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Philly Hotels Nixed Stoya Shoot: Read Why

[Citypaper- Bruce Schimmel]- I got a phone call from City Paper recently, with an offer I couldn’t refuse. My end of the conversation went something like this: “A young woman … a rising porn star? In my apartment? In my bed?”

For Matt Stroud’s cover story this week,

City Paper needed to photograph the porn queen Stoya, who lives in South Philly and works in L.A. But they couldn’t find a hotel that would let them. Not even for stills, not even if the model were clothed (well, mostly).

Hotels, I was told, jealously guard their reputations. So, would I mind if Stoya, her makeup artist and CP photog Mike Regan dropped by for a long afternoon?

Hmmm … would I mind if a lithe woman with raven hair and alabaster skin came to my house, took off her clothes and played in my bed? Ahhh … let me check my schedule.

Like I said, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

But, truth to tell, I was fascinated and a bit scared to host a porn star in my bedroom. Which I should amend to read as our bedroom, belonging to me and to my spouse of 24 happy years, thank you very much.

Call it primal silliness, but I imagined that a pro like Stoya would disturb the energy in our bower of bliss. I feared the residual vibe of her afterimage on our bed.

Now, look, I am not entirely unacquainted with pornography, and know a bit of its thrills. At its best, porn is the pure heat of popular culture stripped bare. Consuming porn, it’s easy to argue, is simply good fun.

Except if you look at the industry through the prism of human rights. Because even if you overlook how its films worship stereotypes, it’s hard to forget that the pornography industry feeds on exploitation. That pornography is the kiss-and-tell cousin of prostitution.

Worse, the more you try to dress it up, the shabbier the world of porn looks. The 1997 classic Boogie Nights showed the lives of the industry’s most successful to be vapid dreams fueled by cocaine.

So, for me, porn is as fascinating as a deadly snake that I’ve consciously kept at a safe distance.

But hiding from porn is getting harder. Having jumped from a few big screens to millions of little ones, there seems no stopping it. You can try to shield children from it. But this snake has already escaped, and it’s only the question of how best to tame it.

“It’s not like it was in Boogie Nights,” said Stoya. “People are always asking how I ‘ended up’ doing this, as if I had somehow fallen into it. It isn’t like that at all. It was and is my choice.”

Stoya has a manager who enforces those choices. She says she decides what she will or won’t wear, what she’ll do and not do on screen. And what she will or won’t do to her body.

Stoya has the build of an athlete; she’s flat and proud. “Seventy percent of the women in the industry get implants in their breasts and ass,” said Stoya, “I won’t.”

It’s hype to be sure, but she’s proud that her gymnastic movies begin with the warning “Don’t Attempt This at Home.”

As a contract player, she works full time and gets an AIDS test monthly.

It’s a good living, but Stoya has no illusions about her future. Now 21, by the time she turns 28 she expects to either migrate to the other side of the camera, to become a director, or leave the industry.

During the photo shoot, I peeked in from time to time. After my initial shock of seeing a thoughtful young woman transform into a vixen in stiletto boots and fishnets, the thrill disappeared rather quickly.

Later on, by chance, Regan snapped an amazing shot of me where I accidentally stumble upon Stoya in my laundry.

In the photo — used to illustrate Stroud’s insightful story I’m caught in a paroxysm of curiosity and sadness. I guess the snake and I still have some talking to do.


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