Editorial: You Ought to be in Pictures - Loaded Magazine - Issue: October 2001

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Resplendent in bobbie socks and layered petticoats, blond and bubbly 16 year old, Traci Lords shocked the US film establishment when she made the transition from porn to be cast in the John Waters 1950’s stylized film, Cry Baby. Over a decade later and the US movie industry’s continued infatuation with porn star chic suggests both a wider acceptance of the formerly taboo medium and its suitability as a prerequisite for a conventional acting career.

Dozens of former (and current) XXX stars have since infiltrated the mainstream, from Jeanna Fine's upcoming role in the Willem Dafoe crime drama, Boondock Saints, to Kobe Tai in Very Bad Things, Nina Hartley’s impressive cameo in Boogie Nights through to Asia Carrera in The Big Lebowski.

With pornography having generated over $10 billion in revenue last year, it’s easy to assume that the industry does seem a little less dubious in the moral stakes than it once was. And while taking the low road to success may invite purists scorn, there are more similarities than contrasts to the two sides of the business.

Porn’s accidental or intentional irreverence has much to do with its appeal. Who couldn’t pass up a film called Edward Penishands or Buffy The Vampire Layer? LA, the mecca of all things audacious serves as a global metaphor for the mainstreaming of porn. Its increased acceptance is everywhere, Hustler department stores on Sunset Boulevard, hundreds of cable TV porn channels, clubbing kids in pornstar t-shirts, blond haired surgically enhanced babes at every turn, it’s a all far cry from shrinking in a bus shelter with dirty goods in a paper bag.

38 year old Porn actor, Ginger Lynn made her first film in 1984. In the late 80's she became Ginger Lynn Allen as she decided to pursue a "serious" acting career, starring in an assortment of B mainstream films, including Vice Academy Part 2, 3 & 5, Wing Commander 3 & 5, Fantasy World, Young Guns II, Buried Alive and Sorority House Murders.

Now with a partner and three year old son, Ginger’s more recent "serious dramas" include Howard Stern on E, Silk Stalking's and NYPD Blue. She's also made a music video for Metallica's Turn The Page. "I made my first film on my twenty-first birthday, and it was an X-film, and it was very easy to go into that. When I stopped making adult films two years and three months later, I was excited about doing it and a little insecure. I found that people in the b-movie industry were much more open and receptive to someone coming from adult film. They welcomed me with open arms, and I've enjoyed all my b-films. They actually gave me the opportunity to go on to small roles in b-films, the lead roles to small roles in A films".

Actor Nina Hartley has been in the business for 16 years and has made a vast number of pornfilms, plus a fitting "straight" role in Boogie Nights as a nympho wife whose husband suicides. Nowadays she’s into educational porn, having made several videos for LA based company, Adam & Eve. "I'm not going to try to swim upstream in Hollywood," she says "where there are thousands of women without my "tainted" background trying to break into film. I will not quit or lie about how I feel about the business in order to make a straight film, but, when they want me, I'll gladly do them".

"Sex as a commercial venture doesn't bother me because I do not automatically view all women as victims of sex; nor do I view all men automatically to be victimizers, or all intercourse as de facto rape. Under capitalism, all things can be commodified; why should sex be any different."

On a more personal level, Nina says her family are now growing to accept her dayjob, "They don't like it, to say the least, but they still love and accept me. I come from a large and unusual family; I'm just one more strange one! I don't throw what I do in the face of my family; they rarely see me in my full "battle gear", but I don't hide it from them either. They know about my 3-way relationship, my swinging, my dancing, my talk shows, my movies and my college lectures. With the exception of my two brothers, I'd say my relationship with my family, including my grandmother until the time of her death at 93, is fine".

In terms of physicality, Nina insists that she has some of her best orgasms on camera. " "We’ll lets just say I’m being paid thousands of dollars to have sex with highly experienced, gorgeous men. That’s great motivation to enjoy yourself. We are always well lubed up anyway and we don’t actually have sex for hours and hours, editing makes it look like we do.

I also made a rule to myself when I started out in this business that I wouldn't do anything on screen that I wouldn't do at home for free. It's important to keep some of the sex part of the business fun for yourself, or you'll burn out. I don't do much anally for the same reason: I leave that for when I'm a certain kind of horny at home. As I explore more in my personal life, you will see it reflected on screen".

Jeanna Fine has been revered for her ability to perform with "raw, uninhibited sexuality," including a penchant for deep throat. Her roles in X films such as Café Flesh 2, Skin Hunger and the Miscreants, have seen her lauded as one of the hottest adult actress of the last decade, still she has managed to infiltrate the mainstream film biz, with a role in a new Hollywood screamer, Boondock Saints a story about two Irish Catholic twin brothers (Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus) in Boston who set about on a vigilante crusade against evil men (such as the Russian mob), which in turn leads to public support and an FBI investigation (led by Willem Dafoe).

Exuding all the traits of a conventional Hollywood actor, Fine lays claim to leading a wholesome life in regional California over her native New York, where she resides with her partner and young son, Braxton.

"Considering I have no formal acting training and have used other assets to forge a film career, I’m happy with any role that can be offered in mainstream films. Its not like getting a job as a secretary where you turn it down if its too far from home or there aren’t enough holidays. An actors life is hard and sometimes you have to make do, but that’s the life I choose and I wouldn’t do anything else. I never intended to get into either porn or mainstream film so there really is no grand plan," she says. "I’m more or less winging it and opportunities seem to come up all the time".

Working in porn, you do actually become a little desensitized to the shock value thing. Its entirely different then watching or consuming it. Ultimately its about being a performer, being in touch with all the triggers you’re character is known for, and tapping into that on call, whether it’s a way of moving your hips, sucking a guy’s cock or just something simple like moaning."That doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy it. "Obviously my personal sex life is different than the on camera stuff, though acting in porn is sexually satisfying. I come all the time when I’m filming, the men are fit and healthy and we certainly get off on one another. We also have lots of breaks and edits and can actually do the final come scene the next day. For anal stuff we give ourselves an enema before hand and always make sure we are super lubed up". Despite female actors commanding bigger wages than men, the wider view reveals porn is still a male domain. Does this mean themust they endure overt misogynism?

According to Jeanne Fine, being sexual doesn’t promote sexism, "you’ve got to understand that these aren’t student films. We’re not talking Joe Schlub factory hand with a camera here, the actors and production staff are well educated professionals earning hundreds and thousands of dollars a day. Its pretty stupid to think that people would risk their careers by sexually harassing one another, I assure you if they did everyone on set would know and they’d be out of the production on their ass. Besides we are very busy and every minute counts, its not like relaxing in a living room with a video camera, there are scripts and deadlines at work constantly".

Nina Hartley adds, "Porn gave me an arena in which to work though my fear of men and their sexuality and I have not been disappointed in the path I have taken. I see the sex drive as a natural, healing and empowering force of nature I have never been hit on for sex from directors since making the transition. In fact even as a pornstar directors never hit on me, I did have sex with one, but he was actually acting and directing in the porn film I was starring in.

In the straight film game I’ve have been treated badly by some asshole directors, though its never been sexually abusive just lots of attitude for whatever reason. It requires a lot of strength to make it in the film business and as with anything you’ll always encounter adverse forces, whether that’s hung up people trying to undermine you, hard luck finding work or working with difficult people, a waitress would encounter the same stuff, that’s just the way it is.

So why dabble in rumpy pumpy, dirty stuff when you could forge a career in the "real" world? The pornography industry, is full of "rogues" who do not want a ‘nine-to-five’ job, says Jeanna Fine, that’s one very good reason. Vivid Video marketing director Susan Yannetti agrees, "people get into this business because they’re rebels. They don’t want rules. They don’t want to pay dues [to a union]. A lot of them are gone after six months. So how are they going to have union protection?" Due to these characteristics most adult entertainment industry members do not actively pursue such normal tenants of job security as medical coverage".

And they probably should. During the filming of one movie in the mid-1990s a woman’s inner thighs and genitals were injured during the shooting of a film. A C-light (short for "crack light") was placed close to the actress’s genitals during a climax scene. When she accidentally shifted her legs the 1,000 kilowatt light fell on her. In most cases, the actors and actresses have to pay for their own medical care. In this case, the actress’s injuries were either covered by herself or, possibly, the director – now that wouldn’t happen at Walt Disney.

Written by Craig Stephens

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