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March 03, 2016 06:22am
What We Signed Up For
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland

Rich Moreland From a broad perspective, consent in porn is not a widespread problem, but things do happen. Adult film is different from any other business, performer vulnerabilities are exposed and in today's environment of rough sex, limits can be pushed. To quote superstar Casey Calvert, "you know what you signed up for when you show up on the set. You know who you are working with and what kind of scene you're doing."

So unsavory things happen because that's just the way it is?

Probably, six-year veteran Ela Darling admits. "It's the nature of the work. That's the job you're getting paid for... what we're signing up for." Though she believes consent issues are not endemic, performers should make certain their boundaries are honored. "It is a very tricky subject because consent in a traditional sense" doesn't apply to porn. To explain what she means, Ela mentions an average girl who goes to a guy's apartment with a list of sex acts to perform. To the public, that seems like a screwed-up experience.

Natasha Nice, who is returning to adult after a four-year hiatus, insists that consent should be a major concern for everyone in porn. "I know some performers who admit there have been times when things have gotten a bit too much, but most consider it part of the job," she says, adding that in her own shoots "there have been a couple of times where the guy was going really deep, so I signaled him to slow it down by tapping his thigh." On one occasion she was ignored, so she tried another approach. Natasha bared her teeth before settling into oral sex, "just for insurance." It worked.

Considering the thousands of scenes shot yearly with a talent pool that is in constant flux, Casey Calvert realizes questionable moments occur, though she's avoided any real issues. "I've never been on sets where people asked additional sex acts of me or anything like that. I've been on shoots where I've had to say 'something's wrong' and it gets fixed." The native Floridian points out that sometimes her co-stars don't know her well. "We're acquaintances. This is not my boyfriend, this is essentially a stranger, so I can't fault him for not knowing something if I don't tell him."

Superstar Allie Haze declares, "I'm a little feisty and I never felt like I could not say no." However, she is familiar with "meek, beautiful, and intelligent women" who have shared stories where it was "more of a hassle to say 'no'" than to just go along. Nevertheless, Allie believes, the onus is on the performer to speak up. "No one is at fault because you made that decision [to say nothing]. If you had enough time to think of all of that, you had enough time to say 'no.'"

The native Californian remembers a guy once spit in her face "In the heat of the moment." Allie stopped the shoot. The choking and slapping was okay, but spitting was out. She had outlined her limits before shooting began, but couldn't blame her co-star because she forgot to mention spitting as a 'no.' "As much as I was frustrated and really offended, I told him that I know I didn't say it and we're not going to stop the shoot. Don't lose your mojo, just don't do it again."

Ela Darling taps into that feeling.

She recalls a male performer who "pushed" some of her boundaries. He was drinking on the set, encouraging rude behavior that did not stop there. He slapped her off camera. "That's the worst I had with a dude," the university graduate remarks. "I've actually had more experience with women crossing my personal boundaries," in particular, "a very prominent performer" with whom she worked a standard girl/girl shoot. "I told her, 'Do whatever you want, just don't slap this side of my face.' I had a bad tooth. First thing she does when the camera starts is slap me exactly where I told her not to."

The "nuances of consent in porn" involve "A lot of gray areas," the fetish model says. Because things can get overlooked on set, "It is imperative that we outline the things that are actually acceptable and those that are not." Have that detailed conversations before each scene and emphasize those "things that are horrible," and be prepared if something goes awry.

Most talent listen but a few don't, prompting Ela to conclude, "Every day on a porn set isn't going to be the best day ever. It's your job and you have to determine for yourself where that threshold of acceptability is, stick to it, and hold everyone else to it as well."


Watch for Part Four of this seven-part series coming tomorrow! Previous parts of this series are linked in the Related Stories box in the top right of this page.

About Rich Moreland

Rich Moreland is an adjunct professor of history at Frederick Community College in Maryland (USA) and writer in the adult film industry. His column appears online at Adult Industry News (AINews.com) out of Los Angeles. Rich's blog (3hattergrindhouse.com) covers relevant issues, film and book reviews and interviews with industry people.
A Washington, DC metro area resident, Rich has a bachelor's degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master's degree from Salisbury University. He finished post-masters work at the University of Maryland with Advanced Graduate Specialist recognition. He is a lifelong educator and a former competitive triathlete.

For a concise history of feminism in adult entertainment get Rich Moreland's book "Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be" linked above.

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