Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.
I keep ending up in conversations about porn. (I mean, no surprise.) However, there’s always this point where the porn conversation gets weird for me, and I kind of slide out of it. Because I make porn, and I haven’t told anyone about it. Until now.
It’s not like I’m ashamed or even care much who knows. I mean, I don’t want people I babysit for to friend me on Facebook and see it or anything, but I haven’t been keeping it a secret from my friends and lovers out of shame. I just didn’t know how to start the conversation, and I liked having a secret. I’m willing to give that up, though, because you should know that porn is no big deal.
I started last fall. My AmeriCorps gig ran out and didn’t immediately lead to a new job, and I was in school and I needed money. If you’ve spent any amount of time on Craigslist, you know that there are always posts for sketchy nudie jobs. I’m a sex-positive gal, and I get naked in front of strangers all the time anyway. So, why shouldn’t someone pay me to do so?
So, I found a post for ladies with curves doing kink porn, and I pulled out an email address that belongs to a pseudonym (not this one) and I shot a message off to this dude. I was glad it was S&M stuff; I’m really pretty vanilla in my actual sex life, but it’s a lot easier to pretend to get beat up or fist fight or something on camera than to pretend sex.
The guy got back to me and sent me a long list of stuff that might occur in a shoot for me to indicate my comfort levels. I consented to the things I’m cool with and set my boundaries where I wanted them and felt kind of giddy-weird about the whole thing. Could I really go through with this? Could I get naked at some stranger’s apartment and let them put the pictures on the internet?
Of course I could. By the time I actually made it to a shoot, I had a real job that paid a whole $20/hour, but with porn I could make more like $60. My director was a great, funny guy, and the whole process just felt like when my friends and I would dress up in silly costumes and take pictures in college. (Except with a lot more boobs. Boobs everywhere.)
So, I took home my first $200 or so from porn and didn’t tell anyone. Just shoved that wad of cash in my wallet and was that awesome person who didn’t need to use a card when splitting the check at restaurants for a few weeks. Shoved the lingerie in my underwear drawer and wondered if I should look for excuses to wear it again. (The worst part about owning a blue sequin thong is not being able to tell everyone you know about your blue sequin thong. The second worst part is forgetting it in the dryer and picking blue sequins out of your clothes for weeks. Yes, you keep the lingerie after you shoot. No one else wants that thong once it’s been in your buttcrack.)
I’m not the kind of person who has many secrets, and I found out that I really liked having one. I felt special, putting on my black stiletto boots and remembering that I bought them to stand on top of a naked woman with, and no one I knew had any idea. I would walk down the street thinking about how I had a secret, and smile.
Then it just got to this point where it seemed silly to spill the beans now. How do you tell your best friend you’ve kept a secret from them for 6 months when you tell them everything else? Beyond that, I hadn’t worked it into the story of myself. I’m poly and queer and a seminarian and a fundraiser and…I do porn? I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in with the other pieces.
But now, I kind of like that I can tell people. I take my clothes off and pretend to do kinky things I don’t even get off on in real life, and someone hands me a wad of cash and I go home and put the fishnets in my drawer. Sometimes I go straight from church to a porn shoot. This is my life. Now, when conversations about porn come up, I can be a kind of expert. I can rant against the kind that’s exploitative and makes people shave because I make stuff that’s better.
I need a new excuse for why I’m not making the super-kinky Old Testament porn that doesn’t exist, though.