We’ve been aware of Drew DeVeaux’s porn work since she appeared in Carlos Batts’s “Artcore,” and we’ve been fascinated by her ever since. And now that she’s the newly crowned Feminist Porn Awards Heartthrob of the Year, well, we figured we should sit her down for an interview, to more properly share her awesomeness with all of you.
A post-op trans woman who’s broken boundaries simply by changing the way we think of trans women in porn, Drew might inspire you with her commitment to helping create porn that more authentically represents the many ways that people have sex. Or, if you don’t care about that political junk, you might just find yourself around and, ahem, inspired by Drew’s gorgeous androgynous looks (and, we might add, her commitment to getting her partners off). On our end, we’re awed and inspired by the whole package…and, for that matter, super into the fact that she thinks that spies are sexy (cause, um, they totally are).
Fleshbot: At the Feminist Porn Awards, you spoke a little bit about how your porn career grew out of your activist work—can you tell me a little bit more about that? What inspired you to get into porn, and how has the experience been for you?
Drew DeVeaux: Like I said on the panel, everyone starts making porn for their own reasons, often it’s a combination of a bunch of things. For me, it’s been pretty much impossible to not be an activist when making porn as an androgynous-looking post-op trans woman. Yeah, I thought the way trans women were represented in porn (up until recent) was totally absurd. When I started making porn, all I really saw were representations of trans women that were super high-femme or where their penis was always front-and-center in the representations of their bodies. In contrast, I knew so many other queer, andro, butch and/or post-op trans women that were drop-dead hotties, where were they?
For sure, some trans women are kick-ass femmes and, most definitely, lots love (and love to use) their flesh cocks—but definitely not all. Even for trans women who haven’t, can’t access/afford, or don’t want to have bottom surgery (to make changes to their junk), the way a lot of trans women use and get pleasure from their flesh cocks is often way different than what we’ve been shown to be “true” in porn. When we take hormones, a lot of trans women aren’t able to ejaculate anymore; also the pleasure response and the way we can achieve orgasm can change. So, all that is to say that trans women aren’t “shemales” and never have been a female outside but with a male sexual response; if your only exposure to trans women’s sexuality is through porn (and for many, if not most people it is) then you’re getting a pretty skewed if not altogether fake depiction of how trans woman fuck and the words we use for our bodies (we may call our penises “clits”, “girlcocks”, the list can go on), not to mention how we actually identify (I’ve met very, very few trans women that would ever identify as “shemales” outside of sex work contexts where this has been compulsory in order to market ourselves).
But things have changed, and continue to change.
There is part of me that gets a bit frustrated that a bulk of what I get asked about and talk about, and the energy that I have to put into my work is in relation to “activism”, in having to struggle just to be seen, just to get fucked. I really find it hard to imagine but often dream what it would be like to be working in porn without having to contend with this shit, to be able to focus fully on just my work and what I put on screen. But I doubt anyone can work in this industry without having to contend with politics.
[Photo by Maxwell Lander (maxwellander.ca)]
I’ve been so lucky to work with so many experienced performers bursting with talent. What’s also been awesome is being on-camera with first-timers or relative newbies. I really like to take charge, show someone the ropes, and then see them grow comfortable and shine in front of the camera. While that’s pretty rewarding, to get it on with crazy talented stars, to witness and feel their skills in a very first-hand way, um wow. I can’t really gush enough about these co-stars: Jiz Lee, Dylan Ryan, April Flores, Avy Scott, Mickey Mod and, most recently Nic Switch. Every scene brings a whole new exciting bag of challenges, rewards, and things to learn about myself as a performer. Some shoots I’m most proud of how I pushed myself to new heights like with dirty talk in my “Seven Minutes in Heaven 3: Fuck Yeah” scene with Cyd Loverboy or my latest, soon-to-be-posted QueerPorn.TV scene with Nic Switch. In other shoots, I’m really elated with how the creative and conceptual pieces come together—I’m thinking of my scene with Jiz Lee in “Roulette: Toronto,” my scene in Beau Charlie & Max Lander’s “The White Room” with Francis Jones (by up-and-coming Canadian Indie directors) or the gorgeous look my scene (with co-star Jett Blue) in Jincey Lumpkin’s next release for Juicy Pink Box, “Boutique,” is going to have. If I had to pick one scene, where all the pieces come together—activism, hottness, aesthetics—I’ll go with my scene with Mickey Mod for QueerPorn.TV. I think everyone should go and watch this now! Overall, looking back at my body of work, I love watching how I’ve grown and grown stronger as a performer, of how I can take more risks and hit new levels of intensity and immediacy that I couldn’t have imagined doing in my early shoots.
[Photo by Malkoteron]
I think it would be a contemporary Cold-War-esque prono version of a spy movie. Who’s the spy and who’s the target? Who can you trust? What lengths will they go to get the secrets to save the world from evil? I think spies can be super sexy—they can really mess with our ideas of trust, make manipulation into and art form, and show us the way sex and charisma can be used to get what we want.
I’d have to hand it over to Shine Louise Houston to direct and I’d convince Miranda July to write the script in her porn screenplay debut.
Leads would be Syd Blakovich and Nic Switch, great actors who embody sweet and evil in the same package, as the government agents gone undercover. Papi Coxx, who’s such an expressive performer and the proto-typical protagonist, is the innocent politician with dark secrets and Sovereign Syre would be their double-crossing wife who’s actually working with the enemy. Other awesome actors that’d have to be incorporated would be Samantha Ryan, Kimberly Kane, and Dylan Ryan. I think a fierce feminist spy collective would have to be woven into the plotline for these foxes.
[Photo by Rae Threat (threat.tv)]
I am super inspired by female performers who can’t be contained by the frame of the camera, who are inspired to branch out and start making their own work as directors and producers. Belladonna (please come back!), Kimberly Kane, and Joanna Angel to name a few significant examples of those whose work I love and whose spirit and drive to create independent work as women in a male-dominated industry has been so fucking inspirational. I also need to give a big shout out to queer performers and directors who really created a critical mass of awesome, thoughtful, and engaging porn long before I got a start. Without the long-time and continuing work of Shine Louise Houston, Courtney Trouble, Dylan Ryan, Madison Young, Syd Blakovich, I really don’t think I’d be anywhere. And I have to give a special shout-out to Jiz Lee. They really encouraged and supported me to move forward and disregard the uncertainty I was feeling. Their sweet words, all the boundaries they bent and broke, their phenomenally talented body of work as a genderqueer porn star, they have been my muse and mentor and I’ve gone so far to say they’re my “maker” and I’m their spawn. Cause vampires are so fucking sexy.
[Photo by The Crash Pad Series (crashpadseries.com)]
Porn has a habit of packaging people according to how the viewer might perceive them, rather than what their actual identity is (i.e. people are often identified by a completely inaccurate ethnic background, or as MILFs when they have no children, etc). Is it important to you to have your identity as a trans woman communicated in your work—or are you comfortable with being perceived as a cis woman?
The way porn has often defaulted to putting performers into “silos” has been problematic not just for trans women. Being dropped into these “silos”—whether they’re race-based, MILF, trans/shemale, the list goes on—this is so often done without regard to how performers identify, or without consideration of how they relate to their bodies or sexualities. I think this has been done by the industry to satiate what they think the audience wants. And while there’s gonna be a fetish for everyone and an audience for everything, I think that there’s a pretty huge and relatively unsaturated market of people who are looking for a higher degree of authenticity in the porn they consume.
I think all this plays into the ongoing debate of where the future of the industry lies. If we’re wondering how the industry is going to survive and grow, it’s not going to happen by stubbornly sticking to the traditional ways of making and marketing porn—we need to reach out to women and/or to audiences who are demanding a more authentic and higher-quality product that doesn’t reflexively resort to cliche storylines, predictable sex, and stereotypical and cookie-cutter approaches to casting.
For me, I’ve definitely am aware that the way I’ve been “marketed” varies depending on the production. For more mainstream work, my trans identity isn’t something that really makes it into the description of the film. Given that I’m post-op and can “pass” as a cis woman then it’s totally possible for directors and distributors to just not mention that I’m trans. I’m actually completely okay with this. It’s really an extension of how I live in my life. I view fans of my porn like lovers in my life. If they’re reading me as cis—which is something that we all do when we watch or meet someone for the first time—well that’s their assumption they’re making and it’s not my place to “out” myself to every person before they get aroused.
And besides, if anyone does the slightest bit of research, if they’re curious or if it’s important to them, they’ll come across my website, interviews like this, and other writings where my trans identity is pretty out in the open.
I know you’ve worked with a variety of companies, both indie and mainstream. Have you run into any issues or discrimination, or has it largely been smooth sailing?
The activist piece in my work comes out in that I’ve really had to walk a path that no one really had before, of being a post-op trans girl in an industry where I supposedly slammed my “silo” door shut years ago when I had bottom surgery. So, much like other groundbreaking performers who I admire and have inspired me so I had to carve out a niche for myself where there wasn’t one before. This meant having to actively challenge rules—written and unwritten—that limit who directors can cast, and this is something that goes way beyond trans bodies but the issue of casting trans bodies in mainstream porn is a big rule that’s being broken, or bent at least, as we speak.
[Photo by Maxwell Lander (maxwellander.ca)]
I’m trying to get my website together, it’s a work in progress and something that I’m having fun learning! I have a Masters degree in Community Health & Epidemiology (basically Health Research) and I do work on different research projects. Previously I’ve worked as a sexual educator and sexual health counsellor and have also done workshops on a whack of different topics. I’m super excited to be heading back to school again in the fall and so, in the meantime, I’m trying to shoot as much as I can over the summer before that happens!
What does the future hold for Drew Deveaux? Any exciting plans you’d like to tell us about?
I’m excited for projects I have coming through the pipes in the coming year with directors I’ve worked with and/or am excited to work with again, like Anna Devia, Shine Louise Houston, Nica Noelle, and Jincey Lumpkin. Because they’re not out I can’t really go into too many details. I will let the cat out of the bag on an exciting collaboration between Shine and Nica where they’re going to be shooting the same scenes and it’ll be edited into two different pieces. I’ll be in this movie which is going to feature some more traditionally “mainstream” and some “queer” performers. I’m super excited at the cross-over and cross-pollination between the queer and the mainstream and this is one really direct and awesome step that I’m elated to be a part of. Otherwise, I’m really getting stoked about the nascent porn scene coming together in Toronto. Directing team Max Lander and Beau Charlie already have two short films under their belt and just won the Golden Beaver Award at the Feminist Porn Awards for Best Canadian Content. I also really would love to get behind the camera more as well. I shot one scene for QueerPornTV that just went up today and my appetite to learn and create is definitely getting ramped up.
[Photo by Carlos Batts (carlosbatts.com)]