After Porn Ends 2012

film

While porn stars may consider their trade to be a form of acting, it rarely leads to roles in mainstream films, so what happens when these ‘actors’ quit the business?

First of all let’s be honest with each other, we’ve all watched porn. Whether it was for what it was intended, curiosity, or just to laugh at the dodgy music and awful acting, we will all at some point have seen pornography of some sort.

It’s a business that has a certain air of mystery and disgust about it so After Porn Ends promises an interesting insight into how some of the world’s most famous porn stars got into the business, how they became stars and how, most importantly, they quit.

Director Bryce Wagoner has chosen his subjects well. Big female stars like Asia Carrera and Mary Carey feature alongside the likes of Randy West and Richard Pacheco who describe the seedy world of porn from the inside, while pornography historians, professors and psychologists give an insight into why some people do end up fucking on film.

It’s an eye opening and emotional experience, many of us may have heard rumours that porn stars have come from the wrong side of the track, been pushed into the industry or maybe tricked into doing something they don’t want to do. It’s still surprisingly shocking then to hear porn star Shelley Lubben describe how she was abused as a child, kicked out of her home at 18, got into prostitution, stripping and drug abuse, turning to porn as a choice to do something a little less destructive. Shelly describes how she would cry after most scenes and attempted suicide many times, you can’t help but feel that porn really is as evil as campaigners say it is.

So what of the men? Surely they are the people behind the exploitation of these women? Not so, Randy West is now 65, he’s fucked, sorry, performed, with over 3,000 women and he’s full of regret. He doesn’t say it, but the long pauses and envy in his eyes when he talks of his friend’s normal lives, how they have raised families and live the American dream, show how lonely he is. We see him watch the test tape that he made to launch Jenna Jameson’s career, yet he doesn’t say if they are still friends, it seems that even guys fall foul to the disposable lifestyle of porn, once your boobs sag or you can’t get it up we don’t need you anymore.

But, then you get to meet the likes of Asia Carrera who loved being a porn star. Before you consider the type of woman she is, keep an open mind. Asia is highly intelligent, a member of MENSA, a successful business woman and always knew porn was a route to something better, OK, not Hollywood movies, but she tells how she’d persuade the crew, while topless, to teach her their jobs. What she learnt meant she could stop performing and start writing, producing and even directing her own films in the future. She too understands the stigma that surrounds porn but said that she went from a geeky woman that no one fancied to a model and star almost overnight giving her a confidence boost you wouldn’t believe.

Male performer Richard Pacheco also speaks with fond memories of his time in the business. He had fun, he enjoyed his role, he met some great people and travelled the world, but he knew that one day he’d have to do something ‘normal’ and he helps you realise that very few of these porn performers have a plan for the future.

Mary Carey seems to be semi-retired, she’s only 32, and is what most of us would think is your stereotypical porn star with plastic boobs, too much makeup and hair colour from a bottle. She also comes across as disgustingly shallow and vacuous; proudly talking about how she made thousands of dollars from selling t-shirts, but was so busy she couldn’t be bothered to mail them out. One day she’d like to marry a rich guy and have children, but if that doesn’t work out then she’ll probably just get back into porn. She seems to live her life from one day to the next, not really sure what’s happening tomorrow and bouncing, quite literally, off her co-stars and friends as she fumbles her way through life, thinking that she’ll be a star forever.

So what do they do now? Many find other passions and roles, Randy is a semi pro golfer who spends a lot of his time playing for charity, one is an estate agent, another is a nurse, one an artist, many are recovering addicts, many have their own families and talk about how meeting someone outside the business gave them the courage to move on. Shelley describes how her now husband used to come over and clean her house because it was so dirty, as an addict at the time she never thought to do it herself. They fell in love and both now run the Pink Cross Foundation that campaigns against pornography.

Shelley has gone from one extreme to another but then porn is a business of extremes. All of them talk about the excess of stardom and the fall from grace, the regret and the triumph, the fun and the tragedy. Many with smiles as they realise they are moving on, some with eyes full of regret as they perhaps wish they’d never gone there in the first place. It left us with a lump in our throats and a tear in our eye as you see written updates of what the subjects are up to now, and sadly for some it’s not as happy an ending as they might have hoped.

Best line: Richard Pacheco “I had a choice. Go to Rabbi school, where I’d have to spend two years in Israel learning Aramaic, or be a porn star. It wasn’t a tough decision.”

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