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Just a Civilian Girl in a Porn World: A Jacky St. James Guest Post for Women’s History Month

Known for her depiction of strong female characters, as well as her uncanny ability to place her finger on the erotic pulse of women’s sexuality, highly sought after director Jacky St. James has created an entire genre of adult films that seek to encourage and empower women. With titles like The Submission of Emma Marx, The Submission of Emma Marx-Boundaries, and the newly released Spicing Up the Marriage, her approach reassures women that it’s ok to embrace and explore their own sexuality. Through her exciting and masterful work, St. James has left a lasting impact on the industry while serving as an advocate for women across the globe.

In this third installment of HotMoviesforHer’s series celebrating Women’s History Month, we’re incredibly pleased to share the following: an exclusive and inspirational guest post from one of our heroes, Jacky St. James, exploring her experience in the adult industry, her career and her outlook on a woman’s ability to succeed in an industry that is often wrongly stereotyped as an environment degrading to women.

“Before I worked in the adult industry I had so many preconceived notions about pornographers and performers. I believed the mainstream media hype. The exposés on news channels where performers tell tales of drug abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation. I always took those exposés at face value. That’s what I was spoon-fed so why wouldn’t I believe it?  Truth be told, I shouldn’t have – and neither should you.

I got into the adult industry after submitting a screenplay to a writing contest that New Sensations was holding. I did it on a whim. I didn’t have any expectations of winning. I didn’t plan on leaving my successful corporate job or my civilian life to venture into the “dark” side of the world. I did it because I thought it would be a fun story to tell on the off chance I did win. Porn is so elusive and intangible to the civilian world and being able to say, “I wrote a porn script” would be something of a bragging right.

So I sat down and labored over my first adult screenplay, Dear Abby. I had no idea how to structure it and wanting to put forth my very best effort, I sought advice from award winning adult director, Eddie Powell. I tweeted at him asking for advice and he DM’d me back with his phone number and told me to call him. I labored over making that phone call for days. I didn’t want to be that close to the porn world and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable talking to a “creepy porn director.” After all, Powell had directed movies like The Great American Squirt Off and a series called Fuck for Dollars. What respectable man would do something like that? But something compelled me to dial his number. The voice on the other end of the line was soft-spoken, friendly, polite, not at all the drooling, husky, creep-fest I expected. He offered sound advice. “Write a story that has sex. Don’t write porno.” I was surprised that he wasn’t encouraging me to throw in as many innuendos as possible. I was surprised by a lot of things about Eddie Powell.

A month later I got word that New Sensations had green-lit the script and that it would be produced in a few weeks. Eddie Powell would be directing the title and he invited me to set to be part of the production experience. My friends were as excited as they were terrified. They warned me about the dangers of porn sets. They told me awful things happened there. That Eddie would try to sleep with me, that there would be a lot of drugs, that it would be this terrifying seedy world that I hadn’t been prepared for having grown up in suburbia. They drew all these conclusions without ever having been to a porn set. They drew all these conclusions without ever having known anyone in porn. That’s what people do, don’t they? They talk about porn with such conviction you’d think they had firsthand knowledge and experience.
If you’ve never been to an adult set, let me shed some light. It’s not how it’s depicted in mainstream movies, at least not a New Sensations’ set. I was shocked to find how professional everyone was. How hard everyone worked. How the performers weren’t in some corner shooting up heroin, but were studying lines, going over blocking, sitting in makeup chairs, picking out their wardrobe, taking selfies, and laughing with other performers. They were just normal people doing the normal things performers do on film sets. The crew was equally normal – moving lights, blocking out scenes, decorating the set, figuring out their next shots. You know, what most film crews are doing! The only difference between an adult movie set and a low budget indie film would be that on an adult set there is a lot more nudity and, yes, there’s actual sex. But even the sex is professional. The male performers are considerate, they’re not misogynist bastards. The female talent are likeable, approachable, average girls – not these sexual caricatures society has made them out to be. Porn isn’t Boogie Nights people. I hate to disappoint.
Porn defied every stereotype I had about it. I loved how creative the process was. How hard everyone worked. How much everyone cared. How open and welcoming the industry was to me. I got sucked into that openness and a few months later I put in notice at my corporate job and dove full-fledged into an adult career.

The adjustment wasn’t seamless. There were points of frustration for me.  At times I pained over how porn seemed to lack the same amount of accountability you’d find in mainstream. How performers could be an hour late to set and there was no consequence. But, I made a choice. I chose to pave my own way. To conduct business on my sets the way I would in corporate America. I hired only the best performers. The ones repped by top agents with solid reputations. I held a two-strike rule. If you’re late to my set more than once, I won’t hire you again. And I felt good about treating my adult career as I would any other.

I built solid relationships with ethical people. I surrounded myself with them, most notably Eddie Powell who became a mentor and a best friend. I never felt like a fish out of water because I had such a strong foundation of people working alongside me (from pre to post production).

In mainstream you hear women frequently complain about the lack of opportunities there are for female directors, writers, producers.  Actresses complain about how they had to fight tooth and nail for a one-liner on a television show, or how the casting couch is very real, or how they’ve struggled for years with little success to show for their efforts. Female writers and actresses frequently complain about the lack of opportunities or good roles for women.

In adult, the creativity is limitless. The opportunities are plentiful for women both in front of and behind the camera. All different female types are glorified – there are roles for older performers, younger performers, plus sized performers, skinny performers, small boobed, big boobed, etc. etc. The female voice is encouraged and welcomed. There are more female directors than ever before. Good directors with unique voices producing unique content.  And the education I’ve gotten working behind the scenes of an adult film has been incredible. In less than a year in the adult industry I had gotten opportunities to write, direct, produce, production manage, script supervise, etc.  How many people in mainstream get those opportunities their first year in the business? How many people in mainstream ever get those opportunities?

There will always be people that snicker when I tell them I’m a porn writer. Who will make that tired old “pizza guy” joke and continue perpetuating the myths about porn that they are so certain are true. But I’ll take great pleasure in knowing that my gut lead me into a world where the sky is the limit, where my imagination has never been stifled, and where I can flourish not only as a writer and a director, but as a woman.”

 

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