Acting

I’ve always had a thing about the term “porn actor.” The phrase never felt accurate when applied to my work. Sure, some of the on-camera talent in pornography thinks of what they do as acting, but I don’t. I think of my day job as performing.

Yes, many of the scenes I’ve done during my career contain what we refer to as “set-up” or dialogue. This precursor to sex is usually treated as secondary and the more vocal consumers often express derision for it. The shooting conditions rarely allow for more than a handful of takes per angle. There’s no rehearsal.

The actual sex scenes are easiest to do all in one take. Every pause or stop reduces the energy. They’re more like a feat of athletic prowess. The bulk of the story—a very simple one that focuses on physical sexuality—is told with the body, not the mouth. This makes performing in porn more like dancing to me than acting.

So then why am I talking about acting? I’ve done some.

———

A couple of years ago I went to Serbia to make a movie. (Lazar Bodroza and Dimitrije Vojnov’s Ederlezi Rising, releasing 2018) I’d agreed to do the project based on a five-page treatment. It sounded like a challenge, and I like Serbia.

Securing the funding took years. There were rehearsals and coaching and screen tests before the actual shoot, and the actor I’d initially worked with was replaced.

Just before we began principal photography, we had another week of rehearsals. We tried each scene multiple ways, with different sets of blocking. I had to learn a few simple martial arts moves, and how to safely perform them, so we drilled that all week as well.

We shot an average of two scenes per day. When we thought we’d gotten the shot, everyone would gather around the monitor to watch it. One time I noticed that my hand was contradicting both my statements and the rest of my body language, so we re-did the scene.

Days were almost exactly twelve hours. There was a single instance of overtime at the request of both the lead actor and I, and we were only granted one more take, so only a few minutes. Everything was precise.

———

From late October to late November, I was in a play. (Ian W. Hill and Dean Haspiel’s Harakiri Kane or Die! Die, Again!!) It started with a reading in Phil Cruise’s living room so Dean could hear the play out loud. Then Phil asked if I’d participate in a public reading. Apparently these things are useful for feedback.

Later, around the time Ian decided to direct the show, they asked if I’d be interested in doing theater. It sounded like a challenge, and by this point I liked the people who were involved.

I read with potential lead actors during casting. We did another private reading and rehearsed. About a week and a half before the show opened we did a run-through as a group. That was when I realized I was about to be in a play, in New York City, with a bunch of experienced and well trained people. I started to get nervous.

See, there’s no doing it over or checking your script in live theater. There’s no “let me try it a different way since the timing didn’t quite land on that one.” There’s no “oops, when do I talk?” You have to remember your lines, blocking, which emotions change at what points, and—the most difficult for me—to project your voice.

A few minutes before the house opened for the first show I started to feel the physical symptoms of nervousness—the dizziness, pounding heart, sweat. They stopped when the show started. Weirdly, they came back about 15 minutes after I got home. Like the adrenaline of showtime had given me a pause but not a reprieve.

I started to relax around halfway through the ten show run. The last show, of course, is where I did my best work.

———

It turns out there’s a commonality with all three types of work (pornography, video acting, and stage acting) of being in the present moment, in the little bubble contained by the viewer or lens. If they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I was surprised by the differences between video and stage acting. Stage is much more difficult, but the sense of accomplishment is stronger and occurs after every show. There’s a stronger connection to the audience and there’s immediate feedback. Both can be very fun with the right people.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I don’t tend towards flowery speeches of gratitude. I am grateful to every person who came to see the show. A full house that is engaged with what they’re seeing makes the experience of performing that much better. An audience that participates—gasps, cringes, laughs—is the best reward.

Thank you.

-Stoya

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Gravity

“You have a siren-like effect on me.”

“Good thing you’ve also got a self-preservation instinct.”

Actually I’d had no idea. They’ve always got this air about them when they leave, as though they’ve turned their gaze to the next thing and are striding purposefully towards it. Instead, it turned out to be a glimpse of the discipline it takes to tear themselves away and handle necessary tasks.

The amount of time we’ve spent ruefully sharing feelings we’d thought were obvious is significant. Two people, both assuming the other is far less invested, trying to avoid appearing too eager.

———

The previous night they’d referred to me as the center of gravity.

There’s a mountain of comments stashed somewhere in my brain, some accusing me of behaving like the center of the universe, others going to far as to call me a goddess. This gravity metaphor felt like neither. It felt like a refreshingly appropriate way to romanticize a human, from earth.

A humanizing glorification, if you will.

———

There’s a terrifying responsibility that comes with being an important part of someone’s life. To disappear abruptly is to cause pain. Non-matching speech and actions stirs up fears related to attachment.

Withholding emotions or life events says things, like a speech act does, and sometimes the things said are not what we mean. We communicate so much with our bodies and our silences.

(And I’d rather be a fish-woman or part of physics than a myth or an astral feature.)

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Photo Orgy

We had a bit of a photo orgy yesterday.

Sweetpea was in town from the midwest. Steve had her over for a photo session, and I asked if I could jump in with my camera. Sweetpea graciously agreed, and Steve asked if he could roll video.

Things you should know about Sweetpea: She has long pointed fingernails that Widget has fallen in love with. She’s an encyclopedia of early queer/dyke culture and art. She’s hilarious in an ambient, accidental sort of way.

Since I already had makeup on (thanks to a last minute loan of foundation from T the previous night—why does that stuff expire so quickly?) we figured we might as well do a set of nudes together. It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to shoot with another woman.

I pulled out some strappy stuff Marika Vera sent from her most recent collection. Sweetpea commented on the total demeanor change that occurs when I step in front of the camera to pose: toes pointing, back arching, facial expressions intensifying.

More things to know about Sweetpea: Her skin smells like lemon mixed with olive oil, which I associate with off-duty strippers for some reason. This makes sense, since she’s a burlesque performer.

Later Steve photographed her on the floor covered in non-dairy coconut ice cream.

As Sweetpea was waiting for the instax to be scanned Steve regaled us with an act he’d seen at Hellfire where the performer cooked a breakfast bagel on stage. It was a good day.

Meanwhile, the Sex Lit: Story of the Eye event went so well that we’re doing another in October. Details below:

House of Scorpio presents Sex Lit: Stoya’s Book Club

Sunday, Oct 15*, 6:30-9:30pm, $20 (limited tickets), 21+ (25+ suggested)

Gemini & Scorpio Loft in Gowanus, BK – see site for address

No PAL or dress code requirement, but HoS Code of Conduct always applies

Rules, RSVP & location: http://www.houseofscorpio.com

Tickets: https://sexlit.brownpapertickets.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/364666787299654

FL: https://fetlife.com/events/593531

The body’s largest sex organ is the brain. Come stimulate yours with a rousing discussion of a classic sexuality book led by pornographer Stoya. Drinking encouraged throughout, and mingling will follow the talk.

Stoya’s Book Club, a teaser: http://bit.ly/2uQRzvh

Your book for this edition of Sex Lit is Ann Rice’s “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty.” The Sleeping Beauty Quartet is a series of four novels written by Anne Rice under the pseudonym of A. N. Roquelaure (The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, Beauty’s Release, and Beauty’s Kingdom). They are erotic BDSM novels set in a medieval fantasy world, loosely based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. Highlights include both maledom and femdom scenarios amid vivid imageries of bisexuality, homosexuality, ephebophilia and pony play.

This should be obvious, but: read the book before joining the book club!

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Friend Love

I’m so happy F was there to meddle. I wanted to reach out earlier this year but I could see from the internet that you were busy with hugely important political work. I was afraid of introducing turmoil into your life when you seemed already swamped.

When F came up and asked if I’d like to talk to you I said what I’ve been saying for months, which was “if she would like to talk to me.”

I didn’t want to make a scene in the middle of Molly’s birthday party. I watched from across the apartment while he asked if you were willing to come to me in the kitchen.

As soon as I saw you nod your head in assent my face crumpled up in that ugly-happy way that photographs terribly because it’s so genuine.

It felt like the conclusion to a Lifetime drama about estranged friends. I suppose that’s a sign of how epically I’ve missed you.

A wise science fiction writer once said something along the lines of real being what doesn’t disappear when you stop looking at it. I was pleasantly surprised to find you hadn’t disappeared. That we haven’t disappeared.

I know you did the best you could last year. Intellectually I’ve always known that, it just took a very long time for the rest of me to get there. I floated home and can barely wait to catch up properly.

Love, I hug you, I kiss you. I’m so happy to have you in my life again.

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Hellfire and Socialist Sex

There’s a burlesque troupe in NYC called Wasabassco. They do an extra-risque monthly show called the Hellfire Club and I was able to catch it last weekend.

There’s something about boldly gyrating women. Like, ok, the news is terrifying but Nasty Canasta comedic timing is spot-on. Yeah, we might actually be headed to hell in a hand basket but Sydni Devereaux’s beautiful face is still beautiful and she makes the most engaging expressions with it on stage.

Hope in hilarious hedonism, as it were.

———

In preparation for the first Sex Lit event I read through Bataille’s Erotism. I think the context of his philosophy is important to understanding his earlier pornographic work.

In chapter 11 Bataille says “There are people who turn up their noses at these statistics, but for all their imperfections can they not see how valuable a Soviet Kinsey Report would be?”

I found it difficult to imagine that there wasn’t one. So I emailed a friend of mine who writes about politics and people, and pays attention to sexuality.

My friend turned up a work called General Sexual Pathology from the mid 70s. He also mentioned that there is a Serbian word for multiple men lined up to have sexual intercourse with a woman.

———

I’ve always been curious about gang bangs. Why we call them gang bangs instead of fuck puddles or cock buffets. Why the bangee is so frequently shown in a position of submission, with the bangers standing over them.

So what is this Serbian word and how aggressive are the connotations of it? Do the political systems of a population change the dynamics of group sex?

If you were subscribed to my Tiny Letter you’d have received this via email.

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Belgrade, I Love

We’d just returned to my apartment from a museum. They turned to me and asked “If you could do anything you wanted to right now, what would it be?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. I would go to Belgrade and walk in a spiral.

Belgrade makes me vibrate. There’s no other way to describe it. Every time I enter the place it’s akin to a religious experience. I miss it when I’m gone, flipping through my cyrillic flashcards as a poor substitute.

(Not to imply that learning another alphabet is wasted time.)

The first time I went to Belgrade I remember thinking there was a brittle sort of joy. Mine or theirs doesn’t matter so much as the fact that the second I landed at Nikola Tesla airport I wanted to hug the concrete sidewalk.

The weather was cold and I kept to the new side. All I did was walk around the residential area, talk with the hotel’s bartenders, and breathe the air.

Belgrade makes me feel more alive. So alive that other times in other cities feel like a disappearing dream, or some lukewarm pantomime of living.

The second time I went to Belgrade the weather was warm and I stayed around the corner from the former US Embassy (it was vacated after being set on fire a couple of times during a war.) I was happy to just lay on the floor in the late evening, listening to the city wind down.

Frankly, Belgrade makes me feel like I do when I’m fucking—the sensory input of something as simple as a gentle breeze lights up the nerve endings in my skin.

I remember noticing that I was free to walk around without harassment, that catcalls and wolf whistles were (delightfully) absent. It was the same in Greece and Turkey.

During my third visit I felt so safe I finally was able to fall apart, something that had been a long time coming. I had responsibilities at home, but leaving as scheduled is one of my deepest regrets.

I want to know the city deeply, memorize its streets and small landmarks, be able to visualize its monuments when I close my eyes.

Beograd volim te, will you ever feel like mine?

If you were subscribed to my Tiny Letter you’d have received this via email.

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Sex Lit. (the preamble)

I’m told I can be condescending in Professor Stoya mode, and my high school diploma was acquired through the mail. Regardless, I’m sometimes called upon to explain things—pornography, human sexuality, basic genital anatomy.

I’m prone to whipping books off of shelves and sending them home with people. I’ve also been known to pull Penelopi Jones’s clitoral structure ring (given to me by the artist a few years ago) out of a drawer to use as a prop.

A sexual partner once joked about putting a square of chalkboard paint above my bed like a headboard. I’ve received a number of inquiries from university students over the years, and have threatened to put together a syllabus.

I’m also deeply interested in pornography as a form of media. Not only does it reflect and inform sexual practices and fantasies, it sometimes incorporates or directly addresses issues of politics, race, and gender roles.

To that end, House of Scorpio (Brooklyn) and I are starting a local event called Sex Lit. It’s like Stoya’s Book Club, in real life. Details follow:

House of Scorpio

presents

Sex Lit: Stoya’s Book Club

Sunday, Sep 17*, 6-9pm, $20 (limited tickets), 21+ (25+ suggested)

Gemini & Scorpio Loft in Gowanus, BK – see site for address

No PAL or dress code requirement, but HoS Code of Conduct always applies

Rules, RSVP & location: http://www.houseofscorpio.com

Tickets: https://sexlit.brownpapertickets.com

The body’s largest sex organ is the brain. Come stimulate yours with a rousing discussion of a classic sexuality book led by pornographer Stoya. Drinking encouraged throughout, and mingling will follow the talk.

For the first session we’ll delve into Georges Bataille’s Story of Eye, a 1928 novella that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers.

Reading the book beforehand is encouraged.

On Distraction

I just wanted to blow him and can’t recall why. Maybe I felt like having sex but didn’t feel like taking my panties off, didn’t want to be penetrated. Maybe it was a sudden whim for dick in my mouth.

Sometimes it’s fun to go into a sexual interaction with focus on another human. Forget my body, ignore anything that could be a distraction, inhale their balls.

Maybe this doesn’t happen for you. Maybe the gender you prefer is different. Maybe you’re not into oral sex.

He has this thing about prioritizing female pleasure. There’s a whole flock of adult men who internalized the same values and carry the same concern about being “that guy.” You know, the technical cartoon one who ejaculates, rolls over, and immediately starts snoring.

It’s lovely in a lot of ways. Sometimes it backfires and they start counting orgasms. Overall though, better a sexual partner care to the point of nervousness than not care at all.

But back to that blowjob. I wanted to focus on it, he wanted to run his fingers over my labia. I grabbed his wrists, gently planted them next to his hips, and watched as he immediately rolled his dominant hand out of my grip.

I thought “Well, no need to broach the subject of being tied up.” I said “Not naturally submissive” and one or the other of us broached it later.

If you were subscribed to my Tiny Letter you’d have received this via email.

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But What is Porn-Porn?

Apneatic was in my kitchen the other day. She’s a human nude model, not a personification of sleep disorder.

She was describing a shoot she’d done recently, and Steve Prue said he didn’t realize she’d started shooting porn-porn (as opposed to soft-porn, art-porn, sort-of-porn.) Both of us turned to him all like “That isn’t really porn-porn,” prompting him to ask what the demarcation line of porn-porn is.

I shouted, as I do, that it’s only really porn when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a spelling error on the 2257 age verification documents. It’s only really porn when you dread some kind of cop busting in demanding to see that paperwork.

It’s only really porn when VISA gives you a hard time and AmEx won’t even touch you. When you don’t know when your bank account might be closed, much less have any chance of getting a small business loan.

When you’re shut out of PayPal, paying ~13% instead of ~3% for a payment processor. When Big Cartel will host your store but you can’t sell videos because that violates Stripe’s TOS.

When you’re unsearchable on Patreon/Tumblr/etc., waiting for Facebook or some armchair hacker to out your legal name—making it easier for strangers to call every aspect of you garbage, instead of just your public persona.

I’d add it’s only really porn when doctors routinely insist on an even fresher HIV test than the  one you just had done the prior week, but that’s specific to on-camera talent.

Clearly, I’m a bit tired of art dudes collecting the street cred of pornography while knowing that they can talk their way out of trouble if they shoot in the streets, while Kickstarting their books, while keeping their mainstream clients.

Even though a lot of those dudes are acquaintances, and some them are close friends and confidants. Their nipples are not a deleting offense on Instagram, and mine are.

It isn’t about sharing the suffering so much as it is sharing the effort to get access to the same level of infrastructure that media companies who broadcast hardcore violence or hateful misogyny get to use.

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Before I installed a sufficient buffer in between myself and the comments section, I noticed some things. The most topical being the way that my smiles and laughter during sex scenes resonate with some people as “not how real women have sex” or just “fake.”

The thing is—I tend to be even more giggly off camera. A and I are particularly boisterous together. Learning the knack of spanking seems to be only as high of a priority for him as blowing a solid raspberry.

(I’m into it, in case that wasn’t clear.)

Last night though, mid finger stroke across my clitoris, A said something about Uber.

Immediately my mind jumped to some discussion of Jon Ronson’s audio-only piece on Manwin (currently operating under the name MindGeek), piracy, and independent pornography. My vulva went “NOOOOO, we’re doing something fun” while my brain went “80% of pornography is viewed through them. MONOPOLY.”

And, you know, monopolies aren’t particularly sexy to me. He quipped about only name-dropping Lyft or Juno from now on when we’re in a bed, and the laugh was as good for me as the orgasm that followed.