Thursday, July 4, 2013

Movie Review : After Porn Ends (2010)

The pornographic industry is the most mysterious thing nobody wants a part of. There are still so many taboos around sex, it's something that's OK to do inside your home, but not OK to talk about. So whoever makes a living doing smut movies isn't bound to the greatest of social lives. See? I just used a derogatory term myself. Documentary AFTER PORN ENDS is asking the very pertinent question of : what is actually happening when somebody wants to leave this idiosyncratic little society? Can you become a human being again, after being a walking sex toy for several years? The short answer is no.

If anything transpired from AFTER PORN ENDS is that sexism is alive, well and still institutionalized. Male porn stars of the seventies like Randy West, John Leslie and Richard Pacheco suffer a similar stigma to their female counterparts, but they were marginals to begin with, so they're not as affected. Leslie and Pacheco are artists, loners by nature. West lamented the lack of stable relationships and the hypocrisy of society, but still looked back on his career with fondness. The background of female porn start was a straight up horror story. Asia Carrera (now a member of Mensa) used to live on the streets. Tiffany Million chose to do porn, because it was the best way she could get her daughter a decent upbringing and left as soon as she could. Raylene was abused as a child, had a horrific first contact with sex. All of these women has the deck stacked against them before even being in the industry.

Pornography historian William Margold (strange occupation, I know) said that pornography was the byproduct of a culture of quick buck, where fame and riches were available without the learning of a skill and that's what makes it so attracting to young, beautiful and helpless women. That's a cumbersome obstacle when they want to leave the life too. For example, actress Mary Carey has been trying to go mainstream for years, but whatever stunt she pulls (she ran for governor once), always turns around sex, or her body. Others like Houston (who's face unfortunately melted with years) applied for a real estate license, but got turned away due to their reputation. Too bad, she's a capable worker and passed her nursing degree with a 4.0 GPA.

Poor Houston. 

So the question raised here is : why can't porn stars become human beings again? Sad fact, most of the actress interviewed went back to the life after the shooting of this documentary, due to financial concern. Society loved them as walking sex toys, men did lineups at conventions for an autograph and a kiss, is it that silly to grant these girls humanity again? Like hall of fame porn star Nina Hartley said, most girls are in the business for the wrong reasons. They are trading their body for what they perceived to be love. Men projected their darkest, dirties fantasies upon them and they left the business with a chip of their soul missing. Is it too much for them to ask for a second chance at education, a job, a husband a peace of mind? It seems silly to me not to think so.

AFTER PORN ENDS is a very pertinent documentary, done with purity of intent. It's about the human beings behind the walking sex toys. The amount of actual pornographic footage is minimal. Director Bryce Wagoner focuses on the path of these stars through the industry and the end result is striking. When it comes to female porn stars, their implications in porn is always interwoven in a difficult upbringing and self-perception woes. Two or three or them admitted attempting suicide at the height of their success. Even the smartest of them all Asia Carrera is struggling with isolation. So I'm asking you the question : can we let these women be?


1 comment:

  1. Or, even better yet, can the rest of us (the "civilians") actually not be jackasses and treat them as people...which compels the question of how well we treat most other people day to day?

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