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What It’s Like to Edit Adult Films (and Design Toys Too!)

10/09

Los Angeles native Gabrielle Anex has worked as an editor in the adult industry for 20 years, where she has won multiple awards for her work. Her time in the industry also caused her to realize there was a toy-sized gap in the market – something specifically for two ladies. And so! The Shi/Shi Union was born. Almost anyone who has used a toy has likely dreamed of what it would be like to design their own perfect vibrator! So when we had the opportunity to interview Gabrielle about her design experience, her editing career, and more, we definitely seized the day!

Read on for her take on the adult industry and the need for more lesbian sex toys…

Could you share a little about who you are and what you do?

I’m a woman who came from a very small town and once worked at a video store that had an adult section. I remember I found it really hard to even go into that section when I worked there because the pictures on the boxes were embarrassing and gross. Now, if you go into an adult store or buy an adult film, there’s a pretty good chance it was edited by me. I find that hilarious.

I’m a film school graduate who found herself in the adult industry by chance and has been fundamentally changed by it. It certainly opened my mind about sex and sexuality and really, it made me more certain than ever that I am a lesbian! I’ve worked in porn for 20 years and have done some mainstream gigs as well, but while my mainstream counterparts are often struggling for work, I find I’ve never had to worry about that in the porn industry. I’ve been nominated 18 times by AVN for Best Editing and won in 2016, and been nominated 13 times by XBIZ, which I also won in ’16. And now I’ve created a sex toy for lesbians with NS Novelties called the Shi/Shi Union which I’m hoping will do well in the novelty market. And I’m a writer, a martial artist, and a fan of Sci-Fi and Historical fiction. I’m currently single and I have an elderly cat.

What inspired you to pursue an editing career in the adult industry, and what has your journey been like?

I graduated from UCLA’s film school and, like most, wasn’t able to find a job in Hollywood when I got out. I was working undercover security, catching shoplifters at a department store when one of the managers I worked with told me her husband was a post supervisor and that he worked in the adult industry. She asked if I would have an issue with working in porn, and I said no, even though I had never really watched a lot of porn. I gave her my resume and her husband hired me. I started off doing tape-to-tape editing of compilation films, but then quickly moved into cutting big features. This was back in the day when the bigger adult productions were still shot on film. Adult wasn’t exactly where I thought I’d end up, but I’ve made a living for 20 years in the industry and won awards for my work.

What challenges have you faced along the way, if any?

The biggest challenge for me, as a lesbian, was having to edit heterosexual porn every day. I’m not really a fan. And honestly, the sex can be pretty boring to cut. After 20 years I’ve seen it all and there isn’t a lot of creativity involved anymore. I try to keep busy doing more creative stuff on my own time such as writing or editing other, non porn projects.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I usually go in to the office around 9am and start my day with lots of coffee. Then, I prepare myself for getting up close and personal with people’s private parts. I know that sounds exciting, but it’s really to the point where if I see nudity in non-porn films, I hardly notice. I find most people are more attractive while wearing clothes.

I will edit the sex portion of a film first, then do the more creative work. And by creative work, I mean making the women look beautiful and sexy and if there is dialogue, trying to cut it in a way that helps the scene to be more real. A big part of my job is taking out the director talking to the talent while the sex is happening. It happens more than people realize. So I spend a lot of time cleaning that up and trying to cover any talking. I’m usually out of the office after eight hours, but I do go home and work some more on my personal projects afterwards.

What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen take place in the porn industry over the last 20 years? How is it different from when you first began your career?

When I first started, the bigger productions were all still shot on film and there was a lot of creativity happening as far as plots and directors trying to be experimental. You don’t see that as much today. I remember how strange it was to learn to edit on a computer, because in film school I was still physically cutting film. I’m glad I had that background though because it helped me to become a better editor and to really think about the cuts I wanted.

What I have noticed about the adult industry is that it’s cyclical. Twenty years ago everyone was making these big budget productions, and then it became more Gonzo porn or POV because everyone could afford a video camera. The quality really suffered, but that’s when amateur porn really started. And then we moved into the parody porn era which was actually a lot of fun to work on. I cut a lot of those parodies: The Sex Files, The Flintstones, Star Trek TNG, The Golden Girls, et cetera. And now the industry has moved away from those and is heavy with incest story lines and cuckolding and more risqué stuff. What happens is, one studio will have a hit with a bondage film and suddenly the market will be flooded with bondage films. 50 Shades really influenced a lot of the stuff that’s coming out now. Studios just start copying each other hoping to cash in the latest popular fad. I’m sure that soon it will come back around to bigger budget films.

In addition to being an acclaimed editor and writing up some great articles in your free time, you recently created a unique sex toy, the Shi/Shi Union massager. Where did the idea for this toy come from? And how do you hope it will influence the adult pleasure market?

The idea for the Shi/Shi Union came from my personal life. I remember remarking to a girlfriend that it was a shame there weren’t a lot of sex toys available for lesbians. You see a lot of dildos, harnesses, and double dildos, yet none of them seem to really consider the way that lesbians really have sex. Sure, sometimes we might use a strap on, but lesbian sex is much more physically intimate than just getting pounded over and over. There is a lot of kissing, a lot of skin on skin contact, and often scissoring. It’s one of the hottest positions, in my experience. And sometimes while in that position, you might want more stimulation.

Putting a vibrator between you works for one partner but not the other. So I came up with the idea of the Shi/Shi Union, which swivels in the center so that each partner can align it with their clit and grind away together, and took it to NS Novelties. I hope it will influence the market to realize that not all lesbians want, or even need, penetration to cum. It’s an old myth that we are just trying to emulate heterosexual sex. Frankly, lesbian sex is nothing like straight sex.

Do you have any upcoming projects (or new inventions) our readers can be on the look out for?

I am currently finishing up post production on a mainstream web series called, UnCorked that I’m very excited about. It’s a comedy about six women who belong to a Jane Austen book club who, one day, decide they would like to try to make a porn film. It’s very funny and bold and the Shi/Shi Union actually makes a cameo so that’s a bonus! Look for it online soon. And I am in the process of coming up with more lesbian sex toy ideas. I just pitched another to NS Novelties – the same company manufacturing the Shi/Shi Union. I’m hoping to really tap into a need in the lesbian sex toy market that will get more lesbians talking about sex and trying new things together. 

Robin_Swallows // Editor

Robin_Swallows is a 20 something year old who's always embraced her sex-positive outlook on life, even though having grown up in a state filled with prudes. She's a shameless slut who loves learning about all things sex, and enjoys fantasizing and late night escapades. Her motto: Never fall in love, just lust.

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