What I Learned From Watching 500 Adult Films

Porn has played a starring role in my two most recent relationships—but not in the way you might expect. I’ve been reviewing adult films for more than a decade. Over the course of those 10 years I’ve watched more than 500 porn movies, for fun and profit. OK, mostly for profit.

My porn writing career began when, while looking for a new publishing job, I answered an ad in the New York Times and landed a position as Associate Editor of Penthouse Forum. I had experience writing “semi-smut” for friends’ zines (this was the ’90s, after all) but hadn’t watched an adult film besides a Deep Throat viewing with friends in college; I had been always been a porn supporter but never a viewer.

I’ve never been much of a prude and have always believed in freedom of speech. As such, my conscience about the porn industry always was—and still is—clear. Frankly, I felt more degraded working as a secretary than I ever did as a porn reviewer. Granted, there are women who wind up in the industry because they’re drug addicts or runaways and have troubled lives. But there are plenty of women go into porn as smart, savvy businesswomen and manage to build their own empires. Brittany Andrews is a perfect example, as is Danni of Danni’s Hard Drive. Plus, watching flicks of all varieties exposes the viewer to bodies and sexual preferences in all shapes and sizes. This exposure, in turn, leads to greater acceptance of diversity rather than an expectation of “perfect” bodies or fantasies.

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