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5 Male Ex-Performers Share What It’s Really Like to Do Porn

The men in porn appear as though they are dominant and in control, but behind the scenes, they are often victims of the same harsh conditions and harmful situations as female performers.

Cover photo credit to Getty/iStock. 7-minute read.

Trigger warning: This article contains explicit descriptions of abuse. Many may find the following accounts to be graphic, disturbing, and/or triggering.

Ever wondered what it’s really like to work in the porn industry, if porn performers really love their jobs as much as they say they do, or as much as our culture believes they do?

Many people believe those in the adult entertainment industry love to have sex and get paid for it, why wouldn’t that seem like a dream? No one’s getting hurt when I watch porn is a common thought pattern many consumers have. Why would you have any reason to believe that the mainstream porn industry is anything less than professional, fun, safe, and sexy?

Related: 10 Ex-Porn Performers Reveal the Brutal Truth Behind Their Most Popular Scenes

But not everything is as it seems in the world of porn.

Regardless of the overwhelming research and countless personal accounts exposing that nonconsensual content is not uncommon on porn sites, many consumers still buy into the glamorous fantasy the porn industry and its supporters work to maintain.

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The fact is that the porn industry is not as safe, sexy, and violence-free as it appears.

This industry is filled with sexual violence, coercion, and exploitation, but the average consumer might not know that. Consider that while active porn performers rarely, if ever, speak out due to fear of being blacklisted in the industry or being discriminated against, many of those very same performers inevitably end up speaking out on their real experiences once they leave the industry. These personal accounts are very often a stark contrast from our culture’s narrative about porn. And for those who do decide to leave, the porn industry still has every image and video clip that the person can never get back.

But these difficult and exploitative issues don’t discriminate—many people of all genders have encountered the less-than-sexy sides of the porn industry.

It isn’t just women porn performers that endure harsh treatment and abuse on and off-camera. The men in porn often appear as though they are dominant and in control, but behind the scenes, they can be victims of the same harsh conditions and harmful situations.

Related Video: Greg’s Story — Most Successful Male Porn Actor Of All Time Speaks Out On Porn

To put an end to the misleading facade that so many people in our society buy from the porn industry’s portrayal of men, we’ve assembled personal accounts from five former male porn performers who have since left the industry and have spoken out against the heartbreaking circumstances that pushed them into doing porn.

Related: This Anonymous Performer’s Reddit Post About the Realities of the Porn Industry is Chilling

These performers’ stories may not mirror every single porn performer’s experience in the industry, but their experiences are much more common than many people realize.

*READER DISCRETION ADVISED. Many may find the following accounts to be graphic, disturbing, and/or triggering.*
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John*

“There is no glamour or glory in the porn industry. THERE IS NO FUN. Day after day, I was a witness to the constant abuse of women being slapped, choked, spit on, and even tortured in the porn industry. Not to mention the amount of drug abuse that occurred. The constant cocaine-snorting, marijuana smoking, and pill popping that went on was ridiculous. Now it’s even worse. The use of Vicoden and Oxycontin and eventually Heroin is more prominent now more than ever…

It was all about the money and there wasn’t much to be made at all. In fact, men were only being paid $100-150 for the 45 minutes of potential abuse and the possibility of being locked up for domestic violence.

Enjoyment, no. I knew that to treat a woman with such utter disrespect was the worst thing I could be doing. People are constantly asking me if it’s really true that women like what they are doing on the porn set. The answer was made quite clear to me when I saw certain activities going on where I could tell that it was not what they had expected. Nor was it what I expected.”(xPornstar). (2009, September 17). I'm an ex-male porn star, I too part in half a dozen movies. AMA. (Online forum post). Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/9loqw/im_an_exmale_porn_star_i_too_part_in_half_a_dozen/Copy 

*Name withheld

Simon*, former contestant on The Sex Factor

“Once at location, we were told that we’d be filmed having sex in front of a judge. Those that had good ‘television presence’ and were able to create a scene were asked to come back to shoot further episodes. Little did I know that it would be a boulder that would chain me to the ground for years.

I would tell someone thinking of doing porn that it really is like a drug. After the high, comes massive withdrawals that will eventually lead to either depression or a search for a new drug to fill the hole that porn has cut into you.

Porn is a very selfish industry and few realize just how narcissistic one must be to do well in the business. No one cares about you, just what you can do for them. It’s a very stressful environment. The industry ironically is not sexy at all. It’s very robotic and makes one feel a lot like a stuffed doll that’s only meant for others’ pleasure.”Simon, personal communication, August 25, 2016Copy 

*Identity hidden by request

Christopher

“I quit performing in porn basically overnight. Like many male performers, I had become reliant on erectile dysfunction drugs as performance enhancers. In professional sports, men take steroids. In porn, we take Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, injections. It’s very common.

As a result of taking those types of medications, I ended up in the hospital for priapism. It didn’t happen often. Maybe three times throughout my career. During the last trip to the ER, a doctor told me that if I kept abusing erectile dysfunction drugs, I could end up with serious long-term damage. So I quit. The job wasn’t worth putting my health at risk…

It’s difficult [to get out of the porn industry]. Sex is not a skill that translates very well into other professional environments. Certainly, it’s not something that I can put on my resume if I want to work another job…

I’m able to observe the patterns in the industry and recognize the reality that performing is no longer a way—for most people—to make a lot of money. I see very little upward mobility… So, yes, I’d say it’s challenging to walk away from the sex business.”Breslin, S. (2017). A male porn star discovers leaving porn is harder than you'd think. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2017/02/21/male-porn-star-retired/?sh=203e62e154d4Copy 


Joshua

I have always struggled with acceptance, and every word my new agent said spoke to my insecurities. So I did one film, and then another, and then another. Several years later, I had done over 1,000. Before long, I had won Performer of the Year and even starred in the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards Show on Showtime. 

Some people may take a quick look at my fame and what to me felt like a fortune and say to themselves, ‘I would love to have that life.’ But don’t jump to conclusions. My story is not a positive one, it is filled with loneliness, depression, and an identity crisis that nearly led to me taking my life.

The shame and guilt rose to a point where I wasn’t numb to what I was doing anymore. I felt trapped. I believed that I couldn’t do anything else and depression set in.

I truly believed that I had ruined my life to the point of no return. So, I continued to say yes to the need to be accepted. I never was attracted to guys, but the idea of doing gay porn and the new level of fame, the money, the praise, and the attention all somehow made logical sense to me.

I was to the point that sex and shaking a hand were all the same to me.  It didn’t matter if the other actor or actors were girls or guys it didn’t matter if it was one camera or five cameras with a crew of 20, nothing mattered anymore.  This went on for about six months, and then one day, I found myself wishing I would die.”Fight the New Drug. (2021). Joshua’s Story: Why I Left the Porn Industry After Winning Awards and Performing in Over 1,000 Films. Retrieved from https://fightthenewdrug.org/joshuas-story-why-i-left-the-porn-industry/Copy 


Aaron

“The rape and sexual assault [I experienced] made my sexual objectification more normalized, to the point that it became like a normal part of my life that I was almost expecting. And eventually, when porn was presented to me, that’s what made it so easy to jump into the porn industry.

There came a point where [my talent manager] unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis and sat in a chair and said, ‘If you want to be a part of this industry, this is a part of it.’

And what he was doing there was basically seeing if I would be comfortable with exactly what was gonna happen to me in porn, where I was no longer in control of my body. Was I going to submit and do what I was told? Was I going to acquiesce to the demands of the producers and everyone else on set?

That’s sexual assault. But because it’s porn and because sex is the nature of the industry, sexual assault is the nature of the industry. It’s normal. This is exactly what goes on. He was right there was saying sexual assault is a part of this industry.

We, as LGBT+ people, aren’t often taught about our sexual orientations or gender identities, but we still have to learn healthy sexuality. And unfortunately so many in my community go to pornography to learn about our sexuality and our gender identities. That’s why the porn industry often poses as an ally for us. But when you dig into it and you’re watching it, especially being on this side of it, I can see now just how homophobic all the content that the porn industry produced is. It’s so violent and degrading and it’s portraying our gender and our sexuality as this violent, coercive rape.

In gay porn, violence is often portrayed still toward the receiving individual. What I experienced often in the porn industry is the receiving individual was a gay individual and the one who was portraying the violence was a straight person. Looking back at those types of scenes that I was in, I’m like, that is straight-up homophobia. They’re having a straight person sexually violating a gay man.”Jonsson, G. (Host). (2022, April 27). Aaron Crowley: Ex-Porn Performer, Author, & Anti-Porn Advocate. (No. 68) (Audio podcast episode). In Consider Before Consuming. Fight the New Drug. https://considerbeforeconsumingpodcast.com/aaron-crowley/Copy 

Not the only performers

These guys’ stories are powerful and unique, but they aren’t the only former performers to pull back the curtain and expose the reality of the adult entertainment industry.

Producing porn often involves the violation and exploitation of real human beings. No, not every performer is abused, and not every pornographic video involves exploitation. But many do, and it can be difficult if not impossible to distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual content.

Related: How the Porn Industry Profits From Nonconsensual Content and Abuse

The harms of porn aren’t just confined to the ones in front of the camera or behind the screen. There is a growing body of research that shows how consumers, relationships, and society are all harmed by porn. This isn’t a moral argument, it’s simply something to consider, given the facts. Click here to read more about the research exposing the harmful effects of porn, and make a decision for yourself about whether you want to support and contribute to it.

Related Video: Joshua’s Story: Why I Left The Porn Industry After Winning Awards And Performing In Over 1,000 Films

These men and women in the porn industry are human beings, and they don’t deserve to be degraded and treated like objects. Part of fighting for love is spreading awareness on the harms of the porn industry, and the lives that it destroys. Clicking pornography is contributing to the demand for more stories like these to happen to real people.

Consider before consuming, and fight for real love.

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We are always looking for powerful personal accounts. If you or someone you know has been involved in the porn industry, please reach out to us.