Porn Star Pros or Pro Athletes

Go ahead. Tell me she doesn’t work really hard for that body.

I did an interview with international modeling and adult video star Nina Mercedez for WHACK! Magazine this week, and I’ve been pondering a lot of the things we discussed. Nina, from the beginning to the end of the interview, was unfailingly professional. She is one of those business powerhouse people you meet every so often who succeeds at every thing she puts her mind to because she goes hard and never goes home. She has modeled for huge retail clothing chains, been featured in and on the covers of major fitness magazines, won the top awards for exotic dancing in America, won every major national and international nude body pageant (taking home Miss Nude Universe in 2003), nabbed several AVN nominations and one award, and recently started two of her own businesses. As she put it, “I’m either going to do it all the way or I’m not even going to bother”–words of wisdom, indeed, for someone in the world of pornography and nudity. This is a woman who does not fuck around.

I got to thinking about how so many women in the adult industry these days are like Nina, at least to a degree. Making a name and a career for oneself in the business today isn’t just about being pretty and horny, it’s about building a brand and WORKING it. And a lot of what goes into maintaining the business one makes for oneself is constant work. I think it’s all too easy for most of us to dismiss the efforts of porn stars, sex workers, and models of all kinds, like Nina. For whatever reason, our culture often sees using sexuality and beauty as a “cop out,” as an “easy” way of making money. And I suppose it certainly CAN be for some people. After all, when many of us not in the know hear something like “Miss Nude Universe,” we think, “Ok, so she gets naked and struts around. What’s so hard about that?” But when I asked her about it, Nina said:

When I say I won Miss Nude Universe, a lot of people say, “Well, what does that even mean?” But I worked all year long to win that award. You don’t understand how much work I had to put in to win that. It’s not like I just showed up and I had a stupid song and I won.
This made me start thinking: just because one’s work involves working out and looking pretty, or working out, looking pretty, and having sex on camera… does that make one’s work any less significant? It shouldn’t. It might sound like a life of luxury for some of us to think of porn stars who spend their days eating healthy food, going to the gym, getting mani/pedis, tanning, and having lots of sex, but think about how that changes when one’s livelihood depends upon it. Working out is no longer just a vanity project–it’s part of your job. Getting your butthole bleached isn’t just something wacky you do on a dare–it’s an important part of maintaining your image. And while I hestitate to throw around the term “sexual athletes” because it’s pretty hokey, the women at the top of the adult industry really are like a rare breed of thoroughbred racehorses. They can perform superhuman contortion acts in six-inch heels (as can strippers), perform sex acts most of us could never dream of while “opening up” for the camera and smiling, stand at signing booths at conventions for eight hours a day after partying all night, and never even smudge their makeup.
>When you really think about it, what’s the big difference between a football player and a porn star? They both–at least the top-tier ones–spend most of their time working out and performing athletic feats. They’re held to standards most of the population could never aspire to, they’re constantly being tested for all kinds of stuff, they’re in it to win it and take home the big bucks, the best ones get contracts with one company… I mean, you can’t tell me that the arduous rituals most women in porn perform before their anal scenes are much less trying than the ridiculous lengths NFL players go through before a big game.
The only real difference here is how the rest of the world treats them. Professional athletes are emulated, given huge product endorsement deals, written about in every major publication, put onto posters for middle school kids, and have biographies written about them. But porn stars, who are doing the same thing as athletes–using their bodies to the utmost to make careers for themselves–get joked about, ridiculed, looked down upon, and preached at. Some of them get cameos in mainstream movies or TV shows, and that’s about the extent of their “real life” credentials. But hell, I’d wager that the drug use and hard-partying habits of most professional athletes rival–if not surpass–those of most porn stars, and while more adult industry professionals go through cosmetic surgery and a few rounds of antibiotics for STIs in their time, the danger to one’s physical well-being is much higher in most pro sports. Who ever heard of a torn ACL in porn? (Well, actually, I did. Sean Micheals. But that guy is a PRO among pros!)

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