Videos available upon request.

This video features footage from a behind-the-scenes movie the company I used to work for made that highlights a day-in-the-life of my job responsibilities. It shows my boss and I planning out a typical movie and the subsequent process I go through to design and construct the custom bondage made from metal piping in which the model would be restrained. As in the other videos in this series, I fast-forward through parts of the movie that I am not in and then slow down to normal speed parts that I did appear in and I pixelated every person’s face other than my own to put my representation on the line as opposed to objectifying anyone else’s likeness. To get this footage that I used to edit this video, I paid for a monthly membership to the porn company’s website and then downloaded the movies to my computer. This edit will be installed and projected with a new performance that I haven’t filmed yet. For it, I will simultaneously build and restrain myself into bondage made from the same metal piping showcased in the previously described behind-the-scenes video. After remaining in the bondage for several minutes, I will free myself, and the structure that remains will hold the projectors showing the behind-the-scenes video of me working as a sex laborer along with a second video documenting the process of making and restraining myself in the bondage. 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: Behind the Scenes, UC Santa Barbara, 03/21 – SF, CA, 05/16 | 2019 | Safety Specialist