In this paper I wish to explore the appeal that American society (particularly American men) has towards pornographic actresses (and in some cases, actors). I find it intriguing how people who come from such a questionable field can be accepted with open arms by the people of this country, and I would like to explore issues connected with this topic which are often left ignored. This shall be accomplished in two parts: the personal attraction to porn actresses and the society’s general acceptance of them as pop culture icons.
I. An Individual’s Attraction to Pornographic Actresses
The average man, as it appears to me, finds pornography appealing. More so, he finds the actresses in the films very appealing. And let us not mince words about the situation – he is not in awe of her acting abilities. He more than likely finds her very attractive and would like to do some of the things to her that he is seeing other men (or women) doing to her on his television screen. If he met her on the street or at some trendy nightclub and she wanted to get her freak on, I believe the average man would comply with her every whim. But this makes little sense if we realize the reality behind the smoke and mirrors (or the noumena under the phenomena if you’re a Greek philosopher).
The only difference between a porn star and the average women is that the porn star gets paid to do what the average woman does for free. So let us think of her as a “normal” woman who happens to be in various films. She is just a woman who has sex with men – hundreds of men – to make a living.
When a “normal” woman has sex with hundreds of men, and doesn’t get paid for it – what do we call her? We call her some pretty awful names that I won’t even print here just in case the kiddies are reading this. If we saw this woman at a bar we would avoid her like a plague of herpes – perhaps even literally. But is this woman doing anything different from the porn star? Not really. By her own choices, she has agreed to engage in sexual activity with men – a very natural instinct, in fact. So why are we drawn to the porn star and not the attractive barfly?
Perhaps we think she has some skill that the average woman does not. But for the most part, this is not true. As hard as this is for some people to understand, the actors and actresses in pornographic films are actually acting, not really having pleasurable sex. Most of the orgasms are faked, as are most of the happy moans and facial expressions. These actors know how to make sex look good, but this does not mean they know how to make good sex. It is the same as any other actor. We can teach actors the jargon to be a doctor, a lawyer or a police officer, but this doesn’t mean they could adequately perform surgery or talk down a hostage situation. There must be some sense of feeling behind the act.
And if we think that porn stars are favorable because they will do things so degrading that most “normal” women would avoid them, I must object on two grounds. First, this could be taking a woman and making her out to be little more than an object to be disgraced and used as a toilet. Second, the belief that the average woman would avoid the themes we see in porn films is highly erroroneous – while most women may not be interested in DVDA or life-risking bondage, a large number of them are more than willing to do other very arousing things including anal and facials. Whether this is right or not is not a matter of concern for the sake of this article.
II. Society’s Acceptance of Pornographic Actresses
Until recent times, it is my belief that porn films and the stars of these films were not seen as a part of mainstream America. How many porn stars of the 1970s and 1980s can we name? Relatively few, I would imagine. And those we can name probably became more widely known in recent times. If someone wanted to see a smut film in the past few decades they would go to a sleazy theater in the middle of the night and probably not even tell their wife. Now we find it unusual for video stores not to carry pornographic films. And any teenager can list off a plethora of porn stars – regardless of whether or not they in fact watch porn.
And these stars have crossed over into mainstream videos, music and ads – sometimes in ways that seem completely out of place.
Ron Jeremy, who has starred in hundreds of pornographic films and is known as the Hedgehog for his hairiness, has appeared in many non-porn films as well (“54”, “Terror Firmer”). There is a song about him (which he does vocals for) by the punk band Brown Lobster Tank. But most interesting are two of his acting credits – appearing in both Jesus Christ Superstar and as a monster on Disney’s Bone Chillers. Yes, Disney! Disney has actually had a porn star on the payroll as recently as 1996.
He is by far not the first porn star to cross over. Traci Lords, infamous for appearing in the industry’s films underage by using fake identification, has been in mainstream films for a great many years. She has recently written an autobiography which jumped to the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list.
Another star appearing in music? Chasey Lain, who is featured in the Bloodhound Gang’s “Ballad of Chasey Lain” which has received moderate airplay here (and strangely enough overwhelming airplay in Germany). The lyrics only further the point that men want to have sex with a porn star (“you’ve had a lot of dick, but you ain’t had mine”) despite their apparent status as sluts. In Jimmy Pop’s defense, Chasey is a fine woman.
But the most successful of all is probably Jenna Jameson. Already known in the porn world from her films – and recognizable by her distinctive tattoo – Jenna has expanded her empire by starting one of the Internet’s most successful adult sites, Club Jenna. But she was even offered a deal to endorse Pony shoes, which as near as I can tell have nothing to do with kinky sex. Now, if they were Keds I would understand.
Are these just flukes? Maybe a fad? Or are we on the brink of a damburst of porn stars entering our society and influencing our kids? Do we want our children looking up to people who are best known for fitting two penises in their vaginas and getting a face full of semen while being tied to a chair? Perhaps it is too early to tell, but I think in the years ahead we will see a major increase in sex-related items being considered normal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
John Holmes, Linda Lovelace