Howdy! New developments in technology and media have always been given a hefty push forward by their employment and exploitation at the hands of pornography, and social media is no exception. It seems like every porn star has a twitter, and every twitterer out there follows porn stars. Heck, they even join twitter for the sole purpose of following their favourite porn stars. This is a pretty interesting development, as prior to blogs, twitter, facebook and the like, porn stars and other sex workers had very little space to voice their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and interests. The many scholars of sex work, whether libertarian, sex radical, pro, anti, or otherwise, have been recognized (and have recognized themselves, in some cases) as speaking for a diverse population of workers when they themselves have no direct experience with the trade. "Sandy," a former sex worker interviewed for Wendy Chapkis' 1997 book Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor, comments, "You know, when I read some of the stuff written by so-called 'feminist allies,' it feels like they are fighting over our bodies....It's like prostitutes are just these bodies who are somehow connected to something bad and evil or something good and on the cutting edge of revolution. They just turn us into symbols" (127).
The same kind of binary wishful thinking can be said of attitudes toward porn stars, and all the various occupations that make up the sphere of sex work. It's an attitude that Anne McClintock argues, in her 1993 article "Maid to Order," turns the sex worker into a "ventriloquist's dummy through which (generally white, middle-class) women voice their interests, at the expense of the sex workers' needs" (8-9). Since then, the global accessibility of the internet, with its variety of spaces for self-expression has profoundly altered this picture. Sex workers of all types can now have their voices heard on any subject -- not just sexual politics, but simply who they are, what they're into, and anything else they care to share. Obviously, I think scholarly work and research on sex work is vitally important, but I feel that sex worker voices are equally vital, and these voices are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they are crucial to each other in the effort to, among other things, destigmatize sex work/ers, improve working conditions, and move toward an end to sexist oppression.
I don't have a twitter account, but I do read blogs, so I'm thrilled that there seems to be a growing amount of porn performers who have blogs. I should note here that there are also many very important and interesting blogs written by sex workers and their allies from other spheres of the industry, but that's for another time. For now I'd like to focus specifically on porn performers. I find it interesting that when a porn star does voice themselves, people react quite predictably to what they have to say. Usually, the performer is either lying (if she talks about something negative) or she's a hero (if she talks about how much she loves cum), or vice versa if the recipient of said information is anti-sex work, or some other equally simplistic and dismissive reaction based on the reactor's personal feelings about pornography and/or sex work.
What complicates these reactions, and complicates the sex worker's voice, is that as with every line of work (and perhaps life in general) there isn't any simple track to "speaking the truth." In the case of entertainment, and arguably especially with pornography, there's your stage persona and then there's your "real life" persona -- which one is speaking? Then, there's the fact that you don't want to piss off your employer or co-workers (any public personality can attest to this risk). A third unique complication exists for sex workers, however: the inability to allude to an even slightly negative work experience without contributing to anti-sex work discourse. Sex worker and Red Thread staff worker Jo Doezema says it best: "With most jobs, if you have a shitty day or a bad client or something, people don't immediately say that's because of the kind of work you do and that you must stop right away. But with prostitution, I've always felt that if I didn't convince everybody that this work was fantastic for me and that I really loved it that they would all be on my back to quit" (120). Porn industry icon Nina Hartley reflects, "Work is work: you have good days and bad days, but my worst day at work is still better than the best day selling shoes at Kinney's" (Chapkis 34). In fact, Hartley is one of the few porn stars who have consistently spoken out about the positives, negatives, and areas that could use some improvement, yet still works in the industry.
With all that said, below are just some of the porn star blogs that I keep in my feed and check out on a regular basis. In terms of focus and tone, they run the gamut from random photos and shenanigans to journalistic efforts to updates from retirement, and frankly this is encouraging. The diversity of these blogs suggest not only a sense of off-the-clock candidness, but also an indication that these performers do not feel they have to talk about one specific thing -- it's their blog, they can do what they want with it.
This list is by no means exhaustive -- I've listed a handful of the ones I find interesting, and I know there are tons of other ones out there I haven't read. Please, if you know of a rad blog written by a porn performer that is not listed here, post a link in the comments!
Ashlynn Brooke: Ashley's Blog
Brooke started this blog a little while after she retired from the industry, so it's a fairly new, and so far has been focused on biography and various interesting anecdotes. It's clear she's not pulling any punches, and, give or take a few grammar errors, it makes for fascinating and insightful reading. I just hope she keeps it up.
Janet Mason: Diary of a Hot Wife
I first came across pro-am performer, and "shared wife," Janet Mason's blog when someone linked to a revealing post of hers that detailed why she decided to quit her brief foray into mainstream professional porn. The rest of the blog is worth reading too, predominantly photos and updates, but these updates regularly provide commentary that is honest and interesting. I enjoy her intelligent perspective as a successful self-employed performer in a sub-genre you don't tend to hear much about.
Danny Wylde: Trve West Coast Fiction
Wylde runs his blog like a regular blogger -- with articles, reviews, links, promotions, and all that jazz. He's a jack of all trades, and he's notable for being a young performer who seems to actually give a shit about pornography and sexual politics. Hurrah!
Georgina Spelvin: Georgina's World
One of my all time favourite actresses has a blog! Here you will find regular updates on Miss Puss, Spelvin's various activities, and most wonderful for a nerd like me, reports on various interactions with other XXX stars of yesteryear. Spelvin clearly loves life, and it comes through in the blog. A lovely read with lovely photos.
Kristina Rose: Life via The Real Kristina Rose
Ah, I love Kristina Rose. And I love the format of this blog -- it's effectively photo-journalism depicting a day or a few days in the life of Kristina (and of course Bootz the cat). But do not be fooled -- this isn't a tumblr of random outfits, ass shots, pot smoke, stuffed toys, and gnomes. Well, it does feature all of those things, but the wonder of the blog is in the construction and the captions. Entertaining and thoughtful stuff -- the gal's an artist.
Misti Dawn: Meow Misti Dawn
I came across this blog after someone alerted me to some bullshit Star Wars parody shenanigans. It was an interesting read, and then I found that a lot of the blog contained interesting reads. And interesting photos. And an all around interesting person.
Phoenix Marie: The Official Blog of Phoenix Marie
I've long suspected that, if I really tried, I would easily become a fan of Phoenix Marie. As is, I've only seen a couple of scenes, and listened to her episode of the Elegant Angel podcast in which she stole my heart. Seriously, she comes across as a really cool person, and her answers to the "fan sex questions" were handled with sincerity -- I learned a lot that day. Her blog is more of the same, though she doesn't post nearly as much as I would like her to. The long and thoughtful posts include a 101 on anal sex, a detailed meditation on her various romantic relationships, and a variety of porn-related stuff besides.
Jennie Ketcham (formerly Penny Flame): Becoming Jennie
This is likely the most famous porn star blog thanks to Celebrity Rehab, on which Ketchum was a guest. Following that show, she publicly reverted to her real name, started a blog, and chronicled her journey post-porn. It's interesting stuff, honest and well written, and in spite of haters asserting that she turned on the industry, I've yet to see her going around blaming porn for anything, nor slandering her former employers/co-workers. Oh, and while you're at it, check out her art site, a work in progress where she displays her paintings.