Black as a Sex and Subject Position in Porn

Rolling Stone on 10 June 2020 published a terrific article by EJ Dickson titled “Racism in Porn Industry Under Scrutiny Amid Nationwide Protests”. Dickson interviews Ana Foxxx, Ricky Johnson, Demi Sutra and others who lay out strong critiques of the porn industry’s anti-Blackness: how it produces anti-Black imagery and how agents, porn companies and producers, along with performers who go along with or embrace it, create a rigidly racialized economic caste among performers with Black performers being denied opportunity after opportunity. Dickson towards the end of the piece quotes a white producer for the white-owned Vixen Studios subsidiary Blacked.com. Dickson writes that Mike Moz “defended the practice of offering higher rates for white performers doing their first scenes with Black men” with Moz saying, “Within the industry, any kind of first has a value on it. You’re vying for those firsts.”

I quoted several performers in an earlier piece about the “firsts” Moz refers to and how this creates a separate job entirely for Black performers:

The higher earning potential happens in two ways. White women performers, especially successful ones, often follow a progression of roles. Lexington Steele describes it, “There are situations where it could be the industry, whether it’s her boyfriend, her husband or management that suggests she either doesn’t do [interracial] at all, or waits until a certain time when her rates can appreciate over time. Where it’s: girl-girl to boy-girl to anal to DP [double penetration] to, and then the ultimate she can charge her most is when she finally does interracial.” This is career path is unavailable to Black women performers whose scenes are always already “racial” but never “inter” from an earning perspective, even when explicitly pointed out as such. For example Nyomi Banxxx recalled about a scene with a white male performer, “I had this conversation with my agent. I had this conversation with a director, because we were arguing about rate. I said, ‘I need to get paid for an interracial rate, IR.’ ‘No that’s not IR.’” This is one reason why Misty Stone says, Black performers “do the same amount of work but [white performers] get different opportunities.

The “firsts” Moz defends are a series of sexual acts with Black being the most expensive act white ciswoman performers can do. Here Black is both a subject position and sex position that subordinates and stigmatizes Black performers. It says, “Look! A Black!” in the exact same sense Fanon means. This gives lie to Moz’s claim that Blacked will no longer “use terms like ‘BBC’ and ‘interracial’ in its marketing copy.” The subject and sex positions are in the very name “Blacked”. It implies interracial through using Black as a verb, a transgression action crossing a border between subject positions, contaminating white purity. If Blacked is truly ending it’s use of the term “interracial” in marketing then it is simply substituting “Blacked” for it as interracial was always redundant to the company name.

When the unnamed director told Banxxx, “No, that’s not [interracial]” to her demanding a higher rate for doing a scene with a white performer, they demonstrated porn’s anti-Black labor regime, how it uses Black as a verb to describe a contaminating, corrupting element. Black women are prohibited from this being already “Blacked”. The industry constructs this labor regime intentionally. One quite lightskinned Black performer told me years ago that her agent did not want her to market herself as Black so she would have better economic opportunities in the industry if coded as ‘latina’ or ‘Asian’. Anti-Blackness explicit in the industry as Dickson’s article lays out and Moz confirms and as Ana Foxxx, Ricky Johnson, Scarlett Bloom, Demi Sutra, Lotus Lain and so many other performers have been campaigning against for some time, including increasingly publicly outside of the sex work industry over the past couple weeks.