books / porn

Off The Set Challenges Assumptions About Porn Stars

The introduction to Off The Set: Porn Stars and Their Partners, a fine-art book of photos and essays, begins: “Porn stars don’t have sex like the rest of us. Do they?” It’s a question I discussed at length with my man when he worked filming starlets and studs. Implicit in this quote is the common supposition that porn stars–often cast as hedonists and victims–are different from so-called regular folks. My husband filmed several porn star couples during his stint on sets and had a chance to hear what they said about their sex lives. Some described their unions as mostly platonic off camera, since sex was such a big part of the day-to-day. While others maintained that sex was still a big part of their connection. What was clear is that they all tackled the same issues of monogamy, kids, schedules. And like my friend’s relationships, their arrangements seemed as myriad and multifaceted as they come.

Back then, I held many prejudices about porn and I had trouble separating the people from the profession, given that the career “porn star” comes with a certain cultural heft. To that effect, I can recall my fiancé and I sitting around the dinner table with our parents discussing whether or not his job on Webdreams would negatively impact his future career. It’s interesting to me now that we focused on what other people might think of him filming porn rather than what we did. To be fair—topics not easily discussed with the rentals. But would we have had the same discussion if he’d been filming bank robbers or dirty politicians? Probably not. Certainly nobody blinks at him filming The Real Housewives of the OC. But when it came to porn we instantly recognized the cultural stigma. It was our own.

Off The Set has been sitting on my coffee table for the last month and each time I flip through it I’m reminded of the prolific and in my opinion, often unintentional, “othering” of porn stars and the porn world. The photos here are tender. And I’m not being glib when I say it’s like an artful “porn stars like us” version of any “stars like us” section in your typical gossip rag. These shots are accessible and in sharp contrast to the way we usually see porn stars. They are cuddling, hanging out, cooking and the answer to whether porn stars have sex like us is implied by showing them mostly not having sex but doing the other things that make up a life.

As for my day, I must dip my head in a bucket of ice water now for the Cali heat wave isn’t quite over. Who knew I could legitimately pine for winter. For now, I’ll be perusing Off The Set with the AC full tilt and purchasing a few more copies as family stocking stuffers, right along with the Ferrero Rochers and woolen socks.

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One thought on “Off The Set Challenges Assumptions About Porn Stars

  1. Pingback: Sex in the Air « i married a pornographer

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