Pornographers Kitty Stryker (left) and Courtney Trouble (r)

Photos by Suma Jane Dark Photography and used with permission.

A couple of months ago, I spoke with local feminist porn stars and producers Courtney Trouble and Kitty Stryker of Trouble Films and (soon-to-be) Stryker Studios. At the time, Kitty was still with Trouble Films. Photographer Suma Jane Dark, her assistant Margalit Carolinensis, and I met at Courtney Trouble’s home in Oakland to photograph the two talented queer artists and interview them about their experiences in the porn industry, both in front of and behind the lens.

WYV: How would you describe your aesthetic?

Courtney Trouble (CT): Oh god, I don’t know. My aesthetic is punky-DIY-queer-femme-art.

Kitty Stryker (KS): I foresee my aesthetic as being a little bit John Waters campiness, a little bit David Lynch weirdness. Playfulness is important to me, as is the use of bright colors, collaborative decision-making, and smart scripts.

 

Courtney Trouble by Suma Jane Dark Photography.

Courtney Trouble by Suma Jane Dark Photography.

 

WYV: So, Kitty, how would you describe your focus in performance?

KS: I tend toward very costumey and scripted stuff generally. I just worked on a DVD where I tried to be very different than that where it’s just like no story or plot, just sex with lots of hot cuties. I had to write myself a note to do that because I am used to doing very theatrical performances that have a story line and specific outfits.

WYV: Were you a theater kid?

KS: Yeah, kind of.

CT: So was I.

KS: I think [theater has]  helped me move things along. The way I have sex on screen is in some ways very similar to how I have sex off screen but also very different. If I have a character that I am playing, I can get that and get into it. If it’s just how I have sex at home, it can get complicated. I do a lot of giggling and conversing about Lisa Frank. It may or may not be appropriate for the porn that we are shooting.

CT: Usually it is.

Kitty Stryker by Suma Jane Dark Photography

Kitty Stryker by Suma Jane Dark Photography

 

WYV: So, what projects are you working on together right now?

CT: “Here Kitty Kitty”,  and then I am going to school at the end of August. I’ve been running everything for the last thirteen years.

WYV:  This one’s for Courtney. Have you removed yourself from performance?

CT: No, I am actually amping it up. Performance art is in my blood. That’s the way I approach porn performances. I just did a menstrual age play scene. I like to dress up and get abducted by aliens or pretend to be a plague victim and get leeches put on my tits or be covered in fake blood, playing dead. That’s really important to me as a person. My performance not been commercially viable at all. I am not a professional commercial porn star. I don’t work for other people. For me, porn performance is just part of my art. I am removing myself from commercial production, marketing, and casting. I’ll also be doing photography for most of the sets.

 

WYV: What does Trouble Films’ schedule look like?

CT: We shoot porn like twice a month. Most of the work we do is web design, marketing, and blogging. You invest a lot of money in a scene that takes about a day to make. The rest of it is trying to make money from that scene – price, editing, syndication, distribution. We have the added work of trying to brand something as more than porn when it’s hardcore porn. I write a philosopical discussion on queer porn.  Not too long ago, I did a keynote presentation at the feminist porn conference and spoke at Stanford University. Porn and boobs are cool and important, but when you look our porn, there’s a base amount of art and politics there that you can absorb.

KS: Sometimes more explicitly than others.

Courtney Trouble and Emerald X-File

Courtney Trouble and Emerald X-File

CT: There’s some stuff that we make, like “Trans Grrrls.” It’s really loaded, but it’s not just spelled out for you.

KS: Our “Trans Lesbians” work is incredibly important. It’s saying that trans women deserve to be in the lesbian genre of porn, too, which is unheard of right now. I think that is really important to take some of those constructs and move it into the mainstream. It destabilizes the Rad Feminist argument.

(sidenote: Rad Feminists, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists or TERFs, do not believe that trans women are really women and do not represent them in their fight for equality. Fuck TERFs.)

WYV: What is your favorite piece of work that you’ve produced?

CT: For me, looking at my personal work and less about collaboration, I feel like my film “We Come In Peace” is something I was super proud of. It’s something that came out of nowhere. It’s art that simply happens to have sex in it. I was in Berlin and fell in love with one of my best friends. She is Australian; I’m American. She just happened to end up in San Francisco when we got back from our European travels. She has this long, green ponytail and loves being called an alien – it’s part of her aesthetic. We dressed her up like an alien and gave her this beautiful, femme, alien princess persona. We did this whole scene of sexy lesbian porn until the end and then it’s really disgusting and hilarious. She basically breaks into my bedroom while I am sleeping, and impregnates me with alien babies. Kitty styled this amazing sex toy that could do an alien egg cream pie –

KS: “The Ovipositor.” It’s kind of amazing.

CT: It’s really hot! If we were just fucking, I feel like it could be commercially viable. Instead, what happens is that I end up giving birth to a squid baby at the end and falling in love with it after she leaves. It was our goodbye sex because she was going back to Australia. I don’t know, it was just everything combined with that scene. My focus was really there, and I really love that piece.

KS: I hope that I am going to be really proud of this new DVD “Here Kitty, Kitty.” It’s really challenged me as a performer. As for what is already out there, I am incredibly proud of “Ban This Sick Filth.” It’s certainly my aesthetic when not trying to appeal to a mainstream audience. I’m super proud that we were able to donate money to Backlash UK, which is an anti-obscenity group who are fighting the obscenity laws in the UK. We did the film in the first place as a response to Britain’s new laws about what is obscene and what’s not obscene.

Ban This Sick Filth! Courtney Trouble, Kitty Stryker, and Andre Shakti.

 

Ban This Sick Filth by Trouble Films.

Ban This Sick Filth by Trouble Films.

KS: For example, choking is potentially obscene in the UK. What’s interesting about that is so is face sitting. There’s a debate on whether or not gagging on a cock is considered ok or not. It turns out that according to legal counsel, it’s ok if it’s under a minute long, and it can’t be the focus of the film. So you can get away with more if there’s a cock involved than if it’s a labia. Same with squirting. It’s fine to ejaculate from a penis, but if you’re ejaculating from a vagina, it’s suddenly potentially obscene.

WYV: …because porn is typically seen through a male gaze and for male consumption?

KS: And the board of censors is mostly male.

CT: Well, yeah, all the people who are coming up with the rules are men, too. Basically, everything that is off-limits in porn. The lawyers and government say, “This stuff is obscene, you shouldn’t print this.” The lawyers tell the producers not to shoot it. The editors have to cut it out. You have five different versions of everything. You can still get fisting on any of the downloads that you get. Anything where I have had a middle man has been an issue, even when the middle man has been a woman. There’s always somebody’s boss. The end of the line is always some dude who says “No female ejaculation. No fisting because it leads to female pleasure and doesn’t look like a dick…” Everything that is up for obscenity depicts females pleasure that is either distasteful to the male gaze (like menstrual blood) or not conducive to male pleasure. Even if you look at THE FIRST real porn obscenity case was for Deep Throat. It’s a movie about how a woman’s clitoris is the source of her orgasm. The reason this movie exists is because this woman wants orgasms. It doesn’t have to do with sticking your dick into a cunt, so it’s obscene. She doesn’t cum from that. It’s one of the first pieces of mainstream media that says women don’t cum from vaginal penetration. THAT’s the movie that received the BIGGEST obscenity suit in the US.

Courtney Trouble by Suma Jane Dark Photgraphy

Courtney Trouble by Suma Jane Dark Photography

CT: It’s ridiculous! I mean, that movie was totally fucked up, but when you look at what they were talking about on set, it wasn’t that Linda Lovelace was gang raped by her boyfriend on set or all of the stuff that she says happens. No one went to court because of the harm that she says was done to her. They went to court because the storyline was obscene. Not the rapes that happened on set – the storyline.  That’s what we fight against! We can’t show fisting in our queer/lesbian, women-run, safe, well-paid, well-lubricated, super consensual space because some guy out there is concerned and threatened so he wants to “protect” the women getting fisted. It’s about the fact that the pussy in question belongs to them, and it shouldn’t be stretched out by something that doesn’t look like a dick. What else could they possibly be worried about? It’s a bunch of queer people having sex the way they have sex every day.

KS: A lot of the reason around fisting, in particular, is because of the belief that it is violent. I think part of the reason people think it’s violent is because they don’t see it in porn and don’t see examples of it, so they do not see how it could be anything but violent.  What was important to me in depicting fisting in “Ban This Sick Filth” was that it would be a sweet and loving thing and not violent. Even though at home I would probably want to have my face slapped and get spit on, having it being a little violent – I don’t show that when I get fisted on film because I want to de-stigmatize it. Because of this, when I begin directing, I want to make more charity porn. I will be giving back to the community directly. I’m working on a project right now called “Eat Me!” which will be a collection of erotic shorts based off food puns, and I’d love to donate a portion of the profits to a food charity in the Bay. I’d also love to make a collection of consent based shorts that could serve as porn and education.

WYV: Thank you all so much for talking with me today. I look forward to seeing your newest work. It means a lot to me that there are people out there creating positive spaces for sex work.

Kitty Stryker and friends in the Masturbatathon!

Kitty Stryker and friends in the Masturbatathon!

Kitty Stryker has recently left Trouble Films to create her own production company, Stryker Studios. We wish her the best of luck and cannot wait to see what she has to offer as a director! Trouble Films is still going strong. Be on the look out for much more of Courtney Trouble in front of the camera in forthcoming productions!

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