Tag Archives: Bill Margold

The 2017 AEE Extravaganza: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, February 2017

My thanks to AVN’s Dan Miller, Brian Gross, and Jill Hagara for making my visit to the show enjoyable. Their hard work cannot be appreciated enough.

Also, special kudos is extended to my favorite PR company, StarFactory. Thank you Tanya and Alex!

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Seminars

Rarely do I get to attend all the seminars that pique my interest and this year’s AEE was no exception.  Nevertheless, I did make a few.

On the show’s opening day, the seminar on money was super informative.

Tasha Reign, Alan Gelbard, Lee Roy Myers, Adam Grayson, Nate Glass

Tasha Reign, Alan Gelbard, Lee Roy Myers, Adam Grayson, Nate Glass

Hosted by sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, the panel discussed turning a profit in a time of piracy. Attorney Alan Gelbard set the tone with a statement that at first seemed a capitulation but as the seminar went on, proved to be the most salient. Money can still be made in this age of tube sites and free porn, he said, and pointed out that “the music industry has figured out a way to let the piracy just be there.”

Lee Roy Myers

Lee Roy Myers

Filmmaker Lee Roy Myers of the parody website WoodRocket got it right when he insisted that everyone should maintain ownership of their content and “choose to give it away.” In reality, this seeming anomaly sells traffic to your site at a time when “less and less people are paying for porn in traditional ways.”

Evil Angel’s Adam Grayson’s assertion that identifying niche markets can turn a profit for your content through a reliable customer base made sense when thinking of porn as subgenres that capture pieces of the larger adult universe.

On the practical side to the money equation, a company like Nate Glass’s Takedown Piracy can be a great benefit to all producers in protecting their content.

2017-01-18-07-39-26Before the panel began, I spoke briefly with Nate Glass and met Chauntelle for the first time, a real treat.

Thursday afternoon offered up the seminar on the legal battles that may lie ahead with the incoming Trump administration.

After attorney Clyde DeWitt recounted the history of the Meese Commission’s pursuit of pornographers in the 1980s, Reed Lee, First Amendment scholar from Chicago and a member of the Free Speech Coalition, calmed nerves somewhat when he asserted that “history is on our side” and the “clear march of social progress is in our favor.”

Nevertheless, Free Speech Coalition’s President Eric Leue emphasized that passivity can no longer be the watchword and that everyone has a dog in this fight. In other words, support FSC.

Clyde DeWitt, John Stagliano, Eric Leue, J Michael Murray , Reed Lee, and moderator Mark Kernes

Clyde DeWitt, John Stagliano, Eric Leue, J Michael Murray , Reed Lee, and moderator Mark Kernes

Outside the hall, I had a moment to catch up with Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com who plays both host and panelist when needed at these seminars. We talked about the possible political outcomes that face the industry.

Later that same day, another panel highlighted the increasingly independent role of women in adult.

Filmmaker Angela White said it best, “if you think porn is degrading, then you probably think sex is degrading.” Her words stressed the message of this seminar aptly named R-E-S-P-E-C-T that focused on celebrating empowered people who are comfortable with their sexuality. Moderated by Chauntelle Tibbals, the panel also included filmmakers Kay Brandt and Bree Mills.

Interestingly, an audience question led to a brief sparring over the interpretation of words. At issue was the concept of “feminist porn” which may be giving way these days to the idea of “ethical porn.”

Is the sun setting on “feminism” in the industry as some attendees seemed to hint?

Downtime

2017-01-18-09-17-39AEE is a constant round of rockin’ and rollin’, but there is occasional downtime, or to be honest, the need to take a break. I found a few minutes in the press room where the always upbeat Jill Hagara took some time for a chat. We’ve know each other for a few years now and she is a delight.

More relaxation moments came at the small Dunkin’ Donuts shop right off the casino where the convenient access for a quick coffee attracts industry people.

I talked with performer Daisy Layne after running into her earlier in the hallway.

Amber Jo

Amber Jo

A statuesque beauty named Amber Jo sidled up next to me with her java and Boston cream doughnut in hand. She’s networking, AJ said, and that began an informative chat.

Later Amber posed for my photographer and I offered to do a story on her. She’s an exotic dancer from the Midwest who has thoughts of LA and the biz. Stay tuned to see what happens with this gorgeous girl. Maybe a new star will soon be on-screen!

Setting up interviews is never easy and once again this year I relied on the best PR people in the business, Star Factory, whose watchwords are dependability and reliability. Their clients do not flake on the press.

With the help of Steve Nelson, the editor of AINews.com, I usually nail down a couple of people for impromptu interviews. This year the highlights were the previously mentioned Emma Hix at Foxxx Modeling and Kasey Warner, the star of B Skow’s Color Blind. Kasey and I are from the same part of the country which made our talk special.

Emma Hix

Emma Hix

Speaking of Skow, his productions are distributed by one of my favorite companies, Girlfriends Films. As mentioned in part one of this post, Moose, the company president, invited me to the GFFs suite for a morning coffee on Thursday, a great way to start the day.

Kudos to AVN

Eventually, a text helped me find AVN’s senior editor, Dan Miller. I first met Dan’s warm personality and infectious smile when he was with XBIZ.

We took a few minutes to discuss the passing of adult film historian Bill Margold (Dan did a wonderful obit for AVN online) and I mentioned that this year’s show was well-organized, enriching everyone’s experience from fan to media.

James Deen and Dan Miller Photo courtesy of AVN

James Deen and Dan Miller
Photo courtesy of AVN

Helping to make this year’s AEE enjoyable were some not so subtle changes in the “feel” of the show.

The club music in The Joint wasn’t nearly the volume of the past which made conversation easier–a boon when one carries around a digital recorder–the lighting much improved, and best of all, the traffic flow was smoother among the various rooms. Thank you AVN!

After experiencing the breezy atmosphere of the Sands Center some years ago, I was doubtful AVN could pull everything off in a more broken up environment. And at first it was a challenge, but the bugs have been worked out.

On the downside, there was one thing distinctly different this year: the weather. The days were cloudy, very cool, with periods of rain, the same weather pattern I left back home. The only difference, it seemed, were the trees. I’m not used to seeing rain, mist, and palm trees!

Despite that, inside the Hard Rock the action was invigorating and informative.

I encourage everyone to visit next year, or to put it another way, attending AEE at least once in your adult life should be on your bucket list.

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The Actress as an Artist

by Rich Moreland, December 2014

When Bill Margold alerted me that Serena, one of the greats in adult film history, had finished her book, I knew a smidgen of advertising (or promotion) was in order.

A few years ago, Serena and I had some wonderful conversations via email. In its early years, the pantheon of porn’s best was a small sorority and her words helped establish a historical perspective on adult film’s creative women.

“While I didn’t give myself over to the case of feminism until retiring from porn in the 1980s, I never felt the least dilemma. When in porn, I was serving the highest in myself, the artist . . . I felt very strongly that my sex scenes were statements on film, the actress as an artist.”

At the time of our communications, I was in the neophytic stages of my work on adult film feminism. Professorial interest in pro-sex feminists eventually led to my penning a popular history soon to be released by John Hunt Publishing. Needless to say, I relied heavily on interviews because my youth was not familiar with filmed pornography though I did see Georgina Spelvin on the big screen in my first “official” adult film, a story for another day. As a result, personal accounts became my literary lifeblood.

Serena was a conduit of information, addressing my questions about some of the feminists I was researching.

“As to the women you mentioned, I worked with Georgina and felt only love oozing from her. Later when I was involved with Jamie Gillis and living in NYC, we’d work for Gloria [Leonard]. She was sharp, she reminds me of a female Donald Trump. I also knew Marilyn [Chambers] who seemed very fit to me, her body and her mind were tense but elastic like an athlete’s.”

Serena’s love affair with the incomparable Jamie Gillis is legendary; the accomplishments of Gloria Leonard I have touched upon in my book. Sadly, both are now deceased and with the passing of Marilyn in 2009 and John Leslie and Harry Reems of late, there are fewer pioneers left of the old days.

So history is preserved whenever recollections are recorded. Bright Lights Lonely Nights: The Memories of Serena is out and available at Amazon here.

In the meantime, here’s a tribute to “the actress as artist” from Bill Margold, who also wrote the Forward for Serena’s book. It appears in the LA Xpress.

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Part 3: Moments with Tara Lynn Foxx

by Rich Moreland, April 2014

 In preparing the re-post of the final part of the Tara Lynn Foxx trilogy, I remembered the difficult days she faced a couple of years ago. In fact, I inadvertently experienced one of her upsetting moments on a Friday afternoon during the 2012 AVN convention.

After talking briefly with Tara during her floor signing time, we planned an interview in her hotel room later that evening. As our 7 p.m. appointment neared, repeated text messages got no response so I took a chance and went to her room. To say the least, I sensed something was amiss.

Tara answered the door with a look that announced a bad situation. While she and other models were at their signing tables, cellphones were stolen. For industry people, this is devastating because it upsets the fragile balance between personhood and profession. With her phone went Tara’s appointments and shoots, a performer’s lifeline, not to mention contact info for industry personnel who want their personal lives to remain private.

We never did the interview, though I did insist on taking her to dinner. An exasperated girl recovering from enough drama to knock down the hardiest of people was having it handed to her in spades.

 But TLF persevered and I’m delighted to report the almost twenty-four-year-old is a respected industry veteran with an education no college degree could ever duplicate.

Read on with the knowledge that to sustain a porn career takes a dose of personal fortitude many people would have to dig deep to find.

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A note: as I have done with the previous posts, some modifications have been made to the original entry which is available at Tara’s official blog.

TLF walking the Red Carpet. Photo by Bill Knight

TLF walking this year’s AVN Red Carpet.
Photo by Bill Knight

“Courage”

By Rich Moreland, November 2011

Book writing is a time eater and I’ve been working to get my manuscript ready for the early rounds of edits. I lost track of TLF for a couple of months and when porn models I know disappear off my radar and their names don’t come up in new releases, I get concerned.

So I turned to Tara’s blog for updates and saw “Some Heavy Shit” (August 2011).

It was time for a phone call . . .

“I doubted myself when I talked with you,” Tara told me. She was referring to a conversation we had months ago. Keeping her “game face” up and running, she did not let on at the time that her self-esteem was under fire.

Though our talk on this late November afternoon was hardly light-hearted, Tara assuaged my concerns that she might be spiraling in a direction that was not good.

How do you spell relief?

She is doing fine, taking some time off, getting ready to reenter the swirl of an industry that the late porn pioneer Marilyn Chambers claimed, “eats up girls and spits them out.”

A playful moment. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

A playful moment.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

After being reassured that she wasn‘t suicidal, the urge nagged at me to do something to send her some love. We said “goodbye” with the promise to speak again soon and I immediately dug into my computer files to locate an unpublished piece I crafted some time ago. It was about courage in the adult industry and Tara’s strength of character called it to my mind. She was not the subject of it then, but is a subject for it today.

Here is an excerpt.

“Porn girls are vivacious, attractive, naturally hedonistic, and draw instant attention. But despite their ‘money and fame’ persona, the cost is high. Their bodies are penetrated and used for profit and the glamour can sometimes reek of men who stink in body and soul.”

In Tara’s case, the cost was extracted from her spirit. If you read her blog entry you’ll see what I mean.

Here is more from the same piece.

“For those not in the business, the thought of exposing one’s body, engaging in sex acts of various kinds, and having it displayed on the internet is overwhelming and prohibiting. It can lead to feelings elucidated by Tera Patrick. ‘We’re all hos on this bus,’ she said.

Courage is on display in pornography to a greater extent than we realize. Striving for acceptance is basic to our survival and rejection hurts. We want people to believe in what we do, the decisions we make. For a porn performer, the personal issues for entering the business may be varied—economic concerns, lack of opportunity, a free spirited sexuality, or a sense of adventure. But whatever the reasons, courage is necessary. Without it, the human spirit collapses.”

What happens when the unscrupulous—in the porn business think agents, producers and directors—abrade and smash a performer’s ego, in effect reducing a woman’s personhood to whatever can be shoved into three holes? Such a contemptuous exploitation is particularly devastating to an eighteen-year-old whose naiveté is stripped as bare as her body.

Respect is evasive or non-existent.

Floating Endless in Cyberspace

In Tara’s case, her inner fortitude was battered, but not buried. She remolded it into a resilience that continues to cope with two demands in her professional life: perfecting her on screen performance and excoriating the stench of a casting couch that brutalizes and numbs.

Everyone has doubts, but in porn they can be crippling. The average career, after all, runs about eighteen months. Some make it longer. Nina Hartley, Bobbi Starr, Aurora Snow, and Madison Young come immediately to mind. But it is daunting.

Porn means putting your vulnerabilities on the line for all to see, hoping your looks and the ability to turn a good fuck keep you sane.

The business is glamor and hustle rolled together. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn foxx

The business is glamor and hustle rolled together.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn foxx

“Remember the camera, sweetheart, give it a look and point your toes,” the director says as the crew prepares to shoot the DP. Bear in mind, not every pronographer cares if a model can stomach co-stars she marginally tolerates popping Viagra to make her day a little longer. And, don’t forget the wretchedness of a dirty bathroom, or the terror of anal without a condom.

“If you won’t do it, Sweetheart, I’ll find somebody who will,” is the tacit implication. Along with the slime of wheedling agents, it is ugliness at its basest level.

As Tara informs us, the industry has its share of shady characters.

Failure, defined as looking too mechanical or being resistant to that little extra not spelled out in the call sheet, costs a performer work. And if she decides the business is not for her, it’s pack up time to go home with the haunting memory that her short career is out there floating endlessly in cyberspace. Social media lights up and her high school friends troll the net to find out if she is shaved as smooth as a baby’s butt.

Most egregious are paydays that depend on deals struck before the shooting starts. Paved with false promises, the first round is sex for free. The emotional pain is overwhelming or totally denied.

Tara knows this all too well.

That’s why the business’s famous adage is, “you don’t fuck to get a job, fucking is the job.”

Survival

Tara shows Traci, present recalls the past. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foss

Tara shows Traci, present recalls the past.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

A porn generation ago, the infamous Traci Lords was said to service the crew when not in front of the camera. But Traci was a manipulator, who turned her talents into a kind of porno blackmail. On the other hand, Tara was barely legal, as they say in the business, when she entered porn. Wettest behind her ears, she was like many others, just a kid who wanted to please.

In the industry, scenes are marketed as boy/girl and a performer’s resume lists her other shoot availibilities with girl/girl and boy/boy/girl among the standard choices. Talent is infantilized, second-class citizens in a billion dollar industry. And if you didn’t know, there are no residuals when a DVD or internet shoot is marketed or scenes are extracted later for compilations.

Bill Margold, porn’s eminent historian, has said many times that the adult industry should hug the “kids,” as he calls the models, but would rather screw them instead.

Travel, hotel rooms, and pleasing others is all part of porn. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

Travel, hotel rooms, and pleasing others is all part of porn.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

But, I will tell you this. Tara Lynn Foxx is a survivor. When I said she could roll through an interview like the baddest big boy in a monster truck rally, I was not kidding.

When her confidence crashed around her, doubts about loss of control surfaced. Questionable decisions that were not always in her best interests piled up and depression moved in for a stay. Trust took a hike.

But with a person of Tara’s courage, recovery flickers softly at first, then roars like a fire.

I know because I could hear it in her voice as we talked that chilly November afternoon a continent apart.

She can “put on her face,” as she calls her professional demeanor. But the true test of strength comes when she is “not on anymore,” those moments when her porn persona melts away and she morphs into the “natural” Tara: honest and sweet with those captivating eyes.

Putting in floor time for the fans. Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Putting on her face for the fans.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

This woman has mettle, that inherent quality of temperament that crafts toughness and internal strength. She can follow her passions while shielding herself from the dirt flung by critics and abusers. Her inner sanctuary has not collapsed.

Best of all, she knows this.

My little piece of writing here is an emotional and psychological obituary for the “kid” Tara once was and an introduction of a Tara Lynn Foxx that has vacated girlhood to become a “woman” in a tough industry. She has experienced death and rebirth accentuated with spirit and spunk.

Doubt will always inhabit the soul, as I shared with her in our conversation. I’ve had mine and you, her fans, have had yours.

But our inner strength, the belief in ourselves, never goes away; it just hibernates, waiting to be called up in time of need like the army reserve.

And, don’t forget the words of Ringo Starr, it’s sweet when we get “a little help from our friends.”

Tara could use a little boost at her back right now. This is where you come in. Send her a comment, email, or make a phone call.

She has my trust and faith. How about yours?

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In closing this trilogy, I want to mention something of interest. Not long ago, I asked Tara if she supported an idea some industry people—award winning director Axel Braun and porn historian Bill Margold among them—are talking about these days: an industry-wide voluntary restriction that models be twenty-one before they are allowed on a porn set.

Not surprisingly, she gave me a resounding, “Yes!”

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Maggie in the Smut Den

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the first installment of a two part series on my visit to the dogfart/fabulouscash.com studio in downtown LA.

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“I’m in the back alley. When you walk to my studio, you’ll think you’re scoring crack” reads the text I just received.

A warehouse hidden within the sprawl of Los Angeles weaves images of film noire and Sam Spade. Film is an illusion, is it not? Two days ago an elderly couple showed me Humphrey Bogart’s house: dark, mysterious, imposing, and right next door in the old Hollywoodland development where they’ve lived for decades.

Visions of Sam’s toughest case, The Maltese Falcon with Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre float in its rarefied air.

Now it’s crack alley where the illusion plays out in another film venue unknown in Bogart’s day. Might Sam Spade have visited this very street sixty years ago with a femme fatale playing hide and seek with his suspicions?

The roll up door is raised and the Smut Den breathes in the street air. Billy Watson introduces himself with a charm that is only exceeded by Maggie, his femme fatale. I was tipped off that she’d steal me away with a single look. Maggie is no illusion, she’s the real deal. If I could keep my hands off her, I might learn a little something about internet pornography.

Though Billy’s a one-man show, his editor Doron is a jack of all trades whose presence keeps the work pace running smoothly. Dorons’s theminion.com is part of the Dogfartnetwork, an internet powerhouse of twenty-two sites that explores all avenues of interracial porn. Today Billy is shooting a glory hole scene for dogfart and another boy/girl for his own site, fabulouscash.com. The websites share the studio space with dogfart’s influence its guiding force.

Deron Doing the Editing photo by Bill Knight

Doron doing the editing
Photo by Bill Knight

The physically imposing Doron (food is not foreign to him) tells me he and Billy have been together for a while, having met through the late Chico Wang. Doron’s hand is in much of what the internet world demands of a porn business: twitter updates, MGP movie galleries, and “Behind the Scenes” and trailer links.

When the girls show up, the green screen is first. That’s Doron’s baby. He writes the short script and interviews each featured girl. The green screen is the browsing fan’s intro to what’s available. The girl talks to the camera with brief inserts of her performance shown in the background. If this brief five minutes doesn’t resonate with the paying members, the shoot is a dud. The girl needs a smidgen of acting ability to sell her image because female bodies in porn proliferate. Personality is the linchpin that captures the fan.

We have some time before the first girl arrives. Billy sits down for a few minutes to chat. Maggie is never far away. There’s little doubt she’s the glue that keeps the easygoing atmosphere of the Smut Den amiable to everyone.

Jim Talks Business Photo by Bill Knight

Billy talks business
Photo by Bill Knight

Green Screen

Andy San Dimas checks in for the first shoot. It’s old home week because Andy and I are from the same metro DC community. We have connections through the college where I teach. She was a student there for a time.

A pornoland veteran, Andy San Dimas has perfected the art of sexiness. Doron’s affability says it best, “Seeing Andy is like tempting me to convert to Christianity.” Now that’s power.

Andy Joins the Conversation Photo by Bill Knight

Andy arrives
Photo by Bill Knight

Andy’s quick to the make-up chair. She’s already a bit late and, as they say, time is money. Her male talent in the scene, Big Wire, has been hanging around for a while.

Within minutes Andy heads over to the green screen where Doron, who performed in the industry from 2004-06, has the narrative ready. Andy entices the viewer with a sultry voice that could melt the ice at the Iditarod finish line. With the vaguest hint of sloe-eyed poutiness and a wellspring of pure sexuality, the twenty-seven-year-old is an expert at the art of seduction A tilt of the head here, another with the shoulder there, and the fan is ready to pay to see her play.

Out in Six Months

The Smut Den is has a handful of sets so a seat is never far away. Finding a roomy couch, my photographer Bill and I have a brief time with Billy while Doron takes care of paperwork. Blood tests have to be reviewed before shooting begins and checking off 2257 forms is the bane of the industry. Maggie gets comfortable and Billy alerts me that a single touch will get me in trouble. I remember that Casey Calvert, who loves shooting in the Smut Den, similarly forewarned me. Did Bogart feel this way about his femme fatales?

Billy and I have professorial backgrounds so conversation is easy. He shoots with condoms because it’s the law, he says, but I suspect there is a desire within him to protect the talent. He shares my opinion about age twenty-one, something I originally got from porn historian Bill Margold. Veteran talent like Tara Lynn Foxx, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr also expressed similar feelings to me.

Billy explains that girls in their late teens are “eager and dumb” and jump into the industry with no preparation. They rarely understand their own sexuality and sex on camera for pay can turn into an emotional and psychological slippery slope. They’re kids having “wacky sex too soon,” Billy says, doing every “crazy fetish” out there. Unfortunately, most are too immature to save their money. Taking in $15,000-$20,000 per month as a new hot product is overwhelming, Billy adds, and many newbies leave the biz having spent it all and then some.

“What’s the average life of a porn girl,” I ask.

“Eighty percent are out in six to seven months,” Billy says.

He mentions the specter of escorting which faces every girl if she shoots over the long haul. The “Porn Star Experience” is a powerful seducer for a sweetie who can get instant cash for minimal amount of effort. Shooting for hours is far more difficult than conversation and a few minutes of sex with a moneyed john.

A Change of Plans

Billy Watson and I compare our minimalist histories of porn watching and admit we knew little about it when we were introduced to the industry. Billy entered by happenstance through a friend who worked affiliate programs, guiding traffic to websites and getting a take from each member. The most common tactic was to steal content or lease it by licensing a DVD, then resell and resell some more. It was fast money early on.

Before the Shooting the Stills Photo by Bill Knight

Chatting about the early days in porn
Photo by Bill Knight

In the late 1990s getting the content was a breeze because the studios regarded the internet as a joke . Copy six scenes from a DVD then “burn them and turn them into digital and put them on your website,” Billy says. That was his friend’s game.

As for Billy, his professional goal was a tenured teaching position and a finished novel under his belt. But that bubble burst, leaving dream residue all over his face. The real money, it turn outs, would be a pop shot all over a girl’s face.

So he joined the internet flood. The goal was a constant money flow. “Keep ‘em happy for thirty days,” Billy explains, and use “an army of affiliates.” He maintained his site and got payment from a membership list that reached into the thousands.

By the mid-2000s the big guys caught on and copying content was more difficult. Original work moved to the front of the queue. Exclusive content was now the show.

Billy leaves his Arizona home where he was shooting amateurs and joins his friend. At the time, cyberspace cinematographers had an unexpected financial perk. The internet was cheaper when it came to hiring the models. Agencies received a grand for the girls on DVD sets; they sent them to internet shoots for thirty percent less.

The recession came and content piracy hurt the porn business in spades. Today it is tougher than ever. “People like ripping us off because we’re the bad guys,” Billy says, “exploiting and raping the girls, doing horrible things to girls. Hence we deserve to be the victims of theft.”

Of course, shooting original material has always led to infringement of some variety and will most likely plague the industry well into the future.

Fortunately today’s paying members support the industry and the models, Billy says. The problem is the “non-paying guys” who believe they have the “right” to get content for free.

In time Billy got into his present studio and dabbled in still photography along with filming. He owns his website and directs for blacksonblondes which generates much of his income. On this Monday afternoon, Andy is doing a glory hole episode. No condoms because Billy has to abide by his boss’s preferences.

Madelyn Monroe will arrive shortly to shoot for Billy’s website and safer sex will be on scene. But first a look at Andy as she gets to down and dirty.

The ever present Maggie watches it all. Like Sam Spade, weakness overcomes me. I touch and it’s cool . . .

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The “New Girl”

by Rich Moreland, November 2012

Steve’s bringing over the “new girl,” Bill Margold said.

Photographer Bill Knight and I are sitting in Margold’s Hollywood apartment on a slightly cool fall afternoon. I’ve pieced together a bit of an interview on his memories, but it’s all very informal. Bill’s a friend and one the last living porn historians who remembers the days when the business was a small fraternity of actors and actresses.

There is another item on our agenda. We’re awaiting Steve Nelson, editor of Adult Industry News, to head out to dinner.

Meeting an industry model for the first time is a plus, especially if I can get another perspective on the business. So a “new girl” is always welcome, but a quiet objection on my part is due here. The adult film industry refers to its male and female talent as boys and girls, terminology I’ve always considered somewhat demeaning. Porn is a sometimes tough, sleazy, and shady business and it’s not cut out for boys and girls. Though I’m used to the industry language, “girl” is still off-putting. On this afternoon, the person who walks into Bill’s apartment proves to be anyone but.

The “new girl” is a delightful surprise. Her name is Leena Sky, a Floridian who flies out west to shoot (that’s a porn phrase, it has to do with cameras!), and she is every bit a woman. I let her talk career with Bill for a bit before catching an opening to introduce myself. I’d done my homework and know she has a Ph.D., perfect for me to instantly bond with her. We both teach in the college classroom.

And connect we did. Leena spends the next few hours with four middle aged men who are interested in helping her launch the “Porn Valley” version of her career. One more thing, Leena is no kid, she’s in her early thirties and has her head wrapped around the porn business. She knows where she is going, drawing her own roadmap along the way.

After dinner, our group drives over to the pier at Santa Monica for a late night visit with the Pacific, a treat for me because I’ve not been here. The night air is chilly and the ocean placid. Fortunately, Leena gives me the bulk of her time; she is willing to listen to some ideas I have.

Simi Valley and Coffee

The next morning Bill Knight and I set out for Simi Valley just west of the San Fernando Valley, aka “Porn Valley.” We’re to meet Leena at a local coffee shop. She’s due for a shoot that morning and is gracious to give me an hour of her time. When we arrive, she’s easy to spot, leopard tube top and black hot pants, very “pornie” and very cute. I suggest we take our discussion outdoors to the patio where the customers are fewer, a tactic I’ve learned over the years.

Most interviews with porn models are much the same. Tell me a little about yourself; now let’s talk about your favorite shoots and what you like to do on film. Mostly it’s graphic sex and penis size, stuff to get the fan off. I try to approach things a bit differently, particularly if I can concentrate the performer on her past. The question that is usually on everyone’s mind about adult film models is “why would you do this and how did you get your start?”

Here’s Leena’s view, and I will warn you, she is smart, articulate, and knows how to identify opportunity.

“I grew up in Philadelphia,” she begins. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do except go to college and leave home at eighteen to spread my wings.”

She recounts that she graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina with a major in psychology. “I found psychology to be something I could relate to, having gone through a lot of turmoil in my own life.” A not uncommon response I get from my own students who want to major in psychology, by the way. And, like most psych students, Leena realized a graduate degree was a must.

At this early juncture in her life, Leena was embroiled in significant changes. She went to grad school after an initial education burn out, ended up in Georgia where she worked in social services, doing everything from family counseling to working in abortion clinics. A master’s in counseling came her way, leading her to private practice where she encountered patients with suicidal thoughts and drug addictions.

“I like things that are fast and changing,” Leena tells me, speaking of her counseling years. Though sex addiction and therapeutic techniques involving sex were not topics she studied, she confesses she had nagging thoughts about the sex industry she could not shake. “I always had these fantasies of being in it and I shared these thoughts with my mother,” Leena explains, “she strongly discouraged it and I am happy I did get an education.” But, Leena adds that sex work in front of the camera “was always in the back of my mind.”

Leena got married along the way, had twins, and pursued a doctorate which she completed recently. It was not an easy run and perseverance was the key to her success. “I am really goal-oriented,” she says. But like so many directions we can take in our pursuit of happiness, the expectations exceed reality. “I really hoped that light bulbs would turn to magical things when I got those letters (the Ph.D.),” she sighs. However, fate, with its longings that intuitively shape our decisions, had other thoughts in mind.

Over dinner last evening, Leena and I talked about the idealism we had when we started teaching on the college level. Conversation turned to the students in our respective classrooms who don’t have the responsibility they need to take ownership of their education and how disheartening that can be to a professor. In her case, Leena was burning out, yet she managed to hang on for a while by teaching online.

Then another opportunity poked its sensuous head around the corner and leered its lewd thoughts in Leena’s direction.

“Around this time, she begins, “I had learned about webcamming through an accountant who did my taxes.” Her divorce left a financial hole in her checkbook and the CPA knew she could use extra work. “He planted the seed,” Leena says, but adds she had “no idea” what she was getting into. “I never watched porn. I was sort of in the very vanilla world.”

“Had you ever seen porn before all this came about in your life,” I ask, because her words I’ve heard before from other adult film models.

“You know what my earliest memory is?” Leena says. “It was a Jodie Foster movie I saw way too early on. She was raped on a pinball machine. It was almost like porn to me. I was twelve or thirteen and at a friend’s house. We didn’t have cable, it was on HBO.”

Next, into Leena’s life came a kid’s easiest outlet, print material. “I remember my girlfriends and I would steal nudie magazines, which was really pervy,” Leena explains.

Pervy may be fun, but it does not create porn a model. Leena remained as uninformed as the average girl. “I really didn’t see a lot of porn, so the webcamming thing, I didn’t even know what it was.”

Decision time was on the horizon; the fantasy is morphing into reality. Once the college gig was downsized, Leena stopped hating to go to work. She shifted her teaching to adjunct status and limited her work to online classes. Leena’s happiness level took a quantum leap forward, but bills had to be paid. Stepping up the webcam was the answer, at least in the short run. Yet, Leena knew full well webcam is a tenuous enterprise and wouldn’t last forever.

Opportunity showed up again, this time in embedded in one of her webcam accounts.

“This one guy that kept coming into my (webcam) room and said, ‘What are you doing here? Why don’t you do porn’?” Leena’s response was befuddlement. “Porn? What are you talking about? Me? How would I do that?” she thought.

“I think he had connections from formerly being associated with the business,” she continues. “He was able to take a few pictures. I sent them to Reality Kings (a Miami Beach-based adult online company). I thought it’d be kind of cool if they wanted me. It turns out they got me my first shoot.

So a porn career that was perfect for the MILF and Hot for Teacher genres was birthed. It was a good thing because if it had not, then our paths would never have crossed.

Leena is now part of the adult film universe and is expanding her options every day. Her adventures, by her own admission, have been difficult to negotiate at times, but they have also been a turn on.

By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that in life there are no second acts. Leena Sky and I have something in common: we’re proving Mr. Fitzgerald wrong.

More on Leena is coming in another post. Perhaps she will discuss orgasms on film, could not resist the pun! Not all of it is positive because as I mentioned above, the porn business has its characters and its vagaries.

Stay tuned as they still say in the media business.

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An Air of the Extraordinary

Annie Sprinkle, Gloria Leonard, Veronica Vera, Veronica Hart, Candida Royalle. Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

by Rich Moreland, June 2012

In mid-June Amtrak took me north to New York City for day trip. I haven’t visited the Big Apple since its transition to the “gentrified” New York. My last remembrance of the city was walking to Times Square with a couple of my buddies, looking for smut shops while avoiding the winos, druggies, and other assorted street people. That was a few decades ago.

This excursion to Manhattan was not a whim; it was book related and by invitation. I was accompanied by a friend and colleague in academia who doubles as my photographer. If nothing else, I’m assured of good pics  if my writing fails to capture the scene.

In 2008, I discovered the apparent contradiction that feminism and adult film are bedfellows (or bed sisters) in an industry that is patriarchal to the core. Deciding to chronicle this odd combination, I first wanted to know what other historians, journalists, and commentators had to say on the subject. At every turn in my research, the name “Club 90” came up. Scholarly paths pointed back to this circle of five women, actresses in adult film when acting was valued and expected.

On a cool and rainy June evening in mid-town Manhattan, the Museum of Sex on 27th Street paid homage to this venerated “club.” The museum is a storefront with a basement bar and an upper floor gallery. On this night the upstairs contained a long table and folding chairs neatly arranged into a relatively cramped space. Everything was ready for a panel discussion featuring these “Golden Girls of Porn,” as the event was labeled.

Josh and I made an effort to arrive early. I had communicated with all of the ladies individually, but up to this moment I had met only two in person, Annie Sprinkle and Veronica Hart. Gloria Leonard and Candida Royalle were telephone voices to me and Veronica Vera was an email correspondence and a postal address.

The women were “stars” in the “porno chic” days of the 1970’s when 35 mm film reigned and the big screen was where sex came alive. Adult movies demanded dialogue and plot to compliment the cinematography. Making a good picture required location and days of shooting. Nowadays porn films are cranked out quickly and, with some exceptions, very little style. Needless to say, there is rarely an aspiring actress in sight. But the seasoned Club 90 performers were blessed, if that can be said in pornography. They worked for some of adult film’s noted early directors like Radley Metzger, Gerard Damiano, and Joe Sarno, true artists who considered movie-making to be a craft. A sense of panache and acting ability was requisite.

As the “porno chic” days wound down, the five were transitioning away from being on camera. There were reasons: the HIV menace was one, while marriage and family became another. In short, they were getting on with their lives.  They organized a mutual support group to ease through the changes and named it after the address of Annie’s Manhattan apartment where their initial get together took place. Over the years, their collective friendship has endured.

By sheer happenstance I broke into their group. I attended one of Annie’s university speaking engagements and later sent an inquiry to Feminists for Free Expression which resulted in a surprise email from Candida. That began three years of correspondence with the group that formed the linchpin of my research.

Stealing Moments Before the Show

I got a big hug from Gloria Leonard before the gala began. She is classy (an overused word, I know) and a butt-kicker through her devotion to the political principles she holds dear. She also is the group’s grand dame. Gloria entered the adult business in her late thirties, much like the Club’s dear friend and another of porn’s venerable ladies, Georgina Spelvin. Working in adult paid better than nine to five, Gloria later told the audience, a bonus because she had a daughter to support.

A Hug From Gloria
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Gloria has her views and the personality to back them. She and I have a mutual acquaintance in the adult biz, Bill Margold, who has his own set of notions about the history of adult film. Bill has told me much about Gloria. He adores her and I can see why. She has a political conscience in an industry that often lacks ethical behavior, and she cares about performer health and welfare. Her position on safer sex in the infamous 1998 HIV scare is a testimony to her concern for the industry. As President of the Free Speech Coalition, the political wing of the business, Gloria got funding for the start-up of Adult Industry Medical (AIM) so that talent could be more secure health wise on the job.

Reminding the audience that defending free speech is important to everyone, Gloria believes in the principle that “no one should tell you what to watch or hear.” Her words raised a bright round of applause.

I also stole a moment to impose on Candida Royalle to say “hello” face-to-face. Phone conversations and emails are not foreign to us and her support for my work is appreciated more than she will know. Like Gloria, Candida brought an air of the extraordinary to the room. Both women were elegantly and conservatively dressed as if they planned to attend a charity bizarre . . . at the country club, of course . . . sponsored by the ladies auxiliary. But the country club set could never imagine the elegance that comes from Candida. She is an industry luminary of the first order and has no parallel. She runs her own production company, FEMME, out of New York and specializes in woman-friendly erotica and couples porn. To suggest that Candida is a ground breaker in adult film erotica is a mammoth understatement. She not only turned the soil, she constructed the edifice that is feminist pornography, though I know she shudders with my use of that word; erotica is her preference. In the initial Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto years ago, Candida was the first honored. That’s what it means to be a living legend.

Chatting with Candida before showtime!
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Candida told the audience that during her acting days she felt “ambivalence about being in adult movies” and was “conflicted” about what the impact might be in her life. Seeking therapy, she learned the value of self-analysis and decided that there was nothing wrong with performing in adult film. A woman’s voice was what the adult product lacked. Candida vowed to correct that perception and make pictures for women. It was fortuitous timing. The arrival of home video provided a safe place for women to view porn, she said, and a market was birthed.

Annie Sprinkle was her usual loving self when I renewed acquaintances with her. Annie’s career as a sex worker and lover of men, women, and transpersons is too vast and complex to even attempt to summarize here. I was honored to interview Annie in her home (we sat in the kitchen and enjoyed some iced tea) on a visit to San Francisco a couple of years ago.

No Tragic Endings Here

Annie was the lead-off hitter in the panel line-up. When everyone was finally seated, she mentioned that many people have the widely accepted belief that porn stars have “tragic endings.” “They don’t know us!” she said with her typical high spirits. During her brief remarks, people continued to trickle in; the shortage of chairs turned the event into SRO. I don’t know how many the museum planned for but attendance must have exceeded expectations. And, not every face in the crowd was an old friend or admirer. There were a number of young people who perhaps were looking to understand the past through a vision of the present.

Annie after the show.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

In the opening moments of the discussion, Annie put the almost thirty years of Club 90 in perspective when she declared her time in porn has been an “amazing journey” and her goal is to keep it rolling. “I want to get to fifty years in sex!” she said with the innocence and playfulness of a flower child whose years have been spent pleasing and being pleased.

Annie carries the mien of San Francisco’s hippie past. Her leopard print floor length gown reminded me that Annie’s performance art, and that of her club sister Veronica Vera, is studied in academia.

Veronica Vera had expedited my research by sending valuable documents my way. She, like Gloria, was intensely political in her younger days. When we briefly spoke, I imagined what it must have been like for her to testify before the 1984 Senate Committee investigating adult film. The Reagan administration was going after porn as harm to women and the industry was under siege. Veronica recalled the now famous bondage photo she showed Senator Arlen Specter on that October day. The picture is a historical precursor of modern day BDSM performance art that has captured the imagination of a sexually marginalized community.

Veronica got into the adult business through famed photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe. She told the audience she had worked on Wall Street then “decided to take an honest job” and went into adult entertainment.

Her wedding was the catalyst for this reunion, the group’s first in seventeen years.

As the event was breaking up, I finally got a chance to embrace Veronica Hart. Her 1983 baby shower brought the ladies together for the first time. I visited with Veronica in Las Vegas a few months ago and know her on a more personal level than the others. She is the youngster of the group and is considered one of the great beauties ever to grace adult film.

Veronica showing her big HeART!
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Except for a retired Gloria Leonard who now lives in Hawai`i, the women remain active in the adult world. Veronica Hart works in her hometown at Vegas’ Erotic Heritage Museum. She still directs in L.A. and keeps close tabs on the adult business. Candida Royalle continues with FEMME and has branched out into an adult product line, distributing through Adam and Eve, a Phil Harvey enterprise in North Carolina.

Annie Sprinkle and her partner, Beth Stephens, are expanding their venture into ecosex,  “a subject matter or identity,” Annie explains, that moves beyond a performance art. “We are . . . excosexual aritsts,” she says, exploring “a new area of research” that delves into “places where sexology and ecology intersect in art, theory, practice, and activism.”

If that sounds intellectual, it is. Beth, who moderated the event, is finishing her Ph.D. which will make two in the family as Annie already has hers.  Incidentally,  she is the first porn star gain such status. Sharon Mitchell, an old friend of Club 90 and long time director of AIM, is the second.

The fifth member, Veronica Vera, runs her own school for cross dressers, “Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls” located in New York. The studio where many of her events take place is on 54th Street. Veronica’s program is for males and transpeople who want to challenge gender barriers and get in touch with their feminine side. Working with transpersons is a value shared with Annie. (I recommend Shannon Bell’s Reading, Writing, and Rewriting the Prostitute Body [1994] for an account of Club 90’s Franklin Furnace stage show in 1984 and Annie and Veronica’s performance art.)

With the evening winding down and attendees milling about, I allowed my imagination to have some fun. Among the audience were acquaintances of Club 90 who had been involved in adult film industry. Observing some of them reunite with the five in conversation, I mentally turned the clock back 30 years, erasing the nasty joke that time plays on all of us: age, something the young firmly believe will never happen to them. I fancied everyone in just such a room, setting up for a porn shoot: director, P.A.s, grips, and cameramen, hustling around with perhaps a make-up artist adding some final touches to faces destined to be hardened in a tough business.

In those early days of the modern adult film era, the business was east coast oriented. New York was home for Club 90. This Manhattan evening wrapped itself around them and their friendships with memories treasured. In the midst of skyscrapers and traffic punctuated with the ubiquitous New York cabbies, the affair had a small town feel and I was honored to have been invited.

When Josh and I headed back to the train station, the rain pelted ever hectic New Yorkers scurrying under umbrellas to get from here to there. The scene itself was a stage, a piece of living history, illuminated by lights embedded in mist and shrouded in the past.

———————

If you visit the Museum of Sex on the corner of 27th and 5th Avenue, consider in a quick snack across the street at Naturally Tasty. Ask for Magdalena. She’s service with a smile.

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Only After They Get Power

by Rich Moreland, June 2012

The following excerpt is from my unpublished manuscript on feminism in adult film. Citations have been removed.

Taking control her body and determining how it will be displayed on screen is the premier feminist trait in adult film. Feminist empowerment shows up each time a performer negotiates her pay, calls her own shots for the camera, and exercises choice. For the handful of feminist directors, giving performers input concerning co-stars, yes and no lists, hard and soft limits, and safer sex precautions are upfront and part of the package. This is not to say that male directors ignore these offerings, some are as assiduous in satisfying them as are women cinematographers. Yet, this scenario is not universal in the industry and women who are persuasive of their own needs are not the norm. The patriarchal hand of porn is firmly in place; respect for the female performer and director remains a matter of opinion.

An overarching view comes from feminist writer Wendy McElroy who years ago observed that industry males insist they value the women who are penetrated for the camera’s delight, though it is “a form of acknowledgement,” she asserts, “not a form of respect.” McElroy concludes, “women in porn will probably get respect only after they get power.” The genesis of McElroy’s statement came from a dinner conversation she had with John Stagliano and the late John Leslie at the AVN convention in the early 1990’s. I brought up her comments in an interview with Stagliano during the AVN gala in 2012. He assured me McElroy was referring to remarks Leslie made concerning a particular performer and should not be misread as an indictment of the industry.

“John Leslie was talking ‘off the cuff’ about his interaction with some women and the fact that he was sexually aroused by some women under certain circumstances,” Stagliano said, clearing up any misconceptions about his late friend. “In the case of that dinner, John was talking about some girl with a big ass that he was really interested in.” Stagliano believes McElroy misinterpreted Leslie’s words. They were not intended to objectify the girl and McElroy’s conclusion that Leslie had no interest in the performer’s personality was a misinterpretation of the conversation. Staglino backs off a little, however, to clarify the scene. McElroy believed Leslie did not demonstrate “enough of a feminist outlook,” he explains, and her criticism of Leslie’s words in that instance had some validity. But Stagliano adds that McElroy generalized Leslie’s remarks to account for the portrayal of women in all his films. “John had a huge amount of respect for women,” Stagliano insists, “just look at his movies.”

Among industry people John Stagliano is highly regarded. He is feminist-oriented in his outlook and actions, though he may not understand it that way. Stagliano’s support for women he believes are creative in their work, such as directors Belladonna, Tristan Taormino, and Bobbi Starr, bear witness to his respect for women. Stagliano endeavors to produce a top notch product and people are the vital cogs in his machinery. He understands the importance of creativity and teamwork in an industry that is easy to malign. “I think that human beings sometimes don’t appreciate the people that they work with,” Stagliano says, and he personally wants to find value in people. “I try to see what’s good, what it is they have to offer and treat them with a certain respect as human beings. . . . that’s the way I prefer to do business.” Stagliano knows that his way of interacting with people is not the industry norm. Undeterred, he holds to the belief that “in the long run I prove that it works to do it my way because you build bridges” in an environment that is stoked with “competitive pressure.”

The moguls of porn believe they respect the women they hire and I have no reason to doubt them. But female performers do not universally share that view. There is a disconnect between the traditional industry patriarchy and the women who toil to create the profits. Yet this separation may be more a reflection of society in general and not so much porn in particular.

Nina Hartley has a feminist perspective that is not far from McElroy’s point of view. She believes women are “valued for their ‘hotness’” but this does not necessarily translate into respect. Nina talks of female directors who must cope with male egos in the boardroom, men “who don’t want to deal with women” and who have “issues with women.” Nina indicates that for some men in the business it is challenging to connect emotionally with women, but such a claim can be made about broader society as well.

Veronica Hart supports Nina’s interpretation of respect. With a few exceptions, Hart does not believe that women as a whole are influencing the business of pornography. “I don’t see many women affecting the business that much.” She notes a few, particularly mentioning director Nica Noelle and Club 90’s Candida Royalle. Noelle’s “new spin” on shooting sex more realistically and Royalle’s “couples porn” are notable achievements in Hart’s eye, but their real business success is measured in selling movies, not the artistic accomplishments within them. Hart generalizes porn to other aspects of the corporate world where profit dictates a product’s success. “Business is business,” Hart begins. “It doesn’t respect anyone. The only thing it has respect for is the ability to make money.” True, no argument on that fact. But Hart adds that respect has another connotation that is closely aligned with John Stagliano: it is very personal and built on relationships. Respect depends on “the people you are working with,” she says, suggesting that it is a viable commodity shared among those on both sides of the camera. Hart remembers that as a director, she held her performers in high esteem, though there were a few who challenged her efforts in that regard. “I realized, ‘Thank God they were fucking because they couldn’t do anything else!’” “This is coming from a feminist,” she amusingly adds, “but I realized that people have certain abilities and just because they are in the porn business doesn’t mean they get my respect. You earn respect.” Hart elaborates on her point. Respect comes from a “pattern of being responsible, of standing up for other people, kind of doing and saying the right thing. That’s what gets you respect in life.”

I revisited for a moment McElroy’s assessment and asked Hart for her thoughts. “I think that is more a reflection on society than it is the porn business,” she says.

The adult film industry is not a business that labors daily in Middle America’s towns and villages and people are quick to pass judgment on women who have sex for money. Yet, they don’t always think of males the same way. In the public’s eye, Hart says, it is still “commonplace” to demonize women in porn as “sluts,” though she believes the term “has lost a lot of the stigma” it once had. She contrasts the word derogatory term with opinions voiced about men. “A gentleman who does it [performs in porn] is a stud,” she adds, “a guy is a conqueror.” Hart sees these definitions as a “connotation of who we are” as sex workers, of how performers are evaluated and presently situated in the industry. On the other hand, she repeats the old standby that “it’s great if you can fuck her [a porn girl], but you wouldn’t want your mom or your daughter to be one” still holds true. But she wraps the porn business in broader cloth when she states that, like it or not, the smut industry is a “part of society” and cannot be separated from it.

I’ve heard some porn people, most notably veteran Bill Margold, talk about the adult business in familial terms, the “Family of X” as he calls it. I pressed Hart to expand on the role of women in adult film and how that may relate to the larger aspect of unity.

“We are a vital necessity,” she begins. “The love in the business comes from the people that make friendships in it.” That sticking together is what Margold means, I believe, and what Club 90 illustrates so well. But Hart’s honesty takes a sudden brutal turn. “This is a business. We always say ‘Oh, the porn family.’ Fuck that! It’s not a family, it’s a business and a business loves nobody, respects nobody except a person’s ability to make money. The bottom line is making money,” she repeats. “If you are a moneymaker, then the business loves you. Right?”

Hart concludes with a position unconsidered by antiporn feminists and unrealized by the general pubic, what pornography can professionally do for women. “Pornography is one of the few places where a woman, if she wants to, can excel,” Hart says, adding that adult film women are in the unique position of being “in control of their careers.” “They’ve made their own choices,” she says, and “have a lot more freedom when they work in pornography than in most other jobs.” Referencing her personal work in the industry, Hart singles out her own successes. “I’ve been given an opportunity in porn to be anything I want to be. I can hold a camera, I can write, I can direct, I can edit and all of these things are very difficult. I can make movies because of porn. I can make really good low budget movies, whether exploitative sex movies or horror movies or action movies, it’s all the same animal. I know how to do that because of this business. I’m very thankful for it.” 

———————————

Feminist scholar Carol Queen offers that today’s porn industry woman little realizes she is a feminist until she learns from “older women” that there are “multiple feminisms,” sex-positive the most formidable example. When porn women narrowly define feminism as sex-negative and anti-porn, its goal of moving women beyond a sexual second-class citizenship is lost. Feminism in adult film is about control and choice, and many well-known performers exercise both. Nina Hartley illuminates the feminist sex-positive philosophy with “my body, my rules” which enables her to “take responsibility” for her own sexual satisfaction. It is, and will always be, her choice as to where to place her body and who her partners will be, on or off film. Many performers, particularly those who have committed to the industry long term, would agree.

In the end, success may come down to money and its reward, power, but those are not its limits. Success is also about that inner courage and determination that builds a respect that all women are capable of achieving. Wendy McElroy is correct in her conclusion that respect comes with power. We know that in the pornography empire, as it does in corporate America, politics, and social influence, money translates into power. For a porn actor, however, power also means doing it her own way. The women of Club 90 and Pink Ladies forged a path for themselves that challenged the accepted way of operating in adult film. Today adult film women who insist on choice and control in the face of a patriarchal industry traditionally built on monetizing male auto-eroticism have achieved a measure of success on both sides of the camera. Feminists in adult film are lending other elements to the money-power continuum with a philosophy that expands what it means to be a woman and express a sexuality that in and of itself commands respect.

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