Honorary degrees for legendary pornstars

This week in San Francisco, four groundbreaking women will be awarded honorary Doctor of Human Sexuality degrees from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).

Jane Hamilton (aka Veronica Hart), Candida Royalle, Veronica Vera, and Gloria Leonard (now deceased) are former “Golden Age” porn performers as well as pioneers in the adult industry. All four women were involved in Club 90, the first ever pornstar support group, which launched in 1983 and is still running today.

Jane Hamilton performed in porn movies in the early 80s, then graduated to directing, editing, and producing, eventually earning a spot in the AVN Hall of Fame. Now she educates women all over the world about self-esteem, pleasure, and aging.

Candida Royalle was one of the first female porn directors. She created Femme Productions in 1984, focusing on directing films based on female desire, such as Stud HuntersCaribbean HeatEyes of Desire 2, and Afrodite Superstar. She wrote How to Tell a Naked Man What To Do and contributed an essay to The Feminist Porn Book. She now lectures and mentors young female porn directors.

Veronica Vera, aside from her work in adult films, founded Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls, the world’s first crossdressing academy.

Gloria Leonard, best known for her role in The Opening of Misty Beethoven, also directed several porn films and published High Society, a pornographic magazine. Her home at 90 Lexington Avenue was the inspiration for the name of Club 90. She was the first president of the Free Speech Coalition, a non-profit industry association which opposes obscenity and censorship laws. As a proponent of free speech, she bravely debated staunch anti-porn activists and visited college campuses to educate students on the First Amendment.

The Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality was founded in 1976 by Rev. Dr. Ted McIlvenna, and it was the first organization to award advanced degrees in what is still a growing field of sexology. Annie Sprinkle was the first person to be awarded a Ph.D. from IASHS in 2002. She will host the investiture and awards ceremony next week. There will also be a display of Club 90 archival materials that will be open to the public.