Am I fit to be around school children? I have no criminal record, am currently enrolled in college, and I take care of my quadriplegic brother and three school-age nephews. I also happen to be an adult actress, a “pornstar,” and after 10 years of performing, yes, I have earned that title. But being an adult actress would not make me unfit to be a mother when the time comes, nor am I now unfit to take my nephews to their school basketball games. I am a kind, caring individual, and my worst crime as far as children go is smashing spiders with my nephew’s “I Can Read” book (and then secretly slipping it back into his pile of books unnoticed). I wake up with my nephews when they have nightmares, stay up all night when they have a flu, wake up to see them off to school, and help them with homework in the evenings. So, while I am an adult actress, I am having a difficult time grasping why that would matter when I am off set. I don’t bring my work home with me. There is no trace of my very adult job in my home or anywhere outside the venues appropriate to the entertainment I make. I am a fairly typical performer that way among those of us with families.
Recently, Sasha Grey threw caution to the wind by participating in a Read Across America program at Emerson Elementary School in Los Angeles. The school claims claimed she was only listed as an actress from the HBO series Entourage, and they had no idea she was a former adult actress. I stress former. Sasha Grey has quit the adult business.
I don’t see how being an ex-pornstar is relevant to how she leads her life now. No crime was committed; her career was all perfectly legal adult entertainment that neither she nor anyone else ever intended for minors. There is nothing out there that makes her a threat to children. Perhaps parents are afraid that Grey’s mere presence will taint their children and encourage them to seek out similar careers (don’t worry, being an adult actress isn’t contagious). Grey is, in fact, a better role model than half of the drug-addled young Hollywood crowd that haven’t taken their clothes off for a camera. Sasha Grey entered the adult industry with a set of objectives. She was a girl with a kinky dream, and she chased down her goals leaving the adult industry while she was still a rising star; she has since pursued bigger and better things. She was the first pornstar ever to grace the cover of Playboy, and her crossover into mainstream success was a result of brains, talent, and hard work. She has made history in my industry. And that is what porn is to her: a part of her past, that shouldn’t count against her.
Yet in another example, Fox News recently made a crusade out of exposing Kevin Hogan, who was the head of the English department for the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School near Boston. Mr. Hogan did a few adult movies. The school suspended him. Why? We do not have poor moral character, or at least we are hardly out of the mainstream—especially if you consider how many people buy porn movies. We are a reflection of and entertainment for the average person. There are many people out there who participate in all sorts of eccentric activities (S&M, odd political groups, or strange spiritual organizations) who, because they did not get compensation for these activities nor were they filmed, go unquestioned. How many other teachers dress up in leather with a ball gag and bend over a wooden horse waiting to get whipped at their favorite fetish club every weekend? Do you care? Because I bet there are more than you think.
I have always understood that by choosing to be an adult actress, I have kissed goodbye to any dreams I may have ever had of working with children in the future, long after this career is over. I didn’t understand that in my first few years performing, but later, as more people began to recognize me, a stigma grew. Somehow being an adult actress morphed me into everything I’ve never been from a liar, to a thief, to a menace to society. I am judged, I think, because I go forward with a blunt honesty about what I do—a concept so foreign that the world must assume there are darker, more sinister things I am hiding.
People hold my films against me like a black mark on my character. It’s not like being a pornstar is the same as being a child molester; being an adult actress is about making an adult choice to be filmed having consensual sex with another adult for other adults’ viewing pleasures and then, only if they so choose. So am I fit to be around school age children? Yes, I am.
My colorful choices do not indicate any irresponsibility associated with how I handle children. One day I will have children of my own, and perhaps they will see a clearer vision of the past. What they will see is a strong-willed woman who carved out a place in the world in an unconventional way.