."

    BK: Do you wish you had pursued music, dancing or art instead of becoming a porn actress?

    CR: "I did pursue music, dance and art, I think I just wasn't as ambitious as one must be to be a major success in the arts. Do I regret it? Yes
    and no. I don't really regret how my life has turned out. I've done something unique and made a success out of it. I've had a major influence on pop culture and I certainly will have left my mark. But I would have to admit that I love dancing and singing and in the end it would be nice to have been known for that. And I wouldn't have to worry about how people will react when I tell them what I do!"

    BK: What advice would you give to girls who are thinking about starting out in the porn industry?

    CR: "Think very carefully about this! Film and video does not go away – you wear the scarlet letter forever! People will forever treat you differently, men will treat you differently, you may lose your family, your children will be teased, your later career choices (when you no longer want to appear naked and having sex on screen) will be severely limited and you face major health risks, not the least of which is contracting AIDS. Like I always point out, we're live in a society that, while we rent, view and masturbate over women in adult movies by the millions, we still judge and condemn them. And I'm sorry but the 'mainstreaming of porn' hasn't really changed that.

    "If after all those considerations you still feel passionately about it, then fine. But make sure you've really thought about it long and carefully. The money isn't that great and the work is hard. There's a reason there's only one Jenna Jameson and it has much to do with luck, timing and being in the right place at the right time. One out of 100 might become a major star.

    "The rest will work their fannies off and in the end have little to show for it other than a scandalous career choice that will be with them forever. Sorry if I sound negative, but lately it seems so many are glorifying the porn star thing without really considering the realities. I think it's perfectly fine for women to make a career out of performing in adult or erotic movies, but that doesn't change the fact that this is still a conservative culture and the women pay the price.

    "While there are those of us who through strength of character and conviction (and a little therapy doesn't hurt either!) have managed to remain clear and accepting of our choices and are able to navigate the slings and arrows that inevitably get hurled our way, young women need to know that they will be judged and categorized by most people outside the 'biz,' and most men today are still not OK with the idea of their woman being seen by millions of men sucking and fucking on screen.

    "I don't hire women under the age of about 22. I don't believe they've had the life experience to fully understand the choice they're making or the potential consequences."

    BK: That's great advice Candida, so what would you say to fledgling porn actresses who are trying to deal with confrontation from friends and family about their new choice of career?

    CR: "Be ready for it and be honest. Just tell them it's something you want to do and that you're sorry if they can't understand or accept it. And be ready to lose them from your life. It happens... often."

    BK: Looking back at your career, which is the best sex film you have ever starred in and which scene portrays you best as a world-class porn actress?

    CR: "I don't think I'm objective enough to answer that. Honestly, I don't really take my acting in adult movies all that seriously. I think I'm a much better Director than I was an actress. That said, I think some of my performances were really funny, as in Delicious and Fascination. But I get a lot of feedback about a scene I did with my dear friend, the late Laurien Dominique in Hot Raquettes. We did a scene together on a massage table where we slathered each other in oil and massaged each other and made love. It was really sensual and sexy and our genuine love for each other came through to make it a very special scene. It ended up on a tape of the 'best lesbian scenes' released by Cal Vista."

    BK: What tips would you give first-time porn actresses to help them prepare physically and mentally for a sex scene?

    CR: "Physically it's important to take care of your health so that you are strong and resilient. The work is physically exhausting and can take a real toll on your body. I have to say that the movies I was in back in the late 70s were almost 'quaint' compared to the movies today. We were never required to do more than one or two sex scenes a day, and anal sex was still taboo then and rarely required of us. Now girls are required to do anal, double penetration, triple penetration... I don't know how they do it!

    "Mentally, you'd better be really comfortable with what you're doing or it could turn out to be a very negative experience for you. Be sure to only do what is acceptable to you, do not let anyone push you in to anything you don't want to do; demand condoms and be sure your partner's Aids test is up to date. Try and work only with people you want to work with and for people who you feel are respectful and compassionate towards you.

    "All this may end up eliminating a lot of opportunities but as I try to tell young women entering the biz, if you do everything that's offered to you, you'll be used up and spit out in no time. If you're selective and represent yourself as someone who's special and only suitable for the best projects, that's how you will be treated and you will fare much better in terms of what is offered to you and how much you can charge for your work."

    BK: You mentioned that you are now a director of erotic movies. Why did you decide to start Femme Productions and what do you aim to achieve with the films you produce?

    CR: "I started Femme Production in 1984 in order to create adult movies that had a woman's voice, that would appeal to both women and men and films that made women feel good about their sexuality. I wanted movies that were more sensual, more sex-positive, that showed men how women might like to be made love to and that could actually help couples improve their sexual relationships and their sexual communication."

    BK: Why did you think there was a need to produce erotic films aimed towards women?

    CR: "It seemed to me that most porn was sex-negative and did not present a woman's point of view or show what women liked sexually. At the same time I could tell women were becoming more curious and felt permission to explore their sexuality due to the woman's movement of the late 60s and early 70s. With the advent of home video they had a safe place to look, but there was nothing out there for them. I also sensed that men wanted to share the experience of watching a sexy movie with their woman and, once again, there was little they felt comfortable bringing home to her.

    "I saw a challenging new market that no-one was paying attention to and I felt I would be the perfect person to provide content for it – my entire education had been in the arts, I had been a performer in adult movies and had first-hand experience on the set. Having been a feminist activist in college, I liked the political challenge of putting a woman's voice to a genre everyone assumed was just for men."

    BK: Is there much of a difference between erotic films produced especially for women and more generic porn films?

    CR:I don't think you can generalize about 'erotic films produced especially for women' as far as I can see, I'm still the only person creating adult movies that break with the standard porn 'formula' in terms of what kind of sex is shot, how it's shot, camera angles and, of course, the almighty 'money shot.' Most people think that a woman's erotic film means coming up with a soap opera-like story and then when it's time for the sex they revert right back to the same old same old, or that they shoot it so soft-core there's no heat left!

    "I think one of the key ingredients to making an erotic film more 'woman-friendly' is one that has a context. In other words, who are these people? Why are they coming together? What kind of sex would they really be having given their situation? Then give the sexual content the same attention you would give the story. I actually know of a highly respected adult film director who, once it comes time for the sex, leaves the set and tells his cameraman to direct it! Can you imagine? Let's be real, people aren't viewing these movies for the story. The story should and can enhance the sexual content and make it more interesting, but it's the eroticism that people are viewing it for."

    BK: Do you have any favourite female porn actresses?

    CR: "I've had my favourites that I like directing: real actresses who can play a role, deliver a line, stay in character when it comes time for the sex scenes and lose themselves in the sex. I've had many wonderful actresses over these last 20 years who would fit that bill, such as Missy, Nina Hartley, Shauna McCullough, Sharon Mitchell, Ava Vincent and Alexandra Silk who were great in the film Stud Hunters.Syren is in my upcoming Under The Covers, and she's very talented and very professional. You know people often make fun of the talent in adult movies, saying they can't act, but one must have a good director first and there aren't too many of those in the porn biz!"

    BK: Aside from all your work starring in and directing movies, you have also worked with Dutch designer Jandirk Groet to produce the amazing Natural Contours range. How did this first come about?

    CR: "I'd always wanted to come up with other products to go along with my Femme line; products that were unique, sexy, tasteful and high quality. In the meantime Jandirk got the idea to create vibrators that were ergonomically designed, tasteful and discreet and not embarrassing for women to own. He was looking for someone to partner up with, a woman who had inroads into the sexuality industry, and mutual friends sent him my way. I liked his idea but asked first to see something. When I saw his first prototypes I knew we had a winner and I went in to partnership with him immediately. I'm proud to say we were the first to create vibes that went beyond the standard plastic phallus. We broke the mould and set the trend and it's been major successful."

    BK: What is your favourite product from the Natural Contours range and which one do you use most regularly?

    CR: "Well, I can tell you our biggest seller so far has been the O' Ultime. It was the first vibrator that was ergonomically shaped to fit around the woman's pubic bone for both clitoral and g-spot stimulation. It's probably been my favourite as well, though I'd have to say that the O' Libertie is quite wonderful, too.

    "As for which one I use most regularly, it's actually our Energie Kegel exerciser. It's very important that women do their Kegels and using a weighted object to do them makes them work faster and more efficiently.
    It keeps us toned after childbirth and as we age so that we maintain good vaginal tone, keep our muscles tight and keep our mucous membranes lubricating. All this keeps us juicy, sexually fit, staves off the effects of aging, such as thinning vaginal walls and dryness (which makes intercourse uncomfortable), and prevents urinary incontinence. The added benefit of using the ENERGIE is that its smooth curved shape is very pleasurable to use, stimulating our g-spot as we do our exercises. I always look forward to doing my Kegels with my ENERGIE because I know it will make me want to self-pleasure afterwards! And I just leave it in as I play with my clitoris or use one of my vibes on my clit so that my g-spot is also getting stimulated, and that's the best orgasm!"

    BK: You have been a highly successfully porn actress, a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists; a founding member of Feminists For Free Expressions; author of How To Tell A Naked Man What To Do and designer of the Natural Contours range and President of Femme Productions. What else is there left for you to do in the sex industry?

    CR: "Well, my two latest projects are:
    FEMME CHOCOLAT, which is erotica that features ethnically mixed talent. The first feature to come out in spring 2007 will be Afrodite Superstar, a really fun musical adult film starring Simone Valentino, Mr Marcus, Justin Long and India in her last erotic appearance as she moves on to focus exclusively on her singing career.

    "The second project involves grooming young new female directors. I'm working with a few young women on upcoming features they will direct for me. I figure this is the best way to continue putting out movies with the kind of erotic scenes my audience likes. If women reading this are interested, they're welcome to contact me, but they MUST have some experience of directing or at least producing."

    BK: Finally Candida, can you give readers your Top Tips for becoming a porn actress – from signing up with an agency through to snagging their first job?

    CR: "I can't suggest any agencies. As far as I can see, all they're interested in is making money out of you. They won't protect you or look out for your interests and this is a really tough industry. I would suggest that you explore the work of various Directors and go after those whose work you really like and admire and contact them directly. Most directors have web sites or ways to find them through their distributors. The industry trade magazine is AVN (Adult Video News) and they have an annual guide that lists production companies. I have people contact me all the time who want to be in my movies. The best thing is to email an intelligent letter of with a headshot. If you get an answer and you feel you've really reached the person you're looking for, and that they're interested in you, then you can send them a nude full body shot. It does not and should not be explicit! And only send to directors who you really know are legit or else your photos may end up online somewhere. Let them know if you've had any experience, acting or otherwise, and what kind of scenes you're willing to do. Do not reach out to anyone other than someone who appears to be a legitimate and well-known director.

    "Some girls just want lots of work and don't care how down and dirty it is. Then you might be OK with just going through an agency. The most well-known and legitimate one is Jim South's World Modelling Agency in Los Angeles. Either way you choose, you should first contact Dr. Sharon Mitchell's AIM Health Care Foundation. They're at http://AIM-Med.org. or email them at aim@aim-med.org. This is very important! She advises actresses and makes sure that they're not in harms way. Bill Margold also has a foundation for talent called PAWS: Protecting Adult Welfare, who is also based in LA.

    "Other than that, the only other thing I will say is to be selective. It's not difficult at all to snag your first job – lots of people with a camera are all too willing and happy to hire a young, pretty girl to be in their movie, but it is important to accept one that's safe and one that makes you feel good about yourself and what you've just done."

    For more information on Candida and her projects, visit www.candidaroyalle.com

    Comments (10)

    • james: March 30, 2008 14:28
      hello
      just wanted some advice on how to become a porn star, how do i get an audition??
    • paul: May 23, 2008 13:13
      i seen an ad in the paper to star in adult movies so i rang it up and sign up. also paying a 500 pounds signing on fee. yet still not offered me any work
    • sweeto: May 26, 2008 12:37
      i wants to become a pornstar .....plz suggest.... m 24 from INDIA
    • michael: June 29, 2008 18:51
      hi,can you give me some advice on how to get into porn industry/be a on escort and on the screen.Many thanks.Mike
    • robert watson: July 07, 2008 06:28
      hello i just wanted some aduice on how to become a pornstar how to get on audition or jobs
    • COOL: August 06, 2008 06:19
      DOES THIS INDUSTRY REWARDS YOU FOR YOUR WORK AND DO WE HAVE THIS INDUSTRY IN INDIA .....CAN ANYONE JOIN....
    • Adam Wilson: October 04, 2008 02:12
      hi there i was just wondering if you could give me any ideas on how to become a porn actor, iv been told im good so its just something that as now got me interested in doing.

      thanks

    • tim: November 05, 2008 00:36
      just a normal guy, fancy making one film to say iv'e done it . what do you suggest?
    • sam: February 28, 2009 21:26
      i want to becum an amateur pornstar . i'm from india .is there any scope for becoming a succesful pornstar..??
    • King: April 13, 2009 04:59
      I am in INDIA.. I would really like to act in porn films.. Is there a way you can help me..
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