Kelly Holland Discusses Respect at Chaturbate’s Female Empowerment Lounge

Picture source AVN

LAS VEGAS—Kelly Holland, CEO of Penthouse, addressed an intimate crowd during Sunday’s Female Empowerment Lounge, sponsored by Chaturbate, telling stories about her rise to prominence in the industry and discussing the role of women in the adult industry.

She kicked off the talk, however, by telling everyone a bit about herself.

“When I was little, I read all the magazines my mom and my aunt left around the house,” she said, after taking a few moments to personally pass out cookies and treats to attendees in the room. “I read The Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping and thought that was what I wanted … the large dining room table, all set up with the perfectly browned turkey in the center.”

When she was about 10, Holland said, something changed; while she still appreciated that inside scene with the happy family and the perfectly browned turkey on the giant dining room table, she knew she wanted to be outside that room, in the dark, looking in.

“That was where things could happen,” she said. “Where there was mystery and excitement and adventures.”

From that age, she said, every chance she got to jump with both feet down the rabbit hole she took.

And when it came to entering the entertainment industry, she said, “It was one more weird rabbit hole.”

During her talk, Holland also touched on comparisons between mainstream Hollywood and adult entertainment. An article recently published, she said, included statistics about female directors in Hollywood: in 1989, women represented 9 percent of all directors; by 2016, that number had dropped to 7 percent.

“I did an anecdotal study, by looking at the AVN Awards lists of directors nominated this year,” she said. “In those categories, women represented 40 percent.

“Why are there so many women in power positions here?” she said. “My theory is that the only rule we have in this industry is that there are no rules. We are the outlaws, the ones who blow it all up, the agent provocateurs.”

While Holland has often told the story of her start in the industry (Vivid rented space from her production company to edit movies and she was eventually hired to direct movies under the name “Toni English”), and how—as a feminist documentary filmmaker—she had many of the same cliched preconceptions that most have of the industry.

“And then I met Nina Hartley at the AVN Show, and I asked her ‘Why do you think people believe women in this industry are exploited?’” Holland said. “and she told me, ‘It’s not a feminist issue, it’s a class issue.’

“I said, ‘Well that’s an odd thing to say,’” Holland continued. “And she said, ‘It’s the East Coast upper class elite who drive the narrative of feminism, and they are the ones who believe good girls just don’t … they think women in this industry are the ones from the wrong side of the tracks, the ones who are broken toys.”

But, Holland said, it was almost immediately that she started meeting the women of adult, who defied those preconceived notions. These were strong, educated women, who were opinionated and willing to work on the front lines of feminism, fighting for the rights to control their bodies and sexualities any way they saw fit.

The adult entertainment community, she added, is “one of the most political spaces you can be in.”

But today, Holland said, the industry is under attack, specifically from Republicans and President-elect Trump.

“We are on the front lines of the fight for free speech,” she said. “If you don’t believe that, then check your lives in six months.”

Holland noted that the fight against the industry is no longer through the First Amendment—“They lost that fight long ago,” she said of the industry’s opposition—and noted that now opponents will come at pornography as a public health crisis.

Already, she noted, six states have introduced legislation declaring pornography a public health hazard, arguing that it is addictive and can damage minors.

“Anything is addictive, though,” she noted. “Puppies can be, chocolate … if that’s in your genetic makeup, anything can be addictive.”

Holland will address the topic more, when she appears on the R-E-S-P-E-C-T seminar during the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo on Thursday at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

“Does porn exploit women? Or is performing in porn the ultimate form of empowerment? It’s a question that women in the adult industry tend to hear, whether asked by feminists, porn bashers or even fans. Whether they’re performers or producers, women in adult find their own path to power in an industry where the end product traditionally has been geared toward men. We’ll hear from some industry powerhouses about how they go about creating entertainment that is arousing to all and degrading to none,” the seminar description reads.



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