Measure B Was the Big Topic of Conversation at the AVN Awards

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Here’s Part 1 of the article:

From – There is this nonsensical assumption that no decent woman would ever want to have anal sex.

Anal sex is for whores. The kind of women men gladly fuck, but would never take home to mother. Even Jesse Jane admits there are things she will not do on camera (anal being one of them), because it would limit her cross-over into more mainstream opportunities.

You hear the stereotypical anal joke relentlessly, but I hear it repeated over and over the most when I sit down to talk to Craig Gross otherwise known as “The Porn Pastor.” During our interview, he says “double anal” at least five times.

“Porn is all about double anal and blondes,” Gross shrugs, chomping on a piece of gum. He’s dressed stylishly with boots I’m slightly envious of.

“So, then [virgins who watch porn] get married and their wife is a let down compared to all this.” He waves his arm towards the trade show in the other room.

Gross, 37, (and his co-founder Mike Foster) started their non-profit organization, XXXChurch, about 10 years ago to help people who are addicted to pornography as well as adult entertainers who want to get out of the industry.

The XXXChurch has grown and now attends the AEE Expo (along with many other sex trade shows all over North America) every year as an alternative to porn. XXXChurch have their poster children for success, most famously Stephanie Swift who has now left porn and found God.

“These women don’t want to do this,” Gross says, who has also published several books, some titles including Jesus Loves You, This I Know, Dirty Little Secret, and Eyes of Integrity. “They would rather be doing something else. We’re not rescuing them, because they did say at one point that they wanted to do this, but when they do want out, we will help them transition.”

I can’t help but think about my friend back home who occasionally does freelance prostitution on Craigslist. One night we were talking about her work and she said she found it perplexing when her friends said they were worried about her, as though she didn’t understand the risks of her profession.

She understood love and concern, but took offense to the fact that people assumed she didn’t know better.

“I’m aware of the risks of what I am doing,” she said. “It’s funny, no one cared when I was working a bullshit minimum wage job being treated as though I was worthless.”

Gross and company understand that sometimes sex happens before marriage but they are “not giving anyone a free pass.” His biggest problem is that porn distorts what sex should look like.

Gross starts talking about that Mark Walberg movie Ted, particularly the scene where Ted, the talking stuffed bear, suggests that Walberg give his girlfriend anal sex instead of a ring for their anniversary.

“The theatre erupts in laughter,” he scowls. “Yeah, give her that. That’s really what she wants.”

My mind wanders to Jessica Valenti’s book, The Purity Myth. Valenti argues that purity and porn culture both fetishize women’s sexual subservience and this is what makes the virginity movement completely unable to analyze pornography in a helpful way.

“The [virginity] movement has latched on to the mainstreaming of porn not because it cares about women and the way in which their sexuality is represented, but because porn is an easy scapegoat for what the movement perceives in society’s ills (women having sex), as well as a convenient excuse to uphold the movement’s regressive goals.”

“I’ve never met anyone who really likes [to perform sex] on camera,” Gross tells me. “It’s difficult. The angles are weird. These women are not in this because of the sex. They are in this for the money.”

Suddenly, a young woman walks up to Gross mumbling about a Mormon from Salt Lake City.

“This is Rachel,” Gross points to Rachel Collins, 30, who is plump and smiling at me like a doll. “We call Rachel ‘The Filthy Virgin’ because she’s never had sex, but she’s been around so much of it that she’s going to have to get counseling once she’s married.”

They both laugh. I do not get the joke.

Measure B is the big topic amongst the adult entertainers during the AVN Awards. On December 14, 2012 a law passed in Los Angeles county that required all adult film stars to wear condoms during sex scenes. Measure B, a voter-approved ballot initiative, is being fought by Vivid Entertainment and performers Kayden Kross, and Logan Pierce.

Kross, who publishes work with Complex magazine as well as writing extensively on her blog about the industry (she’s working on a book), argues that Measure B infringes on her rights as a performer.

“I did condom scenes in my first movie, and that turned out to suck major monkey balls,” Kayden wrote on her blog.

“The added friction the condoms caused over the course of the shoot was ridiculous. The condoms were not a birth control measure. They were, theoretically, for STD protection. But all the performers were tested. So in my first movie I was protected from STDs that my coworkers didn’t have.”

In the adult industry, performers are tested approximately every two weeks. It’s a rigorous system. Any company owned by Manwin requires that the performers are tested and their results are looked over by their co-stars on set.

The performers are then checked for cuts, scrapes and general cleanliness. There is a data base where updates on each performers sexual health can be accessed. Plus, as Jesse says, “You can smell it. I’m sorry but when you get an STD you have a smell, you know?”

“In the wild, on average, there are around 2,150 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County each year,” Kayden continues.

“This is possibly because there are a lot of people having sex with a lot of other people without verifying one another’s STD status. We are not those people. We’re verified. We are card-carrying motherfuckers.”

Like Kayden, most porn stars think Measure B is bullshit.

“Condoms do irritate certain people,” Jesse explains. “They hurt. It’s our choice! We are the cleanest people you can fuck. Those girls that say porn stars are dirty, or guys who say that because they are assholes, Y’all go and have one-night-stands at a bar. I’ve slept with the same handful of guys for 10 years. There are girls that do that in a month and do not bother getting tested.”

The other side, of course, says that when an adult performer accepts money for performing in a film it becomes a business and a business must have rules to protect it’s employees. Tom Myers, Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel for AIDS Healthcare compared it to a stuntman refusing to be tired to a harness during a life threatening scene.

Measure B will cost a minimum of just under $600,000 of tax payers money. Expensive for a law that is full of loopholes and is pretty tough to actually enforce. Does the county plan to employ condom enforcers to go on every porn set? Where does policing for amateur porn fit it?

Not just Digital Playground movies that have huge budgets, but the makeshift stuff? Will those people be policed in the same way? How will a condom law actually protect adult entertainers from STDs?

It won’t, really. What it will do is drive the industry outside of Los Angeles, to Nevada, Florida, Mexico or even overseas, where Measure B is not in place, along with other necessary laws that protect those who might need it most.

“Realistically, there are many types of people working in the adult industry for a variety of reasons,” Porn star and rumored girlfriend of James Deen, Stoya, writes to me via email a week later. Stoya is a cult favorite.

Young, “all-natural,” and well-spoken, she writes regularly on her blog dispelling myths and fantasies about the industry. In one piece, she detailed the meticulous process of picking feces out of a rectum before an anal sex scene.

“Even if we only discuss female performers, they run the gamut from wonderful American-Dream style success stories like Joanna Angel who actually does run her own company, through lucky perverts, like me, who wandered into an enjoyable career and women who are almost purely financially motivated, to women who are absolute tragedy cases like the old stereotype,” Stoya says.

“We have the same range of people as other industries, and we have the same workers’ rights issues that other industries have or have already worked through. In the same way that new writers, musicians, and actors scrape by, take gigs they aren’t impassioned by, and get screwed on their first deal or contract, new adult performers absolutely are sometimes taken advantage of and exploited. It’s called capitalism.”

The Red Carpet ceremony at the AVN Awards is separated into sections. There is the hallway where the fans gather, then there is the official press room. I’m in the press room, wandering around, thinking about how that in the past three days, I have yet to see a guy I could realistically fuck.

The walls of the press room are lined with advertisement banners, and bleachers for the reporters, TV crews, and photographers to gather on.

A tall, red-headed man shepherds the stars in groups according to their fame level, then he makes them write their name and credentials on a flimsy piece of white paper, which he will hold up and read as they pose on the red carpet. It’s a lot of leather, glitter, and the color purple. Everyone is done up, not just for the room, but for the public aftermath: the photos, the HBO specials, the E! stories, whatever.

When I see Jesse Jane she looks gorgeous yet slightly pissed off. I don’t blame her. She’s in very high demand marching from mark to mark, ready to pose and smile.

The red carpet room is boring, so my mind wanders. I watch the female porn stars glide over the red carpet, which looks kind of paltry in this stale conference room.

The percentage of female stars on the runway compared to males is overpowering and the men make up for this by wearing something outlandish, even if they have opted for a suit: Platform shoes, fur coats, dorky sunglasses, gold chains, even James Deen is wearing shoes with white deckled flowers that look like he peeled them off a little girl’s Daisy guitar.

Ivan of I Am Ivan Productions is strutting around with a fucking computer around his neck. I keep my eyes peeled for Dave Navarro, but he’s not here or else he came and left as fast as Suge Knight did.

“Hey,” a voice behind me. It’s Kerian. He looks normal, handsome, in a suit, tie and clean face. No goofy flare. “How’s it going?”

“Got any gum?” I ask, fully knowing he will in fact have gum.

“You been eating dog shit again? “ He jokes, as he fumbles in his pocket and whips out a pack of English gum. “This is the best stuff.”

We stand together and watch the red carpet parade for a minute. Keiran’s girlfriend Kirsten Price is hosting a show with a camera crew. She looks beautiful as she poses and jokes with her co-stars she is interviewing.

Everyone’s voices are rough from working, partying, inhaling recycled air. Vegas makes you feel like you’ve been on an airplane for a week straight. In this room everyone is “on.” Everyone is performing. That’s just what happens when you put a camera in someone’s face.

During the award ceremony, I sit back and drink a 40 with the general admission. After the Cirque de Soliel performer Zumanity finishes spinning from the ceiling in a naked body suit and Tyga performs his songs, while a small countries’ worth of porn stars grinds with him, the awards begin.

“I want to commend you guys for being so awesome in a country that’s so weird and puritanical about sex,” bellows comedian April Macie, who is hosting the event with Jesse Jane and Asa Akira. “All shame does is lower your self-esteem.”

Applause. Scream. Applause.

There are glitches. The main house microphone is too low. The teleprompter fucks up, but Jesse plays with the malfunction like a true professional.

“Don’t make us look like dumb porn girls,” she laughs.

“Are you sure you’re ready? You sound a little slow.”

Some mid-30‘s club rat behind me remarks when Jesse Jane asks the audience to show some enthusiasm. Him and his friends continue to make fun of the porn stars during the whole ceremony, calling them “coked up” and poking fun at their assumed lack of education. They continue laughing at these “dumb, hot girls” they paid good money to come and see get recognized for accomplishments in their careers.

Historically, women have been seen as morally inferior to man. Hesiod said that the first woman, Pandora, was created with “the mind of a bitch and a thievish nature.”

In the second creation myth of Genesis, Eve was on the one spawned from Adam’s rib and not the dust of the universe. Aristotle’s biological theory of human nature stemmed from pure social prejudice that woman was a deviant from the male form.

According to these theories, woman are sexually charged, morally basic beings. A less noble sex because of their inherent linking to the body, human sexuality, instead of the mind. Even in the Christian tradition remains an idea that woman is an evil unto man because she is unable to control her passions and emotions.

Besides the fact that these concepts manifested decades ago, we still live in a culture that believes that women’s bodies are inherently shameful, and that a woman’s sexuality needs to be restricted. What would happen if we finally untangled morality from sexuality?

“Females (the ones with the extra orifice) have fought in an organized manner for over a century to have the same rights as men,” Stoya once wrote. “A solid half of humanity has been for centuries, and still, written off as inferior over an extra hole.”

Today, some women fight for sex-positivity. We can fuck, and think. Our bodies are not “being used” because we use them for pleasure or for capital. It’s not so simple anymore.

People call out pornography for degrading women and “objectifying” them, reducing them down to their bodies. According to Wendy McElroy, in this context the term objectify means nothing because objects don’t have sexuality; only beings do.

“Usually, the term sex objects means showing women as body parts, reducing them to physical objects,” McElroy writes.

“What is wrong with this? Women are as much their bodies as they are their minds or souls. No one gets upset if you present women as “brains” or as spiritual beings. If I concentrated on a woman’s sense of humor to the exclusion of her other characteristics, is this degrading? Why is it degrading to focus on her sexuality?”

Furthermore, shouldn’t every woman be able to decide for herself what she finds degrading and liberating?

The AVN’s are stripped of Hollywood stigma and therefore, have more room to be intentionally playful. Acceptance speeches, for the most part, are not serious. There are no tears.

When Asa Akira wins Best Female Performer of the Year she giggles and apologizes to the front row for not wearing underwear and having her pussy unkempt. Ron Jeremy makes crowd pleasing jokes with ease. James Deen accepts his awards while smoking, with his back to the audience.

Transsexual and Male Performers of the Year receive gifts along with their trophies. When it comes time to present the Visionary Award to Phil Harvey of Adam & Eve, the general admission audience pays no attention and instead, talks incessantly.

I hear cheering to my right and look over at a random couple in the balcony, desperate for attention, pretending to fuck. No paying audience member listened when Measure B is talked about. They just keep drinking, screaming and knocking back cups of alcohol because we are in Nevada where that kind of behavior is encouraged, even if it is during an award ceremony.

Everyone has an opinion on the unwritten rules of sex, but this is only because we all can do it. We are all experts when it comes to fucking, just by having genitals and a sex drive. While some of us think we know what is best for our own bodies, there are others who think they know what is best for our bodies. And a different set of others who also know more.

The others? The Church. The Law. The neighborhood. And, they all intertwine. Plus, capital makes sex even more contentious.

“If people really are getting most of their information about sex from a combination of Maxim, Cosmopolitan, and porn, that strikes me as a serious problem,” Stoya says.

“Pornography is entertainment and, with the exception of Nina Hartley’s Guide To series and a few other productions, does not intend to be, or present itself, as educational, but it does seem to frequently get pointed to as one of the few places people learn about sex.”

Because there is not much else. However, it is not porn’s fault that our culture has yet to figure out how to talk about sex. We vilify porn for simply existing and filling the void of an open, sex-positive dialogue.

“When it comes to porn I think that we rest on the First Amendment of free speech and twist it around by saying that our free speech is teaching people the wrong thing,” Kayden Kross tells me before we leave the red carpet room.

“Well, we are not trying to teach anyone, we are trying to entertainment and express ourselves. It’s ‘art’ technically, I use that liberally, but not the kind of art that you hang on a wall, step back and take in.

“It’s more like a one-off fun time. Like, you go out, get drunk, have fun. Did it do anything to enrich your life? No. Did you have fun doing it? Yes.”

No one acts “normal” about pornography, because we don’t know how to. How can there be a “normal” when it comes to porn? There will be no consensus on how we, as a culture, feel about something that we can identify with so subjectively.

The internet has changed not only the way we digest porn, but also the way it is made, who can make it, and where that porn ends up. We’re captivated, intimidated, turned on and perplexed by porn all at the same time and it’s this confused fascination that keeps Jesse Jane, Stoya, Kayden Kross and Kerian Lee employed.

It’s what keeps drunk idiots in Vegas attending the AVN Awards year after year, even if they don’t know how to respect it. It’s what keeps people like me constantly questioning what the fuck this all means and where my politics and my sexuality align.

Porn is there for us to watch, to turn us on, and to entertain us. I wish it was that simple, but it’s not. It’s still a massive industry that has it’s tentacles stretched from the Disney boat on the set of million dollar productions like Pirates to amateur web cam videos produced independently in small apartments all over North America.

Not even just porn, but sex, outside a monogamous union, is weighted with this archaic stigma that pleasure is shameful. Pleasure for pay is even worse or, as some might argue, may not even truly exist at all. Porn unties sex from the hope of monogamy, which is something that the Western world seems to still have a problem with.

“The stalkers we get in porn are crazier because they feel as though they have been intimate with you already,” Jesse says.

“They think they have been with you and that you have this connection. They think they have had sex with you and been naked with you. I have people try to grab my ass, my tits, and they think they can because I am a porn star. No, you do not touch me.”

She stops for a minute.

“Most people are very respectful and just nervous, shaking to take a picture with you. They say ‘cheese’!” Her face busts into a smile, letting out a little snort. “I mean, who says ‘cheese’?”

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