by Rich Moreland, April, 2014
This is a brief look at a part of the Behind the Scenes interviews in The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee.
Prevalent in adult DVDs is a “Behind the Scenes” segment in which the camera makes impromptu visits with the cast. Fairly standard in its make-up, the backstage lens catches porn performers in their casual moments and is typically filled with small talk and clowning around.
On the Anna Lee set, director Jacky St. James chats informally with three of her stars about the film’s theme, repressed sexuality, examining the issue with a seriousness not usually found in BTS fare. The director, who also authored the script, offers insights into childhood upbringing as a factor in sexual attitudes.
An A-list Spiegler girl, Maddy O’Reilly resides at the upper end of the adult industry food chain. Despite her true porn star status, Maddy confesses that her adolescence was similar to that of Anna’s character: sexually reticent physically, but intensely sexual mentally.
Because anything unforeseen could happen, Jacky asks Maddy if she had any concerns about being tied up and blindfolded. Maddy confesses she was definitely a “little nervous” and had “butterflies.” Her arousal level was sky high; she was “heated” and “sweaty” before the sequence was filmed. But, Maddy adds, getting anxious before shooting sex scenes is normal for her.
“Why are you shy and nervous about sex?” Jacky inquires.
“I’m from a very conservative background,” Maddy says. Her childhood was shaped by the religious community in which she lived. There were “churches on every corner,” Maddy remembers, and going to church “three times a week” was an expectation that defined the norm in her Bible-Belt hometown.
Maddy’s mother taught her daughter that the simplest physical contact could be misinterpreted as unacceptably sexual and therefore verboten. “Hugging someone was considered loose and not classy,” Maddy says with an innocent smile that bespeaks a small town upbringing and emphasizes once again that church attendance beyond the usual Sunday services reinforced her rural culture’s moral ethos.
“Being hit so hard with a religious background,” Maddy says, caused her to escape the southern backwater atmosphere of her childhood. The result? Porn became Maddy’s personal “liberation.” Entering the adult film business allowed her “to break free” to do sexual things she thought about but didn’t “have the guts” to do in her adolescent years.
Life is “very vanilla back home,” Maddy comments matter-of-factly. “People don’t talk about sex, ever.”
Jacky remarks that being in a sexually driven business must have been a big change for Maddy considering her upbringing.
“Absolutely,” the North Carolina native says. “Because it was so conservative, I wanted to go the complete opposite of that!” Maddy O’Reilly laughs and throws out her arms for emphasis.
“My mom and I never talked about sex until I was performing in the business,” she exclaims. The situation is different today, Maddy’s mother now believes it’s fine to discuss the once forbidden with her daughter. One has to wonder if others in Maddy’s hometown might succumb to their unspoken curiosity and also enjoy some small talk with her.
By the way, Maddy O’Reilly’s favorite thing in Anna Lee was being tied up, especially in the St. Andrew’s cross scene where she was “liberated by everyone in the cast.” Jacky asks about Anna’s assignment in which she let other people “worship” her and how that felt from an actress’s point of view. Emphasizing that her co-stars were some of her favorite performers in the industry, Maddy insists that “not knowing” what each was going to do to her was exciting. That’s a stimulating aspect of doing bondage work I’ve heard from other performers, though for the record, not everyone adjusts to the blindfold as easily as Maddy appears to do.
Maddy loved the hot wax but cautions interested viewers to not experiment with real candles. There are special products made for that type of BDSM play. And for the curious, the twenty-four-year-old did orgasm when Johnny Castle skillfully applied the vibrator to her.
Finally, Maddy giggiles about breaking the handcuffs in her scene with Xander Corvus. Because she usually gets “very romancy roles,” the psychological mood and rough and tumble sex of Anna Lee was a welcome change for her.
For the record, Anna Lee has forged Maddy O’Reilly into a star any feature director should take into account casting his or her next film. Hopefully her hometown North Carolinians won’t hold that against their native daughter!
Jessa Rhodes and Steven St. Croix
In their Behind the Scenes segment, Jessa Rhodes and Steven St. Croix discuss another aspect of Anna Lee, their scene of fantasy sex with an older man. In the film it’s the therapist, Gaige, and the young staffer, Elize. Jessa comments on the “daddy” fantasy it represents and she speaks from experience. That’s “my thing,” she says, though until recently she thought it was “so wrong.”
Steven, a veteran of years in the business, believes the “daddy” issue is “a sublet of the authority figure fantasy,” like a policeman or a teacher. Jessa agrees, “It’s definitely an authority thing for me.”
At this point, Steven offers that his co-star’s fantasy (fetish?) may be a result of her background. Jessa was raised in a very religious home.
“What religion?” Jacky St. James inquires.
“Christian,” the A-lister responds, but offers no information beyond that. Growing up in an environment similar to Maddy O’Reilly’s, Jessa’s exposure to adult material “on a scale of one to ten was in the negative zone. I was in a bubble,” she chuckles.
Joking about masturbating at age eleven, the twenty-one-year-old was unsure of what she had just done, anxieties typical of an adolescent discovering her sexuality. “Did I do something wrong?” she asked herself at the time. “I felt bad.”
Recovery from doubt was swift and the native Oregonian entered the adult industry at nineteen, quickly discovering that it’s “a healthy thing to live out your fantasies.” Though Jessa adds that some people don’t want their “dark side” to be seen by others, she assures them it is alright if they do.
Of course, performers in the adult industry can act out their fantasies in a safe environment, an advantage a non-industry person may not have.
Jessa Rhodes eventually realized what most people in business quietly understand. She can separate her “sexual self” from her “day-to-day person” because “it’s ok to be those two different beings.”
It’s an affirmation I’ve heard from several performers. In fact, an adult actor’s life off the set is more mundane that most people think.
Some years ago, an industry PR person mentioned to me that the public often assumes porn stars have unending rounds of partying and sex, burning the proverbial candle at both ends. Not in her experience, she said. Their lives are very ordinary. When I first began writing in the business, a prominent performer let me in on the secret about blogs and other social media that are a vital part of a porn star’s lifeline to her fans. “Sometimes we just make this stuff up,” she said. It’s what people want to read and believe.
A director I know put it best. The set is just about all the sex industry people have the time and energy for, he said, explaining that most performers go home to a typically uneventful American household. Take care of day-to-day needs and go to bed early.
Tomorrow becomes, as a performer friend of mine said, “just another day at work.” Porn is a business, after all.