OK, time for a super personal blog post about who I am and what I used to do for a living. Yes, I was some version of a porn star.
I do not hide or deny my past work because I think once you have done sex work you should be allowed the freedom and opportunity to do other work – without having to say you were a victim or a survivor if you do not identify as one.
I do not hide or deny this aspect of my life because this experience has brought me to where I am today. It has helped shape me into the woman I am today. I’m an empowered, hard-working, creative, generous and compassionate woman.
I do not hide or deny my past work because there is power in being OUT about it. My past is not a dirty little secret busy-body gossips can try to use against me. It belongs to me. While they can frame it however they want, I know the truth. So do my friends and loved ones.
I do not hide or deny my past work because I do not feel shame over finding pleasure in consensual sex and sharing the documentation of it.
I do not hide or deny my past work because other people are not comfortable with talking about sexuality in general or theirs in particular.
I know when it is appropriate to talk about sex and when it is better to be more discreet. I am a responsible and respectful adult. My friends actually find me prudish and too proper when it comes to public sex talk! I am an educator and believe in age and developmentally appropriate ways to discuss sexuality.
I do not hide or deny my past work because I know all online content (adult or otherwise, commercial or otherwise) is stolen and shared. It will live online as long as there is digital technology.
When I am 90 and in the old-folks-home some attendant will be taking care of me and then unknowingly view pics of a much younger me during their own private moments of pleasure. This type of thing happened to Bettie Page. It will happen to me. It will happen to you if you have ever taken a sexy selfie.
The Internet is forever for all of us.
I started my adult website in late 1998. I was 27 years old. I had 2 university degrees. I was unsatisfied by my work and my pay in the field of education. I was excited by the opportunity of the Internet. I was intrigued with the idea of mixing sexuality with technology and being an entrepreneur.
Back then you could pretty much visit absolutely every website in existence in a 24 hour period. The Internet was that small and the tech bubble was growing. It was a bit of a Wild West time on the World Wide Web. Especially when it came to sexual expression and like-minded communities.
Creating your own DIY porn was possible for the average person thanks to digital cameras. Distributing it without having to be dependent on mass production or big business was an attainable reality. Connecting with people who wanted to see something authentic and female driven was at the heart of our “Amateur” websites.
When I began my website I had the following mission statement.
I want to share my creative and sexual side with the world, to help change archaic beliefs about women and sex by being an example of honest sexuality, and to hopefully bring pleasure to the lives of others.
– Seska Lee 1998
Indeed, documenting my sex life in photos, videos and journal entries gave me an outlet for my creative expression and helped me develop as a sex educator and writer. Through my website work I also became active in human rights causes related to sex work, sexual health, feminism, body image politics, and migration.
I know from the emails I received from couples throughout the years that sharing my life in this way has helped them with their relationships. I also gave some a fresh perspective on women, performance and sex.
So I stumbled across your website after weeks of poking around, reverse-google-image-searching, and scouring the internet to figure out who this gorgeous brunette with the goofy smile was that I had come across in some vintage amateur photosets. I was just looking for more pictures, because I’m a guy (and that’s sort of what we do on the internet.)
Instead of a bunch of porn, I found out that the girl in those pictures is not only uncannily compelling as a model, but also a well-read, well-spoken, sex-positive feminist. I was in no way prepared for that! Life is short, and full of people and experiences who will readily let you down, and fail to live up to expectations, or fail even just to uphold common decency. Even outside of the realm of adult entertainment, the average person on the internet is too busy trying to present some idealized version of themselves to bother letting any of their imperfect day-to-day humanity show through, and for the most part it’s because people are too afraid to display any kind of honesty or vulnerability, least of all to a bunch of internet strangers who are free to shun, judge, or shame them with impunity. It’s really nice to run across something, anything, once in a while that makes you take a step back and re-evaluate the level of cynicism that you use to filter your experiences and expectations with.
I started out looking for some porn tonight, and instead, I’m going to bed now with a genuine smile on my face, because of a bunch of good feelings that *don’t* originate in my pants. That might not mean a whole lot, and this might be a weirdly sincere, poorly worded sentiment to leave on a sex blog, but frankly I don’t give a damn. What I’m trying to say is just that you did that, and I think that’s just fantastic. Thank you.
– Noah 2015
I was content for a quite a few years working nearly every day of the year on my website. At one point though I started to desire some privacy and semblance of a more normal life. Then the tech bubble burst and our website members lost their jobs and could no longer afford their fees. Free aka stolen porn became the status quo. I no longer could earn a living. I also had been in the business for over ten years and wanted to do different things. So I retired.
Since then I have struggled financially, professionally and even at times personally. Finding my place as a former porn star has been a challenge. The lyric I wanna leave but the world won’t let me go from the Metric song Blindness pops up in my head almost daily.
I have learned so much through my porn experiences and there is so much I need to do, more I have to give to this world. I’m trying to make this happen, but it is not easy.
We do not live in sex positive times. We are surrounded by sexuality but it is rarely contextualized as something life affirming. The sex information youth receive in school is rarely accurate and comprehensive. We are all told in various ways that sex should only be experienced ONE WAY and everything about it is to be kept in the dark. Unless you are using a very strict view of what is sexy to sell something. That is OK.
To me and many others this is all so dangerous.
As Cindy Gallop says…
When you force anything into the shadows and underground, you make it a lot easier for bad things to happen, and a lot harder for good things to happen.
I try to be hopeful – that sexuality will not always be such a taboo subject, that people will come to accept that there are different experiences and paths related to it. I say try because the status quo around sex is very depressing.
I am so angry when people slut shame those in the sex industry yet are consumers of sexually explicit content – be it in the adult industry or the mainstream stuff you see in music videos, books, TV and film. Example: calling women whores if they are strippers and then enjoying a J Lo video or Fifty Shades of Grey.
I am terribly hurt when people say that the sex industry should be abolished yet do not allow its workers to move onto to do other work. We call it the sex work ghetto and it is a reality for everyone who has worked in the sex industry or written about sex or even researched it an academic setting.
I am utterly frustrated when people say well, you should have known there would be no options for you or ask rhetorically what did you expect being a part of the sex industry?
There is no hope with shoulda, woulda, coulda kind of thinking. There is also no kindness or compassion. Trying to shame someone is NEVER helpful. It stops contribution and cooperation in its tracks. It results in stagnation rather than evolution.
To say through your words or actions that someone with a sex worker past doesn’t deserve the same opportunities for financial stability and personal growth as others is cruel and definitely not feminist.
So this why I do not hide or deny my past work.