Who Took the ‘Star’ Out of ‘Porn Star’?

by CALICO RUDASILL on April 10, 2014

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Calico Rudasil is a feature columnist for Sssh.com, the web’s original erotic site for women by women. With over 16 years’ experience under her belt, writing about and for the adult entertainment industry, Calico qualifies as something of a Web Porn Dinosaur; similar to a tyrannosaurus, only with far more attractive arms and a less pronounced overbite.

When I spotted a headline that read Meet the 6 porn stars of ‘Game of Thrones,’ my first thought was it might be a typo; maybe the story was actually about a porn parody version called Game of Bones, or something.

When it turned out that they really were referring to HBO’s runaway hit (and, evidently, the most frequently pirated TV show out there at the moment), my first thought was that casting six porn stars had to be some sort of publicity generation scheme relying on the “sex sells” axiom to get people chattering even more about the show than they already do.

And then I read the names and bios of the “stars” in question, and my second thought was: “Who?”

Granted, I’m not real familiar with the UK porn industry, outside of Brits like Sophie Dee who have come across the pond and made a name for themselves in the American porn market and some of the women mentioned in the piece are well-known in their own neck of the porn woods, but the article still served to remind me that in modern parlance, just about anybody who has ever performed a sex act on camera ends up being referred to as a “porn star.”

Once upon a time, back when porn movies were being made specifically for the big screen, those referred to as porn stars had a degree of name recognition that’s rare today. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that back then porn movies were made at a rate of a few per month, and the universe of performers numbered in the dozens (if that).

Even as the porn industry grew significantly through the 80s and 90s, the term still meant something; women like Ginger Lynn and Christy Canyon were “porn stars,” and their lesser known peers on the cast were “porn performers.”

Somewhere along the line, that changed. Now, you can be just some college girl one day, and a “porn star” the next – even if the “movies” you’ve appeared in amount to six-minute blowjob videos that don’t even have titles, and your “co-star” appears as nothing but a beer-gut-obscured penis seen from the Guy’s-Eye-View of a POV porn clip.

I remember being in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1998, back before the adult industry split from CES and established its own January conference in Sin City, and watching the line to get Jenna Jameson’s autograph grow until it circumscribed the entire show floor – no small feat when you consider the cavernous halls that host CES. Love her or hate her, the line to see Jenna was proof positive that she was a legit “star,” no bones (or thrones) about it.

I suppose the media is partly to blame here, given its penchant for sensationalizing just about everything related to porn. The media’s definition appears to be porn star is as porn star does, to put it Gumply.
If you’ve had sex on camera, and you don’t have a reality TV show with your name emblazoned on it that came into being after you made porn, then you’re a porn star, ipso fucking facto. (To wit: that teen mom chick, Farrah Whatsit, is forever a “porn star” now, while Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are “reality TV personalities” – or “rich, unpleasant skanks,” depending on who you talk to.)

I’m not particularly bothered by this apparent shift in the definition of “porn star,” but I do find it curious – and I can’t help but wonder if it irks porn performers who have some real foundation for considering themselves to be “stars.” Do they mind sharing that descriptor with one-and-done amateurs and people whose porn stardom only comes to light when it fucks up their after-porn careers?

What do you think? Is “porn star” a simple state of being that starts as soon as your first scene is published (in whatever form that might be), or should it be reserved for those who acquire an actual degree of fame?

Photo: Sibel Kekilli, Game of Thrones, Episode “Baelor”

Calico Rudasil is a Sssh.com columnist and Sssh will be on Peeperz for fun times again in the near future, meanwhile why not check us out:

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