What Happened When I Was Asked To Do Porn

This ain’t Hugh Hefner’s Love Boat…

A few years back, I was sitting on a crowded train, making my way home after a long day.

I was 19, very naïve, and riddled with the body insecurities of all post-adolescent females. Suddenly, the gentleman in the seat behind me leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder. He was strangely beguiling; in his 40s and rather handsome – the furthest thing from threatening.

“Excuse me,” he said, his voice cutting through the silent carriage, “would like to do some modeling?”

My spirits soared, and all thoughts of too fat, too ugly and too flat-chested disappeared from my young mind.

“Really?!” I said breathlessly. “Um, yeah! Sure!”

“Fantastic,” said the stranger, with a lazy smile. “Only thing is, you have to be over 18.”

As he said these words, I sensed the woman next to me flinch, and saw another man across the carriage look over with raised eyebrows. In my innocence I barely registered, I was too busy gleefully accepting the man’s business card and promising to contact him ASAP. With that, he thanked me for my time and hopped off the train.

After he’d gone, I had a look at the card. To my surprise, there was no website or office address, just a company title, a logo and the gentleman’s name and number scrawled in messy handwriting across the top. Puzzled, I decided to Google him when I got home (this was the pre-smartphone era). After a few minutes of searching with what little clues I had, I discovered the mystery man’s website. Only it wasn’t a modeling agency – at least, not the kind I was expecting.

When I clicked the link, I was greeted with photos of scantily clad young women in sexed-up positions, none of whom looked any older than 22. I realized with a jolt the type of ‘modeling’ I had been asked to do was, in fact, good ol’ fashioned pornography.

I paused for a moment, letting it sink in. Then, in spite of myself, I grinned and began to giggle at the irony. I rolled my eyes, closed the browser, took the business card, stalked into the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.

Although my experience was amusing at the time, it highlights a much more serious issue. With the advent of the webcam and the smartphone, anyone with a basement and a spare 10 minutes can become a porn star today. Free streaming sites such as redtube.com produce a constant, easily available source of pornographic imagery. As such, the professional adult film industry has to find a way to compete. This usually involves recruiting younger – potentially underage – girls, and making kinkier, more violent films, produced solely to bring a man to orgasm.  (It’s no wonder so many women are turning to same-sex porn.)

Released in May last year, Hot Girls Wanted explores the sombre realities of the adult agency actress recruitment process.

Released in May last year, Hot Girls Wanted explores the sombre realities of the adult agency actress recruitment process.

But how do producers convince young women to have compromising sex on film? Parks & Recreation actor, Rashida Jones examines this in her groundbreaking documentary Hot Girls Wanted, which depicts the predatory measures adult filmmakers take to find new talent, promising fame and easy fortune, after which point, girls produce a handful of films before being kicked to the curb; used dishrags in the world of porn.

From placing seemingly innocent advertisements on job sites such as Craigslist, to promising a long and lucrative career in the industry, Jones’s revealing documentary exposes the manipulation tactics producers use on debt-strapped college students to make a quick buck. The young women who respond are almost always looking for money and an escape. Nineteen year-old Tressa Silguero, known in the adult-film world as Stella May, was motivated by both of these factors.

“It was an easy escape for me to get out of [Texas], so that’s why I picked it,” she states.

However, contrary to what Silguero and others like her are led to believe, the porn industry is neither safe nor glamourous. Girls barely out of high school are subjected to acts of extreme degradation, sometimes without their consent. These include depictions of incest, ‘cream pies’ (pushing semen out of the vagina with the pelvic muscles after ejaculation) and ‘facial abuse’ (a forced and violent blowjob designed to make the girl vomit). As a result of this treatment, girls leave the industry sometimes irreparably damaged, both physically and psychologically.

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It’s not only girls who stay for the short term feeling the effects. Women with decade-long careers in the industry also have horror stories to tell.

“The pornography industry is a destructive, drug-infested, abusive and sexually diseased industry that causes severe negative secondary effects on female and male adult workers, as well as the general public,” Ex porn star Shelley Lubben says.

“There is a very heavy emphasis on rougher, more sadistic sex, with slapping, spitting, violent hair-pulling and scenes of extremely abusive hardcore sex acts. In one film, the man forces the woman’s head into a toilet during the final scene, a technique that seems to help him achieve climax.”

Former pornographic actress Alex Devine had similarly violent experiences in the notorious 2005 porn film Donkey Punch.

“[It] was the most brutal, depressing, scary scene I have ever done. I have tried to block it out of my memory due to the severe abuse I received during the filming,” she reveals.

“The guy, Steve French, has a natural hatred towards women in the sense that he has always been known to be more brutal than ever needed. I agreed to do the scene thinking it was less beating, except the ‘punch’ in the head. Steve had worn his solid gold ring the entire time, and continued to punch me with it. I actually stopped the scene while it was being filmed because I was in too much pain.”

Unfortunately, since 2005 these kinds of porn flicks have become more common, and more hardcore. Anti-pornography campaigner and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, Gail Dines, has studied thousands of pornographic films and pictures. She asserts imagery depicted in porn nowadays uses sexual acts rarely, if ever, seen a decade ago as routine fodder. Why? Because the prevalence of porn has numbed many men, who now seek harsher, more violent and degrading imagery to spark a new sense of novelty.

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According to Dines, the most popular acts depicted in internet porn include vaginal, oral and anal penetration by three or more men at the same time. Double anal, double vaginal, a woman gagging from a penis being thrust into her throat, and ejaculation in a woman’s mouth, eyes and face also garner high hit rates.

“To think that so many men hate women to the degree that they can get aroused by such vile images is quite profound,” says Dines.

“The more porn sexualizes violence against women, the more it normalizes and legitimizes sexually abusive behavior.”

I’m not saying the entirety of the porn industry falls under this unethical branch, or that all men will be influenced by violent porn. There is a huge amount of gentler, soft-core porn out there, and plenty of men who reject sexual violence and abhor abusive adult films. However, the fact remains that 40 per cent of online pornography depicts violence against women – and that is a frighteningly high statistic.

Should we tolerate abusive porn, remembering the majority of adult films are non-violent? Maybe remind ourselves the women in question are paid for their troubles, regardless of how unscrupulously they were lured into the business? Or is the unhealthy attitude of sexual violence and rape culture bred by the degradation of women in porn justification enough to condemn the entire industry? All I know is this: with the knowledge I have now, my little episode with the beguiling stranger on the train doesn’t seem quite so funny anymore.

Images via netflix.com and badoink.io.

Comment: Do you think there needs to be better policing of the adult film industry and its recruitment practices?