Videos available upon request.

The second video in this series was derived from a mainstream documentary film that was made about the company that I worked for. This movie is not pornographic and has appeared in several large film festivals and online streaming platforms such as Netflix. To get this footage, I paid to stream the film via the web, then set up a camera to record my computer’s screen and audio in real-time (due to the streaming services embedded anti-pirating software, I was unable to download or screen-record the movie). I then took the documentary and re-edited it to highlight the very brief parts in which I appear in the film’s background performing job responsibilities as a sex laborer. What remains is a chaotic edit of fast-forwarded sequences that slow down, zoom in, and linger on the shots in which I appear. I also went through and pixelated every face that is not my own. Only my representation is highlighted. Also, Dr. Thumper –the first fucking-machine that I created– appears several times in the documentary. My edited video slows down and zooms in on the machine as it is working, as well (see image below.) More information about this series below:

Since 1999, I have been using my jobs as research to inform my art practice. Having completed bodies of work regarding my professional careers as a cabinet maker, fine-dining busboy, locksmith, and yoga instructor, I most recently –from 2010-2018– worked behind the scenes helping to produce adult bondage and fetish movies as a full-time hourly employee. As a worker in this industry, my job title is often referred to as an “engineer” or a “rigger.” This entailed constructing or assembling the bondage in which models would be restrained during the filming of the movies. This role encompassed many different tasks; however, my most important responsibility was to create and fabricate safety for everyone on set, with the primary emphasis being placed on the safety of the model who would be in bondage.

When I began to moblize my employment in pornography as part of an art making process, I first had to determine if and how I might be able to ethically make art inspired by this research –as I have done in my other employment experiences– in ways that didn’t objectify anyone. At the outset, I spent a lot of time reflecting, researching, and defining how to situate my role as a worker in this very complicated context. To do this, I created the term “sex laborer.” By authoring this term, I was able to make a distinction between my job responsibilities and that of “sex workers.” Sex work is an identity and a form of employment for which I have tremendous respect, and I make this important distinction between my labor and that of sex workers because although some people in the world view my role in the production of fetish movies as sex work, others in the sex-industry disagree with that notion as I kept my clothes on and rarely appeared on camera. However, there have been other times in my life that my work in pornography has been treated with judgment by people outside of the industry in similar ways to the judgment that is sometimes placed upon sex workers. This left me in a complicated situation that I needed to come to terms with and to find a safe place from which to situate and contextualize my experiences. Complicating this matter further, I –unlike almost all of my co-workers– never assumed a stage-name or “porn-name” in an attempt to shelter my identity. I did this because it felt disingenuous to participate and examine adult films as “research” and then try to hide the fact that I was doing it. Although I stand by the ethics of this decision, this transparency places me in a precarious social position that required me to define an identity as a worker that seemed honest, while also firmly situating myself in solidarity with sex workers all over the world.

The third part of research into my employment as a sex laborer revolved around the creation of “an intimacy of self.” I define this as making situations that allow me to experience a feeling of safety or intimacy of, by, or for myself, as opposed to creating it for other people as part of a job responsibility as a sex laborer, service professional, or as part of a series of social expectations. As in Safe 1 and Safe 2. I realized that if I was going to make art that was inspired by my employment/research in adult films, then I needed to point the camera at myself: I needed to objectify myself. To address this idea further, I began to appropriate video footage derived from pornographic or mainstream sources that contained my image or representation as either a model, an actor playing a supporting character role, or as a laborer performing my job responsibilities. I then re-edited and re-contextualized the appropriated footage so it highlighted my presence in hopes of gaining some control over my representation. I do not own any of this footage.

Videos available upon request.

Safe 3: Face, UC Santa Barbara 01/20 – SF, CA 04/13 | 2019 | Safety Specialist