LAS VEGAS—For the first time in AEE history, the convention’s trade seminar track included a panel devoted to the transgender experience, titled “Exploring Trends in Transsexual Erotica,” moderated by Kristel Penn, marketing director for Grooby Entertainment, and featuring award-winning transgendered actresses Jessy Dubai, Venus Lux (who also directs and owns her production company) and TS Foxxy, as well as Aiden Starr (director of Evil Angel’s Hot for Transsexuals series) and Fran Marquez (VP of trans-friendly production companies Rodnievision and Mancini Productions).
After the panelists introduced themselves, Penn dove into the questioning by asking whether mainstream culture had become more transgender-aware in recent years, or possibly even trans-friendly, thanks to such high-visibility personalities like Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Fox.
“For me, it has not affected my business at all,” Dubai responded, “but in my personal life, it has benefited me or affected me, because now when I tell people I’m a transsexual or when people find out I’m a transsexual, there’s no more, ‘<gasp> Ohmigod!’ It’s more like ‘Like Caitlyn Jenner?’ and I’m like, ‘Yes!'”
Even with people who express negative attitudes about transsexuals, Dubai explained that she finds it is easier to educate them now. “Sometimes they’ll stop talking to me and move away but they’ll come back and and apologize and be like, ‘I’m sorry. Now I know you’re just like any person,’ and that has helped me a lot. … Now that the media are saying that transsexuals are okay, now everybody wants to be a transsexual, everybody wants to date a transsexual, everybody wants to be friends with a transsexual …
“I say, ‘Sure, I suck dick for money. I also flip burgers. I also had to pick up trash in the streets. I also do community service just like anyone else. If I cut my arm and you cut yours, I bleed just like everyone else,” Dubai added, paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
Fellow panelist Foxxy agreed, saying, “We’ve come a long way in this industry, and it took a lot of years just for us to be recognized as a part of the industry, so for us to be here right now on this panel means a lot for us, because we’ve had to fight our way, even with AVN, all these award shows, it’s just sad that it took us this long to be part of it, to feel like, yes, we’re a part of it. People are starting to come up to us and recognize us and it’s just great.”
Talking about the influence of Caitlyn Jenner on the trans community, Lux disagreed, saying, “I think we’ve come to the conclusion that because Caitlyn Jenner is not a sex icon, it does not transfer over to the adult industry. If she was a sex icon, people would be grilling her more and taking naked pictures and that would lead into porn, so I feel the trickle effect has not kicked in yet until there’s a next generation of mainstream stars who are the next sex symbols—that basically is the epitome of a beautiful transgender person.”
Lux also advocated for better sex education in society so that people can understand transgendered people, their physical similarities and differences, their outlooks, and perhaps even learn the proper terms to use when referring to them.
“Being Caitlyn Jenner, being an icon doesn’t mean crap if you’re not advocating and educating others and really helping broaden people’s horizons on what being transgender really means,” she added.
Marquez joined in, lauding Buck Angel as someone who has “been leading the way with conversations about sex and body and being healthy and being happy and content with what you have going on,” and added that more understanding of transgender issues would likely lead to more sales of trans material.
Speaking more personally, Dubai told the audience that she’d always wanted to be an actress, and that she did porn “for publicity; to get my name out there. … It just happens that the window that I opened, it happened to be a porn window, so I said, ‘Let’s go; let’s try this.'”
One of Dubai’s main points during the seminar was that trans performers who have been in the business for a while almost have a duty to help newcomers understand what’s expected of them, even noting that she’s lent newbies some of her clothing when they needed to make an impression—even if Dubai herself, she said, wasn’t anxious to work on camera with newcomers.
Dubai also took issue with self-proclaimed “directors” who, in true casting couch manner, expected freebies from performers.
“If I could tell you how many guys I’ve had who have offered me a thousand dollars to do a scene with me, but I have to suck their dick, I’m like, ‘No, sweetie, that’s not how we do things. If I’m going to be doing hardcore, I’m going to be doing it in front of you and with a performer. If I’m going to do a solo, you’re going to sit over there with a camera and watch me jerk off. There’s no such thing as me sucking your dick; you’re going to have to pay me separate for that.'”
As a director of trans performers, Aiden Starr told the audience that “Cable is my huge beef,” because although several cable companies are happy to buy and broadcast straight porn movies with the hardcore sex cut out, none of them expressed any interest in airing her trans titles, which she attributed to cable executives not being very aware of the genre, with some of them even being afraid of it. Those comments led to the other panelists voicing their own complaints, with Foxxy noting that although several straight adult performers had managed the transition into mainstream Hollywood, that path was much more difficult (if not impossible) for trans performers, and Lux bemoaned the fact that there were virtually no transgendered adult directors—which prompted Starr to tell Lux that she would help Lux make connections at Evil Angel, which Starr had earlier described as “very trans friendly.”
As the seminar progressed, the panelists’ statements became more personal, with Foxxy describing how, as a child, although men were the objects of her affection, she never considered herself to be gay, but that it took a while before she figured out that she was trans.
AVN editor-in-chief Sharan Street then asked moderator Penn about the organization TAIF, which she, Grooby owner Steven Grooby and Buck Angel created, and Penn responded that the initials stood for the Trans Adult Industry Foundation, which is a fund which accepts donations which are used to help transgendered performers.
After the panel was over, several of the audience members, and even a couple of the panelists, expressed their pleasure that AVN had decided to include more trans-friendly programming, and suggested that next year, perhaps some time could be set aside to have a group of trans performers simply answer audience questions about the trans adult business, and about what it feels like and what difficulties are faced by the transgendered.
Pictured, l-r: Venus Lux, Fran Marquez, Aiden Starr, Jessy Dubai, TS Foxxy. (Not shown: moderator Kristel Penn.)
Originally posted at AVN.