by Rich Moreland, April 2014
The Belle Knox story has sparked renewed interest in who shoots porn and why they do it. The Duke freshman is all the rage, touting the idea that porn girls can be educated and make smart self-empowered decisions.
While many of her Duke classmates have luxuriated in sanctimoniously skewering Belle, the media is marketing her with gusto. The New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Howard Stern, TMZ, and an upcoming online reality show, “The Sex Factor,” are part of the seemingly endless Belle Knox saga.
I’m guilty of same, by the way, my column in Adult Industry News posted when the story first broke is available here for anyone inclined to read one more article about her.
Make no mistake, I wish Belle the best and I’ll probably run into her sometime at an industry event. Regardless of where she goes from here, we need to remember Belle is a teenager who has come under tremendous scrutiny at a time in life when most girls are trying to figure out their own sexuality and where they want to go with it. In fact, there are some in the adult industry who believe that filming anyone under twenty-one needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps Belle shouldn’t even be on a porn set in the first place.
Nevertheless, before the Belle Knox media hangover sets in, a dose of porn reality is needed. It has arrived via Casey Calvert, whose blog post about Belle speaks volumes.
Magna Cum Laude
I have an immense respect for Casey. She entered porn in her early twenties with a maturity that supported her love of anything sexual. A two-year veteran of the industry (a lifetime by porn standards), her intelligence and on-screen performances are unsurpassed. If every girl in the industry had Casey’s work ethic accompanied by her professional responsibility, the industry would run like clockwork. Just ask any cinematographer or director who has hired her.
Casey is always honest and in response to the hype around Belle Knox, she presents a cogent analysis of what the public lacks: an understanding of why people perform in the industry. Porn myths abound because it’s obvious that no one would really want to have sex on film unless they were psychologically broken, financially desperate, hooked on drugs, or too lazy to get a real job, right?
In her essay “Porn Stars R Stupid,” Casey points out that in the popular mind, a middle class and educated Belle Knox is surely a porn anomaly. But in reality, that is a gross misperception. Having a college degree is not unusual in the adult film universe, she says, and there are smart women in the industry who espouse sex-positive feminism’s politics of pleasure.
Casey is bothered by the same question that concerned me when I first read the April 14 Huffington Post article in which Belle said she would not do porn unless she was paid. Questions about her claim to feminism and empowerment arose. Is a girl’s sense of having choices and acting on them driven by money?
A University of Florida graduate, Casey relates that she recently faced the same issue during a presentation at the University of Toronto. “‘If money were no object, do you love your job enough to continue doing it?'” she hypothetically asks, correctly suggesting Belle’s response would be “no.”
“Because Belle is seen as the voice of our profession, her answer implies that all of us are here solely for financial reasons,” Casey writes. “But that is not the case at all.”
Casey concedes that indeed “a few” performers have a history of drug use, sexual abuse, and financial need that drives their participation in the industry. She also mentions that some models are simply not very bright and porn provides a decent income that demands little intellectual output. I could not agree more.
Explaining that her career brings her immense satisfaction, the Florida native is openly sexual and loves the choices she has. No justification or rationalization needed. Casey likes who she is and is satisfied with who she is.
For the record, Casey Calvert’s magna cum laude degree offered her graduate school and career options, but the sexual kept its hold on her and she followed her bliss.
In the meantime, Belle makes it perfectly clear that lawyering is in her future; once her education is finished, so is porn. It’s the old tale of a means to an end.
When I think of the A-list porn stars I have met—Penny Pax, Chanel Preston, Dana DeArmond, Jesse Jane, and Tasha Reign come to mind immediately—Casey’s words ring true. These women are in charge of their careers and committed to the industry.
Have doubts? Listen to what they have to say. Tasha Reign defines her porn shoots as an atmosphere of “free happy sex,” while Chanel says with a smile, “I love getting gangbanged.”
Casey Calvert stands squarely with these superstars because she is the consummate adult film professional: smart, reliable, a hard worker, fair with her opinions, and gloriously sexual.
This sultry brunette speaks for a community of entertainers when she says,
“Many of us do porn because we want to.”