“Deep Throat” star Linda Lovelace maintained that she was forced to do porn with a gun to her head. Though by all accounts her boyfriend/pimp, Chuck Traynor, was abusive, contemporaries also said that Lovelace herself was a pathological liar.
But in porn as in life, sometimes it’s not a gun to the head—just maybe the lack of something else—that compels us to do the things we do.
Oriana Small, aka Ashley Blue, wrote an excellent book called “Girlvert: A Porn Memoir.” She discusses it with me and Freddy & Eddy on their podcast this week.
“I would have done anything for my boyfriend,” Small says before the show. “I wanted to keep him.”
She is referring to the “modeling agency” she walked into, at 20, only to realize it was a porn company. She went into another room with the man she met there and he “fucked me without lube.
“My boyfriend was really excited about this,” Small says. “I came home and told him and then he showed me this little porn stash he’d been keeping in the closet. He really liked the idea of us being in porn.”
“Girlvert” is the tale of Small’s near-decade in the adult business in the early years of the 21st century. She is now a coke-free painter, memoirist, and wife and creative partner to photographer Dave Naz.
“I made these choices myself,” she said. “Some weren’t the best ones; but I’m not sure I would have done it if my boyfriend hadn’t been so into it.”
STIGMA and MONEY
However far porn or “sex work” has come in terms of mainstream legitimacy as a job—at least in the minds of people who read sites like mine—it hasn’t come as far as you think.
Sierra Sinn was a once and possibly-future porn performer who was chewed up by faux-Christian anti-porn opportunist Shelley Lubben.
“I felt like I went into a downward spiral,” Sinn says in an excellent interview with Michael Whiteacre on the site The Real Porn Wikileaks. “At the end of it was Shelley, with her arms open wide, luring me into her world.”
Lubben pitched several performers—who now discredit her—on a potential MTV reality show about getting out of porn, but appeared to have been using them for her own gain.
“She’s very predatory,” Sinn says of Lubben. “The fact that she doesn’t go for the girls like Belladonna or Jesse Jane – she doesn’t go for the ones in their high times, she goes for the ones that she sees, from their MySpace posts or whatever, that they’re not feeling it. She preys on them and gets them while they’re weak and tries to manipulate them. Honestly, I feel more used and tossed aside by her than I ever did from the porn industry.”
Sinn was led to believe that her involvement with Lubben’s fictitious TV show would keep her in the lifestyle she had cultivated in porn, but it didn’t. Instead (and this is why she seeks to move back to California from Pennsylvania), her appearance in Lubben testimonials—which feature her real name—have kept her from getting jobs.
“It’s a financial trap,” she says. “Once you make a certain amount; once you’re accustomed to a certain way of living, it’s hard to go back to not having such money.”
“Could you please take my interview down?” wrote an author whose book I’d reviewed recently. “I got dragged into a [redacted multinational family-oriented entertainment and theme park company] HR meeting, (and was) busted all over the place for my entire web presence.”
The author had previously told me that her tales of fetish and noir horror made her valuable to the company. “They like having people there who can write and who have other lives that can inform the 9-to-5 work, I think,” she said at the time.
But the tweets of attendees at BDSM-flavored conventions where her work was spotlighted gave her bosses the heebie jeebies, she said.
“They want to ‘review’ all of my interviews going forward and all kinds of stuff,” she said, asking to “lay low” on the interview. “I wouldn’t want to give them something else to get draconian about.”
You’re right: I wouldn’t have taken that job incinerating amputated body parts at my town’s hospital had I not needed money to buy that 1973 Mercury Montego, but that wasn’t coercion.
And as much as the porn industry at its best can represent a group of people doing exactly what they want to do, I, too, have made decisions because of money that I wouldn’t have in my right mind.
A recurring example from my own work is the Hysterical Producer.
GramPonante.com has been around for a long time and, as such, has a huge archive, thousands of racy photos, and hundreds of thousands of well-trafficked and lucrative keywords by which I hope to attract advertisers large and small.
Occasionally, however, I am strongly requested to take down reviews or commentary when the world’s facts or my own opinions (which are, of course, also facts, in my opinion) threaten businesses larger than mine.
Various hysterical directors have petitioned my sponsors over the years to rescind my funding when I haven’t issued a glowing review of their masterpieces or otherwise fund their integrity lacking.
And sometimes I do tone it down. I’m not saying I’m happy about it. But I’ve got to paint-flake my Scion, Baby.
NOT SO BAD BY COMPARISON
Porn can definitely prepare you for life (who hasn’t been fucked by AT&T?), but it’s sad when life prepares you—too early—for porn.
Bobbi Starr was a guest on Sexy Tales, a show I occasionally produce with Jamye Waxman in Los Angeles.
“Everybody says, ‘You’re a porn star; you got raped by your uncle,’” Starr says. “But I have a loving family, had a great childhood, and no one laid a hand on me.”
If you sense some defensiveness there, so did I, but today’s megaconnected porn performer hears this version of events so often that she sometimes drops it into conversations without being asked.
But sometimes people who blame bad parenting for porn are right on the money.
On the Freddy and Eddy podcast with Oriana Small, she refers to our off-air conversation about choices coming just as often from the lack of something as they do from the presence of something.
“We were having a conversation about the hypothetical gun to your head,” she says, and then drops a bomb about her drug addict mother.
“I remember…my mom holding a gun to her own head,” she says. “i never felt like that in my scenes. There was no gun to my head and if there was I’d be the one putting it there.”
Buy “Girlvert: A Porn Memoir”
NOTE: During our talk, I ask Small if she could fit Freddy & Eddy’s microphone baffle into her mouth the way she used to do with her whole fist. “It would take me about ten minutes at this point,” she says.