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Female Performers, Pornography, and the Sex Industry: Take a Closer Look!



"One performer frequently quoted in the press is Nina Hartley, who has written that her career in pornography and stripping was "consciously chosen, as a path to self knowledge, the exploration of sexuality in its many forms". This framing of participation in the sex industry as a feminist act of women taking control of their own lives is common. Whatever the reality of Hartley's description of her own life, this ‘I am a porn performer, hear me roar’ framework is a mantra for women in the industry."
-- Robert Jensen, in Getting Off (2007).

"... VOICE is a national network of incest survivors. [...] We have communicated with thousands of sister survivors across the country. [...] Most women who are involved in pornography were themselves sexually victimized as children."
-- Letter of D.C., VOICE Inc. (excerpt), sent to the Minneapolis City Council in 1983 (In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997).

"Well, I grew up in a small town in Ohio , and when I was 10 years old, I was raped by a high school boy that was about 16. And from there, my mother had an older boyfriend that molested me, so my entire childhood was really shaped by these really traumatic sexual experiences, which ultimately led me to the streets of Hollywood and to porn."
--Traci Lords, in a Fox News interview.

"The first time I had sex, I was raped by someone close enough to my family to call my mother "mom". Now, I was sure what I was for. I knew that my greatest asset was my sexuality and knew how badly it was desired. I also realized that I had little control over my sexuality, that it could be taken at will. It was easy to give it for profit..."
-- Taylor Lee, former stripper, in Not for Sale (2004).

"Half the women I knew outside porn had been sexually abused as little girls, so it only stood to reason that the statistics might apply in porn as well. One study of the general population claims it is two out of three. The puzzling refrain I'd begun hearing from porn outsiders: "There are plenty of people with histories of sexual abuse who didn't grow up to be porn stars." That's missing the point: The ones who did become sex workers were abused. All of them, that's my guess."
-- Ian Gittler, "A Diary of Six Years in the Life of a Porn Star"; Rolling Stone; October 14, 1999.

"What I saw were women just like myself who were desperate, addicted to drugs, homeless, and I'm sure probably at least 80 percent of them suffered from sexual abuse as children. I saw them re-living their childhood experiences by getting into that industry. They were looking for attention, pleasing men, and being abused. And that's all they know. They think it's great. They think it's wonderful. I could've looked you in the eye ten years ago and told you that I loved being in pornography, was proud of what I was doing and that I was having a great time. But now I can tell you that it's so far from the truth. I was very convincing. I could convince you. I mean, I could walk up to a porn star today and she could tell me the same story and I can remember being in that place."
-- Carol Smith (pseudonym), former porn performer, interviewed in Not For Sale (2004).

"Larry King: "Do you know why young girls prostitute themselves?"
Traci Lords: "I have never met one that hasn't been sexually abused by an uncle, by a father, by a boyfriend, by somebody. They all have that in common. That's what I meant earlier when I said there's so many Traci Lords out there. My story is so completely typical, by the book, profile. It's scary."
-- Traci Lords, former porn performer, interviewed by Larry King, July 14, 2003;

"It’s safe to say most women who turn to porn acting as a money-making enterprise, probably didn’t grow up in healthy childhoods either. Indeed, many actresses admit they’ve experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse and neglect by parents. Some were raped by relatives and molested by neighbors. [...] So we were taught at a young age that sex made us valuable. The same horrible violations we experienced then, we relive through as we perform our tricks for you in front of the camera. And we hate every minute of it. We’re traumatized little girls living on anti-depressants, drugs and alcohol acting out our pain..."
-- Shelley Lubben, former porn performer, on her website.

"I met Jersey Jaxin about two months ago through Myspace and she allowed me to come and
spend time with her and listen to her story. She spoke about many things from her sexual abuse from her father to the abuse she went through in the porn. Much of her life can be summed up in one word: ABUSE."
-- Shelley Lubben (on her website), about ex-porn performer Jersey Jaxin, Saturday, August
11, 2007; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"I met Sierra Sinn last week and she is precious! I met her through myspace and she agreed
to let me come to her home and visit with her... Sierra shared with me how she came from a violent childhood and moved around a lot as a child and that she began stripping at a young age which ultimately led her to acting in porn movies. Sierra admitted to me that porn shattered her life and that she wants out."
-- Shelley Lubben (on her website), about porn performer Sierra Sinn; "Sierra Sinn leaves
porn!" (06/25/2007); source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"[My childhood] It wasn't great and it was very violent at times..."
-- Sierra Sinn, porn performer, interviewed by Shelley Lubben, July 28, 2007; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"Describing the complex connections between childhood sexual abuse, revictimization, prostitution, and health problems, One woman [...] [said]: "... there was no sense of having a life; the only life I knew was prostituting... I thought I couldn't be hurt no more and I felt that I could do what I want and I could have sex with whoever I wanted because SOMEBODY [HAD] ALREADY GONE AND MESSED MY SYSTEM UP."
-- Ex-Prostitute, quoted in Farley et al., Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries (2003).

"I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley -- the heart and soul of the porn industry. I have met my fair share of girls working in the business -- I was almost sucked into it myself... I have yet to meet a porn girl who was not abused as a child, raped, or a druggie and/or alcoholic. I have also never met a girl who did not consider suicide at one point or another. Most of the girls I met suffered from depression or bi polar disorder. And out of all the girls I have met in porn -- only one is still in the business -- most have had a nervous break down at some point and left the industry. The one I know that is still in the business... doesn't do it because she likes the sex, but rather she is addicted to money. "
-- "Avaria", who posted this on Shelley Lubben's blog (Source:
&friendID=42789016&blogID=182634881&MyToken=976f5742-2989-4e4c-a62b-2e3b52ef9f0a) on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 2:18 PM; [Accessed on 06/12/2007].

"Many experts report that victims of sexual abuse often shut down emotionally in order to cope. Angel [Kelly]'s affinity for numbness made sense. She told me that many of her fellow adult actresses were also molested as children."
-- Bebe Moore Campbell, "A portrait of Angel: The Life of a Porn Star", published in Essence, November 1990; reprinted in Making Violence Sexy (1993). 

"We need to think and talk somewhat differently about women who participate in the sex industry. Yes, many are coerced. Many are not coerced, but their choices to participate are made under far less than ideal conditions and result in significant harm to themselves."
-- Rebecca Whisnant, in Not for Sale (2004). 


"Many strippers get into porn solely because they want to up their rates."
-- Jenna Jameson, quoted in Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist pigs (2005). 

"I was stripping for like four years and I guess I was seeking [trying to make a bit more
money into porn]."
-- Sierra Sinn, porn performer, interviewed by Shelley Lubben, July 28, 2007;  source: [accessed 09/15/07]

49% of the 854 people in prostitution (most of them women), who were interviewed by researchers, had pornography made of them.
-- Source: Farley et al., Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; 2003. 

"...Pornography is a form of prostitution and consequently pornographers are pimps... It is a myth to assume that the "porn star" is someone other than a woman in prostitution and one who is most likely under the control of pimps who are either the pornographers or who contract their prostitute's "services" for a price..."
-- Letter of (sociologist) Kathleen Barry (excerpt), sent to the Minneapolis City Council in 1983 (In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997). 

"We're prostitutes . . . There are differences. You can choose your partners, and they're tested for AIDS -- you won't get your john to do that. But we're prostitutes: we exchange sex for money."
-- Porn Actress "Chloe", quoted in Martin Amis' "A Rough Trade", The Guardian, March 17, 2001. 

"The images that we reenact over and over again have absolutely nothing to do with our personal sexuality. I would say that what's shown is basically -- it's not revolutionary, it’s not different, it’s the same old, same old, it’s women in uncomfortable positions pretending they feel good, and what's revolutionary about that? What's liberating about that?"
-- Porn actress Sarah-Katherine, interviewed by Chyng Sun; Source: The Anti-Porn Resource Center at

"When [you're] eighteen--you're just not ready... Producers just want to suck in young talent and the girls don't stop and think."
-- Stormy Daniels, porn performer, quoted on, "Penn State Law Professors Trot Out 'Female Porn Leaders' to Whitewash Realities of Adult Industry."

"[T]hese girls are going to find people telling them they're overexposed. The typical line is something like we can't pay you a great deal of money because you're not a name yet. Then when they use you in every damn thing around and you become dependant on the income, they tell you we can't pay you very much because you're overexposed. [These girls] They're setting themselves up for a really bad experience... These new stars shouldn't depend on hardcore as a full-time income. The directors are gonna grab them, chew them up, and spit them out real fast."
-- Candida Royalle, ex-porn performer become producer, Interview, Adult Video News, July 1985. 

"Again, recall that most women in this [pornography] industry are very young. Women in their early twenties are likely to be washed-up, considered too old for "Just 18" or "Teen Sluts". However they got where they are, the fact remains that (as Gail Dines puts it) "No woman was put on this earth to be hurt or humiliated in order to facilitate male masturbation."
-- Rebecca Whisnant, in Not for Sale (2004).

"He said, 'You'll be in power. You'll be in control'... This is what is called 'pimp propaganda.'"
-- Heidi Somerset, former stripper (describing the man who recruited her into exotic dancing), quoted in Sherry Lee Short, "Making Hay while the Sun Shines," in Not for Sale (2004).

"The girls could be graded like A, B and C. The A is the chick on the boxcover. She has the power. So she'll show up late or not at all. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of them do that." He gestured at the screen and said, "Here you have a borderline A/B doing a double anal. Directors will remember that. She'll get phone calls. For a double anal you'd usually expect a B or a C. They have to do the dirty stuff or they won't get a phone call. You've had a kid, you've got some stretchmarks - you're up there doing double anal... Some girls are used in nine months or a year. An 18-year-old, sweet young thing, signs with an agency, makes five films in her first week. Five directors, five actors, five times five: she gets phone calls. A hundred movies in four months. She's not a fresh face any more. Her price slips and she stops getting phone calls. Then it's, 'Okay, will you do anal? Will you do gangbangs?' Then they're used up. They can't even get a phone call. The market forces of this industry use them up."
-- Jonathan Morgan, ex-performer turned porn director, quoted in Martin Amis' "A Rough Trade", The Guardian, March 17, 2001. 

"The average female career in pornography is 18 months."
-- ABC news, 2003; quoted on  

"Women posing for Playboy in 1984 were paid one third of the standard modeling fees for similar sessions."
-- Source: 

"Most women in pornography films earn $300 for a girl-girl scene and $400 or a boy-girl scene. ("Giving the customer what he wants...," Economist, 14 February 1998)"
-- Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation, United States of America, available at 

"Pornographers pay actors from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per film, offer no employment benefits, and require actors to sign releases relinquishing all rights. (Deborah Hastings, Associated Press, 6 November 1997)"
-- Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation, United States of America, available at 

"Me and two guys, whether or not it be anal or regular, is $1,100. Double penetration, which is once in vagina, one in butt, that's $1,200 and gang bangs usually range."
-- Annie Cruiz, 19-year actress, interviewed by Chyng Sun; Source: The Anti-Porn Resource Center at

"I got into the porn industry when I was younger and I wanted money, I wanted fame and
fortune, to live in glamour. And it never happened: I got a little bit of money, I got a few nice things... but [that was it]."
-- Sierra Sinn, porn performer, interviewed by Shelley Lubben, July 28, 2007; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"Regardless of how women become involved in systems of prostitution, the sex industry has no intent of allowing women to make enough money to pull themselves free, even though some may. Sex industry "businessmen", pimps, managers, film producers, and strip club owners do not run their businesses on equitable philosophies and practices. Prostituted women do not receive health care benefits, paid vacations, social security, or retirement benefits. Instead, the industry sets up systems that ensure women's servitude. Poor women on the local and global scale are recruited into an industry that only benefits by their entrapment."
-- Sherry Lee Short, in Not for Sale (2004).  


"...A detective in NYC [New York City] cited a case to me of a pornography ring in Manhattan that enticed young models to an office supposedly for a job interview. Once there the young women were attacked, subdued by beating or drugs and then photographed in hideous pornographic poses, tied, tortured, bound to trees in sexual union with animals, several men and on and on. When they came to or were released, it was with the warning that if they contacted the police all the Polaroid shots of them would be sent to their parents, places of business, schools and so forth... The police officer told me it wasn't until scores of women were so victimized in this manner that one finally took it to the authorities. This group had been doing millions of dollars worth of business..." 
-- Letter (excerpt) submitted by Valerie Harper, star of the TV show "Rhoda", and read (at the public hearings) to the Minneapolis City Council in 1983 (In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997). 

"I'm a psychiatric nurse, and the only organization I've been involved in lately is Students Against Violence at Cal. State, Northridge. I work in a hospital where I had an instance happen that really made the whole issue of what I was supporting at school come into my life... I overheard half of a phone conversation with one of the young housekeepers, and she was telling her friend, "I know it's pornography, is what they're trying to do." And it was like I didn't want to be in tune to what was going on, so I tried to turn off the conversation, and afterwards I asked her if she was all right. And she proceeded to tell me her friend, who's on welfare, has three children, saw an ad in the newspaper. It said, "Girls, Girls, Girls." And she brought it in and showed it to me, and it's very typical in all the newspapers: Modeling, $300 a day. And she felt she could get money for her children for Christmas for presents. She didn't have money. And so this young lady that I know was trying to talk her out of it, and it went on. I would see her every once in a while... And each time she began telling me the persuasion that was going on, and I could understand how easily a young woman could slip into this... She began by going for the interview, and they made pictures of her, and paid her the money and told her they were going to make her a star. And it seemed all -- everything seemed all right. So she proceeded to leave, and they said, by the way, we may have some lingerie ads you could do for us. We need you, just take your clothes off. I want to see if there's any marks on your body. She did that, put her clothes on and left. And all along this young woman that I know is trying to talk her out of it... Well, it got to the point where they started at one location. Then they began to tell her she could become a star on cable television. They took her to another location that--all I know is Melrose near La Cienaga, looks like a library, and this young lady I know [the housekeeper] was taken along one evening, [the pornographers were] hoping to recruit her. But she didn't get involved in it. She described it as looking like a library. It was run by an Asian man, a black man, and a white man, and an Indian man. And it was very sophisticated as far as [being] computerized and how the doors are very secure. Each room had names on 'em. It was sadomasochistic things that were going on... She came home and when the woman I know did not get involved, the young woman who was involved in all of this was given "punishment" for not having the friend come along. She was then, began to be threatened. The young woman came home with welts on her arms and the young woman I know kept saying, "they're beating you." And she's saying, "No, no, it's all right. It's all right." She pulled her shirt up quickly and saw there's welts all over her back. There's track marks on her arm, and then she confessed to her that she was told there would be harm to her children if she didn't cooperate. And it's to the point of immobilization... This young lady, I consoled her as much as I could. I talked with a police psychologist that I work with, and she said that the police wouldn't get involved because it is pornography. I felt totally helpless... "
-- Testimony of Sarah Schultz, at the public hearing of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women, April 22, 1985 (In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997). 


"I feel very hurt and very disappointed in my society and my country for allowing the fact that I was raped, I was beaten, I was put through two and a half years of what I was put through. And it's taken me almost ten years to overcome the damage that he caused. And the fact that this film ["Deep Throat"] is still being shown and that my three children will one day walk down the street and see their mother being abused, it makes me angry, makes me sad. Virtually every time someone watches that film, they are watching me being raped."
-- Testimony of Linda Marchiano, known as Linda Lovelace, The Minneapolis Hearings, 1983 (In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997). 

"[W]e are too close to the time when even rape victims were suspected of "asking for" the crimes of humiliation and violence inflicted upon them; a time when the testimony of a victim was disbelieved unless corroborated by witnesses who had watched the crime, and a victim's past personal life was admissable in court when the rapist's past, even if criminal, was not. [...] After all, millions of viewers saw "Deep Throat", the first hardcore porn film to enter the popular culture, without asking whether the young woman known as "Linda Lovelace" was there of her own free will. They ignored the bruises that were visible on her body, the terror in her eyes, even the simple empathy that should cause each of us to wonder whether another human being really would enjoy humiliations and dangers that we ourselves would never tolerate..."
-- Gloria Steinem, in her introduction to Out of Bondage (1986) by Linda Lovelace. 

"I have seen it totally destroy too many lives, especially the girls'. It's a lot harder on young ladies. I have seen a lot of producers and directors and photographers, just to get out a product that they have in mind, either badger or almost force the girls into doing things that they would really rather not do. I myself have been on a couple of sets where the young ladies have been forced to do even anal sex scenes with a guy which [sic] is rather large and I have seen them crying in pain and [it] just totally destroys their personality when they are forced to do things like that."
-- Male pornography performer, who testified at the Los Angeles Hearings of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, October 16-17,1985 (Source: Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography; 1986). 

"[UK] Channel 4's documentary "Hardcore", shown two years ago, told the story of Felicity, a single mother from Essex who travelled to Los Angeles hoping to make a career in pornography. Arriving excited, and clear about what she would not do -- anal sex, double-vaginal penetration -- she ended up being coerced into playing a submissive role and agreeing to anal sex. Felicity -- the vicissitudes of whose own troubled relationship with her father were mirrored by the cruelty of the men with whom she ended up working -- eventually escaped back to the UK. "
-- Edward Marriott, "Men and Porn", The Guardian; November 8, 2003. 

"Coercion comes in, especially like some of these witnesses have testified, in the area of anal sex, which many of the [pornography] models don't want to get into. [...] I have talked to models and I have seen films where it's so quite obvious that the model had no idea as to what they were getting into. [...] Obviously... they can't act the pain. Therefore the pain is very real. It's quite apparent these people do not realize what they have gotten into once they start the filming."
-- Testimony of William Roberts, at the Los Angeles Hearings of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, October 16-17,1985 (Source: Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography; 1986). 


"Peter Bogdanovich writes of Playboy "Playmate of the Year" Dorothy Stratten’s response to her participation in a pornographic movie: ‘A key sequence in "Galaxina" called for Dorothy to be spread eagle against a cold water tower. The producers insisted that she remain bound there for several hours, day and night. In one shot of the completed film, the tears she cries are real.’"
-- Diana Russell, quoting Peter Bogdanovich [Author of The Killing of The Unicorn], in Against Pornography (1993). 

"Micki Garcia, former director of Playmate Promotions, was for six years a supervisor, friend and confidante of the "Playmates". She "saw and felt the grim realities of the Playboy lifestyle: alienation from family and friends, drug abuse, attempted suicide, prostitution, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, mental and physical abuse, rape, attempted murder and murder." Peter Bogdanovich's [Dorothy Stratten] biography, The Killing of the Unicorn (1984) also documents Playboy's exploitation of women."
-- Ann Russo, in Pornography, the Production and Consumption of Inequality (1998). 

"The first time I made a video I was very scared. I had to meet the director in the parking lot of a store and be taken to the set. The set was very tacky. I just closed my eyes and did what I had to do; I went numb [...] Even After I’m dead, my videos will be out there. I’ve been swallowed up by the adult video industry. I feel used and cheated."
-- Angel Kelly, former porn performer, in Bebe Moore Campbell, "A portrait of Angel: The Life of a Porn Star", published in Essence, November 1990; reprinted in Making Violence Sexy (1993). 

"[W]omen in pornography are expected to express pleasure during sex through facial expression and moaning. As the women in these videos had to deal with the bodily reality of the sex acts -- especially anal sex or having more than one penis in them at once -- they often seem to forgo the orgasmic acting to concentrate on getting through the scene. Expressions of pain that did not appear to be scripted were common during anal intercourse. [...] [W]omen did sometimes fail to produce the signs of [the] orgasmic state, especially in the more homemade style videos. [...] In some cases, this involved [...] expressions of fear and pain. [...] [D]irectors didn't seem concerned enough to reshoot or edit..."
-- Robert Jensen and Gail Dines, in Pornography, the Production and Consumption of Inequality (1998).

"Given that the vast majority of those who will rent or buy these [pornographic] tapes are men, from that we can derive this question: Why do some men find the infliction of pain on women during sexual activity either (1) not an obstacle to their ability to achieve sexual pleasure or (2) a factor that can enhance their sexual pleasure? Phrased differently: Why are some men so callous and cruel sexually?"
-- Robert Jensen, Article A Cruel Edge: The painful truth about pornography and what men can do about it (2004). 

"Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films -- in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is Bitch. And these girls... go home afterward and pledge never to do it again because it was such a terrible experience. But, unfortunately, they can’t take that experience back, so they live the rest of their days in fear that their relatives, their co-workers, or their children will find out, which they inevitably do."
-- Jenna Jameson, in her book How to Make Love like a Porn Star (2004).

"[W]hen the director finally got the pair to settle down to the business at hand -- filming
a sex scene -- the tone changed. Without any prompting, Vidal [the male performer] got rough during the sex, slapping Michelle's face violently from side to side, and choking her... Michelle had gotten her start in the [porn] business at 18, when she came to Los Angeles from her home in Utah to look for work as a nude photograph model. When she failed to get modeling work, her agent encouraged her to try porn. She refused at first. "I always hated porn. I thought it was the most disgusting thing in the world," she told Primetime, which followed her career for more than two years... But she finally agreed. Taking the name Belladonna, like the poisonous flower, she found herself preparing for what she thought would be a simple boy-girl sex scene. She was shocked when the director told her he wanted her to do anal sex -- something she says she had never even thought about before. Worried she'd have to go through with it if she wanted to work again, she let him talk her into it. "I was kind of scared. I didn't know if I could say no," she remembers. "I didn't know any better, you know?"... After the session, she was shattered. "I wasn't ready for anal sex ... It was painful. But I can hide it really well."... Michelle went on more shoots over the next few months. Then her agent sent her on a job where she would have sex with male actors in prison outfits -- 12 of them. Once again, she tried to back out, telling the director it was "sick," but once again she was talked into it. She had sex -- all kinds -- with the 12 men. "It was really hard because I really felt like a piece of meat ... in a lion's cage, 12 lions ... I had to do a lot of things I can't imagine anyone wanting to do."... Afterward, she says, she couldn't stop crying..."
-- ABC News Primetime, "Love on a Porn Set: One Woman's Story [Belladonna]: A Mormon Girl
Gets Her Start in the Adult Movie Business", May 27, 2004; source: and [accessed 09/15/07]

"[Lara] Roxx says she was firm: she would not have any unconventional intercourse, and absolutely no scenes without a condom. But, she says, her agent pushed her to do more. [...] On the set, she was told she would not be participating in the kind of regular sex scene she expected -- it would be anal sex with two men at the same time. Darren James was one of them... "I freaked out. My heart started beating really fast and I was like, well, uh -- I don't know," she said. "And he's like, well, it's either that or we don't need you."... And, Roxx says, she had to pay back the $1,100 plane ticket to Los Angeles. The scene with the two men would pay her $1,300... So she went through with it -- but it was not easy, she said. She found herself mentally breaking out of her body and going to a corner of the room "where there's no Mark, there's no Darren, there's no camera. And I would look there and think about the sand, the beach."
-- Lara Roxx, ex-porn performer, quoted in "Professional Dangers", ABC News; May 27, 2004. 

"Kara Nox, adult film star, on "What don't you like about porn?"
A: "...Mostly, it's the attitude among many men that I'm subhuman. The degradation of women
is getting worse. Conditions for women on set are becoming more and more dangerous. As porn grows, more men with Neanderthalean views of women are getting power as talent, and producers. The results are increased acceptance of violence onset. Women face enough danger outside of porn. It seems as though many of the men we fear are now doing porn, and they legitimize their misogyny by saying it's for entertainment value. That scares the shit out of me, because it means there are even more troglodytes watching this, and getting off on women being hurt."
-- Kara Nox, porn performer. Source:, quoting [accessed 09/15/07]

"The porn performer Amanda McGuire told this story about [pornographer Max Hardcore] in Icon magazine: ‘He has made girls cry and lots of girls puke -- that's not unusual. I was there once when he throat-fucked a girl so hard she puked and started bawling.’"
-- Jackson Katz, quoting Amanda McGuire, in The Macho Paradox (2006).

"Porn performer Regan Starr, in an interview with Talk magazine in February 2001, described her experience while filming "Rough Sex 2" in horrific terms. She said that, while sex acts were performed on her, she was hit and choked until she couldn't breathe. Other “actresses,” she said, wept because they were hurting so badly. In the same article, a sex-film star notes how threatening the work is to performers’ health. “Nearly everyone has STDs [sexually transmitted diseases],” said Chloe. “If you’re a porno performer,” she continued, “your latest HIV test is your work permit. ... The tests we take test only for AIDS. We’ve contained AIDS in the industry, but what about all the others? You know we’re now up to hepatitis G?"
-- Source: 

"I got the shit kicked out of me. I was told before the video -- and they said this very proudly, mind you -- that in this line most of the girls start crying because they're hurting so bad... I couldn't breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn't stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the fucking camera off,’ and they kept going."
-- Regan Starr, porn performer, on the filming of "Rough Sex 2", quoted in Martin Amis' "A Rough Trade", The Guardian, March 17, 2001. 

"I have herpes... After you've been in this business for a while, you have herpes. Everyone has herpes.... My movies are all-condom, but condoms won't protect you from herpes. They don't cover the base."
-- Porn Actress "Chloe", quoted in Martin Amis' "A Rough Trade", The Guardian, March 17, 2001. 

"During interviews with Primetime, [porn performer] Michelle [Belladonna] kept the happy
smile she had always had -- even when describing things that many people would find disturbing. However, her composure cracked when Diane Sawyer asked why she always smiled. Tears came to her eyes as she said, "Because I like to hide -- hide everything, you know?" Then she began to cry, explaining that she hides her real emotions because she wants to show everyone how happy she is. "And I'm not happy ... I don't like myself at all," she said... Michelle confessed she often felt physical revulsion during her scenes: "My whole entire body feels it when I'm doing it and ... I feel so -- so gross." While pretending to be enjoying the sex, she said, she was in fact counting the minutes, telling herself, "Hey, I only have this much time left. Don't worry about it. Get the check. Gonna go deposit it in your bank." She admitted: "You get addicted to the money."... Like other performers Primetime spoke to, Michelle said that during shooting she often imagines herself outside her body. "I call it the ‘other half,’" she said."
-- ABC News Primetime, "Love on a Porn Set: One Woman's Story [Belladonna]: A Mormon Girl
Gets Her Start in the Adult Movie Business", May 27, 2004; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"It's as extreme as possible, it's multiple penetrations," she said. "It's all about unprotected anal sex. A few people still do vanilla, regular sex, but for the most part it's as kinky as they can get and as much as they can push it as possible."
-- Sharon Mitchell, porn actress, quoted in Pamela Paul, Pornified (2005). 

"You have to really prepare physically and mentally for it. I mean, I go through a process from the night before. I stop eating at 5p.m. I do, you know, like two enemas. The next morning I don't eat anything. It's so draining on your body." 
-- Belladonna, porn performer, interviewed on ABC News Primetime Live [Belladonna was criticized by people in the porn industry for this interview], "Young women, porn and Profits", January 23, 2003; quoted in Robert Jensen, Getting Off (2007). 

"... If you want it bad enough, it won't be painful. you just have to want it, that's all..."
-- Ariana Jollee, porn performer, quoted in Robert Jensen, Getting Off (2007). 

"... All I knew was how to be raped, and how to be attacked, and how to be beaten up, and that's all I knew. So when he put me on the game [pimped her] I was too down in the dumps to do anything. All I knew was the abuse."
-- A prostitute who was an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, quoted in Phoenix J., Making Sense of Prostitution (1999). 

"[There's] kind of gonzo film called a “blow bang,” in which a woman has oral sex in similar fashion with more than one man... In one of these films, “Blow Bang #4,” released in 2001, a young woman dressed as a cheerleader is surrounded by six men. For about seven minutes, “Dynamite” (the name she gives on tape) methodically moves from man to man while they offer insults such as “you little cheerleading slut.” [...] Five men have finished. The sixth steps up. As she waits for him to ejaculate onto her face, now covered with semen, she closes her eyes tightly and grimaces. For a moment, her face changes; it is difficult to read her emotions, but it appears she may cry..."
-- Robert Jensen, Article Just a prude? Feminism, pornography, and men’s responsibility (2005). 

"“Sopornos IV” is a 2003 release from VCA Pictures, one of the “high-end” companies that produces for what the industry calls the “couples market.” [...] After the standard progression through oral and vaginal sex, one of the men prepares to penetrate her anally. She tells him: “That fucking cock is so fucking huge [...] Spread it [her bottom] open.” He penetrates her. Then she says, in a slightly lower tone, “Don’t go any deeper,” and she seems to be in pain."
-- Robert Jensen, Article A Cruel Edge: The painful truth about pornography and what men can do about it (2004). 

"[T]he porn industry wants YOU to think we porn actresses love sex. They want you to think we enjoy being degraded by all kinds of repulsive acts. The truth, porn actresses have showed up on the set not knowing about certain requirements and were told by porn producers to do it or leave without being paid. [...] Yes, we made the choice. Some of us needed the money. But we were manipulated and coerced and even threatened. Some of us caught HIV from that coercion. I personally caught Herpes, a non-curable sexually transmitted disease. Another porn actress went home after a long night of numbing her pain and put a pistol to her head and pulled the trigger. Now she’s dead. [...] As we continue to traumatize ourselves by making more adult films, we use more and more drugs and alcohol. We live in constant fear of catching AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. [...] We get tested monthly but we know testing isn’t prevention. Besides worrying about catching diseases from porn sex, there are other harmful activities we engage in that are also very dangerous. Some of us have had physical tearing and damage to internal body parts..."
-- Shelley Lubben, former porn performer, on her website. 

"[I want out of porn] because I'm sick of being in pain..."
-- Sierra Sinn, porn performer, interviewed by Shelley Lubben, July 28, 2007; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"I’m just tired of the industry. The way that they treat us as though we're just pieces of
meat. That we don’t have a mind and our body is everybody’s and we have no soul... [In the porn industry] Guys [are] punching you in the face. You have semen… Twenty or thirty guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending. You're viewed as an object not as a human with a spirit. People don’t care. People do drugs because they can’t deal with the way they’re being treated... You are a number. You’re bruised. You have black eyes. You’re ripped. You’re torn. You have your insides coming out of you. It’s not pretty and foofoo on set. You get hurt... You have to numb yourself to go on set. The more you work, the more you have to numb yourself. The more you become addicted, the more your personal life is nothing but drugs... Your whole life becomes nothing but porn... We’re ripped, we’re tired, we’re sored, we’re bleeding, we’re cut up, we have dried semen all over our faces from numerous guys and we can’t wash it off because they want to take pictures. You have this stuff all over you and they’re telling you, ‘Hold it!’... It’s all about the money. They’ve forgotten who they are and they don’t care who they’re hurting."
-- Jersey Jaxin, former porn performer, interviewed by shelley Lubben, August 12, 2007;
sources: and [accessed

"A close friend of mine worked for Kink [a torture porn production company] for her third time recently, and had the most traumatizing experience of her life. (No, she didn’t do the Training of O everyone is always talking about) Her injuries after the shoot include numerous lumps in both breasts (from being slapped, whipped with a bamboo cane), bruises and rope burns from head to toe, bleeding from both her vagina and butt, and soreness everywhere from being constantly shocked when she made it known she didn’t want to do it. On top of that, it was shot in a room with running water flowing through the room that was so cold that during the shoot you can see the talent’s breath. On top of that, she can’t sleep because of the pain and flashbacks from the scene in her dreams. She officially quit the business right after the shoot. I’m sure she’s not the only one they’ve driven to leave. It seems as though once they get you in that building, they torment you as much as they can get away with until the talent won’t work for them, or at all, anymore."
-- Director Ricky D., comment posted  on Luke Ford's blog on January 10, 2008 [after 5 days, the thread was removed from the site]; reported on PRE Traffick Jamming blog at

"There's parts of me that I don't let people see. I'm very particular about who I let close to me and there's not many. It's very hard to get there. Maybe one or two people. But I do give a lot to a lot of people. That's one of my problems. I give a lot. In everything I do. And when you don't get it back, it's very disappointing. There's parts of me no one knows about..."
-- Ariana Jollee, porn performer, "Adult DVD Talker, Skronker interviews Ariana Jollee", summer 2004. 

"As has been well documented in psychological investigations of other forms of torture, overwhelming human cruelty results in fragmentation of the mind into different parts of the self that observe, react, as well as those that do not know about the harm. [...] In prostitution, she is depersonalized; her name and identity disappear. She shuts down her feelings to protect her self. [...] Whether she is coerced at gunpoint, or whether she "acts the part" in order to survive for so long as the mask takes over -- either way, she doesn't stay a whole person. She constructs a self that conforms to the masturbatory fantasies of johns, a self that smilingly accomodates verbal abuse, sexual harassment, rape and torture. Over time, the prostituted self takes over more and more of the rest of her. She is disappeared. The harm she experiences in prostitution is made invisible... [...] Dissociative disorders are common among those in escort, street, massage, strip club and brothel prostitution, and frequently accompanied by posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse. [...] One would make the same prediction for other types of prostitution... [...] Dissociation permits psychological survival, whether the repeated trauma is slavery, military combat, incest, or prostitution. Dissociation is an elaborate escape and avoidance strategy... [...] Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors potentiate dissociation, and they obscure the reality to the dissociated person. The high rates of depression among prostituted women tell us however, that none of these strategies fully shield the traumatized person from despair, demoralization, and hopelessness. [...] Many women with dissociative disorders who have been prostituted appear to be re-enacting and mastering some aspects of childhood trauma. Sometimes women feel that in prostitution they are in control of when sex acts [...] take place, with whom, and where, and furthermore they are paid for it. [...] In order to survive the brutal commodification of their sexuality in prostitution, women dissociate, and appear to accept the view of themselves as sexual commodities."
-- Melissa Farley, clinical psychologist and researcher (whose research on prostitution has been used by state governments, as well as by advocates and organizations providing services to prostituted and trafficked women), in her book Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Stress (2003). 

"For me, porn was about my pain in my life as a child. And I was completely acting out. [...] I felt disconnected from my body, and I felt high a lot and I felt angry."
-- Traci Lords, former porn performer, interviewed by Larry King, July 14, 2003; 

"Don't believe porn actresses when they proudly proclaim they enjoy making porn movies. They're ACTING."
-- Shelley Lubben, former porn performer, on her website. 

"Porn... It's shattered my heart, it's shattered my mind. I can't be intimate with people. I
can't have [anything] like closeness or I just get uncomfortable... And I wanna get past it. I wanna get past the pain and the hurt and I wanna be with my daughter [who is far away]. I think if I had better options other than pornography then I could be with her... [...] Porn is a huge lie!... Pornography is a lie... No [Shelley didn't force me to say that porn is a lie] My life forced me to say that. The pornography world forced me to say that."
-- Sierra Sinn, porn performer who wants out of the industry, interviewed by Shelley Lubben,
June 29, 2007; source: [accessed 09/15/07]

"Pornography encourages people to disregard others' pain for one's own pleasure. Many people I interviewed acknowledged that, based on their own experience and knowledge of the human body, certain sex acts they've watched in films likely would have been painful for the female performers. However, they argued that since the performers were paid, it was not the viewers' concern, and they acknowledged that they get aroused watching it. That mentality helps create a world in which a producer can brag about having originated a popular video series that shows women gagging during forceful oral sex."
-- Chyng Sun, "Revisiting the Obscenity Debate", Counterpunch; January 31, 2005. 

"Dissociation is routine and achieved by various means documented by prostitution survivors: drink, drugs, cutting off. [...] Those who do not learn the technique of dissociation survive less well. [...] One significant consequence of prostitution is suicide. A 2002 report of research into involvement in prostitution and suicide amongst street youth in Ontario, Canada, showed a strong connection. [...] 76 percent reported one suicide attempt and of these 86 percent had made more than one attempt. When asked about their feelings in relation to these attempts, many described feelings of being merely an object for someone to "get off on" or "just some hole". [...] Suicide attempts were regularly preceded by a "bad date" which meant "not getting paid, a trick that takes too long or is too demanding, being beaten up, raped, or tricks who make offensive comments".
-- Sheila Jeffreys, in Not for Sale (2004). 

"In the early hours of July 11th, 1994, porn actress Shannon Wilsey, a.k.a Savannah, put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger... Friends say she was upset about crashing her Corvette into a fence earlier that evening– she thought she’d broken her nose... She was also worried about not getting paid for a recent strip show in Las Vegas. [...] Savannah was born in California, and was 23 when she killed herself."
-- Source: Rolling Stone magazine and Internet; article appears on the Anti-porn Resource Center, at 


"When Paul Thomas accepted his best-director award at the pornography industry’s 2005 awards ceremony, he commented on the corporatization of the industry by joking: “I used to get paid in cash by Italians. Now I get paid with a check by a Jew.” Ignoring the crude ethnic references (Thomas works primarily for Vivid, whose head is Jewish), his point was that what was once largely a mob-financed business is now just another corporate enterprise... How do leftists feel about corporate enterprises? Do we want profit-hungry corporative executives constructing our culture?"
-- Gail Dines and Robert Jensen, Article Pornography is a Left Issue (2005). 

"Andrew Edmond -- president and CEO of Flying Crocodile, a $20 million pornography internet company -- put it bluntly: “A lot of people [outside adult entertainment] get distracted from the business model by [the sex] and can't imagine anything complex about it. Truth is, it's very complex. [Adult entertainment] is just as sophisticated and multilayered as any other market place. We operate just like any Fortune 500 company.”
-- Andrew Edmond, in Erik Gruenwedel, "Tricks of the Trade", Brandweek, October 30, 2000; Quoted in Robert Jensen, Getting Off (2007). 

"We have an industry that is making billions of dollars a year, is spreading to cable television and to the Internet, and yet their employees are considered to be throwaway people," said former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop... "[The pornographers] They want the profits from pornography but "they don't want to get involved."... Nor do the fans, according to Koop. "Even the people who enjoy looking at pornography really despise the people they're watching, and they have no sense of protection for them," he said."
-- ABC News, "Porn Profits: Corporate America's Secret", May 27, 2004. 

"Only a handful of "high end" production companies require condoms, leaving the majority of performers vulnerable to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. While some companies require performers to take HIV tests, there is no government regulation mandating tests across the industry."
-- ABC News, "Porn Profits: Corporate America's Secret", May 27, 2004. 

"At conventions and other public events, the adult industry tends to portray itself as a happy family promoting shame-free sexual enjoyment. But privately, many performers say the reality is very different. "There's some unwritten law or agenda out here in Pornoland that ... if we tell the truth about what's really going on here, the fan will get turned off," said Ona Zee, a former performer..."
-- ABC News, "Porn Profits: Corporate America's Secret", May 27, 2004. 

"[Jenna] Jameson says porn has more pitfalls "than nearly any other occupation." Drugs is one... [The performers] don't own any rights to their screen work, so scenes can be reused in compilations. And because the adult industry isn't unionized and the movies are so cheap to make, the stars make a piddling slice of the overall profits..."
-- A review of Jenna Jameson's book by Salon, quoted on ("Jenna Jameson's caution to would-be porn stars"). 

"People in this industry know the hush money they pay talent to shut the fuck up. I know quite a few girls that they’ve taken advantage of and felt the need to give them extra money after the fact. I’ve talked to producers, directors, and talent - the only people saying positive stuff about them are the ones making money off them."
-- Director Ricky D., comment posted  on Luke Ford's blog on January 10, 2008 [after 5 days, the thread was removed from the site]; reported on PRE Traffick Jamming blog at

"Up-market producers such as Vivid use mainly white women; the official face of pornography is overwhelmingly white. However, alongside this genre there exists more aggressive material in which women of color appear more frequently. As one black woman in the industry told us, “This is a racist business,” from how she is treated by producers to pay differentials to the day-to-day conversations she overhears on the set."
-- Gail Dines and Robert Jensen, Article Pornography is a Left Issue (2005). 

"Some American and European pornography producers have moved to places such as Budapest in Hungary because of the availability of cheap actors from Eastern and central Europe. Budapest is a destination and transit city for women trafficked from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Romania and Yugoslavia. There are hundreds of pornographic films and videos produced each year in Budapest. Budapest is now the biggest center for pornography production in Europe..."
-- Donna Hughes, in Not for Sale (2004). 

"The British charity National Children's Homes ( reports that 55% of the Internet child porn industry is based in the United States, while Russia is second at 23%."
-- Source: