A story that’s rarely told, or even discussed by the two of us, is that I remember the day Stoya wanted my opinion on whether or not to do what she calls porn porn. That is to say the whorearchy (short explanation, longer explanation) of “I shoot nude photos, tee hee” vs “I show my pussy in some photos” vs “well, sometimes I’ve got a finger in my pussy” vs “I full-on fuck on film. Explicitly and without apologies”. Y’know, porn porn. I should briefly make it clear : she wasn’t asking my approval (all the gods know Stoya doesn’t seek that), or necessarily my input, but more like “I was asked if I wanna do this thing, and I kinda do, but… I’m not certain, let’s talk about it“.
This is our dynamic, generally speaking. She’ll call (or text/email/whatever) and start out with “so… I’m thinking about maybe (insert idea) because (reasons)…” and after 12 years (though it started shortly after those first few hangouts) we have a shorthand, an understanding, that what she’s looking for is not necessarily validation, it’s : “do you have any sound, rational, well-considered arguments against this?“, or if I agree with her then I’ll help her flesh out more arguments supporting it or adding little sprinkles on top of this cake she’s pretty much already finished baking. The story of how our site ZeroSpaces came to be would be a muddled mess of neither of us remembering who suggested what, or why. We just threw ideas at each other until we both carved away enough of that rock that we both said, like proud parents, “yes, let’s have this child”.
Back to the subject at hand : Stoya was asked by a company in the Alt Porn space (whom she was also modeling for, much like GG) to shoot some hardcore content. I don’t remember if it was solo or boy-girl, but it was decidedly porn porn. She hadn’t set out to do porn when she came to LA, she said, though I’ve weirdly never asked her why she came to LA in the first place or what she was setting out to do. Might be a great topic for the next episode of our podcast.
While I started into the “well, on the internet, everything lives forev…” she cut me off with “Mitcz, I know”. Oops. “I guess I’m just thinking : if I’m gonna do this, I’m now in a different category. That’s a different style of work, I’ll get more offers like that. It might become my job” was (not directly quoted) her basic point. I agreed with her, asking if she could see herself making this into something resembling a career. She mostly laughed, but said that’s what she’d been wondering about too.
Shortly after that first (or maybe 3-4?) porn porn shoot, we’d fallen mostly out of touch. She was now living in a whole different area of LA, I was getting kind of serious with the woman who became my last girlfriend, and we just didn’t talk as much. In some old cellphone somewhere1 prior to my 2nd iPhone, I kept – and still have – every cellphone I’ve ever owned I probably still have the text from her saying “I signed a contract with Digital Playground. Whoa.”. I probably just said “Congrats!”, but I remember very little beyond that one text from her. I remember it because I rolled over to Melinda to say “Stoya got signed to Digital Playground!”, and she groaned. When I met Melinda, Stoya was really happy for me – she knew I had been pining for her for some time, and agreed she was “SO fucking hot”. Melinda, however, didn’t like that I had a (now high-profile) Pornstar friend I used to bang around with and still talked to.
Those were the quiet years, mostly. I’d see her on websites, billboards, even some TV — Showtime aired the AVNs one year that Stoya won an award, much to Melinda’s dismay — and occasionally reach out to her for conversations or, if she was in town between gigs/shoots we’d go have a dinner or a drink and just catch up. Occasionally, she’d call me for advice and I’d wax and wane psychological at her for a bit.
I’m not sure how it came to be that she trusted me to probe her mind and dole out psychological advice & theories to her. As she says herself in her story, she has “been analyzed by him in ways I wouldn’t take from most friends, much less a stranger—regardless of whatever psych degrees they might have“. My semi-educated guess is : we have nothing to hide from each other. We have no reason to lie to each other, no one’s trying to “get” anything from the other, and neither has anything to gain by not being open and honest and compassionate. Conversely, this is precisely the reason we work well together in business : we’re working together for a common goal, for the betterment of both of us, and our egos have no skin in the game.
This advice-giving and kind-ear conversations don’t go one way. I worry it may have sounded like that by now. When I was going through the shit with Melinda, Stoya was there. She may have been in the middle of a grueling shoot, or on tour with (redacted) but she never didn’t have time for me. She didn’t placate me with simple “it’ll be okay”, or “ohh you poor thing”, she listened – often much longer than she should’ve, and gave encouragement and advice. She prefaces her advice around sex & dating with her admitted soft spot for men trying their best to make things work in the dating world, often adding “so… my advice is tainted, in that I don’t think she would share my sentiment” (she has repeated this phrase to me more times than I can count when we talk about women in my life). When Melinda had moved out briefly, and my mom’s health was rapidly declining and I was drinking ungodly amounts of alcohol, she asked for my address and showed up just to lie in bed with me and cuddle for a few hours. We barely talked, but she was there. Really there, emotionally and physically. Like no one else could or would be.
If I were only to tell stories of her kindness and compassion, we’d be here for days and you’d quickly get bored. In her story about me, she ends with “We were once friends with benefits. Now we’re friends, without benefits and also without the ‘just’“. I greatly disagree that we’re without benefits – though I’m certain she was using that in the parlance of the times. I’ve gotten immense, untold benefits from our friendship, going way beyond (and barely including) just the initial sexual benefits.
Because of Stoya, I’ve travelled to Chicago and experienced an adult convention from behind the scenes. At the same convention, I wandered through hallways of full-on drunken orgies all around me. I’ve been illustrated (albeit unrealistically) in Heavy Metal magazine, later hanging out with the owner of said magazine (a great guy all-around, I must say). My work has gotten kudos from the likes of Nina Hartley (The Queen, and don’t you forget it), and others I respect & admire. I became friends with, and been given compliments by, Buck Angel (a nicer person you will not meet). I’ve become a co-owner in a company that’s really doing something new and interesting in porn. I’ve met lots of other sex workers who are also now my friends. The list goes on.
Stoya is a goddamn light, and a goddamn delight. I love her, and you probably do too.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||prior to my 2nd iPhone, I kept – and still have – every cellphone I’ve ever owned|