It was a great first day for the documentary. It was supposed to rain, but it didn’t. It was a beautiful California day.
I’m beginning to formulate some ideas and connect a few dots. I’m only five interviews into conducting on-camera interviews, but I’m definitely speeding up my learning process so that this film is as good as it can possibly be. The first three, last year, were free-form conversations with almost no actual investigative work on my part, but now I am doing my research. Trick is – something that I learned from an interview not so long ago – ‘Don’t be too absorbed in the questions. Don’t forget to listen.’ It’s a bit of a juggle, especially when there is a lot of information on a model. I can’t go into too much detail in a diary-style post like this because I’d rather highlight the models in the edited and finished product, with the usual written lead-in, but I did find myself, at times, dropping the index cards to follow the conversation, and then redirecting some questions back to notes I’d made because I wanted to cover certain important topics. I feel I’ll slip into a rhythm as I go.
It won’t betray the interviews to admit that the common thread I find between the performers is the seemingly contradictory traits of geek/goddess. During the interviews I had added the extra traits of ‘strict upbringing’ and ‘restlessness in school’, but those are not a constant. Nope. “Geek Goddess” it is. At least with the successful performers. This is just a preliminary view, but I think it’s justified. I have never known an adult performer who wasn’t eager to jump right into the thick of things and learn as much as possible, while also reveling in the fun of getting so much attention just for being cute. I was glad to get to ask this question of one of the models:
“How much of the choice to be in the adult industry do you think is more a reaction to looking at the path society has laid out for a woman and her saying, ‘Nah… I don’t think that works for me,’ than the assumption by the mainstream media that she must be “damaged” somehow?”
I’m disappointed by the dialogue between the mainstream media and women of the adult industry. These celebrity interviewers annoy me with their one-dimensional curiosity, and one female, in particular, is especially cruel in her conduct. She, herself, is a woman, and yet she sneers at the sex industry women who sit in front of her. Her interviews are shallow and absurd. She and other people who assume that an adult industry woman is damaged and ask the question feeling they already know the answer, and also somehow think that putting a woman down who “must have been raped or molested” is going to somehow make them feel better about themselves because they not only open any possible wound by asking the question, they then pour salt on it by giving vapid, underhanded advice in an area where they have no perspective and they’re not qualified to counsel in any way, are emotional voyeurs and the worst kind of thief the sex industry woman can suffer. Luke Ford asking me if I had been raped made me sick. Physical voyeurs are obvious. The work caters to them. But emotional voyeurs are the elusive pain stalkers who, themselves, have raped the dialogue between women about the sex crimes they may or may not have suffered by stealing the honestly from it with their judgment. Men and women alike have made it impossible for someone who does suffer pain from a traumatic experience to express themselves without feeling ashamed of themselves, as if they, themselves, are responsible and not the person who inflicted the pain. These people only serve to make the wounds fresh. They have no intention of help or healing, and must be avoided completely.
I can see an aim taking shape in this project: to create a new dialogue, and one that finds actual common ground between these women. Common ground that does not shove their face in created or imagined drama, but bonds them to the simple and innocent natural traits they share that make them adventurous people claiming their personalities and sexuality in a world that would have them follow the assembly line of “acceptable conduct”. I would even venture to leave aside the issue of dominating boyfriends and girlfriends who “push” a woman into the industry, because it still takes two people. Unless you are a virtual zombie, you can credit a partner with pushing for something you might not have otherwise wanted, but even with a gun to your head, you can refuse.
This isn’t to downplay the reality of any model who feels life has dealt her a poor hand because she was/is emotionally or mentally weak, it’s just that I feel that only after a new dialogue of responsibility and honesty devoid of emotional voyeurism is estaiblished, where the model can feel free to actually explore possible questions of pain without adding more pain to her experiences, can one really explore the deeper personality issues that make her the kind of performer she is within the industry and in life in general. I don’t think rape and/or relationship naivety is the primary criteria for making a woman a prime candidate for the sex industry. I still think it begins with simpler reasons, and then other life experiences shape the way she handles everything else. I guess, in essence, my aim is to get to the real heart of the matter. I don’t think anyone has done that. We have to transform our dialogue about sex workers to a conversation that focuses on the truth and not our socialized perception for what constitutes right and wrong. We need a new language that will help us understand these women and why they are so feared, pitied and sought after. Do people jump to their “damaged woman” conclusions because they know from experience that that is the only possible answer, or because they fear the choices they don’t make and have to nurture anger for people who dare to jump across lines and challenge the system so they can feel that they’ve done the “right” thing in their own life? I know it feels good to love. I also know it feels good to understand. These women can teach us something. They can teach us much more than physical pleasure. Just by existing, they dare us to expand our ability to love without prejudice.
This is all just a start, of course. And as always, I strongly suggest anyone that suffers the industry and its lures in a way that can permanently hurt them, should get out. There’s no shame in saying that a person is bad for you, that a group of people are bad for you, that an industry is bad for you. Some people cannot work on Wall Street. Some people cannot handle mainstream entertainment. Their decisions are not sound, or they are too sensitive. I was doing some research recently on the Hollywood Sign and read about Peg Entwistle committing suicide off of the “H” in 1932 because she couldn’t get work in Hollywood. If an industry is too tough, get out. Of course, you have to know yourself enough to know to get out. If you’re uncertain, ask for help.
Is it possible to have a happy and healthier industry and participating society? I think it’s a good question.
More on industry unionization later…
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