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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Best Dyke Porn Producer in San Francisco: At Pink & White Productions

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 7:35 AM

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On the very edge of Bernal Heights, right before the residential streets drop away and the passing highway begins, lives Shine Louise Houston -- the creative force behind self-proclaimed indie dyke porn studio Pink & White Productions. Climbing up the stairs, stepping over scattered children's toys to Houston's apartment, nothing gives away the fact that the ex-film student living here shoots and edits high-quality queer porn. From her home office, Houston has worked on multiple critically acclaimed, award-winning features, like Crashpad and Superfreak -- films that take a craftsman's approach to sex. As Violet Blue explained in her recent SF Chronicle column about Pink & White's new film, Champion: Love Hurts, the members of this women-run production studio were "primed like evil gay masterminds to conquer the world with their superlative films" from the very beginning back in 2005 -- and it they have.

Before becoming a porn mastermind, Houston worked at Good Vibrations, another pillar of San Francisco's sex industry. Every day, as part of her demanding retail job -- which, she explains, required her to be both "salesperson and sexologist" -- she saw the void in available porn DVDs where decent, female-oriented films featuring non-cookie-cutter bodies should have been. Sure, a few movies had popped up here and there. Even Good Vibes had tried its hand at making features. As she saw it though, there were no long-term, sustainable studios putting out the type of porn she wanted to see. Once she hit 30, she decided to quit. "I said, 'Fuck this. I'm starting a company," she laughs. Soon enough, she found herself telling a potential backer who asked who she was, "I'm going to be the best dyke porn producer in San Francisco."

Above all, Houston believes in the art of film, no matter what her subject. The original Crashpad, for example, Pink & White's early feature about a mysterious apartment where women can go for uninhibited fun, was shot in four days at a friend's apartment, using models (i.e., actors) who'd simply heard about the project by word of mouth. The editing process, by comparison to those three days, took eight weeks. "Every other genre of film conforms to a certain visual language," says Houston, so why can't porn? Why should viewers have to suffice with long takes, single shots, and awkward camera movement? When she's on the job, Houston isn't thinking about the beautiful women in front of her, she says. She's thinking about how to film them. "Four-ways are the hardest to shoot," she explains, "because there are always bodies blocking everything." Also tough: making masturbation interesting.

Houston and Pink and White as a whole have received a lot of
praise for the "realness" of their sex scenes -- but when it comes to her art
form, ironically, Houston doesn't believe in the "real." It's true that, unlike
a lot of mainstream pornographers, she doesn't choreograph her models. She
just lets them go at it.

"What they're doing is fine," she says. Though the
natural pace to this kind of sex be longer and more drawn out than what
normally appears in porn, she can compress everything down in postproduction,
giving each scene a steady beat - if not an authentic one. Houston isn't
worried the extra time she dedicates to her films will slow her down.
She prides herself on featuring alternative bodies, on presenting the queer
without exoticizing it. "The porn audience as a whole is getting smarter," she
says, and that's just what they want.

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Bonnie Ruberg

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