By Jordana Lipsitz


 


Editor’s Note


This is Los Angeles, the city of dreams, where everybody lives next door to a porn star or has at least met one. However, LA transplant Jordana Lipsitz met her first porn star at an East coast college long before she stepped foot in the City of Angels. In this post, Jordana Lipsitz interviews her friend and author AKA porn star J.R. Verlin, AKA Logan Pierce and reveals how being a porn star effects his personal relationships, what it’s like to be part of the sex-work community and talks about his new book Between the Sheets.




Admittedly, I was most excited to interview porn performer and author, J.R. Verlin AKA Logan Pierce AKA my former classmate because I really wanted to see what he’d done to his apartment, which had been rented previously by mutual friends. I came for his self-published semi-autobiographical book, Between the Sheets and stayed for the framed Boogie Nights print and tasteful furniture. He calls the book “about 85% percent factual, because what’s the point of a memoir when you’re only 27?” The stars, they’re just like us, and J.R. happens to have taken over the lease of an ordinary apartment in Hollywood.


J.R.’s just a guy going to work for a living, and it just so happens he has to use his penis to get paid. Before our interview, I had a hard time rationalizing that fact; sure J.R. was part of my friend group, but he was also a novelty. He was the guy I would mention when someone back home asked me if I knew any famous people… “well sort of…” Sure, it’s not quite fair to treat an actual human like they’re some amusing anecdote, but once you hear the story of how J.R. got into the biz, I think it’s more understandable.

Author J.R. Verlin with his new book "Between the Sheets"

I first met J.R. when we were college sophomores in Philadelphia. We had a filmmaking class together and often spent hours languishing nearby in the film editing lab working on our amateur projects. He seemed much like the other students and myself: a kid from a small, sylvan town who was hopeful for an exciting city college experience. I didn’t know at the time that he was harboring a secret dream — to get paid for sex.


He gave his internship the old college try while still doing the porn thing. But understandably, he lost interest in the higher education and unpaid internship circus. Why spend money on a debt-inducing dreamy art degree when you could be making a starting day rate of $300 and having a whole lot of fun doing it? One can always go back to pursue higher education. Wouldn’t it be more delightful to roll in piles of money while studying for a Spanish Conversation mid-term than at the boring library?


Doing what one loves can come with a price.It’s not easy to be in relationships in general, but it is even more challenging when a crucial and usually exclusive part of the relationship is being shared with sexy co-workers four days a week. In the book, J.R. details how he tried to make it work with a “civilian” who he had a serious and magical relationship with in college. The two tried to make it long distance, but it didn’t work out. In the book version of J.R’s life, his girlfriend Allie comes out to visit and gets a brass introduction into her boyfriend’s world when she visits him on set while he’s a guest on an industry radio show. Allie can not handle the unsavoriness of the “company” he was “in” and the two end things after heartbreaking cunnilingus tears.


In the end, the civilian-ex’s civilian-parents sent J.R.’s family images outing him as a porn performer. According to J.R., that’s a pretty common among people in his field. Even though he was outed, and though things were tense for a while, his parents ended up accompanying him to the 2013 AVN awards where he received the Best Newcomer award. He visits his waterfront hometown often, where seemingly everybody knows his trade.


Despite his traumatic romantic experience, the “millennial porn star” hasn’t had it so bad relationship-wise. In his book he describes lot of great sex, perhaps a bit more than the rest of us and a lot of terrible sex, perhaps a bit more than the rest of us. He’s had healthy relationships with women in the industry and not-so-healthy. You can’t say the guy lacks in experiences. In a Between the Sheets encounter, Nikki Sin calls him “bitch,” “cunt,” and “Prince Fucking Charming” basically in the same breath. It was hilarious and oddly relatable for me. Hey, dating is weird in LA, no matter what your occupation or what gets you off. All we can do is keep working towards that sweet, sweet, one-bedroom in Los Feliz or hey, even Koreatown kind of love./h2>


Everyone in the United States porn industry is tested for sexually transmitted diseases every 14 days. If anyone’s test comes back positive, the whole kit-and-caboodle closes up shop until the danger is gone. In 2013, a single performer, stage name Cameron Bay, contracted HIV from “extracurricular activities” so the entire industry shut down for three weeks. Her “first” and “second generation” scene partners were tested while the rest of the industry waited. J.R. described it as an angsty time for him because since porn performers don’t collect royalties, he had little to no income. It was surprising to me that any actor would not receive payment for previous work, but in an economy that views sexuality as a shameful necessity, maybe it shouldn’t have been.


Despite his lack of income, the down-time wasn’t all bad. J.R. got the above-mentioned angst out by writing out everything he could think. He conceived first drafts of Between the Sheets as well as excerpts for a potential sequel. Sometimes, production-related industries have unexpected breaks. It’s the nature of being a freelancer. In the uncomfortable lag time, an artist has to buckle up and work on side projects.


The industry is small. As J.R. describes it, a lot of people know each other from working together, attending mutual events, or casual business-y visits. It reminds me of a small town where everybody knows everybody—a Mayberry of masturbation.


Sure, this has its perks: JR met his agent — who has gotten him to work with some of his favorite names in the business — while on set or visiting a set. He didn’t seem to remember exactly where they met initially, but that’s not surprising, there’s a lot of ways to bump into each other in a small town. He “was made aware of” her agency at just the nick of time, when he was starting to feel iffy about the “business practices” of the agency that helped him get his start. He wanted out.


He had also noticed the “shift,” a rise of women in production roles in his industry and wanted to be a part of that turning tide. Munching baked treats on the comfy sectional that used to belong to our mutual friend, he excitedly listed a few names: Jacky St. James, Bree Mills, Joanna Angel, and more. Beaming, the performer literally gushed, “They treat everyone with a lot of respect...the talent especially. We’re viewed as irreplaceable as opposed to just bodies in front of a camera.”



All the warm and fuzzies aside, the small town shtick can have its downsides — people talk. J.R. described one instance where hes was encouraged to work with a performer who hadn’t been tested within the 14-day window. At the advice of his agent, he refused. The performer’s agent was furious and after a brief Twitter-spat, J.R. was blacklisted from working with that agent’s talent.


J.R. went from one small town where he sometimes felt alienated as a sex-obsessed skinny-jeans wearer to the small town of the porn industry in the big city of Los Angeles. At least now, he’s not getting called the “F”word from across sports fields.


At first read of J.R.’s book, I found it unbelievable. His bizarrely erotic induction into teenage sex with a dirty-talking 14-year-old Jessica Rabbit read like fiction, though he swears that *that* part of the book is true. But soon, I began to relate more and more to this character — a flawed but scrappy PA transplant living it up while making scores of twenty-something mistakes. He’s missing Wawa but loving that he can buy actual liquor at grocery stores and even chain pharmacies.


I’ve known guys like J.R. my whole small-town America life. We flocked together; weird, artsy kids who dreamed of creating the counter-culture. None of them have become porn performers (that I know of) besides him. He’s still a novelty, but he’s also just a dude paying his reasonable rent for a second-story walkup near Griffith Park with parking and sometimes a second spot if you time it right.




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