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Just the Tips - with Asa Akira: How Can I Tell if a Video Is Consensual?

Just the Tips - with Asa Akira: How Can I Tell if a Video Is Consensual?: © MSA / London Entertainment / Splash News / Corbis

© MSA / London Entertainment / Splash News / Corbis

Dear Katherine,

I have this problem. I am so torn about sex work and porn. I like watching porn but sometimes I get creeped out because I don’t know what I’m watching and how to tell if people are really being objectified or not. Obviously, respect and consent are key…but what do those terms even mean if we can’t see them and you’re surfing on general search engines that don’t even tell you?

Thanks,

Worried About Consent

My Dearest,

You’ve got a modern problem on your hands. I’ve discussed consent at length before, but it is an evolving hot-button issue. I applaud your ethical pornography inclinations and awareness of the industry as one that involves real people with real bodies and very real boundaries.

Legally speaking, there are not many special measures in place to protect sex workers in pornography. Most of the legislation around consent has to do with having sex acts captured without permission and the sexual exploitation of children. For adult performers in the porn industry, the legal standards for consent to a sexual act are the same as for the rest of us. I’m not a sex worker, so I felt the best way to help answer this question was to consult somebody who is.

Her name is Asa Akira. She’s an adult film star and author of Insatiable: Porn — A Love Story, which the New York Post called one of the best books of 2014, saying Akira is “shameless, funny and even endearing.” Akira grew up in Manhattan and has been working in the industry since she was 23. Her literary inclinations—combined with her erotic ones—make her the ideal person to answer your question, and she’ll walk us through what happens on set and what to look for when you’re viewing from home.


THERE IS A ‘NO LIST’
“Every performer has what we call a ‘No-List,’” Akira says. “It’s the list of people we won’t work with, and sexual acts we don’t perform. For example, I have two male performers, one female performer, and triple anal on my No-List. This is considered to be on the shorter side. Our lists are given to the producers before we even step foot on a set.” This measure ensures that all parties are down for what’s happening.

ON SET
“Once we are about to shoot, the performers go over what we like, and don’t like,” Akira says. “’I don’t like my hair pulled,’ ‘I really love a lot of kissing,’ ‘Under no circumstances put your finger in my belly button,’ etc. This conversation serves to direct the action toward pleasure rather than making performers question what’s okay and not okay while shooting.”

AVOID AMATEUR
“Be wary of ‘amateur’ porn companies,” Akira says, “While there are many out there that treat their performers with respect - Bang Bros comes to mind - it seems there are many out there that do not.”

GO PRO
As with most industries, the professionals do it better. “In the eight years I’ve been shooting porn, I’ve never felt I was doing something against my will,” Akira says. “Every performer I’ve worked with has been consenting, and every production company I’ve worked with has been respectful.”

Akira recommends companies such as Wicked Pictures, Evil Angel, Brazzers, Jules Jordan and Elegant Angel, which she says are known for professionalism.

HOMEGROWN
Akira recommends visiting websites like hers that are run by porn stars, where you can be more certain that everyone is consenting, considering it is produced by the performers themselves.

READ THE FINE PRINT
According to the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, also known as 2257 Regulations, producers of any book, mag, film or image of any kind of an actual human being engaged in sexual conduct must maintain records for every single person involved. When you’re watching porn, check for disclaimers that cite the bureau of records. It’s a decent indication that whoever is making the flick is taking the law seriously.

ABOUT THOSE 18-YEAR-OLDS
“I entered the business at 23,” Akira says. “By that time, I had already developed the confidence to say ‘No’ when I didn’t want to do something. I definitely didn’t feel that way when I was younger, and while I have come across 18-year-olds who I believe are mature enough to voice when they’re uncomfortable, I do feel that 18 is too young in most cases.” While I am not one to judge erotic preference, I would say avoid that genre if at all possible.

“There’s no tell-tale sign that you’re watching ‘consensual porn,’” Akira says. “But by buying your porn directly from professionals — whether it be their DVDs, or their respective pay-sites — you can guarantee you’re watching ethically-shot, consensual porn. Because if you’re jerking off to something you don’t think is ethically-shot and consensual, you’re an asshole.”

You’re no a-hole, my dear. Heed Akira’s advice and surf in good conscience!

xK


Just the Tips is Playboy.com’s weekly advice column with professional matchmaker Katherine Cooper. Have a question for Katherine about sex, love or dating? Shoot her a note at justthetips@playboy.com or follow her @kathkathcoop.


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