Jiz by Any Other Name . . .

by Natalie on June 20, 2011 · 2 comments

in Interviews, Porn, What is Sex Work?

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.

How did you pick your stage name?

It’s a pun based on my real name, a joke I came up with because I ejaculate for my first film. In the next three films I tried other names (Vasa, Beau Flex, and Gauge), but ended up really liking Jiz the best. And I also like that it’s seemingly masculine, and that people think of male ejaculate first, so it also is a reminder that female assigned bodies are capable of ejaculating as well. It’s pretty unique, so it’s gotten me some attention. And it’s forever amusing to introduce myself at parties or industry functions. Automatic icebreaker.

by Aeric Meredith-Goujon for KarmaPervs.com

How did you get started in porn? Did you ever consider doing mainstream work, or did you know you only wanted to do queer stuff?

I was inspired to perform in porn after watching works like Sex: Flesh in Blood by Christopher Lee and Sugar High Glitter City by SIR Productions. I’m a sexual person and performance artist; I have a BA in Dance and a Theater Minor. Adult films feel really like the perfect fit, with sex being a combination of dance/athleticism and acting. It was about six years ago,when Shine Louise Houston started Pink & White Productions, that I did my first scene. I have performed in nearly all Shine’s films ever since, as well as the works of other independent pornographers such as Courtney Trouble and Madison Young. Then two years ago, I was invited to perform with Belladonna, and have also worked with other mainstream directors such as Joanna Angel, and the wonderful Tristan Taormino. I’ve performed at Kink.com and with Triangle films, with Carlos Batts and also with Cheryl Dunye, and many more. I’ve also shot with Digital Playground, in a new series by JewelBox Films. Whether it’s mainstream or independent, in San Francisco, Los Angeles or elsewhere, I look at each project opportunity as a choice and base my decisions on whether the work seems artsy, indie, queer, or presents an opportunity to explore my role within the adult industry.
Was your decision financial at all, as it is for many/most mainstream sex workers, or motivated by something else? I imagine doing queer porn isn’t as lucrative as other kinds of sex work—does anyone get into it for financial reasons, or is it something people are doing more so because they enjoy it?San Francisco-based queer porn typically doesn’t book as often as companies based in Los Angeles, and often will have a flat industry rate, as opposed to one based on whether your a male or female and how “extreme” you’re willing to perform. If you look at the total amount hourly, queer companies often pay a great deal more per hour than many mainstream shoots — and in queer porn you can do whatever you want and appear however you like. I think for that reason, a lot of queer-identified performers who do L.A. porn love working with sites like CrashPadSeries.com or QueerPorn.tv because they have the freedom to do what they want, which sometimes includes performing with their real-life lovers, not having to shave if they don’t like to, etc.

I’m not in porn for financial reasons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like getting paid! I have a day job as a web producer that I really like, it’s steady and consistent work, and my employers know what I do and are also flexible to allow me days off so I can travel and shoot. I don’t think there are many adult performers who only do films as their income. For me, it’s given me a lot of financial freedom. Porn has enabled me to pay off my student loans and last year I got LASIK eye surgery, but I do it because I really love having sex on camera. Not depending on sex work financially is a privilege that also allows me to be really selective about which projects I want to do.

by Shilo McCabe for KarmaPervs.com

What sort of stigma do you face that’s unique to being a queer porn star? Straight women in the sex industry are pitied and assumed to be vapid, abused, and/or incapable of doing anything else. Do you get that with your work too, or is there a different set of stereotypes you have to deal with?

I feel incredibly empowered in queer porn. In fact the only weird trollish, anti-sex worker type comment I’ve received was from someone who didn’t even know who I was. It was very blanketed as a general attack on (what appears to be) gay pornography, and wasn’t supported by any fact. I’m not even sure how the person found me to comment, via twitter. But I assume random statements like that are common for mainstream porn performers. In general, the fans of queer porn are supportive, vocal, loyal, educated, and just simply beautiful and kind people who are just as excited as I am about my work. Of course, there’s still overlaying sex-negative situations and judgements, but I think queer pornography is such a niche market that we are under the radar.

Queer porn that I’ve seen usually ends up meaning queer women and FTM’s, with MTFs actually being more part of mainstream straight men’s porn. Am I wrong about this, or are there any companies/films that are featuring MTF’s as part of a “queer” genre?

I worry about the term “queer porn” being too limiting . I think that queer women and transmen are interested in performing in queer porn because there aren’t many options in other genres. Many lesbian companies have a specific aesthetic (which includes not hiring lesbian transwomen) and hires women based on their femininity more than their authentic desire for other women. And most gay and straight production companies do not hire transmen. So there’s two loosely defined demographics who until recently haven’t had much options for work. Performers who have more opportunity for work usually end up in LA and queer porn may be under their radar.

I hope that more transwomen apply to queer porn sites. As far as I know, Mandy Mitchell has a great queer site, and Tobi Hill-Meyer has produced two DVDs now featuring queer transwomen and their lovers. Beyond their work, QueerPorn.tv has a few transwomen, and CrashPadSeries.com has probably the most diverse cast I’ve seen in any porn site, which includes a good handful of trans-identified women, including Tobi and Drew Deveaux who is an outspoken performer. The smallest representation may be actually be cisgender butch women. And after that, cisgender queer men. Besides gender expression being represented, there’s also a large percentage of people of color, people of size and varying abilities, and I don’t know any other site that features a performer from the deaf community. One of the values of queer pornography is individuality and representation, and this is definitely true of many of the companies I perform with, and also brings a more authentic feeling to the work.

by Aeric Meredith-Goujon for KarmaPervs.com

What would you like to see happening in your industry in the future?

I would love to see consumers growing and becoming more supportive of our work, preventing content piracy and purchasing more pornography. I get the sense that there are many of my fans who haven’t seen my films, but appreciate my message online. I hope that more people purchase my porn and  become strong consumers in queer pornography so that we can continue to make work — both increasing the diversity of our productions, as well as the breadth of work as more directors begin to share their pornographic visions with the world.

As you’ve only worked in the queer market and aren’t in it for the money, do you personally consider what you do to be sex work? I ask because, for me, every day of stripping feels like “work,” even when I’m enjoying it.

To me, sex work includes any paying job that involves sex (adult performances, prostitution, phone sex operator, etc.), and I definitely consider porn and my participation in it “work,” in the “find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” kind of way. I have the ability to choose my scenes and co-stars, and because I don’t depend on the money, I can decline a shoot if I don’t think I’ll like it. Balancing porn as a side project with the rest of my life makes each shoot feel like an adventure. But I’m still a professional, and a job’s a job.

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