Just before the turn of the century, the women’s sexual revolution seemed to finally make its way into the visual realm; with feminist porn pioneers remaking love, so to speak, by presenting and representing the essence of feminine desire in the frames of high quality erotic films and other compelling media. At the forefront of this movement was Sssh.com, feminist porn for women and couples. As imagined by award-winning director and producer Angie Rowntree, Sssh.com is porn, re-imagined. Female-led and Female-focused, this revolutionary website is a source for ethically produced, explicit, sex-positive films–the true evolution of indie adult cinema.
The Feminist Sexpert is a proud writer for Sssh.Com. And she is proud to interview a femme porn pioneer, Ms. Angie Rowntree!
FS: Angie Rowntree, I am honored to welcome you as a guest to The Feminist Sexpert Interviews. We know you as a groundbreaking, award-winning adult filmmaker, one of the first to cater to women and couples. As both a director of erotic films, and a curator and creator of films at Sssh.com, what is your formula for a high quality and entertaining feminist porn film?
AR: Whether I’m creating or curating, I aim to present sex-positive films that have an emphasis on mutual pleasure, and especially a woman’s pleasure and perspective. Ultimately I want my films to provide something much more than just a depiction of sex, which is why Sssh original films are very story-driven, with strong characters and interesting plots. Another important aspect to me is that my films are visually compelling. Other than beautiful cinematography – I also really love symbolism, foreshadowing, and other visual elements. After all, arousal begins in the mind.
FS: When you started Sssh.com, it was one of the very few adult websites geared toward women. I understand that you got a skeptical response from many–but what kind of feedback have you gotten from women and couples over the years?
AR: The women who found my site in the early days were incredibly supportive and encouraging. I think, like me, they were tired of being told “women don’t like porn” or “women aren’t visual,” when in fact, hardly anyone at that point had even tried making adult entertainment for women. I was in virgin territory, so to speak! Honestly, I’m stubborn enough that I probably would have forged ahead with my goals even if I’d had no positive feedback at all. However, knowing that there were people who were interested in consuming exactly the kind of films I wanted to make definitely provided me with added determination.
FS: Sssh.com has grown to include so many forms of erotic media over the years, including audio erotica, erotic literature and radio plays, guided masturbation (I even hear that some upstart called the Feminist Sexpert is joining your writing staff!–winks). Do you feel that ASMR and erotic audio is a new frontier for erotic content creators?
AR: Actually, Sssh has always included, from the beginning, multiple forms of erotic media. In fact our first audio story was released in the early 2000s (in realmedia format). We’ve also always had a heavy focus on sexual health and wellness and have tried to find new ways to expand on that over the years.
ASMR has been around for a while now, but it’s definitely an underutilized and under-explored area of erotica. I love ASMR for the same reason I love books; as the listener, no matter how rich and detailed the audio is, your imagination still gets to fill in a lot of the blanks, so to speak. This is why we have pointedly avoided using “visual stimuli” in our ASMR or guided masturbation, because we want our members to enjoy creating and visualizing the “characters” they connect with.
FS: As a director, you have won many mainstream and indie adult industry awards. In addition, your films are renowned for their superior production values, cinematography, and writing. Do you have a favorite among your films, and what do you seek to achieve with each work?
AR: My primary goals for each film are the same. For one, I want to take the vision in my mind and deliver it as faithfully and completely as possible to the screen. Equally important – maybe even more important – is that I deliver something that resonates with my viewers, site members, and fans. To that end, I am really proud about Mirror Game, which has garnered over 56 wins and nominations from mainstream and adult festivals, including the 2021 XBIZ Award for Erotic-Themed Movie of the Year.
AR: Honestly, my favorite is always the film I’m working on next. I’m a restless creator and never truly satisfied. I also feel like I get better at my craft with each new film, so no matter how proud I am of a film I’m constantly looking back and re-envisioning, “How would I do that part differently if I did it again now?” In a sense, my dissatisfaction, however small it might be, with my past work is what pushes me to reach even higher on my next one. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very proud of all my films, I just think it’s so vital to continue to evolve and improve.
FS: I know that you are also a proponent of ethical porn. In today’s adult landscape, which seems to feature a great deal in the way of rough porn, how can we help to protect and preserve the humanity of performers?
AR: I feel compelled to note that it’s entirely possible to film porn that is both ethical and “rough.” If this were not the case, then producing ethical and responsible BDSM would be just about impossible. Ethical porn is certainly not limited to, nor is it embodied by any one “niche” of adult entertainment.
For me as a director, it all comes down to communication, consent, and cooperation. Directors and the performers they work with must communicate clearly and cooperate fully. Everything must be done with informed consent from the performers – and there must be a clear, unambiguous understanding that if a performer changes his or her mind, then they have the authority to call a stop to filming at any time. This is how I have always run my sets; and I hope the added emphasis on these crucial principles in recent years means that this sort of ethos is spreading far and wide in the adult industry now. Bottom line: ethical porn is a way of doing business.
FS: What advice would you give women who wish to create their own work as adult directors and writers?
AR: Follow your vision. If you encounter critics, ignore them and keep pushing ahead. I like to believe, or at least truly hope, that we’re past the point where women have to listen to the kind of negative garbage I received as feedback in the 90s – but if you do get any of that, just let it roll off your back and keep pursuing your goals. Even though there is more “female-friendly” adult entertainment now than there used to be, there’s still plenty of room for more! The more diverse our styles, aesthetics, and approaches are, the better it will be for our audiences – and of course, the more opportunities we’ll ultimately create for the women who follow in our footsteps.
The Feminist Sexpert agrees! Visit Sssh.Com today to check out their stellar line of films, erotic fiction, audio works, and an exciting new feature called Soiree–the ultimate adult movie date night.
“Sssh.com is proud to announce the arrival of “Sssh Soirée” – a new feature on the site which allows couples to watch porn together even when they’re apart, creating an entirely new kind of erotic experience by integrating fantasy and reality into a single package,” read a related news release. “Using Soirée, viewers can watch any movie or video content on Sssh.com while seeing and hearing each other in real-time, affording a level of interaction and intimacy that can’t be accomplished in a text-only chat environment.”
Members can host a “Soirée” by sending an invite link to their guest and creating a private, virtual viewing room. Then they can keep in touch by video and/or audio throughout the film. Privacy is ensured via this encrypted site, and so is fun! The Feminist Sexpert saw a trailer, and can’t wait to try Soiree soon!
For more information, go to sssh.com/soiree/, or contact Rowntree at twitter.com/AngieRowntree or [email protected] to request a demo of the platform.