An Interview with Lori Adorable, Radical Feminist Porn Model

I recently discovered radical feminist, model, and porn performer Lori Adorable. It’s such an unusual combination, even in this era of queer porn and other shifts in thinking around sexually explicit media that I jumped at the chance to ask her a bit more about how she navigates that.

1) First off, tell us a little about your career as a model and a porn performer. 

Career! Jeez! I’m not sure I’d call it that.  I prefer “career, with scare quotes, although one might also call it a part-time job with opportunities for advancement.

I got into modeling and performing by degrees, which is to say that I didn’t do it with any real intent at first. It began with my attendance at fetish parties last September; because I’m an exhibitionist, I allowed the photographers there to capture me being wrapped in rope or strung up from the ceiling. One of them asked to do a formal shoot with me, and I agreed. The pictures were only for my personal use\’ I posted them on my Fetlife profile and sent them out to the men I was fucking. The guys loved it, and I loved it even more, so I set up another shoot.

By December I had enough photos and enough of a little following on Fetlife to put together my own website, which is home to my galleries as well as my blog.  It was definitely at this point that I realized modeling was something I wanted to pursue.  I set up a page on a model networking site and by February I had applied to work with Kink.com.  I started shooting with all sorts of photographers, sometimes taking paid shoots for art projects they were doing, but mostly posing time-for for conceptual erotic photos that the photographers and I conceived of together.  I’m not sure how many of them want to be named\’ most have mainstream careers and just took photos for me to use on my site (which I’m finally in the process of monetizing, by the way.) I will say I’ve shot with everyone from amateur hobbyists to professional fashion and sports photographers to erotic art photographers like Kevin Hayes.

Since March I’ve been taking on more paid gigs, most of them for artistic nude projects. My biggest paid gig, however, was my first professional hardcore porn shoot for Kink.com in April. I’m on their Device Bondage site, and you can find me through their model search page.

In all, I’ve done about thirty sessions (videography, photography, and sketching) over the past nine months. As I said, it’s very much a part-time thing, and it’s also a relatively new thing! But between appearing on some soft-core porn sites, (my pussy) showing up on a Vice blog and of course shooting for Kink.com, I’d say it’s a promising beginning.

2) You identify as a radical feminist. What does that mean to you? How did you first learn about feminism and radical feminism?

I get this question a lot, so forgive me for quoting myself here, but I‘m a radical feminist because I’m a woman who came to recognize the structural inequality amongst people and the specific injustices in the world through the feminist analysis of my personal experiences with abuse.  Also, I believe that the only way to eradicate these problems on both a small and large scale is by employing radical methods of everyday resistance.  I use ˜radical’ here in both the original sense of ˜addressing the root’ and the newer, no doubt related sense of being ˜extreme.’  In other words, I’m a radical feminist in the purest sense, not in the sense of belonging to the radical feminist movement, which has been thoroughly co-opted by the most privileged women, women who also happen to be anti-kink and anti-sex work and, all too often, transphobic and racist.  I have this desire to take the term ˜radical’ back from them, because, well, it’s my term too.

To elaborate a little more on how I came to feminism: I’ve always been something of a holistic feminist in spirit, because I’ve always been observant enough to recognize inequality and compassionate enough to think there’s something wrong with it. I was a very moralistic kid, a vegetarian for animal rights reasons in seventh grade. But I only officially came to feminism after looking at my own life at the age of 15 or so and asking, “What the fuck is going on here? It was around that time I discovered that the ˜what’ was structural inequality, and not just a few individual men behaving badly.  Like many women, I came to feminism from my own abuse, and like most women my age, I ended up learning about it through the Internet\’ through Feministing, actually.

3) What sorts of responses have you received within feminist (and radical feminist) circles? What about within the porn & modeling worlds?

No one seems to like me much. I don’t mean that in the more general sense of ˜absolutely no one likes me as a person’ (although that may be true too because, hey, I’m kind of abrasive) but in the very specific sense that I am politically inconvenient for almost everyone involved in porn and feminism. I like to say that I’m too feminist for the pornsters and too porny for the feminists. It’s the latter that really bothers me.  The former is something I expected.  In fact, I’d be shocked if I didn’t get the side eye from porn people when I explain that I won’t go gay for pay because of ˜genuine sexual expression’ and ˜appropriating marginalized sexualities’ and ˜yadda yadda yadda.’ What I don’t expect is that socially conscious people will brush me off because they don’t want to get involved in the ˜porn wars.’  And that’s really the reason; it’s not that most feminists are necessarily anti-sex work, it’s that they’re anti-losing-readership-by-tackling-issues-they-could-avoid.

All in all, I probably get more shit from so-called feminists than I do from those who work in or around porn. It would be unfair to say that all of it is because of my interesting part-time job, though. It’s also because I’m kinky and disabled and loud about all of it, because all of it’s related for me, and all of it’s important.

I just realized that this is all about how ˜feminists’ have reacted to me, and not ˜radical feminists’ in particular. So I’ll say this: if most people don’t seem to like me very much, radical feminists actively dislike me. I’ve been told by one prominent radfem blogger in particular that she wants me to stop using her label! Good times.

4) Are there ways in which your experiences in one of these spheres has informed your thoughts about the other? How do they play off of each other in your life?

Feminism used to influence my thinking about everything, to the point where I was in denial about my exhibitionist and kinky sexuality for several years, because I thought it was wrong and therefore had to be something I could change.  I was the lady who did protest too much: my senior thesis in high school was a paper on the philosophical ethics of porn, and the conclusion I came to was ˜BAD!’ At the same time I was having desires to be in porn, and I was disgusted with myself.  It was not a good place.

I went to college telling myself I was going to be ˜good,’ and I wound up in a long-term relationship that was as pleasant as it was sexually frustrating.  After I broke it off, I got involved in an incredibly unhealthy on-again off-again thing with my only neighbor that was so, so sexually gratifying specifically because it was unhealthy.  At some point I stopped and asked myself if there wasn’t some other way. For an intelligent person, it took me way too long to realize that BDSM has all of the sexy benefits of tumultuous relationships without any of the negatives.

I already explained how kink lead me to porn, and now that I’m here, I have to say that pornography and my exhibitionist sexuality influence my feminism.  It’s a much better place, philosophically, mentally, and sexually.

5) In your recent post, you discuss ways that models can influence and shape the work that photographers and producers create. Have you found that limits what work you get? Does it make it harder to get jobs?

It absolutely limits what work I get.  That’s why this is my “career and not my career, and I have no desire for it to be the latter if I have to compromise.  Frankly, though, I probably couldn’t make a serious career out of modeling and performing no matter what. It’s a tough, tough industry with really high standards, and I’m a little too chubby (seriously) and have about four dozen too many scars to make a living this way even if I weren’t so principled.

In some ways I’m lucky right now that I can afford to do this part-time, but in most ways I’m not lucky: I had to drop out of college due to disability, and I’m only just now at a place where I can look for full-time work. I’ve had to depend on my father, who was abusive growing up, for financial support.  It’s not a great situation, but it is one that has allowed me to explore a bit.  I think I’ll be able to continue to do so even after I find what I like to call a ˜real-people job,’ which will hopefully be soon.

When you ask me to ˜unpack’ here, though, my thought is that you want me to acknowledge the privilege in being able to model part-time, and to model at all. And as lacking in some forms of privilege as I may be, I absolutely agree that there’s a privilege in being able to express my sexuality like this (see my answer to the next question) with relative ease. I’m pretty thin, pretty pretty, very white, very cis, able-bodied, and still relatively economically advantaged.   Part of feminist modeling to me, then, is to help open up modeling to those with less privilege by working only with photographers who shoot a diverse sampling of people. That only accounts for my physical privileges, though, and not my economic ones.  I don’t know that I can combat them without rejecting capitalism, which might actually be a good long-term goal. I’d love to start some sort of socialist porn co-op down the road.

6) On your Model Mayhem page, you say that you’re modeling as a means of self-expression. Some folks might ask how you navigate that in a world that tells women to look a certain way or perform sexuality in particular ways. How do you distinguish between those cultural messages and your own self-expression?

I’m pretty good at knowing where my desires come from. Most of them come from outside places and many of them come from bad places, but that doesn’t make them necessarily bad, or necessarily any less genuine.  For example (and this is really the example we’re talking about here, isn’t it?) my kinky, exhibitionist desires absolutely come from the sexual abuse I experienced when I was thirteen. I talk about this a lot on my blog, about why I feel the way I do and how I can address these feelings without perpetuating the negativity at the source of them. How, for example, do I express this sexual need to publicly relive the abuse I experienced without promoting pedophilia? I could deny the desires altogether, I could fight them, like most radical feminists would argue I should\’ and in fact I have. It didn’t work. It’s how I wound up in an unsatisfying relationship and then a destructive one.  Or I could do what I’m doing now with my photos: playing the role of the sexualized schoolgirl while also subverting it.  In my latest photo set, for example, I dress up in pigtails and a polka-dotted dress and play with a doll. And then I rip the doll to shreds and try to stuff myself instead.  And I return the camera’s gaze. I roll my eyes and sneer.  I make it clear that I’m an active agent, an assertive, undermining, grown-up agent of my own sexuality.  It’s harder to do that than to reject either my fantasy (as many radfems would have me do) or my agency (as many porn people would have me do) altogether, but it’s the necessary thing. Human sexual desires are complicated and frequently dark, and only the privileged and the naive would uphold feminist ideological purity or reject it altogether instead of promote the responsible expression of these desires, wherever they come from.

Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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