I've been reviewing adult films for more than a decade. Over the course of those 10 years I've watched more than 500 porn movies, for fun and profit. OK, mostly for profit.
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My porn writing career began when, while looking for a new publishing job, I answered an ad in the New York Times and landed a position as Associate Editor of Penthouse Forum. I had experience writing "semi-smut" for friends' zines (this was the '90s, after all) but hadn't watched an adult film besides a Deep Throat viewing with friends in college; I had been always been a porn supporter but never a viewer.
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I've never been much of a prude and have always believed in freedom of speech. As such, my conscience about the porn industry always was—and still is—clear. Frankly, I felt more degraded working as a secretary than I ever did as a porn reviewer. Granted, there are women who wind up in the industry because they're drug addicts or runaways and have troubled lives. But there are plenty of women go into porn as smart, savvy businesswomen and manage to build their own empires. Brittany Andrews is a perfect example, as is Danni of Danni's Hard Drive. Plus, watching flicks of all varieties exposes the viewer to bodies and sexual preferences in all shapes and sizes. This exposure, in turn, leads to greater acceptance of diversity rather than an expectation of "perfect" bodies or fantasies.
While at Penthouse, I met and married a fellow porn reviewer. It wasn't as sexy as it sounds. We kept our work lives separate from our sex life. What might've been a carnal bonding experience never actually was. He was encouraged to slam the vids he watched for his publication while I was required to be upbeat and positive. This meant he screened things like C*m Dumpsters Volume 12, and I stuck to films I thought I might actually enjoy. I spent most of my smut-consuming time fast-forwarding to the sex scenes or through them. While it certainly occurred to me that I could mix business with (self) pleasure, watching porn was just a job.