Stoya in the NY Times: Can We Learn About Privacy From Porn Stars?

Mar 8, 2014
Adult Business News
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Stoya in NY Times

A marvelous opinion piece in the The New York Times on privacy and identity, by adult film superstar Stoya —

LOS ANGELES — I DIDN’T expect to become a porn star. People rarely do. I was 19 years old, and my photographer roommate had an offer from a website to buy some nude pictures. We did a shoot and then waited two weeks in case I woke up in a panic over the idea of releasing naked photos of myself into the world. But I didn’t, and so I turned to the required paperwork. One of the boxes to fill in read “Stage Name (if applicable).”

Stoya: Can We Learn About Privacy From Porn Stars

“My stage name is less about withholding parts of myself or maintaining privacy than it is a symbol of the idea that I am more than just my job or any other isolated slice of my identity.” Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

Stage names are common in the entertainment industry — whether in Hollywood, rap or pornography — and they’re used for all sorts of reasons. But at a time when people can be whoever they like on the Internet, when we are all negotiating who we are in which setting and for which audience, somehow the combination of a woman whose job is fantasy and her fantasy professional name can make people lose their minds.

Consider the recent hysteria over the Duke University student who moonlights as an adult film starlet. Although it didn’t take long after the news broke for her fellow students and strangers to gleefully post her legal name online, “the Duke porn star,” as she has been called by media outlets from Forbes to The Guardian, has tried to control what she is called where. She used the pseudonym Lauren when giving interviews, and the pseudonym Aurora for her stage name in those same interviews. Finally, this week, she acknowledged her actual stage name — Belle Knox.

The whole kerfuffle doesn’t need to be as dramatic as people seem to think. For me, choosing a stage name felt less like concealing my identity (especially since I’d just turned over my Social Security number to strangers) and more like deciding on a user name for any Internet service or website.

I chose Stoya because it was there. It was a diminutive of my grandmother’s maiden name, and my mother had considered it before naming me after Jessica Savitch, the news anchor. Spoken aloud, Stoya had a nice balance between femininity and strength. It felt rightfully mine because of the family history. An insurance agent owned the domain stoya.com, but I didn’t think I’d ever need a website of my own.

Read more…

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[…] “The Sopranos,” is co-starring alongside Stoya, the international porn superstar and New York Times writer, in her first mainstream […]

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