Candida Royalle Awarded Doctorate in Human Sexuality

SAN FRANCISCO — On June 26, Candida Royalle and two other members of Club 90, the first-ever adult industry support group, will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) in San Francisco. 

Jane Hamilton (aka Veronica Hart), Veronica Vera and Candida Royalle will receive their degrees from Dr. Ted McIlvenna at the Institute. Gloria Leonard, who passed away in January, will receive her degree posthumously. 

“These divas personify what has always been a primary goal of the Institute, which is to spread the truth of human sexual experience in all its complexities,” Dr. McIlvenna said. “To acknowledge the divas’ visionary work renews our shared commitment to that goal and helps assure our continued success.”

Club 90, named after Annie Sprinkle’s Manhattan apartment where the idea of a porn star support group was hatched, was created in 1983 in order to provide friendship and support as each of these women prepared to leave their careers in adult behind. Each of these former adult movie stars went on to become innovators in the diverse fields of human sexuality they later pursued. 

After a long and distinguished career in adult movies, working on both sides of the camera, Hamilton now uses her expertise to educate women in the U.S. and China on issues relating to pleasure, aging and self-esteem; Royalle created Femme Productions in 1984 and became known for “pioneering erotic cinema from a woman’s perspective,” encouraging other women to follow her lead; and Vera founded the world's first cross-dressing academy, Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, for trans people across the gender spectrum.

Leonard debated some of the toughest anti-porn activists and toured college campuses as a self-described “stand up constitutionalist,” educating students about the nuances of the First Amendment. She was also the first president of the Free Speech Coalition.

All four women, in addition to Annie Sprinkle, comprise Club 90, which continues to meet to this day. They credit the “resulting deep and lasting friendship of their Club 90 sisters with helping to manifest their individual dreams and successes.” 

Reportedly the first porn star to be awarded a Ph.D. (from IASHS in 2002), Sprinkle will host the investiture and awards ceremony.

The soon-to-be graduates will each deliver a 2½ hour lecture/presentation on their life’s work at the Institute’s special “Days of The Divas” (June 24-26) as part of the curriculum.

While most of the Institute’s events are invite-only, the afternoon of Thursday, June 26 will feature a “Days of the Divas Display — An Open House Meet & Greet & Show & Tell” that will display Club 90 archival materials and ephemera, and is open to the public. 

Founded in 1976 by Rev. Dr. Ted McIlvenna, the IASHS bills reports to be the first institute of higher-education to award advanced degrees in the newly emergent field of sexology that grew out of the sexual revolution. Wardell Pomeroy, a colleague of Alfred Kinsey, was appointed the school’s first dean (Chris O’Donnell portrayed him in the movie “Kinsey”).

For more information about the Institute or the event, contact Dr. McIllvenna at 415-928-1133. Ext. 23.