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FOCUS ON: Alyx Fox on FOXHOUSE Films and Filming Trans Women in BDSM Porn

At the helm of queer and feminist-produced pornography is Alyx Fox of the pan-gender, BDSM-focused company Foxhouse Films. Approaching its second year in business, Foxhouse has already garnered major attention. We interviewed Alyx to learn more about her work, on filming trans women in porn, and thoughts on how porn can be produced with ethics and artistry.

 

Foxhouse really hit the ground running! What have been its milestones and accomplishments? What are its challenges?

Our biggest accomplishment honestly feels like the fact that we survived this long. No one thinks starting a business is easy but it’s way more difficult than I imagined. We released 15 films in less than two years (with two more in production). Our films have received a significant amount of attention from fans, mainstream distributors, the queer and feminist porn community, and international porn film festivals, so we’re offering porn that is really unique, progressive and hot that can appeal to a lot of different types of people.

I didn’t really have a lot of money to start a business—I just knew a group of people with a lot of talent and the idea of a collective share model really appealed to us. The personal relationships, both on-screen and behind the scenes, are part of the magic of Foxhouse. We’ve done a lot with that method of production and there definitely is an interest in what we’re making, so that encourages us to keep going. But I’ve personally always been strained with the lion’s share of the responsibility. So I actually think after the next few releases I’ll be taking a short break from production to reorganize and set up in a way that’s better for me and probably for our performers in the long run. This most likely means setting up a standard pay scale which will open our shoots to performers who have not been interested in the collective ownership model. But this also means we may not be able to produce as often in the near future.

Looking ahead, although we will continue to produce some BDSM titles, I know we will be looking to produce a wider variety of content.

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What companies or experiences have influenced your process as a producer? 

I’d say that my biggest influences are CrashPad (queer porn), Kink and Evil Angel (mainstream porn) and Berlin PornFilmFestival for artistic and political inspiration. Basically I want to make commercially successful hardcore porn that has a strong ethical basis and is recognized for its artistic value.

As a self-described pan-gender company, how often is gender a spotlight of the production? How ‘out’ are your cast and crew?

I think the fact that we totally honor our performer’s pronouns and don’t always spotlight secondary aspects of their gender could make it seem like people aren’t out. For example if we just call a girl-girl production featuring trans women “lesbian” but don’t spotlight that they are trans, it may seem like the performer isn’t out, but actually we are just very quietly trying to take a different approach to activism by asserting our performer’s genders without qualification. To me, trans isn’t a gender. It’s a part of some people’s experience. I’d rather spotlight their actual gender—non-binary, female, or male—by just using the pronouns they prefer and letting the viewer sort the details out for themselves while watching our films. We understand that this can make some of our scenes less searchable, especially since we are a company with a mixture of cis and trans people and a wide range of sexual orientations. So this is actually not the most effective strategy to selling porn, especially for people who are scared of accidentally visually stumbling onto a trans body. So we may or may not bite the bullet and do more spotlighting and keyword tagging in the future, and we are also working on pages for our stars where they can describe in their own words how they identify.

How does Foxhouse approach casting trans women performers, and how does this compare to experiences within pornography? 

Honestly we cast all performers the same. There are two questions on the application that we usually create scenes from—we ask about favorite sexual experiences and unfulfilled fantasies. We make it a point to build all scenes from these performer interests (so anyone applying to work with us should take a little extra time with those questions). Chelsea Poe had some great ideas for a straight scene that no one else was crazy enough to do and somehow that made us want to work with her right away. This actually eventually turned into a role for her as a gold star lesbian, and I don’t think many other companies are giving trans women the opportunity for much variation in roles.

Usually, in mainstream porn, trans women are cast as tops, traps, or surprises. The women are basically required to go off hormones prior to shooting when erections and cum shots are mandatory even though many trans women are not able to ejaculate when on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). We’ve avoided all of those formulas and the best part is that our films do very well in mainstream distribution without those things, proving that those formulas are not required to sell porn featuring trans women even to mainstream audiences.

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Do you ever receive feedback from viewers who assumed they’d see topping/pop shot but who were surprised (and possibly educated or empowered) in discovering something they didn’t expect?  

Surprisingly we’ve actually never gotten feedback like that. Sales of our films with trans-feminine stars have been very positive, and several of our titles, Cheat on Chelsea and Silver Star, have been featured on the blogs of our mainstream distributors and the reviewers never mention that. So I actually think that most people don’t think about it if they’re into what they are watching.

I think it’s the producers of mainstream trans content who won’t take the risk of trying a different approach because obviously the stuff they’re already making is selling.

Do you ever encounter performers who assume that you shoot porn similar to mainstream trans productions, where they were surprised/relieved that they could shoot the way they wanted to?  

We liked Chelsea’s application idea for a straight sex scene where she would perform with a man so I think she always knew we had an understanding of trans identity. And I knew Vicky before we started shooting with her, so no, I don’t think we’ve encountered this. But I have seen trans performers I follow on social media complaining that there aren’t any opportunities to shoot the sex they like to have, so I guess they haven’t noticed that we’re here yet or maybe they assume that we’re like the rest.

Are there any taboo subjects you or cast/crew have approached in your films from a trans perspective? 

I think Silver Star is pretty taboo. It was definitely fun to put a spin on the classic bi theme, but I think there is something very real and relatable about things that are forbidden developing an erotic charge. I was strictly dominant for such a long time that submission began to feel taboo for me. It wasn’t really an interest of mine until it became forbidden. So I think rigidity of identity can create new taboos and new sexual desires. I don’t being trans has anything to do with that.

The great thing about Silver Star is that it kind of defies a simple interpretation. We cast Chelsea as a “gold star lesbian” because honestly she was just perfect for the role as a lesbian-identified person who also had that fantasy. It is really common for cis people to play trans people so I guess the trans perspective would be the fact that we are willing to cast trans people for cis roles, whereas most of the people who run media won’t even cast trans people for trans roles, and I’ve really never heard of trans people being cast for non-trans roles.

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Which trans women have you worked with, and what have you learned or appreciated in their performances? 

We’ve worked with Chelsea Poe and Vicky Bride. They both are into pretty extreme submissive play and I think that’s really hot and courageous.

What are your thoughts with the camera angles often employed in trans porn that accentuate or reveal genitalia?  

We definitely make choices for camera angles but never specifically for trans performers to emphasize their size or anything. I mean, in Cheat on Chelsea, Chelsea is wearing panties for the entire scene and even cums through her panties, and only at the very end after we cut them off and stuff them in her mouth do you see her naked at all. This is our best selling title, and it was at the top of the transsexual charts on AEBN for a few weeks, so it obviously appealed to mainstream audiences as well. This has definitely shown us that we don’t need to follow the same porn tropes to interest people in our content or in trans performers.

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Sometimes viewers look for videos that feature post-op trans women, however it’s rare to find in pornography. Have you ever come across this, and if so, how do you market your work so that audiences are more likely to find your films?

It’s good to hear that people are looking for this content! We could honestly be doing a lot more with this since I am probably one of a very small number of women working in the industry today who fit that description. But I dislike the terms pre-op and post-op because they suggest that transition is a defined process and we know by now that many women decide that surgery is not for them, and they aren’t pre-anything. They’re not the worst terms in the world, but part of the reason I started my own media company is to model my own ethics for how people should be treated within porn, so it’s difficult for me to adopt that language regardless of how that affects searchability, which makes it difficult to talk about. But it’s true, this seems to be one of the areas in porn and in media in general where so much more information and accessibility is needed. So it’s good to have opportunities like this to discuss it without having to change how we do things.

Most people are pretty much stuck in the Caitlyn debate phase when it comes to trans issues, and they haven’t even started to think about life after transition and sex after surgery. One of the many reasons I started to do porn is because I know there is a lack of porn out there that represents that aspect of my experience and I’m having such a great time with my body. Going into it years ago I really had very little idea of what to expect because there was literally nothing out there other than scary medical photos. We need more media that is sexier. It would be cool for people to know at least it’s possible for women who have had surgery to fuck hard, cum, and even squirt.

What do you think the biggest issues are for trans women in the porn industry? Are their different issues for women who have had bottom surgery?

I think some issues are similar and some are different. I mean the fact that trans women who don’t have surgery are limited to certain kinds of roles and often referred to using slurs is not a good thing, but on the other hand there is a porn niche where trans performers can make a career based on that fetish. For trans women who have had surgery, there isn’t an existing niche so it’s more about whether or not these women will be given the opportunity to perform in roles usually reserved for cis women.

How do you handle safer sex testing/barriers as a producer?

We basically handle this in three ways. First of all, testing is expensive for performers to pay out of pocket unless they are able to get a few shoots or a high paying shoot during the short window when their test results are valid. This is one reason why we have prioritized working with performers who are already partnered. A lot of our films have featured off-screen partners. But we’ve also done shoots where that wasn’t the case, and in those cases if there is definitely going to be fluid exchanged—including oral sex—we have required performer testing. We are registered with the Free Speech Coalition’s PASS system so we are able to follow the industry standards with testing. When there are scenes that involve lower risk, where there is only masturbation or contact is limited to toys, gloves, etc. we leave that up to the performers to negotiate and provide barriers and closely observe safety on set.

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Tell us about the latest film, Hot for Vicky. How did it come about?  

Saint Roch applied to work with us, and on their application they indicated that they were interested but had no experience with trans feminine bottoms. Vicky Bride had worked with us before and I thought the two of them had interests that matched pretty well. I introduced them and there was instant chemistry. Saint calls me the “Fairy Godmother of Porn” because I really get off on making people’s sexual fantasies come true.

Which performers would you like to work with? 

We’d always like to increase the diversity of our cast so while we haven’t recruited specific types of people if you don’t see yourself represented we especially want you. I think in the next few years we will be trying to focus on working with established stars—in the past we’ve focused mostly on developing new talent so that will be a big change for us. We’re planning on reworking our application process and starting over with the applications later this year, so if you’re interested in working with us, keep an eye out for that.

What kind of feedback have you heard from trans women about their experience working with you?

They’ve been able to realize some of their submissive fantasies on film, so I think it’s safe to say they’ve been pretty excited about the shoots. Chelsea especially tells everyone how much she loves Foxhouse (thanks Chelsea).

What advice would you give to trans women looking to work in pornography—either for your company or others? 

Honestly I think trans women should make their money however they want or need to. But it’s not a bad idea to find out what companies expect from you so you can decide if that’s a good fit for you.

What advice would you give to producers who work with trans women? 

Listen to what your performers want, because there is no single way that trans women have sex or enjoy sex.

 

Watch Hot for Vicky, Cheat on Chelsea, Silver Star, and Foxhouse Films‘ other works here on PinkLabel.tv.

Posted February 26, 2016

2 responses to “FOCUS ON: Alyx Fox on FOXHOUSE Films and Filming Trans Women in BDSM Porn”

  1. Ingrid says:

    Great article! I love the idea of casting trans women in cis roles and also moving beyond that need to label everything in the first place.

  2. Drew Deveaux says:

    Its so great to see other women (of that trans experience) making porn that reflects our lives and that sells and is hotter than ever. Can’t wait to see more of your work Alyx & perhaps we’ll work together one day! xx dd

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