Opinion

Porn Stars are People First

Written by Taylor Saracen

I’ve been working in the adult entertainment industry for approximately five months, and in that short period, I’ve learned more about boundary issues, detrimental decision-making, and pervasive obliviousness than I did after earning my Bachelors of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology. Perhaps you think the behavior I’m referencing is that of the models, people who choose to have sex on camera and have a career based on displaying the intimate parts of their bodies—it’s not. My coworkers are dynamic and inspiring human beings who have issues like the rest of us but do their best to achieve success in their lives. They’re smart and business savvy, driven and ambitious. They have so much to say, but too few people are listening.

It isn’t lost on me that the models I work with are gorgeous and teeming with sex appeal and that that level of charisma can be distracting. But the good thing about being human is most of us possess the ability to temper our impulses and act in a way that generally meets society’s expectations. I understand that cultural variances dictate differences in these matters, but it is a globally accepted standard that touching someone when they did not ask to be touched and making crude comments to strangers is not appropriate. Too often, adult entertainers are not afforded this level of reverence.

I’m not obtuse. I understand that work that is sexually explicit in nature may make the separation between the person and his career confusing for viewers. The on-screen intimacy breeds familiarity. Viewers need to understand that the performer is not familiar with you. Any ownership or closeness one feels to a model they haven’t met ceases to exist when the browser is closed or the television is shut off. The most they owe the viewer is a good show and possibly an orgasm, the least the viewer owes the model is respect.

I’m not a prude. Dirty talk doesn’t shock me because I write it for a living. What does shock me is when people have the gall to say those things to an absolute stranger’s face after simply shaking their hand. That instead of complimenting their body of work, they brazenly comment on their body. There’s a big difference between “You’re so hot; I’m a huge fan of your scenes” and “fuck, your dick is perfect; I love watching you go balls deep in some twink’s hole.”

I spent six weekends touring the country with Blake Mitchell, promoting our novel His Own Way Out. For the most part, he was treated with respect, and the purpose of his appearances were understood. There were moments, however, when my friend was treated like a slab of meat; when people made the decision not to listen to the important words he spoke and opted to speak nasty ones of their own. Blake was largely unfazed, used to that type of behavior, and I was angry because it shouldn’t be such a common occurrence for him. I’m not saying people who encounter Blake or other adult entertainers should be prim and proper; I’m just suggesting that if someone feels compelled to flirt, they do so in the same way they would if they met a stranger in the grocery store.

The fact that people find it acceptable to grope or touch someone without their permission is flooring. Being a porn star is not implicit consent for unwanted touches. They get paid to be touched in scenes and have the autonomy to make decisions based on their levels of comfort. The random predator at Pride who places his hand on a young man’s penis is not a part of that equation. His actions are unlawful and creepy. Porn stars are not sex toys. They are blood and guts humans with boyfriends or husbands, mothers and brothers. They are not yours.

The lack of respect seeps into casual portions of the models’ lives as well. While many models post explicit content on their social media and have fun playing with fans in response, context is everything. If the post is clearly not sexual, why should the responses be? It’s strange to sexualize the most mundane statements, and it’s even more awkward to bring the models’ personal lives into their profession. Fans crave camaraderie with their favorites and love to learn as much as they can about them. Porn stars shouldn’t be relegated to strictly explicit posts, especially if they feel comfortable sharing more about lives with the people who support them. That being said, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or family members aren’t open season. Many times their affiliation with their loved one is their only connection to the adult entertainment industry. Some people see those in porn as porn stars before people, but their people see them as the person they love. Cameron Parks, who is in a public relationship that he’s proudly shared with fans, told me that the constant questions his boyfriend fields regarding a possible future in porn are exhausting. “If I were a singer, nobody would automatically assume my boyfriend was a singer, too. They wouldn’t ask him all the time when he’s going to start his own music career. Every aspect of my life doesn’t center around porn. It’s my job. That’s it.”

A job. Porn is a job. Porn stars are people who do a job, and though it may be intimate work, it’s still work. Their job is to film sex, not to allow themselves to be mistreated by people who can’t differentiate between their public persona and the private person. All the guys I know are extremely grateful for their fans and love interacting with them as much as possible. There’s no denying their careers would suffer if it weren’t for the fervent fan-base who love to support them. And in all honesty, over the past several months, I’ve noticed that a lot of the offenders aren’t fans. Instead, they’re people who have somehow worked their way into the models’ lives to gain some sort of favor. I’m not sure what their end goal is, but they are rarely discreet in their hunger, and often, they end up starved of the attention they crave. The models have grown accustomed to protecting themselves, I just wish they didn’t have to.

 

About the author

Taylor Saracen

6 Comments

  • Very well said, Taylor!!! I wouldn’t want some stranger coming up to me and touching me, so why in the world would someone think it’s ok to do it to them??? GRRR.. People can be so stupid sometimes. They are human just like everyone else. Treat people like you would want to be treated. It’s as simple as that. I REALLY can’t wait to meet you and Blake in Lexington this weekend. See you soon!

  • Bravo Taylor! Thanks for a heartfelt, well-written piece. What you have said convinces me more and more that the term ‘models’ is outdated. ‘Pornstar’ is fine, However, these men are performers giving a performance. They deserve more respect and in my opinion have earned the title of actor or porn actor. The reason that so many of them become our fantasies is because they do their job so well. Maybe a new name will lend itself to a new perspective.

  • You have chosen to be an advocate of the boys. Because some men have acted in an unappropriate way. That´s your right. But the text also has some sentences, which show the unknowing woman view on gay porn. The boys do not become our fantasies because they do a job so well, but because we do not think about it being a job. Why on earth should we buy a wishlist-item for doing a paid job? It´s not a song, we listen to in a concert or a singers video. There we are fans because of quality (we define). Porn-fans do not love the boys because of a certain “quality” of work. Sometimes newcomers are sweetest without any knowledge about how to act and we get their fans. The more they get professional workers, the more the fun fades away, with only a few exceptions. Porn is illusion sold outside the frame of job-discussion and business and this illusion is destroyed like a soap bubble by sentences like “They are not yours” or “porn is a job”. Crying out the truth about illusions is not helpful for fan admiration. A fan who thinks clearly about the reality that he can never get that boy, will almost never buy a wish-list item or spend money for a college, when the boy asks for at twitter. If that were not true, why should rich US men not have tried many times to arrange meetings with boys. The dream of getting in real contact like boyfriends or sexual partners is a fun factor, which ends by looking at the words “It´s my job”. That sounds like “I have got no feelings for you, dont forget that” or “I would never do that, if I would not get money for it”. Truth, but who ever would watch a scene, when a boy declares that at the beginning of the scene? Porn is like being an escort without personal contact. You never invite an escort twice, if it felt like a job. At last: I do not see, why you sell an illusion like “All the guys I know are extremely grateful for their fans and love interacting with them as much as possible.”, while you are heavily trying to make sure everybody accepts porn as a job work. Fan collecting is marketing and public relations, even when Cameron Parks has his friend shown around like a new Helix boy. You maybe do not know, that Helix has had an Evan Parker, who brought his boyfriend Tyler Hill to Helix, or Casey Tanner as boyfriend of Blake Mitchell or Max Carter even marrying his boyfriend in the way of a “Helix-Marriage”. Even if I do not know how much of this was marketing fake, why does Cameron wonder about asking his boyfriend, if he gets a Helix model. Looking at Helix history this would be the normal way. Comparing the questions with the question to a singer shows he does not know his company and the special frame of his work. “The love to interact with them” is quite a funny sentence: they like their support, because everybody likes support, especially when it´s good for the job and you must not pay for having fans like many companies, as gay men are very easy supporters.

  • Elmar- You made good points. Fantasies sell porn and ruining the fantasy is bad for business. This article doesn’t seem to be about that though. It is about not disrespecting the models when you meet them in person or treating them strictly like sex toys on their social media. It’s remembering that though we have made intimate relationships with them, they don’t know us intimately so acting like they do in too familiar a way is off-putting. Think of the actors in Fifty Shades of Grey. Everyone knows they did a job and maybe they aren’t into S&M stuff as people, but it doesn’t stop it from being hot.

    There have been many “Helix” couples, but that doesn’t mean that Helix models relationships are all going to lead into both being in porn. The public relations seem to be a byproduct of real lives. We shouldn’t forget that.

  • Taylor, while your points are all extremely salient, you’re super condescending and you exhibit the same problem every straight white liberal woman has when entering queer spaces. You don’t get to tell gay men how we can live our queerness. You’re no better than the women who throw their bachelorette parties at a gay bar for “the experience,” or the girls who go to pride to show how great allies they are. You may have stumbled your way into gay porn, but no one gives you the right to pontificate to us. And the Helix boys aren’t your little poodles that you can surround yourself with to make yourself feel younger and more “woke”, if this is truly a job like you say–your interactions with them would get you fired in any other “job.”

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