“Your boyfriend lets you do this?” the Dutch journalist asked incredulously.
It’s one of the questions I get most often as a porn performer and producer. I’ve gotten it from friends, family members, my hairdresser, and, most recently, this Dutch production company interviewing me about having sex with other people on camera for money.
The answer, of course, is that my boyfriend doesn’t “let” me do anything. We’re both independent people with our own lives. We don’t exactly have veto power on career decisions.
Additionally, I have a girlfriend, and she doesn’t exert that kind of control over my life, either!
I mean, it would be awkward if they didn’t support me in the adult industry. They’ve both performed for the company I direct for.
Many of the porn performers I know date within in the industry (though not all do). The gig requires some special considerations with regard to monogamy that, in my experience, seem to come more readily to people in sex industries. I’m nonmonogamous at home, and was long before I got into porn, so having discussions about boundaries and safer sex precautions came relatively easily for me.
Still, dating a fellow performer means you need some boundaries about what you do at work versus what you do at home. I’ve found that when you’re both porn performers, there are some major differences between the sex we have onscreen and fucking at home. And I know the same is true for my boyfriend — let’s call him N — because I fuck him onscreen too.
It starts with what we wear. I’d like to say I wear my matching lacy plunge-bra-and-panty sets for my boyfriend, but in reality, I’m often wearing the slightly more ragged undies and ripped tights I wore to my more mundane day job on our dates. My everyday makeup is brighter and a little edgier than what I wear when performing (don’t want to scare the normals!), but I spend way less time making sure it’s sweat-, saliva-, and ejaculate-proof. After a year of being in a relationship together, I’m not terribly worried N will discover my lips are not, in fact, forest green.
Even though I dress up like a cosplay version of myself in real life, sexual role-play offscreen is a special treat rather than a regular practice. Costumes and scripts bring out my inner theater kid and, on set, you’re playing a character no matter what. Filming a male-male-female queer threesome scene other day, I was trying to come up with my “motivation” — besides, you know, getting off.
Is this a casual hookup? I wondered as I sucked one cock and then the other. An ongoing affair? A taboo encounter? What sort of sounds would I make? Does that sound hot, or ridiculous?
Should I have taken my boots off so I can take off this spandex suit, or is just pulling it to my ankles good enough?
And can the camera tell I’m thinking about this and not the feeling of our bits rubbing together?
It’s mentally and physically exhausting. In porn, sex is an endurance sport. Shoots can be anywhere from two hours to eight-plus. Trying to stay upright in high heels with my legs in a running-man position while getting slammed into from behind is tricky business! My thighs and calves ache from maintaining positions that prioritize visuals — you need to be able to see my boobs and his dick — over penetration (and certainly over comfort). After all that, it’s nice to come home and get laid in the missionary position sex, as myself.
It’s also nice not to have to worry about blocking the light and casting shadows. I’ve looked back on footage and cursed myself for having my hand in N’s hair while we’re making out because, while that’s very genuine and sweet, the viewer only gets a long look at my arm, instead of our lips locking. That’s really the one rule of on-camera sex: The camera has to be able to see the action.
Sometimes the extra set of eyes is a good thing. A director makes sure your makeup is perfect, your body looks good, and you get around to every sex act you intended to do. I know I’ve momentarily panicked during sex, wondering if a little bit of toilet paper is stuck to my labia and he’s about to go down on me. In addition to making sure the performers get breaks, a director makes sure everything is looking gorgeous and everyone’s getting off.
Do I get off, though? After questions about what my boyfriend lets me do, the question of whether I actually orgasm on camera is common one. The answer is: sometimes! Just like off camera. There are certain acts and dirty talk that will make me more likely to come, but sometimes my head just isn’t cooperating. That’s OK, though, in porn, where I can perform an orgasm and I’m unlikely to hurt anyone’s feelings in the process. N told me he doesn’t usually enjoy his orgasms as much on set because he’s preoccupied with making sure his jizz lands where his director wants it.
Shooting porn is kind of like making a collaborative mixtape, with a list of positions and acts that we think will look seamless and natural(ish) on film, but also hitting all the important marks for whatever production we’re shooting for. Sometimes N and I approach sex the way we approach porn sets, with a scene in mind. Once, when we were first dating, we planned out a bit of a doctor-patient scene. I put out various metal gags, a speculum, and a violet wand, dimmed the lights, and slid a waterproof blanket underneath, just in case. But to be honest, at home we have a lot of hot vanilla sex. Vanilla is sweet! And easy. And we’re busy. Yeah, we have trunks full of weird sex toys — a dildo called the Ovipositor that lays gelatin eggs, for example — but we pretty much stick to using our hands and the Magic Wand, like I figure many other thirtysomething couples do.
More often, the boundaries and negotiation involved in planning a scene mean that I can be a lot more adventurous on camera than I am in my personal life. Offscreen, I’m timid about public displays of affection, never mind sex parties! As a fat woman who has publicly outed herself as a sexual being, I get a lot of shit about my body and the fact that I’m paid for my sexual labor. Because I’m dating a fit man, I have to put up with strangers’ pitying looks (often while N eats three-quarters of the pizza we ordered). At sex parties, where he tends to get a lot more flirtatious attention than I do, it’s obvious that society has determined that we have different levels of sexual capital. That kind of judgment can make me feel withdrawn and sad in my day-to-day life. On camera, I feel like I can overcome it — and that by doing so I am creating positive representation of fatness and sexual fulfillment that’s sorely needed.
In part thanks to the sense of daring I get from fucking on film, N and I just had our first threesome on camera. I’ve had some threesomes where I felt like my partner and the third person wanted to fuck each other and I was just there to witness them. It’s not an experience I wanted to repeat. In a professional setting, I felt more comfortable being clear about what I wanted as a director and as a performer. I got to pick the third person and say exactly how it was going to go. The night before, while N and I were having sex, we told each other all the dirty things we wanted to do with our co-star. That made the threesome better, and ended up being a good (and really hot) starting place for negotiating how the scene would look and how the dynamics would work.
It is a little strange to effectively pay my boyfriend to have sex with me. But keeping it formal on set helps prevent porn drama down the line around who owns what if we break up. There are some perks to working with your boyfriend. I was able to cajole him into peeing in my mouth for a flick protesting porn censorship in the U.K. called “Ban This Sick Filth” — not an easy request to make of a mere colleague. Typically, though, I treat him like I do any other performer. He earns the same amount, he works about as often, and he has agency to make his own decisions with his co-star about what the performance will entail. I haven’t yet directed him with another performer, though I’ve seen his work with other people. I imagine it’ll make me feel a little bit jealous and a little bit turned on — and that I’ll have to put all those feelings aside to focus on being a good director.
Smut enthusiasts like to debate whether some porn is authentic, and if that’s better. I think some of my fans particularly enjoy my performances with N as we’re a real-life couple with real-life chemistry. And I like to think that our love resonates on screen, in the way we look at each other, how we kiss, how we laugh. The trust and respect we have for one another makes us ideal co-workers and collaborators.
That said, the theater kid in me likes performance and knows that inauthentic sex is still sex. It’s not like there’s some other me getting fucked while the real me answers emails. And, authentic or inauthentic, the practice pays off at home. (I thank N’s years of performing for his staying power in the sack, and porn is where I learned I could squirt, hence the waterproof blanket.) Offscreen, we still perform playfully and joyously — just for each other.
Although I do sometimes wish that there were personal assistants on hand to fetch us water while we fuck. That’d be nice.
Kitty Stryker is a freelance writer at Patreon, a sex critical pornographer at TROUBLEfilms, and a reluctant feminist killjoy. She has a lot of Feelings that she shares with her poly cabal and her cat herd.
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