Working In Porn Is Awesome, Until You Want To Find Another Job

Potential employers would ask me a million questions about my current job, and then tell me they couldn't hire me because they have children at home.
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November 5, 2014
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Before I even got my driver’s license, I was an intern at a heavy metal magazine, and had the pleasure to write feature stories, critique album reviews, go to shows three times a week, and hang out with my favorite bands. Nothing surprised or shocked me (I was interviewing Marilyn Manson in his dressing room for a feature story, enough said) and I liked it that way.

So, it’s no wonder that when I got out of college, and I needed a job, that a prominent porn magazine came calling.

As the managing editor, I oversaw the articles, wrote a good portion of them, and conducted reviews of upcoming DVDs. I have to say, I had a great time. I was surrounded by the coolest, smartest, most hardworking people in any publication. I had a job that could pay the bills and then some. It was different, funny, sexy, and the greatest conversation starter in the world.

I still felt on top of the world until about a year-and a-half into my gig, when my boss told me we were trying to go into a “different, harder direction.” I was asked to watch a DVD we were about to showcase. We would get the uncut scenes, stuff that was still gritty and raw before the production companies would pretty them up. I’ll never forget it -- it was a threesome scene, and the girl was yelling for the guys to stop, but the director told them not to. The guys kept going, even though they kept trying to calm the girl down. They were losing their hard-ons, and I was losing my faith in what I was doing.

The memory of the girl wailing in the background after the scene was all I needed to find a new direction. I was desperate to leave. The only thing was, I had no clue just how hard my journey to finding a new job with my credentials would actually be.

My coworkers traded war stories. “It’s damn near impossible” they would tell me. “They see “adult” “or “alternative lifestyle” and they think you’re tainted.”

In interviews, potential employers would gawk at my chest and ask me a million questions about my current job, and then tell me they couldn't hire me because they have children at home (as if I was supposed to babysit them naked and tied up. It was a secretarial job, not a babysitting position.)

My all-time favorite was when a prominent woman's magazine editor thought I would be perfect for an editorial job. I was positive I had nailed it -- I knew the layout design, I was loyal, dedicated, smart, talented, but something felt off.

A few days later, when I called to see if I was still a candidate for the position, the editor laughed at me and said, "Lisa, we just wanted to see if you looked like a porn star." I had never felt more humiliated and used in my entire life.

It was as if none of them even looked at my credentials. It was porn -- big deal. I knew web design programs, and I knew how to write. I didn’t get why I was such a joke.

After three years of working at the magazine, I decided to go back to get my master’s degree in nutrition. I found a job working as a library assistant at a local college near my house, and I loved every second of it. My boss didn't care about my past, only that I could help the students with their papers, and file and check out books. I was kicking ass and happier than ever.

Unfortunately, a few months after I started, the school needed to cut the budget, and as the saying goes "Last one hired, first one fired." I knew I had to find a job fast, and when I looked on Craigslist, I found an editorial position that was in-house. I didn't know what it was for, but I thought I'd give it a try.

When I went to the interview, I was treated with respect from the very second I walked in, and then I saw the stacks of porn mags on the conference table. I knew precisely why I was there. At that point, I just thought, "Whatever, you'll have to do this for two years, and then get out because you'll be a nutritionist by then."

I got the job, and I was actually enjoying it there. My bosses were ace, and my coworkers were the funniest people anyone could imagine working with on a day-to-day basis. I felt lucky to write what I wanted, and all the porn was pretty mainstream -- nothing was too crazy, and if I felt uncomfortable with anything, I could do something else, no questions asked.

I was liking it so much that I started working at the annual conventions and became close with some of the porn actresses. Every last one of them was unbelievably kind, caring, smart, and funny. Like me, they all said the same thing "With our past, it's hard to do something else." I only wrote porn, no one saw my face, I couldn't imagine if my O-face was splattered all over Silicone Valley.

One porn star, a very famous one, who will remain nameless, took me to the side and very bluntly said, "Get the fuck out of this business. I know you're a writer, but it will ruin you. You're not getting the recognition you deserve, and you're too smart for this." Although my bosses were nice, I wasn't getting paid what I was worth, especially for all that I was doing, and writing porn was starting to bore the crap out of me. I was on the hunt once again.

After a year and a half of looking, I didn't get a single interview. I knew I had to do something -- and fast.

Unfortunately, it wasn't fast enough, because I got laid off in September of 2013, due to budget cuts. I began relentlessly putting out my resume, and even going to the buildings themselves to show my interest -- nothing. I got two emails seconds apart from one company: the first said that they wanted to schedule an interview, and the second canceled it, stating their distaste for my past positions.

I kept hearing the same thing, "It's not just you -- it's rough out there for everyone." Yeah, but everyone doesn't have a background in bondage tying, and how to properly clean a dildo. I was becoming desperate once again.

I had a minor panic attack when I applied for my weekly benefits, watching the numbers dwindle to practically nothing. By March of 2014, I had no money -- none. I was officially tapped out. I called to extend my benefits, but our lovely government thought it was best to no longer utilize extended benefits.

About five seconds after I hung up the phone, in tears, I clicked on any job I could. I found a publishing job a few miles away from my house listing for a production coordinator -- for a medical and legal malpractice newsletter, no less. I thought it was a stretch, but I was surprised to even get a call back, let alone an interview the very next day. I explained that all the despite my past experience, I had the credentials they were looking for and that no matter what -- I would do a kick ass job.

You know what? I was hired on the spot, and by far, it's my favorite job. I constantly get rewarded, my co-workers and boss are outstanding, and all three people I work with think my porn past actually helped me to where I am today. I am pretty much doing the same thing as I used to -- just no explicit language -- and it's refreshing. It's almost like it's my first grown-up job.

Ever since I was little, I always remembered a Winnie The Pooh quote -- Pooh and Piglet are lost in the forest, and Winnie knows how scared Piglet is, but doesn't want to scare him even more even though he has no clue where he's going. Pooh reassures his buddy and says something like, "We may not know where we're going, but we always end up exactly where we're supposed to be."

I look fondly at my porn writing days -- I really do. It’s going to be fun to tell my grandchildren one day. But it ran its course, and now I’m ready to run another marathon -- on my terms.