This is the place where I ask my friends, who are all cleverer than I am, to write to you about… well, whatever’s on their minds today. Today, the aerialist and adult performer Stoya sent this to you from darkest Russia, where, she says, “They serve vodka here at dinner like it’s water. My beaten and pickled liver may be affecting my brain, so I might be completely off my rocker here, but…”
During my years as an adult performer, I’ve spent more time talking to press and interacting with people on the internet than I’ve spent actually having sex. It was, for me, one of the unexpected parts of being a contract star. Most of the porn industry interviews are pretty standard. They want to know what our favorite positions are, how long we’ve been in the business, what turns us on, and who we’d like to work with next.
The interactions with the mainstream press are where it gets interesting. Radio personalities, reporters from newspapers and magazines sold without plastic shielding their covers – they ask more complicated questions. They want to know why we have sex on camera for a living. They want to know how our parents feel, what we think about the effect of our jobs on society’s view of women, whether we believe we’re setting feminism back or moving it forward (the answer is neither). They want to discuss the issues people get worked up about. They want to talk about condoms vs. testing, the idea that porn molds sexual behavior in a way that reaches beyond the consumers of it and the people they have sex with.
All I ever have for them is an opinion. Usually my opinion is a bit different than the opinion of someone who hasn’t spent time with sex workers. After this opinion has been given the reporter wants to discuss it. Debate it. Play a metaphorical volleyball game where this opinion is tossed back and forth until one side is convinced that the other is speaking truth. I had to fake knowledge of volleyball during the filming of a xxx remake of Top Gun last year. I wasn’t so convincing with the sports, but when it comes to debating the case for a healthy place for porn in sexuality I’ve had a pretty decent success rate.
Perception equals truth. Before the 18th century, people knew that everything revolved around the Earth. Galileo couldn’t argue convincingly enough against the Catholic Church and if you stand outside without the benefit of what we consider basic scientific education it really does look like our planet is the center of everything. One viewpoint might be scientifically wrong, but both beliefs are true to the people who believe them. Galileo went down historically as right because he doggedly presented evidence that corroborated his beliefs on heliocentrism until the day he died.
Sometimes people quote things I said at the beginning of my career and I wonder what I could possibly have been thinking. In retrospect I think some of the statements I’ve made were over simplified or just incorrect, based on bad information and faulty logic. Somewhere out there are people who started out disagreeing with me and ended up agreeing. It doesn’t seem like it matters whether I’m right or wrong. What matters is how convincingly I can defend my position.
In politics, there is actually a campaign tactic referred to as the ‘charm offensive.’ It’s not about whether you’re right or wrong, it’s about how charming, personable, and stubborn you can be when someone sticks a microphone in your face.
Which brings me to something resembling a point: Question… vocally. Question the things I say, question your newspapers, television reporters and favorite blog. Question the things you thought and the things you think now. It’s the only way any of us are going to grow…
…or maybe I’m wrong.
You can find Stoya at her tumblr, and on the twitters at @stoya. Thanks, Stoya, for being kind enough to do this while on the road (and swimming in vodka).