Feminist Porn Awards Draws Curtains for 2016

Nov 12, 2015 1:42 PM PST

TORONTO — After 10 years honoring filmmakers in erotica, organizers of the Feminist Porn Awards have decided to draw the curtains on the show.

Carlyle Jansen, owner of Toronto adult toy store Good for Her, which launched the awards program in 2006, said that the show will take “a short break” in 2016 and return at a later date.

Jansen, along with Lorraine Hewitt, a burlesque performer known as CoCo La Crème, in a statement said that the decision to suspend the awards program was with “deep feelings of pride and satisfaction in all that we have accomplished.”

“We will take this time to re-vision and strategize about how we wish to transform and rebirth the event that is so dear to us,” Jansen and Hewitt said. “We will be back again soon. We love too many of you too well to not return.”

The Feminist Porn Awards, which debuted in 2006, honored pornographers from across the globe whose groundbreaking works typically offered fresh perspectives on gender and sexual expression often underrepresented in adult filmmaking. The show's tagline proclaimed, “Mild to wild, straight to queer, smart sexy films for everybody.”

Winners were chosen by jurists comprised of sex educators, sex writers, academics and film professionals through its 10 years. Organizers chose the butt plug to crown the actual statues handed out to winners because the device represented sexuality that everyone has, regardless of sex, gender or orientation.

The Feminist Porn Awards debuted at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel in 2006 and over the years moved to larger venues in the Canadian city. The Feminist Porn Conference, coordinated by Tristan Taormino, was added in 2013 and 2014.

“From its earliest, most hopeful inception we at Good For Her envisioned the awards as a venue to encourage and celebrate erotic fantasy from an alternative point of view,” Jansen and Hewitt said. “A place where we could see ourselves reflected in glorious, sensual color. A place where we could make our numbers known. A place where we could validate each other’s beauty and help each other rise.”

Jansen and Hewitt noted in their statement that the introduction of a feminist viewpoint in porn in the early 2000s was the catalyst for the awards program, and many in the biz later took notice.  

“In 2005, the very concept that pornography could be enthusiastically produced and consumed by women and other marginalized peoples became the spark that launched a thousand think pieces,” Jansen and Hewitt said. “New approaches to sexual representation on film became possible through the willpower, solidarity and awesome creative power of feminist filmmakers, performers, viewers and promoters.

“AVN and XBIZ introduced progressive new categories; mainstream studios proudly declared themselves female-friendly. Together we made an impact that shifted the conversation about what it is to be sexy, desirable and observed.

“Now in 2015, the ease of access to technology has been a huge democratizing force in the adult industry. Small producers with talent and ambition can create a sustainable audience for their work without compromising their vision or their politics. Large studios are working with feminist talent and directors to broaden their audience appeal. Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but we have come a very long way from the place where we began.”

Genderqueer porn performer Jiz Lee, who operates JizLee.com and is the marketing director of Pink and White Productions and author of the new book “Coming Out Like a Porn Star,” told XBIZ that the awards program "encouraged producers and performers to pick up a camera and add their own vision of desire to an erotic cinema landscape."

“It spurred producers to continue making work, and to meet its annual deadline,” Lee said. “Each year, the nominations grew, and grew, and grew.

“Most importantly, the show made space for alternative content, where budding producers didn't have to meet distribution guidelines, and creative films ran the gamut of length and format,” Lee said. “It allowed the acknowledgement of erotic and pornographic films that might have otherwise not have been eligible by commercial industry standards, while simultaneously placing them as equal to those by larger production houses.

“Among works overlooked by the larger adult industry were unprecedented diversity in its featured talent and themes. The show sought to acknowledge and encourage the visibility of marginalized sexual expressions and brought intersections in feminism a spotlight, giving entrepreneurial power and platform to directors working focusing on performers of color, trans performers and particularly transgender directors, performers of size and those with disabilities. It also united a community of international filmmakers who are no longer isolated but whom can find year-round support.”

Angie Rowntree, one of the pioneers in the genre of so-called "porn for women" in the late 1990s and is operator of women’s porn site Sssh.com, lamented the announcement by the awards program’s organizers.

"It's very saddening to hear there will be no Feminist Porn Awards in 2016; I sincerely hope it turns out to be merely a hiatus and not a permanent closure of the awards,” Rowntree told XBIZ.

“Even though I've never submitted my work to be considered for an award, I greatly respect their work and I've sponsored the Feminist Porn Awards in the past because I believe in their mission, and it's important to me to support and encourage other women filmmakers. Here's hoping the event returns in 2017, bigger and better than ever."

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