Icons

Theme Warning: Religion, Alienation

Someone said, the other day, that hell is isolation. That hell is disconnection from the universe.

A friend and I went to the Museum of Yugoslavia. As we were walking back to the bus or trolley—can’t remember which—I understood something.

I understood another part of my fascination with the Sveti (Saint) icons. They’re representations of people—people who had real, complicated lives and have been turned into stories.

I’m far from a saint, but I have a real, complicated life. And I have been turned—numerous times—into a story. Sometimes I participate. Sometimes it happens without my input or permission. It’s a side-effect of micro-celebrity.

Note the absence of qualitative judgment.

It is what it is, and I’m not ready to give up on my work yet—neither the porn or the being human in public, not that one doesn’t stem from the other. But sometimes whatever people dump in my lap won’t wash off as easily as I’d like.

People frequently see me as a two-dimensional representation and twist my timeline to suit the narrative they have in their heads. They project their shame or their need for inspiration onto me. Sometimes with a disconcerting amount of hatred or worship in their eyes. It’s dehumanizing. It’s part of the job.

When I was a guest on the Guys We Fucked Podcast, I described this as being on a pedestal in a garbage can.

Women tell me that they absolutely adore [insert fairytale idea of my life or quality so incredibly not me that I wonder if they’ve got me confused with another performer.] Men bring me their bad behavior or their burning desire to be “good” and ask me to bless their actions, like some kind of whore priest.

This projection and desire for absolution must serve some basic human need, otherwise it wouldn’t continue. Otherwise I wouldn’t be so frequently objectified this way. We need something greater than ourselves to hang our hopes and hurts on.

In the west we’ve replaced pagan and Greco-Roman pantheon gods with the Abrahamic religions’ one-true-God, that God with kings, kings with actors and musicians, and now we’ve added reality stars and the occasional porn star to the mix.

(I’ve been told Nietzsche talks about this, but I haven’t read much of him. Maybe when I’m done thinking on religion I’ll turn back to philosophy.)

We call these entertainers icons when they reach a certain level of prowess or fame within their field. I’ve been called an icon, by members of the press and by people I considered peers until they put me on that pedestal.

When I feel so alienated that I wonder how much longer I can bear it, the saints of the Orthodox Church help me feel less weird and alone in a way that no friend or therapist can.

Sometimes, when I can herd my thoughts into something resembling a linear path, the meaning turns out to have been staring me in the face the whole time.

-Stoya

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Also published on Medium.

5 Replies to “Icons”

  1. Dear Stoya,

    Of Nietzsche’s work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is in some sense entirely about religion. That being said, if the current line of your thinking can be said to be concerned with the human repercussions of godhead (and I apologize if I am mistaken in this reading), Nietzsche comes to the issue from the opposite perspective; he deals in something that might be the forceful creation of godhead.

    Wisdom on how to handle alienation seems to be thin on the ground; being naturally opposed to the process of apotheosis, this part of the story only seems to emerge after the fact. Surely, it comes in solitude. Have you found it elsewhere?

    I hope that in your journeys you may find what you seek.

    SW

  2. Hi Stoya,

    Re: 1×0=*

    Trigger Warning: Marketing

    Hahahaha. Now I get it. Very clever.

    Re: Saints

    Did you hear Peter Holmes on Fresh Air? NPR replayed the interview today. There were a question about finding a new moral compass when you break with convention. It made me think of you. His answer is uplifting.

    TW

  3. I think part of why you fascinate people (and me, of course) is that everything you do, seems very pure. Being that intelligent and so connected with yourself and at the same time so sexually free so openly is a combination most people strive for, but for several reasons and restrictions in themselves, they don’t succeed. So I think that’s where the admiration comes from. At least mine does. You musn’t be a saint, but the way you write and think about life is something I enjoy reading very much. Like a wholesome view of the world, not leaving out the pain, the dirt, the fear, nor the lust or anything else.

  4. Good and hard to find a blog from a porn-star with these deep thinks… Keep pushing this way, Stoya.

    We have been de-humanized in many ways, but our inner faiths, our inner religion, moreover our inner core, cannot be de-humanized nor changed. Preserve it and you will become greater.

    “Be your own hero”. Kisses.

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