KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Porn Stars Are People Too, Dammit: Lisa Ann’s Notre Dame Date and the Trolling of David Gregory

The media lost its marbles over a Notre Dame sports star’s date with a porn actor. Gawker ‘outs’ journalists and pols who follow porn stars on Twitter. What’s with the porn hysteria?

10.25.14 8:32 PM ET

A whole lot of people seem to have a big problem with images of sex, people who create said images of sex, and really just sex in general. Fifty Shades of Grey quickly broke records as not only the fastest selling paperback book of all-time but also the first one to sell over a million copies on Kindle. We obviously have a yearning for erotica, a need to explore our sexuality, and a desire to see (or imagine) naked bodies in acts of sexual congress. So why are there Reefer Madness-levels of hysteria over porn? Why is the sight—or mere thought—of other adults having sex thought of as grotesque, bad, or forbidden in the year 2014?

Surprise! Porn stars aren’t the villains headlines make them out to be. My past as an adult actress does not make me a “sub-human animal” (as one Daily Beast commenter put it), nor should it surprise anyone that I am in fact a decent person. Same goes for Sasha Grey. There was frenzied uproar when she participated in a literacy program to encourage kids to read. Oh no! Because porn stars are dirty and morally bankrupt, otherwise they wouldn’t be porn stars. Or so some believe. There is a certain amount of hypocrisy here, too. Oddly enough, those that protest the loudest against porn are often the ones indulging the most.

Sure, there are some XXX performers who perpetuate the worst stereotypes and perhaps even give the average non-porn consumer a bad vibe. But there are increasingly more who are well-spoken, educated, and just a little naughty. To be in the adult industry some level of sexual deviation has to occur. From exhibitionism to swinging, people have a wide variety of sexual interests but the ones that earn a living from it are thought of as corrupted. It's classic "slut-shaming."

Though it’s often seen as an immoral occupation, porn is a legitimate tax-paying business. Think about it: people having sex on camera might have produced revenue that helped pave the highway you drive to work on, the emergency services you so desperately need, or even your education. Porn is a massive industry. In fact, porn provider, MindGeek, is one of the top bandwidth consumers. With the prevalence of porn in today’s culture, you’d think people would be more understanding.

Being associated with a porn star won’t ruin your moral compass. If anything, the headlines do more damage than an affiliation with porn. Gawker made a big fuss over whom former NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory was following on Twitter, because it was a NSFW Twitter feed. It was an effective form of public shaming, which sadly prompted Gregory to respond as though he’d followed the XXX gal by accident. Being a public figure shouldn’t mean you have to open secret accounts to avoid media haggling.

Plenty of other celebrities follow porn stars and make no apologies for it. Penn Jillette openly follows adult film legends @Misstabstevens and @XXXAmberLynns on twitter. Both gals post plenty of sexy photos and no one’s making a big fuss about it. Filmmaker Adam Rifkin follows porn stars, too. So what’s the big deal when a journalist does it? Perhaps it’s because Gregory’s bio also lists him as a husband and father. And we all know you can’t be a consumer of porn and be good at those other things.

I’ve had my own share of celebrity followers. And while I’ve never posted explicit photos, one famous celebrity DM’d me to say he enjoys my tweets but couldn’t follow me for fear of association. I was both flattered and appalled. I felt like I had porn cooties. Even though a vast majority of people watch porn, the guilt by association on social media is the quickest way to broadcast that information—if anyone’s actually paying attention.

It may be safe to assume that Notre Dame football star Justin Brent watches XXX content since he was caught on a date with Lisa Ann, a world famous porn star best known for playing a parody version of Sarah Palin in the XXX porn Who’s Nailin’ Paylin? When images of the two appeared online, ESPN correspondent Darren Rovell couldn’t help himself. He took to twitter to remind the world of Notre Dame’s code of conduct where sex is concerned. Basically, pre-marital sex is a big no-no and could land Justin Brent in hot water. Notre Dame is a Catholic institution, after all. Thanks Rovell for pointing that out, all part of being a Good Samaritan, right? One date with a porn star doesn’t automatically end with countless hours of mind-bogglingly sensational sex. But even if it did (and it did, apparently), there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

It would seem porn stars are destined to carry the stigma of shame for fulfilling fantasies. Treated like tawdry celebrities, XXX performers are quickly pigeonholed and the few that break from the social mold are frequently critiqued and judged. When the media blows these things out of proportion, from a simple date to a tweet, no one seems to remember that porn stars are people too. Deal with it.