"After Porn Ends:" If You Hate Porn, Don't Make It So Hard to Quit

The documentary "After Porn Ends" follows the stories of 12 different former porn stars as they move into the next stage of their lives.

May 23, 2012 at 9:30am | Leave a comment

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Last night, I purchased and watched the documentary, "After Porn Ends," which follows the stories of 12 different former porn stars as they move into the next stage of their lives.

I saw a couple of reviews that described the documentary as highlighting the "dark side of porn." I didn't see it that way. It seemed to represent a range of experiences, from actors who are now Christian activists speaking out against pornography and exploitation of women to the dad who openly discusses his former life with his unfazed daughter.

There are heartbreaking moments in the film. But any field with a built-in age limit -- from porn to straight modeling to professional sports -- is going to have its share of post-career sob stories. Add to that the extreme stigma associated with having worked in porn, and it's no surprise that the view from the other side isn't always rosy.

There is no either/or when it comes to sex work. It's not exclusively horrible or exclusively rewarding. I won't say"like any other field" because it's not just like any other field. It's an extremely stigmatized one that attracts some individuals with substance abuse problems and other mental health issues, because those are one kind of people who tend to do poorly in an office environment, and because, according to porn actor and activist Bill Margold, "What the adult industry offers, for a brief shining moment, is immortality, validation and credibility."

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I don't, however, believe that all porn actors are
"broken twisted souls with no job skills" as the film's least likable talking head so charmingly puts it.

I won't dismiss the bad experiences of women like Crissy Moran, who became suicidal while acting in porn,  but neither will I discount the experiences of women like Asia Carerra, who says she has nothing but good memories of her time in porn. (And who, by the way, always comes across as such a delightfully nerdy weirdo, I love it.)

Or Jessica Drake, whose smart business-lady self I spent time with on set and who told me in no uncertain terms that she knew what she was getting into and what she wanted to get out of it. One of my main feminist tenants is trying not to discount women's self-reported experiences just because it's not how I think she should feel.

Which is why Crissy Moran  and women damaged by porn matter, too. But the Crissy Morans of the world don't erase the Jessica Drakes. Just like the horrible reality of sex trafficking doesn't mean there aren't women who choose and enjoy prostitution. There's more than one way to exist in the sex industry, and for every woman who gets eaten up and spit out by porn, there's another who does it on her own terms.

Like Asia Carerra who says in the film, "I never let the industry take advantage of me. I always took advantage of the industry."

Or Tiffany Millions, who became a porn star as a means to "work the least amount of time for the most money" so she could be with her daughter while providing a good life in a good neighborhood. And now she's a freaking bounty hunter!

Or mah boyriend Randy West! Or Richard Pacheco, or any of the other men in the film, none of whom seem excessively conflicted about their porn pasts.
And none of whom anyone seems to be rushing in to save.

But no matter how you feel about pornography, allowing men and women to transition safely into other careers is in the best interest of everyone. Because you can't tell porn stars to quit doing what they're doing without giving them somewhere else to go.

"After Porn Ends" is currently available on Video on Demand.