Can you be an ethical porn user?

Sex flicks are like your chicken: you need to know where they come from


You might have noticed that there’s more porn out there than you could watch in a lifetime – even if that were all you did.

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So you’d think in this era of impact consciousness, there’d be more discussion about how to get your voyeur jollies in an ethical fashion.

You care where your beef and chicken come from, you’re asking your grocer where the tomatoes were grown, you’d rather go naked than wear fur, you’ve swapped your SUV for a hybrid, but have you stopped to think about whether your porn stars are free-range?

Now, many will argue that there’s no such thing as ethical porn, while others insist it’s all about films that don’t gender-stereotype. As a former stripper, I find it hard to get behind that one. Let’s be frank – sometimes good people just want to watch a gang bang or bukkake.

I think that even with all the problems plaguing the adult industry, you can still manage to put your ethics where your raunch is. Here’s how.

1. Take care of the people you love first. If you’re ruining a relationship by hiding a porn habit, or spending unhealthy amounts of time tugging it in front of the computer, get help. That ought to go without saying.

2. Start paying for your treats. Filesharing and bootlegging are hurting the industry. Says L.A.- and NYC- based performer and producer Joanna Angel, who runs the Burning Angel website, “The number of paying people has gone down while the number of Google searches has gone up several hundred per cent.”

These performers work hard and don’t necessarily have the easiest lives. Adult industry researcher Corita Grudzen at New York’s Mt. Sinai School of Medicine says that “a lot of the women are victims of domestic violence, use drugs, abuse alcohol and have mental health problems.”

Angel doesn’t like this line of argument and says the business is “ridiculously clean, almost to the point of being boring. I’ve been in porn for five years, and I’ve not seen one drug on a set other than marijuana. Ever.”

Drawing on my own experience in strip clubs – a world that was neither as debauched as outsiders imagined nor as clean as insiders claimed – I’d guess the truth lies somewhere in between. Also, consider that what used to be porn specialties, such as gang bangs and anal sex, are now more commonplace. Don’t undercut actors who put their bodies under duress to get you off.

3. Try to limit your pleasure to flicks in which actors are wearing condoms. Not so easy, I know. The vast majority of companies don’t insist on them, so you have to go film by film. And no sticker will tell you if you’re watching safe sex.

Angel isn’t particularly stressed out about this. “The industry is safe in that department. You get tested every 30 days, and if anybody gets anything – HIV has only happened once or twice in the past 10 years – everyone gets quarantined quickly,” she says.

But Boca Raton-based Dave Pounder, a performer, director and producer, is leading a campaign to get legislation. “There are issues that could be easily controlled for by mandating condom use. The adult industry should have the basic protections every other industry has.”

But when I click onto his website for a taste of his action – surprise, surprise – he’s rubber-free. When I ask how come, he says that if he were condom-only, “there’d be no work for me.” He says he gets chlamydia about once a year. “People are getting STDs on a recurring basis, and it’s easily, easily preventable.”

There’s really only one company that insists all its productions are condom-safe, and that’s California-based Wicked Pictures.

4. Buy as local as possible. In general, U.S.-based porn is the best in terms of pay and treatment of actors. Says Pounder, “A lot of Americans go to Prague to shoot content because you get beautiful women for $300. In parts of Europe and South America, you can get women for $200 or less. In the U.S., generally, a boy-girl is $800 to $1,000, more if it’s anal.”

Toronto, it turns out, isn’t a raging porn centre. It’s reputed to be the third-largest Canadian source after Montreal and Vancouver, though it churns out hundreds of flicks a year, and wages are lower than they are south of the border. You can help boost the sex biz your neighbour’s building by buying T.O.

5. If you can’t refrain from free digital titillation, the least you can do is pay some respect to the stars you’re watching in other ways. Angel has a few tips: “Go buy an autograph from a performer when she’s doing a signing. Support her in some way, as you would a band. Pay to see a live show or buy a T-shirt.” It’s a no- brainer.

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