Femme Productions has launched a new line of erotic films for couples featuring a more ethnically diverse cast of actors and actresses, directed by women of color.
According to a study on African American women commissioned by Essence Communications Partners (ECP), publishers of Essence Magazine, ethnic women remain a largely untapped market.
A quick survey of available movies that feature people of color will also reveal that ethnic women and couples are seriously underserved in terms of providing high quality erotic films that are intelligent and reflective of their lifestyles and needs. Most of what is out there is often a caricature of Black and Latino sexuality bordering on insulting and racist depictions.
Femme Chocolat aims to change that. By placing the reins of production directly in their hands, we seek to empower women of color by giving them a place to share their unique vision of their own sexuality with all who seek to observe, learn and enjoy.
Femme Chocolat is proud to introduce our first erotic feature, AfroDite Superstar, directed by Venus Hottentot, and released by Adam and Eve Pictures.
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Afrodite Superstar was nominated for 7 AVN Awards– Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actors and Best Music.
Directed by Venus Hottentot
Produced by Natasha Cortes
Have you ever dreamed of being a superstar? AfroDite hasn’t—not until she runs into CEO, the mogul’s mogul of hip hop. Catapulted in to the world of made mega-stars with her best friend Isis in tow, AfroDite quickly becomes a top selling rapper and nothing can keep her down – not wardrobe malfunctions, not lip synching fiascos, nothing! Well, almost nothing. Finding herself a little socially challenged in the love department, her secret crush CEO only seems to see dollar signs on her forehead. Will AfroDite get her man? And will superstardom turn out to be everything she never wished for?
Starring Simone Valentino, India, Mr. Marcus, Sativa Verte, Revay and Jay Junker
Released by Adam & Eve Pictures
AfroDite Superstar provides fresh and unexpected erotic content with a meaningful story that is aimed at tastefully serving the erotic needs of women of color. This is the first ethnically diverse feature to come out under Femme Chocolat®, a new division of Candida Royalle’s internationally acclaimed Femme Productions®. While Royalle is known for having pioneered the concept of female-sensitive adult movies for couples, it is with Femme Chocolat that she seeks to address the much neglected audience of ethnically diverse couples.
Awards and Accolades
Simone Valentino received “Best New Star” award for her leading role in AfroDite Superstar, presented by Feminist Porn Awards, Toronto, June 2007.
Afrodite Superstar, nominated for seven AVN Awards including Best Video Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress (Simone Valentino), Best Supporting Actress (Inda), and Best Supporting Actor (Mr. Marcus) walked away with the award for Best Music.
Singled out by Essence Magazine (August ’07) in its list of “sexy things to try out at home” (“Try Something New Tonight”, Jeannine Amber).
After combing catalogs and the web, and testing dozens of products, Afrodite Superstar was recommended by Tristan Taormino as one of this holiday season’s top picks in her Village Voice Annual Sexy Gift Guide.
What People are Saying
“Full of profound insights, fantastic original hip-hop songs and hilarious video vixen spoofs this film puts the typical lily-white offerings of the mainstream porn industry to shame. Beautifully shot with all of the high production values, focus on fabulous female pleasure and general hotness that Candida fans have come to expect. Stunning newcomer Simone Valentino sizzles in every scene and her final showdown with Mr, Marcus will definitely wear your rewind button out! You’ll want to watch the whole thing, guaranteed.”
“Besides all the hotness and chemistry between performers, the plot is really engaging…and the sizzling coupling between Simone Valentino and Mr. Marcus actually made us utter the word “Sweet!” out loud in a quiet movie theater… It’s not often you see two performers laughing and enjoying themselves during a sex scene instead of making faces like they’re slaughtering a suckling pig.”
-Audacia Ray, Fleshbot.com
“I never got a chance to say how much I enjoyed Afrodite Superstar. It was quite unique in the genre …The humor and splendid writing was a breath of fresh air … Simone was marvelous and played her role flawlessly.”
-Terry Williams, Professor of Sociology, New School for Social Research
“Great Job! There is a lot of sensuality with foreplay, touching and romance that women look for…. Simone Valentino (AfroDite) is a breathe of fresh air… Mr. Marcus’s style of making love to Simone is how all women would love to be treated…. this is one title that stands alone. I highly recommend Afrodite Superstar.”
Letters from Viewers
“As a young man of color, I was impressed. The film portrayed our women in such a beautiful, classy yet stimulating light that I never thought was possible. I can’t describe it any other way but as a work of art…This was very inspiring and uplifting, and I look forward to seeing more films from your Femme Chocolat line. Finally, I own an adult film that I can actually display with my other movies rather than tuck away underneath my bed, and can actually enjoy with my partner.” Thanks!
“Thank you for creating this film. It is a wonderful step in the direction I’d always hoped to witness. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. I am eagerly awaiting the next one!”
-H. A., New Jersey
Q&A with the Director
Venus Hottentot is a recent art school grad who has made a number of short art films before directing her first featurette, AfroDite Superstar, which is executive produced by Candida Royalle. As an African American filmmaker, her objective is reclaiming the sexual voice and expression of women of color. She joins Larry Clarke, Matthew Barney, John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Winterbottom (Destricted, Shortbus, and 9 Songs) as filmmakers seeking to make intelligent mainstream work with explicit sexual content.
As a feminist and university graduate, why did you do this film?
I wanted to create an intelligent and non-pornographic/ non-exploitive sex film that features characters of color and would be uplifting instead of degrading. Like most filmmakers such as Spike Lee, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, most of my work explores similar themes over and over again. All of my work explores the concept of identity, of being a young woman of color, and trying to be more than we are.
Like the bestselling author Zane, I feel that it is important for us to open this sexual conversation in communities of color, where our silence literally equals death as women of color continue to be the fastest growing group diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. I wanted to create something intelligent, sexy and entertaining by women for women.
How did you choose your stage name?
I chose the name Venus Hottentot in salute Sarah Saartjie Baartman also known as The Hottentot Venus, a South African woman who was kidnapped and sexually exploited in the 19th century. My attempt is to reclaim her sexual voice, and the voice of all of us. Even though women of color are over-sexualized in our society, our own voice is absent.
Any thoughts on your casting process?
Physical image after acting ability definitely came into play in my lengthy casting process. All of the black women are different shades of dark brown. That is very rare—if you look at our music videos, only black women or women of color who approximate the look of Caucasians are seen as beautiful. It was key for me to show natural African hair as beautiful.
In terms of casting, the film co-stars Mr. Marcus, who many have called the Tom Cruise of porn. The funny thing is that I am not a porn consumer so (fortunately or unfortunately) I had never ever heard of him before. The same goes for India, who is now a rapper. It was fantastic for me, as a director, to give them opportunities and hold them up to standards that people may not have thought they were capable of.
I discovered Simone Valentino at a university symposium on sexual media and Justin Long through his agent. Trina Asidieu is a great discovery as well.
They were all intelligent, supportive, dedicated and hard working– studying their lines, going to acting classes, and being committed. I am extremely proud of them. They did a great job.
What was your film process?
Our film process was writing and revising a script, casting and extensive rehearsals, and original music production. In rehearsals, I basically gave each of the actors mini acting lessons. It was also key to me that people stay on book. For the most part, no improvisation was permitted, except during the sex scenes of course. The music was composed for us by a very famous hip hop producer although we can’t say who.
Do you have any regrets?
I feel that I fell short in my quest to portray women of different body types because of the talent available to me. Several people have asked why I chose not to cover the stretch marks on my main character Simone Valentino, who is otherwise a perfect beauty. Real women have stretch marks and we are beautiful because of them, not in spite of them. Our bodies tell the story of our journeys. I also tried to use women with only real breasts, although I do respect women’s rights to do whatever they wish to their own bodies.
How did you hook up with Candida Royalle?
I found Candida Royalle and Femme Productions through her great website where she specified that she was looking to give opportunities to young female filmmakers. Although I had never considered shooting a sex film before it was a great opportunity. People can’t conceive of it but I pitched it as a regular movie where the sex is real. Although I’ve made other narrative films before, she is the first person to trust me with a larger budget. I approached the work as I did any other—a safe set with a polished and sophisticated crew of mostly women.
What’s the difference between pornography and erotica?
I don’t think that all sexual content is pornographic. In fact, I prefer the term sex film as it seems more direct and less dated to me than either term. Pornography to me signifies exploitation. Our film is a very positive sexy enterprise made by women for women with a strong message. Call it whatever you want, just see it and tell your friends about it.