Two Excerpts From Coming Out Like A Porn Star

by suzyhooker on February 18, 2016 · 1 comment

in Books, Porn

(Photo by Alexa Vachon)

(Photo by Alexa Vachon)

Coming Out Like A Porn Star is an anthology edited by award winning indie porn talent and author Jiz Lee consisting of essays by porn performers and industry workers on privacy and disclosure. It was featured by Reason’s‘ Elizabeth Nolan Brown as one of the best sex work books of 2015. Foreworded by renowned Black porn scholar Dr. Mireille Young, the book includes pieces by celebrated porn mainstays such as Stoya and Annie Sprinkle, as well as work by Tits and Sass’ own contributors and interviewees such as Kitty Stryker, Conner Habib, Tobi Hill-Meyer, and Cyd Nova. The collection spans a wide array of porn experiences from writers of color, trans and queer authors, and performers from every branch of the industry. With Lee’s permission, we excerpt two exciting essays by authors who are new to us, “Queen Beloved” by Milcah Halili and “Even Someone Like Me: How I Came Out As A Smut Starlet” by Betty Blac. They both feature stories of the authors communicating with their sex worker writer idols, so we were immediately hooked.

Queen Beloved

by Micah Halili

My legal first and middle name means “queen beloved.” As a self-identified Oakland suburb hoodrat from the Bay Area, I so wanted this to be true. I wanted to be a beloved queen, and I believed, as a young woman of color from a lower-middle-class background, that to achieve this in a capitalist society I needed money to self-care like a beloved queen would. I needed money to house, feed, and decorate myself in radiant beauty.

I turned to sex work because Antonia Crane wrote a column for The Rumpus called “Recession Sex Workers.” I’ve always wanted to be like the writings I read. Antonia was a self-identified stripper turned writer. I was obsessed and read anything I could read of Antonia’s on the Internet. By my mantra, what you read is what you become, it was all in due time that this writer become a stripper. When I auditioned at a strip club for the first time, the house mom of the club asked me, “What’s your stage name?”

“My stage name?”

I did not want to give her one. I didn’t want to feel like my legal name was a secret or something to be uttered in shame. I wanted to give her my given name because I’d already built a following in the pornography industry with that name. When I fill out model release forms before porn shoots, on the line that reads “Stage Name” I write my legal first and middle name: Milcah Halili.

acomingoutmilcah

Milcah Halili Orbacedo (Selfie by Orbacedo)

“My name is Maya,” I said, as I acquainted myself in my titty bar with strange men from the neighborhood looking for naked bodies dancing under black lights, whiskey shots and beer, and if they were lucky and polite, undivided attention from their favorite dancer. I had a hard time believing my stage name, often grateful I had picked a name that started with an “M” in the off chance I’d forget. I had a window of time after I sounded out the “M” to switch the incoming “i” with an “a,” squeeze the “aya” out before the “ilcah” made its way.

During the beginning of my foray into web-camming (which warmed me up to the idea of pornography and, eventually, stripping), Antonia found my blog of writings and candid nude photos and wanted to interview me for her “Recession Sex Workers” column. I gave her my consent and we emailed each other questions and answers.

“Sex workers never use their real names,” Antonia wrote. She asked, “Why have you decided to use yours? What if your family, grandparents or brothers find out? What will you tell them? What do you think their response will be?”

“I’m assuming my whole family will eventually find out, ” I wrote, “and if they should come at me with any judgment, I hope I have enough love in myself to say to them, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I am grateful. But I’m okay and you don’t need to protect me. Only God can judge me. Please let me have my peace.’”

This is what I tried to tell my father. It was a few years after my father and mother left me with my then-fourteen and thirteen-year-old brothers to run wild for a while to squat, steal, and sneer at the world. I was still angry. Despite my anger, I agreed to video call on Skype with him. I told him I was doing better, than I had found community with open, sex-positive, and polyamorous people, and that I was taking care of myself. He nodded his head, said, “Hm.”

“I read your interview,” he said. Then he laughed. “You said I molested your mother?”

“That’s what you did.”

“Okay,” he said. “And now you do this . . . web-camming?”

“Yes, it’s just by myself. It’s super safe and my community knows I’m doing it.”

“Okay, Milcah. Just don’t take it too far,” he said.

“You have no right to say that to me,” I said and broke into sobs. I pounded the keyboard of my laptop and my web-cam feed ricocheted with the force of my anger, causing the image of my tear-streaming face to blur.

“I finally feel like I’ve found family. You never gave me a sense of that. You abandoned your own family. And now that I’ve found mine, you have the nerve to tell me not to take it too far?”

My father’s forehead creased at his third eye. His pale complexion blushed. His mouth frowned and his hazel eyes saddened.

“My family loves me. And I love them. Tell me that’s unholy,” I said. I punched the keys with each utterance. “Tell me that’s unholy.” Again. “Tell me that’s unholy.”

acomingout

 

He stayed silent. I wailed more into my laptop and balled my hands once more into fists. The image of my pained face pixelated with each punch to the keys. He let me cry. Eventually he said, “You are right.”

He said sorry and asked me for forgiveness.

There was another part of my answer to Antonia. I wrote, “As much as my parents have hurt me, I love them with all of my heart, and I want to rebuild a new name for them, honor them. I want my mother to be strong and my father to be understood, and the way that I feel I can do that is through taking their name, my name, and changing what it means with dignity.”

What hurt me most, more than the memory of my father and mother leaving me with my younger brothers, was the image of my father pinning my mother by the wrists, his mouth nonconsensually on her neck as she cried in silence. Her hands were tight fists. That image of her clenched hands still haunts me present day.

Seeing my name in porn gave me a sickening sense of faith. I was nauseous with the belief that now my name wasn’t a symbol of some sad past, but of a woman strong enough to be submissive and vulnerable in the space of professional BDSM.

Once on the set of Electrosluts, Mz Berlin punched her first into my cunt over and over again, the image that would become the cover photo of the scene. The bold red and green headline text in the cover photo read “An Electrosluts Christmas.” When saw the cover photo on Christmas day, I felt proud.

“I’m literally punching your pussy,” Mz said.

“Huh?” That day, the clenched hand was a thing of beauty, something that gave me joy. Mz’s fist in me made me feel like a beloved queen. I left my drunken and dazed state to cast my eyes down on my pussy. I remember most the shock I felt when I witnessed Mz’s black-gloved hand gliding effortlessly in and out of my own body. I felt like I was inside of a lucid dream.

Never had I ever I been pussy punched before. The production crew lubed me up well, but it wasn’t just that. I was extremely wet. No matter what Mz did, even if she humiliated me and cattle prodded me, it aroused me because she stayed within my limits, and I felt heard and held. The element of consent made me open with such a force I could take anything in and alchemize it into a positive and pleasurable experience.

Milcah Halili Orbacedo is a writer and performer. They are obsessed with their memoir, Sisterhood, meditations on their intimate writer and pornographer friends. Follow Milcah on Twitter @milcahorbacedo.

(Photo by Courtney Trouble)

Betty Blac (Photo by Courtney Trouble)

Even Someone Like Me: How I Came Out As A Smut Starlet

by Betty Blac

I thought the moment my first porn scene premiered that skywriters automatically would splash the news across the sky, that an old-timey newsboy would run through the streets shouting the news, and doves would be released each bearing the message “Betty’s naked ass is on the internet!” Okay, not really.

It’s not like I thought that the moment I did a porn scene a gold limo would pull up at my apartment and sweep me away to a Boogie Nights fantasy world. However, I can’t pretend I wasn’t at least a little delusional about what kind of exposure the scenes would have. To be honest, I was a little delusional about what the porn world would be like in general.

I have long been a connoisseur of Bay Area–based indie and queer porn. I remember when I first saw the website No Fauxxx, now called Indie Porn Revolution. It was almost a little startling to see porn stars that weren’t airbrushed to unattainable perfection. I saw brown folks, fat folks, queer folks—and it was refreshing. The motley crew of queers sucking and fucking with wild abandon were all from “around the way,” and many even run in the same circles. Seeing indie stars who were relatable and having real orgasms intrigued me. I too wanted to express myself on film and explore the erotic world. I realized I didn’t have to be white or skinny or any of the stereotypes I had of what a porn star was in order to be in adult films. After a few false starts in previous years, I finally decided in 2012, at age thirty, to give performing in porn a try.

I didn’t want to go into the porn world uninformed so I met with Jiz Lee, a porn star I knew whose perspective I trusted. I was feeling lucky they were willing to meet up with me and share their experiences in porn and their coming out story. It wasn’t without challenges, but their overall experience in porn seemed positive.

That same night I also met Shar Rednour, and it was all sort of surreal. Shar had been my femme idol when I was coming out as a baby queer, and the first porn I ever owned was “Sugar High Glitter City”, which starred Shar and her wife, Jackie Strano. They were local folks, but I was still star struck. That night with Jiz and Shar made me feel excited about becoming part of the world of the grown and sexy.

Because of my introduction to porn, I saw performing in porn as being revolutionary. Here was an opportunity for me to step outside of my shell, express myself sexually, be a bit of an exhibitionist. I knew porn could be feminist and creative but that few people have been exposed to that kind of porn. In mainstream porn I didn’t see a lot of people like me. Not just women of color or fat women, but also nerdy, quirky types. I wasn’t seeing a lot of people with my uniqueness. The black women I saw in porn often were boxed into tired stereotypes of black womanhood. Black women weren’t portrayed as beautiful, sexy goddesses the way their white counterparts were.

Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream porn relies on stereotypes for all people of color. I wasn’t sure whom I’d tell about being a performer. I definitely didn’t want to tell them that I worked for the type of site that would refer to me as a ghetto gagger or, even worse, end up on one of those sites where the black section of the site was called something like “the watermelon patch.” I definitely didn’t want my career to be about reinforcing negative stereotypes. I guess in a way I wanted to be a porn role model, as peculiar as that sounds.

I would love to say I performed exclusively in the über-progressive world of Bay Area queer porn, but that wasn’t practical. Performing in porn that aligns with my politics, although emotionally satisfying, isn’t exactly lucrative. The majority of the mainstream companies I shot for didn’t regurgitate tired racist themes, but that isn’t to say they weren’t racist to some degree. It is still a reality that women of color will have less opportunity and will be paid less in a lot of contexts, especially big beautiful women (BBW). Our scenes will get less exposure and be promoted less, and more often than not, if a black woman is on the cover, it’s an all-black DVD intended only for a black audience. We often don’t get crossover exposure; rather, we are boxed into genres and subgenres.

I didn’t plan to tell my parents. My family is ridiculously crazy. I know everyone says this about their family, but it’s actually true in my case. I grew up with an overeducated, pretentious and proper Trinidadian father and a hot-tempered Greek stepmother. I lived full time with my stepsiblings, and my half-sister would visit during the summers.

Both my parents, being immigrants, were peculiar in a way that is hard for me to explain to people who don’t have foreign parents. Their way of processing the world and their expressions for things were always so comically odd. My mom had recovered from a Greek Orthodox upbringing and my dad is a recovered Catholic. We weren’t religious per se, just an ambiguous form of hippy spiritual. They were whatever you call people who read the Celestine Prophecy and refer to God as “the Universe,” with a dash of old-world Paganism thrown in.

Because of this, I wasn’t raised with religious guilt or shame. My dad, being in the medical field, had informed us kids all about the ins and outs of sex and reproduction in the most clinical way possible, mostly as a means to tell me and my sister to never, ever, ever get pregnant; his biggest fear was us becoming teenage mothers. My sister was the rebellious one who did what she wanted, and I was the irritating goody two-shoes. I never dated in high school, and I didn’t have sex until I was in college at twenty-one. I didn’t have sex with a man until I was twenty-eight and in grad school. Maybe because it was taboo for so long, I was a late bloomer. But once I became active, I really loved sex. Part of what is great about porn is getting paid to do something I love.

I was really close to my family growing up but grew estranged from both my parents in my later adulthood (see previous explanation about them being crazy). So when it came time to come out about being a porn star, I didn’t feel the need to tell them because I wasn’t speaking to them, anyway.

Later, my dad tried to start speaking to me again and I was having none of it. In my distancing email, I let it slip that I was a fat porn star. I knew it would burn him that not only was I in porn (oh, the West Indian shame he must have felt) but also that I was fat. My dad hates fat people. He was the type of man who would sidle up to me any time that I was making a sandwich with “too much mayo” on it and tell me that it would make me fat, before confiscating it and taking the type of bite that looked like he must have had to unhinge his jaw to get that much sandwich in his mouth.

Betty Blac reading her piece at California College of The Arts this month. (Photo by Jiz Lee.)

Betty Blac reading her piece at California College of The Arts this month. (Photo by Jiz Lee)

Being comfortable in my body has been a process, but I liked that women would tell me they felt more confident because they saw plus-size women like me being portrayed as proud and sexy.

I didn’t come out to my stepmother. We lived together when I was going to grad school in Australia, and that is when I learned it is a mistake to live with parents as an adult. I am lucky I escaped Sydney without there being a murder-suicide. I’m not really sure how she would respond if she knew.

In recent years, I have come to know my biological mother. I was separated from her when I was three, when my dad one day packed up all our stuff and kidnapped me. We drove cross-country from Virginia to California and she never saw me again. Even now, although we talk on the phone, I have not met her in person. When I told her I was in porn, she thought it was cool. She was like “at one point I considered doing it myself.” I don’t know if that’s true, but I think she’s so happy I am in her life that she doesn’t care what I do. When I sent her a picture of me on the cover of the local weekly The East Bay Express, she was so proud she shared it with all my cousins, much to my embarrassment.

I came out to everyone else on Facebook, a nonchalant status update casually alerting a hodgepodge of my friends, family, and former lovers. I didn’t care who knew. I figured I could just unfriend anyone who had negative things to say. None of the responses were negative, thankfully. Many of the people in my life are sex positive and progressive. My closest friends already knew, and the family I get along with, my siblings and uncle, were cool with it. Some of my exes tried to put the sexy moves on me, but other than that, my coming out was a ripple more than a wave. My bestie was a little awkward about it at first but has been overwhelmingly supportive of me throughout my career.

Coming out to people I’m interested in dating is a lot harder than coming out to people I have known for years. For a while I announced it on my OkCupid.com profile thinking that it would be a good filter, but then I just got a bunch of sexual energy coming my way. My inbox was filled with badly written amateur porn. People wanted to date me as a conquest or add me to a harem. I had many short relationships where I felt more like a Fleshlight than a romantic interest. Then there were the other brand of dates, people completely freaked out and scared off by “porn me.” One guy, upon finding out through Google stalking that I did porn, cancelled our date five minutes before it was meant to happen. This type of person tends to worry that I am an amoral insatiable nymphomaniac, riddled with disease. Of course, this isn’t everyone, but the amorous world has felt challenging to navigate and be open about being a sex worker.

In recent years, I have removed the porn part from my dating profile. I don’t wait until weeks in to come out about it, but it is not something that people will know before meeting me. I want people to have the opportunity to meet me so I can shatter all their stereotypes first.

Things are a little different now because I am leaving the porn world. I wish I could say porn has always been rewarding and that I feel better for being in it, but that is not the case. My career was short, just three years. I had dreams of starting my own porn company, but there were so many false starts and setbacks that it became impossible to get things off the ground. I was sad to have to finally give up on that dream, or at least put it on extended pause.

I was inspired to be a different type of porn star than people were used to. Nothing really prepared me for being a pseudo celebrity. Nothing prepared me for both the adoration and the judgment of strangers. Putting your body on display on film leaves you up for scrutiny. I got weight loss emails and posts on my social networks critiquing my appearance. Sometimes I would feel on top of the world with all the admiration, and at other times discouraged by my critics. My Facebook was a shitstorm of unsolicited dick pics and sleazy come-ons from strangers.

I felt pressure to lose weight to gain more access to roles, but I also felt pressure to stay fat because I didn’t want to let my progressive, fat-positive fans down. I wanted to be there for all the fat and brown girls who felt sexier and more confident because they saw someone like me. When I finally made the decision to lose weight recently, I stopped performing entirely.

I was the first fat girl who cammed for Kink.com, I was in the first BBW release by Evil Angel, and I was the only black talent nominated for BBW of the Year two years in a row for AVN. In my short career I have made some strides I am proud of. I enjoyed performing. Sometimes it was awkward but often it was fun and really hot.

There were parts of my career that involved hustling and strife, and I am not that great a hustler. It was challenging for me to try to be a porn star, a cam model, and work my demanding customer service job at a bougie adult boutique. Something had to give, so I decided to give up sex work.

I don’t regret being in porn. I learned a lot about myself, the porn world, and about racism, to be honest. I was a little naïve about racism. I have been in the progressive Bay Area so long that it takes me by surprise sometimes.

Fans love to ask me if I had a child who wanted to enter sex work would I let them. The short answer is yes, I would let them. With me as their mother they would have a ton of support, and I would also be able to share some of my experiences in the industry. However, allowing it is not the same as encouraging it. I wouldn’t encourage it, not because of any shame around sex or sexuality. I think there are many happy, healthy porn stars, and I am not anxious to portray the seedy side of porn that people are so fascinated with. Not every porn director is unscrupulous and not every porn starlet is a drug-addicted partier, or whatever the popular stereotypes are now.

My concerns for my child would be about them dealing with the stigma around porn and sex work in general. My child, like me, would come into the world already part of an oppressed group. Depending on their gender and ability, they might experience multiple oppressions. And while adding diversity to representation is a positive thing, it’s not easy being that representation. It is not easy being the token or the different one. I wouldn’t want the way the world sees them to have any negative impact on their self-esteem or self-worth the way it has on mine. I would want them to have each and every opportunity to shine. I would want them to pursue their passion rather than enter sex work. I would want them to be able to be public with their brilliance and have their exploration of sex be private.

You never know how something will go for you until you do it. When I started out, I thought I was totally ready to be a porn star. I thought it would be a nonstop joy ride, and it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean it was all bad. I have cherished my opportunities to connect with fans. And admittedly, it’s nice to have fans.

When I did webcam shows, I often was putting on my “sex educator” hat. It felt good that people would come to my cam shows thinking that they would just get off, and instead left learning better ways to please themselves and their partners. That is the direction I see my life heading, helping people to have better sex and better relationships.

Sex should be pleasurable, fun, and at times healing and transformative, and I want to be a part of helping people experience that. That is where you will see Betty Blac next. I continue to be the person I have always been, a writer, an activist, a social critic, and an informal relationship/sexuality advisor. I suppose one day I will have to have a grand coming out for that. Or maybe this is it.

Writer, artist, porn performer, and lovable weirdo, Betty Blac is a Bay Area native. She is passionate about social justice, positive sexuality, art, and shiny things. Despite being known for her onscreen jigglegasms, Blac has a slightly nerdy side. She boasts both a BA in media studies from Mills and an MA in creative writing from the University of Sydney. She writes about everything from pop culture, art, sex toys, and porn to oppression and injustice.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

AnarchyAndi February 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm

These are great. Can’t wait to read the whole book!

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