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Girl Talk: My Date With A Porn Star

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So, a male porn star walks into a bar. I’m going to call him PS for short, to keep things simple. I’ve seen PS around Chicago before; a couple years back, we ended up at the same karaoke event until 6 a.m. But we hadn’t talked much until I ran into him at the aforementioned bar, attending a fundraiser for sex workers’ rights. See, I write about sex with a focus on S&M and I do activism around it as well, so I end up coordinating with sex worker activists a lot. Plus, sex workers totally know how to put the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraiser.’

As we sipped on drinks, PS and I chatted about sex education, work/life distinctions, and that sex toy demonstration at Northwestern that landed a professor in the center of a controversy.

Anti-porn activists try to tell us that porn destroys men’s attitudes about women, that it makes them misogynist, that porn leads them to expect us to be fake and perfect — but if that were true, you’d think a porn performer would be an a**hole about unshaven legs, right?

A woman over at the pool table took her shirt off and placed her breasts distractingly over one of the corner pockets. There was lots of affectionate kissing going on around the room by the time PS called it a night. But when he tried to kiss me on his way out, I pulled back.

“Why?” he asked, seeming confused.

I usually see it as a warning sign when a man questions my “no,” but I had to admit that my behavior was unusual for the environment.

“Why not?” I responded.

“Fair enough,” he said, grinning at me, and walking out. Oh, good, I thought; I liked him, but if he’d been pushy, I would have written him off.

A week later, when I ended up in his neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon, I sent him a text.

Now, I need to tell you about my previous two dates before I tell you how things went with PS. Thursday night, I’d had a dinner that, okay, wasn’t an explicit date but was a catch-up session with tentative flirting. But it started to feel even less like a date when the guy explained how much he liked a blog I think is misogynist — in particular, he loved a post talking about how the American economy would be much better off if women couldn’t vote.

He seemed surprised when I got upset. “I just thought it might be interesting to talk about,” he said. I made a counter-suggestion: if only men weren’t allowed to vote, America might get involved in a lot fewer mind-blowingly expensive wars. (I dislike bringing myself down to that level, but it seemed like the best way to make my point.) Hey, taking the vote from men: wouldn’t that be just as interesting to talk about? Apparently not, as this guy changed the subject.

Friday night, I went out with a grad student. I’d think that a grad student would be able to handle me, but midway through the evening he asked me, “Could you please say something that’s not analytical?” He later informed me that he had little interest in an emotional bond and was mostly interested in having sex with me. I’m a fan of explicit sexual communication, so I appreciated his honesty, and I hypothesized that he might be fun in bed, so I was willing to give it a try. Or at least, I was willing to try it until he pulled back from making out with me and said: “Kissing is too emotional.” Really?

Back to Saturday. You can imagine my state of mind. Yet notwithstanding the inevitable misanthropic tinge to my day, I was in a good mood when I texted PS. Hope springs eternal, right? At the very least, I could be sure that kissing wasn’t too emotional for him.

As I stepped into PS’s apartment for dinner, I found:

  1. A charming cat.
  2. Many issues of AVN magazine.
  3. A wall of porn photos and a shelf of his DVDs. In one of the central photos, PS’s ex-girlfriend gazes sweetly up at him while performing a blowjob.

“Striking,” I said. “What do your other visitors think?”

“You know, I had guys doing construction here at one point, and they asked if they could meet my girlfriend,” he said. “I told them if they did a good job, I’d bring her in and they could watch us while they worked.”

We sat down with glasses of red wine and got to know each other. We talked about work, cities we’ve lived in, a festival in Venice. We discussed the pitfalls of open relationships — turns out, women often think they can date porn stars without getting jealous, and are often wrong. (Similarly, a lot more men think they want open relationships than actually do.)

Another reason I often enjoy talking with sex workers is that we experience sexual stigma similarly. Many people who meet me know that I’m an S&M writer, and they stereotype the hell out of me — just as people stereotype sex workers. People call us deviant, assume that we were abused as children, or exhibit weird entitlement to our personal space and ask weird questions. (Example: “So, are you capable of having normal sex?” Dude, if you’re going to ask that question, then you should first define both “normal” and “sex.”) Usually, the men I date who understand this are other S&Mers; but PS got it too.

We discussed cats. I admired his tattoos. I described my date with the grad student, and PS made hilarious references to the “stop being analytical” line for the rest of the evening. We had second glasses of wine. PS made a joke referencing Hamlet, and when I was done laughing he kissed me.

“Do you have a camera running?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Why? Do you want one?”

It’s hard to be a woman in our society without feeling incredibly self-conscious about your body. I’m pleased to report that I’m mostly over this. On the other hand, it’s easy for those anxieties to resurface when you’re having sex with a porn star. At some point, he complimented me, and I found myself shrugging it off. “Whatever, porn star,” I said.

He laughed at me. “Whatever, BDSM girl,” he mocked — and I realized that whatever flash of intimidation I felt about his porn career, he might feel equally as much about my varied S&M experiences.

PS himself was mostly vanilla; S&M wasn’t normally his thing. But he also wasn’t weird about S&M, which is just as important as being into it as far as I’m concerned. Nor was he weird about my unshaven legs. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice them.

Anti-porn activists try to tell us that porn destroys men’s attitudes about women, that it makes them misogynist, that porn leads them to expect us to be fake and perfect — but if that were true, you’d think a porn performer would be an a**hole about unshaven legs, right?

Plus, I didn’t get any crap at all from PS about how women are ruining the economy by voting.

PS tried to convince me to sleep over, but at around 1:30 a.m., I remembered that I had an interview the next morning and sleeping over would be inconvenient. He insisted on walking me out to catch a taxi, though he certainly didn’t have to. As we waited, I asked how girls usually react when and if they find out he’s a porn performer.

He thought about it. “Sometimes girls are appalled by it, and sometimes they’re fascinated by it,” he said. “The problem is, even when they’re fascinated by it, they’re not necessarily cool with it. And you never know how they’re going to react in the long term.”

“Right!” I exclaimed. “It’s like, you think they understand, and then three months down the line they come out with some ridiculous stereotype, and you’re like, Have you been thinking that the whole time?”

“Exactly,” he said. We smiled at each other.

He kissed me again when the taxi came.

Photo: iStockphoto/ThinkStock

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