Interview: Mile High's Nica Noelle on the TransSensual Experience

Click here to see a gallery of images from the first TransSensual release, My Dad's TS Girlfriend.

Back at the very beginning of 2015, AVN hit up a variety of performers and directors about their resolutions and plans for the new year. We were intrigued to hear from Nica Noelle—the writer/director who started the studios Sweet Sinner, Sweetheart Video, and Icon Male for Mile High Media—that she had a new imprint on the way.

Now, the wait is over. Retailers who’ve found success with her story-driven, visually rich and emotionally complex productions can check out TransSensual, her new studio focused on trans performers. Noelle will write and direct each title, and the imprint's debut release, My Dad's TS Girlfriend, arrives April 1.

My Dad’s TS Girlfriend stars Jessy Dubai, Wolf Hudson and Sunday Valentina, and Noelle describes the movie as “really no different from the type of storylines I write for our Sweet Sinner Films. A middle-aged single dad finds love again, with a scorching hot younger woman that his college age son falls in lust with.”

Commented Mile High vice president Jon Blitt in a company release, “Teaming with Nica for Icon Male was a huge success, and we are continuing that success with the launch of TransSensual. Nica’s vision for trans-erotica is unique and we know fans will connect to it. She is a master at her craft, there is no one else offering her style of erotica in the transsexual marketplace.”

Noelle added, “My Dad's TS Girlfriend was just a great experience, and a great way to kick off a new era in both my career and in TS feature porn. This studio is everything I dreamed of. I hope I can prove myself worthy of the trans community's trust and good will, and that we'll make some incredible movies together.”

AVN: This is your second studio related to the TS genre. Did you intend to start this new studio when you made the jump a year ago back to Mile High, or did the plan come up more recently?

Nica Noelle: I knew I wanted to partner with Mile High for any adult films I made, and yes, we talked about doing a TS line together. I had started a TS studio with my previous partners [TransRomantic], but once I started shooting gay content that kind of overpowered everything. The gay audience is very big while TS was considered a "niche market," so it was decided I should focus on gay and kind of forget about other genres. I felt bad because the TS community had given us so much support—we won the Tranny Awards’ DVD of the Year and a Feminist Porn Award with our very first release.

Your first two titles for TransRomantic at AEBN, Forbidden Lovers and Secret Desires, were romances. Will you take the same approach with TransSensual content?

Same approach, yes. I pretty much do all my films the same way. But I would say TransSensual is more trans-positive than my former studio was, in the sense that we don't do storylines where the straight guy is shocked to "discover" the girl is TS. That "Oh my god, she has a penis!" bit is so tedious. Not only that, but it perpetuates the idea that TS women are out to "fool" straight men. It's weird and offensive and it's simply not true.

Can you share some specifics about your first release through TransSensual?

Our first release is My Dad's TS Girlfriend and it stars Jessy Dubai and Sunday Valentina, who are both gorgeous, obviously. Wolf Hudson plays the son who falls for his dad's perfect fiancée (Sunday) while both father and son have secret trysts with Jessy, who plays more of a bad girl.

There’s been so much evolution in the TS market even since 2012, when you started TransRomantic. Can you comment on the changes you've noticed?

I'm very encouraged by the fact that trans men and women are becoming more vocal and visible, and that mainstream media is shining some light in their direction, too. Dialogue on this issue is so important, as is demystifying what it means to be trans. Porn in general tends to lag behind when it comes to issues like racism and perpetuating stereotypes—it’s one of the worst things about our industry.  But fortunately there's a group of very strong, brilliant trans performers with the courage and artistry to push for change.

How will the changes in the genre affect the kinds of stories you tell?

I don't approach TransSensual storylines any differently than I do straight ones, because TS women are women, period. But I would love to do a TransSensual period piece where we could focus on the forbidden aspects of unconventional love. That's why I love to shoot period piece films set in the Victorian era: everything about sex was forbidden back then. And while it must have been frustrating for people living at that time, it's a great device for narrative porn.

You’ve expressed your strong interest in stories about "forbidden" love—whether it be members or blended families or other types of relationships that are frowned upon by society.The trans genre is about as transgressive as it gets for mainstream society. Does that make it even more appealing to you? How will that affect the stories you tell?

My brother dated a TS woman long before I got into adult film, and I never thought of her as anything but my brother's girlfriend. On a visceral level, I'll tell you I don't understand how someone could spend time in the presence of a TS woman and regard her as anything but a woman. So it would be hard for me to write a story where the TS woman herself was the "forbidden" element, and I haven't written any stories like that for TransSensual. The forbidden elements still have to do with family relations, betrayals and things like that.

The most prevalent type of scene in TS porn used to be solo scenes or trans women with male performers, but that has been changing to be more diverse. Do you have any ideas about how you will cast your movies, in terms of integrating performers of different genders and sexual orientations?

Like I said earlier, porn is really behind the times and slow to change unless you can demonstrate right away that there's money to be made by doing things differently. My entire career is based on that, because I never did anything the way I was told. The only reason I even have a career is because sometimes my ideas made money. So yes, we're already introducing lesbian scenes in our TransSensual line, and I hope the audience will respond favorably, because at the end of the day, the audience decides with their dollar.

The term "tranny," has come under fire of late. What's your feeling about the controversy? Is it a term you already avoided yourself?

It's up to each respective group to decide what terms they're comfortable with, and the TS community as a whole is very offended by terms like "tranny" and “she-male." So, of course we won't use those terms in the movies or in any of our marketing campaigns. We'll continue to take our cues from the trans community when it comes to language and positive representation—as well as just employing common sense.

Who's on your short list of performers you're eager to cast in TransSensual productions?

So many performers, my gosh. Vaniity, for one. I'm dying to shoot Vaniity. I wish I could shoot Mia Isabella but she's retired from porn. I'd also love to get Sarina Valentina back for my new line, because she's so fantastic to work with. There are also lots of new girls that I've gotten to work with for the first time: Jessy Dubai, Aubrey Kate, Chelsea Poe ... it's been very exciting to meet so many incredible new performers.

Will you require condoms for all performers on TransSensual productions?

My default position is pro-condoms, for any scene with penetration. Also, I think it's easier for the performers if you say, "We shoot with condoms, but if you'd prefer not to use one, we can discuss it." I say this because from what I understand a lot of performers are afraid they won't be hired again if they say, "Yes, I'd like a condom." Obviously, it's safer to use condoms than not, because they provide another layer of protection—there’s very little to argue against that.

That said, I'm speaking as someone who has a bad physical reaction to condoms and can't use them myself. So I understand that some performers don't want to be forced to put something on their skin, or have a foreign object inside of them.

I've come to realize that when it comes to condoms there's no one, rigid standard that's fair to everyone, or safe for everyone. You have to give performers some agency when it comes to their own bodies. But as a producer, I'm still responsible for making sure my set is safe. So whatever the performer's choice may be, they have to observe the additional safety requirements that go along with having made that choice.

Back in June 2014, when AVN interviewed you about the newly launched Icon Male gay studio, you said this: "I take the exact same approach with all of my studios. Hot sex is hot sex." After months of shooting gay titles, would you say that still holds true, or are there differences in working with different genders and sexual orientations?

The only difference is that when there are more penises involved, there are more opportunities for "technical difficulties." Women with vaginas can fake everything from sexual arousal to orgasm to squirting, and if they're good at it, you can't tell they're faking. But you can't fake a hard penis or an ejaculating penis. So I would say the fastest and easiest scenes to shoot are lesbian scenes with cis-females. As you add penises to the equation, you add potential complications. There are really no other differences I can think of.

A couple more questions about Icon Male: The line has been a big success. Were you surprised by response to the work, and did you adjust your stories to fit fan demands?

I haven't been surprised, because it's always been my belief that human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, respond to passionate, realistic sex and to thoughtful story lines. If there are two things we’re programmed to crave, it's stories and sex. That was my boilerplate when I got into the industry, and as I've moved from genre to genre I've heard the same objections each time: "you can't shoot straight/gay/trans this way—the audience is different." I'll let you know when I find that to be true, but so far everyone seems to be pretty much the same.

Now that there's a membership site for Icon Male, will that drive you to do other kinds of content—say, more scene driven? Or might it cause you to pursue different ways of promoting the studio on social media?

Jon [Blitt] tells me when the fans especially like a certain title, but in general I'm too consumed with the production side to pay much attention to anything else. So far Mile High hasn't alerted me to aany plans to change anything because of the website. I think things will just continue to develop organically, according to what the fans want and what makes sense for us as a studio.

And one more thing. I’ve enjoy reading your essays on Huffington Post. Are there other outlets where your fans can look to find more?

I was a writer before I was a porn director, so I'll always publish new stuff from time to time. My Huffington Post blog allows me to write about everything from porn to football for a large audience, so I'm lucky to have that as an outlet. And recently I've been writing a little for, because I'm a big Patriots fan. And I have a Tumblr account, which has a bunch of diary entries and story excerpts.

I'm also continuing to work on my memoir, which is hard because it's the first thing I put on the back burner when life gets intense. But even when fate throws me curveballs, there's a C.S. Lewis quote that's become my mantra: "It's all raw material." It means as a writer you can use everything that happens to you, good or bad. Our lives are just a bunch of random events punctuated by personal triumphs and tragedies, and a writer's mission is to weave the chaos into some kind of narrative. To find the moral of the story.

For more about Noelle’s newest studio for Mile High, follow on Twitter: @TranSensual.

Above, photo of Nica Noelle by Joshua Darling

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