Love & Sex

On Life After Porn

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The director of the new film After Porn Ends discusses his findings.

If you've ever had a moment of clarity in the middle of an internet-porn binge and wondered, "Hey, I wonder what the future has in store for the two (or more) naked people on the screen before me," well… you're not alone. Director Bryce Wagoner's new documentary After Porn Ends follows twelve retired porn stars attempting to settle into a new life. We spoke with Wagoner about the film and his findings.

What inspired this film?
I was working on the set of another film, and a couple of guys across the stage were laughing about watching "vegetable porn." Which is exactly what it sounds like it is. My buddy A.J. said, "Man, how the fuck do you live your life after you do that?" And I started thinking, "Yeah, what does happen? How do you do anything after you do porn? What happens?" And when I was in college, I was a fan of Jerry Springer — it was new, it was funny and ridiculous — and I remembered that there was a porn star on there named Bianca Trump. She was really bombastic. That stuck in my head too. I mean, she was beautiful, and I kept thinking, "What happened to Bianca Trump?" I found her story, which was, in a nutshell, that she was kicked out of the state of Florida under suspicion for attempted manslaughter and was also running an escort service there. And then she joined the Aryan Nation and was dating the head of the Aryan Nation, but then was kicked out of the Aryan Nation when they found out she'd had sex with black guys when she did porn. But she was still secretly dating the head of the Aryan Nation when she was pulled over by the police, and they found a body in the trunk. So she went straight to prison. And I just knew there was in movie in there

What surprised you in the process of making this film? What preconceptions did you have that were challenged?
For one thing, I thought that everybody who did porn was rich. You know, I'm just a good ol' boy from the mountains. And even out in L.A., when you're living in Hollywood, all that porn is done out in the Valley, and usually deep in the Valley at that. And the only pictures that you actually see, are, you know, them driving fancy cars, the award shows, looking fabulous. There's a real front to it. But the truth is the exact opposite. I was surprised to see that for even some of the top "contract girls," their contract was for seventy-five-thousand dollars a year. And they're really having to hustle to get every dollar that they can. I was really surprised by that. Especially considering that at one point the porn industry was taking in around fifteen-billion dollars a year — you'd think they would share the wealth a little bit.

I've watched the documentary several times now, and each time I come out liking a different performer more. Did any story reach out to you specifically?
Yeah, honestly, a couple did. Tiffany Million — if the world was going to end tomorrow, you'd want her at your back. She reminds me a lot of my mom, who was a tough broad. She would do anything for her family, anything. And Tiffany did that. She's an amazing woman. And the other was Randy West. This a guy that who, before porn, had a huge, amazing career as a baseball player. Those are the two that really stuck with me. And I don't think I've met a more interesting or wonderful human being than John Leslie. He was a great dude.

In the film's epilogue, you note that several of the retired stars have gone back into the business. Do you think this is an easy cycle to get caught up in?
I do, and in this economy, it's not going to get better anytime soon. You're seeing a lot more of it. I'm not sure if you keep up with the business, but I keep up with my cast, and four more people have re-entered the business. But then again, two of the people have retired again. So, it's tough, man. It saddens me, and not because I think it's degrading what they do. What saddens me is that they wanted to leave and live different lives, and they had to take a step back.

Certain people in the film argue that women have a harder time in the porn industry than men. Do you think that's true?
Yeah, I do. Randy said it best: "You know guys — we'll high-five each other when we get laid." And I mean — this happened out in public — some guy came up to Randy and he was like, "Man, you're amazing! Can I shake your dick?" Women in porn are purely masturbatorial material, which means they're disposable, and I think that's what happens to a lot of the women in the industry.

Do you have a favorite porn star currently?
No, not really. I'm not a big consumer of it. I've met some people in the business who I like and who are really nice. If I was to say that somebody, who has a future in front of them, not just in porn, but in life, I'd say that would be Brooklyn Lee. I've gotten to know her outside of the industry. I hope the best for her.

What do you think makes a porn performer a star?
I think it's similar to what makes an actor a big star — that ability to transcend the screen to the viewer. And to touch something that you can't touch with just words and emotions. You see Robert Downey, Jr., and it looks like he's speaking to every single individual in the audience. And on the female side, I'm a big fan of Jessica Chastain. On screen, she's the woman that every woman wants to be and men want in their lives. I think for a porn star, that happens too. It's more than just a masturbatory thing — they have to have a certain aura.

James Deen has a growing female fan base. Is there a trend towards more women liking porn?
I think that there might be. Now there are a lot of really good-looking dudes. I love Ron Jeremy and all, and he's a big supporter of our film, but, if you put him next to James Deen's headshots…

If the opportunity ever came along to star in your own porn film, would you take it?
My penis is way too big for that. I don't think anyone could handle it.