Stoya on Ethics, Porn, and Workers’ Rights

Aug 3, 2013
Bloggers
0 0

I was talking to this reporter recently about pubic hair. My favorite interviews are the ones that feel like a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop or a friend at a quiet neighborhood bar. Tangents get explored and they frequently veer off into territory that has nothing to do with the article being written. Sometimes those digressions circle back into a great quote about the initial topic that probably wouldn’t have been said if the format was Q&A. One of the tangents I went on during this interview involved exploitation in the porn industry.

Porn Set

My first contract with an adult production studio was skewed heavily in the company’s favor. You could say I got “screwed” on it. I’ve heard plenty of unverified mythology about musical artists and television actors who had terrible initial contracts. I’ve also heard a few stories directly from talent in the mainstream end of the entertainment industry. You might know some of these anecdotes: Prince’s name change to avoid a trademark ownership issue, the reasons behind Johnny Depp’s rumored antics on the 21 Jump Street set, Billy Joel and his 15-year Family Productions contract.

From what I gather, the ways that I was screwed on that first contract are very similar to the ways that a lot of young artists get screwed on their first deal with a large company. I see no reason to go into details. I do feel a need to reiterate that this sort of skewed contract happens in other sectors of the entertainment industry. I also feel a need to point out that contracted performers in the adult industry are not the norm and that most contracts with adult production studios are more balanced than mine was.

A big chunk of the responsibility for the whole thing lies with me for being naive enough to sign their stock agreement without having a lawyer look at it. You don’t show up to a gunfight with a dull fork, and I shouldn’t have dealt with capitalism in that capacity without professional advice and some knowledge of standard industry practices. Once I realized how one-sided our relationship was I talked to lawyers and eventually sorted it out. Sure, the experience meant I couldn’t work in my chosen profession or remotely similar ones for over a year without potentially putting myself in default of the contract. Yes, it was messy, stressful, and expensive but I learned a lot and the legal bills weren’t any worse than a year at college would have been.

The main lesson that I took away from my early dealings with the founders and former owners of that company is that a fair deal means making sure that the exploitation is mutual and balanced. Thanks to my stubborn streak and a contract extension that someone luckily forgot to send, I’ve been on a much more equal footing for the past three years. My career is doing fine. The new owners have no right to stop me from doing live performances or photo shoots. I can now write under whatever name I please, including the pseudonym I’ve been building since before I’d ever considered working in hardcore porn. Any exploitation I personally experienced during the first few years of my career in adult films is a heightened version of some kid taking the first, extremely low offer for a salaried position straight out of school. A company that tries to get as much work from a person as they can while paying them as little as possible just looks like capitalism at work. It isn’t exactly ethical but it isn’t any more exploitative than the majority of jobs.

Some people argue that pornography is, by definition, exploitative. Anti-porn activists sometimes paint this picture of a porn starlet with huge bedroom eyes, brand new DD breasts, a nubile 19-year old body, and a complete lack of both independent thought and personal agency. While this girl certainly does make an effective poster child for the argument that all sex work is toxic and bad, she is a straw man. She is a heavily distorted caricature of a very few people who are no more representative of female porn performers than any one person is representative of a group. This straw porn starlet is also a bit of a red herring when it comes to ethics and exploitation in pornography.

And then there’s “Big Porn.” Forbes debunked the idea of pornography as a $14-billion-dollar-a-year industry back in 2001, but reporters were still asking about it when I started talking to members of the press in 2008. Until a few years ago this pornographic version of Exxon or Walmart did not exist. Production companies were, for the most part, mom-and-pop style places operating with little bureaucracy and usually with a certain amount of concern for the welfare of the people they employed. Many of those companies still exist, but now Big Porn does too.

Keep Reading

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Spread the love
Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Houstondon
7 years ago

I’ve enjoyed Stoya’s performances from the beginning but her earliest works were far and away stronger, for me at least. I’m sure some of the reason is related to those details she won’t talk about but I look forward to seeing her work for some of the directors that might help her find her roots and look like she is having fun again, not highly edited, extremely short sex scenes locked into features that look tossed together (by corporate dictate). A showcase, double disc gonzo offering by Jules Jordan, John Stagliano, or maybe William Nutsack would be best though a… Read more »

TrafficHolder.com - Buy & Sell Adult Traffic
2
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x