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The Mom Factor

by Rich Moreland, August 2015

This is the fifth installment of the Mercy West Story. After making a commitment to enter the adult film industry, Mercy’s summer has been busy with shoots and modeling assignments. Here she talks about her mom and their relationship.

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“I don’t ever remember being disciplined by my mother because I never did anything worth disciplining!”

Mercy West had a secure upbringing though her family structure, like that of many young people nowadays, was flexible with re-partnering parents doing what they could to keep blended relationships afloat.

“I blossomed and matured very early,” Mercy says, which can be a prescription for unwanted sexual attention. “I experienced a lot quite young and not in a bad way.” Her mother was supportive, allowing her daughter to make her own decisions, an attitude born of trust. “I was able to communicate better and deal with things a little more rationally than most people my age,” the twenty-five-year-old adds.

Mercy’s father took a different view. Divorced and remarried, he noticed that his daughter hung out with a bad crowd, so he suspected, and dressed differently than most kids. He believed she was “smart” but “problematic,” Mercy relates. Truth be told, she didn’t spend much time with him in her developing years and once she turned eighteen, little at all.

On the set for Hardtied Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

On the set for Hardtied
Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

“I just can’t be open with him much about my life and I don’t think he really wants to know.”

Perhaps not, but a visit to the Paintoy or Intersec websites to check out Mercy’s promos will let him know what his daughter is into now.

But that’s of no matter, Mercy’s life is all about the mom factor.

No Attached Shame

When Mercy got her first boyfriend, mom insisted she go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. A good move because today the emerging porn model credits her mother with establishing an open and honest dialogue with her daughter. “Nothing was dirty or shameful. I didn’t have to hide anything. I had the freedom to make the right choices and most importantly the wrong choices . . . and still feel loved and cared for.”

Mercy reveals that her mother was ill for much of her daughter childhood but managed to keep a household together despite divorce, remarriage, then another divorce. “She tired to keep things as normal as she could,” Mercy says with great affection. “I didn’t have a traumatic childhood. I have very good memories of being a kid.”

Incidentally, Mercy’s mother was an exotic dancer, a sex worker. “I’ve known since I was fifteen or sixteen. She never attached any shame to it and I’ve never had any issues talking about it.”

Like many women who populate the adult film business, Mercy understands a vital truth. “When you do things that you want to do and you are in control, it can be very empowering regardless of what it is . . . being a stripper or a CEO.”

There’s a name for such an attitude: feminism. Mercy and her mom are examples of how it fits into adult entertainment.

Mercy by the Lake. Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

Mercy by the Lake.
Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

Real Passion

Mercy’s adolescence gave her another lesson.

“I never look down on people because you don’t know what someone is going through.”

Mercy credits this attitude to her mother who suffered from social anxiety, despite her profession. In fact, dancing may have served to create a persona to help deal with self-consciousness.

Mom didn’t want this social handicap for her little girl, so it was off to theater and performing arts classes designed to broaden Mercy’s perceptions of the world around her and to encourage interaction with others. Together they volunteered at an Arizona ranch to teach “physically and mentally handicapped folks to take care of animals.” Mercy met autistic children, those with Down’s Syndrome, and others afflicted with physical disabilities. Later she volunteered in special needs and special education classes during her high school years.

This time is getting ready to shoot for Topgirl. Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

Getting ready to shoot for TopGirl.
Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

It paid benefits. Today Mercy is outgoing with an attitude that this writer finds endearing. She has a real passion for helping others and insists that one of her reasons for doing porn is educational. Mercy believes that sex is nothing to be reticent about and for people with sexual hang-ups, there’s a better way.

Quite frankly, I’ve heard this before from new girls in the business and I tend to dismiss their comments as justification for shooting porn or simple naiveté. But with Mercy, I believe it is genuine.

More like roommates than family, Mercy and her mother share living quarters in a way that is flexible and supportive. “She is aware of all my partners, my activities, and my work. She knows exactly what I do.”

Sort of, because mom has seen only “some of the more niche fetishy things” that “are not too sexual,” Mercy explains. Of course, the “more explicit stuff” is only a matter of time because, Mercy says, her mother “wants to see me make my own content.”

“That’s going to be awesome. She knows that if I want to do it, I’ll make it work.”

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The Handkerchief Code

by Rich Moreland, June 2015

Mercy West is a performer in transition. At twenty-five the Oregonian knows the ropes (pun intended) for bondage modeling, but shooting hardcore is another matter. Now that “porn star” is on her agenda, what is pornography in her mind?

Sunny Day Photo courtesy of Sam-R.com

Sunny Day
Photo courtesy of Sam-R.com

Mercy’s adolescent years were spent in Tucson, Arizona. Like most teens, people watching at the mall and flirting with kids her age (only to “have it fail miserably,” she remembers) was part of the routine. Mercy was different in one respect. She dallied a bit with “the older crowd,” again not getting very far but establishing a preference for the age play that delights her now.

Her favorite hang outs were record stores and used book outlets where she often became a familiar face. Her curiosity developed a taste for art and photography, so sifting through book bins became an obsession.

“Different types of art and prints jump out at you and you’re just not sure why,” Mercy recalls. “Everybody has their own tastes. I just remember being fascinated by the human body.” Highly eroticized images swirled around a teenager’s interpretation of art and porn.

Darker Images

Book store time nurtured this budding fetish model.

“It made me think about how I wanted to express myself. I was drawn to images of sexuality, erotic images not necessarily in the context of porn . . . darker images of alternative sexuality and gender fluidity,” Mercy says.

House of Gord Artwork courtesy of House of Gord

House of Gord
Artwork courtesy of House of Gord

So what were these images? The late performance artist and masochist Bob Flanagan intrigued her as did the black and white illustrations of the House of Gord’s latex bondage, pony girls, and forniphilia which had a “more esoteric” flavor. “Classic male dom, female sub leather and rubber BDSM” were her favorites and a bondage elitism was emerging. “Kinksters are aware of Gord’s contributions but most BDSM light/Vanilla folks have no clue,” Mercy says.

Raised in a liberal home environment, Mercy didn’t see any of this “as naughty or shameful.” Instead, the images were “aesthetically pleasing . . . the bondage, the sadomasochism . . . the sort of power play that was involved in S&M really intrigued me even though I didn’t quite understand what was underneath it all.”

Running across a variety of other publications where porn is high art enhanced her journey.

“Magazines like ‘Skin Two’ (a British publication) and ‘Modern Primitives’ were always super exciting finds and I treated them like precious gems, reading and rereading the articles, studying the clothing, toys and body art intensely.”

In fits and starts, an intelligent libertine was finding her future.

Pushing What it Means to be Sexual

Fashion Snapshot Photo courtesy of Mercy West

Fashion Snapshot
Photo courtesy of Mercy West

As comes to most of us, Mercy’s hormones kicked in around age twelve or thirteen. BDSM scenes gnawed at her sexuality; fetish became her thing. Fashion was not far behind. “I learned very quickly that people wore certain types of clothing as symbols and signs to others.”

In particular, the handkerchief code attracted her attention. Mercy recalls people “wearing spiked belts and having colored handkerchiefs hanging out of their back pocket.” (The code began in the gay community years ago and is generally, but not universally, accepted today. Left indicates a BDSM top; right a bottom.). Fashion blended with community and a kinkster’s education marched on.

Of course, what is pure alt often gets bastardized and commodified. “Some of the meaningless fashion in mainstream had been pulled from very meaningful fashion in some underground communities,” Mercy notes.

The code represented communication, openness and freedom, a symbol of being your own person this bondage disciple in the making could not absorb fast enough. Discovering that there were people who lived “a certain lifestyle or the S&M lifestyle 24/7” was pure elation.

Becoming Your Own Person Photo courtesy of San-R.com

Being Your Own Person
Photo courtesy of San-R.com

“What these people were doing was right for them. They were not devious or fucked up in any way. They weren’t causing harm to society,” Mercy declares with a smile. Coming out and “communicating their sexuality to their family . . Saying here, this is me, this is who I am” was natural and undeniable.

Lifestyle statements now mattered to Mercy, whether it be the S&M community or the complexities of the late Francesca Woodman that blurred artistic definitions with psychological statements spoken through the camera’s lens. She “pushed what it means to be a sexual human being,” Mercy says.

An Evolution

What drew Mercy to pornography? She is vague because it was more of an evolution than a moment. “Around the time my sexuality was coming to be I was really starting to think about what other people mean to me [in that way].”

story of o 2Porn didn’t help or hinder her development; rather it provided an understanding that she wasn’t alone with her feelings. Mercy references a trio of influences: Anne Rice novels, Pauline Reage’s The Story of O, and John Cleland’s Fanny Hill. She was intrigued by these works, she says, though at the time she did not profoundly understand them.

As her self-education continued, the bondage slut in Mercy remained muted. The teenage years passed. Interactions with other kids were normal with no “unhealthy obsessions.”

Though sexually active at a young age, Mercy insists porn was an avenue to it, not the reason for it. She was never “broken or scarred” from her interest in the erotic. “I was pretty stable and dealt with things all right. It was just my path and the way things were meant to go.”

So, what is porn to her?

Mercy points out that some people believe porn lacks “artistic intent” [and is] created solely to inspire sexual arousal,” serving no purpose other than “getting someone off.”

Getting off on a Paintoy shoot Photo courtesy of Paintoy.com

Coming Out of her Shell
Photo courtesy of Paintoy.com

“But that isn’t my definition. That isn’t what it means to me. I’ve used it as a tool to navigate my own sexuality.” Porn “can bring people out of their shells,” she insists, letting them “come to terms with things that they wouldn’t have been able to alone or with a partner.”

Is that a pro-porn cop-out or a level-headed assessment? Social scientists and historians agree that porn is a form of sex education. For some of us, it’s the only kind we’ll ever get and for Mercy it shaped a future.

Mercy’s “love of alternative sexuality, S&M and the fetish community translates into the real world” for her now. But she’s just getting started; a seismic shift in her sexual Richter Scale is occurring. She’s figured out that her personal happiness is more than “picking up a whip for a little while” after her day job. “That has led me to Paintoy and Intersec,” Mercy West says, where her shoots will delight BDSM fans who want to see this evolving star shackled and aroused for their entertainment.

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by Rich Moreland, June 2015

Being in the midst of writing book number two on the adult film industry, I decided to take a time out to compose a series of articles on a girl I’ve recently come to know. She is a sweetheart of many flavors.

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Welcome Photo courtesy of Mercy West

Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

How to describe a girl whose on-screen image leaves an impression fetish aficionados can’t shake: a calculated disheveled look that captures the heart of every BDSMer? Try this, a natural body with understated and controlled ink seductively placed to entice the eye with a simple message, “I’m here, let’s play a little?”

Pass as Vanilla

There’s nothing Southern California about Mercy West. She’s more a San Francisco queer porn gamine. Sporting a lovely nose ring that highlights an impish sassiness bordering on bemused self-satisfaction, Mercy allures her fans with a bondage collar extraordinaire. Throw in a penchant for taking marks while making her mark in an industry she has decided to embrace and Mercy wets the screen. No doubt her fans dream of corralling this diminutive lass in a darkened alley, pushing her against the wall and muffling her cries of delight . . . don’t knock over a trash can because trashy is where we’re going.

But that’s only part of the story. Mercy can be cute as the sweet little miss winking at the preacher’s son while the Sunday sermon drones on, ready for a romp with the righteous.

“Because of how I look I can still pass as vanilla in some productions,” Mercy says “But because of my past, I get offers for some quite extreme stuff as well.”

Despite her girlish look, Mercy West is no teenager. In fact, she is a most mature twenty-five. Psychologists know that the brain takes its time reaching adulthood and its ability to make good decisions kicks in around the mid-twenties. Mercy knows what she wants and is ready to move forward. Lucky for her fans, they’re getting the best part of the ride.

Collar and Pearls Photo courtesy of Mercy West

Collar and Pearls
Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

The Arizona native is wading into adult entertainment with variety—phone sex, web camming, shooting for the extreme BDSM websites Intersec and Paintoy—constructing a resume that moves her confidently in different directions. She is learning her trade. Incidentally, like her experiences, Mercy’s sexuality also is fluid, expanding what her fans will learn to love about her.

Most importantly, Mercy West is honest. “I fell into this business because I saw a group of people I could possibly relate to and a career that I would actually enjoy investing my time in.” Adult entertainment is not for everyone, but in this Tucson girl’s case it rewards a hypersexual attitude that surely eclipses a career in customer and food service.

Pesky Labels

Mercy self-identifies as pan-sexual, gender fluid, and polyamorous, insisting that “I don’t think about a person’s biological sex or chosen gender when I choose partners.”

The current Portland, Oregon resident enjoys men, women, and “other gender fluids and everything in between.” Though she felt like “a sexual outcast” in her adolescent years, “even in some GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) friendly situations,” Mercy is delighted with the sexual kaleidoscope she now emotionally snuggles.

But as the legendary queer porn submissive Madison Young once said, everyone is shoved into a sexual box somewhere, somehow. So when she is pressed, Mercy declares, “pan-sexuality [is] the label I feel most comfortable with.”

Pan-Sexual Photo courtesy of Mercy West

Photo courtesy of Mercy West

Regardless of how she defines herself and those around her, Mercy is having a blast.

“My adventure into the [adult] business has led me to people who are open, accepting, and as excited to work in this industry as I am,” she beams.

But she has more to tell us.

Mercy insists that her gender identification “changes pretty frequently.” Her hair drifts from long to short and her wardrobe is “pretty inconsistent,” though “vintage clothing” is a preference. “Phases” is how she describes her fluidity.

“Sometimes I find myself wanting to use my strap-on with a skinny tattooed bisexual boy I make suck my cock and call me master. Other times I just want to lay back and indulge in a little ‘age play’ with my much older, straight partner.”

Nevertheless, those pesky labels are the bane of Mercy West. She is a biological female, of course, but there is more beneath the obvious. Mercy admits growing “tired of people getting upset [because] I honestly could not tell them what I was.” With a hint of exasperation, she adds, “It took me years to get where I am with my feeling about my sexuality,” insisting that now she is anything but “confused” about her accumulated preferences, statuses, and desires.

As for her love life, Mercy finally realized her modus operandi was different from others. She confesses, “I kept putting myself in ‘manogamish’ relationships that confined me to one primary partner for the sake of  love.'” She felt restricted to “someone else’s idea of what a relationship was supposed to be.”

Primal Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

Photo courtesy of S. Thanatos

Mercy experienced an epiphany.

“I began to realize that if I wanted to be truly happy I would have to build the life I wanted.” She needed to find “workable sexual and emotional relationships” because monogamy was unreasonably confining and uncomfortable.

“I was actually super unhappy,” Mercy declares, “because of other people’s insecurities and fears, not my own.” It was a Hydra that dominated her personal life, a destructive force brought on by one-on-one relationships.

Now at twenty-five with options ahead of her, Mercy West fondly embraces the words of her partner.

“When we met you had a whole life that I knew nothing about, you have connections with people I don’t know and experience things that I never could. All of those things shape you, the whole person I love. Why would I want to change that? Change the person I fell in love with?”

Rejection is a the real demon when relationships teeter on the abyss of the personally intense. But Mercy’s partner tossed that aside, encouraging her to explore all possibilities.

“Live, love, and grow as much as you can. I’m just happy to be able to walk beside you for at least a little while.”

And so are we because now it’s obvious what getting out of that box is all about, no labels in sight, only phases.

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