Award-winning director and performer Candida Royalle passed away on September 7, 2015. She was 64.

Royalle suffered for years from recurrent bouts of ovarian cancer. According to her longtime friend Annie Sprinkle, via Facebook, “A few weeks ago she had to go to the hospital for a few days. Her doctor, whom she loved a lot, told her she had run out of treatment options and to begin basic hospice care. She had planned to move to Manhattan this fall to be closer to more friends in what she thought would be her last few months or year. Then just about five days ago, [Candida] started slipping away quickly and it became evident that it was unlikely to recover.”

Candida Royalle – An artist’s life and legacy

Born Candice Vadala, Royalle spent most of her life and career in the New York City area, though she lived in San Francisco for a time in the 1970s. She entered the adult industry in 1975, starring in the VCX movie The Analist, and over the course of her nine years in front of the camera, acted in nearly 70 films before deciding where she really belonged was behind it.


(pictured: Candida Royalle via her Facebook profile)

Royalle created Femme Productions, the first adult production studio to be owned by a woman and to produce films from a woman’s perspective. In all, Royalle directed 19 films, solely as Femme Productions and later via a joint Femme/Adam&Eve venture. (more from AVN here, Royalle’s full work credits here. Neither link SFW)

Candida Royalle helped shape the landscape of contemporary erotica, both as a media form and as a modern workplace.

She challenged porn’s narrative status quo by asserting there was a space for her unique vision decades ago, setting the stage for myriad perspectives we see in adult content production today. And though the idea of women working in porn may still seem outlandish to some, the fact remains that women work in every occupation, at every level, in adult entertainment. This is due in part to the barriers Royalle broke via her own career.

And Royalle’s influence was not just limited to the adult industry. Her work and life served to augment gender equity and sex positivity throughout our culture, creating space for a wider range of sexual expression.

Candida showed us that there was room for more than just the (then-)standard “look” of sex. Regardless if her vision corresponded with yours — cuz not everybody enjoys the same sorts of sexy media — her work showed us there was space for nuance and variability. And she did this in the face of significant opposition from the wider culture — not, by her own words, the adult industry.

Her tenacity and willingness to challenge the status quo is something we should all learn from. She leaves behind a legacy that can never be matched and will never be forgotten.

I was lucky enough to get to interview Candida for a Mindbrowse show just a few month ago, a kind gift from the fates. You can watch it below. (also featuring Jacky St. James)

See you on the other side, Candida. You lived a life that mattered, and our world is a better place having had you in it.


A version of this piece was published on UPROXX/FilmDrunk (9/8/15).

You can read all my work featured on UPROXX/FilmDrunk right –> here

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