A Tribute to Candida Royalle: “Godmother of Feminist Porn”

March is Women’s History Month, so I’m writing a series of posts honoring important female pioneers in the fields of sex education, research and therapy.

Candice M. Vadala (1950-2015)—aka Candida Royalle—is known to many as the “godmother of feminist porn.” Candice was my friend for 28 years, and I know she disliked the word “porn” to describe her movies; rather, she preferred “erotic films.” For more than thirty years she explored the nuances of and complexities of erotica, sexual health, and self-exploration for women.


She began her career as an adult performer at the height of the sexual revolution, but became dissatisfied with the male-centric model of porn films. In her thirties, she founded Femme Productions and turned to directing and producing her own films. She flipped the male gaze on its head by focusing on women’s pleasure. She produced erotic films that were radically different from the mainstream; she even used real couples as the actors/performers. In the 90s I would often loan her films to client couples as a way to help them overcome their sexual inhibitions.


In the documentary film “CANDICE,” director Sheona McDonald goes beyond the headlines to craft a layered portrait of the woman behind the icon. The film captures Vadala in her sixties when, confronted with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, she is eager to tell her story in her words and to confront questions that have haunted her since childhood. Through intimate conversations, in true cinema verité style, McDonald portrays Candice as a prolific filmmaker, entrepreneur, and advocate for women’s rights, but also as a woman coming to terms with a tumultuous personal life. Candice is ultimately a tribute to a resilient woman who unapologetically carved her own path. Available on Vimeo or Amazon Prime Video.


Candida’s work helped folks experience less shame and more enthusiasm about their sexuality. I’m grateful for her contribution to sexology. And I’m so appreciative of our friendship! In 2004 she wrote the book How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows. She died of ovarian cancer before she could complete her full body of work. I was devastated. She was always so vibrant, creative, and beautiful in every sense!

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