This study considers Community Action Center (CAC) (2010), a film by A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner that queers “straight” pornography by reimagining heteronormative tropes often associated with the adult film industry. The film gleefully commingles an intersectionality of bodies, sexualities, genders, and races in a queer feminist landscape of the erotic. The artists strategically shift the paradigm of the male gaze, the primary focus of traditional porn, to the non-normative using film as a vehicle to engender a space in which other genders and sexualities can, and do, exist. Utilizing a collaborative process with many different people across the LGBTQIA+ community, the artists argue for the necessity of queer bodies/voices to be seen/heard and recognized. Through non-traditional modes of dissemination—the artists travel with the film often giving talks and interacting with audiences in each of its screening locations—the film has raised visibility and awareness, as I argue, by queering the boundaries of both the art world and the pornographic film industry. Ultimately, Burns and Steiner have created an artwork in which queer desires take center stage in a film that effectively deterritorializes straight pornography and reterritorializes it with that of queer porn. They have rather successfully placed a film with a queer agenda into the mainstream art world—the film has been screened in major museums, art centers, and festivals worldwide, and has also been included in exhibitions related to queer art and culture. After all, the film is dedicated to “the queerest of the queers.”

Queer, Feminist, Pornography, Male Gaze

The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Erin Riley Lopez
    • PhD Student, Art History, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, United States United States