Porn performers talk stigma and stereotypes

The growing porn industry

Porn is not something we tend to talk about but millions of people are watching every day and a chunk of it is shot right here in the Tampa Bay Area.

On a sunny day last month, Jasmine Johnson and King Noire were getting ready to shoot a scene by the pool of a house in New Port Richey.

“Got some candles, got some incense, blindfold, handcuffs,” King said as he set up the scene.

Meanwhile, Jasmine was getting made up.

“I always like that feeling of getting ready,” she said as the make-up artist put on her foundation. “I mean, how can you not be excited?”

They say they want to change the tone in porn.

“The idea you have for this scene is extremely feminist,” King told Jasmine. “In most porn, the end of the porn is when a man has an orgasm. In this scene that’s not the end. The end is insertion.”

Both have been performing for years.

“I see the art in it, I see the beauty in it, the education,” King said.

But recently they founded Royal Fetish Films started working for themselves.

“I was started to get frustrated with the images of women who look like me,” Jasmine said.

“It's always the black dude is the thug. The black women is the hip hop honey,” King said.

They wanted to challenge the stereotypes on camera as well as off-camera.

Yes, they do porn but he also writes music, they own a fitness center, and she works for a government agency, and is a mom.

“I'm still the mom that when it's an R-rated scene, we need to cover our eyes or we need to at least talk about it,” Jasmine said.

Talking is also how she says she prepares her 12- and 16-year-old daughters for what others might say; by being open about what she does.

“You can't bully them with something they already know and have chosen not to be ashamed of,” she said.

When it comes to shame, though, there’s plenty of it associated with the porn industry. Even when women in porn choose not to feel ashamed for what they do, they say people still try to put them down.

“There's always someone that has seen you,” Kate England, an adult film performer, said. “They say nasty,  nasty things. I've left bars before.”

Kate started doing porn two and a half years ago because of the money and the freedom. She's making more now than she did as a licensed radiologist in the Tampa area when she was working 65 hours a week.

“If I would have cut it down to 40 it would've been barely enough, 40 hours a week, barely enough,” she said.

She said she liked the job but was overworked.

“Sometimes I still miss it,” Kate said.

Now, she sets her own hours. She still lives in the Tampa area and travels when she has a shoot.

The downside is she has a harder time making friends and having a romantic relationship.

“If you're a performer and you're getting paid, it's safe, just because it's recorded and the world can see it, it's a dirty nasty thing that you should be ashamed of. And I never understood that,” Kate said.

Notice she said "it's safe." Derrick Burts, a former adult film performer, says his case proves it's not.

“I got chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV,” Derrick said.

He believes he contracted HIV while shooting in Florida. The industry tests performers for STDs but doesn't require condoms.

“Just like a construction worker has to wear hard hat, a nurse has to wear gloves, a porn performer who’s getting paid, they have to wear condoms,” Derrick said.

“A lot of people wouldn't buy porn with condoms at all,” Kate said.

For Kate, testing has been enough to protect her.

“Since I've been in, over two and a half years, I have got nothing,” she said.

But exposure to STDs is just one industry issue. Then, there are producers who try to take advantage of young women.

“There are so many sketchy people that try to get the young girls that don't know any better to do extra things when they could be getting extra money or things they're not comfortable doing,” Kate said.

Despite that, she doesn't plan to leave the industry anytime soon.

“The day that I stop enjoying what I'm doing is the day that I quit,” Kate said.

Instead, she wants to take on a different role. She plans to quit traveling for other companies and shoot more of her own videos right here in the Tampa Bay area.

“I will be the one telling everyone else what to do,” she said.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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