Daily Archives: July 22nd, 2014

“Why One Porn Star Thinks the Industry Is Destroying Itself”

Interesting article I found at nerve.com, by Christopher Zeischegg, a “pornographer, writer, musician, and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, California.”

His is, obviously, not an anti-porn stance, but he is critical of the industry he previously defended more unequivocally.

I am, obviously, only quoting the bits that support my anti-porn stance, so I suggest you read the whole article (and it is definitely worth reading in full) to see it all in context.

I still receive calls because my defense is still out there for anyone to read; my words line the articles of blogs and sex-positive websites. So when bad shit happens in porn, there’s always a reporter to come snooping for my side of the story. In December 2013, I talked to a few such reporters. Porn was in the midst of its third production moratorium of the year due to a performer testing positive for HIV. The news needed its sources.

“What’s your take on this HIV scare?” one reporter asked me.

“First off, I should note that I’m no longer a performer. I quit about two months ago.”

“Why is that?”

I told him the truth: It had to do with my use of ED drugs.

“Do you think that’s another example of the industry’s lack of concern for performer health?” he asked.

“It’s kind of irrelevant. No producer asked me to take the drugs.” It was just what most guys did to get through scenes. “And I don’t think the industry has a lack of concern for performer health.” That was my defense – a knee-jerk reaction to the type of loaded question I was used to. I told the reporter that we tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in porn, that our panel had expanded, and that we’d gone from testing every 30 days to once every two weeks. “It’s not even the law,” I said. “The industry does this on its own.”

Another reporter asked me, “Who takes on the costs of these tests?”

“They’re mildly subsidized by larger production companies, but it’s mostly performers.” I told her the current price, something like $175 per test, depending on the clinic.

“Wow. That’s quite the overhead.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It sucks. Especially for performers who don’t work often.”

She pulled more information from me: that there are no unions, no performer residuals, and basically zero resources for those who are sick, injured, or otherwise in need.

“But look at something like independent film,” I said. “I’ve worked on projects for terrible day rates, with no promise of residuals, and no access to benefits like healthcare.” My point was basically, “Why pick on porn?” I’ve found this is often part of my defense. I explain how terrible jobs are in general, and that there’s at least some money left in porn: Leave us alone to earn the last of it!

Given my generally leftist ideology, it’s a strange argument. I’d never drop my critique of other corporate workforce exploitations based on the fact that they’re “typical.”


But I’m starting to realize that condoms aren’t even the real issue. The porn industry has become an example of unsustainable business. Financial disruption has forced performers into unregulated forms of sex work (like prostitution) and opened up the industry to a greater rate of STI exposure. Advocates for testing have pushed for more rigorous and frequent panels. But most companies don’t want to pay for the increase in cost. In fact, most don’t want to pay at all. So performers take on a greater overhead. Then they’re told that safety measures, like barrier protection, are going to further destroy their ability to work – something that, without transparent and quantifiable evidence, is just regurgitated speculation that feels like it’s real.

It may be that regulation will hurt the expansion of profit. The question is, “For whom?” If companies like MindGeek are earning millions driving traffic to free-porn-giveaway-sites, do condoms even make a difference? Or will the last of porn consumers abandon their purchase of small-time hardcore porn once they see some safer sex?

When the fear of vanishing profit margins loom over the inclusion of a piece of latex, we can’t even get to the conversation of paying for industry-wide healthcare, let alone other benefits. Porn’s taken on the same old be happy you’re working at all mentality that’s become a staple for post-recession America.