sexuality reading 13

sexuality reading 13 - m... 380 Giohbe. E. ( H.195 J....

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Unformatted text preview: m... 380 Giohbe. E. ( H.195 J. Surviving Ctnnmereial Sexual Exploitation, In G Dines (“t J. Hume-1 (Eds). Gender. Rttt'fi’ and crun- hi .l‘l'r’th'u.‘ :‘l Twit-Render (pp. 31—143). Thousand Oaks. Calif; Sage. Hull. S. (19:52). The Rediscovery of "Ideology": Return of the Repressed in Media Studies. In M. Gurevitch et .11. (Eds). Chino-e. Soc-fur]: and the Media (pp. 56790). London: Mcthuen. Jensen. R. ( NUS), L'sing Pornography. in G. Dines. R. Jensen. (St A. Russo (Eds). Pornography: The Production um! Con.tt(niprit,-n o,"[.ltet,ii(cr('hjt= (pp. IOl—l-o). New York: Rout— ledge. Jensen. R.. is: Dtnes, G. i 1998). The Content of Mass-Marketed Pornography. hi G. Dines. R. Jensen. St A. Russo (Eds), Pornograph} .‘ The Production and Cmmmtptmn of Inequal- .v'r_~. (pp. (15—100). New York: Rtiutledge. Kellncr, D. (1095). Cultural Studies. Multiculturalism and Media Culture. in G. Dines 61:1. Huch (Eds). Gender. Rare and Class in .‘Hedi'n.’ rt Terr—Reader (pp. 5—17). Thotisand Oaks. Calif; Sage. Lane, F. S. (21100). Ohrretw Pro/its: The Enrreprenmtrs of Pornography in the Ci-‘berAtfe. New York: Routledge. Lederer. L. (Ed). (1980). Take Back the M'ght: Women (rm! Pornography. Nev» York: William Morrow. MaeKinnon. (I .\. (I987). Ferrihn'sm L-‘nmodr'ficd: Discourses CREATING A SCENE The Work of Performing Sex Sharon A. Abbott Much has been w ritten ahon'. pornography. althouin very little 01‘ it originates from the perspectives of those within the industry. Most academic studies invohe "outsider" (people outside of the industry) views or" the meanings and consequences of porn. The experiences and obsen-tttions ol’thOse in\ oh ed in the industry. the "insiders." are ignored in socittl science research. As a result. pornography research has been conducted without a consideration of the work idenr tit} and work culture of participants in the industry. Original for this volume. gem 5 QXQEW') 30W SEXUAL BEHAVIORS on Life and Lt‘IH". Cambridge. Mass; Hunt-it'd l nit-‘ersitx Press. MaeKinnon. C. .-‘\,. Se Dwoi'kin. A. ( l997l. hi Hui-m 'r Wit} .' The Pornogmphj.‘ Civil Rights Hearings: Cambridge. Mass; l-ltin hard University Press. Malaniutli. N. M.. Addison .\.. (St Koss. M. (2000). “Pornogrtr phy and Sexual Aggression: Are There Reliable Effects and Can We Lnderstnntl Them ?" .lnnmil Review rngm Reset/(rt. h l l . 26—-9l . MeChesne). R. (lelll’l). "The Political Economy ol‘Communh cation and the Future of the Field." Merlin. Culture J; Earri- ety. 22. tug—in. Russell. D. E. H. t 1.993). Making Violence Sat") .' Feminist L't‘r’itzr on Pttt'nogrrrpi’ri'. Buckingham: Open University Press. Rtlssell. D. E. H. ( HMS). Dangerous Rei‘tirhmshhis: Pornogra- phy. .Uia‘rtgfll-‘Ihl'. inn! Rope. Thousand Oaks. Calif; Sage. Segal. 1... (Se McIntosh. M. (Eds). (1993). Sex EApmcd; Sein- tilt'ty and the Pmrmgntph_\= Debate. New Brunswick. NJ; Rutgers University Press. Stoller. R. J., & Levine. l. S. t 1993). Coming Artrticthihx.‘ The .‘u’ttkt‘ng ofnn XARtin’u' Video. New Haven. (‘onng Yule Lini- versity Press. Strossen. N. (I995). Deri’ridi'iig Purimgrnphn- Free Speer‘h. Sex. and the Fight for llr’omcn’s Rights. New York; Scrib- ncr‘s, To uehieie a more sound understanding of the pornography industry. it is RECESSBJ‘} to investigate the work of performing sex from the insider perspective. From this perspectite. it is possible to examine {anus ot‘sex work such as the norms that go» cm the produer tion process. purtieipants‘ attitudes toward their jobs. the influence of sex work on intimate relationships, and the routinization of erotic labor. With this goal in mind. l haw done cxtensiVe fieldwork in the pornog— raph} industry in the United States. Since [996.1 have Ct 01 -——.t:r—-a:.;:mt:a-a ,_...._t -(.—-p-.--( p—«HP-r—t ORS vard University 'umr’s Way: The .lge, Mass: Harw lOO). “Pomegra- able Effects and (#52): Research ry of Communi- Cairure & Soci- Feminist Views ity Press. hips: Pornogra- Talif; Sage. Exposed: Sexu- runswick, N.J.: irrrrrcrr'ons: The onn.: Yale Uni- : Free Speech, w York: Scrib- nding of the Ivestigate the ' perspective. amine facets .1 the produc- rd their jobs, 'elationships, it this goal in l the pornog- 1996, I have ,. _...._._-.—W.._a... s.-.4..|).-'u...- m. m- . We ..,-. PORNOGRAPHY conducted nearly a hundred interviews with members of the pornography industry, including actresses, actors, directors, producers, company owners, camera crews, sound technicians, makeup artists, and cater— ers. In addition, I have observed the filming of thirty porn videos, attended industry functions, and toured production and distribution companies. Most of the fieldwork was conducted in the Los Angeles area, where the majority (85 percent) of pornography is produced in the United States. THE WORK OF PORNOGRAPHY PRODUCTION The production of pornography is a unique form of work because of the high degree of convergence between labor and self. This is particularly true for the talent (as actresses and actors are known within the industry), whose bodies and sexual expressions become the means of work. As a form of expressive work, the production process requires a high degree of cooperation among participants. Being cooperative is a necessity to earn a reputation in the industry as someone who is professional and competent. This rep- utation serves to secure future work because most actresses and actors do not hold exclusive contracts with any one company. Instead, talent operate as free— lance employees, taking jobs with many companies and using connections with co-workers to secure future work. The shooting of a pornography video is influenced by a number of factors, including the vision of the director, the budget, and the type of production com- pany generating the product. Broadly, porn produc- tions can be divided into three main categories: ama— teur, pro-amateur or gonzo, and professional. Amateur productions are typically shot in private locations (e. g., homes), and are sent to a distributor for marketing and sales. In the ideal form, amateur productions do not use paid talent, but rather capture unscripted sexual activi- ties between “real” people. There is no pretense regarding the quality of the product; viewers are drawn to the “homemade” feel of the production. In contrast, pro-amateur and professional videos are produced by companies using hired talent and 381 experienced film crews. They are distinguishable from one another by company size, production budget, and availability of recognizable or “A list" tal- ent. Professional features are known to have more popular and attractive actresses and actors, better pro- duction quality, more advertisements for big budget productions, and more glamorous box covers. Pro- amateur productions are intended to fill the wide gap between amateur and professional videos. Pro—amateur and professional productions are filmed in studios or at private locations rented by the day. The studios are most often located in neighbor- hoods of small businesses and family houses. A typi- cal set consists of a main floor with several rooms, a kitchen, at least one bathroom with a shower, an office, and a makeup room. The sets are arranged and decorated according to the script prior to the begin- ning of filrrring. Common set designs include bed- rooms, bars, and offices—the settings typical of the porn formula. Production sets may be either “open” or “closed” based on the preference of the lead actress and actor. A closed set allows only necessary members to be present during the filming of a sex scene. These nec- essary members include the talent, the director, the camera crew, and the sound technician. Even on open sets, however, it was rare in my experience to have visitors or extraneous members present. During the filming of a sex scene, other actresses and actors would wait in neutral areas, such as the kitchen or liv- ing room. i originally speculated that this practice originated out of respect for co-workers. I later learned that it instead reflects a general boredom with the work of porn production. There was no sexual turn-on from watching each others’ performances. In Los Angeles, production companies can also make use of the many private homes available for daily rental by the entertainment industry. Homes that are most desirable for porn productions are those with pools, private outdoor areas, large central rooms, and interiors decorated with minimal personal effects. The desire for nondescript interiors is linked to a practice known as “piggybacking a shoot.” As a money-saving technique, companies will often shoot two videos at the same location within the same three-day period. . . ,amwwmyw int-1 §--~ "rd-w . - 382 The productions are then released on different months and with different titles. This is financially advanta— geous to a production company due to cost savings in daily fees for the makeup artist, location, caterers. and film crew. By doubling up on the filming schedule, the production company pays one set of fees for two pro~ ductions. Nondescript homes assist this practice by providing a neutral backdrop for several productions. This neutrality is coupled with a prescribed porn for mula: most videos include a female masturbation sequence, a woman-to-woman scene, a scene of penile~vaginal intercourse, a group scene. and a scene including oral sex. As a result, most porno videos hat e a similar look and feel. The people involved backstage in the production process (directors, camera crews, sound technicians, caterers, production assistants, and makeup artists) often work sixteen to twenty hours a day during the shoot. Actresses and actors usually arrive a few hours before their scenes to complete all necessary paper— work. Paperwork includes signing a model release form. offering verification of age. and demonstrating proof of HIV~negative status. All talent in heterosex— ual commercial porn must be tested for HIV antibod~ ies every thirty days and must bring documentation of the test results to each shoot. After completing paper- work, actreSses will have their hair and tnakeup done, and costumes, if used in the production, will be assigned. Talent are given scripts and asked to learn the dialogue in their scenes, although this is given rel- atively low priority. There are no rehearsals in porn, and improvisation is common. Although each individual production has its own nuances, most share general similarities. Much like the mainstream industry, participants characterized the production process as "hurry up and wait." They were expected to be ready for their scenes at a sched— uled time. although .it was understood that the sched ule was usually off by several hours. Between the filming of dialogue and'scx scenes, there is a great deal of "hanging out" time. Participants often lounge in the kitchen or by the-pool, gossiping about others in the industry. Food plays a central role on production sets, as meals are used to break the monotony of the day and to bring participants together to socialize. People hang out in the kitchen. and because ofthis, the SEXUAL BEHAVIORS caterer becomes an integral part of the production process. The ready availability of food and television fill the empty hours between scenes. PERFORMING SEX Front the outsider perspective, the most titillating or intriguing part of the work of pornography partici- pants is the filming of sexual scenes. Ironically, this is the aspect of porn work that is the most routine, mun— dane, and scripted. While the home viewer is encour- aged to see the performance as highly sexualized. on production sets. the work is desettualized in a number of ways. Porn sets are brightly lit and sterile, camera crews and directors concentrate on the production quality of the video rather than the actions of the par- ticipants, and talent imitate sexual encounters they assume capture the fantasies of the intended audience. Routine practices on sets further encourage the notion that porn sex is a performance and a job. For example. there is very little interaction between participants prior to the beginning of a scene. There may be some minor flirting, but typically no contact. Most fre- quently, actresses and actors are hanging out in differ— ent rooms before being called into a scene. Nothing in their behavior mirrors the type of exchanges you would expect to see from two individuals about to have sex in the "outside" world. A typical sex scene that will result in fifteen min- utes in the final video takes about an hour and a half to shoot. During that time, there may be as many as eight breaks to change the camera position or the lighting. Typically. any sexual interaction between the partici pants will stop during these breaks, although actors will usually masturbate to maintain their erections Male masturbation is routine and considered a work necessity. To be successful at porn work, and to secure future projects. actors must prove that they are reliable sexual performers. In addition to maintaining erections, actors must also be able to ejaculate on command. Direcuirs will usually tell actors a few min: utes in adt ance that they are ready to wrap up a scene. Often this was conveyed through a simple statement such as “We have enough tape, so whenever you are ready to go. that would be great." At this point. actors know that they should beginning building toward cli— mi Eh: tht pa 1111 (:0 Ct 211'] de Vt t6 lo fe at I'll C) R ion on PORNOGRAPHY max. The external ejaculation sequence is known as the “money shot" because actors are not paid unless they can complete the scene. The norms governing interaction between partici- pants on sets arise, in part, from a recognition that many actresses and actors are in relationships they consider monogamous (that is, no sex other than work sex). As Stephen explains: There is a sexual element to all of it. but wouldn’t you be bothered by someone touching you every five minutes? Wait a couple minutes before the scene, before they turn it on [sexual advances], so it‘s really strange, cause it‘s almost a civil thing. Couples working in the industry need to make special arrangements for negotiating sex on the job. Tim, an actor married to an actress, explains how they have decided to deal with this issue: lcall it the two minute zone, what it really is, is ifI'm in a relationship with her [his wife] and possibly the actress I‘m going to work for is in a relationship. anything prior to the sexual encounter is considered a no—no. It’s like extra points. I mean, there have to be guidelines. If I were to take an actress into a bathroom and have sex with her before my sex scene, that's cheating on my wife essentially. Even though it sounds funny, we‘re all in there fucking, but there it is. So, I call it the two minute zone, that’s essentially two minutes before I am supposed to do it, that’s when I start my caressing or my just being warm to her. And a lot of women find that professional. While not everybody referred to this norm in the same terms, some unspoken version of it was widely fol- lowed on all the sets I visited. Although the sex in a professional or pro-amateur feature is scripted and directed, the actresses and actors must nevertheless create a convincing perfor- mance. A key aspect of this performance requires exaggerating sexual enjoyment and coordinating the performance of other actors or actresses in the scene. For example. Niles explains: The ticket to my success and the reason why women like me is I can make it look like a whole lot of shit is going on. but in reality. I'm not putting it through the same rigorous workout. So once you learn that. you‘re making the director happy because you look 383 like a steam engine, and making her happy because even though you look like a steam engine. you are in no way pounding her like a fucking V8 cylinder. so she is happy with you, the performance looks good, an all around takeoff. I put a high percent effort into making the performance look good. i still always consider it a performance. For the scene to be sexually arousing, talent suggested that there needed to be some connection betwoen the participants, a type of "chemistry" or “heat” that could be perceived by the anticipated audience. As one actress stated, I’m there to create passion, I'm there to create heat. I’m there to create what I consider to be a good sex scene. and what I consider to be a good sex scene is contact between me and the other person. And not just physical contact. but eye contact. There’s a bit of emotional contact. I would be lying ifl said, like so many actresses in the mainstream say, that I didn‘t fall in love a little bit with the person I‘m performing with. This chemistry makes the work more enjoyable for some participants and enhances the performance. While the sexual enjoyment is exaggerated for the video. most actresses suggest that they do feel some sense of sexual enjoyment from their work. Enjoy- ment, however, rarely translates into orgasms. The pOsitioning of the cameras and the frequent breaks makes sexual buildup impossible. As one actress put it. “Youjust can’t eat good pussy on film.“ Instead, the pleasure described by participants was usually linked to work conditions. For example, many reported that a good relationship between themselves and the other participant(s) increased their sexual pleasure. Popular actresses and actors at the higher levels are able to choose with whom they want to work. Many actresses reported that they liked working with the same set of actors, as they felt more comfortable with each one over time, and knew what the other person liked. Because the pool of available actors is so small (about 20 actors to about 200 actresses), actresses were given the opportunities to foster these work relationships. Working with “nice guys," having an “easy scene” (no anal), and getting through a scene quickly Were also reported to increase satisfaction. ln_-.-.¢.,A,..a...__:- a e .. 384 Both actresses and actors reported that, as profes- sionals, they were very concerned with their perfor— mances in the final product. Interestingly, these spe- cific concerns illustrate a gender split within the industry. Actresses are far more concerned with their appearances, and actors with their sexual perform- ances. For example, Sola suggests that during filming she is worried about body fat, ingrown hairs, and hygiene. As she argues: You are trying to look the best for the camera. You don’t want to have a roll of fat or tits bouncing in a way that they look fake. Similarly, in response to the question “What do you typically think about during filming?” Lori answered: One of them is where is the camera and how am I appearing to the camera. There are certain angles that look great with me, and there are certain angles that don‘t look great with me. Ireally like to look as good as I can that’s part of it . . . So, yeah, there are one or two things that I‘ll keep in mind. What I‘m thinking about is making a better perforrnance so you can whack off. There are several explanations for why actresses would be more concerned with their appearance. Many theorists have documented that nonns govern- ing appearance strongly influence women’s lives, and most Women are highly concerned with meeting these norms. Schur further argues that men's and women’s preoccupation with women’s appearance results in the commodification of female sexuality. As socialized women in this culture, actresses llave been trained to feel self-worth in regard to their physical appearance. Actresses‘ careers are also more influenced by their appearance, suggesting an additional need to focus on their looks. The link between appearances and work success is supported by industry practices. Pay and recognition are dependent on beauty. Furthermore, many porn actresses dance in strip clubs for additional money. More attractive and slim actresses are able to command higher fees. Appearances, therefore, have economic consequences. Actors more than actresses reported experiencing tension or apprehension in regard to their perfor— mances. Most of this tension surrounded their ability to perform sexuality on set. This concern extends even SEXUAL BEHAVIORS to the preparation time prior to a scene. For example, Tim explains: So when my career, when it got stale for me, that’s when I start going “God, she doesn‘t like me, can I get a boner?“ And so the director told me, he goes, “Every time you drive to a set, do you even think about whether you get a boner or not?" And at the time. I used to think yeah, I do. I’m driving there going, “Can I do this?” Now that Iknow what I am doing, it’s no question. There‘s just no question in my mind. I don't even think about it. Ijust want to get there and [' ve learned how to master every possi- ble Scenario there is. There’s nothing, and I’ve done extreme things I never used to do beforejust to test myself, just to see if I do have that mental staying power. Cause that's really what it boils down to, mental staying power. For actors, a successful performance is also based on “real” sexual arousal, at least in regard to achieving erections. Actors often reported that they needed to get into a particular state of mind in order to perform, often referred to as their “groove” or "zone," or as Tim stated, his “staying power.“ When asked what makes a good actor, one producer suggested it was his ability to delve into his fantasies. Many respondents sug- gested that actors who “can’t make it" lack the ability to recess into this fantasy space. Actors also use personal fantasies of fetishes to achieve this state of sexual arousal. For example, Stephen reported: I think of my ex’s legs. The back of her legs. Even though she.total|y screWed me over, I still get hot. I just need to think of her, and I can get there. These fetishes can also help if an actor is not inter- ested in a particular actress. When asked if he could “fake it" with someone he was not interested in, Jon replied: Early in your career that happens, but once you set your standards . . . now I get my choice, and I know who’s out there and I know who's what, But nor— mally, l have fetishes. I have a foot fetish. and I also have an oral fetish, so I said, as long as she‘s got feet. I’m not going to have a problem, and I don’t work with paraplegics. Shortly after our interview. I had a chance to watch .I on film a scene. During breaks in the filming, he would care turn the excl dirt} tolei keet enet and effia scen cher vvha perc antii can] cian the, had cont coul AT Perf porr job i sex) betu exag may intir cou; twee they and relat that then ing days actrt 7h example, me. that’s me, can I , he goes, ven think ml at the ing mere vhat I am aestion in I want [0 :ry possi- ’ve done St to test l staying Iowa to, ased on hieving eded to erform, as Tim makes ability ts sug- ability .hes to ample, . Even , hot. I inter- could 1, Jon )1] set know nor- ! also feet, work iJon ould PORNOGRAPHY caress and lick the actress's feet. At one point, she turned to the director and me (we were sitting behind the video monitor in the corner of the room), and exclaimed: “All these body parts, and all he wants is my dirty feet." Like most actresses I observed. she seemed tolerant of this interaction since it was necessary to keep J on aroused (and thus, to complete the scene). The performance created by actresses and actors is encouraged and supported by directors, producers, and crew. Directors in particular must coordinate efforts with actresses and actors to produce a good scene. This involves understanding the dynamics or chemistry between participants, having a sense of what is being shot (how it appears on camera), and perceiving how the scene will be received by the anticipated audience To do their jobs competently, camera crews, directors, editors, and sound techni~ cians are expected to be disinterested in the content of the production. Many respondents claimed that they had become desensitized to sexual imagery through continuous exposure. As one director responded, “I couldn’t do my job if] was turned on all the time.” AT-HOME SEX VERSUS WORK SEX Performing sex for work has encouraged those in the porn industry to make distinctions between sex on the job (work sex), and sex in their private lives (at-home sex). Respondents articulated several differences between the two. Work sex is a performance. It is exaggerated, faked, scripted, and routine. It may or may not be arousing. At-home sex, in contrast, is real, intimate, spontaneous, pleasurable, and genuine. Even couples working in the industry distinguished be- tween the sex they have together on sets and the sex they have in their nonworking time. Despite these distinctions, the work of actresses and actors has an undeniable effect on their intimate relationships. Most commonly, talent explained that performing sexually on set temporarily rendered them incapable, unwilling, or disinterested in engag- ing in sex at home. When asked if working several days in a row affects their personal sex life, one actress answered: Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Last week, I was working an awful lot. As a matter of fact, 385 Thursday was the last day of eight days in a row for me, that’s a lot. . . . After eight days, I tell you, I was really sore. The sixth day, I had a three—hour hard core scene in the evening. Three hours of actually getting penetrated, with an actor who was very well endowed, lots ofthem are, that’s part of why they are there, and of course, he was wearing a con- dom. . . . That eight-day stretch, Iwas not neglecting my partner, but we weren’t having penetrative sex. I a In addition to feeling sore after a day of filming, some actresses also reported that sex within their relation- ships was also influenced by upcoming jobs. For example, Brianna explains: I say, “Honey, I gotta do it twice tomorrow, and if we do it now, I'm not going to be able to do it twice tomorrow.” This is how I make my living, and he is completely understanding of that. In these situations, couples may need to form new expectations or engage in nonpenetrative sexual behaviors. As Rita reported: There are times I am just out of commission at the moment. I care enough about the person I am with to make sure that they are receiving satisfaction though. Sex is also holding somebody’s hand, or giv— ing someone a hug, touching them, caressing them, kissing. I understand that men like to have orgasms. and I am not stupid enough to think I can neglect my personal sex life in favor of my career. Similarly, Meka explains: He is monogamous with me and I am monogamous with him, except for what I do for a living, and he is completely capable of making that Separation, always has been. He is supportive when I come home in a bad mood, which, hey, it happens, it's not all fun and games, he'll draw me a bath and give me a massage. He’ll snuggle with me and he’s not expecting me to say, “okay, let‘s have sex now," because I’ve had a bad day and my day deals with sex. Success in these arrangements requires having a sup- portive and understanding partner. Actors also reported a diminished interest in sex at home after a day of sex at work. For example, one actor I interviewed on a production set had two scenes scheduled that day, one in the late morning and one in 386 the afternoon. His negotiations of sex at home were eased because his wife was familiar with the work. She had been an actress when they were first married, but had recently left the industry. Asked how a day of lilrning affects their relationship. he responded: I can assure you my wife won’t be looking for any [sex] tonight! She understands though. I imagine it is more difficult if you are with someone who doesn’t know the business. Other actors argued that it was easier to stay single so that they would not have to deal with sexual pressures in their intimate lives. Couples with both partners working in the industry also reported negotiating a balance between their per- sonal and professional sexuality. For example, Nesa and Kyle. a girlfriend and boyfriend acting pair. explained that their personal sexual relationship was often influenced by their schedules for the week. As one of the most popular actors in the industry at the time, Kyle would frequently shoot for several days in a row. Nesa held an exclusive contract with a pro— amateur company. and was required to do several danc— ing (stripping) assignments each month. The couple complained that they were often exhausted and that. although they valued spending their free time together, having sex was not a central feature in their relation- ship. This exhaustion is familiar to many working cou- ples who are drained by the demands of their careers. Some couples. hOWever, told of problems that can arise when one partner performs sex for a living. In these situations, it appears that the constructed dichotomy between home and vvork sex was not fully appreciated by both members. For example. in a con— versation with an actress and her husband-manager, the actress commented that her husband expressed disappointment that she was not like her screen per— sona at home. As she explains: ljust can‘t. it not real. ldon‘t want it to be like that between us. He does and he doesn't understand that. I ha\e given him a [screen name] blowjob once, but l can’t make love. Her husband‘s desire for her to perform at home is espe~ cially interesting because he takes credit for inventing and naming her screen persona. Ironically, he has cre- ated a fantasy from which he is now excluded. SEXUAL BEHAVlORS This collapse between fantasy images and real individuals was evident in the descriptions from actresses regarding their experiences dating men out: side of the business. Amelia’s statement characterizes this situation: I've been on quite a few dates with men who knew who I was, knew who I am, and they expected that because of what I did for a living. that I was going to jump into bed with them that night. Well. there are a few sorely disappointed men out there. It's interesting, because of situations like that, I've gotten to the point where I will not go on a date unless I am interested in them sexually because if we‘re just going to be friends, no. it is never just friends, it really isn't. You’re constantly bombarded with sexual come-ons because of the nature of what we do. As a result, many of those in the industry choose to date others in the business. assuming that they would better understand the unique aspects of porn work. Similar to other deviant subcultures, participants come to serve multiple roles as friends, co-workers. relationship partners. and business associates. The sexual expectations that surround porn actresses also influence their career trajectories. Actresses are more likely than actors to work inter- mittently in the industry. Respondents suggest that this pattern exists because women leave the business to pursue personal relationships. When the relation- ships fail, women return to porn work. These arrange- ments, however. may be confounded by cultural ex— pectations and a gender double standard. As Danielle explains: When you first meet a guy. they think it is hot, like you really know what you are doing. But as soon as you are together. it's like suddenly not so cool you are having sex with hundreds of men. So girls leave the industry. but he doesn't forget. Now sud— denly she is the slut he had to save. There is no way for the relationship to work. Soon enough, she‘ll be back. Other actresses told of problems encountered after leaving the industry to concentrate on their intimate relationships. For example, Rita left for a period of one year after meeting a man who wanted her to stop working and promised to support her. She provides , .,,-,-#__‘-*6“91rr-. it"s: her I the i Um she rela wet for actt any extt bili the pen sing knc rest wo wo cu"g wo mo Fir sug ()t] tin To act itit =7‘ 53?!“'“§l%! id real ; from an out- terizes 3 knew pectcd I was Well. there. I, I 've a date tuse if :r just )arded " what )se to vould avork. pants 'kers, porn )ries. nter— that ness :ion- nge- ex- ielle like .oon 3001 girls :ud- my I be fter ate of top les 3 l l PORNOGRAPHY her reason for leaving the relationship and returning to the industry: When I got out of it [the industry] and got into this relationship and we started living together. it became clear that I was very much his beck and call girl, and whenever he wanted to bring clients home, it was my responsibility to be little Miss Housewife. I’m not that kind of person, and it took that relationship to learn to accept that. Unwilling to give up the freedom and independence she had while in the industry, Rita eventually left her relationship and returned to sex work. In contrast, nearly all of the actors I interviewed were single. There are several possible explanations for this. First, because there are fewer actors than actresses, actors typically work on more projects in any given month than their female co-workers. The extended hours and travel time may prohibit the feasi- bility of maintaining a relationship. Second, part of the image of a successful pom actor is that he is inde- pendent and interested, continuously, in sex. Being single supports this image more than if an actor is known to be in a committed relationship. Third, some respondents suggested that a man outside the industry would be more willing to date an actress than a woman would be to date an actor. According to this argument, actors experience greater stigma due to women’s assumed interest in committed monoga- mous relationships. As Dane explains: No woman in her right mind, no lawyer, doctor, accountant, is going to say that's the man Iwant, he's fucking everybody. Women are a lot more single- minded than that. they need monogamy more than that. Most of the men, when they get into relation- ships, they’re with women in the business. Finally. traditionally constructed sexual scripts might suggest that actors are less interested in relationships because they have the guarantee of sex on the job. As one actor argues, “I don’t need it at home if I am get- ting enough at work.” THE CREATION OF A PORN PERSONA To assist in the separation of work sex and home sex, actresses and actors create porn personas or personal- ities that can provide a separation from their “real” claims that all individuals create identities (or multi- ple versions of self) that are performed for different audiences. Individuals present themselves to different audiences based on audience expectations. Those involved in the porn industry similarly possess multi- ple versions of themselves, although porn actresses and actors must also create a sexualized identity for their work performances. The created sexual persona is typically a fabricated or exaggerated version of self. Respondents report that there are several dynamics involved in creating a good persona. Porn personas must be desirable, convey the impression that the work is enjoyable, and portray sex as authentic and pleasurable. Perhaps most importantly, however. the created persons must feed the fantasies of the imag- ined viewer. Actresses and actors state that the type of persona they constructed for themselves was influenced by the type of audience they wished to attract. For example, one actor who described himself as a “young, attor- ney" type selected this image to appeal to viewers of professional features. Another actress explained that she chose a stage name that conjured images of “wild, out-of~control women" to appeal to fans attracted to stronger and sexually aggressive women. Names often suggest a desire for certain sexual activities (e.g., Janet Jackme), geographical location (cg... Steven St. Croix), ethnicity (e.g., Kobi Tai), and per- sonalin (e.g., Kitty Yung). Similar to erotic dancers, porn actresses and actors create personas they believe are appealing to audi— ences. For example, as Ronai and Ellis argue. many strippers portray exaggerated stereotypes to get bigger tips from certain customers. Similarly, Frank (1998) asserts that strippers sell their “selves” or identities. which are created in part to generate and sustain male desires. These identities are re-created to attract dif- ferent admirers and/or for various situations. Simi- larly, actresses and actors sell their sexual perfor- mance for an imagined audience, using various personas to attract a range of viewers. Although personas are created identities. respon- dents suggest that there are often some authentic aspects to them. For example, many reported that their 388 camera personas developed out of some part of their personalities. Often their created personas exagger- ated certain characteristics that they believed were the best, or most desirable, parts of themselves. Aliza explains: [Her performance name] is way wilder than i am, she is more raw. more in your face. There is about 50 percent of me in her. and maybe it) percent of her in me. Although many respondents suggested their personas reflected themselves, none suggested they were iden- tical. Rather, they distinguished between the identi- ties, suggesting that onscreen identities were "big- ger," “louder,” “raunchier.” and “sexier.” The fact that actresses and actors create persorras is not unknown to the audience (_i.e., the consumers), although these glimpses behind the curtain are often orchestrated by the industry. For example, X~rated magazines and industry publications such as Adrift Video News (AVN) offer “behind the scenes" pictures of the filming of professional and pro-amateur videos. revealing the constructed nature of the productions. In addition, "candid" interviews with performers often hint at the “real” person behind the on-screea persona. Some interviews have even provided the rationale for developing a certain type of persona. For example, one actress reported to A WV: I want my persona to be different from the rest of the girls. ldon‘t want to be "the quiet one": 1 want to be “the mean one.” i want to be. the bitch. I want to be the girl that roughhouses with the guys and tells them to fuck me, because if they don‘t. l‘m going to slit their throats or something. Tire article proceeds to state that while the actress appears soft spoken. she was very active in the New York City 's SM scene, and a fan ol‘porn prior to enter- ing the industry. thus supporting her chosen persona. In doing so, the article suggested that the persona bet- ter mirrors her true sclt‘than her every day appearance. Many respondents claimed that these "real life" exposes were merely second—level support for their constructed persona. The “true self" remains separate and hidden. Tire creation of screen personas n as seen by many respondents as a career necessity. Disguising their real SEXUAL BEHAVIORS identities also helps prevent unwanted contact with “sickos” and assists in preserving their personal priw vacy. Created personas also serve as a reminder that the work of porn production is a performance. Similar to the norms created to differentiate between "home sex" and “u ork sex," created personas serve to protect the core sle by reminding the participant that porn work is a created. fantasy-based performance. Not all respondents believed that the split between created persona and true self was completely possible. For example, Rachel suggests some of the possible problems with the creation of alternative seltes: Don't try to fool yourself into thinking that just because you call yourself something else, that you are something else. This whole thing about trying to separate this on-screcn persona from this off-screen person, good story, but you are signing your real name to those contracts, you’re doing the job. and if you didn‘t have something in your psyche that made you want to do this, that on-screen persona wouldn’t exist. This whole trying to turn it on and offis going to drive you insane. But if you accept the fact that you are a woman who enjoys being sexual in front of people, who is an exhibitionist, and who enjoys the attention that you are getting, etcetera, and realize that you can have a long career in this business with a much saner mind. Similarly. Nicola, an actress in the industry for twelve years. suggests that actors can become disassociated because of theirjobs. She claims: It is an unhealthy split bet-ween their dicks and their hearts. The fantasies have to get weirder and weirder. it is a real harm to male sexuality. At best. it is a very lonely thing. Rachel and Nicola's cotnments suggest some of the possible problems associated with performing sex for a living, such as detachment or alienation. inabil- ity to acknowledge the similarities betvr een on-screen and off—screen personas, and the loss of intimacy as a result of these performances. Other respondents echoed their concerns. but suggested means to care for themselves. including taking time off from their careers. rrraintaining relationships outside of the in tltistr'y. and taking pride in their ability to do theit‘job successfully. Many of these same strategies are used [it ar th St] tit dt pt th l'll ta a vi in hi or la po r n :t with al pri- er that Limilar ‘home irotcct t porn tween ssible. ssible it just It you ing to creen r real and if made Ildn't going t that mt of s the aliae with elve ated :heir ‘der. very 3 of sex bil— een 1s 3 :nts for teir in- iob ted PORNOGRAPHY by people in other professions requiring a high degree of emotional labor, such as service workers. CONCLUSION The Work of porn production thus becomes routinized in a number of ways. The productions are made as cheaply as possible and adhere to a widely accepted formula. The sex scenes are orchestrated in such a way as to produce a good scene for the video but a mediocre sexual experience for the participants. The creation of personas, supported by industry produc- tions, serves to separate the performances of actresses and actors from their true selves. On multiple levels, the audience is given fabricated versions of con- structed personas. In addition, the norms on produc- tion sets, as well as the design of the sets themselves, desexualize and normalize the work for the partici- pants both in front of and behind the camera. Never- theless, most participants suggest that they are able to find pleasure in their jobs. The aspects of work satis‘ faction include such things as co-worker relations and a sense of competency about their jobs. This reality exists in sharp contrast with outsider views of the industry. Outsiders include those most interested in pomography: consumers. scholars, femi- nists, and politicians. Publications for porn consumers encourage the idea that porn work is excessively titil- lating and that porn participants are highly sexualized both on and off camera. Academic research typically assumes that the content of pornography is purposeful 389 and significant. Numerous studies have addressed the possible consequences of viewing porn, while ne- glecting the conditions under which it is produced. In addition, feminist theorists have long questioned the effect of engaging in sex work on an individual’s life. Many have speculated that women are damaged from their participation in an industry that is sexually exploitative. Their writings fail to account for the lived experiences of those in the industry that have actively worked to protect themselves from the conse- quences of performing sex. By exploring at the porn industry from an insider perspective, it is possible to uncover a deeper under— standing of work of pomography. Discussions can move from topics of content and consequences to a better appreciation for the experiences of those involved in this type of sex work. In doing so, we can achieve a better sociological understanding of pornog- raphy as a product, a subculture, and an industry. REFERENCES Schlenker, Barry R. (1980). Impression Management. Belmont. CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Ronai, Carol Rambo and Carolyn Ellis. (1989). “Turn—ons for Money: Interactional Strategies of the Table Dancer." Jour- nal of Contemporary Ethnography 18. 271—298. Frank, Katherine. (1993). "The Production of Identity and the Negotiation of Intimacy in a Gentleman‘s Club." .S'exmlities [(2). 175—20]. Kemes, Mark. (1996). “Madelyn Knight: Vivid’s New Tough and Gritty Kitty." Adult Video News, May 28. ...
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