Femme Chocolat: AfroDite Superstar
AfroDite Superstar (2007) is the first in a new line of films from Candida Royalle: Femme Chocolat, which promises to deliver films “featuring a more ethnically diverse cast of actors and actresses, directed by women of color. The director in this case is Venus Hottentot, aka Guyanese-American Abiola Abrams (1976), a published writer, television host, and Internet personality. The daughter of highly educated and well-read parents, Abiola grew up in Queens and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from reputable writing- and arts oriented institutions.
With allusions to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989), AfroDite Superstar is an intelligent porno-musical that excels cinematically on all levels, delivering strong performances and a terrific soundtrack. The film follows the journey of AfroDite, a young black Beverly Hills woman who wants to become a rap star on her own terms. Interspersed throughout the film are compelling home video monologues in which AfroDite finds an outlet for her thoughts and fears, insecurities and longings. Ultimately, her journey brings her to self-acceptance and self-determination, finding it in herself to define who she is rather than allowing others to do it for her.
AfroDite Superstar is particularly successful as empowerment for Black women, featuring many classic feminist quotes and poetry lines rolling across the screen at opportune moments throughout the film. The musical rap numbers flow naturally within the story, in fact even more so than the sex numbers, which at times feel a bit added-on though well-shot and capturing convincing sexual energy that matches the mood of the scene well.
The sex scenes were all directed by Candida and reflect her attention to sensuality. The concluding sex scene, which takes place after AfroDite has claimed her identity\’deciding to “keep it real, as she puts it in an earlier soliloquy, and be true to herself\’is the most powerful, capturing intimacy and chemistry you can feel.
Abiola’ feminist art- and media outreach focuses especially on empowering women of color. AfroDite Superstar\’her first porn, or “feminist erotica art film,” as she prefers to call it\’reflects Abiola’s goal to create a space for women of color to define their sexuality on their own terms and without all stereotypes.
Abiola directed this film under the pseudonym Venut Hottentot to reclaim the spirit of the real Hottentot Venus: the South African woman Sarah Saartjie Baartman. Born of a Khoisan family in the late eighteen hundreds, Baartman was enslaved by Dutch farmers and exhibited as an amusement across Europe. Her “wild body\’large buttocks and elongated labia typical of some Khoisan women\’caused scandalous sensation among audiences.
(This post is an excerpt from my book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters, forthcoming fall 2012.)