Tag Archives: Stoya

The Meaning of Consent: Tasha Reign

by Rich Moreland, March 2016

Tasha Reign is an outspoken pornography feminist whose political voice is ever present. Having entered adult film in 2010 at age twenty-one, she finds time to write about the industry, most recently for the Huffington Post, and when the opportunity arises, to crossover into independent film. We talked at the 2016 Adult Entertainment Expo.

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“The situation with James and Stoya is very good for our industry, and also for every industry, because it has enabled a discussion that I don’t think would be there otherwise.”

Those are the words of Tasha Reign. We are sitting in the AVN media room at Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel.

Women’s Rights

Tasha believes Stoya has demonstrated great courage in speaking out [about her abuse] and reminds us she isn’t “the only woman who has had that happen to her and not had her voice heard.”

However, Stoya’s industry status renders her “a privileged person,” Tasha admits. In fact, James Deen’s former girlfriend is also “a celebrity” outside adult film.

“She’s educated, smart, well-spoken, and has a strong voice,” Tasha says.

Though Stoya’s fame helps to channel her message, consent remains a broader issue for sex worker and women’s rights. It’s something men must address.

“We live in a society based around patriarchy,” Tasha insists, which she wants to fight by speaking up all women.

Within the adult film industry, having sex on camera does not diminish performers or the rights that they have, she says. But not everyone gets the point “and that is why so many women have not spoken out.”

For her part, this formally educated professional has taken on the activist mantle to support women.

Tasha during our interview

Tasha during our interview

The Line is Blurry

When she began her venture into porn, Tasha Reign signed with LA Direct Models, a well-known talent agency. Good representation can guide a career and fortunately the native Californian has avoided any Stoya-like situations.

But, her limits on the set have been “crossed in ways that were more subtle.”

“Sometimes it’s difficult to identify when they happen,” she says. “It’s something you think later, ‘Wait, maybe this should have been more professional.'”

Those experiences have influenced the choices Tasha has made in moving her business pursuits forward.

“Whether I have somebody with me at all time at AVN like my security over there (she nods at a blue-suited gentleman sitting just to our right whose presence is meant to leave an impression) or whether it’s shooting for myself, I want to control every aspect of [my career].”

For the record, Tasha owns Reign Productions, writing and directing her own content.

She reiterates what others have told me. Talent should be educated about what to expect in adult entertainment.

“I think it would be great to put out a website where new performers can go and [learn] ‘Oh, this is how porn works. I am the boss. I call all the shots. Nobody should be crossing lines on the set.”

To underscore how important this is, Tasha adds, “Nobody should be grabbing you and nobody should be having sex after you say ‘stop’ even if you consented prior to that.”

“But for some reason, I have no idea why, that line is blurry,” Tasha says. “It’s not blurry to me and it’s not blurry to any woman.”

Own Your Choices

Fair enough, so what should everyone know about shooting sex and consent?

“Sometimes when you perform, you’re going to push your limits. You might be doing anal for the first time or a DP on camera and you’ve never done that before,” Tasha begins.

Referencing that her on-camera episodes may not be what her personal life is about, the UCLA grad concedes she had to learn to “slow-down” the action.

Communication is important.

Sex is a power exchange and is not fun if you have equal power, she believes. “That’s okay. What’s not okay is when you say ‘no’ and they continue. That’s rape.”

It’s a “fine line,” Tasha admits, and “male talent, if they crossed limits” may “not even realize that’s the situation.” So, awareness is also important.

Tasha generalizes the circumstances to civilians, suggesting that in the work place men might “hug their co-worker or put their hand on their waist or smack them on the butt in a playful, friendly manner they might do with a friend.”

She doesn’t understand “how they would feel that [type of behavior] would be okay.”

To illustrate her point, Tasha comments on the message she sends her fans when standing with them for photographs. It’s particularly applicable this week since we are at the industry’s major trade show.

“I’ll have someone tell them they must have their hands at their side. There’s no touching whatsoever. I will pose around you because that’s what I feel comfortable with.”

However, though she is comfortable with her boundaries, Tasha does not mean to restrict another girl might find appealing.

“I think that if a woman wants to have a gang bang with an entire football team . . . or if she wants her friends to grab her” that’s her choice and “you have to own your choices and be conscious about what you’re doing.”

Tasha during our 2014 interview

Tasha after our talk at the 2014 AEE

A Feminist Can Love Pornography

Tasha Reign points out a misconception the public has about adult film which she believes stems from a lack of “media literacy.”

Often people don’t understand that what they see in a sex scene is consensual among the talent, particularly if the shoot is rough. It appears the woman is being abused.

In particular, this is often the opinion of anti-porn feminists who know nothing about adult film. They conclude the scene was rape, when that is not the case, and, worst yet, never bother to talk with the models to get the real story.

“You can’t judge a consensual sex scene just because it was a rough scene. That’s not the way sex [in the industry] works,” Tasha states.

On the other hand, there is a bright side. “You can be a feminist and still love pornography and sex work,” Tasha declares, then turns her attention to an ongoing paradox that has politically agitated feminism for years.

“How in the world could you [as a feminist] condone having women make choices but then say they can’t have the choice to have sex for money? It makes no sense.”

As our allotted minutes run out, the performer/writer/producer/director follows up with one of her pet peeves.

“People like to scapegoat porn. If there’s anything they can put on you, they will. It’s always baffling to me. I’ll never get used to it. Jessica Drake in a panel this last week said, ‘You know what? Now that I’m older I realize it says so much more about them than it does about me.'”

Smiling, Tasha Reign concludes.

“And it’s one hundred percent true.”

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You can follow Tasha on twitter and visit her website here.

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The Meaning of Consent: Allie Haze

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

Adult film has it’s stars, and then it has it’s superstars. Allie Haze is one of the latter and destined for the AVN Hall of Fame. During the recent Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, she gave me some of her valuable time. We found a quiet spot beyond the bustle of the convention for a lengthy interview that was a pure delight.

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My impression of Allie Haze is strength, self-assurance, and a sweetness that escapes description. What’s more, she understands the business of adult film.

“This is more than just a job because I’m selling myself. What you’re putting out there is you, your heart and your soul.”

Considering that statement, let’s delve into things that can happen on the set that might not always go down to everyone’s liking.

Allie Haze Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Allie Haze
Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

The Sinkhole

Like others I have talked with, Allie does not believe consent issues pervade the industry, but she does recognize they affect the business with a collective concern.

She characterizes the James Deen/Stoya incident as “a sinkhole within us. It’s a very small part of a very big world that just happened to fall in.”

Having said that, the native Californian concedes that the allegations and resulting opinions are evolving into “a monster that is damaging our community.”

Essentially, James and Stoya, are “two powerhouse individuals” who have shaped the modern porn landscape, Allie says. They are among “those top twenty people” the public regards as important adult film voices, “the people who make the difference, the ones the media actually gets to hear.”

So, are there real issues with consent in porn?

For some people, yes. But, Allie believes, “it’s a case by case basis.” In other words, it differs based on personal preferences and the ability to understand the demands of porn.

“I could be twenty-five and be super manipulative or I could be eighteen and be smarter than the twenty-five year old,” she explains. “It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with your maturity level and there is no way to determine that.”

Photo courtesy of Allie Haze Twitter

Photo courtesy of Allie Haze Twitter

Know the Rules

Though she has a history of “good choices,” Allie supports mentoring performers because entering porn can be scary.

For example, she says, just getting started is challenging. Flying in from out of town and meeting an agent for the first time is often a bewildering and anxiety-producing “life changing event.”

Throw in that first day on the set with its consent issues, and a girl can fall into more than she expected. So it’s important to ask, “What are the rules of what you are getting into?” she says.

What’s more, the award-winning actress warns anyone thinking about shooting porn that “in less than six months your whole family” will know what you’re doing and you should understand the possible consequences of your decision.

Are there ways to guide newbies, particularly if they are having problems?

“I hope the older generation [of performers] would take them under their wing,” Allies replies.

But there is another vital point the stunning brunette wants to make.

Allie recalls her first job in fast food and the “food workers card” she secured after taking an eight-hour class. She endorses a similar practice for adult because performers do not have a union to address these concerns. The closest organization available is APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee).

In her view, it would work like this. “When we have our I.D. [for age purposes] and [blood] test [results] we also need our permit card. No matter at what age you enter the business, you should have to go through a class, learn about your body and what you can say ‘no’ to.”

The former minister’s wife completes her thought with a strong affirmation about the process. “It also has to be industry funded.”

Teamwork

Allie Haze is not gun shy and it works to her advantage.

Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

“I’m a little feisty and I never felt like I could not say no.” However, she is familiar with “meek, beautiful, and intelligent women” who have shared stories in which it was “more of a hassle to say ‘no'” than to just go along.

Nevertheless, Allie believes, the onus is on the performer to speak up. “No one is at fault because you made that decision [to say nothing]. If you had enough time to think of all of that, you had enough time to say ‘no.'”

The multi-talented performer shared a personal experience.

Once during a rough scene, a male model spit in her face “in the heat of the moment.” Allie stopped the shoot. She didn’t mind the choking and the slapping, but spitting was out.

A newcomer at the time, Allie had discussed her limits before the scene began, but really couldn’t blame the guy because she forgot to mention that spitting was a ‘no.’

“As much as I was frustrated and really offended, I told him that I know I didn’t say it and we’re not going to stop the shoot. Don’t lose your mojo, just don’t do it again.”

She apologized to the director and he said, “No, you’re good.”

Allie advises female performers to act with care. By screaming at the guy, his arousal level is crushed. “Now it’s his fault and nobody gets a paycheck and we have to come back the next day.”

“Although you’re entitled to an uproar, this is a career so there’s a professional way to handle those bad situations. You’re working as a team.”

Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Photo courtesy of Smash Pictures

A Way Out

Allie comments that Kink.com, where she has completed some twenty BDSM shoots, can create stressful situations. Safe words are important on their sets.

Her personal Kink anxiety centers on electricity.

“I wanted to challenge myself so I did their electrosluts site. My fear of electricity made me cry. I was gagged. I wasn’t in pain. Nothing was wrong. But once I started crying they cut the camera.”

An important lesson was learned.

Girls can communicate when fears are aroused. At Kink, crying, which is usually not related to physical discomfort, is a way to stop a scene.

It’s a matter of figuring out what behaviors companies consider sensitive.

“If you know what the rules are when cut happens” you’re on top of things, Allie declares. But always remember that “stop or cut” means lost footage. So a degree of common sense kicks in.

Having said that, Allie is adamant about feeling safe.

“No one should be in that situation where they feel like they need to find an escape or a way out. That’s what breaks my heart, that’s what makes me sad.”

In the middle of a hectic day, Allie is still cheerful and willing to chat

In the middle of a hectic day, Allie is still cheerful and willing to chat.

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Through it all, Allie realized that when the James Deen/Stoya incident got out, women in porn were going to be portrayed as victims.

She wants everyone to know she is not a victim even though she’s “done a lot of interviews where they think that.”

Well, this is not one of them, I’m delighted to say.

For her final thought, Allie Haze proclaims with sharp certitude, “I’m happily a seven-year veteran and still going strong. I would never change it for the world.”

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The Meaning of Consent: Casey Calvert

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

Casey Calvert is popular with porn fans, having begun her career as a fetish model.  The 2012 University of Florida graduate entered the business at twenty-two, older than most girls who seek a career in adult entertainment.

Highly respected among her peers, Casey is active in the industry support group,  APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee).

We talked recently at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

CZHKeriUsAA6qjR*          *          *

Casey Calvert reflects what performers understand, “You know what you signed up for when you show up on the set.”

The native Floridian explains that an informed performer is aware of what is expected and who her co-stars are that day. However, that doesn’t mean unplanned or uncomfortable incidents don’t happen.

“If something changes, whether it’s somebody asking something additional of you or [an incident happens] by accident, you say something and the problem gets resolved.”

Feeling Violated

Casey doesn’t want to get into the James Deen/Stoya controversy which she refers to as “a big scandal” in the business. Understandable and that’s not the focus of my question. But, I do want her take on how a newcomer should handle a similar situation that might occur on set.

“It’s one of the things we’re working on as an industry, especially now that people are talking about how do we make new girls feel comfortable speaking up and how do we make sure they know it’s okay [to do so.]”

Then the four-year industry vet touches on the second point everyone seems to make.

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

“Nobody wants them to go home feeling violated or upset. Everybody wants them to go home feeling good.”

Casey retreats a bit when I suggest that after a questionable moment during filming, some girls may believe they have been subjected to inappropriate sexual behavior.

“Right, but that doesn’t mean they got raped either. Getting raped is if you say ‘no’ and they say ‘yes.'”

Does that happen?

“Not that I’ve ever heard of,” the superstar replies. “It has not personally happened to me. I’ve never heard a story in recent history at all where that has happened on a set with anybody.”

Having said that, she clarifies her position.

“There’s a difference between I say ‘no’ and you try to convince me to say ‘yes’ and I say ‘no’ and you take it anyway.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Getting It Fixed

Has she been on sets where this has happened?

Casey hasn’t, but she comments, “I’ve been on shoots where I’ve had to say ‘something’s wrong’ and it gets fixed.”

She measures her words, declaring that she “can’t be mad” because “the person who has created” the problem straightened it out.

Due to the nature of a business that shoots thousands of scenes a year with a talent pool that is in constant flux, Casey realizes questionable moments do occur.

Referencing the male performers booked to shoot with her, she says, “They don’t know me. We’re acquaintances. This is not my boyfriend of ten years who should be fantastic at reading my body language and should know the things about me. This is essentially a stranger, so I can’t fault that stranger for not knowing something if I don’t tell him.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Is being a superstar an advantage that causes everyone to back off?

“Oh, yeah. For sure. I fully admit I’ve had additional privilege going in being a Spiegler Girl, even [when I was] brand new.” Casey signed with the Spiegler agency immediately upon entering the industry.

“People treat you differently. I can definitely say that, but I also have lots of friends who are not Spiegler girls and have lots of experiences on set.”

She doesn’t elaborate about those experiences, be they positive or negative.

A Three-Fold System

To educate newcomers, APAC has developed a “Porn 101” video similar to AIM’s [Adult Industry Medical] endeavor years ago. Performers are is issued a card that certifies they have viewed the tape.

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

“It’s a very positive step in the right direction,” the native Floridian says, and explains that it’s especially valuable for girls who come in at eighteen or nineteen.

By presenting “this piece of paper that says, ‘I understand what I’m getting into. I get it,'” Casey points out, a performer should be in a position to deal with issues that may arise.

But she adds a caveat.

“We have to make sure they actually really do get it and it can’t be like, ‘here everybody gets a piece of paper.'”

Even that does not fully address the problem.

“If the companies don’t adopt that as a procedure where they require that piece of paper or that card, then it means nothing . . . [because] it is a three-fold system. There’s the performers, the directors, the producers and the companies, and then there’s the agents. The change has to come from all three.”

In other words, communication and cooperation across the board is a worthy goal, though not an easy task.

Casey uses the following example.

“If the performers get educated, then the companies say, ‘Okay, we need proof that you understand what you’re getting into,’ and the agents don’t facilitate any of that, it still doesn’t work. It has to be a system where all three are working together which is why APAC is having such a hard time making it happen.”

Having said that, Casey brightens.

“It’s happening, but it’s happening very, very slowly.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

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The Meaning of Consent: Beginning

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

In light of the widely reported James Deen/Stoya incident, I decided to investigate the issue of sexual consent in adult film with the understanding that their dustup was largely off camera. Performers with whom I talked agreed that the affair was personal and passing judgment on the couple was not something anyone wanted to do.

Stoya and James Photo courtesy of AVN

Stoya and James
Photo courtesy of AVN

However, everyone has an opinion on how to deal with consent. Here’s what became evident.

The Director

Directors are sensitive about issues on their sets and having performers know what to expect in a shoot is important to them. From the other side of the camera, there is a tacit understanding among talent that porn is a unique business and anyone who is paid for sex acts on film knows (or should know) what they have signed up for.

Performers indicated that directors let them find their own comfort level, though sometimes what they get excited about sexually may exceed what the company is good to go with. In those cases, directors rein in the action to conform to protocol. This is especially true when dealing with BDSM.

On the other hand, no one I interviewed indicated that directors blatantly looked the other way for the sake of getting a scene that will sell. Simply put, good directors adhere to performer limits.

No Means No

All performers, regardless of their time in the business, feel the need to discuss their limits with their co-stars.

Therefore . . .

No means no, period. Performers can’t stress this enough. Boundaries and limits can be pushed, quite often subtly, and veteran models will raise a red flag when situations get dicey.

The sticking point, however, is that boundaries are a matter of interpretation because limits differ from person to person. Nevertheless, performers are on board with the following:

When a model heads for home after a work day, any second thoughts she might have about what went on in front of the camera presents a problem that demands attention. This situation is deeply personal to performers because most have been there before which brings us to another commonality everyone shares.

Easy Targets

Newcomers need to be informed about what to anticipate before ever stripping down for the camera. In particular, girls who enter the business at the earliest possible age should be educated about establishing their boundaries and how to stop the action if they are violated.

This is important because neophytes don’t know what to expect. “Barely legal” girls just out of high school have never had a real job before, especially one in which big bucks are made quickly.  They want work as much as they can, in effect becoming easy targets for excesses.

Fortunately, some experienced performers step in to mentor fresh faces, reinforcing the linchpin of a successful porn career: taking personal responsibility for what happens on a set.

One more point. In the last few years porn talent has organized a self-help group, APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee). Part of its mission is to offer newcomers a road map into the business.

Final Thought

The Deen/Stoya situation has opened a discussion and the blog posts that follow are industry voices who were forthright, painting the consent picture with their own colorful palette. Their perspectives are as diverse as porn itself.

I thank everyone who talked with me and must say I was impressed with their honesty.

Enjoy the posts.

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I’ve tackled this subject in previous posts and encourage checking out the views of Natasha Nice, Ela Darling, and Mercy West. Just type in “consent” in the search box above and the articles will show up.

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Natasha Nice: Part Two, Setting Boundaries

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

In this segment of our interview, Natasha talks frankly about sex work and how it is perceived. All photos are from her social media. Watermarks identify photographers or studios.

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Returning in 2015

In the adult film business, the average career is short. Estimates vary, but most people agree anywhere from six to eighteen months is the norm. That doesn’t take into account the “one and done” girl who gives the business a shot or two then retreats home to pursue other interests.

For Natasha Nice, a real career is already on the ledger. Entering in 2006, she took a hiatus in 2013 to fill in the blanks on the college education she decided against right out of high school.

CUPMiaGUAAAPK7F“I chose to pause and focus on school for a bit and now I’m ready to move forward. I don’t know if anyone sees me as a ‘MILF’ yet, and I don’t feel like one, but I would like to shoot scenes where the woman is more in charge.”

What appeals to her are roles like “boss, teacher, Domme, and rich bitch in Beverly Hills.”

She explains her thinking.

“I am older now. It’s not just about whatever I can play to get work, it’s about exploring various aspects of my more mature personality.”

In late 2015, the sensuous brunette returned to adult with one film and signed with LA Direct Models where her model profile lists girl/girl, anal, and interracial among her offerings.

Make Sure to Take Care of Yourself

Before we pick up her thoughts on consent discussed earlier, I asked Natasha about how age has changed her career.

“I had already played the young girl for so long and I’d been shooting boy/girl (no anal) for about six years. I felt it was time to evolve [as a performer].”

That put anal on her agenda.

“I shot my first anal two days ago and it was really enjoyable,” she beams.

Natasha reminds any girl contemplating backdoor sex to loosen up and take it easy during the scene and prepare because inconveniences can arise.

“Had I not prepped myself beforehand and relaxed, I would have hurt myself. It is really enjoyable if you make sure to take care of yourself.”

Natasha’s advice gets us back to consent. I mentioned that some industry people and many in the public think of porn girls as trash. How does this play into consent?

CWoaN8CUkAAt2mONot Ashamed

“I think a lot of people look at us like people who don’t respect ourselves, who are dirty, dumb, and untrustworthy,” Natasha begins. She admits that may true for some of her fellow performers. After all, “what industry doesn’t have bad seeds?”

But she quickly counters that sex work doesn’t make a girl trash.

“We sex workers really have to work hard to prove ourselves because sex is still looked at as something that women should not have too much of and men should only have a certain kind of. So sex workers are stigmatized as not being respectable because we’re doing this wrong thing and we’re doing it publicly and for money.”

In fact, Natasha believes that “sex workers are brave and interesting.”

But that doesn’t moderate popular view.

“It’s not easy to challenge social conventions and be looked down on by people, sometimes even your family,” she states, before delving further to make her point.

“There is no correlation between character and sexual behavior. People think they know you because of your sexual practices.”

Natasha elaborates that “non-traditional sex lives, people who do things differently, are usually labeled mental defectives. At the very least, we are not considered respectable.”

Then she gets personal.

When she got into the business, Natasha didn’t consider that having sex on camera was wrong. Actually, she thought of it as “liberating.” She throws aside any conclusions others might reach about how she probably had an awful childhood that caused her to not love herself.

sample 1

“I’m not ashamed of my body or my sex drive” is how this French native describes her attitude.

As a clarification, Natasha draws the line between legal and illegal sex work because often people assume that porn girls are hookers.

“If you don’t separate it [legal sex work from the illegal] you’re insinuating that all porn stars, who have the right to be porn stars, are also willing to break the law. Just because you do porn doesn’t mean you’re willing to be a criminal, [it] doesn’t mean you’re untrustworthy.”

Dismantle the Belief System

My next question to Natasha concerned pornography and self-respect.

“It helps to eliminate the belief that porn stars don’t deserve respect or the ‘I’m a whore, nobody cares what I have to say syndrome,'” she responds.CWsmnyuVEAA_zB7

Conjecturing that for some girls, “it may be true that they don’t care what you have to say [about them], but they’re wrong.” A performer “actually matters and has something to say,” she insists.

“We’ve all been raised in a world where women are less than [equal] and openly sexual women and even less [so]. Everywhere you go, that belief inhabits people’s minds.”

Sex workers, in Natasha’s opinion, “have a duty to dismantle that belief system by being equal, not just by hating the fact that we’re currently seen as not equal. Does that make sense?”

To me? Absolutely, I authored a book about feminism in the adult industry and I couldn’t agree more!

“Yes” Should Never be Assumed

Returning to the main issue of our interview, Natasha Nice imparts a final thought that strikes at the heart of adult entertainment and any performer caught up in a James Deen/Stoya type controversy.

She believes “no” means “no,” as do other industry girls with whom I’ve talked. Being “off the porn set” does not change the rules. In other words, assumptions about a girl’s personal sex life cannot be made.

“The absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ If you don’t say ‘no’ that doesn’t mean you’ve said ‘yes,'” Natasha reminds us, then adds a dose of bitter truth. Without a ‘yes’ from any girl, porn or civilian, forcing sex on her is rape.

So, where does this leave us?

“Consent isn’t just about people respecting your boundaries,” Natasha believes, “it’s also about setting them.”

And setting boundaries conquers shame and creates an equality that rectifies the misrepresentation of what the sex worker image is all about.

Within the industry, it’s a shot across the bow for every performer, director, crew, agent, and studio who ignores what happens on the set or pushes girls into doing what they would rather avoid.

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Natasha Nice: Part One, We’ve All Been There

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

In my recent interview with performer Natasha Nice, she talked about consent in adult film. It has become an industry lightning rod as you will see in our discussion. All photos are courtesy of her social media. Watermarks identify the studios where appropriate.

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Sure, Why Not?

Natasha Nice came into porn at the earliest age possible. Now twenty-seven, she’s a treasure trove of porn wisdom sprinkled with practical common sense.

First, a little background to introduce our star.

CUnL5OcUsAQxLLsThe curvaceous sweetie is a native of France. When she was three, her family emigrated to America and settled in Los Angeles. In 2006, Natasha finished her education at a private academy in Hollywood and couldn’t resist the open-minded charm of the city’s entertainment industry.

“I had just graduated high school and was completely against the idea of going to college right away,” Natasha tells me. Instead, she opted for adventure and checked out nude modeling. As sometimes happens, porn eventually drifted into the picture. “I just kinda thought nothing of it like, ‘sure, why not.'”

A successful career followed, producing a body of work most girls in adult can only dream of. In December 2011, Natasha was selected Penthouse Pet of the Month, a supreme industry compliment.

In light of the James Deen/Stoya allegations, I want to take Natasha in a different direction from the usual porn girl interview. I asked about consent and what it means for the sex worker.

Natasha’s response is indicative of her intellect.

Tapping his Thigh

Monitoring consent “should be a big concern for everyone on set,” she begins.

“I know some performers who admit there have been times when things have gotten a bit too much, but most consider it part of the job.”

CVkIF88UwAAoBcYHas she had any personal incidences? You bet, and this 5’2″ dynamo pulls no punches.

“There have been a couple of times where the guy was going really deep and it kinda hurt, so I signaled him to slow it down by tapping his thigh.”

He paid little attention to her concerns, Natasha remembers, so she tried another approach. She bared her teeth before settling into oral sex, “just for insurance.”

Natasha hastens to add that incidents like this are not frequent. Most porn guys are pretty good to work with and she rarely has to take extreme measures to get them to back off.

All-Too-Common

Our conversation shifts a bit.

Porn is sex work and given that it carries a stigma, should girls be surprised that uncomfortable things happen during shoots?

To put another spin on the question, no one is coerced into performing sex acts on camera, regardless what some people want to believe. So, what is consent and what are its boundaries?CLGvrz1WsAEVExR

Natasha frames her answer by looking at an all-too-common mindset which she takes logically to its conclusion.

If a girl shows up to work thinking she is less a person because of her profession or feels shame “because society has told her she is a bad person for doing porn, she’s less likely to say ‘no’ or ‘stop.'”

“Pair that with a director whose job it is to get hardcore content and the girl doesn’t speak up,” Natasha states, “he’s going to go as far as he can.” It’s the nature of the business.

In other words, Natasha is challenging what many directors say they monitor closely, a girl’s limits.

But there’s more. A performer can turn against herself.

“She might go home after the scene and be like ‘I didn’t like that,’ and because she thought she couldn’t say anything, she’d be inclined to blame the director and male talent for pushing her boundaries when she didn’t state her boundaries [to begin with].”

To complicate the issue, we have society’s attitudes about porn performers as throwaway people.

“At the same time,” Natasha comments, “it’s no secret that men in porn and men everywhere think women, especially porn stars, should just shut up and take it.”

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No Position to Fight Back

Relating her point of view to Stoya’s story, Natasha understands how the actress, whom she has never met, may have felt.

“If what I’ve read is true and Stoya was in no physical position to fight back and James took advantage of that, then we should all be on the lookout” for guys who might abuse girls on camera.

Natasha uses the business world as a comparison. Bosses “care about” their employees because they benefit the company. Putting herself in the place of the studio owner, the French lass says she “would want Stoya to be okay to continue shooting good scenes for me and feel like she can let loose as much as she wants to on my set without being sexually harassed.”

“On the other hand,” Natasha continues, “if Stoya chose not to stop the scene because she was afraid of people thinking less of her, that’s on her and we’ve all been there. That’s why we really have to emphasize our boundaries before the scene starts, even though it’s uncool, we’ll live.”

If the shoot is BDSM oriented, another question comes up. Natasha has filmed for Kink.com where the crew is alerted to safety concerns that may arise during shoots. There “are others on set” who should have stepped in when things got rough, she says. If someone “heard Stoya use her safeword . . . why didn’t they say anything?”

Next we’ll ask Natasha about the sex worker label and how it fits into the adult profession today.

Natasha with Charley Chase

Natasha with fellow performer Charley Chase

*         *         *

Take a look at Natasha’s website natashanice.com when you have a chance. She’s on twitter @benicenatasha.

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Whatever Name I Choose: A Review of “Coming Out Like a Porn Star”

by Rich Moreland, November 2015

Snugly bundled against the chill of a cloudy April day, I was leaving Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel when I stepped aside for a porn performer I recognized but had never met. I held the door and offered a brief greeting.

A few hours later an impromptu dinner significantly influenced the direction of my research at the time. My dining companions that evening were in town for the same reason that brought me to Canada, the Feminist Porn Awards.

Among those at our table was the performer I passed earlier that day, Jiz Lee. A handful of interviews with Jiz followed over the next couple of years and we developed a modest friendship.

Jiz became a central figure in my manuscript on feminism in adult film and now Jiz has a book out. It’s sensational, smartly edited, and I highly recommend it.

*          *          *

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Author Jiz Lee has redefined “page turner” with Coming Out Like a Porn Star. The collection of personal essays are told with varied emotion–some hint of anger, others steeped in frustration and dark humor. Most are upfront with grinding doubt and the bravery required to deal with what everyone associated with the sex industry ultimately faces.

“Does your family know what you do?”

Jiz Lee Photo courtesy of GlennFrancis/PacificProDigital

Jiz Lee
Photo courtesy of GlennFrancis/PacificProDigital

That question, wrapped around issues such as stigmatization, feminism, gender preferences, and fetish proclivities, jumps from the book as the reader begins the journey.

Lee contributes the first essay and from there acts as editor, sorting and arranging the contributors who willing offer what they do and why. Sexuality’s personal definition for each writer is woven throughout the pages.

Coming Out Like Porn Star is certainly a seductive title, but the book is not an expose as we think of it. Rather, it is an intimate inside look at the people whose choices are in their own words. They are literary volunteers with a sense of accomplishment that refuses to succumb to shame.

What’s in a Name

At its most fundamental level, Coming Out Like a Porn Star is a lesson in social behavior and prejudice. Frustration, resentment, and shame, often resulting from religious upbringing and family disapproval, are crushing negatives. But they are ameliorated by the power of community and sex worker activism in which pride, joy, and a sense of strength are celebrated.

Here’s a quick look that is a mere sampling of well over fifty short entries.

Casey Calvert Photo Courtesy of David Hilton Photography

Casey Calvert
Photo Courtesy of David Hilton Photography

Casey Calvert talks about how she feels pretty in porn. “I have amazing new friends and strangers on the internet think I’m beautiful,” the fetish star writes. In a vibrant story of self-esteem, Casey loves a life without secrets, she says.

In their respective essays, “queer identified trans woman” Drew Deveaux and Connor Habib question what’s in a name? While Deveaux draws on a larger issue, noting that our culture is “reflected and reshaped” via the “medium” of porn, Habib asserts that having “sex publically” permits sex workers to “talk about integrating private and public aspects of life”

Adult company owner Courtney Trouble’s moving account of conversations with her father is an intimate expression of father-daughter love that contrasts markedly with bondage star Denali Winter, who recalls that the adult industry community saved her when family difficulties seemed insurmountable.

Both Denali and author Dale Cooper touch on the shame foisted on sexuality by religion.

The reader can choose preferred essays or take on the book cover to cover. Each writing is unique though limited, as Jiz Lee admits, to personalities of recent generations. The exceptions are legendary icons such as Nina Hartley, Annie Sprinkle, and the late Candida Royalle.

That is my Real Name

Regardless of how the book is tackled, two essays are a must read. Lorelei Lee’s finely crafted statement on “Naming” is balanced effectively with Stoya’s humor in “Noooooooodie Girl.”

Lorelei Lee Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia

Lorelei Lee
Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia

In fact, Lorelei Lee’s essay is the book’s linchpin. She is brilliant when speaking of her empowerment. “Naming a thing makes it real,” she says, then remarks with pride that “slut, whore, sister, freak, artist, wife—all of it is truly, wholly me.”

Her bottom line? “Whatever name I choose, that is my real name.”

My only criticism of Coming Out Like a Porn Star is really a historical comment. Feminism in porn today is heavily tilted toward the San Francisco queer porn community, though smart and resouceful women in Southern California are challenging adult film’s traditional patriarchy. Feminists, like the previously mentioned Nina Hartley and Casey Calvert, are making their voices heard. Others on Porn Valley’s expanding list–Jackie St. James, Tasha Reign, Jessica Drake, Dana Vespoli, Mason, Ela Darling, and the now retired Bobbi Starr, to name a few–have their own empowered statements.

Jiz Lee’s extraordinary work is worth six stars out of five for anyone interested in the adult film industry.

The book is available at Amazon.

 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: ThreeL Media (October 20, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0990557162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0990557166

 

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