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Spoiler Alert: Girlvert by Oriana Small AKA Ashley Blue (2011)

This is the first book I’ve read that I had to set down because it caused me to have a heaving fit (on two separate occasions, actually). As in, certain muscle groups in my body involuntarily contracted in a desperate attempt to push something that I had read out of my throat. Those were just about the only times I was able to set the book down. Oriana Small really puts it all out there: the good, the bad, and the cheese dick*, letting readers do what they might with the information presented. It’s dark and it’s honest and you’ll never once hear Small refer to any part of her own anatomy as a “ding-ding.”

It seems that Oriana Small can’t really tell the story of her career as Ashley Blue without also sharing the story of her first love, which she can’t properly include without the cocaine. There’s plenty of coke-fueled drama, so it’s surprising that I enjoyed this book as much as I did; I don’t especially want to read about cokeheads any more than I want to be cornered by them at parties. And yet, I found myself engrossed enough that I opened a rental account at the local porn store. I started with a video from the Girlvert series, the namesake of the book. They’re sort of the XXX equivalent of The Bad Seed.

Hugh Hefner: Rapist And Revolutionary

Hugh Hefner the image. (Photo by Flickr user Sarah Gerke)

Content warning: this post contains brief references to rape and abuse. 

Hugh Hefner died.

Of course he did. Dude was 91. When my castmate announced it after rehearsal, I didn’t feel shock at the news. Hefner may as well have died when he stopped being the editor of Playboy magazine. Or when The Girls Next Door tried selling us on twincest. Or when the magazine stopped publishing nudes. He was a go-to pop culture joke about debauchery and smoking jackets, but he’s hardly been relevant for years.

Still, I had some mixed feelings. I never much cared for Hefner or his image, having been introduced to him as a doddering grandpa on reality TV, but Playboy the brand had been in my life since I was a child. It molded my early ideas of what it meant to be attractive. It introduced me to the idea that sexiness could be playful or serious. When I turned 18, I bought an issue just because I could and delighted at the articles and interviews just as much as the pictorials. This, I thought, was the intersection of brains and beauty. By thumbing through the pages at my grandma’s house I was somehow becoming a well-rounded adult.

To say nothing of the accidental connection between Playboy and queerness. For generations, Dad’s secret stash (or in my case, my mother’s boyfriend Chad’s collection that he just left out in the open in his office) was a gateway not just for teenage boys but also girls. It felt like fate that my first issue featured a spread with Adrienne Curry, the first out bisexual I had ever seen. Since Playboy could also be “for the articles”, I was able to hide my queerness even from myself. Perhaps even more than the cool girls I had met in high school, Playboy gave me the most intense stirrings of looking at a woman and not being sure if I wanted to be her or be with her. As I grew I realized, hell, why not both?

When I went to college I found vintage issues and hung the centerfolds in my kitchen, aspiring to their fresh-faced, breezy beauty. I copied the makeup, teased my hair higher, and then rebelled against the streamlined pin-ups in favor of some Hustler-esque trashiness. Those styles helped me experiment and come into my own again and again as I rolled through my early 20s. Even now, I’ll sometimes look at them and imagine living in a dreamy world of sheer babydolls and fur rugs. It’s a world I realize I now have the means to create for myself at any point. Several photographer friends are just a Facebook message away, and within the week I’ll have a pin-up of myself to tuck away. In them, I’m eternally 19, 21, 24, and these versions of me seem younger and younger every year. They’re my own digital flashbacks that I wish I could share with my younger self. “Look,” I’d say. “You’re pretty too.”

But none of that was Hefner. It was the women I idolized—women who were paid peanuts to be immortalized in soft focus.

Jiz by Any Other Name . . .

Jiz Lee, shot by Courtney Trouble for KarmaPervs.com

I agonized over the title of this piece for a little too long. I came up with about a dozen puns involving the name Jiz, but they all came out far too nasty-sounding for such a classy and upstanding media outlet as Tits and Sass. So, without further ado and no dirty puns, meet genderqueer porn star Jiz Lee.

June is a busy month for Jiz (man, this is all still sounding raunchy, isn’t it?), who is performing this weekend at OP Magazine‘s Trans March after party and Courtney Trouble’s annual pride party, Queerly Beloved, on Pride Sunday. You can get another hot load of Jiz next week, as the co-curator of This Is What I Want, an art show all about the intersection of sex and performance. The festival features a few other San Francisco sex worker superstars, like Michelle Tea, and is a part of the larger National Queer Arts Festival.

Jiz also just finished shooting (ohhh, yeah!) in Cheryl Dunye’s upcoming film, Mommy is Coming, and an engagement with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens at their Ecosexual Symposium last week. If you’ll miss the star in person, you can get some more Jiz all up in your face at the site KarmaPervs.com, described as a “philanthropic porn fundraiser,” full of hot exclusive photos all in the name of charity.

When Feminism Is A Brand

amalefeministryangosling

This piece was originally posted by the author on Medium. Content warning: the links in this post lead to articles detailing the rape and sexual assault of sex workers.

We need to talk about the ever increasing number of men like James Deen who utilize feminism as a marketable identity to cover up their abusive behavior.

When performer and writer Stoya tweeted that her ex, porn darling James Deen, had ignored her safewords and raped her, I have to admit I wasn’t terribly surprised. As a porn worker, I’d heard rumors that he was not necessarily safe to work with. Another ex-girlfriend, Joanna Angel, tweeted in support of Stoya. As of December 4th, Tori Lux, Ashley Fires, and an anonymous fourth woman have come out with statements on their own experiences of assault from Deen. Kora Peters and Amber Rayne spoke out about how he raped both of them on set on separate occasions. On Wednesday night, Joanna Angel went on the Jason Ellis Show telling the harrowing story of being sexually and physically abused during her long term relationship with Deen. With Nicki Blue coming forward yesterday, at least eight women have now made public statements about Deen sexually assaulting them. Additionally, Lily Labeau told Buzzfeed that Deen physically assaulted her and deliberately used elements from her “no” list while filming, while Bonnie Rotten recalled how he intimidated and ridiculed her on the job. Also notable is this older article in which Deen pushes sexual boundaries with writer Emily Shire during an interview, though this incident did not end with assault. Deen has responded on Instagram and Twitter saying Stoya (and anyone else speaking up) is making “egregious claims” against him, receiving support from his many fans. Kink.com has severed ties with Deen… a bit of a surprise considering their track record. (Nicki Blue noted that Kink.com actively covered up the fact that he raped her during a party at its Kink Castle headquarters.) Evil Angel also stated that it will not to sell any newly created scenes featuring him. And Deen has “voluntarilyresigned from his chairperson position at the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.

Stoya’s two tweets gave rise to the hashtag #solidaritywithstoya, and a flurry of people expressing disappointment, shock, and a sense of betrayal. Deen was supposed to be “one of the good guys”—after all, Deen has spent some time cultivating a brand as a male feminist in the porn industry. He’s even actively been a part of Project Consent. He’s mad about racism in the industry. He’s been called “the acceptable face of porn,” hailed as being a male porn star women can feel good about watching because he’s just so ethical.

Interview with Stoya

When I first saw a clip of Stoya in action, I was awestruck. She was the only female porn performer I’d ever seen who genuinely seemed to be enjoying it—smiling, even laughing a little, and simply radiating happiness. With her pale cheeks flushed pink and her dark hair slapping up and down around her face, she made little pleased noises instead of letting out a forced litany of “dirty talk” while some male performer (can’t remember a thing about him) went to town. I’m not an expert on her body of work, which has earned her AVN’s 2009 Best New Starlet award, but I do know that both those in the industry and casual fans alike all seem to regard her as intelligent, multitalented, and sincere. You can confirm this for yourself by checking out her twitter feed or her tumblr.

She graciously agreed to answer the following questions over email.

Stoya in a self-made skirt at AVN. Photo by Jeff Koga.