Our Porn and Politics column aims to create a dialogue around kink, polyamory and race with renowned sex professionals, performers, activists and educators, King Noire and Jet Setting Jasmine. In our most recent edition, we discussed the intricacies of Sex Work in the Time of Corona.
Since then, the killings of Ahmed Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, to name a few, have appalled the nation, leading to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. The depth of red-lining, systemic racism and overall suppression of Black communities in America are now at the forefront of the national conversation, forcing all industries and sectors to reflect upon and enact much-needed change and the porn industry is no exception.
In a recent livestream on Instagram, our conversations with King Noire focussed on drums, hip-hop and Black Liberation. Following the ethos of the Black Lives Matter movement, we decided to engage in a candid discussion surrounding issues of race within the sex industry.
Last time we spoke was before the Black Lives Matter movement. Since then, we saw you and several other people in the sex industry calling out different companies and performers for being derogatory, insensitive or just, racist. How has the response from the industry been? Have there been any policy changes, forms of acknowledgement, apologies?
Jasmine: Since our last conversation, we have seen a lot of people show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and denounce racism. However, we have not seen this quite play out in the changes of policy production or even perhaps removal of some racially charged content. We are working with the BIPOC Adult Industry Collective; We will be meeting with industry executives to ascertain the progress that has been made.
We also have a list of specific demands for the industry. Until now, we have not received any concrete forms of acknowledgement, apologies, or policy changes. We’re hoping that this meeting with the industry executives changes that.
King Noire: I’ve heard verbal apologies from industry executives, designed to protect the bottom line and insure themselves from being called out for their past transgressions of racism. However, what these industries need to realize is that their statements are hollow without any kind of action. Without action, their words are just window dressing.
Jasmine: Yes. I think it’s important to mention that King and I have been doing this work since 2010, if not earlier: speaking out very openly about racist performers, derogatory, insensitive content that’s being hosted and/or distributed by companies.
We’ve spoken directly with companies and performers who have made very little changes to their practices and policies. So just seeing people react with these hollow window dressings is disheartening, because these gestures are performative. When these issues haven’t been the focus of national attention, companies have been comfortably reinforcing racism. It’s essential to distinguish between a performance and a real commitment to change because otherwise, racist practices will continue, only on a more subtle level, which is more dangerous, in my opinion.
Do you feel the porn industry is becoming more united, divided or staying the same?
Jasmine: I believe it’s becoming more united. BIPOC performers are increasingly relying on each other for social and emotional support as well as hiring purposes. This opportunity has allowed us to be more visible to one another and to pull our collective resources together.
King Noire: I see a unification amongst performers but not amongst companies. Groups like the BIPOC collective and others have been working to come together and take care of one another, but it’s more among performers rather than being industry-wide.
Jasmine: That’s a good point. I would love to see a directors’ alliance against producing racist material or producers aligning with one another.
Are there any companies, in particular, you would like to call out or inform our audiences about, positive or negative?
Jasmine: I think that rather than calling out a particular company for good or bad practices, it’s important to teach people how to determine what is a good or bad company based on your own personal politics, values, and your life’s mission.
One of the main things that we want to help our audience do is learn how to access porn directly from the small business or enterprise that is the performer. As audiences, it is important to find performers that align with your values and preferences and access content directly through them.
This is important because while a company may house your favorite performer, how the company treats their performers is an unknown. The best way to avoid supporting a problematic organization is to support and access content form performers directly.
We highly recommend Royal Fetish Films!
Have more Black performers shared their stories through all of this?
King Noire: I think so, both positive and negative. Jasmine and I, when we first started our lectures on racism and pornography and its history, we reached out to a lot of performers who were able to share their stories with us but were uncomfortable with going public due to fears of reprisal from the industry. Now, people feel more empowered to share as a result of the larger movement.
Have you seen BLM as an opportunity to heal race relations in the sex industry? How can we move towards further healing?
King Noire: LeBron James said, “When you’re Black, it’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle.”
We’re Black. We know our lives matter. We’ve known it for years. We exist within that knowledge every single day. Now, all of a sudden, white people are actually starting to realize it as well.
Last night, I was thinking about the phrase “race relations.” Relations require two people or groups to be actively engaged. White people haven’t had a problem with being racist and holding back Black people from gains in human rights, civil rights, economic equality etc. The word “relations” doesn’t really apply here.
It’s an abusive situation. We’re not the ones who are sick. We’re not the ones who are actively pushing systemic racism, brutality, genocide in this country. We are the victims of it, unfortunately. Somehow, due to our amazing humanity, we found ways to flourish in spite of it. Black Lives Matter entails us saying, “Yo, we fucking matter. We’re here. We’re human. Pay attention to that.” But the healing of race relations, that’s on white people.
Jasmine: Racism is a sickness, a dysfunction to a human’s psyche and behavior. We cannot start providing treatment unless the person that is ill recognizes that they are sick and ready to do the work.
The sex industry does not operate in isolation. If we experience racism on our way to shoot a scene, that is going to affect the scene. Racism exists long before the filming of a fetishized sex scene. We have to acknowledge that racism is a sickness that penetrates all aspects of society.
King Noire: People focus on sectors such as the NBA and the sex industry because these are roles that people stereotypically associate with Black people. Ron DeSantis had a press conference with Florida State football players, but we don’t see him engaging in conversations with Black teachers, doctors, surgeons etc. I think these actions are interesting because they indicate which roles people are comfortable seeing Black people in.
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