Even if you try to keep an open mind, where do you draw the line on porn? Emily Southwood never considered herself a prude — that is, until her fiancé got a job making adult films. In this excerpt from her memoir, Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiancé Filmed Porn, Southwood wrestles with her own reaction.
I'm popping a roast chicken in the oven when I hear my fiancé, Robbie, and our roommate, Matt, coming home from work. I poke my head around the corner. As usual, the entryway is quickly cluttered with two sets of shoes and several black bags of film gear.
"Hey Emiloo," Matt calls, and Robbie walks over to give me a kiss.
"Hello, boys," I say.
"What are you making, my love?" Robbie asks. I crack the oven to show him, and he grins. The three of us open Coronas and sit in the living room. I take a sip of mine and then set it down on the coffee table, realizing that this might not be the best moment for a cold one. I meant to get this dang destiny-altering pregnancy test over with before they returned. I better not be knocked up. But you can have an occasional beer when you're pregnant, right? The French don't give up wine, and they still pop out snooty intellectuals willy-nilly. I'm one-fifth French Canadian. Well, then. I resolve to drink half.
"So, give me the details," I say. "What did you boys have the pleasure of filming today?"
"It was a Naughty America teacher-student scene with a porn star named Rylie Spence," Robbie says. "I guess she was big in the '90s?" He looks inquisitively toward Matt, who shrugs. "Anyway, she was bitching that she gets mostly MILF scenes now that she's older."
"How old is she?" I ask. Although I brought this topic up and do want to know the details, I can already feel myself becoming rigid. I take a slug of my beer. Maybe I'll drink three-quarters.
"Around 30?" Robbie says.
"About that," Matt concurs. "But she looks older."
"Yeah, she does. She looks kind of haggard."
"So she's my age?"
"You're only 28."
"Twenty-nine in a month, that's around 30."
"OK, yeah, I guess. But she's probably lived pretty hard."
"Have you forgotten that I'd bartended for four years when you met me, dear? It's not exactly like I avoided nightlife." Robbie, wisely, doesn't bite, and I tell myself to shut my trap. Nobody is making this age comparison but me, but I also feel defensive for Rylie. It sucks to have someone say you've "lived hard" without even knowing you. I guess that's the thing about being a porn star — you're going to be judged on various accounts.
"She produces and directs now, too," Robbie says, changing the topic. "Pretty hard-core stuff. Apparently she's trying to prove that woman directors can be just as raunchy, since female-directed stuff is known for being softer."
"Raunchy how?" I ask.
"Like fisting, choking, airtight scenes, that sort of thing."
"What's 'airtight'?" I inquire earnestly. Robbie darts a glance at Matt, who quickly looks down at his iPhone, avoiding eye contact.
"Well, it's," Robbie starts.
Keep reading for the dirty details.
"I'm going to shower before dinner," Matt interrupts. He rises from the couch and swipes up his Corona from the coffee table.
"OK, dinner should be another half-hour or so," I say, looking up at him. He gives me a quick, awkward smile, says, "K," and heads down the hall. I notice not for the first time that he's a pretty handsome guy, still retaining his college hockey player's physique; his dark hair and eyes contrast with soft, boyish features. I wonder if the "actresses" ever flirt with him. When he closes the bathroom door behind him, I look at Robbie. "Oops, I guess I scared him away," I say in a lowered voice.
"I don't think he's comfortable talking about this stuff around you. 'Airtight' is when a girl has a dick in her pussy, ass, and mouth at the same time — like that scene I told you about with the three black guys." Robbie suddenly changes the topic. "Hey, what was going on with you just there? You seemed like the age thing was upsetting you."
"It's kind of crappy, don't you think? Men get older and all George Clooney, and women get haggard."
"It's not like we're talking about all women. We're talking about porn stars. Youth is kind of a cache in this business. Most girls go into it at 18 or 19 and start getting cast as MILFs at 23; that's what Rylie said. It's ridiculous, but it's not meant to be reality. Besides, I find older women hot. I'm with you, aren't I?" Robbie is a year-and-a-half younger than I, and he is clearly joking. I give him a deadpan stare. "Seriously, though, I don't think I represent the average guy. In high school, I had a crush on a 50-year-old teacher that nobody thought was attractive."
"So what you're saying is that you go for the older, ugly chick."
"Stop it!" he yells at me, smacking his Corona down on the coffee table. I jump at the sound. He leans back into the couch with an exasperated sigh. "I am not talking about you."
I know that he isn't, and I know that I'm acting like I'm feeling — insane. I don't know where to place all the various emotions that are running through me right now, which may or may not be the result of our discussion about aging and porn. I'm irritated, defensive, even a little mad. The double standards for men and women in this department are as annoying as they have always been — in porn, in Hollywood, and in life. What I should probably mention is the fact that my period is late and that the MILF discussion is hitting a little closer to home than usual. However, that confession would require me to open my mouth and actually say the words that I'm afraid of: I could be pregnant. If Matt would get out of the shower, then maybe I could just go find out. Instead I say, "So I couldn't even be a porn star if I wanted to anymore?"
"Come on, you could never have been a porn star," Robbie says.
Excerpted from Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiancé Filmed Porn by Emily Southwood. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2013.