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The Victims of Pornography
Posted on Oct 11, 2009
By Chris Hedges
Patrice Roldan, 26, with black hair and a loose-fitting purple and black potato sack dress, is standing next to the Pink Cross table. Roldan, whose screen name was Nadia Styles, made her last porn film in November 2008. She starred in nearly 200 films. She is 5-foot-5, 110 pounds and wears a black scarf around her neck, black knitted stockings with knee-high black socks, and flat, black shoes. Her outfit seems calculated to be exactly what a porn star should never wear in public. She looks like a schoolteacher.
Roldan, like many of the women who drift into the porn and prostitution industry, had a difficult and troubled childhood, including a physically abusive mother. Her mother threw her out of her home when she was 17, and she spent time in homeless shelters. She answered an ad in LA Weekly that offered women $1,000 as models. This is a common doorway into the porn industry. She started appearing in Internet porn. She had a boyfriend when she began filming and tells me she “felt guilty” about hiding her porn sessions from him, but the money was good. Her boyfriend eventually found out, and their relationship descended into one increasingly characterized by verbal and physical abuse. She drifted from the Internet into films. She was 19 when she made her first film.
“Doing a movie shoot was a different experience,” she says as we sit in two folding chairs across from the Pink Cross booth. “I made my first film with New Sensations [adult video studio]. I got makeup. There was a set and cameramen all around. I thought it was glamorous to have my makeup done, to have pictures taken of me. That was a regular boy-girl shoot. At that point, I was just trying to survive.”
She had been promised $1,000 for her first film. She was handed $600 when the scene was done. She also contracted gonorrhea. Porn stars are tested for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases once a month, but “people do so many scenes between tests that a month is a long time.” She began, once she had treated her gonorrhea, to do films three or four times a month. She would have several more bouts with gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases during her career. She got pregnant and had an abortion. The demands on her began to escalate. She was filmed with multiple partners. Her scenes became “extremely rough. They would pull my hair, slap me around like a rag doll.
“The next day my whole body would ache,” she recalls. “It happened a lot, the aching. It used to be that only a few stars, people like Linda Lovelace, would once do things like anal. Now it is expected.”
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
By Chris Hedges
Nation Books, 240 pages
She became a staple in “gonzo” porn films. Gonzo movies are usually filmed in a house or hotel room. They are porn verite. The performers often acknowledge the camera and speak to it. Gonzo films push the boundaries of porn and often include a lot of violence, physical abuse and a huge number of partners in succession. According to the magazine Adult Video News, “Gonzo, non-feature fare is the overwhelmingly dominant porn genre since it’s less expensive to produce than plot-oriented features, but just as importantly, is the fare of choice for the solo stroking consumer who merely wants to cut to the chase, get off on the good stuff, then, if they really wanna catch some acting, plot and dialog, pop in the latest Netflix disc.”
Roldan would endure numerous penetrations by various men in a shoot, most of them “super-rough.” As she talks of her career in porn, her eyes take on a dead, faraway look. Her breathing becomes more rapid. She slips into a flat, numbing monotone. The symptoms are ones I know well from interviewing victims of atrocities in war who battle posttraumatic stress disorder.
“What you are describing is trauma,” I say.
“Yes,” she answers quietly.
Shelley Lubben, who also worked as a porn actress, agrees.
“You have to do what they want on the sets,” she says. “There’s too much competition. They can always find other girls. Girls bring in their friends and get kickbacks. They feel like stars. They get attention. It’s all about the spotlight. It’s all about me. They have notoriety. They don’t realize the degradation. Besides, this is a whole generation raised on porn. They’re jaded and don’t even ask if it is wrong. They fall into it. They get into drugs to numb themselves. They get their asses ripped. Their uterus hemorrhages. They get HPV and herpes, and they turn themselves off emotionally and die. They check out mentally. They get PTSD like Vietnam vets. They don’t know who they are. They live a life of shopping and drugs. They don’t buy real estate. They party, and in the end they have nothing to show for it except, like me, genital herpes and fake boobs.”
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