Breaking Into Porn on Purpose
The standard line about Los Angeles is that it’s a lonely place that will wreck the spirit of a creative mind. It’s big, ugly, and horrifically inhospitable to integrity. It also has really shitty traffic, mediocre pizza, and exorbitant rents. The rent thing leads a lot of struggling artists and craftspeople into the whirling vortex of pornography.
Porn, like any other filmed entertainment, requires camera operators, grips, sound designers, special effects technicians, and, surprisingly, writers. The standard adult film seems like it was written in an hour by a team of 17 horny teenagers on Adderall. In reality, adults write them in an office for money. If you can’t seem to find work writing for the latest NBC sitcom destined for early cancellation, you might be able to earn a decent living devising clever ways to put various objects into the many holes on a human body.
In 2009, I found myself in the unenviable position of being unemployed. I had just been unceremoniously relieved of my duties at my local Urban Outfitters after having an illicit affair with one of the managers. Once I established that one of my talents was engaging in inappropriate sexual relationships, I decided that the best avenue for procuring funds was the adult film industry. I lucked into a Craigslist posting advertising a position for a blogger.
I had no clue what manner of blogging would occur for a porn company, but it sounded like a better job than folding ironic T-shirts for minimum wage. Fortunately, my charm, lack of pretention, and willingness to commute to Van Nuys secured me the job. When I arrived at the studio for my first day of work, I assumed I would be the only person with anything resembling a college education. The accepted wisdom about porn was that people only ended up in the business because they had no other marketable job skills and a dearth of education. (Also, an abiding interest in orifices.)
Instead of finding a gaggle of meatheads hiding their boners while gawking at barely legal co-eds getting rammed by jacked-up ex-stuntmen, I discovered a collection of hard-working individuals with a brain cell or two. The most notable surprise was when I met a writer/director who was my age who actually wanted to film people screwing. Her “nom de fuck” was Martha Washington, and we quickly bonded over being relatively intelligent people in a business that historically has only rewarded the guy with the biggest genitals.
Martha went to film school, understood composition, framing, lighting, and other aesthetic concerns that tend to price you out of the adult world. It’s often impossible to set up a shot in a sex flick if the only thing the producers care about is getting as many angles on the cum shot as you can. Of course, caring too much about mise-en-scene and character motivation is missing the point of why porn exists. The vast majority of viewers just want to see the cum shot from as many angles as possible. Martha always seemed to be able to balance the two.
I eventually left porn to pursue employment with far fewer exposed tits, but Martha remains a cog in the massive, thick, throbbing, veiny adult machine. We recently got together to discuss our time working together, the state of the sex industry, and why she refused to be my girlfriend.