Tag Archives: Jesse Jane

Because We Want To

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.

Belle Knox Photo source unknown

Belle Knox
Photo source unknown

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 Calvert Photo courtesy of Naughty America

Casey Calvert
Photo courtesy of Naughty America

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.

Magna Cum Laude Photo source unknown

Magna Cum Laude
Photo courtesy of Twistys

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.”

 

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I am NOT a Prostitute and I am NOT a Whore

by Rich Moreland, February 2014

This is the second installment of my interviews with the girls of Digital Playground at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

Thursday, January 16

The singular most divisive issue in porn is escorting. Some girls prefer not to talk about it, some get indignant when it is brought up, and others acknowledge it in passing. No one claims to know exactly how many adult models are escorting; I’ve heard guesstimates from about half to everybody. My feeling is that over half is correct, but “everybody” is not. There are performers who definitely do not escort.

Looking for some upfront answers in my Digital Playground interviews, I decide to weave my way into escorting through a discussion of Measure B, the new ordinance that requires condom use in filming. Some California districts, most particularly the city of Los Angeles, are dealing with implementation now. This legal dictate is considered so onerous that rumors of the industry’s move to Nevada are always in the wind. A not so awful alternative, some porn people have quietly observed. The lower cost of living and affordable property values complement an already attractive desert welcome mat that features Nevada’s legitimate brothel industry.

Before delving into the safer sex issue, one more point needs mentioning. The Digital girls choose not to shoot the high risk behaviors that pervade much of porn today. As a group, they avoid anal, double penetrations, gang bangs and heavy fetish, particularly BDSM. Though no one said it directly, this fact may influence their views on safer sex. To put it bluntly, advocating condoms is much easier if a well-endowed manhood isn’t headed into a girl’s backside for extended hard work. In other words, most models who do anal will quickly complain that condoms are abrasive.

Lastly, adult film performers are a closed and tested community. Currently, the fourteen-day test is evolving as the standard. Before a shoot begins, paperwork is checked all around to make certain everyone’s blood work is updated. In theory, if everyone kept their sexual activity within the performer community, condom use would be redundant and superfluous.

Just Me Being Responsible

Though she fully understands the safer sex push, Jesse Jane personally doesn’t like condoms.

“I can’t have sex with a condom. It hurts, I don’t like it, it doesn’t feel good and I’m not going to wear one and make my performance horrible,” she says with conviction. Then Jesse dips into the political cauldron by adding that condom use is a matter of choice, a personal freedom she has a right to exercise. But the film vet tempers the idea of choice with an added layer of protection. She works with the “same people” year after year and considers herself to be very fortunate to do so.

A cautious Selena Rose supports condoms. “We are very sexually active people,” she states, mentioning that she prefers her partners get tested the same day she does. In fact the Miami resident offers that if a medical person, such as a nurse, were on set the day of shooting, everyone could be tested “real quick,” thus closing the window between testing and shooting.

Selena Rose Photo by Bill Knight

Selena Rose
Photo by Bill Knight

This idea gets my attention though I know many companies would balk at the extra expense.

The careless off set activities of “unprofessional” people unfortunately endangers everyone, Jessa Rhodes says.

“I’ve never had an STD in my life,” the twenty-year-old says, “so it’s not hard to stay safe.” She is vigilance personified. “I stay in tune with who fucks who, whose been doing what, and what they do in their private life.” Though it may sound like snooping or gossiping, it’s Jessa’s most efficient way to “know if something is questionable.” If it is, “I don’t do it,” she says. After all, it’s her health that is on the line.

Civilians (non-industry people) may intellectually understand the risks performers take, but they often don’t emotionally. It’s not their livelihood that’s under the gun. What’s more, a director once told me porn performers sometimes think civilians are cleaner than industry people, as odd as that sounds. The idea is nonsensical. There are no guidelines for civilians to get tested should they party with a porn star.

Lay on Your Back for Money

Jesse Jane sadly admits that ninety percent of the porn industry escorts and many of the escorts are men. She illustrates the logic of paydays beyond the set for those girls who escort. “I’m already having sex for money so why not make some extra cash and nobody knows I‘m doing it,” she says. But the Texas native brings up a darker scenario, the part that “sucks.” “More power to you,” she says to girls who hook, “if you are comfortable having sex with strangers” because the possibilities of bad things happening multiply. There’s always a risk the “john” is a weirdo or a misogynist and getting beaten up or killed is a tragedy that should never happen, Jesse says, and she feels for girls who put themselves that that situation.

Incidentally, Jesse words are scenarios. She personally does not, and has never, escorted.

Jesse Jane Photo by Bill Knight

Jesse Jane
Photo by Bill Knight

At this point Jesse reminds her co-workers that being careful should be a given. “We risk our life working with each other and trusting [that] everybody in our industry [will] take care of themselves,” she says. In short, “we are taken care of because we take care of ourselves.”

Her statement is a hope, an encouragement, and a thank you.

Jesse adds a final thought. Hinting that condoms should be a part of escorting, she references HIV, “You have the responsibility to keep yourself clean before you risk somebody else’s life in this industry.”

Selena Rose and Jessa Rhodes are upfront that they do not escort. Condoms should be a given in escorting, Selena says, because a civilian, unless he is a boyfriend, is not that important to a girl. So, she asks, “why would you risk yourself like that? To me it kind of shows that you don’t love yourself.”

Jessa Rhodes Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa Rhodes
Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa is unforgiving and possesses a commanding presence that easily backs down her critics.

“I don’t escort, I don’t hook and I don’t agree with the girls that do,” she says. Speaking of performers who are out the night before and come to work the next day, Jessa is equally as adamant. “I don’t know who you fucked last night and I don’t approve of it and I don’t agree with it!”

She is appalled at the lack of responsibility and professionalism among some of her fellow performers. “If you want to go lay on your back for money go do it, but this is a business. I make movies and entertain people for a living. I am not a prostitute and I am not a whore.”

Obviously, condoms are an absolute necessity in escorting, Jessa implies, because girls who hook on the side put everyone at risk for infection. She does, however,

Jessa Rhodes has porn street smarts. Her boyfriend is in the business and has undoubtedly offered her a veteran’s wisdom. But Jessa has learned to assert herself, to stand her ground. A large contributor to her well-balanced approach is her mother who home schooled her. “My momma raised me right,” she says.

I ask if she knows Dana DeArmond who also lacks formal education but has forged an iconic career in the business. “I do!” Jessa’s face lights up. “I firmly believe that knowledge is something you can get for yourself if you read and you experience life. That is the best education you can get.”

*                    *                    *                     *                    *

Though I have no solid evidence to reach definite conclusions about any of the Digital girls, there are indications where they are now in their careers. Selena Rose has the advantage of living away from the LA hotbed of rumors, parties, and agents who are not always licensed, flying in for business when she is booked. And of course, Jesse Jane is quickly reaching legend status and has over a decade (a lifetime in porn years) to guide her decision making. To reinvigorate her mental health,  she can spend time away in the southwest.

In branding her name and pushing her career forward, each of the Digital girls demonstrates that success in porn requires an empowerment not always found in the civilian world.

I wish them well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Matter of Respect

by Rich Moreland, January 2014

During this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), I interviewed four girls who represent one of the industry’s leading companies, Digital Playground.  An unexpected opportunity opened up and as you shall see, there is more to porn than money.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

Thursday, January 16

The Digital Playground booth is ready for its fans. A few media types hang around, including my photographer Bill and me, awaiting Digital’s PR person who is moving things along with precision. Likewise, Digital’s stars are arriving to get their interview and signing schedules.

In truth, the convention is a hectic four-day affair in which everyone’s time is limited and under high demand. With warm smiles all around, girls meet industry people and fans, do media interviews, and attend promotions and parties without letting platform heels and fatigue get in the way.

Today’s interviews begin with eleven-year vet, Jesse Jane, whose southwestern roots are integral to her friendliness. Jesse is a contract girl (she shoots exclusively for Digital Playground) and has built a reputation as a woman who works tirelessly to brand her name. Next is twenty-three year old Selena Rose, also a contract girl. Selena lives in Miami, flying west once a month to do scenes. She did her first porn shoot at nineteen. Rikki Six, who currently maintains her residence in Southern California, entered porn in 2012 at age twenty-one and is not a contract girl. Finally, the youngest of the group, Jessa Rhodes, is twenty and a native Oregonian now residing in Southern California. She’s been in the industry for a year and a half and has does not currently have a contract with Digital.

The first issue (the topic of this post) raises the question of respect. Porn girls are valued as commodities in the business, but do they feel respected? The second, safer sex and its relationship to escorting, an undeniable form of prostitution, stirs up divisive opinions within the industry. What responsibilities do performers have for each other? This subject is covered in the next installment of the interviews.

Women Drive This Industry

Jesse Jane Photo by Bill Knight

Jesse Jane
Photo by Bill Knight

With an understated tone, Jesse Jane declares that porn moguls “obviously value us as performers” because “we’re the ones that make the industry . . . women drive this industry.” Directors, producers, company owners “know they need us,” she adds, because women cultivate the fan base (the market) to create the revenue stream. Unfortunately, there are some men in porn who “think women can’t run a business or be a businesswoman,” Jesse points out. Having sex is “all we are good for” in their view, she says, quickly admitting that’s very true in the case of some girls. “But there are quite of few of us who know how to run this industry,” Jesse declares with a smidgen of self-satisfaction.

A daughter of the military lifestyle, Jesse Jane has survived over a decade in a tough profession. She is well-schooled in how to brand her name, something many girls have no interest in doing because their goal is “the fast cash,” she says. Making porn into a career or a business is not on their radar.

Jesse offers a dose of reality for all porn girls. Have a plan because the future can be uncertain.

“If you are not going to save your money and make something out of it, [there are consequences]. Once you step into this career path it’s hard to do something else,” she warns. “You’re labeled.”

Like the famous logo of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter flexing her biceps, Jesse Jane’s final comment is a powerful statement. “The guys need to acknowledge that there are some of us girls that know how to run this industry inside and out.” In fact, the Oklahoma resident suggests, “technically” women are already doing it and some men” just don’t see it because they’re so arrogant.”

Selena Rose sees respect as an expression, or reward, of individual effort. “I am respected,” she says emphatically, citing her “high standards” which dictate how she presents herself in the industry. “I make sure that everybody treats me well because I treat others the way that I would like to be treated.”

Selena Rose Photo by Bill Knight

Selena Rose
Photo by Bill Knight

I press Selena to extend her thoughts on respect to broader society. In doing so, she nears what Bobbi Starr calls the “stereotype trap” that porn girls industry-wide create for themselves. It’s a self-limiting personal view that perpetuates, and is perpetuated by, the porn girl image.

Selena says, “You know, me as a porn star, of course males respect me less but I don’t go out being like super slutty and skanky and making myself look trashy.” She understands what she needs to do for success and with Digital Playground she has placed herself in the right situation to make it work. “I try my best to make men treat me well,” Selena says.

Rikki Six is straightforward on the respect issue. Yes, she’s seen a lack of respect for girls “from time to time” and decides it is best not to name names or recount situations. I ask if she has ever felt disrespected within the industry. Not really is her response, but she does feel typecast, referring to the scenes she shoots. “They always give me the same script, so they think of me like that person [someone who is not very smart],”she says. Does level of smartness determine respect?

Rikki Six Photo by Bill Knight

Rikki Six
Photo by Bill Knight

Playing a part can perpetuate an image that may be far from reality. Even in Hollywood, actresses tire of typecasting because it can assume a life of its own. As for her typecast role, nothing about Rikki leads me to regard her that way. In fact, though she may not be a wordsmith, she impresses me as thoughtful with a hint of  adorable shyness.

If Selena and Rikki are still negotiating the parameters of respect, Jessa Rhodes is taking command of it.

“Women in this industry like myself who fight for their rate and for what they will and will not do and don’t take shit” Jessa says, “are making a difference.” “Ultimately the women [in the porn business] have the power, they just don’t know it,” she announces in a fist-pounding manner. These are validating words I’ve heard from porn’s self-identified feminist veterans Nina Hartley, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr, and the youthful newcomer, Tasha Reign.

Jessa Rhodes Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa Rhodes
Photo by Bill Knight

Self-assured and alive with energy, Jessa Rhodes has an interview presence seen in a select few performers (Chanel Preston and Bobbi Starr come to mind). Explaining that she personally stays away from situations where she might be disrespected, Jessa has “a very short list” of people to work with. Only men who appreciate and value her make the cut.

Looking beyond her own personal empowerment, Jessa Rhodes is adamant about women controlling the business. She exclaims, “I wouldn’t say that this business is run by men at all. Vagina rules!”

I Can be in Control

During our conversations, the topic of agents arose. Are they good for the girls and the industry?

Though Jessa Rhodes does not have a positive view of agents (“agents have fucked up this business completely”), she points out there are a couple of good ones. But overall there is too much “tugging and pulling” to please a middleman who is generating a girls’ work. She’s opted to become independent because she is “strong willed and opinionated” and “better off without having  a middleman in-between trying to make everyone happy.” Now she is solely responsible for her job satisfaction.

Jesse Jane has little to say about agents. “They’re in it for themselves,” she comments. “Nobody has your back in this industry, you look out for yourself.”

After some soul-searching, Rikki Six views free agency (working without an agent) as the tonic she needs. “Just recently I left my agency so I’m booking myself now so I can be in control of my career. My name is a brand and it’s a business. I wanted to be in control more . . . control only the things I wanted to do, not what someone told me to do.”

Sounds very much like Jessa’s proclamation that women can call their own shots and place themselves in front of the camera on their own terms.

Selena Rose talks of past experiences with agents, leaving the impression she does not currently have one. This does not mean the Floridian disdains licensed reps. Reflecting the voices of respected feminist veterans mentioned above, Selena reveals the wisdom of a girl whose been around the block. Listen to her advice for new girls.

Hopeful starlets need to get real representation because pimps or recruiters can pass themselves off as agents and a girl “could end up doing things she doesn’t want to do.” If a girl opts to sign with an agency, make certain of its quality, she warns. Selena’s red flags shoot skyward if certain precautions are not observed. A newbie must make sure she is safe and doing what she wants to do, Selena points out, because once the agent contract is signed, a girl can be pressured into uncomfortable situations. “You got to do this if you want more work,” is typical agentspeak.

Though this Latina beauty reminds every porn performer, “you don’t have to do anything,” the message doesn’t always hit home. Girls come into the industry “young and naïve,” Selena Rose says, and think, “I have to do this” to get hired again.

When that happens choices evaporate; girls become discouraged. Maybe that is part of the stereotype trap Bobbi Starr sees so often.

*          *          *          *          *

The second installment of our discussions will involve safer sex and escorting.

 [Special thanks is extended to Christopher Ruth of FineAssMarketing (FAM) and Jeanette Li of Digital Playground for setting up the interviews. They were conducted on Thursday, January 16, 2014.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized