Orgasms improve your mental health, according to the National Library of Medicine. But what about when it's your profession? I’ve been a sex worker for almost 4 years, and as a maker of farm-to-table authentic, bisexual and queer porn, I’ve been cumming like it’s my job (literally).
Do performers fake orgasms in porn sometimes? Definitely. However, the landscape of porn is changing. With more subscription sites providing a direct channel to your favorite adult star, you simply don’t have to participate in studio-produced movies to be in the adult industry.
This shift means that more independent content creators, or “amateur porn stars” are able to take on a larger role within the industry. Within my experience in amateur porn, I’ve found that a lot of the time people are enjoying themselves enough to orgasm similar to how they would “in real life”. And for anyone who’s ever needed to sleep or nap after having an orgasm, that’s because sex and physical intimacy can be exhausting as well as rewarding.
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There’s lots of debate of whether or not sex work is work, but I can tell you for sure that after shooting I feel like I’ve just done a bootcamp class. Not only is it physically demanding, both in terms of posing at unusual angles for photos and then actually having sex, but it is emotionally demanding as well. To create that real chemistry that makes good porn and helps the viewer connect with the performers, you have to put your heart into it as well as your body. Even if I’m performing alone, connecting with the camera still requires emotional labor, and perhaps even more as you don’t have the energy of another person to play off of.
With all of that going on, post-shoot I am laid out! So it is incredibly important to have a self-care routine for my well-being, both for body and mind. A few self care tips to live by: The very first thing I do after a scene is go to the bathroom to make sure I avoid UTIs. Then, I usually take a hot shower, which relaxes my muscles and provides a place to calm down after the excitement of the scene. Sometimes my co star joins me, which can make it a little crowded but we get a place to decompress together and we are often in a silly mood.
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After that, I make sure to use my Momotaro Apotheca Salve, and offer it to anyone else who might need it. It's my go to after a scene because it calms any inflammation and balances my pH, which could have been thrown off by a costar or any toys we might have used. It’s been my practice for years, even before I started working with Momotaro. I’m a true believer! I used this product even before I became a sex worker, because semen is a different pH than our vaginal microbiomes, and some lube ingredients can also disrupt your pH. Recently, I’ve also made it a habit to use the suppositories if I think my pH will be really thrown off by something in the scene, and I always take the probiotic as a preventative measure as well, consistency is key! Since my vulva is working, I have to make sure she’s at her best!
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One thing I think can be really taxing mentally about making porn is that you are the product that is being marketed and sold. And truthfully, thinking about yourself and how you are presenting yourself all the time can be a very odd experience. Not to mention receiving comments daily on your body, which can range from positive to very negative and hurtful, especially since I’m considered to have a bigger body in the industry. After a couple years I’ve developed a thick skin, but it doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable to experience people speaking about your body this way.
I’ve tried a lot of ways to do mental/emotional self-care after work, and the one of best discoveries I’ve made is reading! It takes me completely out of myself in a way that I find relieving and relaxing. The ability to immerse yourself in another world is incredibly freeing. My favorite genre is romance, especially fantasy romance. It’s so immersive and completely takes me into the world of whatever I’m reading. Whether it's reading or taking a walk, it's important to take time offline, and away from your professional life, or digital social channels. Because our brains are consuming far more information than they are accustomed to or are wired for, rest from digital media is crucial, even for those who do not work in the adult industry. As the weather gets warmer (but truly I’ll walk even when it’s cold), I’ve also been taking a lot of walks and listening to music or a podcast. Getting my blood flowing and some fresh air always changes my perspective on my day and makes me feel more positive.
Porn stars– they have to take care of their mental health just like us!
Meet the Author
Ivy Vernalis (she/her) is a sex worker and writer from Brooklyn, NY. She is passionate about the decriminalization of sex work and her plants. Follow her @plant.gal.