Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ex-Pornographer




6 Months Post-Retirement

The greatest skill I've learned since quitting porn is how to sit still. Sometimes for twelve or thirteen hours a day.

People invest thousands of dollars and years of their lives for the opportunity to do this. I'm one of them. I went to school for it. It was around the time I first became a professional fucker. Porn helped me pay for the chance to get a desk job.

Sometimes my job involves editing porn. I can do it from home. To break up the monotony, I usually masturbate. It's never to the stuff I'm working on. But the porn I use to get off is just as boring.

Before or after work, I go to the gym. Sometimes people recognize me in the locker room. They tell me that they like my porn. It used to be important for me to hear this. Now, it's just surreal.

In a hyper-masculinized way, I know my best years are behind me. I used to fuck at least fifteen different people a month and get paid for it. My disposition isn't such to let me do it again.

Men tell me that I've lived their dream, and ask how they might live it too. I either tell them it's impossible, or say nothing at all. My way into porn was being young, sort of cute, and more spontaneous than I am now. It's not something I can turn into advice.

At one point, I started to write about porn. I think I had hopes to portray my life as something more than it was. People seemed to find my job interesting. I liked the idea of being interesting. Sometimes I felt close enough to the material to find it interesting myself.

Some political stuff happened, and it made me feel like I had purpose. There was a state sponsored agency and a private one too – the usual sort of outsiders that try to fix a problem and mostly fuck it up.

I went to meetings to try and stop the process of fucking things up. It didn't really help, but I wrote about the experience. It felt important. Like, as a white man, I was still able to document the struggle of my own marginalized, sex worker community. I'd always been one to fight the hegemony of my birth. But eventually, I lost.

The struggle continued without me. As conventional and underpaid as the porn “star” had become, someone still schemed up new legislation that proposed to throw her in jail. It was introduced in the name of safety.

I read about it some. Then I sat at my desk until it was time for me to watch television, fuck my girlfriend, or sleep. My fight became about finding time to write stories and play guitar. In place of activism, I preferred my few days off.

The depression I felt in the wake of post-porn performance didn't manifest as much. I imagined it to be the same for anyone who once felt young and then had to grow up. I'd entered porn knowing that it would end with the likeness of my youth. The job never promised a future. It only prolonged the ability to dream about one.

Nothing happened after that I would describe as “bad.” I didn't miss the sex or experience a void in my life. I only felt tired more often, and more in touch with what I once understood to be normal.

I'd still come across text, conversations, and opinions on pornography. Some insisted that paid fuckers still needed to be saved. I'd often think, “What a worthless crusade it must be to snatch a young body from its value. Time will do it for you. I've learned it won't discriminate.”





12 Months Post-Retirement

When I was about twenty-one-years old, I asked my uncle (a lawyer) for help in resolving a contract dispute with my, then, employer – an adult production company called Hush Hush Entertainment.

From what I gathered, my uncle had just learned of my work as an adult performer. He'd had a conversation with my grandparents, who expressed a hesitancy in discussing what I'd been up to, and mistook their secrecy as evidence of my homosexuality (an inevitable half-truth).

My uncle then phoned my mother to share his support for my assumed sexual identity and 'coming out' process, which he immediately revoked when he discovered that I was fucking for a living.

I thought he'd help me out anyway, because we were family. And he did – sort of. But the conversation turned into a mild argument, which escalated via email, and covered all the typical arguments constructed by highly imaginative – or at least, exaggerating – anti-porn feminists.

At the time, I was less well-versed in the politics and hyberbole behind his stance, and simply knew that his claims did not reflect my experience. I remember being more upset by the fact that, after explaining how I was involved in super-cool, feminist and alternative pornography, he responded by saying something like, “Every generation of young people think they've invented sex. You're not doing anything new and you're not helping anybody” (yes, I paraphrase).

It's funny that, all these years later, I almost feel the same way. Arguably, there are niche markets, like Queer porn, that have helped a substantial number of people come to terms with their sexuality or work through feelings of shame that had been ingrained in them by something like a conservative, religious upbringing. Though, in all honesty, that type of material comprised about 2% of my work.

To agree with my uncle means absolutely nothing. It's not to condemn porn, or even have much of an opinion on it. Because I feel the exact same way about every form of entertainment. What differentiates the new from the old is completely trivial, and for the most part, it doesn't do a bit of “good” for anyone. However, I've devoted most of my life to making “entertainment” stuff, and I spend most of my free time consuming literature, music, films, and, yes, even porn. In the simplest terms, I enjoy it.

It's just that I've also spent so much time trying to convince people that porn is okay; at its worst, no different than any other bullshit where a company pays a person and exploits him/her. Now that I've been given the opportunity to no longer exist as an arbitrarily controversial laborer, I feel a vast sense of relief at taking a break – perhaps forever – from the political conversation surrounding porn.

I believe there will continue to be those who take up the torch and do some good for the representation of sex worker communities. And I wish the best for their cause. But I can't help but feel a sense of nausea every time I read a new article about how porn is either “good” or “bad,” for any reason.

It's like discussing religion. The Christians know they're right, and so do the Muslims, and the Athiests believe it's all made up. Though, most people seem to have a casual relationship to spirituality (and porn), and that won't change no matter how many articles flood the world's Facebook feed.

I'd hoped that we could all agree on certain realities: that a validation takes place when one discovers he/she is sexually desirable; that on the whole, sex is fun; that when money is thrown into the mix, it becomes pretty fucking easy to understand why someone would choose to be a hooker.

But not everyone sees it that way. So sex work is still a reason for people to get mad, discriminate, criminalize, and so on.

However, I'd argue – now, with little fervor – that it doesn't matter. Or it shouldn't.

Like, how upset can one be about cat memes, or cheeseburgers, or music? Apparently, by evidence of the internet: really, really upset. But at the end of the day, it's just stuff that entertains people or makes them feel good. It's the same with pornography.

What goes along with it – morality, labor laws, consumer addiction, exploitation, rape culture, feminism, and all the rest – is simply what one must grapple with as a cultural warrior of the 21st century. None of it has to do with porn, except in the sense that porn exists now, and it's influenced and reflected by the world around it.

***

I continue to work in (and out of) the adult industry, my role now removed from any sexual fatigue or fulfillment. My job has to do with lights, cameras, and video editing software. Sometimes it's interesting. Other times, not. When I walk away at the end of the day, I'm not motivated to tell my story.

Though, I still put myself out there as Danny Wylde, and I think it has to do with what's attached to the name: a impermanence that now exists in the past.

The novelty of learning to fuck and make money is almost irrelevant. I liked both things (fucking and money) and they will likely remain important to me until my death. But a public persona – thematically tied to the most boring class of hip hop music video – is not what keeps me attached.

I loved being in the midst of something that I knew couldn't last. It was like the time before I entered university and people would say, about my life, that anything was possible. I held on to the myth that I'd temporarily escaped real labor, even though I publicly contradicted what I “knew” to be true.

The idea now lives on in other people's minds. Those who know me only by the hard cock they see on their screen. Some believe my life is still like this. They say I'm still doing a good job (i.e. “keep it up”); that they wish their lives were so suffused by fun.

It's obnoxious, mostly. But then I remember how I didn't used to fear spending time on useless ideas; how I spent all my extra money making work that existed in a vacuum. Now, these works, and their practice, are called hobbies. They're what I sneak away to.

I find the discussion of pornography as anything but conventional to be almost absurd. Yet, I can't help but feel thankful towards those who made it clear that my profession wasn't real. Because I kept that somewhere inside me, and I believe it every now and again. And though my memory is surely nostalgia, I remember existing in some ethereal space where I could do what I wanted and might later “figure it out.”


9 comments:

  1. Youth comes with many rewards. There has been less time for the young to be influenced by all that is negative; authorities telling us we are not good enough or do not deserve our dreams. Maybe the young are braver because they do not know about consequences. Certainly, in our society, firm flesh is at a premium.
    But what can only come with years of living and bought by scars and wrinkles to the body & mind is also of value. The experiences you have, add depth and color to your lens. You have been using your senses and intellect to find a place in this world. You have learned to walk with a surer footing, smelled entropy around every corner, you have seen visions, heard harmonies that stirred something deep, and tasted your own fear. Maybe the true diploma to adulthood should be mortality and empathy. There is freedom in knowing your life will end and an existential reward in realizing you are not the center of the universe.
    Many of us give into the rejection and humiliation that comes from being young and the loss of youth. But some can take that experience and combine it with the knowledge and skills we pick up along the way, to make a form of wisdom.
    I have appreciated reading your frank prose and am sorry to read of your struggle. Your words and sad eyes speak to a loss. Maybe search for deeper flavors, more vivid colors, expand your view. Sitting in a chair is not for everyone. Maybe looking outside of self with a sense of our own ephemeral state could help us appreciate today.
    Just some thoughts from just another kid trying to grow up

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  2. Thank you again for writing. I'm always struck by how you write with such honesty and clarity about your own internal gears and workings, and also how there is always perhaps this hint of self-contempt, like you're saying "I'm going to call myself on all of my own bullshit before you get a chance to." Or maybe I'm totally projecting. I just would wish that you remind yourself that you're human, and that we humans never have the same perspective on ANYTHING for more than 5 minutes. We can get some peace of mind when we are aware enough to watch the waves of experiences roll by and just suck some wisdom from each experience and then perhaps offer some of that perspective to the world. And maybe that is enough of a purpose if that's what you want your purpose to be. But of course that's all feel-good hippie bullshit, and in 5 minutes I'll have a different conclusion ;-)

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  3. You are a really good writer. And I am interested in what you have to write. You intrigue me and I would like to know your story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Faith, hope, and love -
    the greatest of these is love:
    jump into faith...
    and you'll see with love.
    Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe
    (what I write);
    God believes in you.
    God. Bless. You.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I felt your heartbeat throughout that. Amazing words.

    ReplyDelete
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