Miscellanious

Coming Out Like a Porn Star edited by Jiz Lee

This review was originally written for The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health

This collection of essays focuses on those in the pornography industry whose families and friends are aware of their pornographic association, either through discussing it themselves or being outed by others. These essays make sex workers relatable; they have families, friends, and lives outside of their jobs. They have good and bad work days, coworkers they love and coworkers they hate.

This relatability is important to me because of my own work in the industry. People assume things about my sex life. They flirt, and get angry or rude when I tell them I am unavailable. Customers think that when I get off at one in the morning, what I want to do most is party with a stranger, rather than go home to sleep after a day of school and an eight hour shift.Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 4.23.00 PM

Involved in the industry for over a decade, Lee has a Bachelor of the Arts in Dance as well as a background in performance art, web advocacy, and arts management. Lee collaborated with Courtney Trouble to create International Fisting Day (October 21st) to bring awareness to industry censorship of vaginal fisting (so I can only assume anal fisting is perfectly acceptable …). Lee works for queer porn company Pink & White Productions and has an erotic philanthropic project called Karma Pervs.

While I do not know any porn stars personally (that I am aware of), I have met several strippers through my work at the sex shop, and I have found that they make some of the nicest customers. We each understand some of the shit the other deals with, and we have respect for each other. The people of the sex community are there for each other when no one else is, offering support to those who need it when they are cast out, or when people just don’t get it.

Coming Out Like a Porn Star destroys the illusion of the uneducated sexual object, and shows the writers as sexual actors who are highly aware of the social world around them. In fact, those in the porn industry are more aware of the inner workings and Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 4.28.33 PMinfluence of society than many. Several writers point out that talking to others about their jobs in porn tells more about the person asking the question than it does about the sex worker.

People of all walks of life, she/he/they, black, white, latinx, abled, disabled, parents, actors, directors, and queers contributed to this book. This contributes to its relatability to readers. In humanizing the workers in the porn industry, it is a book for sex worker advocacy, creating a source of education on the lives of those in the industry and how they view their work. It shows an industry built on a sense of community, made of people who support each other. They rebel against society by doing what they love; as Anna Cherry states, “any true expression of freedom is by definition an expression of rebellion” (pg. 31).

The essays are organized in alphabetical order by author, and may have flowed better if ordered differently; however, it makes the book no less empowering a read. The only essay that did not make sense for me in this text was Changing the World Through Sex by Cindy Gallop, which read like an advertisement. The other essays in this book discuss having or lacking control over coming out and the pros and cons of making such a move.

Another popular book on porn is The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure by Tristan Taormino, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Constance Penley, and Mireille Miller-Young. This book is from feminists in the adult industry, and oriented to readers who enjoy a more academic view than Coming Out Like a Porn Star offers.

Coming Out Like a Porn Star can be purchased online or from your local bookstore. This review was based on my thoughts on this literature. Curious about what else I’m reading? Check out my Goodreads profile and my bookshelf.

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