I recently communicated with Heather Saul from Independent UK about “crossover stars” — former porn performers who are cultivating successful careers in mainstream media.
Here is what Heather was interested in:
I’m looking at how the stigma surrounding porn has made it acceptable to consume porn, but not to appear in it, has in the past made it difficult for a number of actors to leave the industry. But now we have a number of actors forging successful careers in mainstream modeling, acting, and other careers such as Lisa Ann, Sunny Leone, and Jesse Andrews, suggesting the crossover between porn and the mainstream is closer than ever before and allowing actors to make the transition more easily and without being shamed.
And she wanted to know specifically: “Are attitudes towards adult actors improving so that they can move into mainstream acting and modeling in your opinion, and why?”
You can read Heather’s full piece — “Transcending porn: The performers who become mainstream models and actors” — here (3/11/16).
Here are my responses to her direct question in full:
Though women like Lisa Ann and Sunny Leone seem to be cultivating high-profile careers outside the adult industry, I am not sure their successes suggest that “mainstream crossover” for porn performers in general is easy or seamless.
Both Lisa Ann and Sunny Leone continue to experience major institutional and cultural backlash tied directly to their prior careers. Sociologically speaking, this suggests an exception, rather than a deep structural shift in attitude or opportunity. It may be that these women are the groundbreakers, forging a new path for future crossover, but it’s also worth noting that both Lisa Ann and Sunny Leone were extremely high profile and successful within adult entertainment. Certainly, this impacts future moves into other industries. For your “average performer” looking to move into another more conventional career, or even into more entry-level mainstream entertainment, sex worker discrimination and slut shaming are rampant. From nursing to teaching to volunteer work, there is no shortage of stories suggesting the general population is uncomfortable and hypocritical regarding a former porn star in their midst.
I also wanted to add something about the inevitability of the wider narrative — that the only way to be in porn is to want to get out…
One final note… It’s interesting to think about the inevitability wider society attaches to the crossover narrative – like every performer or member of the adult industry is simply looking to get into Hollywood. There are many members of the adult community – performers and those working behind the scenes – that actively sought to work in porn and are happy to continue doing so. Not everyone is looking to “crossover.”
What do you think about the idea of crossover stars? What do you think about the idea of “transcending” porn?
(pictured: Lisa Ann, via Google)
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