0014: Fervor Friday With Award Winning Writer And Director Jacky St. James
When a woman is secure in her sensuality there are no taboos, the doors to creation begin to open. Picture yourself honoring your passions, revel in pleasure, and delight in your sensuality now envision yourself genuinely free, able to choose healthy relationships that support your most empowered life. Sexuality is a journey into enchantment, a trip into a dramatically altered state of being. Today I honor a woman whom specialization is within the erotic arts, a brilliant writer and director who has been creating soft, intimate and thought-provoking erotica that celebrates all carnal desires Jacky St James.
Jacky St. James is an award-winning writer and director in the adult entertainment industry dubbed by Salon.com as “the Woman Who Conquered Porn.” She’s guest lectured at UCLA, UCSB, and been featured in Slate, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Examiner, and many more.
“There is often an assumption in society that porn is a bad thing that only bad people do or bad people watch. Well, I’m about as “good girl” as you get and I watch porn pretty much on a daily basis.
For me, adult films have helped enhance my own sexual desires, given me a deeper appreciation for the male and female form, taught me a few tricks, and helped sustain me through a five year dry spell (I told you I was a good girl).
My hope is to change women’s views on sexuality and help them embrace the normalcy of dabbling in the XXX world from time to time. There should be no shame in our sexual desires no matter how deviant they might be…and the more open we are about our base needs, the more we can begin to positively shape society’s views on female sexuality.” ~ Jacky St. James
Who Jacky St. James?
I am an award winning writer and director in the adult film industry specializing in scripted films geared primarily towards the couples’ market.
Moreover, at this moment, how do you spend your days?
Writing. Thinking about my next script. Stressing over my next script. Handling a variety of challenges that occur in production (cancelations, budgets, taxes, etc.). Sexy, huh? When I’m not working I’m working out or I’m watching Netflix or scouring Instagram for rescue dog videos.
I love that you are called “CannaSexual,” how did the universe gift you this incredible name?
I made it up! Back in 2014 when I discovered Foria, the company making THC-infused pleasure oil, I realized that combining sex and cannabis was a perfect niche for me since I had been working as a sex educator for six years. CannaSexual® was born, and it has been federally trademarked since 2017!
Can you tell us a little about your upbringings?
I was raised by very conservative parents that valued education above all else. Sex was not something that was openly discussed. All I knew about sex was that practicing abstinence was of utmost importance. I was forbidden to watch movies with sex scenes and that denial caused me to go looking for them anywhere. The easiest place was on soap operas. At the time, everything I knew about sex was from soap operas. Which in some ways has influenced a lot of my writing now. I love tortured love stories and drama in my writing. I love grand romantic gestures or heartbreaking ends. After high school, I went on to get my undergraduate degree and, before landing a job in adult, I worked in corporate America in the online advertising world for about 12 years.
How would you define yourself and what purpose inspires you?
I am a storyteller at my core.That’s where I thrive. I like to share stories that make people think, feel, question, and laugh. Being able to reach people through storytelling is what inspires me. Bringing to life issues and characters that can share a message with the viewer is so much a part of who I am. Telling stories in whatever medium available to me IS my life purpose.
What inspired you to direct adult erotica?
I never aspired to direct erotica. I was always fascinated by the adult industry and got my start working in public relations. Soon, that evolved into a directing gig when the owner of New Sensations recognized my prowess for understanding erotica and decided to give me a shot working behind the camera. My venture into adult was completely accidental. I submitted a screenplay to an adult writing contest and actually won. After that, I was invited to come on set and watch its production. I was immediately smitten with the industry after that and quickly left corporate America when a public relations opportunity in porn came available. That same screenplay ended up winning Best Screenplay at the AVN awards that year. The first one I’d ever written – which was pretty damn cool.
Where do you draw inspiration to convey complex characters and storylines in your films?
Real life. Always real life. I am definitely someone who prefers asking questions to answering them and I find every single person I’ve ever met insanely interesting. Everybody’s willing to share their story if you’re willing to ask them the right questions. You can learn so much more about writing by listening. The internet has also lead me to quite a few stories. The internet is this rabbit hole of information and stories and over-sharing, that it’s impossible not to gain some creative inspiration from it.
Which do you enjoy more, the writing process or being behind the camera, and why?
That is difficult to answer. Probably writing to be honest – writing is the most torturous, awful, frustrating, humbling thing ever – but it also is insanely rewarding. I like looking at a blank page and creating a world that can go anywhere I choose. It is a painstaking process and it is time-consuming, but when I export that final draft as a PDF and attach it to my cast – I feel such a sense of excitement and pride. The real labor is in the writing. How can you not love what you struggled so hard for?
What do you think is the biggest misconception women have regarding sex, sexuality, and adult erotica aka porn?
Regarding porn – the greatest misconception is that porn is what you find on tube sites. So often I hear from people that there isn’t enough pornography geared towards women – but the truth is -there is. There are plenty of adult films created by both men and women that are insanely erotic, plot-driven, etc. But those films are impossible to find in the overly cluttered pages of tube sites. And even if those films are on tube sites, they are rebranded for clicks. The other misconception is that every person in porn has somehow been coerced into working in porn. That the female performers hate their jobs, hate sex, feel like they are being abused. While that’s not to say that SOME performers do hate their jobs and hate sex and have been abused – there are plenty of women excited about the opportunities that the adult industry presents for them to own and operate their own business.We are no different than any other people – except that we work in the most stigmatized industries in the world. It really is true. There isn’t a professional group more stigmatized than pornographers.
Did you see something missing in the adult market? Why did you decide to start writing and directing adult cinema?
I didn’t know what existed in the adult market until I was working it it. I didn’t know how to find what I was looking for. I got into adult after watching an incredible clip one of my male friends had sent me which was produced by a studio called New Sensations. It was beautifully shot with men and women that were both attractive and the sex scenes were less spectacle and more connected and passionate. The women appeared to be ENJOYING what was going on – not wincing in pain like a lot of pornography I’d seen in the past. In my quest to figure out more about that company – I was lead to an article saying the studio was running a contest for adult screenwriters. After doing research about New Sensations and writing an adult script, I sent in a screenplay called DEAR ABBY, won the contest, and went on to write countless other vignettes and features for New Sensations after that. That was the company that gave me my start and I’ll be forever indebted to Scott Taylor the owner who believed in me.
You have an extensive body of work in plot-driven erotica films and won multiple awards for your movies and screenplays. How do you ensure that you get the best performances, both dramatically and sexually, from your casts?
I used to work as an actor for years and I am trained in so many different acting methods. Because of my understanding of intention, motivation, and performance – I know exactly who can deliver exactly what is required of the script. However, I always cast FIRST and WRITE second. I do this because I write to the level of each performer’s ability. Some people really get subtext, others don’t. I write for everyone I cast – always. It was only early in my career that I wrote first and cast second.
Because most people in adult don’t have training in acting (beyond a high school course) I tend to cast incredibly intelligent people with an ability to connect to material from an intellectual and emotional standpoint. People that are directable and eager to be directed.
As far as sexual chemistry – I almost always pair people together that have good chemistry or put in a request to work with someone they’ve always wanted to have sex with. It’s important to not just get the best acting performance but also the chemistry so it’s a juggling act a lot of the time, but so far I’ve been pretty successful.
What do you think was the most erotic moment to ever happen on one of your sets?
It would have to be in a scene I directed for Bellesa. It as between Shyla Jennings and Avi Love. The scenario was a teacher at an all-girls school falling for a student. They literally made out for seventeen minutes before a single item of clothing came off. It wasn’t this typical rush to undress the way most pornography feels. It really is about the building passion. The connection. The reality of the moment. In porn, there’s always this feeling when you’re watching people that it’s going to end in sex because – well, it is. I’ve been working to create situations that make you wonder how it will end. Prolonging the penetration. Building up more those hot moments of foreplay and moments before sex even happens. Those moments where two people are thinking, “are we going to go all the way or not?” Those are the moments in REAL LIFE that make sex so much hotter. The not knowing is always hotter.
I love that one of your goals in adult cinema is to create movies that appeal to couples. During your writing process, what details do you put in the script to try to appeal to couples specifically?
I build the tension and the conflict. Sometimes I add a little humor or quirks. I also like to weave in issues and topics that might be conversation starters for them. Don’t beat people over the head with an idea – weave it in. Nothing excites me more than receiving emails from people telling me they watched a movie with their spouse and that they spent all night talking about it. I am getting ready to direct a scene for Bellesa that is all about a woman whose boyfriend doesn’t bring her to an orgasm. This is a very real issue for actual couples. The scene is going to tackle HOW she deals with that. It’s incredibly exciting to produce content that actually MIGHT make a difference in the viewer’s own life.
I found your work via Bellsea and instantly became your fan, I read that you Your mission is to change women's views on sexuality and help woman embrace the sensuality of adult entertainment. Do you feel we are finally reaching that gap between woman feeling shamed for watching adult cinema to know openly sharing their favorite titles with friends?
The gap is getting ever smaller which is incredible. It’s fantastic that women can talk about pornography more openly and not get those “stares of death,” but there is still a long way to go. A lot of people don’t want to admit to liking pornography because they feel that all pornography exploits women or that it’s unethical and admitting to being a consumer of it is shameful. It really comes down to continual education. To getting my work, and the work of other men and women producing ethical porn, to the masses. A lot of incredible things are happening in porn – and people should not be ashamed of consuming it – especially pornography available on sites like Bellesa.
As a woman who multitasks life and a business, what advise could you give other woman whom have no time to create or incorporate pleasure into their lives?
Make the time. That doesn’t mean you have to have sex every moment of the day. I went five years without sex but those five years weren’t without pleasure. I masturbated. I discovered things about my own sexuality and I discovered pornography I didn’t know existed. I bought toys and explored my sexuality because – no matter how busy you are, you should never be too busy to experience pleasure. Pleasure is a kind of meditation. When you have that release – you are more relaxed and able to focus other pursuits. Don’t short-change yourself.
Any tips for women who may not be familiar with your exquisite work and want to find something sensual and erotic? What videos in your catalog would you recommend for those that are new to your erotic movies?
Oh wow! I would say anything I’ve done for Bellesa. I’d recommend other films like The Submission of Emma Marx (any of the four installments of it), The Temptation of Eve, The Obsession, Infidelity 2, The Proposal, and The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee. People can also reach out to me through my website and I can tailor a recommendation to their needs. Not every one of these recommendations if universally appealing! It really depends on what gets you off!
Your movies are very empowering, as it offers women a way to be the decision makers when it comes to their pleasure, what would you like to say to the people that are a little more hesitant to go to sex positive movies such as yours?
If the person is hesitating because they don’t want to watch porn, then I wouldn’t want to pressure them into doing anything that they feel uncomfortable with. Porn isn’t for everyone. Sometimes people prefer a different type of sexual outlet altogether (erotic fiction, books, mainstream films with sex scenes, toys).
However, if you are hesitating because you are afraid of what’s out there – don’t be. There are so many incredible adult films for every palate and you might be surprised to find EXACTLY what you’re looking for. Plus, nowadays, if you’re a heterosexual woman, there are a lot of attractive men in the business now. This isn’t the 90’s when Ron Jeremy was your only options. There are a lot of incredibly sexy options for every type!
What does sexual empowerment mean to you? Moreover, how do you believe adult erotica can empower woman to find their sensuality?
Sexual empowerment is being able to communicate your likes as much as your dislikes. To know and honor your boundaries and to extricate anyone from your life that doesn’t honor those boundaries. It’s about knowing that sexuality is fluid and what you love today you might not love tomorrow and to know that’s ok.Erotica can actually provide woman with an outlet for their desires. It can also introduce them to new fetishes they never knew they had. It can also provide some measure of comfort for people with a secret fetish discovering that there are several adult films produced exploring that fetish. There isn’t that isolating feeling of “I’m the only one that gets off too ____(fill in the blank).” In porn, there really is something for everyone.
What is one thing you would teach another woman who wanted to creating an adult erotica?
Always stay in communication with the performers. Ask them what they want. What turns them on. Don’t ever make assumptions. What is OK with you might not be OK with them. EVERYBODY’S SEXUALITY IS DIFFERENT. Create a safe space for everyone involved in the production (from performers to crew). The safer and more positive the space, the better people the entire production will be. You can’t create something magical when people are uncomfortable.
What led you to embrace your sensuality and why is doing so important?
Working in pornography, to be completely honest. In adult, there is such little judgment about one’s fetish or deviant behavior. There is no real “normal.” What’s liberating is the acknowledgment that there is no right way to explore one’s sexuality. We are all individuals and our desires are unique to us. It’s important to acknowledge this because in doing so you can really discover what gets you off without trying to squeeze yourself into a mold you just don’t fit in. When you can be confident and embrace your own sexuality it will be so much easier for you to help your partner embrace their own.
Sex, self-pleasure, deep intimacy… are topics that don’t seem to be as readily or openly accepted by society yet. Why is this?
Because we still live in a puritanical society. Being from the United States, we still are debating over how children should be educated about sex. We teach abstinence in some schools. Religions still talk about how masturbation is sinful. Because sex workers are still vilified and not looked at as professional members of society making their own contributions to it. Sex is used as a form of click-bait in articles. It’s not something that is taken seriously – not really, not universally. Because of this, the ability to talk about masturbation is still difficult. It’s unfortunate really. Self love is the first and most important kind of sexual exploration – to know ourselves first, in turn makes us better lovers later.
When you are caught up in your head or just really busy/distracted in life, how do you get back to earth (and into your body)?
Bikram Yoga. Meditation. Audio Books. Exercise. And – probably most importantly – my three dogs. Animals keep you in the moment. They get you out of your head and into the present moment because animals exist ONLY in the present moment. When I am writing, my three dogs are always by my side. I just need to reach over and pet them and I feel instantly calm. There really is nothing better than animals to get you out of your head and into the beautiful, precious present.
Do you have a favorite ritual?
I wouldn’t say it was a ritual, but I always drink green tea with cream every morning. I feel inspired writing when I have a steaming hot cup of tea in front of me, warming me from the inside out. I also burn incense when I write. That would be about where I begin and end with rituals! Oh! And I always play Words with Friends with Chanel Preston before going to bed each night. There is something about word games that settles my mind enough to fall into immediate slumber. I can fall asleep very fast. People that know me are impressed by it! I can’t sleep anywhere, but if I’m in bed – I’ll be asleep the moment I decide to fall asleep! Maybe it’s my clear conscience!
Can you share some tips for embracing sensuality and being sexually empowered?
Be honest with yourself and communicate with your partner. A lot of people feel threatened by their partner’s fantasies and might even criticize them. If you can’t be honest with your partner and also be open to listening to them, you aren’t going to reach that incredibly freeing space where honesty and communication become the focal point of your sexual relationship. The more open you are, the less threatened and jealous, the stronger and more powerful your sexual relationship will be. Openness is empowerment. You can’t have one without the other.
What do you want to tell woman who are seeking to take on their own passion projects, and make them their career?
DO IT. DO IT. Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait. If you’re worried about the money – it will come if you’re doing what you love. It always does. You have to give your heart and soul to your work – and acknowledge that that can be scary. But, the only way to live is to live doing what you love. We need more people doing this. Don’t become a slave to the “man” unless that brings you joy. Chase your bliss and greater bliss and opportunity will come. That sounds like a bunch of self-help garbage, but it’s actually true.
What would you say has been your biggest take-away/lesson learned since becoming a director/screen writer in the adult erotica world?
That there is no one way to explore sex and sexuality. There is no normal.
Jacky, thank you for sharing your time and energy with us where can the Kinktra lovers find you?