Safety, Comfort, and Porn Sets

After you get to the set, one of the first things you need to consider is how well your personal comfort and safety are bring looked after. In most situations, the kind of comfort I'm talking about has less to do with fresh pineapple chunks on a catering cart, and more to do with having plenty of paper towels and warm places to sit between shots. And when it comes to safety, we all know about the importance of avoiding STD's, but there are other considerations.

Most porn sets will not be equipped like a hollywood movie. As often as not, the filming takes place in an adapted home or private location not ideally suited to the needs of a crew, cast, director, and all their equipment. Sometimes, the most comfortable place on the set is actually out in front of the camera, where it has to al least look comfortable for the sake of the audience.

There are a couple of things you can do to make sure you have everything you need, regardless of how the set is managed. First, bring along a towel or a robe. You may be called upon to get on and off the set fully naked at a moment's notice, and the ambient room temperature when you're not under the hot lights could be a nasty shock if you don't have something nice to slip into. In that same regard, a pair of slippers or flip-flops can be very helpful, especially if your scene is being shot in a basement or a warehouse with cement floors.

Bring a bottle of water with you. It is a pretty common courtesy for most directors to provide the performers as well as the crew with water. Dehydration shows up clearly and unpleasantly on camera. Anyone who has seen it ruin a hard day's shoot once won't want to let it happen again. Bring a personal bottle, and keep it with your belongings so you can get to it quickly and identify it easily.

It needs to be mentioned here that a porn set is a very bad place to be using any sort of alcohol or mind-altering substance. If you feel that you need something artificial to relax you enough to go ahead with the shoot, perhaps this is not the industry for you. You need to be in complete command of all your faculties during a shoot. Similarly, you should never accept any prescription medications which were not prescribed specifically for you. If you feel you need performance enhancing medicines, consult your personal physician. ( Don't worry, they've heard it all before! )

If you want to keep track of your time, bring an inexpensive watch, and leave it with your belongings off the set. When you go back to get a drink or put on your robe, you can check the time. Directors generally prefer not to be distracted by performers who are glancing at the clock during a shoot. It can bring down the energy of a scene, and it challenges the authority of the director. If you have an appointment you need to get to after the shoot, let the director know in advance, and then accept that the information has been communicated.

It may sound silly, but one of the most important things you can do on a porn set is wash your hands frequently. In practical terms, the hands are where most of us pick up most of the germs which infect us on a day to day basis. Although a lot of the work on a porn set involves touching, licking, and penetrating other people's bodies, most of the parts being inserted and accepted rarely come in contact with anything but the inside of a person's clothing. However, often those parts have been recently fondled by hands which may have been holding handrails on the bus, handling money, shopping, or anything else we do that exposes us to the myriad diseases in the world. Keep your hands clean, and suggest that your fellow performers do the same.

When it comes to safer sex, there are a few theories about what makes the most sense. On most straight porn sets, performers must demonstrate that they have been tested for the major infectious STD's on a regular basis before being allowed on the set. On most gay porn sets, condoms are the rule. On many fetish sets, there is actually no release of bodily fluids, and therefore the sex portrayed in inherently safe.

In any case, the exchange of bodily fluids is always a matter of clear concern for the performers and the producers. If you feel strongly about one method or another, make your feeling clear to the director before coming to the set, so proper accommodations can be made. You owe it to yourself and your fans to learn everything you need to know about safety when having sex with multiple partners.

Remember, your safety and comfort are your concern. You have reason to expect that these matters will be taken into consideration, but it is prudent to assume responsibility for the minimal standards you require.

"Adults Only" is More Than Enough

One point about which I do not think you will find any debate in the vast majority of legitimate adult businesses is the importance of keeping adult content for adult consumers.

This is a separate issue from the critical need to keep minors from being exploited as subjects of adult media, either literally or in simulation. This is about making sure that the customer who buys a piece of porn is a legal adult, with the maturity needed to appreciate it.

In the past, it was easier to regulate access to information. There was no practical way to share a dirty picture short of passing a printed copy around from one person to the next. In those days, it was the responsibility of the store owners to keep the children away from the "men's magazines," or out of the store completely. A store owner relied on the publisher and distributor to confirm the nature of the items sold, and often demanded that they supply barriers, warning signs, or other impediments to help keep children from being exposed.

The advent of home video, the personal computer, and more recently the Internet, all contributed to a lack of practical control possible. But this situation, while it may never be reversed, does not entitle us to shrug our shoulders and ignore the problem. If anything, the responsibility is even more pressing on the adults in our society to protect the innocence of the children.

I may sound like a conservative prude, but I do not take this responsibility lightly. You may be surprised to learn that most of my colleagues feel much the same way that I do about it. There is a general agreement that what we produce, while it is of value to an adult audience, should not and must not be shared with minors.

The problem is not in the establishment, but in the attempts to regulate that establishment. When outside laws come to limit the freedoms of an industry, the least scrupulous members of our society come to bottom-feed on the aspects of the business legitimate producers avoid. These people may pop up overnight, post a few pictures anywhere they can, and try to snag as much money as possible before shutting down and scurrying away. They have no concerns about the implications of what they do; not for the consumer or for the producer.

The problem is that, to the general public, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the legitimate and the fly-by-night businesses. This is not a situation which is unique to adult entertainment. All industries must accept that some people will approach the business with less respect than others.

The assumption that it could be profitable to go after a youth market in adult media is flawed on many levels. The bottom line is that there are more than enough legitimate adult consumers for adult media. Apart from the regulations, and the moral issues, nobody who intends to make more than a passing buck from adult entertainment has any interest in selling to minors.

The adult entertainment industry has been treated as a second class citizen to the more mainstream entertainment industry since its inception. It is only in the past twenty years or so that any recognition of this class of producer has taken hold. The trends are moving in the right direction, governmental agendas notwithstanding.

As this industry matures, I think we will see more and better efforts made to use technology and common sense to keep adult entertainment in the realm of adults.

Porn Star 101 - What to Bring to an Audition

It's a funny question to ask, but if you're going to audition for a
role in which you will likely be spending most of your time naked, what
do you want to bring with you to the audition? In most professions,
there is an essential kit of supplies, references, and informational
materials you need to show to your potential employer when you first
meet. How does this translate into the world of porn?

First, and most important, is to bring valid, verifiable proof of your
age. It does not matter if you are ninety-three; your interviewer will
not be able to consider you, and may not even let you into the studio,
unless you can show an official photo id. For governmental regulations,
this ID should be issued by the state, and include a trackable unique
ID number, a current photo, and a date of birth proving you are a legal

Some producers will require you to provide two forms of ID, and most
reputable ones will insist on taking a photograph and/or a photocopy of
your ID to keep with your records. This is a standard precaution, as it
demonstrates that the producer followed the legal requirements for
preventing minors from participating. If you are not comfortable
letting this information stay with the producer, then you should not be
looking for work in this field.

Second, you should bring your social security card, or proof of
citizenship. While it is not technically illegal for a foreign national
to earn money working as a contract performer, it may be necessary for
that person to obtain documents proving the right to work in this
country. This is as much a concern for the producer as it is for the
performer, since it has implications for tax reporting.

Again, you should be ready to share this information with the producer.
If you are auditioning for contract work, you have every reason to
expect to be paid for what you do. As of 2005, any company which pays
you more than $500 in a single year must file a 1099 form declaring the
payment. Many performers make this much money in two or three shoots.
Filing the necessary paperwork requires your social security number,
along with your current mailing address. If you do not want to give out
this information to a producer, then you should look elsewhere for

Third, you should prepare a list of all the aliases and names you have
used, professionally or personally, throughout your life. If you are
married, and have taken your spouse's last name, you need to include
your birth name. If you have performed anywhere in the world under an
assumed name, you need to include that name in this list as well.

This information is one of the newest elements being required of
producers, who have very strict record keeping standards to maintain
legitimacy. At any time, the government can demand that a producer show
any of this information about any performer whose work that producer
has sol, licensed, published, or distributed. Having the information
ready in advance demonstrates your understanding of the needs of the
producer, and the realities of the industry.

Fourth, you should wear comfortable, casual clothing which is easy to
take off and put on again. Of course, you want to make sure that the
clothing you choose shows off your body and your features to their best
advantage. It is likely that you will be asked to take your clothing
off, and part of your audition will be demonstrating the grace and ease
with which you can do this. Pick your outfit accordingly. Keep makeup
and jewelry to a minimum. The producer wants to see what you look like

In addition to street clothes, it is not a bad idea to bring along a
few specialized costume pieces, props, or other equipment which you
feel expresses the unique qualities you bring to the work you do. Do
not expect to have time to show more than one or two outfits. It is
also polite to ask the producer in advance if there are any special
areas of emphasis for the audition. That way, you will be better
prepared for what you will be asked to do.

Fifth, be sure to bring a bag or case large enough to carry everything,
and hold it together before, during, and after the audition. Many
producers schedule multiple auditions one after the other. You do not
want to be remembered as the one who couldn't get all the gear back
into the bag before the next performer showed up. You also do not want
to leave anything behind, since it may accidentally end up in someone
else's bag the same afternoon.

Sixth, bring an open mind. Each producer works a little differently.
Some will spend most of the time talking, while others will put you out
on the set without any preliminaries. Most will expect you to fill out
some paperwork verifying your intent, and show your identification,
before anything else. Some will offer you work immediately, and others
will add you to their files and may not call for six months. Some will
offer to send you a copy of the pictures from your test session in
exchange for the rights, while others will not. Some will videotape the
interview session for possible future use in the extras for an upcoming

If you feel strongly about any of these possibilities, ask about them
before you schedule an interview. It is not professional to ask a
producer to change his methods at an interview, and it will not work in
your favor. Remember that the pictures which are taken at an interview
are just as likely as any others to show up online, or in promotional
materials for future video work. Use this opportunity to shine like the
star you know you can be!

How to Tell Aunt Marian About Gay Porn?

Everyone has an Aunt Marian. Mine is recently widowed, long retired, living in Florida, not one to worry about hurricaines, and socially conservative although not strictly religious. If you don't have an Aunt Marian, then you probably have someone else in your life who doesn't know yet what it is you do for a living, and might prefer never to know.

My mother, of course, knows what I do and understands the choices I have made. Not everyone has the advantage of such a rational parent. However, she is very sensitive about sharing this information with the rest of the family. She tells me she doesn't want me to ruin my good reputation, and I can only assume that she is concerned about her own reputation as well. In all fairness, I can see the difference between understanding my choices, and explaining them to her family.

The problem for my mother, and potentially for my Aunt Marian, is that I am not only content with the choices I have made for myself, I am actively proud of who I am and what I do. I do recognize that Aunt Marian's upbringing may never have exposed her to the more positive aspects of the adult entertainment industry. In fact, she might not even be aware of the critical role of erotica in the evolution and stability of the homosexual community. And come to think of it, I'm not even sure if she knows her precious nephew is a card-carrying friend of Dorothy!

The important point for me, and anyone else in this situation, is to be clear about how I feel about who I am and what I do. I can't expect everyone to agree with me, shake my hand, and join in for several choruses of Kumba-Ya on the guitar. But as long as I present my position and opinions with clarity, professionalism, and confidence, I will know that any failure to communicate is not my fault.

I might not have the opportunity to tell everyone in the family all about what I do and why. But I can answer questions when asked, and try to include a little education about the role of adult entertainment in the gay community.

There are a few key points to keep in mind when introducing this subject to someone who might not be inclined to listen with an open mind.

For many people in the mainstream heterosexual world, sexuality is just a natural part of the rhythm of life. The exaggerated focus on sexuality implied by pornography can seem distasteful. But these people have never had to live in a society which denies their basic instinctual inclinations at every turn, and discourages them from sharing their feelings with each other and themselves.

In a hetero-centric society, gay erotica fills a necessary void in the lives of many gay adults who might otherwise never be able to explore their own sexuality. Nobody would deny that sexuality is a critical aspect of anyone's life. It may be illegal to marry, and it may be unpopular or even dangerous to express affection in public, but at least in the privacy of their own homes all gay men can and should have the chance to deal honestly with themselves.

Some people may be more interested in the mechanical details of the industry, and these questions can be answered honestly and respectfully if you desire. There are plenty of myths and fallacies about the industry, and only those of us who work in this field really know for certain how untrue most of these are.

I assume that nobody would choose to join a profession without at least some sense of pride in the products of his labor. That is as true for a pornographer as it is for anyone else. Tapping into that shared sense of professional dignity, which underlies all professions, may be the most critical aspect to uncovering mutual respect for the work we all do.

Unless each of us has a clear handle on why we are proud of what we do, we may never be able to discuss it productively with our Aunt Marians.

For the Bears

There's a great picture up at Seth Godin's blog this morning. It's something I think all of us bears can relate to. And all you bear lovers can take comfort from the evidence that, despite the obvious PR concerns, corporate America staunchly supports you and your lifestyle!

( And I, for one, will think very carefully before buying outdoor advertising space from Viacom! )

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