Courtney Trouble

Girls on Film: The 2009 Feminist Porn Awards

This week, my search for noteworthy local film events took me to Good For Her, a cozy little female-oriented sex shop on Harbord - and producers of the 4th annual Feminist Porn Awards. The two-day celebration of erotic film kicks off this Friday with an awards show at the Berkeley Church, followed by a panel discussion and clip screening at the Royal Theatre on Saturday night.

I asked Good For Her's Alison Lee, Feminist Porn Awards organizer, what is planned for this year's event and for a quick rundown of who's who in the world of feminist porn.

This is the 4th time Good for Her has put on this event. Did you organize the previous Feminist Porn Awards?

I organized the 2008 Awards as well as this year. 2006 and 2007 were organized by the previous manager of Good For Her, Chanelle Gallant.

What goes on at the awards show? If it had to be rated, would it be more of an "R", an "X", or a "XXX" event?

The awards show is really fun, and really celebratory, and really grassroots. This year, we are having Raging Asian Women (RAW) open the awards with their sexy and powerful drumming, and Coco La Creme and Daddy K and the Rhythm Method and Boylesque Toronto will all be there to keep the crowd entertained. We present awards with (mostly) local sexy people (writers, educators, filmmakers and more) as presenters, and we show clips from the winning movies. I would say it's more like an NC-17 rating, more dirty than an R but not quite an X (usually! There are a few exceptions that are a bit more saucy!)

Can you list a few examples of some of the award categories?

The Awards categories that we have this year include Hottest Straight Movie, Steamiest Educational Series, Most Deliciously Diverse Cast, and Movie of the Year. There are 12 Categories in all (as well as Honourable Mentions)

Aside from the lack of phony cosmetic enhancements, and that the nominees are all female initiated projects, what are other characteristics of feminist porn?

The most dominant characteristic that I see in feminist porn is the notion of consent and agency. The people on the screen may be acting in ways that are very raunchy (or very soft) but the idea of the performer's desire is made really clear. I think by the very nature that these filmmakers are making movies with female viewers in mind also means that they are taking risks in a very male-dominated industry. That may mean working independently, and it also means adding feminist flair to the mainstream. A lot of people assume that feminist porn is going to be like a Harlequin novel come to life. Sometimes that is true, but it can also be really kinky and edgy, and somewhere in between. Feminist porn is about exploring desire and fantasy from a woman's perspective, and those perspectives are as diverse as women themselves!

Who are the major artists or filmmakers working in this genre, and what kind of work do they do?

Madison Young

In the industry as a whole, here are some of the biggest names:

Candida Royalle: arguably the Fairy Godmother of feminist porn. Starting making erotic movies for women in the early 1980's.

Tristan Taormino: Writer, sex educator, and director. Has been working for Vivid, one of the biggest porn studios around making raunchy movies as well as educational titles that seek to include women both as performers and viewers.

Anna Span: Makes rather filthy movies! She is from Britain.

Erika Lust: Made the instant classic "Five Hot Stories for Her". Also wrote a book called "Porn For Women" and runs a fab blog at

Madison Young: Going to be at this year's awards! Is a writer, director and performer as well as the owner of a feminist art gallery in San Francisco. Madison is notable as she is both behind and in front of the camera as well as being very very very kinky!

Shine Louise Houston: One of my very favourite directors. She makes queer porn that is beautiful to look at and quite intense to watch. Hot people with real bodies, and a lot of the people she works with are couples in real life, making the chemistry between the performers that much hotter. Shine is a truly revolutionary director!

These are some of the biggest names right now, but there are a lot of people who are doing amazing things!


Alison also lent me a stack of porn to preview and this year's contenders are all over the map - from the very soft and straight Man of My Dreams, where viewers can choose-their-own-adventure with a fireman, policeman, or even the neighbourhood dog walker, to Maria Beatty's plotless, subversive and very painful-looking Skateboard Kink Freak.

If slapping and suspension are your scene, you will fall in love with Madison Young. The 28 year-old from San Francisco writes, directs, and stars in Tail of a Bondage Model: Real Life Memoirs of a Rope Slut. The film centers on the kinky redhead, a jet-setting model and aspiring writer, struggling to hold on to her new girlfriend while juggling a busy work schedule.

Also well crafted, Champion, Shine Louise Houston's film about an MMA fighter and her various romances. Out of the fighting ring, Jesse has to deal with a lingering ex, an ambitious manager, a lifelong enemy, a one night stand with Madison Young, and a crush on her final opponent.

The 2009 Feminist Porn Awards will take place on Friday, April 24th at the Berkeley Church (315 Queen Street East), followed by Feisty Feminist Porn on The Big Screen on Saturday, April 25th at the Royal Theatre (608 College Street). Tickets $12-$18 at Good for Her or online. Photos of Courtney Trouble and Madison Young courtesy of Good For Her.

Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Film

Watch movies for free under the stars in Toronto parks this summer

One of Toronto's biggest green spaces hosting free outdoor movie nights this summer

Canadians vow to cancel Netflix subscriptions over end of cheapest ad-free plan

Citytv talk show 'Cityline' cancelled after 40-year run

Mayor Olivia Chow guest stars in this week's Law & Order Toronto episode

Major movie shot largely at Toronto's Rogers Centre described as 'bizarre' by star

Ryan Reynolds pens heartfelt message about fellow Canadian Michael J. Fox

Major transformation just around the corner for vintage Toronto movie theatre