Remember back in the late 90s when being called a poser was the ultimate insult? “You’re not really goth; you’re a poser!” Or whatever. Meaning that the thing you pretend you love is really just a passing fad. That you just want to look cool and get noticed, but you’re really just a mainstream loser like all the other popular kids. You don’t dye your hair black with permanent dye. Or you don’t even know the lyrics to every song. Or whatever the case might be. I used to get pretty annoyed by allegations of poserhood, because I was a poser in a lot of ways. I had giant JNCO jeans but I didn’t know how to skateboard. I loved Rocky Horror but I didn’t know who Charles Atlas or Lily St. Cyr were. You feel me? But as I get older, I find myself being more annoyed by posers. Especially the porn and sex industry posers.
As with most annoyances of this type, it’s primarily because I’m insecure that I find people jumping on my proverbial bandwagon so obnoxious. Well, insecure and poor. These days I can’t find people who will pay me to write about porn and sex. So I write for free for myself, on this little blog. Because, now that most of the actual adult magazines are defunct and I’m working out of New York City instead of one of the more major “porn hubs,” and because I’m not either the designated “sex writer” for some major publication nor a “celebrity guest star” (read: porn star who wants to write an article) or a confessional, tell-all, traffic-driving essayist who wants to dish about my personal experiences with threesomes and polyamory or whatever… I’m not interesting to major websites or magazines. I don’t “do” the porn or the sex, I just write about it. I don’t want to tell everyone my most intimate secrets. I want to keep up an open conversation about the porn and the sex and what it means to our culture. But that’s not exactly titillating to most big-time publications–it doesn’t lend itself to a splash headline. And, since I no longer have anyone paying me to keep myself involved in and abreast of current events in the porn and sex industries, it’s difficult to stay on top of everything. So I’m old hat. Kind of boring.
That’s my fault more than anyone else’s. I’m easily discouraged by the constantly shifting landscape of sex writing and the porn industry. There’s a new “it” girl in porn every time I blink, and I simply do not have the time (since I work full time to keep myself afloat while trying to keep writing) to keep up with whoever she is. And the same seems to be true for up and coming “porn” and “sexy” publications that catch my attention–every month there’s a new website or print publication that’s claiming to be the newest and most groundbreaking thing EVER in the world of sex/porn/whatever. There’s always a different angle: it’s made by a WOMAN! Or it’s featuring this NEW KIND OF PERSON! Or it’s… whatever. It’s always something “game-changing” and “subversive” and “taboo-busting” and so on and so on, ad nauseum. At first I got excited about these new people and publications and ideas. And sometimes I still do, because I really want there to be a place for the conversations I want to have. I want to find a spot that appreciates what I do and the stuff I want to talk about. And even if not that (I’m not totally selfish), I do really want the culture to shift, and new ideas and images of sex to be put out there. I want to be supportive of people who get into sex and porn in a meaningful way. It would make everything better if people really kept trying, like so many of us are, to move things forward.
But I feel like, rather than new people who really want to dive in and help out, what I see much more often is people who want to get noticed before moving on to “something better.” It’s not that moving on is bad. Everyone is entitled to change focus or career. What bothers me is seeing it happen so frequently and so intentionally. People getting into porn or sex writing so they can get attention, get some interviews, be “controversial” and “edgy,” with the explicit intention of getting an agent and a book deal or a documentary or a reality TV show, then moving on to become money-hungry consultants or whatthefuckever. People giving interviews about how they want to, like, change the way people think about, like, sex and stuff. Throw in some quotes from a famous philosopher/filmmaker/musician. Flex hipster creds. Be the cool new thing on the block. Give whatever your Controversial Edgy New Thing is a few months of your time, then sell it all for a licensing deal and become a fixture at a hip nightclub.
This kind of behavior annoys the fucking shit out of me.
It makes the rest of us who are still grinding away at changing the world through sex very, very tired. Because making your brand-new subversive photo-zine featuring OHMYGOD LEG HAIR or whatever is totally great. Do it. But don’t use the sex industry as a stepping stone to your dreams of fame, because there are thousands–millions–of people around the world who give a shit about the issues in the sex industry, either because it’s their personal crusade or because they work in it or both. You stepping on our heads with the trust-fund-financed “art film” you’re making so you can be included on discussion panels with great afterparties, and someday be one of the talking heads in a documentary your film school buddy makes about “early twenty-first century porn” is making us all want to cut a bitch. It makes us weary, and cynical, and we end up having a hard time trusting anyone. And that hurts everything.
I guess I just want people to give a shit. People always say that doing sex work is the “easy way out” of a real career. And most of the time that’s wildly judgmental and out of line, and I hate it when people say that without having any idea what they’re talking about. But dipping your toes into the sex industry so you can get more Instagram followers and then bounce into a literary agency? That is the easy way out of working hard to become a human being. Sex does sell. We know this to be true. And being the smart new subversive “it” kid who wants to make a name off of sex… that is the easy way out. Fuckin’ posers, man.
UGH. Ok. Got that out of my system.