Onscreen shagging to a boom-chacka-chacka soundtrack remains stigmatized in puritanical America. Despite the distinguished lineage of adult talent in non-pornographic films — a list longer than John Holmes'super-schlong — porn stars rarely cross over into more "legitimate" areas. Lit-lovers will want to read on, though: starlet Kayden Kross is making waves as a published short-fiction writer.
Before we check out her fiction, as well as the more mainstream work of some of her colleagues, a few guesses at the life of a porn star.
If we learned anything from Charlie Sheen's winning porn meltdown last year, it's that adult-industry performers have flexible schedules — particularlycrème de la crème “contract girls.” As Capri Anderson's manager explained, high-end actresses shoot typically four films a year, spending two to three weeks on each. Even with exclusive endorsements and appearances, that's still over six months free.
Some preferred outlets of porn diversification are a bit...obvious, like reality TV (try Googling “Survivor + pornstar”) and liquor (if Jesse Jane's goddess-inspired tequila doesn't wet your whistle, try a swallow of Ron de Jeremy). Autobiographies are customary, too, perhaps none as famous as Jenna Jameson's New York Times bestseller How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale.
So here's what's groovy about Kayden Kross: her contribution to Harper Perennial's Forty Stories positions her with Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins, National Book Award-finalist The Zero), Blake Butler (There Is No Year), and other young or established writers. In the collection's sparse bios, the only indicator to Kross' onscreen persona is a sorta cheeky (NSFW) website tag. “Plank,” which first appeared on her blog, reads like a breathless, second-person lucid dream:
You threw your head back and faced the sky and watched the way the green never caught up to the blue, watched the way they spun when you tried to stay too still.
A major tease in 1,400 words, way more so than Kross' multiple roles inPerfect Secretary: Training Day. Besides the repeating “screaming and wet” line, “Plank” isn't overtly sexual. See for yourself. And her long conversation with The Instructions' Adam Levin is worth a read while awaiting her next short story or Complex column.
So who else is equally talented in porn and prose? I'm a fan of alt-porn performer Zak Smith's vivid, figurative artwork, like his 2004 Whitney Biennial contribution: page-by-page illustrations of Gravity's Rainbow. Smith's visual memoir We Did Porn combines sexy, acid-toned portraiture with postmodern asides on tentacle porn (see above; there's that Pynchon again!) and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Kross' bosom buddy Stoya gets geektastic gold stars for reading Terry Pratchett and (very NSFW!) William Gibson. Plus, she debuted Stoya's Bookclub, video-reviewing Chad Kultgen's Men, Women & Children alongside Kross.
C'mon, Stoya, let's see that insight in print, preferably in the post-Neuromancer realm! A sexy screen starlet writing sci-fi — now that turns me on.
Image: 100 Girls and 100 Octopuses (detail) via Zak Smith