Gay porn star Joel Michael Anderson wants you to know what sex work is really like
OnlyFans and other types of sex work can be lucrative – but one gay porn star wants people to have “realistic expectations” before they “cross a bridge” they can never return over.
The reality of sex work is explored in Joel Michael Anderson’s new short film DOXY, which shows a day in the life of a man who takes on risky work to pay the rent.
The film plays out like an extended vlog, with Joel’s character – called Johnny Ford, after his real-life porn alter ego – speaking directly to the camera between jobs.
“We’ve all watched adult content creators and influences try to be reality stars blogging to the camera to brag about how awesome they are,” Joel tells PinkNews.
“I’ve always thought it’s so often a missed opportunity to tell a story, to move the audience, to create an entertaining experience and a cathartic message that helps people.
The film skewers the idea that OnlyFans is a big earner for everyone – a point Joel was eager to get across after many signed up doing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“After starting a page and realising they’re competing with professional performers in an over-saturated global industry, they regret exposing everything to anyone for $10,” Joel says.
Joel’s message isn’t that sex work is bad – he just wants people to have “realistic expectations” before going into it.
“It’s a scary bridge to cross, especially because the bridge gets burned down behind you – nudes are online forever,” he points out.
“There are plenty cases of an OnlyFans creator not making much from subscriptions and turning to an inbox full of escorting solicitations. I would hate for my example to lead others to unwillingly give OnlyFans a try, and then get pulled deeper and deeper into it only because they crossed a bridge and can’t go back.”
Part of the challenge for sex workers like Joel is finding a way to destigmatise and champion sex work while also educating people about the realities of working in their industry.
“The stigma comes from believing sex workers are immoral and perverse just for being comfortable, confident, and sexually free with their body,” Joel says.
“The reality is that everyone has different personal feelings about their body and their sexuality. Some like to experience more with it, some like to show it off more, some actually find a fun thrill in feeling like their body is a purchased toy for a moment, some feel pride and power in knowing their sexual prowess is so impressive that others will pay a lot for it.
“There are plenty of reasons a human may choose, willingly and happily, to pursue leveraging their body and sexuality for income, and it can be very empowering for them.”
But it’s also important to acknowledge that sex work “becomes dangerous mostly when a worker has to sneak around in hotel rooms without any legal protection on their side”.
“As you see in DOXY, when a client threatens to call the police, a sex worker can’t very well face the police and demand their due payment. People think they can take advantage of sex workers for that reason. It’s easier for crime to happen to them when their vocation is a crime.”
The solution, of course, is that sex work be decriminalised.
“Even if you don’t like it or think it’s immoral, every human should support the free enterprise of a money-service exchange when it doesn’t hurt others.”
While advocates work towards full decriminalisation, Joel’s advice to those considering sex work is simple – be prepared for the everyday realities of the job.
“Workers can feel stuck in the industry without a better option for income,” Joel says.
“Like I said, once that bridge is crossed, it’s pretty much burned down. Don’t start it without an exit strategy.”
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