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"'I don’t want to' is a perfectly good reason for saying No."
January 22, 2014 12:53 PM   Subscribe

"In August 2013, a bunch of performers in adult entertainment got together to talk about our industry and said: "Shit's fucked up. The shit in question is more fucked up than it was a few years ago. Someone ought to do something." Rather than wait for someone to become an actual person who will fix things, we collectively pulled on our grown-up pants and decided to do something ourselves. Thus began the organisation called the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee." Porn actor Stoya writes about APAC and her personal guidelines for sexual consent in New Statesman; APAC has also filmed a video wherein working porn professionals explain the need-to-knows for people interested in entering the industry.
posted by mightygodking (46 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, James Deen comes off as a real asshole.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:07 PM on January 22


This is really great.

Of course, it would be even better if it were the start of a pushback against eroticizing the exploitation of young girls. Stoya is wonderful, but I worry that the good she can do is minimal in comparison to the damage caused by sociopaths like Joe Francis and Eric Whitaker.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:09 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


R. Schlock, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

This is meant to empower people entering the porn industry. Expecting it to change the entire path of the industry's focus is a bit much for the nascent movement.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:22 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I hope this starts to have a positive effect on the industry's practices. I have to wonder, though, just how easy it really is for someone just starting out to say "no". Judging by the endless young faces that seem to appear, do a few (usually brutal) scenes, and then just as quickly disappear, I have a feeling that the adult industry, way down at the beginner level, is an ugly, ravenous meatgrinder. "If you don't, we can always get someone else, honey" is probably a pretty common thing.

And then there's eastern Europe.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


James Deen comes off as a real asshole.

I really don't know what you're referring to here. Everything I've heard about him is that he's a good guy and very respectful to work with. He comes across as goofy and informative in the video in my opinion.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:33 PM on January 22 [20 favorites]


James Deen comes off as a real asshole.

Yeah I'm not sure how "make sure to do your taxes!" makes him an asshole exactly.

I have to wonder, though, just how easy it really is for someone just starting out to say "no"


Yeah, I wonder that too, and I felt the video - while really informative - was maybe a little too "you can do it if you try!" I do think there's probably a lot of real horror for folks just starting out, before they have any sort of leverage. I mean, the 'paying your dues' part of trying to launch a porn career has to be pretty hideous.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:37 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


And then there's eastern Europe.

Should we even ask? (Says the guy who's mostly ignorant about current day porn production.)
posted by Iosephus at 1:40 PM on January 22


I think that this is a good start but I think that especially in terms of Nina Hartley, they need to take their experience, skill, talent (yeah i said talent!), and influence and circumvent the people who are making this a necessity.

These 30 people could make enough porn to flood the market and drive a few of the lower end scumbags out of business, scare a larger number more into compliance and still feed themselves.
posted by Fuka at 1:42 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


These 30 people could make enough porn to flood the market

You vastly underrate the demand for porn or the size of the porn market.
posted by mightygodking at 1:44 PM on January 22 [25 favorites]


There is a difference between making porn and making money from porn.
posted by delfin at 1:46 PM on January 22


And then there's eastern Europe.

Neither porn nor Eastern Europe are special in this regard. You can find happy, healthy performers from Central/Eastern Europe, and you can find abused, demeaned performers in the US of A. You can find happy, healthy workers in porn, just as you can also find abused, demeaned workers in the food industry.

For every industry, there will always be a division between that which has been regulated, and the "race to the bottom" that exists outside of those regulations. Think about the labor laws that exist in the US, as opposed to the laws in your favorite Third World manufacturer, or to those laws as they are ignored when workers are undocumented, etc. Think about the misery that may have gone into the manufacture of your computer, your phone, the food on the average First World plate, etc.

Stoya and her circle are obviously both ethical and successful, and good for them for trying to spread the value that they have in their performers. However, there will always be that universe outside of their influence.

This isn't an argument against APAC. Just the opposite. You don't shutter a soup kitchen, just because hunger will always exist in the world. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt that Stoya, et al. are realistic about how huge the porn industry is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:51 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


ReeMonster: "Wow, James Deen comes off as a real asshole."

He doesn't seem to be mentioned in the 1st; he only appears in the 2nd link in a picture; he is a perfectly benign part of the "chorus" in the 3rd, and ends the video with "Now that you know what you're getting into, Welcome to the Adult Entertainment Industry!"

He comes off as a real champ, and you come off as slandering him groundlessly.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:51 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


I can't watch or read the links right now as I'm at work, but I can imagine that this sort of thing is all to the good. Organization and labor advocacy, especially in fields that have a high potential for exploitation and abuse, is always a good thing. I don't have a problem with pornography, but standards for consent and protection for actors ought to be very high – commensurate with the potential for harm and risk should violations occur.

It's also important to work to destigmatize adult entertainment and the people who work in it; a lot of the reason why exploitation happens so much in this industry (and I realize that not everyone on the management and production side of adult entertainment is an exploiter) is that the work is considered shameful and secretive. If we don't talk about it, or if we think about the people who are involved in it as bad people, it is much harder to improve the situation. And it does need to be improved.
posted by Scientist at 1:52 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


Yeah yeah, so I take it back. Asshole was too strong a word. I took umbrage at his faux-nonchalance and kinda "Here I am reading a cue card but I'm gonna put my little awesome spin on it." thing which I personally found grating and a bit much. Sure he's a good guy as well.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:53 PM on January 22


It's also important to work to destigmatize adult entertainment and the people who work in it; a lot of the reason why exploitation happens so much in this industry (and I realize that not everyone on the management and production side of adult entertainment is an exploiter) is that the work is considered shameful and secretive.

If you're in a movie where a gun is pointed at someone and goes off, you may get an Oscar.

Replace that gun with an erection, and you may get blacklisted.

Strange world we're in.
posted by delfin at 1:56 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


I took umbrage at his faux-nonchalance and kinda "Here I am reading a cue card but I'm gonna put my little awesome spin on it." thing which I personally found grating and a bit much.

Another way of looking at this is that he, Stoya, and Nina Hartley were really the only ones to really inject their own personalities into their readings. A few of the line readings in the video were downright robotic.
posted by mightygodking at 1:58 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


A few of the line readings in the video were downright robotic.

That's understandable. Porn isn't exactly known for witty dialogue.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:02 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


delfin: Replace that gun with an erection, and you may get blacklisted.

This technique shoud be applied everywhere. Not only would gun violence sharply decline, but bank robberies would be downright hilarious.
posted by dr_dank at 2:10 PM on January 22 [31 favorites]


It's also important to work to destigmatize adult entertainment and the people who work in it; a lot of the reason why exploitation happens so much in this industry... is that the work is considered shameful and secretive.

Yeah, I think this is really important. I don't mind porn, but what I do find obscene is how many people will happily watch a porn actress, but be horrified by thought of that same woman being their dental technician, or their kid's teacher, or a plaintiff in a labor rights case. Way too many people are willing to treat porn performers as disposable, and that leaves those performers with little recourse when things go wrong.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:18 PM on January 22 [31 favorites]


I just watched this at my office and I have to say, they did an awesome job talking about the health stuff. Back when I was working with the adult industry, there was no one talking about this stuff and I am absolutely thrilled to see people who are respected in the industry (whether they can read cue cards or not) talking about syphilis, consent, negotiation, taxes, showing up on time, etc. It makes for more informed performers and destigmatizes sex work for those who are not exploited into it.

I am showing this to my co-workers at our all-staff meeting on Monday.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:23 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Millions of companies have stilted HR videos, many of which have That Goofball Who Isn't Taking It Too Seriously. Personally, I thought Deen was having a bit of fun mugging for the camera.

That said, discussing the quality of the video isn't really relevant. This is a really good thing for any industry to be doing, and porn has a notable problem with exploitation of actors on and off the set. As many have already said, they're people, and they deserve the same rights as any person and the same avenues of assistance and protection in their job as any other worker.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:23 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Also, in a just world Nina Hartley wouldn't just be Dame Nina, she would be appointed to a lifetime term as Director of Sex Education. I would wager she's done more public health work than most municipalities.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:29 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I don't mind porn, but what I do find obscene is how many people will happily watch a porn actress, but be horrified by thought of that same woman being their dental technician, or their kid's teacher, or a plaintiff in a labor rights case.

I understand the concerns about the teacher thing even if I disagree with much of it, but dental technician? That's just weird. I think it would be hilarious if Stoya were cleaning my teeth. She seems like a witty, kind person.
posted by Justinian at 2:33 PM on January 22


If you're in a movie where a gun is pointed at someone and goes off, you may get an Oscar.

Replace that gun with an erection, and you may get blacklisted.
I know what you're thinking: Did he fire six shots, or only five?
posted by Flunkie at 2:43 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Justinian, watch After Porn Ends (it's on Netflix). I can't remember which of the actresses was now working as a realtor, but she ends up in trouble with her company because of her former profession. The men seem to have less of an issue, which is sadly not terribly surprising.
posted by Hactar at 2:45 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I don't know, I think she's living in a utopian world. She needs to turn on efukt and Max Hardcore movies to wonder if her wish could happen. She is a contract player who is very well in demand so she's running the shots. Violence porn seems to be all the rage lately and with that rage comes punches and degredation you agree to once you come into the door. Saying "no" isn't part of the deal.
posted by stormpooper at 2:46 PM on January 22


but dental technician? That's just weird.

Being a former porn actor will disrupt or destroy your chances of getting ANY job in the "straight" world. Hell, having nude pictures of you get stolen and then posted on the Internet can result in never getting called back for an interview. For that matter, if you're going for a job in the corporate world, your fellow employees finding out that you've ever done ANY job for money that doesn't involve moving bits/paper from one stack to another can result in workplace harassment and bullying sufficient to chase you away.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:47 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I'm not doubting it's the case, I am expressing a lack of understanding of the mindset of the people who have a problem. People need to get a grip and stop being judgmental assholes.
posted by Justinian at 2:52 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I'm not doubting it's the case, I am expressing a lack of understanding of the mindset of the people who have a problem. People need to get a grip and stop being judgmental assholes.

With a key benefit being that people in the sex industry will have an easier time saying no and negotiating safer working conditions if there is less stigma and it is easier to leave that industry. Stigmatization and feeling trapped are great ways to get people to make dangerous choices and stay in abusive situations.

I think the video is a great start and I hope they are successful in reaching people who are considering doing this work.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:07 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


As to getting a job in the straight world after working in the adult industry as an actor, I remember hearing about a former actor likening her decision to work in porn as having committed "social suicide" b/c she could barely get an interview, despite impressive post-porn credentials.
posted by mlis at 3:20 PM on January 22


I think the video is a great start and I hope they are successful in reaching people who are considering doing this work.

Agreed, was surprised how watchable this was and how much information they manage to pack in there. Just getting things like consent and taxes and health concerns on the table is a huge professional step forward.
posted by jessamyn at 3:43 PM on January 22


As a general rule, don’t penetrate an orifice, pee, vomit, or bleed on someone, or slap them around without discussing the act first.

I'm putting this into the employee handbook at my workplace.

More seriously, I'm a little sad that there's such a lack of information about things like health, consent, finances, etc in this profession and I'm really glad that this is happening.
posted by nubs at 3:49 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Good information is even more vital in this day and age, simply because the industry itself is much more accessible than it was even a decade ago. Porn isn't in a dark room in the back of a shady video store any more; it's clicks away, in every possible permutation. Girls don't have to run away to California to get filmed naked; recruiters lurk around college campuses looking for coeds, clip sites are abundant, amateur sites are abundant, every home computer is potentially a strip club with models ready to get naked or boink for tips.

And sometimes joining the porn industry is even voluntary. Many people who've heard the phrase "of course I'll delete the file" and believed it have found it to be otherwise.
posted by delfin at 4:18 PM on January 22


A good rule of thumb is that if you let someone take a video of you having sex, it will be on the internet.
posted by Justinian at 4:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Yes, that is in the first minute of the video.
posted by jessamyn at 4:36 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Even if James Deen was an asshole (he is definitely not) I couldn't hold it against him too much - he made Lemon Stealing Whores, fer crissakes!
posted by echolalia67 at 5:16 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


Thorzdad: I have a feeling that the adult industry, way down at the beginner level, is an ugly, ravenous meatgrinder. "If you don't, we can always get someone else, honey" is probably a pretty common thing.

I get this feeling too. I have the same feeling about backroom shit with young women in hollywood. It all reminds me of stuff like shitty restaurant managers making servers pay for underages/dine and dashes/etc, and all kinds of other abuse at the entry level of many service or entertainment industry stuff.

Something really basic needs to change in society, and some worker protections need to exist in general. This is just another symptom of that fucked system, not a self-contained problem.

The entire "If you don't like it, we can get someone else to do/who will put up with $FUCKEDUPILLEGALTHING just fine" needs to be killed. I'm not sure exactly how, but putting out the fire right in this one place seems like putting out a kitchen fire when the rest of the house is still burning down.

Is it a good first step? yea. But this is definitely part of a greater problem.
posted by emptythought at 5:18 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


As is discussed in the video, most sex workers in the US are independent contractors, which makes abuses even easier. While I'm all for the utopian option of unionizing, even just having people be regular employees, subject to the most minimal level of regulatory oversight, would help in a lot of cases. Big HR departments are no fun to deal with, but are excellent at saying "No, you can't have a casting couch in your office, and by the way we'll need copies of those consent forms."
posted by Dip Flash at 6:03 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I get this feeling too. I have the same feeling about backroom shit with young women in hollywood. It all reminds me of stuff like shitty restaurant managers making servers pay for underages/dine and dashes/etc, and all kinds of other abuse at the entry level of many service or entertainment industry stuff.

Something really basic needs to change in society, and some worker protections need to exist in general. This is just another symptom of that fucked system, not a self-contained problem.


To me, this dilemma is about people and their labor being treated as commodities. When that is happening, any worker is treated as completely interchangeable with any other worker, and so none of the workers get respect or any slack. They're used up (exploited) and disposed of, with the idea that they're easily replaced.

However, the reason that people still flock to these kinds of jobs/industries is because they *can* get hired, based on them being this specific commodity/thing that they are. The barriers to exit from these jobs/industries are low (you're used up/exploited and thrown away), but the barriers to entry are low, too (you're at least let in the door in the first place) -- and those low barriers to entry mean a great deal when the barriers to all (or seemingly all) other fields are too high for you to get past. Also, if you're a worker in an industry like that, the best case is that you have a lot of freedom to enter and exit the industry/market at will -- which is a whole lot more freedom and stability than you get most other places, and can be extremely tempting.

The low barrier to entry might be valuable to an industry's workforce (because they are closed out of other fields, because the flexibility to enter and leave at will is especially tempting to them, because they see a chance to make a lot more money in this market/industry than they have a shot at making anywhere else, etc), and that workforce as a whole might be willing to risk exploitation and degradation in other aspects of their work in order to keep that barrier to entry low. So there might be push-back even from people in that workforce when you try to stop an industry from practicing that kind of commoditization.

I'm not saying that regulation shouldn't happen (I tend to lean toward greater regulation in most industries, actually), but you do have to careful that you're not regulating the industry at the workers' expense or against the workers' interests. If the regulations don't give the workers an alternate way to get what they want (a chance to work, flexibility, money, whatever is important to that particular workforce) but you push ahead anyway, nothing will really change except that you'll get an ineffectual or corrupt or money-pit bureaucracy operating *on top* of the industry practicing exploitation as usual.
posted by rue72 at 6:31 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


My Night at the NSFW Oscars
posted by homunculus at 6:44 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Violence porn seems to be all the rage lately and with that rage comes punches and degredation you agree to once you come into the door. Saying "no" isn't part of the deal.

I ain't watch that shit so I don't really know but my understanding is that generally with the more violent stuff the performers are way more likely to be way into / getting off on that shit it than the performers in the regular fucking?

I understand Reddit & etc. what with the changing social norms and the college kids these days (some of these kids man, I was half raised by the Internet but only after like age 11, and I've always been "from IRL" and not "from the Internet", but now some of these kids are full-on from the Internet since birth) are doing professional AAA porn stars like the earlier Internet did professional AAA journalism, but I guess most are only going into pornos for less than ~10 yrs or so anyways.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:55 PM on January 22


zombieflanders: "Also, in a just world Nina Hartley wouldn't just be Dame Nina, she would be appointed to a lifetime term as Director of Sex Education. I would wager she's done more public health work than most municipalities."

She's actually a nurse for real! Well, her RN license is now expired, but she's also got her undergraduate degree in nursing.
posted by desuetude at 11:29 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


rue72: Also, if you're a worker in an industry like that, the best case is that you have a lot of freedom to enter and exit the industry/market at will -- which is a whole lot more freedom and stability than you get most other places, and can be extremely tempting.

This is where the wheels fall off this argument for me. What you're "getting" in exchange for the "if you don't like it, there's a guy waiting out front who wont complain" and can-be-fired-any-instant-for-no-reason including for refusing to do things that are illegal or just flat out physically or otherwise having things forced on you nature of these jobs, you're saying, is that while you can be shitcanned at any minute you can just walk out and get another one.

The problem with that is in nearly every industry normally associated with this sort of thing, from retail to fast food to other service and entry level entertainment... the barriers to entry have SHOT up in recent years. I don't blame you for not realizing how bad it's really gotten if you haven't been down on the ground shoveling shit in the trenches recently, but 40 item borderline offensive questionnaires and insane aggressive/abusive hiring and interview practices are commonplace for stuff like working at a clothes shop or a hole in the wall smoothie shack. It only gets worse when you get in to actual entertainment jobs like what's being talked about here.

Basically, what i'm trying to say is that the barriers to exit that used to seem like a fair trade to the barriers to entry have only gotten lower, while on the entry side they've shot up to ridiculous levels.

People i know with even basic experience in a semi-professional field have relatively easily hopped from job to job over the past couple years and even couple months, whereas people working retail/service/etc keep commiserating on social networking about their fucking obtuse experiences grinding through the hiring processes at places or even just trying to get their foot in the door in any way at all. It isn't just "entry level, requires 4 years of checkout experience!" kind of stuff, but also ridiculous tests and shit.

I almost made an FPP out of this video among other things discussing this sort of issue and i still might, it's exactly the kind of stuff i'm talking about. "Oh, well can you send me a video explaining why you want the job?". And if at any point you question the inanity of the process, NEXT!

I experienced the very beginning of this sort of thing working tiresome corporate food service/retail at the beginning of college. But since then it's gotten 1000x worse and spread to EVERYWHERE from little local shops to the biggest chains. The sort of free market/vaguely libertarian ideal you're espousing here is fucking dead. The war is over, and the corporations big and small took all the blocks and went home.
posted by emptythought at 2:38 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


She's actually a nurse for real! Well, her RN license is now expired, but she's also got her undergraduate degree in nursing.

Exactly. And not just an independent nurse, but one who helped start the industry's first HIV/STI testing organization.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:43 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling that the adult industry, way down at the beginner level, is an ugly, ravenous meatgrinder. "If you don't, we can always get someone else, honey" is probably a pretty common thing.

And how would unionizing or other work protections end this?

Really - there probably ARE others, and dozens of them, willing to go past any given individual's boundaries. "Oh, you're not comfortable with double anal? Well this person over here is." So what's the answer there - somehow mandating that the person/performer not comfortable with the act can still get the gig?
posted by kgasmart at 11:10 AM on January 23


the barriers to entry have SHOT up in recent years

Quality expectations as well. I was going to make a joke about bassists in the porn industry taking a beating, but, apparently, they really are.
Porn uses library music (apparently), which pretty much ignores composers, etc. Basically all the fun of the work for hire schtick comic book companies use to hose people out of money.

The philosophy of "if you don't do it, there's the door" seems extraordinarily pervasive in all fields. Part of it seems to be the idea that people can't employ themselves - a great deal of that is pushed by people/organizations that don't want people to think they can and actively work against systems that enable people to do so.

But a lot of it is that while expansion in communications and access to production has empowered a lot of folks, it has also granted access to a talent pool and an audience with lowered, or perhaps 'altered' is a better word, standards. And it's sort of a vicious circle.


Fred Pohl wrote "Space Merchants" in 1953. Far seeing work. One of the ideas he introduced in that was the increased population and media control produced more people with very niche psyches that can displace others who might otherwise get paid or even wish not to die.
(e.g. Hedy the psychopath who is not only not paid, but is willing to risk "brainburning" to torture Mitch Courtenay)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:26 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


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