Women On Top: 2
Suze and Holly Randall
While some women have made their fortunes in front of the camera, Suze Randall built a legacy from behind the lens.
"I do think my mother has changed the way that women in the adult industry are photographed," says daughter Holly Randall, also an erotic photographer and collaborator with her mother on Suze.net.
"I think, most of all, she knows what it feels like to be exposed in the way nude models are, and she empathizes with the girls, makes sure they are comfortable and have the best experience possible."
A former nurse-turned-model, Suze Randall became a self-taught photographer between appearances on the catwalks of Europe. Her breakthrough came when she discovered pinup model Lillian Muller, who became Playboy's Playmate of the Month for August 1975. She went along with Muller to Los Angeles for the shoot and never looked back.
Since then, Randall is one of the only photographers to work for the "Big Three" — Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler. However, after ending her associations with those publications, Randall prefers her status as a freelancer. She also is a proud mom.
"Holly is so much better than I was at her age," Randall says. "It's so much more involved and complicated these days. Video, digital — we used to spend four days doing a centerfold for Penthouse; now it all has to be done in one day. Holly's stretched over the business in a way that I'm not — when she's not working in the studio, she's working in the office trying to juggle all the other components of the business. I must say that I'm proud of her photography and business sense."
Safeguarding the industry against inherent health issues is a part that Dr. Sharon Mitchell has played for nearly a decade, after a 20-year career as an entertainer.
Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, or AIM, offers a wide range of services and resources geared toward assisting adult performers but none more important than its function as a clearinghouse for providing and documenting HIV/STDs testing.
"My motivation was that I was already two years into my eight-year higher education," explains Mitchell, who co-founded the organization in 1998.
"There's life after porn, and my friends were getting infected with HIV," she said. "I knew that I was the person that had all the resources to put it together; I had the medical education, the counseling skills and the trust of the industry."
By the end of this year, while remaining executive director at AIM, Mitchell will effectively retire from her work at the clinic to pursue other ventures. The foundation will continue to offer a wide range of assistance to industry workers in the form of seminars, workshops, counseling, medical and psychological services, low-cost prescriptions and education.
"It's time for me to evolve," she says, describing her own life after porn. "I'm also recently married and would like to enjoy that as well."
With more than 12 years experience in nonprofit organizations, Michelle Freridge holds a master's in public administration. Since taking the reins of Free Speech Coalition in 2004, her skills in legal and legislative advocacy have been tested by increasing governmental pressure on the industry in the form of revised federal 2257 regulations.
"The latest critical development is in the federal legislature," Freridge tells XBIZ. "House of Representatives bill HR 4472, Title VI — the 'Child Pornography Prevention Bill' — will change the law that the 2257 rules and regulations are based on."
According to Freridge, these changes will enlarge the definition of child pornography to include the word "simulate" (a definition that was struck down in 2002; FSC vs. Ashcroft) and will further expand the 2257 record-keeping and labeling requirements.
In response, Freridge has stepped up the FSC's role in defending against obscenity prosecutions and attacks on freedom of speech. After initiating the 2257 lawsuit against the federal government, the FSC hired the Raben Group, a Washington-based lobbying firm, as the first federal lobbyist for the adult industry.
Freridge also has overseen the organization through a membership enrollment boom to more than 3,500 adult companies in 2005.
Although proactive support for the industry reaches across gender lines, Freridge sees the positive effects of a strong female presence.
"The presence of increasing numbers of women in leadership positions," she says, "demonstrates that the contemporary adult industry, like Hollywood, is a modern, professional and economic powerhouse that benefits the entire nation through employment, profit, taxes and extremely popular, high-quality adult entertainment products."
In a future installment of "Women on Top," we'll look at Digital Playground co-founder Samantha Lewis, super salesperson Mara Epstein, Jenna Jameson, Wicked Pictures' Joy King, Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner and pioneering director Candida Royalle.