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Christoper Daniel Zeischegg, a.k.a. DannyWylde, is a pornographer, writer, and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, California. He updates his personal blog at http://trvewest A friend and fellow adult performer, Paris Kennedy, invited me to her place for dinner. Over a meal of home-cooked vegetable lasagna , she and her partner, adult fetish producer Alex Bettinger, proposed an idea. “We want to start a book club,” Bettinger told me. “But for people in the industry.” “Sounds like fun,” I replied. “It would be more than just a club,” added Bettinger. “I’d like for us to have filmed roundtable discussions on each book we read. And I’d like to put some excerpts online for people to watch.” “So what would we be reading?” I asked. “I’d like to start with this.” Bettinger handed me a paperback by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges, titled Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. It’s not what I expected. I thought we’d be picking out cherished novels and sharing them with a group of friends. But Bettinger and Kennedy have something different in mind. They want in-depth discussions on the nature of our industry. And they want to start with Chris Hedges’s stance on pornography. That stance, I soon learn, is one of virulent criticism. “I recommend reading the whole thing,” said Bettinger, “but I’d like for you to at least finish the chapter on porn.” “It’s actually very interesting,” Kennedy added. “It takes a lot to hold my attention when I’m reading something like that.” By that, she means a fierce attack of her chosen profession. “Hedges has some valid points, but it’s not an academic piece,” said Our Pornography Christopher Daniel Zeischegg a.k.a. Danny Wylde Bettinger. “It’s a polemical piece. He takes what I believe are extreme examples, and uses them to build the foundation of his argument.” “Well, let me write down the title, and I’ll see if I can pick it up at the local book store,” I said. “No,” replied Bettinger. “This copy’s for you.” The following day, I begin reading. The second chapter, “The Illusion of Love,” deals exclusively with pornography. Hedges’s central point is that porn strips away human qualities of connection, such as love and intimacy, and offers only cruel, superficial, and often brutal sex. On the topic of female adult performers, Hedges writes, “The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation .”1 Hedges does not write that sometimes women in porn serve no other purpose but to satisfy men and beg for sexual abuse. He doesn’t write that often or usually women serve such a purpose. His claim is all encompassing: all porn portrays and perpetuates sexual violence, often against women. Hedges primarily interviews individuals who share his beliefs. Shelly Lubben, an ex-porn star and founder of the Christian outreach program Pink Cross, describes porn performers as drug users who need to numb themselves, adding that they check out mentally, and “turn themselves off emotionally and die.”2 Another ex-porn star, Patrice Roldan (a.k.a. Nadia Styles), talks about her time as a performer, “I would say, ‘Treat me like a little slut,’ or ‘I’m your bitch,’ or ‘Fuck me like a whore.’ I would say the most degrading things I could say about myself because I thought this was what it meant to be sexy and what people wanted to hear . . . You are just a slut to those who watch. You are nothing.”3 Even interviews with people still active within the industry do nothing to paint a brighter picture. Adult film director Jim Powers tells Hedges that years ago porn stars were actresses who were serious about their work. But now, “They are hookers. They don’t care. They are a throwaway commodity in a throwaway world.”4 Hedges continues his assault on the industry by describing the racist depictions of ethnic minorities in many porn films, the outrageous circuslike acts performed, the misogynistic language plastered on DVD box covers and websites, and the seemingly atrocious exploitation of unwilling participants. He concludes, “the violence, cruelty, and degradation of porn are expressions of a society that has lost the capacity for empathy.”5 After setting down my copy of Empire of Illusion...


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