For as much judgement that the adult industry deals with, there’s certainly a lot of interest from the outside world. Just look at the mainstream media coming out of Hollywood that takes advantage of that curiosity – Minx (HBO Max), X (A24 Films), Pleasure (Neon), Hot Girls Wanted (Netflix), Harlots (Showmax)… and on and on.
So, in some ways, it could seem that the adult industry is more accepted than ever. Afterall, it’s considered cool and edgy to watch these shows! Yet, this doesn’t quite translate to the real world. The same viewers who consider themselves hip for being down with content portraying sex work often stigmatize the actual industry itself. So much so that many in the business still hide behind pseudonyms and keep their profession a secret from family and friends who may not understand. And it goes deep. It doesn’t just touch those in front of the camera, it touches every person in involved.
In an open letter to The Insider, Jamie Valentino talked about how much he loved writing screenplays for the porn production company InMelanin Productions. He said he fell into the profession needing cash and was surprised to find it one of the most “enjoyable, consistent and purposeful” gigs he had. In fact, he not only liked the job, he loved it… even if his mother didn’t. He lamented how she constantly reminded him that “God is watching” and that he’s talented enough to write for other places (as if it takes no skill to work in the industry). Valentino said “I don’t blame her for believing that the adult-entertainment industry is evil. Her upbringing by strict Catholic nuns doesn’t help, nor does the mainstream media. A lifetime of stigma hinders her judgment.”
If only you could remove the blinders from every person that has a negative view of the adult industry. They’d discover their beliefs are just that – beliefs. Not reality. The business is just like any other business out there. It has no more “immoral” people than any other profession – in fact probably less – consider banking, legal, insurance or any of the other thousands tied up in unethical practices. But this takes willingness to look inside oneself, to see, not judge. I know because I was there once too.
In a past life of mine, I was once hired to do a voiceover job for a porn movie. Several things were going through my mind on my way to the gig – 1) Terror. Was I going to be able to pull off the sexy copy (which in retrospect was ridiculously tame) without being laughed off set? The answer was yes because everyone was professional and supportive. Learned something there. 2) Awkwardness. Was I going to be the only person wearing clothes? The answer was no, just like any other acting job people got into I mean out of their costume when it was time to do their scenes. Learned something there. 3) Curiosity. What kind of people were going to be there? A bunch of weirdos? The answer was yes. But they were probably less weird than a multitude of people at other jobs I’d done over the years. Try working at a balloon shop for a cocaine addict someday. And of course, I myself am weird. So learned something there!
The point of all this, is to say even I who never looked down on the industry, still had preconceived notions but I was willing to learn. So how do we get others to open their hearts and minds to stop the stigma? By talking about it – like Valentino did in his very open words to the world about why he likes writing for the porn industry. It takes courage. And, sure, there will be plenty of lost causes, but there are those that are open to our truths, we may just have to shout them a little bit louder.