How in the world did I survive the porn industry?

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I just read the Aurora Snow post at The Daily Beast entitled, Blood, Sweat and Sex: My Hard Life in Porn. Her writing has been suggested to me multiple times now and I think it’s good and interesting. But the comment section, it appears, left people wondering if she was crying about her tough job in porn or just being honest. I’d like to believe that she is merely stating that the job isn’t as easy as it looks and that fans should have more appreciation for what performers go through to get the product to them. But after some thought, talk about tearing and other’s past talk about gonorrhea and chlamydia contraction left me wondering how it is exactly that I survived porn better than some; without getting any diseases and without suffering “tearing”. I had a few rotten experiences out of hundreds of experiences, but how did I completely miss out on some of the physical horror stories I’ve read about and heard?

Most performers will admit that their share of unsavory experiences are minor compared to their overall experiences. My worst work experiences happened away from porn.

I was once cursed so thoroughly in Korean by my boss’ wife that I quit that dry cleaning job. Every workday before that was fine, but one hysterical outbreak from her and I couldn’t take it. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that just because I didn’t iron one dress shirt to her liking. I suspect she was jealous and just looking for a reason to unload screams into my face even though I was definitely not after her man and never acted as though I were. And the heat in that place was excruciating. We’re talking eight solid hours, five days a week of 100+ degree heat. And this was in Texas, so the heat was compounded by Dallas’ natural summer humidity. It was miserable. Far more miserable than working in the heat on a porn set, even in the desert.

Aside from that, porn performance most certainly is an athletic business, but what made me so different? I started out shooting gonzo scenes for the smaller companies, too. I worked for the gross and disgusting Max Hardcore. It was a learning experience, and so I made sure to get more information from future jobs. Bobby Vitale was fired from one of my scenes for being a dead-eyed, incoherent, bludgeoning mess. I didn’t tolerate it. I didn’t have to even be emotional when I refused to tolerate it. Despite being confused and exasperated by his personality shift, I thought I dealt with it quite well. ‘Sorry, but this feels like a rape scene and I didn’t get into this business to feel like I am being raped, so… You can replace me, but I’m not finishing this scene.’ Sounds like most other women navigate(d) their experiences similarly. Did something different set me apart?

I worked with the same people everyone else did. Anti-pornographers and some performers talk about the inevitability of contracting STDs, yet I didn’t contract one STD in six years. Ron Jeremy makes the same claim, with his decades of work in the industry. I was not the prettiest female to ever enter porn. I’d say I was right there on the cute scale with performers like Aurora and Inari Vachs. I got implants but I didn’t do it for the industry, and fake boobs were actually on their way out. Natural women were becoming more popular than women with fake parts. Also, I was lazy as hell. I didn’t work very often, by choice. I didn’t feel like it. I never saved money, but managed to pay rent and take care of my family. Is that the difference? I was very focused on my family; very focused on my health and overall wellness, for their sake. And though I took the job seriously, I didn’t take it too seriously in terms of ego and being better than anyone else. I never felt I was competing for something.

I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s experience and I don’t want to go into too many comparisons, but I think perspective and right motive matters in any line of work. We express our basic selves through everything we do, and maybe I just didn’t feel like being too athletic. I never focused on being famous. I didn’t try to remember people’s names, I didn’t work with other women, I didn’t try too hard (which would explain my modest fame); yet somehow I got through my workday, didn’t drink or do drugs–except drinking a few times a year at events, of course–and I think it really came down to that kind of moderation and focus on my family. I wasn’t doing the work just for me; I was doing it for two people I felt a huge responsibility to shelter and care for in this world. I don’t feel bad about that because I was able to do it and it benefited them. It benefited me in experience and wisdom. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything, even if some of those experiences are not-so-great. Even the tough experiences taught me something.

I learned that you can never ask too many questions, and if someone doesn’t like your asking questions, they are probably up to no good and stay away from them. I learned that just having a bad feeling is reason enough to say no to something. It’s a practical approach to survival all around, I suppose. For my loved ones I had to be whole. I had to be okay; I had to walk away from every experience in one piece so I could work another day. I got into porn to be apart of an interesting, odd entertainment group; to fulfill my rebelliousness; to take care of my family; to learn about sex; to travel and live a bit wild and wistful. I never once walked into a job with the thought that I had to do the job. I reserved a place deep inside for my own peace of mind; a mantra, really. “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.” No amount of money is worth walking away feeling broken. So what if you don’t get paid? The money will present itself in another opportunity.

To be honest, the worst part of having been a porn star is feeling I have to apologize for my choices. Nothing makes me feel dirtier, more demeaned; my humanity undermined and soul crippled, than feeling like I have to say, “I shouldn’t have gotten into porn.” That’s a low, sub-human feeling. I was burned by a friend a few years ago and in my hurt, I said that I wished I hadn’t gotten into porn. I felt alien to myself. The words and thoughts disgusted me so much I have never uttered them again. I am not sad or ashamed that I got into porn. I am sad and ashamed when I allow people into my life that don’t appreciate me for who I am and the wealth of experience I have to offer. Nothing disgusts me more than people who try to manipulate my feelings to change my thinking. The innocence of sex attracts predators of different kinds, and they usually sit on the edges of the industry with judgment, bad advice and malice; clean of any actual sex involvement, yet constantly meddling and hovering around it.

Larry Flynt handed out some advice not too long ago about how to conduct oneself as a performer. “Be professional.” Yes, definitely be professional. But also be practical and keep things in perspective. The job doesn’t have to be so hard, I think. Carrying around several plates in a restaurant–again, in Texas–made my arms sore and was exhausting on a busy night. Helping a family member mow the squares of grass in parking lots where the rocks and branches would ricochet off the metal blades and bruise and cut my legs was no fun. I knew a man who worked for the Post Office his entire adult life and eventually had both his knees replaced. (There was a time when that was an all-walking job.) When it gets really hot just remember, sweating is good for your pores. When you are doing lots of crunches, at least you are getting exercise. If something starts to hurt, stop. And always be clean. Ron Jeremy states in his book that after sex he washes like a mad person. Clean yourself well. Take long baths and listen to your body. At least it’s not construction work or mining, right?

This has been an amusing writeup. Next week: Chapter Two; Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Porn. LOL


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Author: Julie Meadows

Francophile, oenophile, French Scrabble advocate and future zombie apocalypse survivor.

15 Comments

  1. Alright, a few things…

    “I was not the prettiest female to ever enter porn” is modest. I like that, although it’s matter of debate.

    Max Hardcore is a freak and a sad individual.

    Fake boobs? You never needed them. Why did you do it? Personal reasons?

    I like hearing about your life in the business. It’s fascinating since it’s a life I am never going to lead, so I enjoy reading about it. It’s a job, with good points and bad points. Do some women get exploited in pornography? Of course, but I don’t think at nearly the level it’s made out to be by the opposing side. I do believe that sometimes damaged people get involved in it for the wrong reasons which are then used by the Lubbens, but little focus is given to people who did it, led normal lives, and then left.

    Pornography is still on the fringe on mainstream society, and to be a performer in it makes you different than the average person. Is it something to apologize for? Only if you feel it needs an apology. Whether you did or didn’t or would never do it makes no difference to me. You got paid to do a service, perform a part, that didn’t physically or mentally harm anyone. Yes, admittedly, I look at you differently, but not as a judge; and not as a strange male porn-obsessed sycophant (which there are plenty of). You are just an individual who made choices different from my own—choices you thought were the best at the time, and obviously worked for you.

    I have seen your scenes (easy to do with all the tube sites out there) in the past; however, it’s not something I care to do anymore, mainly because I view you as a person, an individual. It’s hard to converse with you on here and then view your work. I become conflicted—not conflicted in the sense that I feel you having sex on camera is wrong, but conflicted because I know you are more than the character you are displaying, more than “Julie Meadows.” It’s my own issue.

  2. lol Thank you, VS. :D

    I got boobies because mine were a little lopsided from having my son. And I’m glad I didn’t go too big. I actually wanted them a bit smaller because I liked having an athletic figure. The doctor counseled me to go with a full C. I did it for myself.

    It makes sense that the friendship I’ve started with you and other people over the internet creates conflict about viewing my past product. Many people have said the same thing. I can tell when that’s not the case. The subject matter and tone is always too intimate and the fact is, I’m not quite that person anymore because I’m married and monogamous. I don’t play that part, like you said, so I don’t feel in any way the need to cater to it.

    I was thinking more about Aurora’s TDB article after I wrote this one and I remembered what it was like to write a post per week for Mike South’s site in 2009/10. I felt a bit of pressure at times to create something interesting, and I wonder if the “My Hard Life in Porn” thing is more about just getting something written. In fact, before Mike’s site it was Steve Nelson’s at AINews.com and I wrote a post per month. One was about pubic hair and how uninteresting it is when people shave it completely. Had I known at the time that Gail Dines tries to marry that with pedophilia, I would have included that weirdo view in my statements to separate my thoughts from hers.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I doubt she seriously feels porn is so hard, right? I mean… it’s not that hard. lol If you look at the amount of work, longevity, difficulty starting a new career later, it’s really no different than being a mainstream star with a short shelf life. If you were say, a television star and no one would hire you after a memorable role because you’ve been typecast, you’d have the same difficulties starting a new career doing something completely different, yet it’s possible! It just takes extra effort. Porn is just a really short trip to that kind of stardom. Poor Gary Coleman. That guy had a hard time in life. He was a security guard for a little while, but you know barely a day went by when someone didn’t corner him to say, “Whachoo talkin’ ’bout Willis!”

  3. Gary Coleman! That’s a name that I never thought would come up on this forum.

    Sometimes you have to write filler material just to get something going. When I look back at the things I have written and I said in the past, and I wonder why I ever had those thoughts.

    It seems commonplace when one leaves porn, one has to “regret” and “apologize” for what they did. Perhaps the pressure of mainstream society makes this the case—you need to be embarrassed by your past. Why should you be embarrassed about it? If someone choses to break off a friendship with you because they discovered your past, that says more about them than it does you. As for being typecast, that’s a given; but that’s work, not your personal life.

    I know you’re a different person. I read what you said, so I thought about it and went to one of the many tubes sites to watch you again, lol. It’s a little odd, but manageable. Seeing your personality on here, I keep on thinking what your commentary/mindset would be during the scene.

  4. Tremendous post, Lydia. I always enjoy your pieces about the time you spent as an adult actress and how you reflect on that period of your life today in retrospect. I feel you could have a lot to offer performers entering the business today – not to mention that I’d love to hear anti-industry zealots such as Gail Dines and Michael Weinstein respond to talent and former talent like yourself who consider their time in adult a positive experience and have intelligent and worthwhile views to offer.

    You nor any other performer (past or present) should most definitely NOT have to apologize or feel guilty in any way for your time as part of the adult industry. I agree with the poster above: for a person to judge you or anyone else for that says more about them than it does about you.

  5. Each of us lives own life. That’s our choice what to do, our decision, our responsibility. Nobody can say that work in porn industry is worse or better than the other. Nobody is hurt by porn movie, nobody has to watch it if he don’t want. But the porn is a business with wicked reputation. Why? Because sex is unnatural? Because to look at a pretty girl is abnormal? No. Many people are not self-confident. When they point at a porn actress and say “she’s licentious”, they can feel they are better than her. It’s very easy to judge any person, any group of people or whole industry in this way. But there are lot of people working out of porn that can do anything bad for money, power or an advantage. And in porn industry can be many people with clear mind and great heart. No matter if somebody work in porn or in another industry. The main thing is not to lose self-respect because anything we do in accord with own, well, even with pleasure, we do it in right way.
    And when I’m reading your article I’m sure you are one of person with open-mind (and glamorous woman, of course).

  6. This was a very good read, I enjoyed it a lot.

    I feel like I should say more but nothing comes to mind.

  7. Thank you Lydia. I also enjoy when you share stories of your time in the adult world. I’m also very glad you, for the most part, didn’t have the kind of negative experiences that some others have had. I do think that maybe you’re made of stronger stuff than most others though.
    I for one have not seen your work, as my children were very young during the period of time you were in the business. My wife preferred that we limit our viewing to late at night, so we just watched our old VHS tapes, which were made before your time. And, I also prefer to know you (as much as you can know anyone through the written word) as Lydia. Thanks again and I look forward to reading reading about more of your experiences, both in adult and out.

  8. labeling yourself a ‘Goofball’ seems redundant, Julie. ” … a beautiful little fool.” a difficult part to play, I’m sure.

  9. VS–Ha!! My mindset during a scene. My brain whirs constantly. :D ‘Man, this is a difficult position, but I’m getting good exercise!’ LOL

    Adam–Thank you. I am intrigued by the people who say things like, “I was high all the time,” or “All porn stars are con artists.” How boring. I’m glad to know I don’t live on that side of the fence. I wish I could know some of the stars from the Golden era. Jill Nelson posted the nicest compliment to my FaceBook update about this. She wrote, “A great read, Julie; an excellent and well articulated piece. Your overall assessment echoes many of the ladies who came before you.” Thank you so much for writing to me about her. She is quite amazing. :)

    Zdenek–You make me think about it in a way that makes sense from a crazy different angle! It’s like people don’t want to feel there’s something wrong with them, maybe, because they *don’t* want to be a sex worker or even just have sex a lot? That’s a kind of twist on it. Like a defensive way of defending their lack of sexuality or sexual openness. Huh… I’ll have to come back around to that.

    Brian–Thank you. :)

    Dale–Maybe so. Thank you, Dale.

    Alex–For reals, dog!

  10. Lydia
    Just goes to show how balanced you are. You dont need to apologise for life choices

  11. That really is a terrific compliment! Agreed – Jill is awesome :)

  12. Lydia,

    I may have seen you back in your porn days so reading this piece struck my interest just a bit. I have to say I’m glad to hear from someone who has been in the business not all of it is (or has to be) doom a gloom. I do watch some of the work done in various settings and actual ask “how do they do this” or “what line did they cross when they said ‘yes’ to this scene”? I’m amazed at how each of the actors in porn are doing some of the most amazing, accrobatic moves one can imagine in and out of the bedroom.

    I can tell you for all the sex I had back in the 80s–in and out of marriage I’m afraid–I am amazed I didn’t get a disease or HIV/AIDS back when the disease was spreading. I agree, part of it was keeping clean always and taking good care of yourself. The other part was where I had sex. I lived in Germany and at least there you were required to wear a condom with everyone you were involved with. It does make a difference when you use such precautions.

    The point is you shine the light about the good aspects of being in the porn world and how it didn’t destroy you as a person. You came out of the scene with your wits and life together and to me that’s worth holding up to others saying “its not as bad as you think.”

    Does this mean I will sign up and be a “fluffer” anytime soon? Not likely.

    But I do take a healthy respect for each of the actors who do things I know most people won’t do in real life. I do think the risk you take, the performers you deal with, and the scenes you attempt are truly one of a kind and if you walk away with your sanity and health in tact you are definately fortunate and should walk proudly in it.

    I don’t know you personally and I don’t know if you’ll read this or not, but thanks for being honest about the porn wold and giving a fresh aspect I don’t think I’ve read in most blogs and publications. Long life and blessings and know at least this peson writing don’t see you as a paraiah but a person. You deserve respect, dignity, and understanding regarding the choices you made and the person you are. If you don’t get that from anyone else I hope you know the few of us out there do with you (and others).

    Thank you.

  13. Thank you, Ed. I was talking to someone whose anti-porn mentor had explained to them that sex workers are brainwashed into thinking their job is okay; that it requires being out of the industry as long as you’ve been in it to understand the damage done. I was a sex performer for six years. I’ve been out now for almost seven, and I still don’t regret it.

    It’s not a pleasant experience for everyone, I know, but life itself isn’t a pleasant experience for everyone. I enjoy what I can and am thrilled when my writing finds thoughtful people like yourself and the friends I’ve made here over the years.

  14. I’m sorry I missed this article a few months back. Its nice to see a former performer appearing to be honest about her feelings regarding her porn past. With some ladies who may still be involved with the business in some non-performing capacity you have them following the party line that it was always fun and a blast and the best job in the world, and with others who may be getting pressured from either friends, family or outside parties to denounce the industry saying how horrible it was and how exploited they were. Maybe the above is true for some of those ex-performers but you come across as more believable. I’m not pretending to know anything about the business or its people here just calling it how I see it. Nice article :)

  15. I like your work because you seem to enjoy yourself and have fun with the scenes. I only came across this site because I googled “does Julie Meadows enjoy her work”… Now I know your name is Lydia too! ;) If I were to work in the industry I’d want to have shoot with a girl who carries herself like you…

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