Krk, Haludovo Palace Hotel (ruin porn?)


Zak Sabbath is a friend, and sometimes we fuck.

Zak has, on occasion, performed in pornography.*

My blue text bubble: “And what are your feelings on trespassing in Croatia?”

And Zak’s grey one: “Always wanted to”

*He wrote a whole book about it called We Did Porn.

—————The Tip—————

I was drinking on a friend’s apartment floor with a woman named Carol Schaeffer. She was telling me she wanted to make a documentary or something about some place Penthouse had been involved with in what was then called Yugoslavia.

I woke up the next morning with the taste of whiskey still in my mouth and a note—either in my phone or scribbled in my notebook—that read “penthouse jugoslavija??” Once I had coffee in hand I started googling.

—————Capitalism and Communism—————

Bob Guccione, creator of Penthouse and producer of Caligula, built a resort and casino on the island of Krk in the ‘70s.

In the Penthouse Adriatic Club’s marketing copy, it sounds almost like Guccione thought he might heal the ideological split between east and west* by bringing western tourists to experience Yugoslavia’s beautiful coast and arranging for Penthouse Pets to mingle with socialist and Eastern bloc dignitaries. He even referred to the Pets as new soldiers against the Cold War.

(He also wanted to make money.)

The grand opening was on June 15th, 1972. Guccione sold the property the following year. After over a decade of successful worker self-management it closed, becoming a refugee shelter during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and falling into ruin when the last refugees were gone. But according to the Internet, the resort still stood.

(Except for parts of the ceiling, the glass that used to enclose the lobby, and significant portions of the main staircase. Oh, and all the plumbing and copper wiring that used to be in the walls.)

This place, now called the Haludovo Palace Hotel, was built by a pioneer of sexually explicit imagery. But I couldn’t dig up any explicit videos from the hotel—before or after its abandonment. So I had to have sex in it. And it had to be on camera.

How could I not?

*It is important to note that Tito’s Yugoslavia split from Stalin’s Cominform in 1948. And that while Winston Churchill did include Yugoslavia in the area he described as behind the Iron Curtain in his Sinews of Peace speech, it retained its independence and cannot be neatly classified as a Soviet satellite.

—————Beograd to Krk—————

Layover in Beograd. It’s 5 am. There’s something like a subwoofer in my lower abdomen—the rhythmic throb foreshadowing a miserable round of menstruation. Zak asks if I need anything. I think rakija but I say water.

A propeller plane takes us from Beograd to Zagreb. We take a taxi to the bus station, and then board a bus for what I think will be a 90 minute ride. Zak reads Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, which the author herself described as “an inventory of a country down to its last vest-button, in a form insane from any ordinary artistic or commercial point of view.”

Four hours later the bus drops us off in Malinska. I’m wearing my goth pajamas—baggy drawstring pants made of a thin black material, a dark grey tank top, my knockoff-converse sneakers. My thighs are streaked with layers of dried blood but my usual jokes about bloodbaths in my panties seem like they’d be deeply inappropriate.

(Because they would be.)

A kid walks up to say he thinks we’re awesome. Not to let the locals’ staring bother us. Then he makes the metal horns gesture before walking off. It’s sweet. We *do* stick out among the mostly German and Austrian tourists.

When we check into the Hotel Adria the receptionist takes our passports, saying we get them back when we check out. I’m uncomfortable without my naugahyde-y government issued identification.

Once I’m on the bed I curl up in a tight ball around my cramps. Zak says he’s going to go scout the location, which I express opposition to by mumbling words like “producer” and “responsibility.” He counters with logic and sentiments of efficiency. I show him on the map where the hotel’s address is and go back to reminding myself that my uterus probably can’t actually kill me.


Zak returns with bad news. There’s one small building with the right architectural style. One of the rooms is full of papers with the Haludovo letterhead. But it’s tiny and there are definitely signs of someone occupying the space in an officially sanctioned capacity.

He takes me to see for myself. I’m devastated. There’s a little concrete landing we *might* be able to get away with a very quiet scene on, but it could be a little concrete landing basically anywhere on the planet within 10 degrees of latitude.

The one thing that doesn’t add up is the trees. Even if the entire rest of the resort had been knocked down the day after the most recent photos had been taken, there’s no way a forest would’ve reclaimed the land so quickly. Further attempts at thinking are foiled by my body’s mutiny.

Between close proximity to an amusement park, the van parked outside the building, and the electric light glowing through one of the windows, the risk is much higher than I’d anticipated. The payoff is far lower than the sweeping views across a semi-legendary urban exploration site that I’d imagined.

Zak naps while I dig back through all the ruin porn websites, looking for information on what happened to the Haludovo.

—————Scouting, Round Two—————

When Zak wakes up around 3:30am, I’m giddy. I have a more accurate map. We go down the paved waterfront until we spot a small flight of stairs going up into a clearing. Once we’re through the trees we see a small building to our right. To the left…

…is the Penthouse Palace.

It’s huge. Thick beams of decorative concrete protrude into the air above our heads. Broken glass and rusted tangles of wire litter the ground. The walls are covered in graffiti, and a small doorway leads inside. The doors have not been boarded up. There are no fences.

Zak ducks in. I stage whisper about the presumably poor structural integrity of the ceilings and floors. My phone reboots for absolutely no good reason, leaving me without a flashlight. Even though I’m thinking that this is how horror movies start I follow him through the door.

We sneak down the hallway. Except in my case “sneaking” means “tripping over every single pile of trash and emitting terrified squeals every time our own shadows move.” The empty pool, tree-like support columns in the lobby, and 3-d ceiling reminding me of one of Zak’s own paintings—it’s all there.

We plan to return just before sunrise, which is supposed to be at 6:02.


A little after 5am I step out of the shower. As I’m toweling off Zak tells me there’s already light in the sky. I throw my wardrobe on and start tossing gear and makeup into my backpack as calmly as possible.

I send my assistant the precise location we’ll be at and tell her we’ll check back in within twelve hours. She says she knows who to call at the Croatian embassy but that she also isn’t worried. I am—if this goes awry the possible outcomes are spectacularly messy.

As I’m pulling my street clothes on, Zak says my outfit looks like a soviet swimsuit and asks if I have anything else. I think it looks more like Rudy Gernreich’s monokini but am definitely wearing it and anyways we really need to head out right immediately now.

The hotel receptionist scowls at us quizzically as we do our best approximation of tourists out for an early morning stroll. Once we’re back in the Haludovo we climb up to the balcony. We push record on the video camera.

—————An Important Message From Zak—————

Zak Sabbath formally apologizes for his combat boots and shorts look, he thought we were just going to do a POV blowjob.


Since we’ve come all this way, we continue exploring. We find a spot with much better light and consider re-shooting the scene. The view of the area isn’t nearly as good as where we’ve already shot though, and I’m more concerned with how the location looks than I am with my own appearance.

Eventually we hear footsteps echoing up the corridor we’re in. Not the heavy stride of a police officer’s boots, but definitely the crunch-crunch of a large walking creature making its way through the same mess I’ve been tripping over all morning.

Aside from going back the way we came—towards the sound—the only ways out involve broken windows and three foot drops onto uncertain ground. My heart is pounding as we scurry through the lobby and into the parking lot.

Where we find a deer. Who knew four hooves could sound so much like two feet?

*During is available on

Blow (ten sketches and a video)

Philadelphia, under a table, at a nightclub. Both of us were dedicated sluts and during work was just so much dirtier than going home together after.

California, Burbank, in the driver’s seat of a parked car. I had, for the first and possibly only time, a desire to 69.

Delaware, someone’s basement, a couch. It seemed like, and was, more entertaining than spending another evening playing pool.

NYC, Brooklyn, a bed. It was his birthday. My lingerie had bows on. I’d planned it that way.

Japan, Matsue, a modified cargo container. I had far too much Shochu in my system, an early train in the morning, and we couldn’t manage to trigger my gag reflex any other way.

Virginia, an amtrak train, the bathroom. It was so close to Erica Jong’s zipless fuck, how could I not?

France, Paris, his office. 2 am. He’d taken me there on the back of his moped. I blew him on the couch—his desk chair might’ve been too cliche of a location.

NYC, Brooklyn, Red Hook. I thought my mouth on his dick would make a nice addition to the finger I had up his butt. It did.

Philadelphia, Rittenhouse, an alley. We had a low but existent chance of being caught. Managed risk gives me goosebumps.

NYC, the West Village, a sublet. Last day of May. I knew, from the previous time, that the liquid glossing over the tip of his cock tasted so good it could turn addicting.

Serbia, Belgrade, a bed. Even though I was writing his check that day, all I wanted to do was suck Mickey off like it was my job:

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.33.36 AM 2



(copyright Stoya Inc 2016)

Mid-December 2015

The principal photography on Ederlezi Rising was complete, though the first few scenes of the movie still needed to be shot and funding for post production was a looming question mark.

I’d been largely protected from the media shitstorm, thanks to Kayden, Joanna, and that thing where I’d put an away message on my email and blocked all but a few numbers in my phone shortly after arriving in Serbia. This was great while I was trying to focus on the movie, but also meant that I had no idea what I’d be walking into when I arrived home.

And, for the first time since 2009, I’d flown without Xanax. I was so proud of myself.

Steve Prue—my roommate—and Hot [redacted] came to pick me up from the airport. Steve has a car, and during the times we’re living together he picks me up any time he’s in town.

It wasn’t abnormal for Hot [redacted] to ride along. Or to take the train out to meet me on his own. But it was completely abnormal for Steve to come into the airport. Steve has always been a “I’ll be waiting in the cell phone parking lot, call me and I’ll meet you at the passenger pick-up curb” kind of guy. I appreciate the efficiency, and I don’t have to walk nearly as far that way.

This time, Steve and Hot [redacted] were waiting at the border control exit. Which was a deviation from an expected routine. One that Steve and I had been following for years.

Which meant that my behavior deviated from the routine of big hugs and immediate so-glad-to-see-you that Hot [redacted] had reasonably come to expect.

It would be easy to say this is the moment that our relationship began to fall apart, but relationships have many moments of difficulty and some survive them all. We’d never used the words boyfriend and girlfriend, because I’d become superstitiously against them. Two or so months prior we’d dropped both the structure we thought of as “dating” and the word itself because neither were working for us. What even were we, aside from a pair of people playing games with semantics?

I don’t know whether it was that night or some other night that week. Either way, Hot [redacted] and I were on the couch. It was late. I was tired.

I said “Let’s go to bed.” He heard something along the lines of “Let’s go have sex.”

I’d spent an entire month feeling like a human, like an artist, like anything but an object. It had been glorious. His reasonable assumption blurred into pent up feelings about years spent being subject to nonconsensual objectification. Being treated like a prop on set, whether that set be adult, music video, or fashion editorial. The scale of my reaction to Hot [redacted]’s sexual advance was akin to using a nuclear warhead to kill a mosquito.

I wanted to rest and hold onto that feeling of being a human being of inherent basic worth, with agency, with a right—not privilege—to dictate when and how I was touched, much less fucked. Never in my adult life, even before I started taking my clothes off in public, could I remember expecting to walk around in the world without being kissy-noised at or grabbed at. I know Serbia isn’t perfect, and I’m aware of the atrocities committed during the many Balkan wars, by all sides. But every time I’ve been there I’ve been able to just live, and that has felt magical.

But back to the situation, which had rapidly degenerated.

I was approximately in one corner of my sleeping space (more of an open loft than a bedroom) and he was firmly in the opposite corner. I was very precisely enunciating every single letter of every word I said with a hissing quality to my speech, punctuating my statements with a finger jabbed downward through the air. All 6 foot plus of his well exercised frame was telegraphing small boy being scolded, his hands tucked behind his back.

I felt like my mother. The only thing I hated more than feeling like my mother was seeing in Hot [redacted]’s body language a confirmation that I was behaving like my mother.

I’m pretty sure he went home to sleep in his own bed that night. If he didn’t, he should have. If he did, it was for the best.

(copyright Stoya Inc 2016)

Squeepedia: Spanking

[5 April 2016]

Spanking Slapping buttocks within a power dynamic framing, as a focus (or fetishized) during the video, or if there are 4 or more slaps or smacks in a row using a hand/paddle/strap or similar.

The process behind the changes:

The majority of input (mostly through Twitter–thank you!) seems focused on two main themes: quantity in succession, and context–with a dash of intent and degree of emphasis. Fuck Theory succinctly lays out the context/intent connection in the Squeepedia comments section under the accidentally autocorrected name of love Theory.

But how many slaps?

As the pattern emerged from words like buildup, prolonged, several, contiguous, and especially plural, our content manager was asking me to clarify this exact thing because they had been drawing the distinction between spanking vs slapping: ass as “many ass slaps in rapid succession” vs “haphazard tapping of an ass a couple of times.” Which had been working great. Until we had a video with two very purposeful slaps that I had tagged as spanking using a different (subjective) definition.

Having a sub-tag for every number of slaps would mean sacrificing usability, certainly with the current user interface. And—to address the question Ruz-El brought up—while we do try to anticipate concepts that might make useful tags, both Squick- and Squee- wise, we are also wary of overly complicating the system when there is no need.

My friend Leslie—who is a member of Tx—was sitting on the couch next to me, and offered “4.” Which felt exactly right. Ideally, I think it would be 3 for a squick and 5 for a squee–erring on the side of caution for a Squick but avoiding possible disappointment for a Squee–but that level of complication in our tags is a whole big project, and this is the next step towards that. 4 is a decent compromise for now.

Things I’m curious about: How many videos that qualify as spanking in the power dynamic and focus/fetishized definitions would NOT qualify already by the 4 or more slaps one.

[31 March 2016]

Spanking Slapping buttocks, whether the slapping is done with hands or some other implement. In some ways this is essentially a synonym for the same concept as Slapping: ass but there is just something more going on with spanking than the basic physical action of a palm or a strap connecting with an ass. *This needs further definition, and the opinions of people who feel really strongly about smacking butts. Is the difference psychological? Does it have something to do with context?


Are you ready for some contradictions? Systems are necessary, and systems are terrible. 

I’ll start at the beginning: According to the box cover of Razordolls (Kill the bear!) my first xxx scene was shot on June 5th, 2006. Meaning it will have been ten years since I started performing. 

You might think the bulk of an adult performer’s work hours would be spent on set, performing in scenes. As a contract performer in the late 2000s, the bulk of my work hours were spent giving interviews, participating in signings at brick and mortar stores, and attending conventions.

Before the DVD market began to show obvious signs of dwindling, I hauled boxes of DVDs to most of those adult conventions and sold them directly to consumers. 

(Now I bring a little drawstring bag full of USB drives and a small stack of liner note booklets. EDIT: And I wear flats half the time, and make use of chairs.)

Desperate for something to take my mind off of how much stilettos start to hurt after your third hour standing on concrete covered by a thin carpet, I paid extremely close attention to those consumers. And I started to notice patterns. 

If I had two different titles out on the table, most of the people who came up to me would glance at them and then walk away. If I had ten different titles, about half would examine everything before developing a mildly glazed look in their eyes and also walking away. 

With a range that small it was no special effort to find the sweet spot through trial and error, and for me the sweet spot was six. Six prompted the most questions about the products, and resulted in the highest sales. 

(If I’d read Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice” I could have saved myself some mental effort, but the mental effort was my original goal.)

When TRENCHCOATx soft launched, it had six different series. This remained sustainable for about a week, and then we needed to start building an organizational system. 

Systems are necessary.

The issue here is that those kinds of systems understand everything as a data, including people, making the whole exercise inherently dehumanizing. No more dehumanizing than Tindr or Ok Cupid, but still—any time we’re sorting people or aspects of people into categories of labels we’re going to see some amount of generalization at work. Usually a large amount. 

Systems are terrible.

Getting rid of the worst words was easy: milf/teen, interracial. We just don’t use them. The difficult part is the issue of vocabulary when you’re dealing with a few different sets of user demographics. 

Because if most of your potential audience can’t understand the words, they’re useless as communication tools. So it’s a balancing act, and that balance also has to shift to take into account shifting language norms. Constantly.

I can’t imagine anything more exciting to work on.

The Squick/Squee project should always be sticky. We should always be noticing new problems and problematic effects. And if we ever stop feeling like it needs to be fixed, we’ll know that we’ve failed—not succeeded.




(Speaking of fixing up–this CMS. It’s about time.)

[Edit 26 Mar 2016: Fixed. It isn’t fancy but at least it sizes properly to a cell phone now.]


December 17

Pornography sits at a unique crossroads of entertainment and sex work. We who work in adult entertainment navigate a legal landscape that can be uncertain. We wonder which OSHA guidelines, if any, should apply to which sorts of sex work, or whether it is legal to shoot pornography outside of California and New Hampshire and if so, under which technicalities. We work in a culture that can be outright hostile, as when War Machine’s lawyer questioned whether Christy Mack can be raped because of her former career in pornography or when NYC police used carried condoms as evidence of prostitution, which it did until mid-2014. We’re not alone—everyone who makes their living from sexually charged or erotic work navigates similar uncertainties.

Beyond this unstable legal and cultural landscape, people who work in porn encounter bias, as do other sex workers. Whether we’re trying to discuss issues with banking and housing or issues of consent and ethics, some, both inside the sex industries and outside of them, will shrug and ask what we expected instead. After all, it’s porn—or an escort agency, strip club, massage parlor, street corner, or cam site.

Like many other communities, perhaps all communities, we who work to produce pornography have our own cultural quirks, our small and large scale acts of misogyny, our own deeply entrenched racism and bigotry, and our share of predators. Like most other industries, we struggle to balance financial sustainability and respect for our own humanity and that of others. Unlike many other industries, we who work in pornography experience the effects of moral hysteria and anti-sex work propagandists. Therefore, we who work in porn must consider these points before publicly airing any of pornography’s dirty laundry, whether its structural flaws, its ethical shortcomings, or its personal violations.

On November 28, I publicly stated “That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks. James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

In the years that we dated, I was very publicly linked with James Deen. In my own words I highlighted and praised his positive qualities, on Twitter and in my own writing. We posed for happy photographs at porn events, at mainstream movie events, and for publications I had written for. Posts appeared on Twitter and Tumblr; they were variations on the theme of “James and Stoya #relationshipgoals.” I began to realize that more than being a private bond, my relationship with James was a public performance, and in time, I grew uneasy.

I lived with the knowledge that James had violated my consent for a long time before coming forward. I felt as if I had no recourse. I didn’t know what to do. So I kept working with him, and we kept dating. I swallowed a lot of Xanax and washed it down with unsettlingly large amounts of alcohol. After we split, I started seeing a therapist who is well versed in the specific complexities of sex workers and people who practice BDSM. They helped.

However, I wrestled with guilt. I felt complicit in any future harm he might inflict because I’d spoken so highly of him but I’d neglected to complete the public record. It ate away at me.

I didn’t feel I could file a report with the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, APAC. James had been on its board since it was founded. Similarly, I didn’t feel as if I could press charges because the U.S. court system rarely metes out anything that looks like justice when sex workers are involved. Social media seemed to be the most appropriate and only real option. But I doubted I would be believed, and I worried the company I co-own with Kayden Kross would suffer. Most of all, I was afraid that speaking would only serve to fuel the arguments of outside groups who aim to dictate how we adult performers do our jobs and whether we’re legally allowed to do them at all.

Instead of being silenced, instead of being not heard, something very different occurred. When I finally spoke in those two tweets on the 28th of November, people listened. Other women began to come forward, and a lot of people in pornography showed their support. Significant companies responded, and they did so swiftly. I’m grateful for the solidarity of the people who believe me and the other women who have spoken out, and I’m proud of the industry I work in.

I hope that we continue to look for better ways to protect our workers, and that we question our own motivations and conflicts of interest while we do so. An agent with greater loyalty to established directors than to the performers they represent is a problem. A director or producer on the board of an organization built to protect and aid performers is questionable, and a company owner on that board can be a major impediment to that organization’s mission.

I believe that in order to be effective, the systems we develop to protect performers and other sex workers—whether they involve the justice system or internal groups—need to be worker-led. That those systems must cater to the needs of the most vulnerable to an extent that equals the extent to which existing systems reinforce the power and control of those who already have most of it.

One thing that everyone can do is listen to sex workers. Today is December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers—all sex workers. Not just pornographers. Not just white cis-women. And not just women who are fortunate enough to get column space in respectable papers. I’ll be doing a lot of listening to others under the red umbrella of sex work. I believe that their safety is important and that it can be improved. I believe that no one is safe and no one is protected unless we’re all safe and protected, sex worker or not.


(copyright Stoya, Inc 2015-2016)

Paris, 3rd Arrondissement


 Wolf and I walked from the first arrondissement up to Pigalle in the 18th, stood outside the Moulin Rouge (a landmark in the history of sexualized spectacle) and then looked for an hourly hotel. 

No such luck. Sex stores full of lingerie made from raschel lace, cheap sex toys, and discount DVDs abounded. Maybe they kept the good stuff in the back? They definitely weren’t handing out recommendations for no tell motels. Whether that was due to lack of nearby existence or my crappy French accent and syntax is debatable. 

For two long-term adult performers the district was a bit of a yawn during the day. Yeah, sure, it used to be home to Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and Van Gogh, and it was named after a sculptor. But they’re all gone now. And we needed somewhere visually interesting to fuck in, for the camera. 

On a hunch we headed down to Boulevard de Sebastopol. I’d stayed near there earlier in the year. Every morning I’d walked past older women in red lipstick, giant hats, and delightful lingerie covered by long furs. Nothing signifies a sex work zone like people outdoors in underpants and fur coats.

Sure enough, the maps app on my phone turned up an hourly place a few blocks away. I narrowed down the choice of available rooms to three, focusing on what didn’t look like things I already had footage of, and let Wolf take his pick. He went with the Suite Infernale.

It turned out to be a mix between something inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the most death metal Hot Topic has ever been. But it worked with my black lace halter bra and thong, and his leather jock strap. And it had mirrors on the ceiling.

And a window with a blind which could be raised. Not a window to the outdoors, a window to the next room. If there’d been people in that room they could have also raised their blind, resulting in a fairly risk-free act of exhibitionism on both parts—all the fantasy, none of the risk of interaction.

We closed the blind though, because we were there to make porn and nobody (specifically me) wanted to deal with the potential issue of tracking them down later to obtain releases and age verification documentation, much less them spotting the camera and reporting us to management. What with all the posted signs in the lobby and elevator prohibiting commercial sex of any kind.

And then Wolf and I had sex. In an establishment built for interludes of fucking, in a neighborhood with sex workers leaning out of doorways, in Paris.

It was fun. I was definitely feeling my new area of status as a pornographer for the first time. There’s something very different about performing in porn—being a vessel or canvas for the vision of another—and shooting, directing, producing it oneself. My new set of roles felt more stressful but also more fulfilling and more lecherous. 

And I loved it.



Watch it now on


How to Do Things with Objectification

The Smart Set asked me to review Nancy Bauer’s “How to Do Things with Pornography.” Here’s the review as I last submitted it:

In “How to Do Things with Pornography,” feminist philosopher Nancy Bauer refers to a specific idea of pornography: the inherently harmful boogey creature that anti-pornography feminists have railed against since the 70s. A significant portion of the book is spent discussing the flaws in the anti-porn rhetoric of both Catharine MacKinnon and Rae Langton. All of which is in the service to what seems to the true focus of the book: arguing against philosophers’ interpretations of JL Austin’s How to Do Things with Words.

Austin’s philosophical work centered around language, specifically focusing on illocutions, perlocutions, and speech acts—uses of language where saying something is also doing. In the fifty five years since Austin’s death, a number of anti-pornography feminists have referenced Austin’s work in their attempts to undermine the protection that the first amendment provides adult films and the people who make them by framing it as something other than speech. Bauer disagrees with some of their finer points.

Declaring that the idea of pornography as a form of speech is overly simplistic, Bauer begins the wrap up of chapter five with a list of questions: “Who is doing the speaking? The subjects of the photographs? (And are they subjects or objects—or both?) The pornographers? And what exactly is being said? And to whom?”

Instead of attempting to answer those questions, she expresses surprise that “none of the people on either side of the pornography debates appears to be interested in doing [this work].” Bauer concludes by suggesting that that these questions are not explored due to the amount of pornography one would need to view and the amount of introspection one would need to have regarding that pornography and feelings on it. This would be an understandably distasteful task for people who believe pornography is inherently abusive towards women as a gender.  

Defining pornography and exploring what can be done with it are not Bauer’s subject. In How to Do Things with Pornography, pornography is merely the means with which Bauer achieves her ends.

Bauer treats pornography as a tool, using it discuss the academic discourse surrounding porn and sexual objectification, her interpretation of Austin’s lectures, the authority of philosophers to describe, and also their responsibility to consider what their own words do. This leads me to wonder if Bauer considered her own acts of objectification committed towards pornography—as a profession, category of media, and community of people who create it—throughout the course of her book.

I’m a pornographer. I have performed in a number of explicit videos, been professionally naked for more than a decade, and consumed a significant amount of all types of pornographic media. I believe that Bauer’s work checks off no less than three items on the list of Martha Nussbaum’s notions of objectification and Rae Langton’s additions to it. Bauer lists these notions in chapter three before arguing that Nussbaum is incorrect to frame objectification as a thing that can be negative, neutral, or positive, but she does seem to accept Nussbaum’s notions as a useful quantification of objectification.

Instrumentality is shown when Bauer uses pornography as a way to discuss her understanding of How to Do Things with Words, failing to define it or engage with it herself while using it for her own purposes in dealing with Austin.

Fungibility is shown when she hints at a description of pornography’s powers to arouse, stating that “within the pornographic mies-en-scene, there is no space for the concept of objectification.” Bauer effectively erases a number of pornographers who explicitly tackle the concept of objectification in their work—examples of which include Rinse Dream’s Cafe Flesh (1982), Kayden Kross and Manuel Ferrara’s Carter Cruise: Wide Open (2015), and my own work Graphic Depictions (2015)—and exhibits a tendency to equate the porn she has either consumed herself or consumed others’ descriptions of with what all porn is.

Silencing is shown in the glaring omission of any quotes from pornographers, be they producers, directors, performers, photographers, or writers. While Bauer’s book does focus on philosophy, she repeatedly references the words of Catherine MacKinnon—who, while she is a formidable lawyer and holds a PhD in political science, is not a philosopher. Since MacKinnon’s opinions are deemed authoritative enough for inclusion, failure to include or acknowledge at least some of the writings of pornographers that have been published in various books as well as academic examinations like the Porn Studies Journal, or even mainstream publications such as the New Statesman, the New York Times, or the Guardian. This can be understood as silencing of pornographers.

I’m sure that Bauer’s comments on Austin’s How to Do Things with Words are a worthwhile addition to the philosophical study of illocutionary force. Unfortunately, her choice to build this critique around pornography without deeply observing or accurately describing it—or even taking into account the work of modern academics regarding pornography—leaves her book littered with factually incorrect statements and wildly inaccurate generalizations.




Graphic Depictions, Scene 05


Ana Foxxx is untamable. 

Ana’s face is gorgeous and her ass is glorious. She knows both of these things but she still responds to compliments with a pretty smile. Her submission to Ramon and Toni Ribas is freely given yet remains hers to retract at will.

As the three performers were getting dressed for their scene, I heard them going over preferences and limits with regards to the sexual acts they would perform. I heard Ana say she wanted her partners to be rough.

There’s blurry line between erring on the side of caution and respecting a performer’s agency and ability to state their own desires.

“Rough” is a broad and highly subjective word, especially when bullwhips are involved.

If you tell a performer you are about to work with that you’re really into rough sex without qualifying it or describing what you mean, your definition of rough and theirs have a good chance of not matching up. 

Most experienced performers will proceed with caution, but if you tell them multiple times to hit you in the face as hard as they can (harder, no, HARDER) they’re eventually going to hit you. In the face. Hard. Just like you’ve asked for. 

Sometimes this ends in tears. It’s usually uncomfortable for everyone, can be traumatic for the performer on the receiving end, and is also sometimes disturbing for the performer who is in the role of the top. 

Best, then, to strive for specificity when discussing sexual acts. So I asked Ana to define rough.

Ana’s definition of rough was much rougher than anything we were shooting that day. Still, better to have asked for elaboration than to risk someone going too far.

I was already aware that Toni had worked at live sex shows in Europe when he first started performing, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ramon had as well. 

This meant that they knew exactly what I was after with the project: a static establishing frame mimicking archival footage of stage productions, everything done with an intensity that would play for the back of the room—not just the “front row” of the closeups that would be cut into the main wide shot.

We shot the intro: Ramon and Toni walking out from side-stage and cracking their whips, followed by Ana strolling into the frame and perching on the podium. We did a second take for safety and proceeded directly into the sex scene. 

I watched on the monitor as a perfect scene unfolded. Almost as perfect as Ana’s beautiful face.


Graphic Depictions Episode 05




Squicks and Squees


A long damn time ago, like 362 whole days, Fiona Duncan asked if she could interview me about language as it relates to porn.

The semantics of sex are interesting to me and Fiona looked cute on twitter and then we were on the phone. During our call she expressed a desire for a negative search option when browsing porn:  “like, “school girl” plus “pubic hair” plus “threesome” minus “hard boob job” minus “dude gut.” 

And that got me thinking, about how people still like to browse clothing stores even though they can search up exactly what they’re looking for online: “blue chambray” plus “short sleeves” plus “loose fit” minus “$100+.”

The next time I saw Kayden she said something about the way that everything is novel to a child, how as we live our greater knowledge of the world means there are fewer novel experiences to come across, and how that tends to make novelty feel more valuable. 

So: a number of people are accessing porn by typing long, specific search strings into a browser—helping them find what they want but immensely narrowing the field of new things they might discover. Some people value surprises they enjoy. People also have specific things they would prefer to avoid, but these specific things are multitudinous and highly individual. 

People have their squicks, and they also have their squees.

At some point during the design of TRENCHCOATx 1.0 (as the site appeared after mid-June 2015. Before mid-June was TRENCHCOATx beta and I don’t even want to talk about it) I asked our new web designer if they could make a customizable negative search profile for our customers, and our designer said yes.

So I sat in my apartment for days on end, tagging every video we have with everything I could think of off the top of my head: analingus, armpit hair, ejaculation: on face, vulva, penis, uncircumcised and circumcised, three levels of pubic grooming, and breasts: augmented or natural. 

The list continues for quite a while, but can’t begin to reach comprehensive without some major feedback from consumers. It will probably never be complete. 

As of today, we’re (super) proud to introduce a pair of new features on Squick Protection and Squee Enhancement. Any logged in user can choose both things that squick them out and things that make them squee from a list of tags, have their squicks either completely hidden from them as long as they’re logged in or be warned if a video they’re considering contains one or more of their squicks, and have videos that contain their squees highlighted.

Fun, right?

We don’t go so far as to call it a trigger warning feature, because while some triggers may be obvious others are sometimes indecipherable. There’s no way to guarantee no viewer will never be triggered during a scene that they’re watching. But this does enable people to create a safer space to explore adult content.

And I’m so very excited to keep digging into the semantics of sex.