Women Under Me

Tom Hymes
This is a brief reminiscence on the women I have worked with (or for) over my seven years in adult. I admit up front that it was only when I started thinking about writing this piece that I even realized how many women it was. I had taken that fact for granted. As I think back on everything that has happened to me in adult, however, I also realize that women have been influential in helping me achieve just about everything I have done or accomplished, just like in real life. In the Aaron Sorkin drama of my industry experiences, the atmosphere is noticeably thick with female characters, with the major roles going to the "behind the scenes" players, managers, writers, editors, owners and support staff, who make it all happen.

First, there is Rebecca, a sumptuous actress, who first offered me the opportunity to review the lowest rung of porn videos for AVN, the dregs of the dregs, and to get paid a pittance for doing it! The generosity of that offer will always be appreciated, as will the fact that the job, short lived as it was, led directly through AVN Editor Bryn Pryor to the waiting arms of Grace Samsa, editor of fledgling AVN Online. Ah, those were the days, when we worked like little blind mice in a separate building far away from the drama, left alone to make the first faltering issues of our little print thingie until it blossomed into a cherished trade magazine.

Grace was eccentric, smart and sarcastic, and worked like a demon through the day and night. In the end, her reign was significant for having turned nothing into something, albeit with the help of Van Cooney, Ken, Sharon Reed, the assorted little people and me. I liked her very much and liked working under her, and I came to miss those early days very much. Sharon was the only other staff writer then, and we would go for long walks through dingy Van Nuys streets near the courthouse. She was a good friend but she didn't last long. She was gone long before we moved in with the grownups in Chatsworth, Calif.

My other boss in the biz was Michelle Freridge at the Free Speech Coalition, where I went to work after six years at AVN Online. I only went to work at the FSC because of Michelle. She asked me to come in, offered me a job at a significantly lower salary than I had been making, and then proceeded to articulately and passionately lay out a vision for the future of the FSC that made contemplation of any other job all but impossible. Neither of our tenures at the FSC lasted as long as we expected, but for me at least, the accomplishments during that time were significant, and perhaps sole credit is due to Michelle. Turning such an association in the right direction might be akin to turning an aircraft carrier whose rudder has broken. An impossible task, and yet she did it.

But these are just a few of the remarkable women who continue to make the adult industry a vibrant place in which to work.

Don't Generalize
In the end, it is just too difficult to generalize about any of the people who inhabit this world or that other world alongside the office workplace — the set. Like the product itself, you experience a little bit of everything in this business, and meet every type.

Indeed, the vast display of diversity in adult is enough to make the point, that each individual is as indelible as the next. For an industry so fond of producing bland archetypes, is this not a pleasant irony? I could begin a list of women we know well and work with who fill our lives in the online community and beyond, but it would be my list and everyone would find fault with it. But is that not exactly the point, the extent to which this presumably male-dominated bastion has been infiltrated, and made the men better for it?

The further question of course is whether the product has been made better for it, but that is a far weighty subject than I am capable of conquering. All I know is that the names of a hundred women are running through my mind, and I want to write each down, to prove the worth of what I am saying, but I know that I will have left a hundred out, and a hundred after that.