Epilogue Behind the Camera
Black Women’s Illicit Erotic Interventions
In my research on the representations and labors of black women in por-
nography I have interviewed dozens of performers active in the adult in-
dustry since the 1980s. These ethnographic interviews and encounters have
formed the basis for this book’s critical insights, as these women’s voices are
vital sources of knowledge about what pornography means to and for black
women. When I began my fieldwork as a graduate student at New York Uni-
versity in 2002, there was no work being done on the topic of black women in
pornography, and there were no black women working as directors in straight
or queer pornography. In the mid- 2000s, as a result of new technologies
facilitating the production and distribution of independent pornography, in-
creasing numbers of black women performers such as Vanessa Blue, Diana
DeVoe, and Damali XXXPlosive Dares entered porn production, building on
the legacy of earlier black women, like Angel Kelly in the late 1980s, who at-
tempted to create a black women’s sex cinema from inside the business. De-
spite utopic predictions about the future of independent digital media pro-
duction, the work of black female pornographers is just one example of how
independent authorship brings with it new dimensions of labor. Not only
have these black women pornographers become filmmakers in the traditional
sense, they must fulfill a variety of roles: director, producer, editor, screen-
writer, cinematographer, public relations agent, casting agent, acting coach,
mentor, and distributor, to name a few. They must make themselves experts in
new media technologies, e- commerce, and social networking in order to cre-
ate, promote, and sell their films. To call them simply filmmakers, or even pro-
ducers, does not capture the range of labor, expertise, or creativity required in
their work. Thus, while new media technologies have facilitated their move
behind the camera and into new modes of independent ownership of their
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