Review: Stud Hunters

Stud Hunters: A Good Man is Hard to Find
Directed by Candida Royalle
Femme Productions
Starring Alexandra Silk, Ava Vincent, Brian Bishop

Candida Royalle has been making porn movies for women since the mid 80s and is still the best known producer of women's erotica today. Stud Hunters is her fifteenth Femme movie, and this time her tongue is quite firmly planted in her cheek (as it were). The film takes a knowing, satirical look at the porn industry, satirizing everything from porn-hungry men to over-eager journalists, and it even pokes fun at Candida herself. In a way it's really a comedy movie with sex scenes.

The story is relatively simple. It depicts a day in the life of Carla Divine, the leading creator of women's erotica films. She heads to New York, accompanied by her leading actress, to audition new male porn stars. This rudimentary plot provides plenty of room for humorous set-pieces, including a sit-down interview with a sexually-frustrated journalist who asks if Carla is exploiting her women, and a meet-and-greet with eager fans. Royalle takes these opportunities to make her own wry cinematic comment on feminism, the current state of porn, and her own success. Candida herself makes a brief cameo as a fan, as does ex-star and activist Veronica Vera.

The auditions scenes are, of course, the most entertaining. We meet a long line of would-be studs, from the crass "Who do I fuck?" fat guy to the nerdy virgin hoping to get laid, and the confused actor hoping to win a part in A Streetcar Named Desire. There's plenty of one liners, and it's all very light and amusing. In between we get to meet our real studs. The viewer is asked to view them as a director would, and it's pleasant to sit back and just objectify these guys. We get to see a few dicks, but on the whole the audition scenes are more about sizing up each personality - and lampooning male assumptions about porn.

There's no actual sex until 25 minutes have passed, which means that those watching this film "only for the good bits" have got quite a bit of fast forwarding to do. Not that I would recommend doing so; the first part of the movie is very entertaining and well worth watching.

The first sex scene is a beautifully lit liaison between the leading actress Giselle Lonrgette (Ava Vincent) and the hottest of the studs, Brian Bishop, and it occurs in secret, away from the audition set. The fact that the first three minutes of the scene are taken up entirely with kissing gives an indication of what's to come. Candida gives us what she's best at - slow, passionate lovemaking with plenty of eye contact, sensual caresses, facial expressions and cunnilingus. This, my friends, is what porn for women is all about, and it's simply gorgeous to watch. Both Ava and Brian are very good looking, and the soft focus and rosy lighting turn their bodies into a visual feast. Ava's moans are realistic, and she actually looks like she has at least one orgasm. Brian's technique is spot on, and we're given plenty of chances to admire his face, body and cock. The piano-based music is not intrusive and enhances the action. I didn't even mind that Ava keeps her shoes on… because they looked like it would take fifteen minutes to remove them.

The sex has far less focus on the mechanics of intercourse. Genital close-ups are few and far between, filmed without extra lighting. This is refreshing in a way… although kind of frustrating if you're feeling turned on.

The second scene involves production assistant Jen (Leila Swan) accidentally stumbling in on Giselle and Brian, and subsequently falling into the arms of a waiting stud. It moves with a faster pace, but ends abruptly, giving Candida an opportunity to thumb her nose at convention and make a comment once again.

"Hey wait, I didn't get off!" says the upset stud.

"Well, neither did I!" replies Jen.

A third scene depicts a quickie between the female journalist (Tara Indiana) and a passing stud. It's fast, furious, and filmed the whole time by a sleazy TV crew. Tara is a dominatrix, and so a few bdsm aspects appear during the sex. What's strange about this scene is it reverts back to many of the traditions of standard porn, and seems to be viewed through the eyes of the cameraman. I'm not sure what Candida is trying to say with this scene, but to be honest I found it rather unsexy, and something of a shock after the two previous scenes.

The final scene has frustrated director Carla abandoning the auditions, and kicking everyone out of the studio save her four favourite studs. This sets the scene for a very hot fivesome, wherein the four guys do their utmost to give Carla pleasure. The "romantic" tone goes out the window and the emphasis is pure sex. Thankfully, it never goes down the standard porn "gangbang" path. The focus is still very much on Carla, to the point that the fourth guy seems to be left out at times. We get to see Carla come a number of times, but as is usual in a Candida film, there's no cumshots.

Indeed, there isn't a single male orgasm depicted in this entire film, which I must admit left me feeling a little disappointed. While I realize this is about female pleasure, and I definitely don't want to see cumshots, I would still like to see at least one guy getting off. Perhaps it's true what they say about the acting ability of male porn stars… maybe their fake orgasms just weren't convincing enough.

On the acting front, the performances are decent enough, although Alexandra Silk seems a little too ditzy to be the successful businesswoman/director Carla. The first scenes involving her and Ava don't do much to create sympathy for either character - Giselle is presented as excessively vapid at the beginning. Though they become slightly more likable as the movie goes on, we never really get to know any of the characters that well. Obviously this is not a Hollywood drama so it may be too much to expect much more than basic sketches, but there did seem to be potential for more personality development with the main characters.

All in all, I enjoyed this film. In spite of its flaws, Stud Hunters is a wonderful example of what porn could be if it tried harder. I've read comments from other women who found it "too tame" and reviewers who consider it to be "beginners" material. Undoubtedly there's harder stuff out there, but the important thing here - as with all Candida's films - is that the intended viewer is meant to be female. And that makes a huge difference to the quality of the film. I thoroughly recommend it.

Available From
Gamelink: DVD

Also available to buy at: The Ms Naughty Adult Shop

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