opinion

In Porn, Nobody Gets Out Alive

I have always been proud to work in the adult industry, and I have prided myself on being one of the few photographers in the business who isn't aspiring to break out of porn into mainstream in order to validate my position as an "artist."

But with my success in the realm of adult entertainment, I've also recently been hired for some straightforward clothing catalog jobs, which I gladly took as I was able to exercise some creative control and was paid fairly well. In fact, I had to cut my stay at the annual AEE convention in Las Vegas short in order to shoot for one of my new mainstream clients.

The show was the usual — crowded, sweaty and exhausting. Of course, by the end of the show, the big news that had everyone's panties in a bunch was Jenna Jameson's speech at the AVN Awards show. Though I didn't personally attend, I heard about it from several people afterwards and watched it myself on YouTube later that week.

Jameson was there to present an award for Crossover Star of the Year, which had recently been named after her, as she is the biggest crossover success story the porn industry has ever had. After a few minutes of rambling on about her personal life and confronting the rumors about her drastic weight loss (without actually providing any kind of answer), she brought up the subject of her supposed retirement from the adult industry. Though she claimed she was not fully retiring from running her Club Jenna empire, she did say that "I will never, ever spread my legs for this industry again. Ever."

This bold statement was met with mostly boos from industry people in front — though it was mixed in with some faint cheering from fans in the back who would have probably applauded anything she said. Jameson could have claimed she was planning on going home to kill a litter of puppies and still would've gotten a standing ovation from her fan club.

The industry was in an uproar after her speech. Many people were offended, considering it a slap in the face to those who had "created" Jameson and helped raise her to the status she enjoys now. The porn industry is a small collective — the "black sheep" of the entertainment industry — and we stick together as the outsiders. We are easily offended when our reigning queen — a woman who some feel justifies our existence and proves that we can move beyond our ostracized position as the sleazy side of the entertainment industry — comes out and suggests that she has moved onto bigger and better things, and no longer wants to play in our reindeer games.

Many claim this is particularly hurtful to the new girls who have entered the industry, hoping to become the "next Jenna." Jenna has managed to use porn as a springboard to some sort of mainstream acceptance, if not actual success. Isn't this what a new girl's ambition should be? Or do we have to limit a porn star's success to the adult industry?

Doesn't the mainstream place enough barriers for crossover success that we need not cannibalize our own when they do so well? Apparently not. Like the Mafia, the adult business does not take kindly to uppity performers who aspire to something, anything, more.

I doubt Jameson meant her words to come out as harshly as they did. I think she only meant to clearly state that, once and for all, she would no longer be performing in front of the camera. Unfortunately, her delivery was a bit tactless. But those who felt snubbed by her speech should recognize that one shouldn't place the entire worth of the adult industry upon one person's shoulders.

The problem is that most people who are in the porn industry don't actually want to be here — it was supposed to be a temporary source of income before they made it big in mainstream, and because that lucky break never came, they stayed. Jameson provided a glimmer of hope that they could still make it out there in the "real world."

I for one am proud of my job, and I'm proud to work in adult. That means that I don't really give a damn if Jameson ever spreads her legs again, because there are plenty of other beautiful women who are willing to do just that. I don't need mainstream justification to deem my career worthy, and I don't need Jenna Jameson's endorsement to validate my career. I love what I do, and that's all the justification I need.

Sadly, much of the adult industry does not feel the same. They see it as a slight that someone would even think of getting out. Instead of applauding someone who has done what so many others wish they could do — achieving the greatest success the industry has ever seen, then looking beyond for something more — they boo and hiss at her. I'm glad that those same people aren't around when I'm doing a mainstream job, shouting their two cents, jeering and heckling as I work on a set where everyone keeps their clothes on. It's childish, embarrassing behavior.

You have to be an adult to work in the industry, but evidently you don't have to act like one.

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