Many in the adult industry are familiar with Shine Louise Houston’s work. She’s the founder of Pink & White Productions, which has been in operation for 10 years. She’s the mastermind behind The Crash Pad, a porn series about a secretive San Francisco apartment where queer folks go to have spectacular sex. Her other films, Superfreak, The Wild Search, and Champion, have all won numerous accolades. Along the way, Houston has always kept focus on what matters to her: representing queer communities and queer communities of color.
Houston’s latest project is SNAPSHOT, a not-so-typical queer love story for which she’s currently seeking crowdfunding. The film will be an erotic suspense thriller with two women of color as its main characters: Charlie meets Danny while pursuing a murderer she accidentally photographed. Houston’s penchant for thoughtful storytelling and moody cinematic style will surely be on display, all with hot, explicit sex woven into the storyline.
SNAPSHOT will be Houston’s fifth feature film, and the first that her production company will have complete control over. Independently producing the film will allow for more creative control, more time to edit, and more profit. Aside from these benefits, the importance of queer porn in general cannot be overstated. The crowdfunding campaign explains:
Though we consider Pink & White to be an entertainment company, we regularly receive feedback from viewers who tell us that our films help them to better understand themselves and to appreciate their bodies — especially brown bodies — as being worthy of healthy and happy sexuality. Through intimate portrayals, the films become a mirror for queer people with diverse bodies and desires. It’s rare enough to see stories of gay, lesbian, or trans sexuality that include people of color, let alone ones which casts them center-stage. SNAPSHOT is our story, but is also in a unique position to validate our experiences, and inspire a new generation of filmmakers.
The campaign’s goal is $40,000, which will pay for cast and crew, taxes, insurance, and food during production. If they exceed the initial goal by at least $10,000, they will release a behind the scenes video of the filmmaking process, and give all backers access to the early online screening.
Perks include DVDs, postcards, luxurious glass dildos, a Skype session with Shine, a cameo in the movie — or, get your name written somewhere cool: on Houston’s clapperboard, on Jiz Lee’s belly (that’s what we went for!), or in the closing credits of the film.
What goes on behind the scenes of a queer feminist porn shoot? According to Anna Pulley, writing for Alternet, performers ogle cat photos, knit scarves in the colors of the bisexual flag, and shoot the breeze about fisting censorship and breast milk pumping. The kitchen is well-stocked with coffee, fruit, and chips, and Feminist Porn Awards line the walls.
Scenes for queer porn site Crash Pad Series are shot in an unassuming neighborhood in San Francisco by filmmaker and director Shine Louise Houston, production assistant Jiz Lee, videographer Alexa Shae, and photographer Tristan Crane. The room is equipped with a “voyeur cam,” which allows members of the site to watch the scene in real time. The best scenes are compiled for DVD releases.
Anna Pulley visited the set to watch two scenes unfold: Nic Switch and Iona Grace, followed by Ray and Maggie Mayhem. As is always the case with Crash Pad scenes, performers first discussed their vision for the scene with Houston. Performers’ desires and limits are steadfastly respected and followed; the only true rules are no blood, no poop, and… no glitter. (It’s far too difficult to clean up!).
Then, the scene began. Pulley writes,
Since the room was small and crowded, I tried to flatten myself against the wall as much as possible, but even then I could’ve reached out and touched the performers, they were so close. I briefly considered the possibility of being in the line of fire should ejaculation occur, but mostly pushed that thought out of my mind and enjoyed my front-row seat. Luckily, I remained dry through both shoots…at least outwardly.
As a feminist, I’ve found there’s often a negotiation that occurs when watching most porn, especially if it involves any kind of heavy aggression or degradation. Because, let’s face it, our desires are hardly ever politically correct. When a woman in porn is tied up and being called a dirty whore, the last thing you want to be thinking is, “Does liking this make me a bad person?” With “Crash Pad,” there was no such negotiation. The performers genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. Nothing about the sex seemed contrived or for the benefit of an audience. Pleasure was the central tenet, and it worked. It was hot.
When all was said and done, several hours later, Pulley had witnessed a litany of sex acts, from strap-on play to Magic Wand buzzing to squirting — and a whole bunch of intense orgasms. Pulley commented on the large wet spot left on the bed afterward; her fascination was met with “oh, that’s nothing.”
After the scene, Houston interviewed the performers again to debrief. Grace explained why she does porn: it’s way more fun than being a cashier. Switch was more philosophical: she enjoys learning about herself and representing the queer community.
Pulley left the set with an armful of queer porn DVDs and a new outlook on feminist porn. She concluded, “it was certainly refreshing to witness Houston’s work, and to experience the kind of frank, pleasure-focused, authentic sex that rarely exists outside the mainstream.” Amen.
Shine Louise Houston grew up in Southern California, where the beaches were all the rage. As a boogie-boarding tomboy, her earliest career aspirations included veterinarian, archaeologist, and designer — but her first venture as an entrepreneur involved completing other kids’ science homework for $2 a packet.
Houston graduated from San Francisco Arts Institute with a Bachelors in Fine Art Film, and later got a job at Good Vibrations. It was there that she encountered some of her first porn movies. Like other feminist pornographers, Houston saw a void in the porn landscape. She was dismayed by the lack of representation of queer identities — both in front of and behind the camera.
After five years at Good Vibrations, Houston left in order to found Pink & White Productions in 2005. Her first film was The Crash Pad, a movie about a secretive San Francisco apartment where queer folks can go to have spectacular sex. Her subsequent films, Superfreak, The Wild Search, and Champion, have all won numerous accolades. Meanwhile, the success of The Crash Pad sparked the website Crash Pad Series, which updates regularly and provides the content for the Crash Pad Series DVDs.
Here’s a short scene from The Crash Pad:
Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and visual artists from the Craftsman era, Houston’s work is cinematic, sultry, and realistic, with an unmistakable aesthetic feel to it. Her performers have all different types of bodies, sexualities, and gender identities and presentations, and people of color are always represented. Houston has high ethical standards, so her sets are comfortable, safe, and supportive, and she gives very little direction to her performers — preferring the scenes to unfold organically. She hopes queer folks can see themselves in her films:
[My movies create] empowerment by saying yes we are beautiful, we’re an art form, we’re not all gym bunnies, and that’s OK. We’re not all super high femme and all this kind of stuff. It’s like, hey, let’s normalize this. These are queer bodies. And hey, we can be just as hot as the models in Penthouse. It’s empowering when you can see yourself reflected in an image. If it’s powerful and sexy you might think, wow, I really always wanted to identify with that but I can’t because my body doesn’t look like X. But maybe that person is brown, they’re heavy, they’re butch, and thought that was totally hot and know that they can be totally hot. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies and we shouldn’t be ashamed of our sexualities.
In 2010, Houston was honored with The Visionary award at the Feminist Porn Awards, where she was described as being “responsible for the explosion and popularity of queer porn into the mainstream.” Even at the mainstream AVN awards, CrashPadSeries.com has been nominated for “Best Alternative Website” and Champion nominated for “Best Video Feature.” Trying to count the number of other nominations and awards Houston’s work has received will cause you to run out of fingers and toes!
In 2011, Houston released perhaps her most personally challenging project to date: Heavenly Spire, an exploration of masculine sexuality that features cis and trans* male-identified performers. For Houston, creating the site has allowed her to explore her own fascination with masculinity. For viewers, it is a different way of looking at masculinity, and with a quite artistic flair — scenes are shot in Super 8 style, with high contrast and manipulation of light.
Last month, Houston launched PinkLabel.tv, a video-on-demand site that includes the work of progressive, independent adult filmmakers and studios such as Annie Sprinkle, Courtney Trouble, Carlos Batts, Jennifer Lyon Bell, T-Wood Pictures, and Handbasket Productions. Keeping in step with Houston’s ethical business practices, filmmakers on PinkLabel receive fair-trade commission for the digital distribution of their work.
Recently, Houston was interviewed on Tristan Taormino’s Sex Out Loud radio show, where they discussed the Crash Pad empire, what it means to be an ethical pornographer, the inspiration behind Heavenly Spire, and why PinkLabel is an important site for budding porn filmmakers.
We love the Feminist Porn Awards! Since 2006, they have been honoring and celebrating woman-positive porn. This year’s awards show and other festivities will be held April 13-15 in Toronto. The nominees for this year (of which there are 50+!) were recently announced. Any film chosen for the awards must meet certain standards: either that a woman was involved in the production of the film, that the film depicts “genuine pleasure and consent,” and/or that the film “expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film.” The Feminist Porn Awards (FPAs) are known for their awesome nomination categories, such as “Most Deliciously Diverse Cast” and “Hottest Trans Scene/Film.”
Here are four films nominated this year that we carry at She Bop! We plan to pick up more titles that were nominated in the coming months.
Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Female Orgasms. Tristan Taormino is the queen of making education hot. In this film, she examines what it takes to get a woman off, then shows the techniques in action. Taormino’s other educational titles, such as Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Oral Sex: Cunnilingus/Fellatio and Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Anal Pleasure for Men, have also won FPAs in the past.
Life Love Lust. It’s no wonder this film by Erika Lust was nominated — her previous film, Five Hot Stories For Her, won “Movie of the Year” at the FPAs in 2008. Lust’s distinct filmmaking style focuses on nuance, romance, and authentic sex.
Crash Pad Series Volume 6. This is the sixth installment in a historic queer porn series by director Shine Louise Houston (named “The Visionary” at the 2010 FPAs). As always, this film features a vast array of queer-identified performers having the time of their lives together. Check out all the other movies in the Crash Pad series — many of which have won FPAs.
Rough Sex 2. This movie is why Tristan Taormino was named “The Trailblazer” at the 2010 FPAs. Her Rough Sex series takes female porn performers, asks them about their rough sex fantasies, and brings those fantasies to life. It’s a wonderful marriage of feminism and BDSM.
Thank you, Feminist Porn Awards, for reminding the world that feminist porn not only exists — it deserves to be applauded.
Welcome to She Bop’s blog!
She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.
- May 4, 2017 – Beyond Monogamy
- May 17, 2017 – Wet & Wild: G-spot and Squirting Orgasms
- June 1, 2017 – Back That Ass Up!: Anal Sex 101
- June 4, 2017 – Curvy Girl Sex: Body Positive Positions to Empower Your Sex Life
- June 11, 2017 – Sex and Survivorship: Navigating Sex After Cancer
- July 2, 2017 – Your Gender is Awesome: A Class for Trans Youth
- Join mother-daughter duo Leslie Heron + our educator Gretchen for an informative & fun class on cancer & sexuality. https://t.co/rJqKvzxfd0
- A film crew has blocked off parts of Mississippi Ave this morning. They should be done in an hr. We recommend parking near N. Borthwick Ave!
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- Orgasms will not be mythical with the Unicorn Wand! We could not resist this powerful vibe with unicorn attachment. https://t.co/BCf2iMTMm8
- We know how much you've been clamoring for a G-spot and squirting class! @stellaerotica is teaching one in May! https://t.co/8JmtMTTWYU
- Looking for a set of introductory vibrating anal beads? @rocksoffltd's Petite Sensations Beads might fit the bill! https://t.co/Q55aiWJ2Tr
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