Director Shine Louise Houston poses in a publicity photo.

Shine Louise Houston Interview

Founding producer and director of Pink and White Productions, Shine Louise Houston recognized early on that there was a growing demand for alternatives to mainstream porn and set out to create movies that queer people, as well as women of color, could relate to. As a self proclaimed voyeur, her content focuses on inclusivity, diversity, storytelling, and of course incredible sex. Her influence is recognizable throughout the industry and sets an example of how powerful pornography and sexual expression can be, especially when it comes to representation. Recently we had the chance to catch up with Shine and chat about her vision, how to make porn a safe place for all, and what’s next for her. Enjoy!

When it comes to diversity and inclusivity, Pink and White Productions, and specifically CrashPad, always pop into my head. Is it difficult making sure those boxes are always checked off when filming?

Casting happens word-of-mouth. Ever since day one by asking friends who danced at the Lusty Lady and co-workers at Good Vibrations. Nowadays, performers tell other performers about their experiences and then those performers reach out to us through the site. Just like us, our viewers are also a diverse group and crave porn where we can see our own types of bodies and sex represented. It’s still pretty rare that people like us are cast or celebrated by conventional porn studios. Or when we are, there’s still stereotypes and fetishization, especially in how we’re marketed. The way we collaborate with cast, and how we shoot and edit comes together to present a more relatable portrayal of queer sex. 

What are some of the things you do to make sure on set is a safe and secure place?

We align with the policies set by the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee in the Performer Bill of Rights and Performer Code of Conduct, as well as the Industry Code of Ethics as outlined by the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry’s trade association.

For CrashPad, we collaborate with performers so they can be as comfortable as possible. Performers cast themselves by applying together, so they’ll never work with someone they don’t want to. They bring their own ideas to set, so they can feel confident and excited about the scene. Performers check in with each other about their expectations, boundaries, safer sex considerations, how they want to be presented and what they want to do on camera. We offer everyone a flat, equal rate regardless of who they are and what they want to do, and they choose to do what they think is fair for the pay. (Besides being fair, it also takes away the pressure to do something they might not actually feel comfortable about simply because it pays more.) We keep a closed set with a small crew of 4-5 queers/women. We check-in before we film so the cast and crew are on the same page about what will happen that day — the crew needs to consent as well! — and consider any safety considerations. Performers can call hold or end the scene at any moment. Most of these are standard filming practices, again, laid out by APAC and the Free Speech Coalition. We recommend folks get involved to help shape policy and make the industry a safer and more welcoming place to work. 

I remember reading that your goal was also to make a brand, not just a movie, and it’s easy to see how that mindset has become the norm for a lot of actors today. Did you realize that you were creating a blueprint when you first started out?

I wanted to make a sustainable business, because so many porn studios that came before me had stopped making movies. Today’s actors have more access to the business side of things, from self-promotion to production and distribution. That’s great and there’s a lot of room for all of us.

When I came to Pink and White all those years ago I thought I was getting feminist lesbian porn but it turned out to be so much more! How do you view the growth and transformation over the years?

It was always more than just lesbian porn from the start. The biggest transformation has been the ability to keep growing creatively. 

How has taking yourself out of the casting process helped with the creating and filming processes?

I have my own biases, whether aware or subconscious, so taking myself out of the casting process opens it up. It keeps Crashed as diverse as possible. Last year I passed the Director role to our long time camera operator, Ava LaPrima. It’s freed up so I can put my energy on PinkLabel.TV, adult film festivals, and my other film projects.

Was your vision for PinkLabel.tv always a space where other queer filmmakers could be spotlighted or did it evolve into that?

I was inspired to create PinkLabel.TV by the films I saw at the PornFilmFestival Berlin. Many of these films were ones you couldn’t find online or anywhere else. I wanted to make a home for them to be viewed by people who couldn’t make it to places like PFFBerlin, and make a small economy where artists could make money off streaming their films online. They’re not only queer, too. But I guess compared to most commercial porn sites there’s a very large portion of queer films.

Are you the only person involved in the curating for PinkLabel.tv? What’s that process like?

In the beginning I hand-picked the films, inviting studios and filmmakers I wanted to see on our platform. We also hired film historian Jenni Olson to help us hunt down and acquire classic films, including many lost and remastered gay and lesbian movies from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90s’-early 00’s. We want to bring these historic movies — most of which were on older media that are no longer available — to streaming where they can be re-discovered and appreciated by today’s audiences. More recently, we grow our catalog by licensing films presented at International adult film festivals. For example, we host the San Francisco PornFilmFestival and films can opt-in for online distribution on PinkLabel.TV. While many of these films have other distribution options, some movies, especially experimental titles, might have a harder time making sales on conventional porn channels. It’s sort of like the Criterion Collection of adult films.

When considering a script to direct and get behind what are some of the criteria you look for?

I write my own scripts! 

Do you have a favorite or go-to genre at the moment?

Cat videos on Instagram. (Not as porn, obviously!)

What studios and directors are on your radar right now?

Jennifer Lyon Bell, Aorta Films, Hardwerk Pictures 

Who makes your Mount Rushmore of porn?

Radley Metzger aka Henry Paris, Nan Kinney and Debi Sundahl

What’s next for Shine Louise Houston that fans should be on the lookout for?

I’m working on some new shorts that continue the explorations started in my last film Camera and I. There’s lots of lenses involved. 

Photo by N. Maxwell Lander

 

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