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Triple XXX Taboo

The parallels between the battles to outlaw pot and pornography are surprising. Call it the politics of orifice legislation. An inside look at the adult film industry and the performers who puff.
 
 
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The correlations are undeniable, yet some feminists and heads just don't get it.

First and foremost, smut and sativa embody the American struggle for freedom from "orifice legislation." The government should not have the right to regulate what consenting adults willingly put into their orifices, whether it's a joint, a penis, a pot brownie or a fist. If it feels good and nobody gets hurt, what's the big deal? Everyone should have the right to pursue harmless pleasure, self-expression and profit without facing dire social repercussions and legal consequences.

"Pot and porn are both, in different ways, something that people feel very, very strongly about," declares 24-year-old businesswoman Alana Evans, basking in a puddle of California sunshine on her white Berber carpet. "I think most people believe we should have the right to make up our own minds. Unfortunately, the people who oppose pot and porn seem to be the ones making the rules."

Alana is ambitious, socially conscious -- and she's a porn star. She enthusiastically promotes Six Shooter pipes alongside her videos at trade shows and concerts, and markets a line of ultra-feminine glass waterpipes that she and her life-partner, Chris Evans, have designed to make her self-medication for a painful stomach disorder more aesthetically pleasing.

"We're both fighting for someone to hear what we think, to hear what we have to say," Alana says. "The fact is there are a lot more of us who believe porn and pot should be legal than don't."

"We try to utilize everything that we've got going on to make this collaborative effort to push both the porn and hemp issues, and the social causes we believe in," Chris reveals. He is also an adult-film performer.

It's no secret that adult-industry professionals are capitalizing on the demographic that embraces marijuana. Porn and pot consumers are generally young, open-minded men. At the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas last January, Zydot hawked detox products next to the "make your own dildo" booth. Anal diva Bridgette Kerkove and her husband, Skeeter, have a video series called Bongs and Thongs. Misty Rain and Seymore Butts both shoot in Amsterdam regularly. Last year, Hustler Video teamed up with Snoop Doggy Dogg to make pot-laden Doggystyle the first porn to hit the Billboard video charts. The promoters of the Cypress Hill Smokeout regularly court adult talent and companies to participate in their shows. Would you expect less? "Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" has been the motto of the counterculture for years.

Ironically, one of the most eloquent advocates of legalization in the adult industry doesn't smoke. "To me, the issue isn't about whether pot is good or bad, dangerous or safe, moral or immoral," says Quasarman, an online adult columnist and the director of Metro Video's "Stop! My Ass Is on Fire" series.

"To me it's about personal freedom. Should the state hold the power to dictate to its citizens what they can or cannot smoke, drink, or read or decide in which manner they should have sex? The answer is obviously no. Yet too many people are unwilling to accept responsibility for, and the consequences of, their actions."

"There are many things in our society that are far more dangerous than drugs or pornography and yet are perfectly legal, alcohol and tobacco being the two most obvious," he continues. "Personally, pot makes me paranoid, panic-stricken and causes me to feel a complete loss of control. I abstain from its use, a logical and sensible choice. If pornography offended me, I simply wouldn't watch it. Unfortunately a very vocal group of moralist crusaders have undertaken the formidable task of childproofing the United States of America."

For decades, the porn industry has been at the forefront of the war to protect the First Amendment. Pornographers like Larry Flynt, brothers Jim and Artie Mitchell, Al Goldstein and Reuben Sturmann have been jailed, fined and ostracized for expressing themselves in a controversial manner. Is it any wonder they feel a synergy with those fighting against the War on Drugs?

"Not really," says Mike South, the owner of a successful adult-video production company. "The issues are identical -- attempts to legislate that which cannot be legislated -- namely, desire," drawls the gentlemanly East Coast smut peddler. "Whether it's a desire to get high or sexual desire, if something poses no threat to another person's life, liberty, prosperity or pursuit of happiness, it should not be illegal."

"I think most people perceive pot as somewhat benign when compared to the present litany of hardcore chemicals available," says Gloria Leonard, from her home in Hawaii. This retired performer had a 16-year run as the publisher of High Society magazine and has been an outspoken board member on the adult industry's lobbyist group, the Free Speech Coalition. She is a die-hard toker. "Furthermore," she adds, "pot is certainly used more widely by all socioeconomic circles than ever. Another shared nuance of pot and porn is that most folks won't publicly cop to using either."

Chris Evans agrees: "Both pot and porn share the same hypocrisy. People will enjoy partaking in something, but will claim that they don't. Many people prefer to keep their habits in the closet."

"Many people don't know that I smoke, because I'm such a businesswoman in this industry. People know me as being sharp," Jackie Lick says while hitting a pungent doob. "I smoke, and I'm probably one of the most motivated people you're ever going to meet." When Lick isn't writing copy for her Internet radio show (ksex.com) or checking on sales figures for her personal line of whips and dildos, she teaches kickboxing. One would never suspect that the petite, conservatively dressed brunette is a Cannabis Cup regular who runs a host of erotic Web sites.

"The thing I like least about the adult industry is the way society looks at it," Lick says. "The way society treats you or sees you because of it. There's a real love/hate thing between the fans and the performers. They love you because they love to watch you, but they hate you because they can't have you or feel guilty watching you -- one or the other. It's a harsh reality sometimes."

"When I first started in the business, some people no longer wanted to be my friend," recalls Alana. "Even now we have friends whose girlfriends won't allow them to hang out with us, not knowing me at all. Sometimes I'm ridiculed," she says with frustration. "And regardless of what I might say, people stay fixed in their opinions. But sometimes I'm able to educate. The first question is always about sexually transmitted diseases. Well, I'm tested every 30 days by a PCR/DNA test for HIV that can tell me within one week of contact that the person I'm having sex with is either negative or positive. We keep as much of a tight grip on it as we can."

"The level of professionalism can be high or low depending on the individual, but we all basically follow certain etiquette," Chris elaborates. "And that includes HIV testing. If someone were positive, the whole industry would know, and everybody that had come in contact with him or her would be quarantined."

The overwhelming majority of adult performers are screened at Adult Industry Medical in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Adult-film stars like Sharon Mitchell and Chloe volunteer their time to run the clinic, and unlike private physicians, AIM does not adhere to doctor/patient confidentiality guidelines. If an outbreak of STDs surfaces in the industry, all of the production companies are immediately notified, sometimes by way of adult Internet gossip sites. Performers who haven't been tested within the past 30 days are likewise called out.

Like an unconventional family, the porn industry polices itself. There are no secrets here. If someone in the talent pool starts using hard drugs on a regular basis, their work schedule will dwindle away. They are generally encouraged to clean up their act and conduct themselves professionally. Pot, however, is rarely an issue on the set.

"In the bigger companies, it's mostly talent and crew smoking," Raylene confides. She is an award-winning contract girl for Vivid, the largest, highest-profile American porn-production company. "But in the smaller companies, it runs the gamut from directors to the company presidents to the grips. They're all smoking weed."

"I've never been on a set where there was a problem because someone was too stoned," Alana says. "But alcohol? Oh yeah. People get belligerent, it causes longer days, people can get hurt."

"I often found pot helped me loosen up before a scene," Gloria Leonard reminisces. "Occasionally, I would offer a toke or two to the male performers who invariably passed, saying it diminished their capacity to focus and/or function. Nowadays however, drug usage by performers seems de rigueur, with many directors giving either tacit, nonchalant approval, or in some cases, even providing it."

But not everybody accepts. "I don't like it when I'm working," says Misty Rain. She and her partner, Chad, attend the Cannabis Cup every year and have their own production company. "I've taken hits now and then and regretted it. I'd get more intimidated. It heightens whatever you're feeling, and I'd be even more nervous. I need my concentration. If I have to remember lines, forget it. They want to shoot quickly and move on, so if you have to say the same thing over and over again for like an hour, they're kind of like 'Oh my God!' But hey! Everybody's different, so to each his own, right?"

"I have a funny story about pot," says Lick. "I was on a Vivid movie, on the set for hours, waiting and waiting, bored off my ass. So I cruised out to my car to smoke a little. It was the second day of filming. Right then they decided to do my scene, and they caught me smoking in my car. So I came back in and I had to do dialogue. The director kept cutting me and cutting me. Finally he accuses me, 'Did you go smoke some pot in your car?' I said, 'yeah.' He goes 'well, it's really messing your dialogue up. You did a lot better yesterday.' I replied, 'I was more stoned yesterday.' He just looked at me and muttered, 'I guess you're the exception to the rule,' and stalked off."

Marijuana on porn sets usually produces a problem of a much different nature, however, for both men and women. "I like to take the edge off before a scene," Chris laughs, "but you know, it's really funny, I actually had a girl tell me one time -- I was working with her, and went down on her. She asked, "Do you have cottonmouth?' I was like, 'Yeah, I do.' So she said, 'well, drink some water, would you!'"

"Most of the time when I'm doing sex scenes, I'm stoned, but cottonmouth is an issue. That's why you always have a PA [production assistant] standing by with water," Tom Byron says matter-of-factly. A veteran of the industry since 1982 -- the Golden Age of Porn -- Byron gleefully and intentionally pushes the boundaries of propriety and free speech by releasing some of the nastiest, most hardcore product on the market. The company that he co-owns, Extreme Associates, is the black sheep of the porn community because of their stubborn refusal to tone down their content in the face of the Bush/Ashcroft administration. He and his partner, Rob Black (who ran for mayor in Los Angeles last year) have even been accused of trying to provoke an obscenity bust so they can become the "Larry Flynts of the next generation." They may not have to wait much longer.

"Ever since Bush took office, people have been getting busted, the companies have been breaking out ridiculous rules, and the [local] authorities have come in and seized a bunch of tapes, looking for what they deem to be obscene," laments Chris. The rules to which he refers are commonly known as the "Cambria List" or the "Whitebread Memo." Around the same time that George W. was slithering into the White House, several of the largest companies -- Vivid, Video Team and Hustler among them -- met with their fire-breathing First Amendment attorney, Paul Cambria, who has represented Marilyn Manson, Larry Flynt and most of the major players in porn. His clients asked what kinds of things most frequently brought on obscenity busts, and his answer rocked the industry. What began as an interoffice memo at Vivid, outlining changes in box-cover art, was quickly misconstrued as guidelines for video production. Shoots were cancelled. Directors like Max Hardcore were dropped. Thousands of videos were recalled and re-edited. The talent was outraged.

"No pissing," the Cambria List read.

"No fisting."

"No messy facials."

And the most controversial -- no black men with white women.

"Porn stars are generally trying to break down walls," Chandler says angrily, in a departure from her normally upbeat tone. She's a girlish-looking veteran of adult films and speaks sharply about the Cambria List. "Some companies have made rules -- no interracial scenes. Why should we be condoning that? I walked off a set because of interracial comments, and I actually got a phone call from Mr. Marcus thanking me for doing it."

Like many black male performers in the business, Mr. Marcus has found his work schedule a bit leaner in the current political climate. The Cambria List was a slap in the face from which he and many others still sting.

"It's ridiculous," Chandler continues. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. There is not someone standing on the bed with a gun to your head going, 'You have to do this!' If you don't want to do something or someone, you DON'T have to do it. We all make our own decisions."

Raylene furrows her brow in an uncharacteristic display of seriousness. "You can't let anyone push you into a sexual situation, ever. EVER! It's disruptive and disturbing and it hurts your soul. You have to be very, very strong to be in this business, or it will eat you up inside."

There are other job hazards as well. Daisy Chain, another successful star, confides: "I had my first stalker. I walked out to my car in front of my house. Someone had taken a little bar of hotel soap and written on it, 'Daisy Chain, go get cleaned up.' That freaked me out a little." She tosses her long blond hair to the side, and lightly strums a guitar.

She, Raylene and Chandler are good friends, and have just formed an all-girl band. They are resilient women, but still, porn can be a lightning rod for weirdness. "I had someone e-mail me my own address once," says Raylene soberly.

Generally, the problems in the industry are of a less alarming nature. "It's a rough business to be in. It's all how you take it, how you position yourself," says Misty Rain quietly. "I kept one foot on the ground. I found my niche in it, and it was cool. I've had so many blessings in my career that I'd never want someone else's. If you can think like 'Hey, this is fun. I may not ever be the most popular one in the world, I'm never going to be a household name, but I'll still have a good time at my job and like it,' then it's not so bad. There's a lot of competition. That's the rough part -- petty, little things that come out, contract negotiations, gossip. It can tear you apart, and I think this is true in mainstream entertainment as well."

"But you know, I like the traveling," she states firmly. "I really never thought I'd travel too much. I wanted to go places, but I thought, 'Oh well, maybe not in my life.' But then I started to travel and -- wow! What a trippy world! We've been going to Amsterdam for seven years now. We shoot Worldwide Sex there about every six weeks. I've been all over Europe. That's my favorite part -- having a good lifestyle, being able to travel."

"Porn has allowed me to expand myself sexually," explains Lick. "I've had a lot of sexual experiences that I would never have had on my own. Without a director setting it up, it probably never would've happened. So I'm thankful for that."

"As with everything, it's a very individual and personal decision," Chris Evans says. "If you can deal with the difficult stuff, you can reap the rewards of having an open mind. For me it works. But both Alana and I have to deal with jealousies and insecurities."

"And he's a pervert, so that helps," laughs Alana.

But back to the issues: sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Rock'n'roll certainly hasn't gone away. Could porn and pot be the next controversial issues in American culture to become an accepted part of the mainstream?

Porn is a $10 billion per year industry and has forged major inroads, especially with the advent of video. In Southern California, the San Fernando Valley is jokingly referred to as "Porn Valley" and for good reason. Three out of five shooting permits issued there are for adult-film productions, and the industry generates millions for the local economy. The Los Angeles Times has even assigned a beat writer to cover the scene. However, the future of legal pot in America is a little cloudier.

"I think porn has a greater chance of deregulation, given its widespread availability," predicts Gloria Leonard. "Internet sites and chat rooms, videos, DVDs, magazines, cable and satellite TV, hotel rooms and the integration of steamy scenes and porn stars in so-called mainstream projects all give rise to porn as an integral part of our cultural landscape. Pot, on the other hand, as recently evidenced by the 8-0 Supreme Court vote on medical marijuana, has a long, hard row to hoe. I had always expected that during my lifetime, this would have changed, but it hasn't."

But she adds: "Hope reigns eternal in the heart of a true head!"

Ashley Kennedy has written for Larry Flynt Publications and was an associate editor at Adult Video News. She currently resides in San Francisco. This article originally appeared in High Times Magazine.