EXQUISITE CORPSE: Tobi Hill-Meyer Interviewed by Fruit Punch Productions

Welcome to your first installment of Pink Label’s Exquisite Corpse, where we ask your favorite pornographers to interview their fellow pornographers. Jules from Fruit Punch Productions so graciously provided this week’s interview questions for Tobi Hill-Meyer who is a source of inspiration for Fruit Punch Productions as well as the mastermind behind Handbasket Production, a radical, oppression-aware media collective.

Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project

Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project

FFP: What is your favorite scene that you have directed/produced thus far?

THM: You know, it seems like the it’s always the latest one I’ve done or have been working on because I’m always learning and improving what I’m doing. Right now I’m working on a scene for Doing it Again between Juicy and Azure, a trans man of color who works in LGBT non-profits and a trans woman roller derby girl that plays in a band – It turned out gorgeously, they have amazing chemistry, and they both say some really smart things. Of course, next week I’m going to begin working on a scene following a couple in their 50s and 60s where they are both trans and have been together for 25 years and trying to figure out difficulties in their sex life after complications with vaginoplasty. I wouldn’t be surprised if that quickly becomes my new favorite.

When did you know that you wanted to be part of the queer porn movement?

Back when I was 16 I was did competitive speech and debate and was well known for my speech on feminist perspectives on porn. (I won 1st and 6th place at two different tournaments). In doing research for that speech I learned a lot about feminist porn, although no one used the term “queer porn” around then, it was clear that it was something that I wanted to be a part of, even if I wasn’t sure where I fit best. The following year I began plans with a friend’s mom to open a feminist porn shop in our mid sized college town that was sorely lacking one. She had worked as a manager in a strip club and we were pretty serious about making it happen once I turned 18. But the investors she was hoping to secure fell through and I set aside my dream of working in queer porn and went to college. Later when I was realizing how significant the lack of trans women in porn was, I saw another need and moved in to make it happen.



How do your personal politics factor into the work that you do?

I was raised on a strong feminist tradition, and I often see that influence in my shooting style. For example, concerns about objectification through cropping images of women into body parts have rung strong with me and I always work hard to get as many full body shots and faces in my filming as possible. Sometimes I get into really awkward positions as a camera person to find just the right angle to be able to show all of what is happening and also the facial reactions the performers have to it all in the same shot. I know that zooming in doesn’t automatically make the image objectifying, but still I try to do that whenever possible. I also aim not only to avoid negative messaging in my porn, but to include positive messaging whenever possible. I regularly incorporated safe sex conversations, including negotiations of what folks want to do and not do, conversations around sexual politics, and even a direct Audre Lorde reference.

Who have been the most supportive people in your life? Have there been any surprises?

Definitely my partners Fay Onyx and Ronan. Without them it wouldn’t be possible for me to do what I’ve been doing. They’ve frequently been my extra sets of eyes to review things I’m working on, they’ve helped run logistics on set, they help me with the business side of Handbasket Productions, and Ronan even patched me up as the set medic when I fell off a tree. I’m not sure if I’d say it was a surprise, but I was very relieved to have my parents support. They’ve always had a strong anti-porn analysis so I was concerned when I first told them, but they know that I’m incorporating their criticism of porn into the work I’m doing and trust that I’m making a positive impact on my community. My mom even bragged to extended family when I won a Feminist Porn Award.

Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project

Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project

What is a future goal for your work?

One goal that I have had has taken a back seat to others originally but is becoming more of an issue for me: making a profit. Before I began making feminist porn, I had noticed that many filmmakers I aspired to be like had one significant hit and then stopped. Perhaps they used up all their favors on the first one, perhaps they didn’t try to set it up to be able to fund future projects, but I knew that I wanted my work to be sustainable. Making a profit is part of that. Last year was my 5th year doing this and the first time I made an annual income greater than $50. I owe that to all my fans who helped make my kickstarter campaign successful. Figuring a way to pay all my expenses, let alone myself, while sticking to my values is difficult. In the next year I plan to set up a website with regularly updated content and subscribers. I don’t expect much, but my life is moving in a direction where it would make a big difference to have this as a regular source of income.

Posted August 23, 2013

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