Millions watch porn, but who is watching out for porn’s performers? Throughout adult entertainment’s long history, there has been an undeniable lack of organized support for the actors known so intimately by so many fans. The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) is here to make sure that porn’s many talents are treated like the legitimate performers the are.
Formed just over a year ago by industry heavyweights, like Stoya, Asa Akira, and James Deen, [the Los Angeles-based organization] has created a space where actors can share their professional successes and air their grievances. The goal is to foster a sense of solidarity amongst porn actors who are dealing with similar problems, like health, safety, and cultural sigmas. As a labor group, it makes total sense. Porn actors know their job better than anyone and can make decisions about their work that will reflect their best interests.
PLAYBOY: What are APAC’s goals?
PRESTON: APAC’s goal is to improve the quality of life for performers. This includes performer health and safety, obviously, but we’re also looking to improve performer wages, happiness, and interactions with each other. Sometimes we work with performers directly to improve their experiences within the industry. Other times, we look outward and try to improve the culture we’re living in—especially how it legislates around and views porn performers.
PLAYBOY: Did the creation of APAC fill a void in the industry, or were there similar advocacy groups APAC drew its model from?
HABIB: APAC is totally unprecedented. Something I like to say is that we have no idea how any legal, cultural, or personal struggle will play out at this point, because there is something truly new on the scene: A stable and organized group of performers supporting each other.
PRESTON: This organization definitely filled a void in the industry. In the past there have been attempts to create similar types of support groups, but none have become what APAC is today.
PLAYBOY: How do you think APAC will affect the future of porn?
PRESTON: APAC can help shape how performers value themselves and the work they do. We can also help eliminate the stigma associated with sex workers, which currently has a substantially negative effect on all sex-related industries. Sex workers don’t want to continue to be the pariahs of society, and through supportive groups we can change this and become a more respected community.
PLAYBOY: What made you interested in joining the group?
PRESTON: I have had such a great experience in this industry, and I feel strongly about other performers having that same opportunity.
HABIB: I feel indebted to the porn industry for giving me so much in my life—including my first positive representations of gay sexuality. I wanted to do more to give back to my community and the people that were putting their reputations and futures on the line to show sex and sexuality in a free and open way.
The current state of sex-and-porn-positivity in this country is truly abysmal. We like to think it’s getting better, but I’m not so sure. We have religious fanatics doing what they always do, sure; but then we also have quasi-religious neuroscientists coming up with pseudoscientific nonsense about porn affecting the brain. We have sex-shaming “no fap” groups for hipsters, and anti-sex feminist groups demonizing women’s sexuality. Anti-porn sentiment will show up again and again until sex-positive people can drive a stake through its heart and burn the remains.
PLAYBOY: How does somebody become a member of APAC? What are your meetings like?
PRESTON: You just have to be a performer, and we have certain criteria surrounding who is a performer and who isn’t. Of, course there’s some grey area there. Like, what about people who were in a bunch of movies in the 1980s but haven’t performed since? What about someone who’s done a few XTube scenes here and there? In these cases, the board decides.
HABIB: The discussion is always happening online via the members’ forum, and we meet formally as a group once a month.
PLAYBOY: What’s APAC’s relationship with adult production companies and talent agencies like?
PRESTON: APAC makes it a point to work with agents and production companies, many of which are big supporters of APAC. We are directly involved in industry protocols and advocate for change when necessary, but we also encourage performers to support each other. We’re not only interested in uniting performers; we’re interested in uniting the entire industry.
PLAYBOY: APAC released its video “Porn 101,” a thorough introduction to the ins and outs of the industry, earlier this year. (When viewed in mid-October, the YouTube video had more than 195,000 views.) Will there be more APAC-sponsored video productions?
PRESTON: “Porn 101” was the first big project that APAC worked on, and we had support from the entire industry. The video is an educational resource for current performers, but also educates those interested in joining the adult industry. If people have a better idea of what they’re getting into, they’ll make better choices for themselves. Better choices mean a healthier, happier, and safer industry.
HABIB: We’ve got plans to create more educational videos; most of which will be focused on one topic, from “What to Bring to Set” to “Understanding Your Sexual Health.” Like the 101 video, they’ll be available to the general public as well, with hopes of dispelling myths about porn and humanizing performers and making the industry more open.
PLAYBOY: What have you learned from being an APAC board member?
PRESTON: Being a part of APAC has definitely forced me to be more patient. The adult film industry is such an instant-gratification industry, and running an organization is not. It’s hard to have all these grandiose ideas, but then reign yourself in and start small. Being an adult performer myself, I see changes that need to be made, and I want to take care of and address everything right away, but this is not possible if I want to see APAC continue to be successful.