A THOUGHT EXPLORATION INTO THE WORLD OF PORNOGRAPHY PART 2
What it’s like to be a man in the adult entertainment industry.
“May I quote myself to Warren (the producer) as we walked on set: ‘Oh My God, are you kidding me, a Granny Gang Bang, you’re kiddin’ me right.’ He replied, ‘If you can just get through this, you’ll get your check and we won’t answer these calls anymore. Don’t think you have to be a star, just get in the money shot.” How I ever got through that is beyond me.”
In a world where men are commended on their sexual experiences, and concepts of ‘masculinity’ are often associated with how many sexual partners a man has had, it is rare that we stop to consider how images of ‘masculinity are in fact carefully-crafted persona’s hiding terribly dark secrets of emotional pain and dysfunction.
Pornography films are designed to portray men as sexually powerful, capable of having sex for hours on end, and making any woman (or man) convulse with ultimate pleasure.
The truth, of course, is far less glamorous.
Many of us are so quick to speak out about the abuse suffered by women in pornography that we fail to consider what it is like for the men. However, just like women, many of the men within the pornography industry are simply people who are struggling with issues of self-worth and the consequences of a dysfunctional childhood.
As my previous post on Jenna Jameson discussed, the pornography industry is a multi-billion dollar business which abuses its ‘performers’ constantly, plying them with drugs and alcohol in order to ‘help’ them endure the physical and mental humiliation of what is marketed to us as sexy, glamorous and consenting.
Some of the major concerns that men face within society include those surrounding self-image and maintaining the ‘bravado’ of masculinity; issues which are only multiplied within an industry built on complete lies.
Men enter the porn industry for many different reasons, however in each of the stories I have read from male ex-sex workers, there has been a common theme; the men admitting to the devastating effect porn has had on their lives, and those they have worked with.
Ex Producer Donny Pauling reiterated this notion, admitting in a Youtube video that he initially turned to porn for the opportunity to make a lot of money fast, however ultimately it lead to a lot of hurt.
“Over time you could see them change (the women)…the life kinda getting sucked out of their eyes. You can’t escape the fact that lives are being changed for the worst.”
For other men, it is the longing for attention and ‘fame’ that leads them into a life of pornography, unaware of the pitfalls of working within an industry that cares so little for its performers and their well-being.
In an interview with Shelley Lubben, Ex male porn star VJ Soporno talked about the pressure within the industry on men; explaining how extremely detrimental it can be to their self-esteem.
“The pressure to look good is the obvious one. The pressure to not piss off the girls is huge. If a girl gets mad you’re not going to be getting much work”.
Similarly, he also has spoken out about the pressures men face as performers; such as having to gain an erection on cue, and maintain one for hours on end while looking like they are enjoying the moment.
“The pressure of finishing when told to…It’s detrimental to a guy’s self-esteem or notions of ‘being a man’ when we fail at any of the above.”
When exploring the insecurities of self image and self worth, is easy to see how they are only multiplied within this environment; one which fosters control, manipulation and disregard for a person’s sense of well-being, particularly if those issues are deeply rooted from childhood.
Soporno, a well-known musician who has written for movies and attended Grammy award events, shared that that despite all of his ‘success’ as a musician he constantly struggled with issues of self-worth and fame.
This longing for attention, which started as a young child, ultimately lead him into the pornography industry; which he initially saw as an easy and harmless solution for gaining affirmation.
“I could release a new music single and monitor a few hits, BUT if I took my clothes off on a webcam I’d get 7000 hits in hours- that’s attention!”
Soporno soon realised that just like his music career, any success he found in the pornography industry still failed to fill the underlying void in his life. Sadly, the constant attacks he suffered on his self-esteem and personal values lead him to fall further and further into depression, and subsequently drug abuse.
“No matter what a guy says…sex with hot girls or not, each act that compromised your instinct to want good character…drives your self-esteem further into the ground.”
Journalist Susannah Breslin also agrees that men are nothing more than puppets in the industry, writing:
“So-called woodsmen are paid significantly less than their female counterparts…treated like props on the movie sets where they perform near Herculean sex acts of which most men can only dream.
“They may score bragging rights as professional cocksmen, but the reality is these are the working stiffs of a business that has virtually no interest in the men it employs and all the interest in the world in the women with whom its movies are forever preoccupied.
The problem with pornography is that it is a dangerous and abusive cycle of entrapment which enslaves your mind, strips you of your self-worth, and leaves you feeling so dirty and shameful that the idea of a respected, healthy and happy lifestyle doesn’t seem worth pursuing, let alone one that is achievable.
Despite receiving several adult entertainment award nominations, Soporno continued to spiral downwards, eventually leaving the industry and securing a respectable job. Sadly he threw this away shortly afterward, running back to the adult industry in his never-ending search for the attention and ‘success’ which he so craved.
“Did I think that it would be different this time? All the ‘friends’ I had made in the industry either committed suicide or were drowning themselves in drugs and alcohol.
“Every day we ran for our lives from crack heads, pimps and gang members…I was addicted…”
It is undeniable that the mental and spiritual bondage which pornography holds over people, despite all of its negative consequences, is ferociously strong.
Another ex male porn star, Ryan Lee Millay (aka Trent Roe) has also shared his experiences within the porn industry and spoken out about the lies that people believe.
Millay, who initially saw the industry as an easy way of ‘getting paid to get laid’, soon discovered that it was in fact a world filled with drugs, sexual disease, violence and people with no disregard for each other’s safety.
“The average payment was $100 – $150 a scene. All that for the possibility of contracting a deadly disease (because condoms are banned and testing was only done every 30 days).
“Nobody cared (about each other). The men were actually treated better…because of the male bonding that goes on…I watched a girl get slapped by her boyfriend hard enough to break her jaw.”
“It’s modern day slavery”, says Lubben.
She also believes that Porn is the biggest mental health issue in America.
Whether you believe this or not, it is impossible to ignore the number of suicides, drug addictions, and cases of depression that have been linked to the porn industry.
Furthermore, the adult industry turns men and women against each other, completely destroying any chance of a normal relationship with a partner.
Former male star Wayne ‘Wankus’ sums it up perfectly with the question:
“How can anyone ever expect to have any properly functioning romantic relationship with someone that is having sex with other men and women for a living?
“Spiritual or not, sharing the most intimate parts of the love of your life with other people may satisfy some freaky malfunction in your flesh….but it’s a slow suicide on your soul.”
As Wayne explained, many male and female porn stars have found it almost impossible to have intimate, loving and trusting relationships with a partner, even after getting out of the business. Millay too, knows all too well how difficult this can be, sharing with Lubben just how emotionally devastating it has been to have his past continually haunt him.
“In the past 10 years I have been honest with the women I have dated and told them that I was in porn. They always held my past against me…I hated that. I could see it in their eyes. I just want to be loved and have a normal relationship. After all, I never had a chance to have one because I got into porn so early in my life.”
How heartbreaking for these men and women who finally build up the confidence to leave the industry, only to find that when they get out, nobody wants to know them.
Not only does pornography destroy the lives of its performers whilst they are in the industry, but it continues to do so for years after they leave. Listening to the stories of ex-sex workers, many have admitted that it is very difficult to build a life after porn. Some of the reasons why this transition is so difficult, is due to a lack of education or other career experience, strong friendship networks, or family support. How do you explain a 10 year gap on your CV to a potential boss?
A huge lie that we are led to believe in porn is that the male performers must enjoy the scenes they are in. How hard could it be to have sex with people for money? people ask.
The reality, is that it is far from easy. Just as female porn performers are often humiliated, so too are the male performers; who are constantly subjected to sexual experiences and brutality that many of us would not even dream about.
When speaking with Lubben, Millay shares some of his most humiliating moments in porn, which included him being asked to continue having sex with a woman who (while being gang banged by several men at once) had begun fainting and fell limp.
“The director wanted the money shot…Do it or don’t get paid [he said]. That’s the mentality of the porn industry’.
Millay was also asked to partake in a ‘Granny Gang Bang’, and despite expressing his disgust, was pressured by the director to ‘just get the shot’.
“May I quote myself to Warren (the producer) as we walked on set: ‘Oh My God, are you kidding me, a Granny Gang Bang, you’re kiddin’ me right [SIC].’ He replied, ‘If you can just get through this, you’ll get your check and we won’t answer these calls anymore. Don’t think you have to be a star, just get in the money shot.” How I ever got through that is beyond me.”
Another lie we are fed is that the actors and actresses are well paid and work in clean, safe environments; however if you do the research for yourself you will see time and time again, accounts from porn stars that show you exactly how unsafe and unsanitary it actually is.
“When I was in the industry, the fear of bodily fluids (semen, blood, urine, feces, saliva) was absolutely disregarded…These fluids were on the floor, on the furniture and even on the rags and towels that were thrown to us to use to clean ourselves up during and after a scene…We weren’t allowed to use condoms…The other ways that these fluids are spread around on the set are from toys… They are thrown into boxes and given a once over with a rag containing rubbing alcohol and not thoroughly sanitized and or sterilized.”
Hundreds of men and women have taken their own lives through drug and alcohol abuse in an attempt to escape the pain of what they are put through, or have died of sexually transmitted diseases, abuse and even murder. One young woman, Taylor Summers, was horrifically murdered on-set by a male co-star who went too far during a bondage scene.
This is the reality of violence in the pornography industry, and these deaths are not a rare occurance.
An online YouTube video created by Lubben, which honours the lives of those who have died in the industry, lists at least 19 male porn stars who have died through aids, suicide, or alcohol/drug addiction. This does not even begin to take into account the many who are living with industry related diseases and cancers.
On her website ‘Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn“, Lubben lists that 41 people (that were made known) out of 1500 performers in California, died from AIDS, suicide, homicide and drug related deaths between 2007 and 2011. A further 28 more deaths were listed due to medical causes which included disease, heart failure and cancer.
I have spent hours researching the stories of former industry members and I can tell you that ALL of them who have survived to tell their story, have passionately confirmed that sex workers are nothing more than puppets of manipulation and abuse on camera.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I support freedom or enslavement?
Do I believe in the right for safe sexual experiences – or do I agree with environments where rape is enforced and tolerated?
Do I support mental health or the encouragement of drug and alcohol addictions?
Do I support safe workplace environments and sexual education – or companies that deliberately put men and women at risk of sexual disease?
Do I support equality or inhumanity?
Here is the cold hard truth.
Porn enslaves peoples minds, takes away their rights, spreads disease, encourages drug addiction and leaves a mess of broken people and broken homes.
Incest, bestiality, gang rapes involving 75 men against ONE woman… these are all real porn scenes, and whether you watch them or not, this is where the industry is heading.
Nobody wants to be raped, abused daily, manipulated, told they are worth nothing more than to be a sex slave; and if the very least we can do is to use our voice, our words, our minds, to help spread awareness and understanding then this is the very least we should do.
I stand for women and men. I refuse to take pleasure in someone else’s pain.
Written by Jas Swilks, 2012