I am a sinner, apparently. I am making money from porn.
Granted I am not producing porn. Viewing the stuff is not that interesting either, mostly because so little of it is actually worth viewing. You might say I am tangentially facilitating porn. For extra income and to keep one toe out of IT management and actually in IT programming, I have a very small business on the side wherein I help users install, modify and upgrade forums on their websites. Occasionally one of these sites happens to be a porn site. In the eyes of some I am contributing to the moral degradation not just of the United States, but the entire world since about half of my clients are from outside the United States.
Facilitating porn raises an interesting ethical dilemma: should I care? Porn supposedly degrades both women and men. That is in the eye of the beholder, I believe. There are probably some women who get into porn unwillingly, courtesy of a domineering significant other and who are probably quite damaged from the experience, mentally if not physically. I doubt this is true of most women in porn, although I can’t claim to have read studies on the subject. As for men, supposedly it teaches us that women are objects, although I have seen plenty of porn and I still think of women as complex and multifaceted human beings. I am quite certain though that my not working on porn sites will not reduce the volume of porn streaming across our steamy Internet. So for me the only real question is whether I want to make some money from facilitating porn. And that depends.
When I get these porn requests, I always take a look at the site. It would take a lot to shock me but frankly the majority of porn sites aren’t that shocking anymore. They basically consist of a lot of mostly naked people putting body parts in or near other people, and often acting rather dreadfully. Us old married folk have seen plenty of nudity and the naked human body isn’t anything special, although attractive naked human bodies tend to be more interesting. Curiously, on many of these sites the porn actors practice safe, well at least safer sex. It’s almost as frequent to see guys with condoms on than without. And while there are plenty of amateur sites out there, any site that is even tangentially “professional” is hiring “talent” that has been cleared by a local testing facility before they allow actors put their body part near any other actor’s body parts.
So I find most porn sites I do work for not objectionable at all. In fact, usually their stuff is pretty standard in our hardcore world. I will happily pass on helping any site with a theme that I find personally objectionable, such as a site that emphasizes underage people who actually are not, or where the sadomasochism moves beyond leather and riding crops what appears to be actual injury to someone, even when they consent to it. I haven’t been asked to work on a gay site yet, but that is probably coming (no pun intended). I also won’t do any work that could potentially get me in legal trouble in the United States, and I tend to err on the side of caution. If I don’t feel comfortable, I simply won’t do it. But if I do feel comfortable, I am happy enough to take someone’s money. Someone else would anyhow.
Most of my very limited work with porn sites has involved working with guys managing these sites, who are often acting as content webmasters for dozens of adult sites. It’s just business for both of us. I do a few hours of work and they drop a hundred dollars or so in my PayPal account. So when someone called Gen contacted me to install a forum on their site, I assumed it was some guy about half my age, probably with a beer belly, too busy mastering airbrush techniques in Photoshop and editing explicit videos than to hassle with my technical domain. I asked the usual questions, checked out the site and got assurances there was nothing that could be construed as child porn.
Proof of my ignorance of porn stars emerged when she said, well, she was a she. That’s interesting, I said in an otherwise business-like email. To my knowledge you are the first woman I’ve encountered running a porn site. Oh, she said, I don’t just run the site; I am also the porn “star”. Now that was truly interesting. It was my first encounter with stardom, or at least porn stardom.
“Gen” happens to be this lady. It feels indelicate to broadcast too much more about her website, but Wikipedia has the link to her site where I did my work if you are curious. There you can see plenty of pictures of her in her birthday suit and where members can see plenty more behind a pay wall. And that was the basic issue: how to put a forum behind her pay wall. I hadn’t done that before but I was not intimidated. It took a couple of days and required some back and forth with her web host, but I figured it out. Now she and her paid members can discuss whatever it is that paying customers do behind pay walls in forums. Maybe they discuss which one of her numerous porn films they like the best.
Gen is 32 and curiously looks more than a little bit like my lust object, who is one year younger. That began a curious email exchange wherein she said I was not the first person to make the comparison, but not until recently. I expected that a porn star would not be very eloquent via email, at least not with non-paying members like me, but Gen turned out to be quite expressive and volunteered information I had not solicited. Her husband supports the way she supports herself, but he is never in front of the camera. Yeah, she likes making porn, but mostly got out of the business because even with all the STD testing it was too dangerous. But it sounds like she still makes new porn from time to time, but presumably only with people she feels safe with. And she doesn’t mind managing the web site. She has it pretty much figured out but needs a consultant from time to time. And yes, making porn is something she enjoys. So at least in her case, being in porn is not degrading.
And Gen tips well. In fact, the tip was more than what I billed her for my services. Moreover, she needs an IT guy like me from time to time, so I suspect I’ll be hearing from her again. Given the way she tips, I’m more than inclined to do more work for her.
Now here’s the curious thing about my business. I use the income basically for little indulgences. It bought my wife and I a nice weekend at a resort a few years back. It will pay for most if not all of the shore excursions on our cruise of the southern Caribbean in January. A fair amount of this income is actually given away, often to Democrats running for office, and often to charities. And one of my favorite charities is House of Ruth, a shelter for abused women and children based locally in Washington, D.C. I’ve been giving to the shelter for nearly three decades. I became sensitive to the problem of spousal abuse when I helped make a documentary on the subject in college. In part due to Gen’s money and her healthy tip, House of Ruth got a healthy donation from me.
So in a way I’ve proven that porn can be good. Gen seems like a normal, healthy, sexually active woman who figured out a way to make money from porn because she was blessed with an attractive body. (According to Wikipedia, she also teaches Pilates, yoga and is a licensed massage therapist.) Gen makes a living doing something she enjoys, horny men (and maybe some women) get off, I make some income doing work I usually like to do, and this money goes to help abused women and children.
I figure I’m doing good facilitating porn. And now I have something of a new email friend and client: Gen the porn star.