Vintage Sleaze Contemporary entry number 41 is an interview with Dr. Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, author and sociologist.
The best chance encounters occur not in dingy bars anymore, they happen on the web. One of the best we have had lately is bumping into Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, Ph.D. Doctor of Sociology and one of those adventurous scholars not content to spend ALL their time in the library. Dr. Tibbals studies adult entertainment. That’s right… her fieldwork is smut! Not only is it her chosen specialty, she excels at it – lectures on it, researches and writes papers and books on it… and tries hard to maintain her scientific objectivity the whole time.
Always grasping for legitimacy, I immediately reached out through the cyber wall to interview the author and scholar. We are pleased to have Dr. Chauntelle Anne Tibbals as number 41 in the Vintage Sleaze CONTEMPORARY series. Make sure to see the links to her blog, her fascinating (and hilarious) ebooks series “You Study What?” available for the Kindle and the additional links to her sites below.
Gosh. You have selected a curious area of specialty. Can you share briefly the events in your life that led to studying porn and the adult industry?
Oh my, well… Put really briefly: born and raised in Los Angeles. Attended UCLA for undergrad, then decided to pursue an MA in Sociology at Cal State Northridge (CSUN). CSUN is right in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, which is the global hub of porn production.
While working on my MA, I started getting really into feminist-informed scholarship about gender, sexualities, work, and sex work… but I was finding nothing but “porn is horrible, both as a media form and for women”-type perspectives. There was no consideration of adult entertainment as a culturally significant space that impacted all humans in a complex, multi-faceted manner.
Meanwhile, I was also then in my early 20s, out living life in this porn-tropolis region of LA, which looked and felt exactly like any other “regular” place. I couldn’t conceive of the organized and systematic exploitation and abuse I was reading about, nor could I imagine such an intricate plot occurring without some sort of socio-cultural subsidization – how could all this stuff be happening right there in the Valley where I was going to grad school?!! And how could it all be happening by force? How did these pornographers FORCE people to be involved in the production and consumption (e.g. viewing) of their evilness? (such were the nature of my questions back then haha)
Reality was: they couldn’t. Porn production was and is a legal industry. And though it’s certainly not perfect (nothing is), porn doesn’t exist without the “support” of social actors. I was starting to figure this out, but nothing I was reading engaged these ideas. So though I had not even one single contact or direct connection to the adult industry in those days, my instincts told me things could not be as one-sided as they seemed. I decided to get a Ph.D. in Sociology (I went to UT Austin – hook ‘em!!) and study the adult industry workplace as a varied and complex sociological case… and here I am today.
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