4. Modeling And Personal Life

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
2

As a job, sexually-explicit modeling has dramatically serious defects-from poor working conditions to disease, drugs, economic insecurity, and exclusion from mainstream acting. Modeling, however, appears to have consequences for its participants that extend deeply into their personal lives as well. Limited as our inquiry could be with regard to the world of modeling in general-and to the personal lives of performers in particular-we would be remiss if we failed to take into account what evidence does exist. On the whole, we believe the evidence before us to be highly suggestive in this area-suggestive as much of the attitudes of others as of the feelings of the performers themselves.

A few of the performers in this field, to begin with, speak in glowing terms of the experience. One of them, a former "Pet of the Year" in Penthouse, described to us how her marriage had remained strong and happy after her selection for the honor and then during her subsequent career at the magazine in management positions.[1069] Another, speaking before a Senate subcommittee "not only for myself but for every woman that I know in the sex industry," declared:

We do not see ourselves as victims. We do not need to hide in the shelter of being somebody's victim. We accept responsibility for our own lives.[1070]

And a third related how he had maintained a happy marriage and fathered two children during his career adding that, in his words, "I've made the decision that I will abide by the incest taboo, completely."[1071]

Reassuring as these comments are, they stand in a clear minority. William Margold once again offered the most straightforward summation of what modeling means for the personal relationships of models:

Whenever I'm interviewing someone who wants to get into porn, I always ask them, "Do you have anybody that you will hurt by doing this?" It would be ideal if someone had no relatives-disenfranchised human being devoid of any past that would haunt them and any kind of present or future that they could destroy. If it's a man, he also better be single because, unless he's married to the most magnanimous of women, it will tear her insides Out.[1072]

He went on to point out its effects on the personal reputation of women involved.

And I'd like to point out that for a woman, there's even more of a stigma than for a man. She'll be called a prostitute and a whore and thought of as sleazy, cheap and slutty. And she has to understand that what she does now will haunt her the rest of her life.[1073]

Mr. Margold's view, bleak as it is, has the weight of his thirteen years' experience in the field behind it; it is, moreover, continually echoed in the testimony and public statements of others who have knowledge of the industry.

Personal relationships, to begin with, appear to be severely threatened by modeling in pornography. Romances as well as family ties are often strained or broken.[1074] One young man, who had been lured into making "adult" films at age seventeen, told us about his feelings after leaving modeling and entering a drug rehabilitation program:

I don't know, I feel scared to have a sexual relationship with a girl. I don't know what it's going to be like or if I am going to be too rough.[1075]

Candida Royalle, a major "star" (and now producer) in the industry, told Forum Magazine recently that after her marriage she had ended her performing because "once wed ... she couldn't quite bring herself to do the sex scenes."[1076] Even that may be of little avail: as one "X" rated film producer put it, "A man getting involved with an ex-porn star will always shove it back in her face."[1077]

What relationships do continue for models are often highly negative. Thus many female models live with highly abusive husbands or boyfriends, whose relationship to them is that of pimp to prostitute.[1078] Others report suffering rape[1079] or demands that they service agents or producers.[1080] Indeed, some may drift directly into "call girl" status.[1081]

I was never viewed as a human being.... Most people, right off the bat, assume I am a piece of meat, a porno star, a floozie.[1082]

"Adult" publications even those which are "soft core," view models as products.[1083] In the midst of that environment a young female performer said that she "just hated [herself] every day"[1084] and a young male told us it "made me feel worthless."[1085] As Andrea Dworkin has explained, that valuation is a central element of contemporary pornographic modeling.[1086] And it is a valuation we strongly reject.

Notes

  1. New York Hearing, Vol. II, Dottie Meyer, pp. 301-03. Dottie Meyer it should be noted, does not appear to have performed in any material depicting actual sexual conduct.
  2. 1984 Senate Hearing, supra note 975, p. 317 (statement of Veronica Vera). Ms Vera, of course, alluded elsewhere to having suffered sexual abuse as a child.
  3. Pacheco Interview, supra note 986, pp. 23-24.
  4. Bennett, supra note 972, p. 72.
  5. Id.
  6. See, e.g., Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Chris, pp. 93-94 (relationship with boyfriend broken); Ginger Lynn Interview, supra note 992, p. 30 (being known as porn star "stops the whole magical process" of romantic attachment, but still accepted by family); Traci Lords Interview, supra note 1037, p. 34 ("You don't have a personal life.") Ali Moore Interview, supra note 976, pp. 9-10 (modeling makes relationship with husband "very tough"; family members "know nothing of any porn films"); Heather Wayne Interview, supra note 987, p. 32 (modeling "destroys your sex life," and, according to Bruce Sevens, porn producer, "really screws up relationships.") Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Miki Garcia, p. 116. (Playboy "Playmates" suffer alienation from family and friends). But see, Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Mary, p. 78 (husband found "it was very hard for him to adjust ... to me doing this ... [and] wasn't very pleased with me," but it "hasn't really affected my married life"; "several relatives stopped speaking to me").
  7. Washington, D.C. Hearing, Vol. II, Jeff, p. 173.
  8. Candida Royalle Interview, supra note 976, p. 42.
  9. Heather Wayne Interview, supra note 987, p. 58.
  10. Lederer Interview, supra note 969, p. 63; See, Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, Sarah Wynter; Washington, D.C., Vol. I, Valerie Heller; New York Hearing, Vol. I, Linda Marchiano. See also, Heather Wayne Interview, supra note 987, p. 58 ("[Erotic Film Guide]: Actor William Margold also says that actresses seek out abusive boyfriends and husbands, the dregs of society, because they want to punish themselves. Any comment? Wayne: "It's hard to find a nice man who'd want you. And I guess you figure you wouldn't deserve a nice man.").
  11. Lederer Interview, supra note 969, p. 67; Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Miki Garcia, pp. 116, 124.
  12. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Chris, p. 93; 1984 Senate Hearing, supra note 975, p. 179 (Linda Marchiano statement). The "casting couch" is, unfortunately, apparently not unique to the pornography segment of the entertainment industry.
  13. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Miki Garcia, p. 117. Ms. Garcia, until 1982 the director of Playmate Promotions, asserted that, among many other abuses, former Playmates "were involved in an international call girl ring with ties to the Playboy mansion." Id. Playboy Enterprises, in a letter from its counsel of November 6, 1985, accused her of "bearing false witness" in "efforts for self-aggrandizement," but offered no specific evidence rebutting her accusations. Until she left Playboy, Miki occupied a position (conceded by all sides) of responsibility and trust. Documents submitted to the Commission by Miki indicate, further that she had received outstanding ratings for performance of her duties at Playboy, and that at least at the time of her resignation had communicated her feelings about the treatment of the Playmates with her superiors. We are, of course, in no position to evaluate the truth of this accusation-or of the others included in her testimony-but we see no clear reason why, as Playboy suggests, Miki's account should be dismissed out of hand. It accords, indeed, with statements submitted by two other former Playmates (Susan Amidon   and Brenda MacKillop), and in significant respects with a recent full scale overview by an outsider. Miller supra note 1006. ("Many girls drawn into this orbit found the world of Playboy was not a pretty place. . . :') Id., p. 160. We can only urge a thorough investigation of Miki's allegations regarding problems faced by the Playmates she supervised, which included sexual exploitation and harassment, rape, murder and attempted murder.
  14. Interview: Linda Wong, Adult Video News, (March 1985), p. 19.
  15. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Miki  Garcia, p. 121.
  16. Heather Wayne Interview, supra note 1051, p. 58.
  17. Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. II, Jeff, p. 171.
  18. A. Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979) ("Contemporary pornography strictly and literally conforms to the word's root [Greek] meaning: the graphic depiction of vile whores, or, in our language, sluts, cows (as in: sexual cattle, sexual chattel). . . ." Id., p. 200.