Spencer Barrick aka Damon Dice Has No Shame (About Porn)

Spencer Barrick aka Damon Dice Has No Shame (About Porn)

CYBERSPACE — Over the weekend The Daily Beast published an essay by Spencer Barrick, an entrepreneur who also performs in porn as male talent Damon Dice, offering a counterpoint to their recent coverage of Mia Khalifa’s promotional “$12,000” YouTube interview.

Last week, The Daily Beast’s Senior Entertainment Editor Marlow Stern ran an exclusive interview with Khalifa under the classic “pornsploitation” headline “Mia Khalifa Opens Up About Life After Porn: ‘I’m Ashamed of My Past.’”

Pornsploitation occurs when online media sources — especially tabloids, news sites and aggregators — run coverage of “porn stars” or “the porn industry” in an exploitative, stigmatizing and often harmful manner. Their cynical goal is to reap the extra attention that sex-related articles automatically generate, while adopting a morally superior and "concerned" attitude about the people, often young women, profiled.

Labeled “The Other Side” — as in, balancing out the “shameful” Khalifa take — Saturday’s essay by Spencer Barrick/Damon Dice was headlined “Unlike Mia Khalifa, I’m Not Ashamed of My Porn Past. It’s Made Me Rich.”

The headline’s emphasis on wealth, providing “the other side” to Khalifa’s attention-baiting “I only made $12,000 from porn” claim, slightly mischaracterizes Barrick’s actual essay, which is a thoughtful account of both his unlikely path into the adult industry — he was Carter Cruise’s boyfriend in college and they started camming together; after she became famous, he became her assistant and later tried out as talent — and his observations about performers and the business.

Barrick told XBIZ he wrote the Daily Beast essay because “people need to see a different perspective of our industry — it’s always painted in a negative light.”

One of the best points in the essay is a rebuttal to mainstream media’s coverage of the Khalifa narrative. After mentioning XBIZ’s op-ed (by this writer) analyzing how and why Khalifa became unusually famous overnight, Barrick offers this nuanced account of the much more mundane variety of performers’ experience:

“Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of performers in the adult industry from all over the world,” writes Barrick. “Each and every single one of us has a unique story on how we got into the industry. I’ve met single mothers wanting to make money to support their children because the father is nowhere to be found; I’ve met daughters wanting to make money to send home to support their family who live in poor countries. I can’t even tell you how many joined the industry to pay off their student loans.

“On the other side of things, I’ve met performers in the industry who just genuinely love sex and wanted to be a porn star their entire lives. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and it is a job. It’s a job that sometimes brings some unwanted attention and societal stigma. Some people stay in the industry for years and make a career out of it, and some people get in to make some quick money or they have a change of heart and exit.”

“Five years and 500-plus adult scenes later, it was the best decision I had ever made,” Barrick concludes in his essay.

"We Are a Heavily Criticized Group of Workers”

XBIZ spoke exclusively today with Dice about what moved him to write the Daily Beast essay and about his career as both performer and behind-the-scenes consultant for Cruise and others.

Why did you write the Daily Beast article?

I was sick and tired of people that are not members of the adult industry bashing [the industry]. I felt like I needed to stick up for my peers because there is so much more depth to who we are as individuals. Just because we shoot porn, it does not define who we are as humans. It's sad because a lot of people on the outside looking in look at porn performers as "de-humanized" We breathe oxygen and bleed red just like any other human.

I felt like if I spoke out about my story, it would encourage performers in the industry to not be afraid to come out with their stories. My goal was to encourage people not to be ashamed of this line of work and to embrace it. You only live once and everybody's life path is different! 

Do porn performers come to you for advice when they learn you’re an entrepreneur?

I had enough performers come to me over the years asking me for business advice that I finally started a creative agency to help facilitate my peers business needs. With my agency FiyaPlug — which is a play of words on "Fire Plug" which means "Ignite the Connection" — we connect adult performers with both adult and mainstream brand and sponsorship deals. Not only do we have an agency function, we build websites, do graphic design, run digital campaigns, photo/video production and even produce events.

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) and Adult Performer Advocacy Committe (APAC) have just invited me to be the "performer's voice" to speak on a "Financial Literacy Panel" on November 3 in Los Angeles to discuss taxes, budgeting and savings/retirement with a "unique focus of how those topics apply to the way we earn money in the adult industry"

I want my peers to know that there are ways that they can optimize their careers while still in porn and also once their porn careers end.

Why do you think the mainstream press loves to recycle the same “fall into disgrace,” “shame,” “porn people are the only people with issues,” etc. narratives (aka, doing the "Pornsploitation" shuffle)?

People love scandals and drama. Anytime someone falls from grace, it will be in a headline. Headlines equal clicks equal ad revenue. Nobody really cares about the porn stars that are involved with charity organizations or ones that have started their own businesses and are doing well outside of porn. They want to hear about "pornstars" when they are caught up in a scandal, like Stormy Daniels, or how porn has "ruined their lives," like Mia Khalifa.

Why do you think Carter Cruise is one of the very few performers to pull off being a legit entertainer in a completely different field of showbiz, while retaining her name and not reneging of her porn activities?

She is authentic. I remember in college she was DJ'ing and making music way before porn was ever on the radar. She's not just DJ'ing because it's the trendy thing to do or it was an escape from porn for her — it's a real passion of hers. Some people have many talents in many different fields — it just comes down to taking the time and effort to pursue those aspirations or dreams.

There are so many talented individuals in the industry, besides the sex part. Once they get into porn, I think there is a fear of criticism if they try to do things outside of the industry. We are a heavily criticized group of workers.

One thing about Carter’s branding that I’ve always noticed (and the same can be said for Abella Danger) is that they are 100% 21st-Century young women in style and attitude. I feel some young people who get into porn are still sort of cosplaying a 20th century version (1980s-1990s specifically) of what a porn start should be/look like/act like. Was that a deliberate branding choice?

Again, it comes down to authenticity. I've known both Carter and Abella since day one, I've seen them grow up as individuals and professionals and they have always been true to themselves and haven't let anyone push them around. They are very both accountable and reliable individuals — they show up to work and do their job, and they do it very, very well. They are able to take this same attitude from their porn careers and apply it to their lives/careers outside of porn.

A lot of people, especially in the entertainment industry get caught up in fads and trends and try to emulate what they see on social media. Carter and Abella have always had their own style and don't give in to societal trends. They are leaders, not followers.

Why do you think their "I'm like this and to hell with it" attitude is not more widespread?

Performers are often scared to speak up — they feel like '"sub-class" citizens because they are sex workers. I can speak from my own experience on this topic. It took me almost five years to be comfortable to publicly speak about my involvement with the adult industry because I was worried about what people would think of me and my capabilities outside of a porn set.

Once I've been able to face this head-on and not be ashamed of my involvement in the adult industry, though, I felt such a weight lifted off of me.

To read Dice's essay for the Daily Beast, click here

For more XBIZ coverage of mainstream media’s “Pornsploitation” trend, click here.

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