Papers of Candida Royalle, 1920-2017
Correspondence, diaries, address books, appointment books, sketchbooks, business records, etc., of Candida Royalle, adult film actress and producer.
Language of Materials
Most materials in English. Some materials in Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, French, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, or Norwegian.
Access. Collection is open for research. Researchers must contact Research Services for access to audiovisual material and the following electronic files: E.4, E.7a, E.11a, E.16a, E.22a, E.24, E.25a, E.31, E.32, E.33a, E.34a, E.35a, E.36a, E.39a, E.41a, E.44a, and E.45a.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Excluding copyright to How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do, Veronica Vera retains copyright to materials in the collection created by Candida Royalle during her lifetime. Upon her death, Veronica Vera transfers and assigns all of her copyright interests to Jane Hamilton Cirigliano for her lifetime. Upon the death of Jane Hamilton Cirigliano, all copyright to the collection will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent62.76 linear feet ((106 file boxes, 1 carton, 6 folio boxes, 2 folio+ boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 4 card boxes) plus 1 supersize box, 2 supersize folders, 109 photograph folders, 2 folio photograph folders, 2 folio+ photograph folders, 83 audiotapes, 291 videotapes, 6 CDs, 23 DVDs, 2 motion pictures, 2 phonograph records, 3 archived web sites)
The collection includes correspondence, diaries, business records, photographs, audiovisual material, memorabilia, etc., documenting the life and professional career of feminist, free speech advocate, and pornographic film writer, performer, producer, and director, Candida Royalle. Published material, consisting mainly of adult magazines and films, was removed from the collection and cataloged separately. Electronic files were received on 54 compact disks, 2 zip disks, 7 3.5 inch floppy disks, and 3 external hard drives. Disks and were imaged using FTK Imager. Data on one of the zip disks, and 4 3.5 inch floppy disks was unrecoverable. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery. Electronic files, including Royalle's websites, are represented in this finding aid by #E.1-E.45. Folder titles were created by the archivist. Materials are arranged in five series.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1920-2017(#1.1-61.10, 109FB.1-111FB.1, 108F+B.1-108F+B.16, 123OB.1-123OB.4, 123OB.9, 124FB.1-124FB.12, SD.1, E.1-E.4, E.13, E.15, E.27-E.28), includes address books, appointment books, artwork, awards, diaries, educational material, correspondence, etc. Also included are web sites documenting Royalle's career and legacy, which are being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program.
Address books contain both personal and professional contacts, including family members; friends from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles (including actors in adult films and performance troupes); directors and producers of adult films; medical professionals; musicians; and businesses that Royalle frequented. Appointment books contain notations for medical appointments; dates with friends and family and romantic dates; appointments for photograph shoots and film screenings; due dates for articles for adult magazines; personal appearances, including burlesque performances, book signings, singing performances, award ceremonies, etc; vacations; Club 90 meetings; and Femme Productions and Natural Contours meetings.
Artwork includes pencil sketches; ink and colored drawings; graphic design for posters and stationery; and collages. Many of the drawings are of fashion design completed while a student at the Parsons School of Design. The subjects of other artwork include Royalle's friends in San Francisco and California, members of performance troupes including Warped Floors and the Angels of Light. Graphic design work includes personal stationery, a design for "Candied Per" (presumably a play on her and her husband's name), as well as a poster for an Andy Kaufman event known as "Milk and Cookies" and a poster for the Women's Collective of the Bronx Coalition.
Royalle also maintained a small number of folders entitled "Friends." Material found in these folders consist of clippings by or about several of her friends; biographies; academic papers; invitations to and programs and favors from performance art events, and fine arts and photography shows; poetry, drawings, etc. Friends include Guiseppe Fallisi, Lisa Be (Lisa Anne Cammett), Martin Blinder, Patti Britton, Michele Capozzi, Laurien Dominique Detgen (Lailani), Fred George, Annie Sprinkle, Diana Wiley, Susie Bright, and Veronica Vera.
Correspondence in this series is between Royalle and family members, including her grandmother, father, stepmother, and sister; significant others including Danny Isley and Bart-Jan Brouwer, and her husband, Per Sjöstedt; friends from her youth in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as those she met during her work in the adult film industry as an actor and as a producer and director with Femme Productions. Much of Royalle's correspondence with family consists of greeting cards with well wishes on holidays, but regular correspondence with family members reveals her father's and stepmother's unstable relationship (they were divorced in 1974) and abuse in the family. Correspondence with her sister, Cinthea Vadala, tells of a close relationship between the sisters marked by periods of dispute, often as a result of family dynamics. Much of the correspondence with her ex-husband and significant others documents her attitudes towards both short-term and long-term relationships with men. Correspondence with friends from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles includes announcements of marriages, births, divorces, deaths, and degree completions; birthday and holiday greetings; and "catch up" letters. A number of letters also include references to recreational drug use.
Early diaries in this series include descriptions of activities with school friends, dance classes, puberty, school activities and teachers, relationships with boys, clothing, and her relationship with her stepmother (1963-1967). Other diaries document her early dating experiences (1968-1971) and her relationship with boyfriend Joe Kovacks, including a trip to San Francisco with him (1970-1971), contracting gonorrhea from him (September 1970), and drug use with him (1970-1971), as well as her experiences with depression and counseling with a therapist (1970-1971). Descriptions of drug use and an overdose continue during her time in San Francisco (1976-1977). During this same time period Royalle's diaries document her work in theater and adult films, including her audition for the film Hard Soap, Hard Soap. Between her time in San Francisco and Los Angeles (1977-1979), her diaries describe her continued drug use, filming Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls, and her relationship with Danny Isley. Upon her return to New York City (1980), Royalle's diaries document her early relationship with Per Sjöstedt and their marriage, her work as a columnist for various adult magazines, and a number of burlesque performances around the country.
Diaries also discuss her relationship with her husband (and their subsequent separation and divorce), often comparing and contrasting it with her relationship with her father (1981-1984, 1988, 1990, 1994-1996); the death of friend Patrick Cowley from AIDS (1982); her relationships with her stepmother and sister (1982, 1988, 1994-1996); various trips including to Italy (1983), Paris (1985), Jamaica (1985-1986), and Kauai, Hawaii (1986). Royalle's diaries describe her work for Femme Productions, including an early entry regarding her ideas about the benefit of adult film as a marital aid (1982); the beginning of Femme Productions (1984); her work in sales, production, and direction; and being interviewed regarding the mission of the company (1984-1999). Also documented in Royalle's diaries are a number of shorter relationships with men including Jim Balagurchick, Steve Eskin, and Bart-Jan Brouwer (1988-2004); early meetings of Club 90 and the production of Deep Inside Porn Stars (1988-1990); regular therapy sessions with Linda Hirsch (1984-2000); and her desire to become a mother and have a family (1996-2002). By 2010 Royalle's diaries begin to describe her bout with ovarian cancer, with her final diary being called a "wellness journal" (2009-2012) and describing treatments, diet, and the support of her sister and friends during that time.
Photograph albums in this series consist of snapshots and Polaroids taken between 1979 and 2002 and include images of friends, family, and work colleagues attending events, at holidays and parties, and on vacation. A number of the albums feature Royalle's significant others along with annotations regarding the event and/or the individuals in the photographs. Folder titles were created by Royalle. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1978-2016 (#61.11-107.9, 125.1-125.4, 108F+B.17-108F+B.24, 123OB.5-123OB.8, 121CB-122CB, 124FB.8-124FB.10, SD.2, E.7-E.12, E.14, E.16-E.26, E.29-E.45), includes correspondence, financial material, clippings, advertising, writings, and production material, the bulk of which document Femme Productions. Correspondence related to Femme was received foldered both chronologically and by individual or topic. This arrangement was maintained. Chronologically-arranged correspondence documents fan questions and comments about films and photograph and/or autograph requests; publicity and press for Femme; internal office politics; requests for television and radio appearances; commentary on film production values; feminist nature of Femme films; writers sending scripts and/or treatments; free speech, censorship, and anti-pornography legislation; discussions about adult film actors; film festivals and reviews; people seeking employment in acting, public relations, script writing; students/academics seeking information for papers and articles; and members of the press seeking interviews. Correspondence arranged alphabetically by individual or topic is more closely related to the daily business of Femme. Much of it relates to domestic and international licensing and distribution of Femme films, but also includes additional fan mail, some of which is from incarcerated prisoners sharing their stories with Royalle and from women and couples praising her for her films and thanking her for their positive impact on their intimate relations with their partners.
Financial material related to Femme Productions includes tax returns, checking account material, session reports, and income statements. Tax returns document the annual financial situation of Femme Productions from 1987 to 2007. Session reports and checking account information includes daily detailed withdrawals and deposits, but only exists for the years 2005 through 2007. Evidence of income received and funds disbursed exist for scattered dates. Additional financial notes appear in daily work books, but documentation of the complete financial status of Femme Productions throughout its existence is not included in this series. Clippings about Femme Productions and Candida Royalle are also included in this series. Many of the clippings about Femme Production discuss the company's films as a departure from previous adult films and label them as feminist or couple's films. Other clippings discuss Femme films as sex therapy aids, encouraging couples to be more intimate with each other. Clippings about Candida Royalle focus on her early acting career in adult films, her work as a producer, and various appearances. Clippings are both domestic and international. Additional material regarding Royalle's appearances can be found in engagements which includes clippings, programs, conference material, draft speeches and speech outlines. Many of these appearances were at various sexology conferences for organizations including the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and the World Congress on Sexology. Others include appearances before state and federal legislative bodies giving testimony against anti-pornography legislation and various appearances at events related to adult film. Production material includes scripts; editing notes; dialogue lists and cue sheets; contracts and deal memos; performers' releases; schedules; budgets; cast and crew lists, and video production cost sheets for several early Femme films including Femme (Femme I), Urban Heat (Femme II), Christine's Secret (Femme III), Three Daughters (Femme IV), A Taste of Ambrosia (Femme V), Sensual Escape (Femme VI), and Rites of Passion (Femme VII). Several later projects for which production materials exist include Stud Hunters, Afrodite Superstar, and a commercial project entitled Hot Talk. Stud Hunters was a later film produced by Royalle which differed from earlier films. Instead of using established adult actors, Royalle hired two established female adult actors and advertised for male actors through an open casting call broadcast on a number of local New York City radio stations and printed in publications including The New York Post and Newsday. A number of amateur men responded to the call by email and several were chosen as actors and extras for the film. Afrodite Superstar was produced by Femme Productions and featured director Venus Hottentot in Femme's first foray into adult films with an all-Black cast of actors. It is assumed that Royalle had planned to continue to produce similar films, since she trademarked Femme Chocolat as a product line, but no other films with an all-Black cast were ultimately produced. Hot Talk was a commercial directed by Royalle to advertise High Society magazine's adult telephone line. Most of the later films produced by Femme Productions were directed by outside directors. Production materials for those films are not extant in the collection.
Advertising and reviews comprise the remainder of the series. Advertising and reviews include both draft and published advertisements, brochures, press kits, and reviews of Femme films and Natural Contours products. Royalle collected reviews, articles, and sales data regarding the bulk of her films. Advertising created by Femme Productions and outside licensees, listings in catalogs, and ratings in sales and rentals are included with reviews and filed by film title. Most folder titles in this series were created by Royalle. Very little material regarding Royalle's early career in adult film is included. The material that is included consists of press and advertisements for early films, including several posters; a few advertisements for appearances in relation to her early films, a few photograph spreads in adult magazines, and one box design for an early film. Also included in this series are scripts, correspondence, meeting notes, and agreements relating to Club 90's work on Deep Inside Porn Stars. Other information regarding Club 90 may be located in Series I in Royalle's diaries and correspondence. Folder titles were created by Royalle. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1942-2006 (#PD.1-PD.178f+E.5), includes contact sheets, prints, negatives, slides, and transparencies. Royalle had a substantial number of portraits taken by both amateur and professional photographers, some of them her friends from her time in San Francisco, including Bobby "Baba" Scotland, and Roger Vincent Anton. Portraits taken by friends include nudes and simulated sex scenes with other friends. Professional photographers included Daniel Nicoletta, Joyce Baronio, Barbara Nitke, Bruce Caines, Olle Karud, Eric Kroll, Diana Blok, Paul Bergen, James Styles, and Arthur Cohen. Portraits taken by these photographers were generally professional in nature and used in promotions for Femme Productions, Natural Contours products, and appearances for her book How to Tell A Naked Man What to Do as well as other speaking engagements. There are a number of photographs of Candida Royalle as a child, with her father, stepmother, sister, grandmother, and other relatives, as well as class photographs from her early schooling in New York. Both Royalle and her friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles took many photographs of their time on Belvedere Street in the Haight in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. Also included are a number of images of Royalle at various appearances including interviews for Femme Productions; conferences at which she spoke; conventions; adult video award shows; television and radio talk shows; burlesque, adult film and print-related appearances; performing with jazz ensembles and with the Steve Eskin Band, etc. Also included are images of her apartment in New York City, her house in Mattituck, New York, and the Femme offices in New York City.
Series IV, MEMORABILIA, ca.1962-2015 (#112F+B.1-120CB.1) consists of clothing and costumes, t-shirts, awards, personal massagers, and other objects. Clothing includes costumes, undergarments, hats, ballet slippers, and a pair of clogs worn in various adult films by Royalle or others, as well as clothing worn in both amateur and professional photo shoots for portraits or adult films. Both the pair of ballet slippers and the clogs were personal belongings of Royalle who wore the ballet slippers during dance performances in her youth and is often photographed wearing the clogs in a number of amateur photograph shoots with friends. T-shirts included in this series mostly advertise adult publications and events, adult award events, and Femme Productions. Awards consist of a sample of awards won by Candida Royalle and/or Femme Productions for feminist porn, performance quality, music, and production. Personal massagers consist of nearly the entire line of Natural Contours massagers designed by Jandirk Groet and marketed by Royalle.
Series V, AUDIOVISUAL, 1976-2017, undated (#T-529.1-T-529.83, CD-109.1-CD109.6, Phon-77.1-Phon77.2, Vt-299.1-Vt299.291, MP87.1-MP87.2, DVD-151.1-DVD151.23, E.6) consists of audio and video documenting Royalle's personal and professional life. Contains audio recordings of Royalle singing; radio and other interviews; lectures, workshops, and conference presentations. Videos include home movies; trailers and films from Femme Productions; presentations; and TV programs featuring Royalle. The series is arranged by format, alphabetically within.
Feminist, free speech advocate, and pornographic film writer, performer, and director, Candida Royalle was born Candice Marion Vadala in Long Island, New York, on October 15, 1950, to father Louis Vadala and mother Peggy Thompson. Peggy Thompson divorced Louis Vadala and left the family in April 1952 with Royalle's half-brother, Andrew Hume. Louis Vadala, a professional jazz drummer, remarried in 1955 to Helen Duffy. Royalle had one older sister, Cinthea Vadala, born in 1948. Royalle attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan from 1964 to 1968 for fashion illustration before attending Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village and City University of New York, where she became active in the women's movement while majoring in art and psychology. In 1972, Royalle moved to San Francisco, where she sang in jazz clubs and joined the "Angels of Light," an avante-garde theater troupe composed of former members of the Cockettes. Royalle starred in nearly 50 adult films from 1974 until 1982, including Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls, Femmes de Sade, and Blue Magic. She moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and retired from performing to continue to write for men's magazines including High Society and Cinema X. In 1983, Royalle became a founding member of Club 90, a New York City-based feminist consciousness-raising group for current and former porn actresses, with fellow performers Annie Sprinkle, Gloria Leonard, Veronica Vera, and Veronica Hart, eventually writing and starring in Deep Inside Porn Stars, a stage show recreation of a Club 90 meeting in January 1984.
In 1984, Royalle and her partner Lauren Niemi founded Femme Productions, Incorporated, a New York-based erotic film production and distribution company that specialized in women-focused films and the couple's market, publishing films including Femme, Urban Heat, Three Daughters, and Revelations. Royalle married pornography producer Per Sjöstedt in February 1980, and the two produced numerous Femme films together after her partnership with Niemi was dissolved in 1986. Royalle was one of the signers of the Post Porn Modernist Manifesto, a statement for artists who use sex in their work that was produced at Annie Sprinkle's Post Porn Modernist Show in 1989. Throughout her career Royalle spoke on the subjects of female sexuality, pornography, and sex therapy at sexology conferences, including that of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). She often used her Femme films as teaching material in these talks. Royalle divorced husband Per Sjöstedt in 1990 after a year of separation and the dissolution of their professional partnership at Femme. Royalle was also a founder and executive board member of Feminists for Free Expression, a nonprofit free speech advocacy group, from 1992 to 2007. In 1996, Royalle partnered with Dutch designer Jandirk Groet to release the Natural Contours line of ergonomic personal massagers. In 2004, Royalle published How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows. Beginning in 2005, Royalle began producing and distributing erotic films created by other feminist filmmakers, including Petra Joy and Venus Hottentot, through Femme and Femme Chocolat. Royalle began a crowdfunded documentary project to search for her birth mother in 2013. Royalle died of ovarian cancer in Mattituck, New York, on September 7, 2015.
The collection is arranged in five series:
- Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1920-2017 (#1.1-61.10, 109FB.1-111FB.1, 108F+B.1-108F+B.16, 123OB.1-123OB.4, 123OB.9, 124FB.1-124FB.12, SD.1, E.1-E.4E.13, E.15, E.27-E.28)
- Series II. Professional, 1978-2016 (#61.11-107.9, 125.1-125.4, 108F+B.17-108F+B.24, 123OB.5-123OB.8, 121CB-122CB, 124FB.8-124FB.10, SD.2, E.7-E.12, E.14, E.16-E.26, E.29-E.45)
- Series III. Photographs, ca.1942-2006 (#PD.1-PD.178f+, E.5)
- Series IV. Memorabilia, ca.1962-2013 (#112F+B.1-120CB.1)
- Series V. Audiovisual, 1976-2017, undated (#T-529.1-T-529.83, CD-109.1-CD109.6, Phon-77.1-Phon77.2, Vt-299.1-Vt299.291, MP87.1-MP87.2, DVD-151.1-DVD151.23, E.6)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2016-M129, 2017-M28, 2017-M64, 2017-M194, 2018-M201
The papers of Candida Royalle were acquired from Veronica Vera between July 2016 and December 2018.
Processed: September 2021
Updated: February 2023
By: Mark Vassar, with assistance from Jordan Villegas, Maxwell Lisanti, Henry Shull, and Molly Kirkpatrick
The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit. Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Actors--United States
- Appointment books
- Bumper stickers
- Business records
- Color slides
- Electronic records
- Fan mail
- Feminists--United States
- Greeting cards
- Journalists--United States
- Motion pictures producers and directors--United States
- Pornography--Social aspects
- Scripts (documents)
- Web archives
- Women journalists--United States
- Women motion pictures producers and directors--United States
- Women--Sexual behavior
- Women-owned business enterprises--United States
- Royalle, Candida. Papers of Candida Royalle, 1920-2017: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Elsie Rodd Fund and the Ellen Sears Minot Fund.
- EAD ID
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