from www.slate.com- Jessica Drake is one of the few straight porn stars to build a career while using condoms each and every time she shoots—and one of the few directors who, in her line of instructional porn videos, “Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex,” puts safe sex front and center. She’s also an outspoken opponent of Measure B, the L.A. county ordinance, approved by voters this month that hopes to force all performers and directors to do the same. I talked with Drake about the measure’s impact on the industry, the difficulties of performing with condoms, and what her fans say about her safe sex oeuvre.
Slate: You were one of many major industry stars to speak out against Measure B. Why did you oppose it?
Jessica Drake: I am contracted to Wicked Pictures, and we are the only heterosexual company that is condom-only. I’ve made a career out of only using condoms for my sex scenes. But I’m opposed to Measure B for a few different reasons. As a performer, and also as a woman, I don’t like the idea of someone telling me what I have to do with my body. I also thought that [proponents of the measure] employed some tactics that were not just deceitful, but wrong. They preyed on the public’s lack of information about our industry, insinuating that we were a threat to the general public with STDs. They took out huge billboards saying “Pornographers Vote No on B.” What is the point of that, other than to shame us? It’s catering to people’s fear of the unknown. I also think it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money.
Slate: Do you expect Measure B to change the way that you use condoms on set?
Drake: We’re appealing it, and it will go into litigation. If for some reason it does take effect, they’ll first need to truly define what the measure is. … I can’t follow rules unless I know what they are. The second thing they have to do is establish a group or committee to enforce this measure. If it happens, it’s going to take a very long time.
Slate: Why do you choose to use a condom for anal and vaginal sex scenes, but not, for example, for oral sex?
Drake: When I got into the industry, I did some research, and I decided on some things regarding safe sex that would make me more comfortable. I feel like I’m being safer relying on our testing protocol—we’re tested every 14 to 28 days—and the use of a condom for anal and vaginal penetration. As far as oral sex with a woman? It’s a lower-risk activity. I don’t want to use a dental dam for that. I don’t want to use a dental dam for oral sex with a man. I chose this after weighing the risk and deciding what makes me, as an individual, more comfortable. That brings us back to personal choice.
Slate: Some female performers have said that using condoms can cause pain and irritation in longer sex scenes. Have you ever had a problem with them?
Drake: It’s super tricky. It took a long time to find a condom that was confortable, and then I had to find a compatible lube, as well. It was definitely a learning experience. When I was independent [not contracted with Wicked] and working with condoms, I did lose work.
Because yes, having sex with a condom for two to three hours at a time—obviously, you would change the condom, and not use the condom the whole time, because scenes have a tendency to stop and start and stop and start—but it is very, very uncomfortable for long periods of time. … At this point in my career, I’ve been in the industry over ten years, and I only shoot seven movies each year. For me now, it’s not as big of an issue as it would be if I were working on a regular basis. Having sex is now a very small portion of what I do.
Slate: Are there any tricks that you use as a director when you’re shooting a scene with condoms?
Drake: If I’m directing a feature, most of the time, the condom just appears in the scene. If I’m directing one of my instructionals, and it’s time for the sex scene portion after the demonstration, I tend to integrate the use of the condom within the scene. I’ll show the performers putting them on. I’ll show the woman putting them on the man. For me, that’s the difference between a film that someone is watching strictly for the fantasy, versus a movie they’re watching for actual information and sex education. I think it is my responsibility—not as an adult performer, but as an emerging sex educator—to show people demonstrating safer sex techniques. It’s really not the job of the pornographic sex industry to provide sex education.
Slate: Have you heard from any performers who prefer to work with you—or not to work with you—because of Wicked’s policy on condoms?
Drake: No. Never.
Slate: Do fans talk to you about condom use in your films?
Drake: They do, occasionally … It does really go both ways. Since I’ve been in the adult industry for such a long time, I have a fan following. They just sort of deal with it, with me. I’ve definitely noticed that when I get on Twitter or am talking to people about it, they absolutely say they don’t want to see condoms in their porn.
Slate: What has the industry learned from the passage of Measure B?
Drake: We’ve learned that the mainstream media and the general public don’t embrace porn the way we think they do. We really need to make the effort to reach out to people and let them understand that we’re real people. It’s not a seedy industry. It’s a legitimate business. And it’s different from the stereotypes they’ve held of our industry for so long. I still come across people who are very, very surprised that it’s not all men with their shirts unbuttoned, with gold chains on, in a hotel room, getting young girls drunk. It’s not that at all. It has nothing to do with that. If the public saw the reality of our industry, they’d see we do a really good job of policing ourselves. It just shows that we have more work to do.