Happiness Through Porn

Recently I was interviewed by a well-known men’s magazine about what it’s like to have a relationship with a “civilian” while simultaneously working as an adult actress. I had been in such a situation fairly recently with someone who had loved to tell others about my involvement in the sex biz (and thus his exciting experiences as my sidekick), but who wasn’t above making the occasional judgment-tinged remark when it suited his purpose. This would mostly be to gain the upper hand in an argument or to use as evidence that I was, let’s face it, “crazy.” He had a lofty-sounding title at a well-known Los Angeles firm, and seemed to regard himself as “respectable” and “sane” by virtue of the fact that he’d completed a degree and was now working for a powerful company. Those of us who worked in the sex business, or who hadn’t had the (mommy-and-daddy-paid-for) academic choices he’d enjoyed were easy to discredit if the situation called for it. And often, it did.

When I ended the relationship he made a couple of snide remarks about my having a “wild life” and told me he’d prefer that I not mention to others the involvement he’d so enthusiastically (and secretly) sought for himself in my career. Everything from his constant desire to “invest” in my studio, to his passion for writing scripts and suggesting casting choices for my films, to his attendance at almost every industry event to which I was invited. I didn’t understand at the time what the mixed messages were about – did he think everyone in porn (including me) was crazy and marginal, or did he want to be one of us? Was he just trying to take one last hit at my achillies heel before we parted ways — a defiant swipe in the spirit of “You can’t fire me, because I quit!”?

I now realize that he needed to discredit my profession because it was too painful to admit just how much he’d wanted to be a part of it. He had desperately wanted involvement in a community he felt offered more excitement, creative satisfaction and fun than his own life choices did. The catch was, he also wanted the option to don an expensive suit and have dinner with “respectable” folks; to be taken seriously in ways he felt I never would be. And perhaps most of all, to retain his ability to impress people lower on the social totem pole than he — e.g., people like me and my friends — with his “mainstream credentials.” I can’t say I don’t understand that desire, but it I also can’t say I respect it.

But the truth is we’re an easy mark for that sort of thing, and it’s up to us to do something about it. For instance, I’ve noticed in talking to industry folk how self-conscious they are about seeming “legitimate” and how much they yearn to be taken seriously but assume they won’t be. If an adult performer has an academic degree, often he or she will mention it repeatedly in passing, an attempt to insert the subliminal message “See, I’m not stupid.” Adult industry legends will make self-deprecating remarks such as, “So I’m in the Hall of Fame — big deal. It’s just PORN.” They don’t want to admit that it means something, even if they’ve devoted their lives to it, just in case you, the listener, think it’s a joke. It’s the kind of self-hatred and low self-esteem one receives as a complimentary gift upon entry to any stigmatized group.

Having been on both sides of the fence, I feel it’s important to let industry people know that they never need to feel self-conscious or self-deprecating about anything. The men of corporate America worship us, they watch us and follow our careers, they dream of us, they know our names and the names of our films. They are star-struck when they meet us. Likewise, their female counterparts find us exotic and excitingly threatening. They want to talk to us, ask us questions, hopefully to learn something from us that they can use to spice up their own relationships (and these days, often to sleep with us themselves.)

Why do they feel that way? Because they live lives of fear and repression while we are naked and free (both figuratively and literally.) Our lives are filled with experience and excitement. If you really think about it, civilians have to discredit us on some level. After all, if we’re not crazy, if we’re not marginal, if we’re not ridiculous, yet we’re having so much fun and great sex while making such good money… that’s not really fair, is it? Aren’t you supposed to sit in your uncomfortable suit in board meetings and watch the hours painfully pass, each indistinguishable from the next, if you want to make a six figure salary? What do you mean, “I could be having more fun and better sex”? What’s the catch?

And it’s not really fair. But it’s nonetheless true for many of us. A career in the adult industry is not a downward spiral. It’s not a journey into darkness. It’s not even particularly radical. Nor does it suck the intelligence out of you — I knew many attorneys during my “corporate” days that seemed borderline intellectual functioning at best. But what did they have? Like in the Wizard of Oz, they posessed a “title,” an acknowledgement of achievement that allowed them to be taken seriously by the world. That kind of social acknowledgement and respect is often key to a feeling of pride and self respect. And unfortunately, civilians are often very happy that we in the adult industry are denied such acknowledgement, just as they are denied our special privileges (and believe me, they’re mad about it.)

But if that’s the biggest down side of this industry, I’ll happily take it. As I’ve said before, I’ve personally found life in the sex industry to be among the most wonderful of all choices. And I hope one day civilians will realize that it’s okay to be enamored of us, and wishing you could do it too is nothing to be ashamed of. Remember, the person in that cramped little cubicle next to you is probably keeping the very same secret as you are. And he or she can’t wait for 5:00, either.

31 thoughts on “Happiness Through Porn”

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