This week I was scheduled to shoot a porn scene, one that I was very excited about doing. I fantasized about it, I kept notes with ideas about it, I was very much looking forward to doing it, and making a decent amount of money, too which I was hoping I could use towards my travel budget to Toronto this year for the Feminist Porn Awards. (Don’t worry — I’m still going!)
Just days before the shoot, I was surprised to learn that I was required to shave. (Crotch hair, armpits, etc…) Now, I’m pretty flexible when it comes to hair, though I go 364 days out of the year without shaving a damned thing — maybe a buzzer set on level 1 from time to time. But every now and then I like to mix it up, and when it’s for a porn project, that can make exploration feel pretty special.
I’ve been hairless for Superfreak, and was excited to go bare for April Flores in Dangerous Curves. (April recently returned the favor by growing it out as much as she could for me in the upcoming AlphaFemmes, how sweet is she!?) I’ve shot hairless and had a good time or at least an interesting one doing it for co-stars and directors. And though I often cut it off, the opposite was true for Belladonna. For her film Strapped Dykes, I grew all my hair out as much as I possibly could, because I knew she would welcome it and it’d be fun! If someone I’m working with respects me asks me if I’d be interested in doing a certain look for them, I jump at the opportunity to try something different. It’s just hair, after all.
However when someone demands me to look a certain way because of the idea that hair is gross, or that they want to make fun and SHAME people who have hair or those who like it (this was an offer I received on a separate occasion, but easily declined), then that’s when I have an issue. Being required to shave presented a hard call for me. On the one hand I was really looking forward to working and I know as much as anyone that hair grows back. On the other hand, I deeply resented the fact that I didn’t have a choice about how I was to look. As a queer and a genderqueer performer, I do porn to express my sexuality, and myself. I hope through doing so, I can add to the visibility of people who don’t fit hegemonic ideals.
Hair, come or go, is a part of that equation. I’m not going to get into the details about what company it was; who it was isn’t the point. That kind of demand is everywhere.
What is important is having a choice. The ability for me to reaffirm my choice in a conscious way, to communicate with the people involved, and to step away when I felt uncomfortable, was a good lesson for me. This was the first time I was in a position of making this sort of decision, though I realize that this situation could have not been about hair. It could have been a number of other things in which I found myself in a place where I had agreed to do something and having to decide if I needed to back out of it if it didn’t feel right for me. I am fortunate that I don’t depend on the money and that I can financially afford to decline a shoot. I don’t make my living doing porn, I’m lucky in that I decided to do it so that I could express and explore my sexuality in a safe and fun environment with people I trust and love, and hopefully invite viewers to see a part myself that they could relate to. Maybe it validates, maybe it inspires, maybe it just provides one more definition of sexuality.
This was a good test of one of my goals for 2010 — being true to myself. I’m so glad I did, and it can only get better from here.