Bitch‘s The H-Word was an eight-week-long post series written by sex workers. Named after the pejorative term “hooker,” the goal of the series was to give sex workers — from all around the country, and from all areas of the industry — a space to talk about their lives and experiences. As Melissa Petro wrote in the introduction to the series, “We are spoken about ad nauseam but not allowed to speak.”
One piece, “Make Your Own Porn,” was written by feminist porn star Dylan Ryan. Ryan’s first foray into sex work was as a stripper, but her job at Good Vibrations would plant the seed for her future in porn. While working at Good Vibes, she would have discussions with co-worker Shine Louise Houston about starting a queer porn company. When Houston got Pink and White Productions off the ground, Ryan’s career in porn began.
But Ryan doesn’t always shoot with queer companies and directors. She encounters the stereotypes that still exist in mainstream porn, and they make it strange for her as a queer woman, especially when she’s asked to shoot soft “girl/girl” scenes.
As a queer performer, I’m asked to show a kind of sex which is not always authentic to me, one that’s less challenging when I’m having sex with a cis gendered man on camera and more challenging when I’m having sex with a woman. I sometimes feel like it’s “Here, perform homosexual sex but do it just like this. Don’t be too queer. We can’t sell that.”
I think that the bulk of my eight years has really been about talking about this, showing my authentic sexuality, performing in projects that highlight and show and discuss and reflect on sexuality . . . I think the advent of feminist porn has been hugely helpful. Feminist porn is rising to the fore these last five or so years has shone a spotlight on diverse pornographic representations, from women making porn to queer pornmakers. I think the consumer can ask for their sexuality to be better represented in porn. I decided that making porn would be great because porn I watched never did it for me. I never saw myself represented, nor did I see my sexuality portrayed. It made sense for me to try and make porn that was my sex. Though not a choice that every person could or should make, that’s another way of going about it… make your own porn. Show your own sexuality.