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Author | Photo courtesy of Courtney Trouble
"It was a reflection of my authentic desires, and also a reflection of my community: lovers, roommates, classmates, friends."

The Queen of Queer Porn: an interview with Courtney Trouble

Each year, as spring gently glides in on a light rainstorm and libidos and flowers begin to bloom, Toronto hosts the sexiest, raunchiest, and sluttiest event that attracts whores, sex nerds,  queeros, and porn stars alike. This year, the 8th annual Feminist Porn Awards will be no exception. In town from the States for this salacious event is none other than the self-made Queer and Feminist Porn super star, Courtney Trouble. She is known as the modern day Queen of Queer Porn. We caught up with her to ask some questions about her journey into porn, and her perspective on a few things queer.

Shedoesthecity: How did you get into porn? Who or what inspired you to get into making queer and feminist porn?

Courtney Trouble: I got myself into sex work largely because I wanted to be my own boss and set my own hours, which I think is why most people get into the industry. I started doing phone sex when I was 18 as a side hustle to entertainment journalism, publishing, and photography gigs I was getting around town (Olympia, WA, where I was raised). Phone sex was clearly a more lucrative choice than journalism, and since it started to provide me with enough funds to buy things like digital cameras, it sort of took over. Queer porn didn’t exist then (2002), aside from one site that was taken down right as I started: Sspread.com. I didn’t have much exposure to feminist porn, either; I knew of Carol Queen and her writing, and adored Good Vibrations thanks to their mail order catalogs, which I discovered at a Unitarian Universalist Sex Ed class (I dare to say that church-funded sex ed was about a million times better than what I got in school). But I didn’t know who Candida Royale or Annie Sprinkle were until long after I’d started a site of my own, IndiePornRevolution.com (previously called NoFauxxx.com).

What I made came mostly from within. It was a reflection of my authentic desires, and also a reflection of my community: lovers, roommates, classmates, friends. There was no outside influence. Just that good old Olympia DIY magic, the aspirations of an 18-year-old genderqueer like a kitten with wet eyes, and a lot of free time waiting for the phone sex line to ring, ring, ring. 

SDTC: What made you so passionate about queer porn, and what keeps you passionate about it?

CT: The effect that my work has had on other queer folks is what made me passionate, and keeps me passionate, about making queer pornography. I get letters all the time that queer porn has changed, and sometimes even saved, a life. It saved mine 10 years ago, and the fact that it’s still relevant and even more so now, is why my passion thrives. Sometimes people use my art as a survival tool. Not very many pornographers get to say that their porn is that essential.

SDTC: Following the era of Annie Sprinkle, people call you the Queen of Queer and Feminist Porn. Is that a lot of pressure?

CT: I love the attention, but yes: there does seem to be a lot of pressure for me to stand for everyone, when I know it’s impossible. I get requests to cover various kinds of sexualities  and bodies, and I pressure myself to expand as much as my community does—maybe even more so. I know that I can’t do everything, and that inspires me to be even louder about my political beliefs in other ways, like through writing or social media; words are much less expensive than porn scenes. I know I come across as self-righteous to those people in the industry who think being “politically correct” is boring and annoying, but I don’t think it’s boring to take my position as a well-known feminist seriously. And I don’t think it’s boring to challenge other people to be decent. In my opinion, that’s what queens do. Leaders turn pressure to conform into courage to defy. 

SDTC: It seems in the past few years, with the gaining popularity of feminist and queer porn, that the lines separating the two have blurred. What do you think defines queer porn versus feminist porn?

CT: I see feminist porn as work that actively challenges male privilege, specifically male privilege that comes alive through film making and pornography (two very small worlds run by one big bad boy’s club). I think feminist porn should be limited to those film-makers who really do identify as feminists, and who have a sense of what that means to them, as well as what it means on the larger scale of feminist activism in film and the arts. Queer porn, on the other hand, challenges hetero-normativity by creating space for performers and directors to be actively engaged in a discussion about gender fluidity, queer sexuality, and identity politics. Queer porn makes room for those on film to say, “This is who I am,” instead of using porn language to squish a person into a very tiny, very marketable box. Queer porn respects, and inquires about, preferred pronouns, preferred language around body parts and sex acts, and the intricate dance between the personal and political aspects of queer living. I think that queer porn can be made by feminists and that feminist porn can be made by queers, but that they do come from different houses. 

SDTC: Tell me your thoughts on the legalization of gay marriage in the US.

CT: As somebody who was raised by a single, divorced father, I’ve never had much faith in marriage. An aversion to marriage and hetero-normativity is actually part of my core queer values. That being said, I have been legally married, legally divorced, and illegally married again, all in the course of the last five years. I married my ex-wife the day before Prop 8 passed in California, and I had to pay for a legal divorce eight months later, despite that fact that same-sex marriages weren’t legal to perform anymore. I married in a state of utter rebellion against a Schwarzenegger-led state in a Bush-led country. I married out of fear. I have found peace, and true love, in my second marriage—one that is not recognized in my state, or my country, because my husband’s gender does not match his birth certificate. But this marriage is more “real” to me than any legal paperwork or government ordinance could ever define. Family isn’t a policy; it happens naturally, whether we like it or not, or whether it’s legal or not. I don’t think most queers really have this do-all-end-all daydream of getting married and having children—but in order to be able to focus on what we do want, we need equal footing. How are we supposed to fight for the enforcement of hate crime laws against those who murder trans women for sport, or those who bully queers into isolation, depression, and suicide, if we can’t even say who our family is? I do think that marriage equality is a cause worth fighting for, but only if we don’t stop there.

SDTC: What would you say to anyone considering writing/producing/directing/being in queer and/or feminist porn?

CT: My path to today’s success was a long one, and it’s certainly not paved for any one of us. Like any kind of indie artistry, it’s not easy and sometimes you’re selling your wares out of your van just to make it to the next town. Lack of fortune aside, fame can be found if you’re authentic, creative, and professional. Queer porn thrives on the invention of the authentic self; so own it, whatever yours is. Self-publish as much as you possibly can. Seek out your own following, crowd fund your own camera, and like I did, forge your own path. And always, always rebel. To the teeth.

Courtney Trouble’s unapologetic attitude and embrace for her art and lifestyle manifest in every orgasm on camera, every squirt built up and released. With porn’s future in her hands, there is no stopping the rest of us from finding our desires and exploring them in healthy, fun, and safe ways. It’s queers like Courtney—who bring experience, passion, and truth to their sex, their love, and their lives—who make me believe in a better world.

Buy tickets for the Feminist Porn Awards here.

Follow Prima Feminista on Twitter: @primafeminista

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