"New York was really the biggest hub of production during the Golden Era," said Candida Royalle, owner/president of Femme Productions, based in Manhattan. "It's always the elite trend setter, culturally, and I think it's a sign that women are really, finally jumping in. It took a generation after me, but women are really starting to create their own erotic material. And I guess you're seeing it, especially in New York."
A performer in the 1970s, Royalle made a name for herself in 25 classic titles, including "Femmes de Sade" and "The Analist."
In 1980, she founded Femme Productions and became the originator of couples- style content as a director.
Twenty-seven years later, Royalle is grooming new directors; young female filmmakers from outside the adult industry, willing to explore the possibilities of erotic content.
"I see there are a lot more women interested in producing and directing," she said. "It's the daughters of the women that were looking at the movies when I started Femme Productions. Now, they're coming of age and they don't have the same hang-ups. They're really open to it. They have much less shame around sex."
The debut release of her new Femme Chocolat ethnic line is titled "Afrodite Superstar" and is directed by Venus Hottentot.
Hottentot "feels very strongly that black women's sexuality has been commoditized and objectified," Royalle said. "She had a desire to take back the whole sexuality of the black woman and show it as it is — with respect, dignity and truth.
"And I had wanted to find a way to bring people of color, both in my casting process and also into the marketplace. I think we all know the discerning ethnic couple is a completely under-served market."
Ethnic, economic and cultural diversity is a unique aspect of life in the big city, according to punk porn princess Joanna Angel.
"I feel like there's a lot more mixing and I just think it makes the party vibe everywhere just so insane," Angel said. "In New York, there are gay people, straight people, black people, white people, drag queens, trannies, supermodels and celebrities. All those people are found in the same place."
Originally from New Jersey, Angel has resided in New York since 2003.
Founder/president of Brooklyn-based Burning Angel.com, she, along with partner Mitch Fontaine, transformed a part-time website project into New York's most recognizable online purveyor of alt-porn.
"We make 80 percent of our money online and we always have," Angel said. "We are an Internet company that just recently started making DVDs, and our DVD sales end up helping the website. People go to porn stores and they see the DVDs and they want to see more of our stuff, so they go online.
"I like DVDs; they're tangible products people can look at, buy, collect and keep on their shelves. You always need to have some kind of product line."
An April article in the New York Observer chronicled her premature departure from Hustler/VCA, producer of the majority of Angel's titles in partnership with Burning Angel Entertainment.
"I think I wasn't right for them and they weren't right for me," Angel said. Currently shopping for a new production deal, Angel is interested in finding a good fit. When uber-alt auteur and friend Eon McKai expressed interest in bringing her to his Vivid-Alt line, she turned him down. McKai has stated that he understands Angel's desire to remain independent.
Asked if she feels constrained by "alt" stereotypes, she said: "I started my own company so I could do whatever the hell I want. I don't care if I do something that other people are gonna say, 'That's not alt.'
"I shoot the kind of porn I want and the kind of girls I want, with the kind of setups I want and I don't feel limited by anything. I don't really care what people think is 'alt.' I never did. If I wanted to shoot a girl with blond hair and big boobs who's really tan, I would."
Nonetheless, in New York, BurningAngel.com has a large pool of tattooed, pierced, pale-skinned models they use for web content and video work.
But other porners haven't been so lucky and the biggest challenge for most East Coast producers is finding reliable talent.
"I'm in New York and I'm trying to get the scene back going in New York, but it's been very difficult," Jewel De'Nyle, former New Sensations contract-girl-turned-director, said. "The New York scene hasn't exactly been 100 percent professional. There's been a lot of amateur stuff and web stuff, but not like a real professional coming and shooting the big movies.
"So I'm trying to get the girls that have done a lot of amateur stuff to come to the other side and do the more professional end of it. And it's tough because they don't take the porn business 100 percent seriously yet, so you're lucky to get 50 percent of your girls to show up."
Since stepping down as co-owner of Platinum X Pictures in June 2006, De'Nyle has been distributing product through Fifth Element and recently contracted as a director with Pleasure Productions for its new Absolute Jewel line.
"I just wrapped up my first release, which is called 'No Boys, No Toys,'" she said. De'Nyle estimates that the release, through Pleasure for Absolute Jewel, should be out within the next few weeks.
Despite having to double-book her productions in order to increase the odds of actresses showing up on set, De'Nyle has found a freshness sometimes lacking in Los Angeles.
"The girls here just have a different flair to them," she said. "It's still not very professional here yet, but the girls that did show up are great. They're not so jaded that they're going through the motions of doing the same thing over and over again."
For "No Boys, No Toys," De'Nyle was able to coax New Jersey resident Arianna Jolie into her first scene in more than a year, an all-girl three-way. The film also showcases New York newcomer Adrianna DeVille.
Banking on her ability to offer NYC newbies a chance at being in a professional production, De'Nyle is all about sticking to the basics.
"My gig is an easy gig," she said. "It's gonzo; straight hardcore all the way through."
Director of this year's Best Gonzo Release at the AVN Awards and native New Yorker, Tristan Taormino says she would love to shoot a title for her Vivid "Chemistry" line in New York.
"I can definitely see doing 'Chemistry' in New York," Taormino said. "People always say there's no talent here. The truth is there's talent, but there isn't a ton of talent, so you don't necessarily have the huge range of choices you have when you go to L.A. And, if someone flakes on you, you have no back up — but still, I wouldn't rule it out."
Longtime sex columnist for the Village Voice, award-winning author, lecturer and sex educator, Taormino adds more credentials to her list of accomplishments by helming the "Chemistry" series and also the new line of Vivid-Ed educational videos. The debut title, "Tristan Taormino's Expert Guide to Anal Sex" was released on Valentine's Day.
Taormino started giving anal sex workshops in 1998, when she authored "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women." Back then, it was another famous New Yorker who helped launch her career.
"Howard Stern was one of the first media appearances I ever did to promote the book, and it put me on the map," she said. "There was a huge spike in sales right after I appeared on the show.
"Now, I feel like it's much easier and there's so much more dialogue about anal sex. It really has reached a level of acceptance that's very, very different than the way things were back then."
So when she was approached by Vivid to pitch the concept for "Chemistry," Taormino said it was a "no-brainer" for trend-savvy CEO Steven Hirsch to pitch the idea of an educational series back at her.
"For me, it's the ultimate extension of my workshop," she said. With interactive features like instructional pop-up windows, ala VH1's "Pop-Up Video," and voiceover narration by Taormino during the educational segments, there is also plenty of extracurricular hot sex.
"What is sort of most interesting and exciting is this idea that the viewers can watch the videos with or without instruction," Taormino said. "When we offer a scene, there's a scene with all this instructional information. It has people demonstrating very explicit techniques.
"Then, when you go to the scene without instruction, it's not that same scene. It's actually edited differently and there are shots in there that are different, that I shoot just for the sexy part."
So far, the Vivid-Ed line has slated a cunnilingus release for July, fellatio in October, to be followed by G-spot stimulation, sex positions and bondage.
With six releases per year planned for the Vivid-Ed line, plus her work for the "Chemistry" series, Taormino spends a significant amount of time on the West Coast these days. But would she ever be willing to relocate?
"The thing about New York is, I think it's the most amazing city in the country," she said. So, for me, it's gonna be New York. I would never live in any other city."