Interview with PVVOnline.com’s Dr. Chauntelle
by Jon of http://elexismonroe.thumblogger.com/
When I listend to Dr Chauntelle’s amazing interview with Magdalene St Michaels and then checked out her site I knew I had to interview her. Read on for some great insights into the adult industry.
1. What was the first porn you ever saw?
Hi Lukeisback readers, and hello Jon!! Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat with you – this is going to be super fun!! As far as the first adult-type anything I ever saw, it was probably some scrambled skin-a-max soft core… I’m not sure that constitutes “porn” though haha.
2. What are some of the most significant adult films you have seen?
You know, that’s a really interesting question. I have seen SO MUCH content over the years, but a few things in particular have really stood out.
First and foremost, The Devil in Miss Jones (1972)… Damiano’s classic starring Georgina Spelvin. It’s such an interesting and complex film that touches on so many themes – life, death, loneliness, opportunity, expression (sexual and otherwise)… it’s really fascinating, and that’s without even getting into the mechanics of the sex!! I talk about this film quite a bit in my paper “From ‘The Devil in Miss Jones’ to ‘DMJ6’” (Sexualities 13: 5).
Two more fascinating “classics” are Café Flesh (1982) (such an intense exploration of gender in/equality and role expectations) and The Masseuse (1991) (a strange, unsettling, and somewhat sad story about obsession and loneliness).
More contemporary films that have stuck out to me are Wicked Pictures’ Sleeping Around (2006), Elegant Angel’s Buttman vs Slutwoman (2010), and Girlfriends Films’ Poor Little Shyla (2011).
Sleeping Around is a quintessential romantic comedy – so well done and cute!! Films like Sleeping Around really set the stage for romance to be included in more mainstream adult content today.
Buttwoman vs Slutwoman is an excellent, aesthetically pleasing and technically superior film… plus, anyone who thinks being a porn performer is easy should definitely watch this movie. Top-level porn performers are akin to professional athletes in their chosen occupation, and not everyone can do what they do… not by a long shot.
Girlfriends Films films often explore some fairly heavy issues, from religion and sexual orientation to inter-generational love and lust to ablebodiedness and more. Poor Little Shyla is an excellent example of Girlfriends Films’ ability to create content that is both sexy and meaningful in this respect.
3. Some women directors say women need a story with their porn and some disagree. What do you think?
Well, I think that some women definitely need a story and others just may need a story… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Certainly there are plenty of women out there who may only want to see the actual sex (which, depending on how it’s shot, introduces a whole new dimension of variability); and then, of course, there are all those women may not know what they need or want at all!!
Just like any other consumer demographic (men included), women are diverse in their tastes and practices.
4. Do you think men and women directors film a sex scene in the same way, or are there differences?
To echo my previous response (sort of), yes… but I don’t think it’s as simple as “women directors shoot like this, and men directors shoot like that.”
Directors are all different, so there’s definitely going to be some difference amongst and between their work. Similarly, women are all different, men are all different, and woman and men are different from each other… so there’s certainly variability between folks when you consider any of these dimensions.
Rather than being just (or even mostly) about the gender of the director, I think the differences are more about who a director is attempting to capture with their content and how that director perceives a potential/target audience.
5. Why do you think the adult industry is so bad at market research? Eeeeh that’s a tricky one… There’re definitely some entities in the business that make a good go at market research (for example, JoyBear Pictures), but I think the answer to your question may be related to the stigma still associated with the industry… and maybe a little bit of economics and isolation.
You see, everyone is relatively bad at market research… except for people who’re trained in conducting it. Market research done well is difficult, time consuming, and expensive.
For an adult company to get really comprehensive information about consumers, they might try to do their own market research (which is akin to doing your own taxes if you’re not an accountant or stitching up a wound if you’re not a surgeon – difficult) – maybe that’s not going to turn out so well…
…or they might try to hire a third party to conduct it for them. Then, said adult company is dealing with significant cost in a rapidly changing and somewhat depressed economy. Whatsmore, how many outside firms actually understand the adult business well enough to research it? And how many people – respondents, if you will – are willing to sit down and talk about porn… much less their preferences, wants, and needs in terms of adult content. For whatever reason, consumption of adult content is still a private and possibly uncomfortable thing for most folks.
So I don’t think it’s that the adult industry is bad at market research per se. I think it might be more about a series of factors contributing to market research’s inaccessibility in the context of the adult industry.
6. Could the adult industry set up and thrive away from California?
Possibly, but I think that would depend on a lot of factors – finding a place that is, at minimum, open to the business (which would be difficult, if not impossible); finding a place/environment/location that people want to be; creating some sort of community (because even if it’s not perfect, I think some form of community does exist in California); and finding a place where it is legal to produce adult content.
That’s a tall order, and I imagine much would be lost in some sort of industry-wide relocation.
7. Can we say now that it is becoming more common for women to have a career in the adult industry?
Certainly!! I just had some findings published in an article entitled “Sex Work, Office Work” (Gender, Work & Organization 2011) about that exact phenomenon.
The stereotype that men run the business and women only work as performers has always been untrue. There have always been women working behind the scenes in adult. But, over the past 30 or so years, women have become more involved in the industry; and they’ve become integral to the industry at every level as a consequence.
Nowadays, women occupy some of the most high profile positions in some of the most prominent and well-respected industry organizations. Women like Allison Vivas, Jincey Lumpkin, Diane Duke, Joy King, and Joanna Angel are only a handful of the high-profile women leaders out there.
But women also work in every other occupation, and at every other level, in the industry – from director to producer to 2257 compliance officer to attorney to make-up artist to reception person… I could go on and on!! Point being – women are definitely making careers in the adult industry.
8. Do you think performers in the adult industry need a union?
Hmmm… I think the industry needs to be more organized and unified in every respect, at every level. Consequently, I definitely think performers need to organize, both in terms of occupational structure and amongst themselves.
In my study of work and organizations over the years, it has been my understanding that this sort of organizing done effectively and well does not come from the outside.
So I think both the industry and the performers therein need to take steps to organize themselves… but I’m not sure I would say they (the performers) need a union – maybe they do, but that sort of structure (a union) may not be what best meets their specific needs. That determination and development would be up to the performers who are doing the organizing themselves.
9. The lesbian erotica genre is taking off, and the number of women members on company forums is increasing. How important do you think forums are? And do you think feedback from more women in these venues will help re/shape a product that has, until recently, had an audience that consisted mainly of men?
I think the forums and any place/space where consumers can interact with performers and industry personalities and comment on content are invaluable. Sure, there are more than a ton of instances wherein forum commentary has gotten off to the wrong side of cruel and not all comments constitute “feedback,” but having a space for the folks who really want to share and interact is great!!
…and producers and content providers do listen!! For example, I was just chatting with an online producer about the eye-opening feedback contained in the forums and comments sections of their website – sincere, honest insights from consumers that they never would have gotten otherwise.
And most definitely – as more women begin to use adult forums and comment on adult sites, their feedback will be read and eventually incorporated. In fact, I think this already has begun.
10. Why do students choose your courses? What preconceptions do they have about porn and the adult industry ?
Why do they choose my courses? Mostly because I’m funny and because they think I’m gonna tell them something – anything – about my work… which I actually only do in one of the three courses I teach!! (haha sneaky!!)
In my Gender & Sexuality course, we spend a whole week on porn. Honestly – I could teach a semester-long course on the industry and content and history and whatnot… I don’t think students would get bored, nor do I think we could ever get through all the misconceptions.
All the old players are there – porn is like sex trafficking (no), all women who are porn performers are on drugs (no) or have been coerced in some way (no), all women who work as performers are dumb, high school drop-outs, or “slutty” (no, no, no).
But the stereotypes and misconceptions run even deeper than this – from how the industry is structured to what the workplace is like, we might as well be talking about life on Mars in the beginning… and like I said, there’s no way to cover it all.
Since I have a recently published academic paper on the development of adult content [“From the ‘The Devil in Miss Jones’ to ‘DMJ6’” (Sexualities 13: 5)], I tend to use that as a platform – explain some of how the industry works via content development and address any questions that come up as they emerge… all within an academic context (because it’s college and all).
And believe me – they have lots of questions!!
11. Where can people find you on the net?
Anything and everything about me and my work can be found on my site – PVVOnline.com!!
I have links to all of the scholarly and popular pieces I have written up there, along with my bio and my blog entries. I blog about things going on in the business, things going on in the wider world that impact the business, and anything else I find “industry-relevant” or interesting. I also conduct in-depth interviews with members of the business (performers and folks working behind the scenes) and some content reviews. In my reviews, I focus on the wider social relevance of porn – what does a specific bit of content mean or do in the context of society… because porn in complex! The industry is complex! And it’s all socially relevant.
I try to give readers a more nuanced look at the business via my writing and work.
And people can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I love to get questions, and I really welcome feedback – what do you guys want to know??