Joel Lawrence - Adult film star
Venetian Hotel, AVN Awards After-Party - Las Vegas, NV - 2003
As one of the current classic stays in the adult film industry, Joel Lawrence has seen plenty. For anyone who has watched any amount of porn, it becomes obvious that there are many more well-known women (at least the attractive ones) and very few men. Good males to work with are slim pickings in that industry. However, Joel has carried the torch for quite a few years and doesn't seem ready to retire any time soon. One might even look upon him as an inspiration to stay hard on the course, so to put.
One thing that is hard to fathom within the adult film industry is the concept of having outside, loving relationships. More so, anything that is more than physical, and expecting to last. Taking aside from a swinging lifestyle, it is hard to imagine someone involved with a porn star. The sheer idea of jealousy would be enough to ruin anything from the start. Where does love begin and the physicality of sex begin? How do they intertwine and is there a distinction between the two? If these types of questions could be answered, then perhaps there would be more monogamy in "real world" relationships. Of course communication and understanding are key, but no matter how one looks at it, it seems impossible from the get go.
As I hung out at the AVN after-party in Las Vegas, I spoke with Joel and his girlfriend Maria - who is not in the industry - about how they manage to get past the stigma of Joel's "business" of multi-sexual partners, while keeping love and intimacy strictly between the two of them. Exploring these realms is not easy, but it does make for an interesting series of chats - this one beginning with Mr. Lawrence in all his lighthearted nature, flourishes of sarcasm, and even some genuine feeling. And so we go...
Joel Lawrence: So what the fuck do you want to know?
K2K: I'm doing an interview of you two as a relationship couple involved in the porn industry. So you are in porn, and you (turning to M) are not.
M: No, I'm not.
K2K: How do you two meet?
M: It's called MITT. That stands for Mastery In Transformational Training. It basically helps you deal with your past, your present, and your future. What have you done, what do you need to do...
JL: As a performer, you need to think in sound bytes. It's all sound bytes. We did a workshop together that was an emotionally confrontational workshop. We bonded in the middle of it. We've been together ever since.
M: We bonded deeply because we are forced to take our appearances off, our masks off, and show our true selves to each other.
JL: Well, she did that. I just faked it.
K2K: Just like in porn.
JL: Exactly!
K2K: What do you think about Joel doing [porn]?
M: What do I think about it? I think that he is the most beautiful man I've ever met in my life.
K2K: Perhaps in several different ways.
JL: Phil, how's your sarcasm there? (laughs)
K2K: Was I sarcastic? (laughs)
JL: Just a little.
M: I just mean that what he does makes him who he is today.
K2K: I like to think about sex that way too: Who I've done, makes me who I am today.
JL: Hold on! That's my line. You can't steal that. HA HA! (hearty laughter)
K2K: OK, let me put this a bit tackier - With the idea of him doing it with other women. If it wasn't a job... That's not a problem?
M: I get that it's a job and there are no emotional attachments to these women. I would definitely have a problem with him fucking other women if it wasn't for work.
K2K: So, basically, if it was for no money, you would have a problem with it.
M: Well, no, no. It's not the money...
JL: I think it's a very good job. We have a deal that I can work, but we are monogamous outside of work. I think that that is a fantastic deal. That gives me the best of both worlds. I'm willing to live with that deal without any problem.
K2K: Now, if she said said that she couldn't handle it anymore and she had had enough and was leaving, what would you say?
JL: Ultimately, porn is going to be a part of my life for a long enough period of time, and the sex industry has been around for a long enough time that it would be hard to reject that part of me without rejecting me totally. So you have to be willing to accept that part of me to love me. Otherwise you don't really love me because that's part of me, a big part.
K2K: How long have you been in the industry?
JL: Full time, 12 years. Part time, 5 1/2.
K2K: How long is an average career in this industry?
JL: As a guy? "Average" is a deceptive word. You have to pick A side and B side. B side guys - quick. Here and gone. A side guys last forever. You could have a 20 to 30 year career. If you're a B side guy, you don't have a 20 day career. I'll put it to you this way - Of the 10 guys who can actually do it, that the thousand guys who can't do it, bring the average so far down that essentially... It's a matter of whether you can do it or not.
K2K: What is the low and high pay for guys in the industry?
JL: Two to seven [hundred].
K2K: And for women?
JL: Six [hundred] to two and a half [thousand].
K2K: And they say that women don't earn as much as men in business...
JL: Well, in this industry they do.
K2K: So this industry is not really so abusive to women as others.
JL: Actually, the images of porn are way more hardcore than the reality. The reality is actually pretty kind.
K2K: Well, also in my working with you before, I found that it's a "day job".
JL: Yeah, it is. You're having a good time. You're all trying to make a product that is quality. But at the end of the day, you go home... to your girlfriend or whatever. You go home. Work is work.
K2K: I found that, after working a couple of 12 hour days on the set, sex really didn't seem all that exciting at the end of the day. It really was a grueling "day job".
JL: I think that sex is great, but ultimately there is no emotion in it. You're there, these people are your friends, there's no love. There is no love.
K2K: Now, if you're girlfriend wanted to get into porn, would you say no?
JL: I wouldn't tell her no. I can't tell her what to do.
K2K: It wouldn't bother you?
JL: It would bother me because I know who she is.
K2K: What if it really fascinated her and she came around to wanting to try it?
JL: As a person, I want her to live her life to her fullest. As a partner, I would accept her for who she is. If she really wants to do it, then I'm OK. So long as it doesn't get in the way of our relationship. It would be difficult to accept, but I would accept it.
K2K: What about only with you?
JL: If she worked only with me? Basically, I would feel the same way, because it's not her place. It's not who she is.
K2K: Is it also because what you two do is out of love, as opposed to what you do for film?
JL: Yes. Again, the point being it's not how our connection functions and who she is. Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself. So if it's not true, I would have a problem with it. If it is true, then I'm cool with it.
K2K: How long do relationships in this industry last? How long have you two been together?
JL: Five months.
K2K: How long do you expect to stay together?
JL: A long time.
M: A long time.
JL: One of the reasons that it worked out is that she came to the Adult Expo and Awards to get a sense of who I am in regards to that part of my life. It's hard to accept me, and to be in a relationship with me without understanding what that's like. So (turning to M) I think that you now have a better understanding of what it's like and a better understanding of me. Easier to accept maybe, and more real.
K2K: Do you agree with that?
M: Yes. Actually I chose to come here. It was more my idea. I coincidentally had a bunch of days off. It was a little against it at first. He was a bit afraid to expose me to that world, because he was afraid to lose me.
K2K: But on the other hand, you wouldn't want to lie to her either.
JL: Well, when you lie to people, then you don't have much intimacy.
M: I knew that I had to face it when I was at the Hustler store in Hollywood. I was with a girlfriend of mine, buying a Christmas gift there, and I saw his face on the cover of a video. I knew then and there that I had to confront it regardless. There was no more denial. There was no more separating it. I had to face it. It was slapping me in the face.
K2K: What did you learn tonight [at the Awards]?
M: It was more last night. We came here to the bar with some people. I learned that these people are just like myself. They are very beautiful, very open, and very loving. Very awesome.
JL: Well, they are, because she's my girlfriend. They treated her as they did because she's my girlfriend. That's ultimately the truth. It's not that they are bad people, it's just that they have respect for me. Consequently they are happy for my success in a relationship. Relationships are so tough in the porn industry that anyone who has any success in a relationship is revered to the Nth degree.
K2K: (To M) Did you make any new friends?
M: I think I did. I felt some emotional impact. People got me as I got them. I was open to them as they were to me.
K2K: Would you ever bring her onto a set?
JL: I think as years pass, and we become more and more comfortable with each other. That's up to her.
M: I would struggle still. If I have a problem with someone holding his hand (regarding a previous incident). The thought process in my mind was, "Why is she holding his hand? He's with me." I thought it was disrespectful for her to be holding his hand when he's with me. So... basically I'm not ready to see him on set yet.
JL: If she has a problem with someone holding my hand, it's probably a good sign that she is not ready to see me on set yet.
K2K: Now, you did say one cool thing. You said, "As the years pass..." hinting to a long lasting relationship.
JL: Well, that's the truth. She deserves to feel special and respected. There has also got to be a lot of leeway in the fact that this is not a normal situation in terms of what's mainstream. I have to have a lot of patience and respect for her as she entertains the idea in general. I have to give her patience and the time it takes until she gets comfortable in this situation.
M: It's hard for me because I see sex as sacred and special, with your heart and your soul. It's lovemaking. I know he is a little jaded about sex and still is.
JL: After hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of shoots, it's impossible not to be affected. So your sexuality is going to be impacted. So in a word you are going to be jaded.
K2K: Are you in fact jaded?
JL: In a word, Yes.
K2K: Are you jaded of the industry?
JL: I love sex. I'm OK with sex. I love the industry.
K2K: Do you ever feel that you need a break?
JL: Yeah, on occasion.
K2K: What do you do?
JL: Take a break.
K2K: If you had the opportunity to break away, what would you do?
JL: Depends on how the opportunity came to me. For instance, if there was a situation where I could get out of the business and make the same amount of money that I'm making in the business, it would intrigue me for a little while. But it would have to be something that would be creative and satisfy me as a person. So, it depends really.
K2K: What about mainstream films?
JL: I would do mainstream for sure. The benefit to me would be to kick ass, and let the world know that a porn performer can kick ass in mainstream.
K2K: There has been a few porn stars who have broken out and done mainstream.
JL: Very few. Very few. The value is in teaching the world that porn performers have the talent to be mainstream. That's the value. Anything shy of that is not as intriguing.
K2K: Do you feel that the porn industry is more entertainment or education?
JL: Entertainment! There is no education at all.
K2K: You don't think that porn films help couples to learn more about themselves or entice them to try new things to spice up a marriage or relationship?
JL: Um, no.
K2K: I've heard of females who found porn inspiring.
JL: Can it be inspirational? Yes. Can it be thought-provoking? Yes. Can it take you to places you might otherwise not have gone? Yes. Does that make it educational? No.
K2K: (To M) What do you think about porn?
M: I think society is in denial about porn. The majority of society thinks about it and enjoys it, yet they choose to be judgmental about it. I enjoy porn. I don't make a point of renting or purchasing movies. I do enjoy them. Especially meeting the people last night who are really awesome. I could feel that they are a bit standoffish with me because they know I'm not in the industry. But if I smile, they are awesome.
K2K: Have you seen any of his films?
M: Yes, last night at Hustler's.
K2K: What did you think?
M: I was very nervous. It was very hard to see him being so physically intimate with somebody else other than myself. I still have feelings about it. He knows how I feel. I struggle with it.
K2K: What do you do, by the way?
M: I'm a registered nurse.
K2K: Which means you both do what? Both work on bodies.
M: Yes, that's true.
K2K: You both know bodies inside and out.
M: Yes, that's true. I never thought about it before.
K2K: Any other thoughts on it?
M: I know that I'm living for today. It's awesome. I want him to be part of my life. I love him deeply. He's the most amazing man in my life.
JL: I would say that I, maybe more than her, realize how difficult it is to be in a relationship with a guy or girl who works in porn. And how much I appreciate and love (to her) you for accepting me as I am. It's not that easy to do. I realize how tough that is.
And with that, a fitting ending as we all went our separate ways in the very elegant Venetian Hotel Casino.
Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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