Hollywood is cutthroat, sexist and full of scandal, but the adult industry is a million times that and more, and it’s all a given. Straight or gay, it’s a realm of misfits and corporate miscreants. In short, porn is not for the meek, weak or unstable, which is why it has a vast history of tragedy. Does the name Savannah ring a bell?
Speaking of Savannah, although women are a necessary albeit replaceable porn commodity (just like in mainstream entertainment), they are generally treated like shit, like in mainstream entertainment, but that sentiment is totally out in the open. Just like in Hollywood, a few females have been grabbing more decisive roles in porn production. One success story is Nica Noelle, one of the few women to command respect as a gay porn director.
Noelle is the founder of Icon Male, a gay porn studio specializing in “romantic porn.” Noelle and the studio’s other producers declared that the imprint’s movies would be unique to the gay marketplace – featuring genuine and intimate exchanges between the performers. “Hot sex is hot sex, whether it’s two men, or two women or a man and a woman, or a transwoman,” Noelle stated. Although men are the largest part of Icon Male’s audience, this genre coincides with the profitable erotica literary boom, particularly the male/male sub-genre, embraced by women. Noelle’s work also caters to those fans.
Again, existence in the adult industry is tough, and Noelle has her share of detractors—accusations of hostile working conditions, not uncommon in porn. She, too, has engaged in public feuds. Sounds like par for the porn course, behind-the-scenes business as usual. Despite the backbiting and competition, Noelle is flourishing. She’s intelligent and intuitive enough to know what her female gay-porn viewers want. Below are excerpts from a recent interview with Vice.
Why do women want to see only men doing it? “Many older, straight women may feel more comfortable watching gay porn because they don’t have to worry about measuring up to a younger, more attractive, or more sexually skilled woman on screen,” Noelle says. “The gay male sexually rejects all women, regardless of how young or beautiful. When the female gay porn fan watches her ‘porn crush’ make love to another man, she can enjoy his beauty and sexual performance without the unwanted intrusion of a female with whom they feel they could never compete.”
Apparently this fantasy is gaining a groupie base of older, straight women, a phenomenon Noelle soundly elucidates upon. “It seems to be a bit of a midlife crisis that some women are indulging in, if that doesn’t sound too judgmental. It appears as though they are returning to a time in their youth when they were infatuated with teenage boy bands and read teen magazines; a time when beautiful young men were still magical and unattainable and thus largely unthreatening. It would probably seem far creepier for a middle-aged woman to be obsessing over a ‘straight’ teenage boy; it might be viewed as bordering on pedophilia. But because these are young gay men, the woman feels free to obsess about them and to watch them having sex without guilt or shame.”
Although she was smart enough to capitalize on it, Noelle herself has no time or desire to read male/male erotica. She’s all business, but, besides the aforementioned criticism, Noelle is not about flaunting the reversal of power. Perhaps this is why her body of work has gotten good traction. “Ideally, we’re all on the same page in terms of what the sex scene should be, and I never have to open my mouth to give a direction,” Noelle says. “But that’s not always the reality, of course.”
She finds some “porno” performers “appear mechanical and detached, their faces are expressionless, their moaning sounds fake and canned, and as a result they look like Siamese twins connected only at the genitals.” Noelle directs them to “stay focused on each other” in order to capture the intimacy viewers adore.
Noelle is truthful about the industry, especially about the darker aspects, like drug use and suicide, affecting the performers. “Porn is a radical career choice; it can be a very extreme environment. It’s not the healthiest place for someone who is emotionally unstable, or struggling with drugs or self-esteem issues—yet those are often those who end up here.… they’re more likely to self-destruct in an environment like this one.”
She’s realistic, too, about her presence in the porn environment, but her insight can be applied to many sectors of our present world. “I generated some interesting discussions with my work, but I don’t think anything is ‘lasting.’ There is no way to build any kind of equity in porn. You can’t attain anything real here. There is no retirement, no pension, no job security of any kind, no reverence or respect paid to our elders.… Within a few years after I shoot my last porn film, I’m sure it will be like I never existed.”