LOS ANGELES—The Huffington Post held a stimulating discussion on life after porn this morning with three former adult performers. The conversation was prompted by recent mainstream media focus on a piece Aurora Snow wrote for The Daily Beast, and the plight of Gauge, who said she encountered discrimination upon trying to return to the workforce after her porn career.
For the live discussion HuffPost Live chose Snow, who in her piece doesn't confess to any post-porn discrimination herself, but offers up the anecdotes of others; radio and TV personality Robin Byrd, who performed for three years in the late 1970s and appeared in roughly 13 movies; and porn historian Bill Margold, a former talent agent and porn performer.
Topics covered included the physical and mental toll porn takes on the performer, the shame and stigma they sometimes face when venturing out into the "real world," and the difficulty of breaking out of their porn persona in the eyes of co-workers.
Snow admitted she was incredibly nervous about her future when she retired from performing last year.
"It's so hard to look past porn and think what am I going to do, especially when you've been in it for over a decade," Snow said. "You forget that you have any skill set outside of porn because you get very used to doing the same job you've been doing and you feel good at it and competent and confident, and then suddenly you have to break into a different career, possibly in a different field, and you don't know if you have the skill set because in a way you've lost confidence in all your other abilities. I find that that's really common with other girls in porn."
It's interesting to note that all three panelists ventured into the media world writing and talking about sex and the porn industry after their days as performers ended. Snow covers topics related to adult entertainment on TheDailyBeast.com; Byrd hosted a long-running cable access show in New York City; and Margold has written about pornography for various L.A.-based publications for many years.
Margold was quick to point out the hypocrisy in a society that consumes seemingly endless amounts of porn, but then seeks to condemn it, along with the people in it, and shames them to a degree that makes transitioning out of porn difficult.
"We live in a hypocritical society that gets off to us with its left hand and then damns us with its right," Margold said.
Byrd notes that the industry has changed drastically since she was performing, not just on the business side, but in the kind of people that performed in adult films. In the 1970s, when the business was based in New York, it attracted sexually free and naturally rebellious people who didn't consider porn as a long-term career choice or a business decision so much as a way to express their sexuality and make a movie. Now, Snow describes, many performers see it as a career despite the average career lasting a very short time.
"We were doing it because we loved sex. Look how times have changed!" Byrd said.
When queried that she hasn't totally left the sex industry since she writes about porn, Snow said that she has a unique perspective on the business being an award-winning performer and veteran of hundreds of scenes.
"I find the adult industry very fascinating and one of the reasons I really wanted to write about it is that I feel like I've seen so many extremists," Snow said. "People are either very against it or very for it. And I feel like I'm that middle of the road voice where I can point out things that maybe aren't great about it, but I'm not against it and I'm not bashing it, but I'm not pretending that it's a perfect wonderful place either."
View the entire discussion here.