I was heartbroken to return to work today and learn that legendary feminist firecracker, visionary filmmaker, trailblazing toy maker, and legendary force in sex positivity Candida Royalle has passed away at age 64 from ovarian cancer.
Her passing did not come as a shock, since she has been quietly fighting the disease since 2010 and making an autobiographical documentary about her life and the search for her mother, which also documented her medical battle. Still, it is a huge loss for the sex-positive world. She was a force of nature who comported herself with such intelligence, ferocity, and grace, it’s difficult to imagine that light being gone from our world. She gave us all so much.
I was over the moon to meet her at this year’s Cinekink Club 90 reunion showcase, when I held her phone as she was photographed on the red carpet. She was beautiful, gracious, charming, and kind to everyone who rushed up to her to proclaim their adoration, myself included. I’m not ashamed to admit that I snapped a selfie on her phone in the hopes that she would remember me. I know I’ll always remember her.
A small bio from Club 90 co-founder and lifelong friend, Annie Sprinkle:
Candida was born on October 15, 1950 in Brooklyn New York, and spent most of her adult life in New York City, with some of her 1970s in San Francisco.
In 1984 Candida Royalle® stepped behind the camera, from “porn star” to director, to creating Femme Productions in order to produce adult films from a woman’s perspective. She is considered the mother of feminist porn and in launching the couples erotica market. She partnered with Dutch industrial designer Jandirk Groet in 1999 to create the ground-breaking line of Natural Contours® intimate products, launching a whole new vision in sex toy design, widely copied today. Royalle gained international acclaim as a pioneer in female sexual empowerment and expression, and she became a sought-after speaker, lecturing extensively at such venues as the Smithsonian Institute, the World Congress on Sexology, and several universities and professional conferences. She’s been a guest on countless TV talk shows and written up everywhere from The New York Times to The Times of London.
In October 2004 Royalle authored, “How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do®” (Simon & Schuster/Fireside). Royalle was a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT); in 2014 she received a Doctorate in Human Sexuality for her life’s work from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She was a founding member of Feminists for Free Expression (FFE), a long time animal rights champion. In 1985 Candice co-founded the first porn star support group, Club 90, of which she was an active core member until her death, and will continue to be a member in spirit. Candida Royalle leaves a great legacy.
Memorials in New York, LA and San Francisco will likely be held sometime around November, so that there is time for everyone to plan.
Please send your prayers, thoughts, vibrations, and any other positive things you’d like to her friends and family, and read more about Candida Royalle at the links below:
-Xbiz: Adult Filmmaker Candida Royalle Dies quotes Nina Hartley: “As beautiful inside as she was on the surface, she was a stickler for proper treatment of performers before it was trendy. She was laughed at for thinking women’s perspectives on sexuality were important, but everyone stole that idea from her.”
-Daily Mail: Trailblazing porn director Candida Royalle has died of ovarian cancer at the age of 64, after tracking down her long-lost mother and discovering she had already perished of the same disease quoted Candida: “Everyone assumes I was probably given a hard time by the adult film biz but they always treated me fairly, even if they at first doubted me,’ Royalle said of her time in the industry, on her website. ‘They’ve come to respect that I was the first one with vision and recognition of what would become the ‘couples’ market.”
-The New York Daily News: Former porn star turned director Candida Royalle dies aged 64 covers the outpouring of love and support from sex-positive friends and icons on social media.
-You can hear some of Candida’s own fearless and often wise words in her recent interview with The Rialto Report (audio) and read more at Smashing Interviews Magazine: “Humans have been curious to look at erotic art and explicit sexual art forever since they etched and carved images into caves on walls, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. What I did feel was that these movies were being sold on the backs of women, and there was nothing about women’s sexuality. Women had no voice in the movies, and it was time for that to stop. Women were curious because of the women’s movement that gave them permission to explore their sexuality. Women were curious and wanted to see if there were some sexy movies they could enjoy with their partner, and there was nothing out there for that. That was a booming market that really needed to be provided for, and no one was noticing. I thought I’d be the perfect person.”
Rest in peace, Candida. Or party, maybe. Or watch the birds. Whatever it is you do on the other side.