Inside the Porn Industry

Robin looked a few weeks ago at the reality of people trafficked into the porn industry to ‘perform’. Today, Servaas looks at the reality of the industry faced by those who are not trafficked. Are they really there by choice?

The freedom to choose. Many hold this human virtue as their great argument against not condemning a perceived evil, or not getting involved in the abolishment of some form of injustice. They put their faith in that great, yet-to-be-witnessed ability of man to be left to the mercy of his own understanding while living peacefully with others, balanced with just the right amount of interference by the law. All this to ensure we have as much individual freedom as possible before we start hurting one another too severely. I struggle to pinpoint that point of balance myself and doubt any of us truly and accurately will in our current state. What I do know is that people are busy hurting others too severely and we ought not go around looking for reasons to not interfere.

But what is choice really? Does it necessarily mean that once a choice has been made the outcome is the expected one? What if all available options from which one had to choose held a grim future? What if the one who made the choice was uninformed and not aware of all possible dangers awaiting them? Should they simply be left to their fate?

One such example is the porn industry and how men and women come to find themselves as actors within that industry. Statistics on how exactly people became ‘adult movie stars’ might vary depending on how one defines terms such as choiceexploitationhuman trafficking,slaveryprostitution and manipulation to name but a few. As far as my understanding goes it is the minority of porn actors who actually had multiple, decent paying career choices, which they were passionate about pursuing, to choose from. Typically, those who did choose to enter made that decision from a desperate position – desperate for money, affirmation or even for safety from a manipulative person exploiting their vulnerability.

I can however not deny that there are also those – however few they may be, I’m not sure – who make a relatively informed choice from a relatively stable state of being. I heard one specific girl’s story who got involved from such a place but interestingly enough, she watched porn regularly as a teenager and began to incorporate S&M into her own sex life before finally deciding to enter the industry herself at the age of eighteen. She has become one of the more famous names of the porn industry in recent years – a true porn star.

My concern in writing this article however is not whether proper choice was given to these people but what life as an industry insider looks like, once they have entered.

Former director and producer, Donnie Pauling, mentions in an interview how he saw many girls enter the industry ‘with stars in their eyes’, excited to become part of an environment of which society tells them ‘it’s a cool job’. They have here an opportunity to make more than double the amount of money they could at a Starbucks or some waitering job for instance, he says – it is at that point a no-brainer for them. Not all of these girls necessarily start working as film actors but will enter as posers for online images, thus choosing to play it ‘safe’ and keep it ‘innocent’. A former actress, in a separate television interview, however tells of how girls are drawn to the ‘next level’ over time, saying that people around you (directors, other actors, agents/pimps, etc.) will not force you but ‘encourage’ you to continue on this road of destruction. Shelley Lubben, anti-porn activist and former star, also mentions how women are drawn into the industry to perform sex acts they didn’t initially agree to; an already damaged generation of young people are often lured in through affirmation they got nowhere else.

‘Nadia Styles’ tells of how she began prostituting herself for money in her late teens before she “finally got a ‘regular’ job” as a receptionist at an adult film company. She gradually got more involved to the point where she helped with the editing of shoots and from watching the scenes she thought: “Wow! I can do that. I wanna be famous like those girls” and from there it took off she says: lots of shoots, being flown to exciting destinations and enjoying new experiences. She tells of how “it was fun for a minute” but then it all begins to change: she fell pregnant and aborted the baby, constantly contracted STDs, swiftly losing her sense of self-worth.

Pauling also mentions further on in his interview of how he noticed those bright eyes become dull over time, saying that’s the reality of porn: ‘it numbs you’. He describes how girls who are all ‘up for it’ in the shoots ‘lie curled up sucking their thumbs’ like little children in between shoots as they struggle to cope with what they have just engaged in and are about to engage in again in a few minutes’ time.

Other former actors share about life inside the industry: “STDs are common in the industry, very low health standards are adhered to and actors carry their own medical costs”; “Do we enjoy sex on set? No, we do it for the customer. And in the process we ruin the customer, their idea of women, and their relationships”; “I realised I’m only an object to my so-called fans and it hit me after visiting fan forums and read how they discussed me and my body”.

But now, if it truly is so awful in the industry, why not just walk out? Why not use your freedom to choose a new career this time, a new life? Besides the obvious danger of becoming the enemy of people making money off your body of course.

One women mentions that ‘porn has become her boyfriend‘ and that she stayed because she has ‘given in to it’. Styles again says that one begins to say ‘yes’ to every thing because ‘you become so used to it’ and thus remain in the destructive cycle you’re in. Dr. Drew Pinksy, an addiction medicine specialist appearing on one of the above mentioned television interviews, explains that these women become addicts to their current situation just like people using chemical drugs would, they ‘like’ to part-take in destructive behaviour even though they realise it’s destroying them. Ironically, these actors very often become actual drug addicts and alcoholics in order to cope with their depressed state. And as a woman once wrote to me in an email, the outside world is not too eager to employ someone who has been involved in these industries.

I work as a financial assistant in a South African wine company and on a technical level one could argue I was forced into this position by my own financial situation and possibly the lack of more suitable and preferable available alternatives. You don’t care too much about my struggle to cope with the classic eight to five office job though do you? But what if I told you my job is detrimental to my health, I have insufficient medical and retirement benefits and the cost of leaving to a different job is simply too high or much of a risk for my own safety? That my superiors, on whom I depend, are abusing me through manipulation tactics? And if I told you I made a bad choice and would rather prefer something different but cannot really think of anywhere else to go, would you, knowing all that, purchase wine sold by my company? Enjoying a good Cape Shiraz with your roast, celebrating and to freedom of choice you toast!?

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6 responses to “Inside the Porn Industry

  1. I was interested to read you write that people feel they “like” to engage in destructive behaviour. I found this in people who couldn’t stop using cocaine: because the chemicals the cocaine caused to be released in their brains, they were under the impression that they were enjoying their lifestyle, even though they manifestly weren’t. It often took a real slap in the face to cause them to take stock, and if help wasn’t available during the period they were taking stock the opportunity was often lost. Is there any opportunistic help – eg a walk-in or phone service – for people who are in the porn industry and who find themselves taking stock after a bad experience?

  2. Hey Gerry, I assume there are but will actually look into that for a next article I’m writing. I know there are organisations committed to get people out so therefore I guess they’ll do their best to ahve such services available and inform those inside the industry about it. I hope i’ll be able to provide more specifics next time around.

    Regards, Servaas Hofmeyr

  3. Thanks for this article. I especially like how you point out how so called “fans” treat their stars and that once in the industry women might find it hard finding somewhere to go. Looking forward to the next part!

  4. A reply I found on the Pink cross Foundation website to the question ‘Do any of the porn stars enjoy their job?’:
    “When I was in the industry I lied to everyone, I was always telling everyone and anyone who interviewed me that I loved doing what I did, how else was I supposed to keep the money coming in?? If these men and women were to step out in honesty and say I hate this line of work, I’m abused on a daily basis, I’ve become addicted to drugs and or alcohol, I’ve contracted STD’s etc.. do you think he or she would be able to continue working and supporting themselves this way? Not at all!!

    Porn is a lie!! There is no if’s or maybe’s about it. Anyone who tells you that this is the life they planned on living is not only lying to you, but to themselves. Selling yourself for money is not a desirable occupation, what people see is the well edited thirty minute or hour final result of a couple of hours of hell for these men and women.

    I’m glad you found the truth, I hope you continue to seek after it.”

  5. Pingback: Life After Porn « gemmaruthwilson{dot}com·

  6. Pingback: How to Enter the Porn Industry | gemmaruthwilson{dot}com·

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