Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below

Product Details
$35.00  $32.55
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.32 X 9.23 X 1.41 inches | 1.92 pounds

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About the Author
Jane Kamensky's many books include A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, winner of the New-York Historical Society's American History book prize along with three others. For thirty years, she worked as a history professor and higher education leader, most recently as Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University and director of the Schlesinger Library at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. In 2024, Kamensky became the president of Monticello/the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
A riveting, humane, and essential contribution to modern feminist history. Jane Kamensky has written a biography that reads like a novel, an astute intellectual work that recognizes and humanizes the role of sex workers in recent women's movements. Thanks to this book, I am proud to recognize the place of Candida Royalle in my own lineage.--Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism
Porn star Candida Royalle dared to bring feminist questions to the business of sex. Couldn't there be a porn that would tamp down the degradation and misogyny? Couldn't women claim space for their own fantasies? Did we all have to fit in at the Playboy Mansion? Jane Kamensky's vital and illuminating account of Candida's bruised life and uphill struggle to radically change porn from within asks us to consider the true meaning of sexual liberation.--Cynthia Carr, author of Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar
A tour de force, Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution is a penetrating history of America's least studied revolution.... Originally conceived, impressively researched, and beautifully written, Candida Royalle deepens and complicates our understanding of America's recent past.--Alice Echols, University of Southern California, and author of Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture
A rich slice of Americana, a deep dive into the era of the pornographic movie industry and its feminist adversaries, told through the unexpectedly moving story of a woman, Candice Vadala, who tried, and failed, to make peace between the two sides. Whatever your views about porn, when you read Jane Kamensky's beautifully sympathetic and clear-eyed biography, you will find yourself rooting for Candice, a woman struggling heroically to redeem a difficult life.--Louis Menand, author of The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War
Jane Kamensky has written a groundbreaking, cinematic, and sensitive portrait of an unlikely heroine: Candida Royalle, the adult film actress and director who pushed herself from the margins of porn to the center of the sex wars in the 1970s and '80s. Kamensky understands exactly what Royalle gained, and lost, in her bid for sexual freedom and artistic independence. This is more than a biography of one woman who experienced the perils and pleasures of the sexual revolution 'from below'--it is a brilliant, sweeping, and tragic history of desire, feminism, and sex in postwar America.--Heather Clark, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
Powerful. . . . A captivating biography of a major figure of the sexual revolution.-- "Publishers Weekly"
Kamensky traces the full arc of her subject's life, from a childhood rife with tumult and abuse to her 2015 death from cancer. . . . Following Vadala's lead, Kamensky's biography refuses the binary between a pleasure-driven feminism and a victim-driven one to show how sex work and its cultures can be both liberating and oppressive.--Maggie Taft "Booklist"
Working extensively with Vadala's diaries, historian Kamensky sets the porn actress and producer's life and career in parallel with the wider events of '60s and '70s counterculture, second-wave feminism, and anti-pornography crusade, and the changing landscape of pornography itself. . . . This in-depth biography makes a good argument that Vadala is an unsung history maker.--Kathleen McCallister "Library Journal"
In an assiduously researched, elegantly written new biography, Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution, the historian Jane Kamensky makes a strong case for her subject's story as both unique and, in a curious way, representative.--Margaret Talbot "The New Yorker"
In the new biography Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution, Kamensky puts Royalle at the center of an ambitious, ambivalent history that aims to unsettle any idea of a conflict with firm battle lines.--Jennifer Schuessler "New York Times"
[Kamensky's] rigor and thoroughness demand that the reader take seriously an underdog who made her name in a stigmatized industry. This book is a labor of empathy that refuses to simplify or valorize its subject.--Rich Juzwiak "The New York Times Book Review"
[An] unexpectedly lively biography. . . . The book's virtues include its melding of history with diaristic intimacy and clever, often incandescent prose.--Julia M. Klein "Boston Globe"
Beautifully crafted. . . . Kamensky shows that the sexual revolution was always only partly about sex. It was also about technological transformation; about personal branding, the search for authenticity; and about the blurring of private life and screen life. We may think of these things as artifacts of our digital age, but Candida Royalle knew them well. She lived her politics as many of us live ours today, in her body and on the screen simultaneously.--Fred Turner "Los Angeles Review of Books"