There is a lot of truth to popular attitudes about the porn industry, good and bad, and the choices that bring and keep people here can run from the unfortunate, to the noble, to the practical, to the desperate. Same as McDonalds or reality television (both of which are former employers of Yours Truly).
By and large, pornographers are middle class individuals who rarely vacation or turn down work, who both support and compete with their peers, and who are just as concerned with where the next paycheck is coming from as they are with whether this job is the right idea. Just like you.
The people below are a representative sample of what made porn fascinating in 2010, and who promise (or threaten) to be a significant part of the tapestry in 2011.
Person of the Year: Nate Glass
Nate Glass is a true believer. The founder of Take Down Piracy has strong opinions that porn should not go gently into the night of a complacent acceptance that piracy is here to stay.
“There’s no ‘alternative business model,’” Glass says. “The alternative is that you starve.”
Glass combs torrent sites, pirate sites, and tube sites, blasting illegal uploaders with DMCA notices. He’s also not afraid to mix it up with people within the adult industry he sees as consorting with the enemy.
His plan for 2011 is to persevere.
“Professionally, I’d like to get more content owners to utilize my highly effective and affordable service,” he says, “and [to see] fewer content owners making deals with the devil. Personally, I’d like to continue to be the fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench, the Roddy Piper to Manwin/Jules Jordan’s Hulk Hogan.”
- Read our interview here.
Only the returning ancient astronauts will be able to tell us if social media, particularly Twitter and its by-products, put more money in the nation’s pockets than it took away in time and self-respect. But Shibari and Housely have done a lot to harness the basic narcissistic impulse all porn performers share and both monetize it and employ it for the greater good.
“Something as simple as an #NSFW hashtag before a link to a picture of your ass goes a long way toward saying you have the public’s best interest in mind,” says Shibari, herself possessed of an NSFW ass.
Housely, with his PornstarTweet family of Twitter aggregators, has brought more of your favorite porn stars to Twitter than anyone, and the Las Vegas native has developed free products that help consumers and fans with the daunting task of keeping track of the wealth of attention-seeking naked girls out there.
“We have to find a way for porn stars to make money with what they would be doing anyway for free,” says Housely.
Honorable Mention: Philadelphia’s Jimmy Cooper. Cooper launched Starlet Sheets, a comprehensive guide to free—but not pirated—porn on the Internet.
Miss Congeniality: Kristina Rose
On the set of my brilliant, heartwarming, life-affirming, and upcoming “Facts of Life XXX” Rose remarked, to no one in particular, “Where would someone like me be if I couldn’t do porn? Work in an office? I organized orgies in high school. No fucking way, dude.”
While Rose had a reputation of being wilder than most, she is in person the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet. She writes thank-you notes to her fans, shows up to set on time, learns her lines, and works her ass off (though it always grows back).
And Rose (pictured with makeup artiste Glenn Alfonso) is not alone in being grateful for her job—I just happen to bump into her the most.
Honorable Mention: I also have great affection for the other Yeastland girls—I was blessed with a great cast—including Bobbi Brixton, Kodi Gamble, Koffee Brown, and Ashli Orion.
Hustlers: Marc Star and Marcus London
Talent goes a long way in such a small business as porn, but the lack of hard work and a positive attitude derail even the most talented. Star (seen here with Ashlyn Rae) is a longtime stills photographer who branched out into writing screenplays for Hustler parodies in addition to shooting his own line of nudes-out-of-doors porn, “Extreme Public Adventures.” He’s not reinventing the wheel; he just works hard and isn’t a dick about it.
Ditto London who, in addition to being a sought-after performer and director, has opened a filming location with buddy Tommy Gunn and has started a catering business for porn sets.
Sweetheart of Gamma Rho Lambda: Jiz Lee
Trained as a dancer (I long to make a movie called “Jiz Hands”), Jiz Lee is a beloved figure in Bay Area pornography, appearing in nearly every porn movie made north of Santa Barbara County. And even if the San Francisco porn scene seems smaller than its southern neighbor’s, you must remember that everyone in San Francisco is required by law to appear in some erotic, dream-journal, transgendered, psychopolitical, grant-funded, patchoulli-scented, poetry slam porn once a year (even Ken Griffey, Jr.), making Ms. Lee’s achievement is that much more significant.
“People must approach you on the street up there,” I said.
“Yes,” Lee said. “It’s difficult, sometimes, when I’m recognized as I’m trying to [put the moves on] someone else.”
Mister Congeniality: Rocco Reed and Anthony Rosano
To be a successful porn dude is to balance lower pay, lesser name recognition, less attention, and fewer free drinks than one’s female costars. People like me walk right by you on my way to some vapid teen with boobs she got as an 18th birthday present. Meanwhile, you have to position that teen in the best light for two hours while she gets all the glory, and you don’t even get to fake your orgasm the way she does.
Also: to be a Ringbearer is to be Alone.
If you’re Anthony Rosano, you pass the endless time as your scene partner is being primped and cajoled by strumming guitar backstage. If you’re Rocco Reed, you find a mirror and just gaze into your own dreamy eyes. Point is, these guys work a lot and will continue to work a lot, along with the dozen or so dependable men in the business, because they take the job just seriously enough (and don’t pop early) without taking it too seriously. For down that road lies Madness.
Newcomer: Chanel Preston
Smart, funny, and present (despite being from both Alaska and Hawaii), Chanel Preston arrived in Porn Valley with a strong work ethic and a refreshing lack of porny affectations. A stripper in Honolulu, she also has really long legs.
Doppelganger: AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Michael Weinstein
For all the complaining the adult industry does about the attention-seeking, poorly-prepared, dubiously-motivated AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein, he seems a lot like, well, the adult industry.
Weinstein has become a popular target around Porn Valley for his campaign against Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Healthcare, expertly marshaling local media and government agencies in his fight to enforce condom use on adult sets and to question AIM’s efficacy as a testing center at the center of “self-policing” Porn Valley. But then he screws up.
No one disagrees when Weinstein points out that Porn Valley simply does not want to use condoms, but his nuisance lawsuits (AHF sued Pfizer in 2007, claiming Viagra marketing promoted unsafe sex, but the case went nowhere, as it was pointed out that the lawsuit came on the heels of Pfizer denying AHF’s funding request) and media-mongering seem pornier than anything contrived by the porn industry.
When performer Derrick Burts was revealed to have been the central character in an HIV scare-of-one this autumn, it was at an AIDS Healthcare Foundation press conference. Burts (who had performed in both gay and straight films) sat next to Weinstein and delivered a list of grievances against AIM, among them that AIM advised him not to go to AHF, and that they had not returned his calls at a particularly trying time in his life.
While AIM may have enjoyed an unhealthy lack of competition in the adult industry, with its deep ties to AVN, it is required to notify County health officials of HIV cases, which it did, and it did catch Burts’ HIV before it spread anywhere else.
That AIM may have hung up on Burts and not called him back is credible; that it advised him not to go to AHF is likely. Telling someone not to go to an organization that will whip up a self-serving press conference around a confused and manipulated young man seems like a good idea.
Of course, both organizations seemed to use—or not use—Burts for their own convenience.
Burts’ case against AIM (and for AHF) began to unravel when it was revealed he had spent time as a gay escort and believed that he had contracted the illness on a gay porn shoot in Florida, both out of AIM’s straight-porn purview. This did not help AHF’s case and only strengthened AIM’s.
Later, AIM was hit with a barrage of legal difficulties, amounting to paperwork SNAFUs, each as a result of AHF pressure on the County. Better funded, better represented, and better smelling than porn, AHF wanted AIM out of the way. But AIM is holding on, endeavoring to switch to for-profit status, out of the County’s reach.
This is troubling for a number of reasons, as the adult industry has always improved as a result of outside pressure. If that pressure is removed and AIM is allowed to operate without scrutiny, Michael Weinstein may have made things much worse. Lack of competition is unhealthy and un-American.
What will porn do if it gets smarter detractors?
Dishonorable Mention: FBI Special Agent Daniel Bradley outporned porn by botching the burning of a Belladonna DVD in the government’s case against Evil Angel studio owner John Stagliano. Similar prosecutorial gaffes got all charges against Stagliano dismissed.