Last night I went to the memorial for Candida Royalle, the actress and filmmaker who started the couples erotica genre back in the mid-1980s and helped kickstart the whole feminist porn movement. She died in early September at age 64 of ovarian cancer.
Here’s the program from the memorial, unfortunately a little crumpled because I kept it in my overcoat while trying to juggle a plate of food and a glass of wine after the service…
Many people wore red, because that was Candida’s favorite color. I don’t have much red in my wardrobe, so I went to a souvenir shop near Times Square where I knew they sell inexpensive ties of many colors, including red.
There was a potluck assortment of food afterward, so I brought a box of chocolate covered cherries, since those also are red and a particularly voluptuous treat that seemed appropriate in memory of a woman celebrated for her love of sensuality.
She loved tomatoes—she even sang a song about them—which were passed out at the end of the service. Quite tasty.
Candida certainly was a very accomplished and energetic woman, and with the mourners like porn legends Annie Sprinkle and Vanessa Del Rio filling Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, it was overflowingly obvious she had an amazing gift for friendship too. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know her better; I only knew her as a professional acquaintance, running into her at events like screenings or, last year, at the memorial for another XXX icon, Gloria Leonard. I did note, however, that whenever our paths crossed, Candida had the remarkable ability to make you feel she was really glad to see you, and valued even a few moments of your presence. That’s quite a gift.
As her friends spoke their remembrances—people such as Annie, Veronica Vera, Veronica Hart, writer Ariel Hart, and her close friend and production associate Michele Capozzi—I found myself astounded that with all her busy filmmaking and sex toy designing and sinematic entrepreneurship, she had the ability to make so much space in her life for other people. Clearly she was one of those unique individuals who can cram into her allotted time on this crazy planet experiences and relationships that would take most average human beings three or four lifetimes to encompass.
As we of the first generation of legal porn creators, those of us who started in the 1970s when the obscenity laws relaxed, begin to age, illness and death become inevitable visitors, as to all people. But sometimes I feel in a kind of silly, post-adolescent way, “Wasn’t porn supposed to keep us young and strong forever?” Porn, or erotica if you will, has a unique “fountain of youth” quality whether you create it in film or writing or art, or bring it to life on screen by having the sex yourself; and I think porn fans feel that eternal youthfulness in it, too. I think that’s certainly one reason why I continue to enjoy writing it and indulging myself in a young manhood that may only exist in my mind, but is certainly vivid enough as it parades across my imagination and comes alive in the words on my computer screen.
Rest in peace, Candida Royalle, aka Candice Marion Vadala. For more about her life and films, check out her site here.