For the past decade or so, I’ve worked in the porn industry. It is really not as titillating as it sounds. It’s just like any other profession. We have all the normal components of any other business – office people and warehouse people. I am a Graphic Designer, which means I’m closer to the pornographically visual side of the business than, say, an accountant, but not as close to it as an editor or a cameraman. I’ve never been in front of any camera, let alone one shooting porn. I work strictly behind the scenes. When I tell people I work in porn, I always have to make this distinction since most people assume that I’m actually in it. I suppose it’s because people don’t really think of the business end of porn, just the end result, but porn is a product just like anything else.
At my previous job, I used to do all the releases for Europe. As a typical stupid American, I don’t speak any languages other than English and a faded knowledge of Spanish obtained in high school. I produced materials in other languages, like Dutch, French and German, designed to entice people in other countries on other continents to order our porn without having a clue what the hell I was saying. Even after all those ads, my knowledge of Dutch is still limited to “voor slechts” (for only), “verkrijgbaar” (available), “de nieuwste” (the newest) and “nieuw” (new). Sometimes, I had confusing dreams in which I didn’t understand a thing people were saying to me.
My job includes writing ridiculous porn copy, which is a description of what’s happening in the scene designed to entice the reader into buying the product because they’re just dying to know more. When I first started, writing the copy was embarrassing. I would blush and giggle like a coy schoolgirl. It became easier as time went on. After years of practice, I can write copy without thinking about it while carrying on a conversation about something else, just not in different languages.
When I was first hired in this business, it was booming. There were something like fifteen artists at the company for which I worked. After George W. Bush was elected, the staff got smaller and smaller until I was the only one left. Eventually, I was let go as well. The company was sold and I was out of a job. I tried for seven months to get out of the industry, but porn is like the mafia; once you’re in, you can’t get out. Even for those of us working far removed from the camera, the stink of porn still effects us. Once you’ve worked in porn, especially in a job like graphic design where people expect to see tangible proof of your work before they even bring you in for an interview, it is nearly impossible to find a straight job again. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe they’re expecting me to jump up on the table in a meeting and flash my boobs just because I’ve designed porn boxes. Whatever it is, people look down on porn and want nothing to do with it, at least, publicly.
To be fair to all those straight, corporate Joes out there, it does take a special kind of personality to work in the porn industry. You have to be open-minded and a little bit of a heathen. We have to say things in the course of our daily jobs that would make a schoolmarm blush. You can’t really be dainty or bashful and work in porn. All of my coworkers are liberal, most are atheist, tattooed and pierced, and none of them are the least bit judgmental. It’s very live and let live.
After seven months of trying to get a straight job and failing, when a former co-worker called me up out of the blue and asked if I might like a job as an Art Director at the company he founded, regardless of my dismay at working in porn again, I agreed to see him. I had a job the next day. I will say one thing about the industry, we take care of our own. It’s an incestuous little business. Everyone knows everyone. Since there’s really no way out once you’re in, people tend to stick around for a long time. Besides the owner of the company, there are several other employees with whom I’ve worked previously. And, as Art Director, I’ve already had dealings with people at other companies that I’ve known for years. It’s almost not like having a new job at all.
While I was really hoping to get out of this industry this time, I should consider myself lucky that I’m employed at all. I have a job, which is more than I could say a month ago when things were really looking bleak. Someday, I still hope to get out, but for now, I’m lucky to be employed, valued and among the familiarity of old friends in the same old, tired trade of porn.