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Candida Royalle

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Candida Royalle
Candida Royalle at the 2013 CineKink awards
Royalle at the 2013 CineKink awards
Candice Marion Vadala

(1950-10-15)October 15, 1950
DiedSeptember 7, 2015(2015-09-07) (aged 64)
Other namesCandace Chambers, Candice Ball, Candice Chambers, Candida Royalle
Height5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)

Candida Royalle (born Candice Marion Vadala; October 15, 1950 – September 7, 2015) was an American producer and director of couples-oriented pornography, pornographic actress, sex educator, and sex-positive feminist.[1] She was a member of the XRCO and the AVN Halls of Fame.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Royalle was born Candice Marion Vadala on October 15, 1950 to a working-class Catholic family in Brooklyn, New York.[4] Her father, Louis, worked as a professional jazz drummer and had a hot temper. Her mother, Margaret O’Bannon, left the family when Royalle was 18 months old and Royalle never saw her again.[5] Candice and her sister Cinthea were raised by their stepmother, Helen Duffy.[6]

Trained in music, dance and art in New York City, she studied at the High School of Art and Design, Parsons School of Design and the City College of New York.[7]


Femme Productions logo

After graduating from Parsons School of Design, she moved to California and began performing with the avant-garde theater group The Cockettes. In 1975, she played Divine's daughter in the play The Heartbreak of Psoriasis.[8][9][10]

In 1975, she began her career as a pornographic performer,[11] appearing in about 25 movies including Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls. Her final film was Blue Magic in 1980, which she also wrote.[12] Royalle quit performing because she got married and was uncomfortable being sexual with other men.[13]: 71  Moreover, she had increasingly felt that her strongly feminist views were at odds with the male-centric manner in which traditional pornography was produced and that she had been working in, giving virtually no attention to the female perspective, and making no effort to appeal to female viewers.[13]: 72–74  The increasing availability of cable television and VCR around 1983 provided Royalle both with an incentive and opportunity to consider producing her own "feminist" pornography, aimed at women and couples who wanted to watch a different kind of porn from the privacy of their homes.[13]: 74–75 

Royalle returned to New York in 1980.[5] In early 1984, she founded Femme Productions together with Lauren Neimi.[13]: 75  Their goal was making erotica based on female desire, as well as pornographic films aimed at helping couple therapy. Her productions are aimed more at women and couples than at the standard pornographic audience of men, and have been praised by counselors and therapists for depicting healthy and realistic sexual activity.[14]

Royalle stated that she tried to avoid "misogynous predictability", and depiction of sex in "...as grotesque and graphic [a way] as possible." She also criticized the male-centredness of the typical pornographic film, in which scenes end when the male actor ejaculates. Royalle's films are not "goal oriented" towards a final "cum shot"; instead, her films depict sexual activity within the broader context of women's emotional and social lives.[15] In 1989, she signed the Post Porn Modernist Manifesto.[16]

She was featured in Maya Gallus's 1997 documentary film Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality.[17]

Royalle wrote regular columns for adult magazines High Society and Cheri.[18] She was also a public speaker, giving lectures at Smithsonian Institution, the World Congress on Sexology, and numerous universities and professional conferences.[19]

In 2004, she authored the book How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do.[19]

A five-track EP titled Candida Cosmica, a collaboration between Royalle and Patrick Cowley from the mid-1970s, was released in October 2016 by Dark Entries Records.[20]


Royalle was a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists,[21] and a founding board member of Feminists for Free Expression.[22]

Personal life and death[edit]

In the 1980s, Royalle was married to producer Per Sjöstedt;[23] they separated in 1988.[13]: 78  In May 2006, she announced that she was engaged to be married.[24] She died in Mattituck, New York[19] on September 7, 2015, aged 64, from ovarian cancer.[7][25]


In 2019, Candice, a documentary about Royalle's life and finding out what happened to her mother who left her as a child, was screened at various documentary film festivals.[26][27][28] It was directed by Sheona McDonald and distributed by Mbur Indie Film Distribution.[29]

Royalle is the subject of the book “Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History From Below,” written by Jane Kamensky, a former historian at Harvard University. Kamensky describes Royalle's unique place in feminist history. “She is way too critical and self-critical for many of the sex-positive feminists... and she absolutely does not fit into an anti-pornography box," Kamensky told The New York Times.[6] Kamensky worked to put Royalle's archive, including her photos, letters, film clips, and other memorabilia, into the Schlesinger Library.[6]


During her acting career (1975–1980), Royalle performed in 25 traditional male-centred porn films, including Ball Game (1980) by Ann Perry, Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls, Hot Racquettes, Delicious, Fascination by Chuck Vincent, and finally Blue Magic (1980), which Royalle also wrote and her then-new husband Per Sjöstedt produced.[13]: 71 

By 2013, Royalle had (jointly) written or directed 18 feminist porn films with Femme Productions since 1984, including:[30][13]: 77–78 

Candida Royalle's Femme Productions videos open like a perfume commercial, with a young woman running across a country field in a lacy white nightgown. "Finally, there's Femme," breathes the female announcer as the woman is caught and passionately kissed by a bare-chested man. "Erotic film star Candida Royalle dares to bring to the screen the fantasies that women have been dreaming about all these years." The scene cuts to two men caressing one woman, and to a couple biting a slippery piece of watermelon together. The announcer speaks tenderly. "Femme... it's only the beginning."

Laura Jane Fraser, 1990[31]

  • Femme (1984)
  • Urban Heat (1984)
  • Three Daughters (1986)
  • Christine's Secret (1986)
  • A Taste of Ambrosia (1987)
  • Rites of Passion (1987)
  • Sensual Escape (1988)
  • Revelations (1993)
  • My Surrender (1996)
  • The Gift (1997)
  • The Bridal Shower (1997)
  • Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality (1997)[32]
  • One Size Fits All (1998)
  • Eyes of Desire (1998)
  • Eyes of Desire 2 (1999)
  • Afrodite Superstar (2006)
  • Under the Covers (2007)


  1. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (March 11, 2024). "The Woman Who Tried to Make Porn Safe for Feminism - How the archive of Candida Royalle, a porn star turned pioneering director, landed at Harvard — and inspired a new book challenging the conventional history of the sexual revolution". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 12, 2024. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  2. ^ "XRCO Hall of Fame". Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "AVN Hall of Fame". Adult Video News. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Robets, Sam (September 11, 2015). "Candida Royalle, Who Made Erotic Films for Women, Dies at 64". New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Candida Royalle, 64, Dies; Filmed Erotica for Women (Published 2015)". September 11, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  6. ^ a b c "The Woman Who Tried to Make Porn Safe for Feminism". March 11, 2024. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  7. ^ a b Vanmetre, Elizabeth (September 7, 2015). "Former porn star turned director Candida Royalle dies at age 64". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Stanley, John (February 21, 1988). "Film Maker Gives Erotica A Woman's Point of View". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Alilunas, Peter (2016). Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video. Univ of California Press. p. 132. ISBN 9780520291706. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  10. ^ Eichelbaum, Stanley (June 20, 1975). "A musical comedy that's sheer agony". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  11. ^ "Candida Royalle iafd bio". Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "Candida Royalle". Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Taormino, Tristan; Shimizu, Celine Parreñas; Penley, Constance; Miller-Young, Mireille (2013). The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 9781558618190. OCLC 828140733.
  14. ^ "Discourses of Desire: Liberals, Feminists, and the Politics of Pornography in the 1980s -- Cameron 2 (4): 784 -- American Literary History". alh.oxfordjournals.org. Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2008.
  15. ^ illy Bragge, "Girls on top", The Age, June 16, 2004.
  16. ^ "15 Worst Pick Up Lines You've Ever Heard In Hindi - Enjoy The Rainny Romance". May 2019. Archived from the original on May 22, 2022. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Janice Kennedy, "Exploring female sexuality: Documentary a revealing look at women's erotica". Ottawa Citizen, February 10, 1999.
  18. ^ Lyon, Jason. "New York Stories: The Adult Industry's Past ... and Present". Adult Video News. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Kernes, Mark. "Famed Actress/Director Candida Royalle Passes". avn.com. Adult Video News. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  20. ^ Lefebvre, Sam (August 5, 2016). "Waking the Spirit of a Disco Innovator". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  21. ^ Zeiss Stange, Mary; Oyster, Carol K.; Sloan, Jane E. (2013). The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. SAGE Publications. p. 291. ISBN 9781452270685.
  22. ^ Denfeld, Rene (2009). The New Victorians. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9780446565233.
  23. ^ Williams, Linda (1989). Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "frenzy of the Visible". University of California Press. pp. 246–247. ISBN 0520066529. Retrieved February 28, 2016. Per Sjostedt candida.
  24. ^ Abby Ehmann (May 16, 2006). "Candida Royalle". Eros NY. Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  25. ^ Celona, Larry (September 7, 2015). "Orphaned ex-porn star dies of cancer". New York Post. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  26. ^ Gee, Dana (April 26, 2019). "Godmother of feminist porn is focus of new doc Candice | Vancouver Sun". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Shepherd, Jeremy (May 3, 2019). "Doc examines life of adult film star turned feminist icon". North Shore News. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  28. ^ Lamble, David. "What's up, DocFest?". The Bay Area Reporter. The Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  29. ^ "Mbur Indie Film Distribution". Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  30. ^ Lust, Erika (2010). Good Porn: A Woman's Guide. Hachette UK. pp. 111–112. ISBN 9781580053518. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  31. ^ Fraser, Laura (February–March 1990). "Nasty Girls [The New Feminist Pornography]". Mother Jones. 15 (2): 32–35, 48–50. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  32. ^ TCM (Turner Classic Movies): "Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality" synopsis: TCM synopsis.

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