I made a porn. Well I shot two scenes but porn by any other name is still somebody fucking on camera. Have I always wanted to film a porn? No. I use porn sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. What I’m saying here is when I can’t cum I watch a porn. Most of the time I nerd out by reading some sort of erotic fiction involving a woman getting nailed by the bejeweled handle of the sword of the Captain of the Guard but that doesn’t always work. When it fails me I turn to the Internet, everyone’s best friend/worst enemy. I don’t really have any favorites. I prefer two women because that provides what I require visually, otherwise it’s heavy on the beej jobs and tons of cum shots through the heart. I suppose I’m an artist in that respect. I need to dig a little deeper.
When James Deen Tweeted that he was accepting submissions from regular folks like me to film scenes with him I laughingly turned to my coworker and said, “Oh, let’s submit!” I was the only one who submitted.
i am not joking in regards to shooting a scene with me. http://t.co/jB4fzEx5HS
— James Deen (@JamesDeen) September 5, 2013
A few hours later I received an email from his model coordinator letting me know I was oh-so-adorable and if it wasn’t too last minute could I pop up to New York next weekend to shoot some porn y’all! That’s when I realized we were actually talking about porn here. I went back and forth, listing the usual pros and cons:
I considered what this could mean for my future as a standup comic, or as a person. I don’t have any religious or emotional ties to sex. I don’t think I’m going to hell nor do I think you have to be in love to do the deed. You see, if those two factors were really an issue then women wouldn’t get wet and men wouldn’t get erect unless we were happily married. That’s not how the human body works, however, so it seems like we were built for sexual speed as opposed to marital comfort, at least physically. I finally decided to do it for the simple reason of: why not? As a female standup comic, and as a female human being, I’ve heard all manner of horrible things said about me, most of which are unfounded. People are going to think or say terrible things about you regardless of what you do in life so you might as well have some control over it. I can’t stop a man on the street from attempting to secretly undress me using his brain when I walk by, but I can ensure that he has to pay X amount of dollars to actually see it so…voilà! Porn.
It helps that James Deen is what I like to call a bit of a hipster porn star. He is respected both within and outside of the porn community and is loved by feminists the world over. Why he’s even done a non-pornographic film written by the amazingly talented Bret Easton Ellis and starring the formerly talented Lindsay Lohan. This wouldn’t have happened if it was with 95% of the men I’ve seen doing porn…big dicks, bigger stomachs.
The first thing I wanted to do was tell my mother about my plan (this is a great sentence to write immediately after referencing big dicks). My mother is fairly progressive. She’s not the inappropriate drinking with her underage children cool mom. She’s just very forward-thinking. I knew she wouldn’t disapprove and would only be concerned in the way a mom would be in a situation like this. I told her while we were in the car. As I was assuring her that nothing could go wrong, literally as I am uttering the words; a story came on NPR about a recent HIV outbreak in the porn industry. OH COME ON.
The first rule of porn club is, get tested. The second rule of porn club is, get tested. The third rule of porn club is, smile! Let me be very clear about one thing…I do not like needles. I have 10 tattoos but something about blood donating/vaccination needles has always given me pause. Could it possibly be because they are so large it would appear they are about to penetrate your very soul. Could that be it??? It’s probably because I have small veins, or so I’ve been told. It takes even the most accomplished nurse at least 2 tries before they can find one, all while giggling about how tiny they are. This trip to the doctor was no exception. Although this time was extra fun because they required 3 vials of my blood. I assume that’s one vial for every letter in HIV. Jesus Christ. I almost died. Lucky for me I aced that test. I am Less Than Patient Zero. I shared the good news with Deen’s press agent and received this email from Mr. Deen himself:
I immediately felt comfortable. I had never seen any of his films. Friends that had told me he was occasionally somewhat rough with women but this email proved that all activities were decided upon beforehand and it let me know that this is MY porn and I’ll cry, get spanked, get tied up if I want to.
During the course of our exchanges we discussed how we wanted things to go. James told me that if there was no sexual chemistry we could just hang around and joke all day. No sexual chemistry? What does that say about me? I envisioned Deen not really “feeling it,” so I would just do 20 minutes of standup in some hotel room for him. Cum here often? Not today I guess. I just flew in and boy are my arms tired guess I’ll just nap in front of the TV no sex here. Do not look behind the curtains. Nothing to see folks.
I’m very good at travel research. I weirdly love planning a trip almost as much as I love going on the trip itself. I started researching hotels in New York with only one criteria in mind: find a room that is the least porntastic as possible. Out of curiosity I watched one of Deen’s amateur videos. The only thing I could think the entire time was why didn’t this girl make her bed? I could not get past the fact that her bed was so disheveled. I was determined to avoid a similar fate. Once I found a lovely room I booked my train and that was it.
The first thing I did when I checked into the hotel was take note of the two giant red velvet chairs that were not pictured on the website. Sometimes the best get laid plans…I went to the gym for obvious reasons then proceeded to treat the whole affair as if I were going to prom. I got a manicure/pedicure. I showered and shaved everything. I looked around the room and had bizarre thoughts like: Should I leave the book I’m reading on the nightstand? Maybe I should put my laptop away. I don’t want the whole world to see what my laptop looks like. It didn’t occur to me that the whole world was about to see what my lap looked like, my naked lap. The room felt a little warm so I decided to adjust the temperature to, you guessed it, 69 degrees. JOKES.
There was a knock on the door and I opened it while brushing my teeth. I’m late to everything, including my own porn movie. James rolled in with a huge suitcase and an even bigger smile. I signed a bunch of paperwork. At this point he may have complete ownership of all my internal organs. Who knows! The shoot began outside with us strolling through the streets of NYC while he filmed us on his cell phone, just chatting. I read aloud funny good luck text messages from various friends. We got a coffee then sat in front of a church, as one is wont to before a porn, and joked around like old friends on God’s front porch. Then it was off to the task at hand and other body parts.
It was just James and a giant (peach) camera. We filmed two scenes. In between we talked about comedy and I mentioned liking John Mulaney. So there we sat on the bed, huddled around my laptop watching John Mulaney’s special New in Town.
After he left I felt really good. There are few words in the English language more annoying than the word empowered. Imagine that feeling but swap it out for a different word because I would sound like a complete asshole if I used it. I started telling strangers all about what I did. I needed a new cell phone charger as my sole purpose in life is to lose cell phone chargers and wallets, and I ended up telling the woman at the Verizon store everything. She made me promise to come back and let her know when it was available because, and I quote: My husband and I love watching porn. I filed her away as my first fan, sort of. That has shocked me the most. People are not only interested in it but excited. It’s further proof that porn is not the Wizard behind the curtain it once was. The Sexually Liberated Dorothys of the world have pulled back the drapes to reveal something not quite frightening after all. Surrender Dorothy, turns out she’s a submissive after all.
Has anyone been hurt by this decision? The simple answer is yes. It’s the only aspect of this entire experience I regret. I am sorry. Those people are handling it in the best way possible and for that I am grateful. I am surprised by how supportive and excited some of my friends have been, to my face at least. I’ve heard through the grape-bullshit gossip-vine that some people think I did this for the story. They’re right. I did it so I could experience something and share it with others, so in a sense yes…it’s for the story.
The fact that James and I exchanged a few emails and talked a bit prior made it all feel quite easy. I hardly noticed the camera, the idea that thousands of people would be viewing this soon, or what my ass was doing the entire time. Dear God, what was my ass doing the entire time? That was a month ago. The video goes live on his website today. James says it’s great! Whatever that means. He informed me that the first part is hilarious, as it was intended to be, which of course speaks to the comic in me. I’m glad that’s the case. When I visit his website and watch trailers of other movies I do feel a bit nervous. Everyone does seem pretty goddamn naked. That is completely fine and normal. If you really break down the idea of porn it’s quite silly that anyone would react negatively to it. Most of us have sex. A lot of us have used a camera. Some of us have put the two together. At least one of us got paid in money, experience and fun.
Update 11/30/15: The following update has been added to the author’s original post here:
Stoya is an adult film star who is an outspoken feminist and writer. She is also James Deen’s ex-girlfriend. On November 28, 2015 Stoya let the world know that she was raped by Deen.
I support her and applaud the courage it must have taken to do this, especially when the person involved is a beloved member of the porn community who has been lauded as a feminist and ally. I support her because it took 30+ women for anyone to believe that Bill Cosby is a rapist. I support her because not doing so says to the world that women are not to be believed or trusted when it comes to rape or sexual assault. I support her because there will be enough people in the world condemning her. I support her because it took strength, something many don’t believe a woman has. Now is not the time to victim blame. Being a sex worker doesn’t mean you deserve to get raped. You know who deserves to get raped? No one. I #StandWithStoya.
Several people have come forward since Stoya’s original Tweet and the word that comes to mind for me is sickened. I’m also sorry I misled so many people with my original piece. James Deen is not the person I thought he was and I now take full responsibility for my actions. My greatest fear is other women were inspired by my words, inspired to seek him out for a similar experience. This should not be taken lightly as it’s an industry where women can certainly be taken advantage of. It was damaging and I would not do it again. Not only did he sever the trust of fans and loved ones but he is destroying an industry that has to work so hard to get respect, especially for the women involved whose words often go unheeded. I think of those women now and to them I apologize as well. I regret contributing to the false image he has projected of himself -Jenn Tisdale
Jenn Tisdale is a standup comic and writer based out of Washington, DC. She obsessively Tweets about Back to the Future at @Jenn_Tisdale. This piece originally appeared on Brightest Young Things. Republished with permission.