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Porn Star Interview Analysis

By: Dr Joan Mason-Grant
Academic Dean, Women's Studies
King's College
February, 2002

Dr. Mason-Grant was asked to comment on the Gazette article, "Beautiful porn star bares it all for the Gazette", Friday, January 11, 2002, which seems to imply that pornography is healthy.

It is tempting to openly doubt that Sabrina Johnson is as thrilled as she claims to be her "dream occupation." There is plenty of evidence from workers in the industry that conditions are often rotten. But it is a mistake to venture down this path – it would be inappropriately psychologizing Johnson without knowing her story.

However, it is appropriate to ask what role such a published interview plays in the normalization of gender roles and sexual expectations among readers of The Gazette. In order to get at this question, one needs first to recognize that this interview is not an isolated, idiosyncratic piece of sexual entertainment. It appears within a larger media context that includes equally the proliferation of pornography (especially via the Internet) and the "pornographization" of mainstream media through prime time shows such as Temptation Island, comedy such as The Man Show, men's magazines such as Maxim and Details, women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and many music videos. The repetition of sexual scripts in such media is stunning; they all play out a very old, very troubling (hetero)sexual dynamic; men's sole aim is to pursue women they can "f**k" (any woman will do as long as she has the right body proportions); and women's sole aim is to be sexually pleasing and available to men. Men pursue and women are prey. This is nothing other than the central power dynamic of heterosexual rape and gang rape. But this doesn't look like a problematic dynamic if we can be convinced that women are naturally insatiable and offer themselves willingly! So men who measure their masculinity according to this script want more than anything women who will serve their ever sexual fantasy willingly. The web of media mentioned above has been quite effective in delivering such women and reinforcing the sexual expectations inherent in this fantasy.

The interview with Sabrina Johnson is simply more of the same. It presents a woman who is cheerfully willing; willing to be exhibitionist, willing to regularly have sex in front of cameras, and most extraordinarily, willing to be f**ked by 2000 guys over a 48 hour period. Indeed, to put the point bluntly, while the interview pretends to present Sabrina Johnson "the woman," replete with personal history, the emphasis on her "biggest achievement" to date makes it clear that she aspires to be nothing more than an anonymous vaginal hole for 2000 anonymous penises. And that's all her male fans want of her, and hope from other women. Perhaps the women on the staff of The Gazette – Dale Wyatt's colleagues – have similarly high hopes for themselves? Or are they and their more mature male friends and colleagues, like everyone else in the culture, just ignoring this stuff, hoping it'll go away? It's more likely that they are doubting their own averse reactions, not knowing how to articulate them for fear they will be dismissed as overly prudish or, worse, "feminist". So they roll with it and try not to be uptight. That's how normalization works.

Volume 95, Issue 56
Friday, January 11, 2002

Beautiful porn star bares it all for

Sabrina Johnson explains why she
loves her job as a porn star.
By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

People come and go rather quickly in the porn industry.
     Only a few are able to develop any kind of staying power, while others simply try it out of curiosity. Yet, over the last five years, Sabrina Johnson has worked hard to build worldwide recognition and make a name for herself as a top porn actress.
     Johnson first exploded onto the scene in the mid-90s and has accomplished what some only hope to do in a career. She has made over 100 movies and set the record for the world's largest gang bang. However, despite her busy schedule, Johnson was kind enough to find some time to answer a few questions for The Gazette.
The Gazette: Describe yourself as a child and then as a teenager. What was your personality like?

Sabrina Johnson: I was a regular 'goody two shoes,' always doing what was expected of me. I never wore the wrong uniform at school, always got my homework done on time, didn't hang around with the "cool" gangs because they usually got into trouble. But there was always something bubbling away underneath the surface, the rebel that needed to get out.

The Gazette: At what age did you first have sex and what was the experience like for you?
SJ: I first had sex when I was 16. It was with Carl, who is now my husband. The experience was a good one – it hurt, but in a good way. It must have been good because after that, I was completely addicted to sex. Even now, I can never get enough of it.

The Gazette: How did you first get introduced to the porn industry?
SJ: At the time, Carl and I had a photographic studio in England and, one day, a photographer left a copy of Color Climax magazine with us. In the back, there was an advert for models and so we sent a photo of me to see if we got a response. After about six months, the head photographer at the magazine called and said he was interested in shooting me in a few hardcore stills sets and asked if we could be in Hamburg the next week. A few days later, we flew to Hamburg and the rest is history.

The Gazette: Why did it appeal to you at first?
SJ: The main appeal was that I'm a total exhibitionist, so the thought of not only being naked, but having sex in front of someone and getting paid is a dream occupation for me.

The Gazette: How did your family take the news when you first told them?
SJ: I didn't tell them. They found out about it from the local paper, as, at that time, we lived in England and the backward authorities were making a big deal about the fact that I was doing porn films. My parents took the news badly. I don't suppose any parent ever dreams that their youngest daughter will grow up to be a porn actress.       

      My mother said she didn't want to hear about it and felt she couldn't speak to me for about two months. My father was a lot better though. I talked to him about it and he said that as long as I was happy and safe, then that was OK, although he would much prefer it if I did something else.

     However, all of my family blamed Carl for corrupting me, though they now know that is
not the case, even though they will never admit it. The funny thing is that I have an older brother who is going to train to be a preacher.

The Gazette: What was the biggest surprise for you about the porn industry?
SJ: I suppose the biggest surprise was that everyone was so nice. On a set, it's like one big happy family, with everyone sitting around and having a laugh and a joke together. Even during an actual scene, there is a huge element of fun involved.

The Gazette: What has been your greatest achievement both in the porn industry and outside the porn industry?
SJ: Up until this point, my biggest achievement in the porn industry was to do the world's biggest gang bang with 2,000 guys. However, I would now say that – thanks to Patrick Collins at Elegant Angel – embarking on our new porn series is the biggest achievement.
Outside the industry, my biggest achievement will be the publication of my book. I am currently writing a factual book about Chicago gangsters during the period of prohibition.

The Gazette: What are some common myths about the porn industry and the people in it?

SJ: I think the most common myth is that everyone in the porn industry was abused as a child or that some other terribly traumatic event must have occurred in their childhood to make them abnormal in some way.
Also, I think people outside of the industry tend to think that it is a real seedy business and that all the companies involved are corrupt and underhanded, which is most definitely not the case. It is really a classic example of how people believe the worst about something they know very little about and do not understand.

The Gazette: What do people say or how do they react when they find out what you do for a living?
SJ: Most people are lost for words, mainly because it is the last thing they expect me to say. Occasionally they say that I don't look like the type of girl, but then once they get over the initial shock, the curiosity factor takes over and it's non-stop questions. I actually like telling people what I do because I never get tired of seeing their reactions.

The Gazette: What do you think you would be doing if you never got started in the porn industry?
SJ: That's a tough one. I think I probably would have started writing a lot earlier than I have done, as I always enjoyed writing ever since I was a kid. From the age of about 17, I was a photographic model, so I think if I had been turned down by Color Climax, I would have carried on with that side of my career.

The Gazette: Do you have any interesting projects that you are currently working on?
SJ: The most interesting, apart from my book, is the new porn series that we are involved in entitled, Sabrina Johnson, "Can I F**K You Too!" In our mind, it is completely different to anything that anyone else has done, in that it is real. By that I mean it is real real as opposed to porn real. For example, in the first film, which we just completed, we have two real couples, plus a girl and a guy who have never done anything on camera before in their lives. Also, we have live interviews on the street with ordinary people who are going about their everyday lives until we stop them and ask
them some questions about sex. It will shortly be edited and then we will decide on a launch date.

The Gazette: How long do you intend to be doing porn movies?
SJ: As long as possible, or rather, as long as I enjoy it and as long as people enjoy seeing my movies. I have said right from the very beginning that I will stop when I don't enjoy it any more and at the moment, I am having a great time.



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