Girlvert: the gonzo memoir of a hardcore porn star

  • Girlvert

Before the age of free adult tube sites, poor college students like myself had to sift through random thirty-second porn clips on our roommate's computer. Out of thousands of these teasers for full-length scenes, one sticks out in my memory. It featured a brunette girl no older than me encouraging two men to simultaneously perform an act that most proctologists would describe as ill-advised. What stays with me from that clip was not just the mysterious mechanics of the sex act, but the fact that this girl was able to at least feign enthusiasm for a sexual maneuver that looks more painful than childbirth. The girl was the 2004 AVN Female Performer of the Year, Ashley Blue. Now, with her adult career winding down, the woman behind the porn star persona, Oriana Small, is redefining herself as a visual artist and writer whose first book, Girlvert: A Porno Memoir, exploits her hardcore past.

Small slides onto the literary scene with the same reckless confidence, fetishistic abandonment, and the raw gonzo style that characterized her appearance in the arena of hardcore porn. For her, porno was never a back-alley shortcut to fulfilling Hollywood delusions of becoming a mainstream sex symbol; porn fulfilled her fantasy of becoming a Hollywood burnout with her boyfriend:

"'Yes! Let's do porn!' It was as if I had just proposed marriage. And as with the quick and rash decision of newlyweds, we just knew that everything was going to be awesome. We were going to ruin our lives. Together."

Small skipped the "tasteful" nude modeling and girl-on-girl scenes many new starlets shoot as a way of testing the waters and ensuring career longevity. She took on gigs that paid the most: gagging, double penetration, and anal. Following suit, Girlvert dwells on the gritty side of adult entertainment, on the things that happened between takes: anal enemas, drug infused impotence, herpes, shit, gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginitis infections, piss, five hour gang bangs, hookers, crack, methamphetamine, and lots and lots of cocaine. Small seems just as interested in covering the public and "glamorous" side of porn as she is in vaginal sex, which is to say hardly at all.

The book will be shunned by some within the adult industry for being too honest—particularly those Small gives thinly veiled pseudonyms and details how they exploit performers—but the memoir will also be dismissed by anti-porn groups in search of a poster child. For Small, porn was not just a way of subsidizing her growing cocaine habit or proving her love to her manipulative boyfriend; it became a way of exploring, empowering, and even expressing herself. She still sees the series of films from which the book takes its title as performance art. And, taking the full measure of what costars could deliver became a way of affirming her inner strength, however illusionary. Describing her first experience with anal fisting, Small writes:

"I was as hardcore as it gets. To me, it meant confidence. I could take anything now, and it would be no problem. Directors saw me as unbreakable."

The stirring cover speaks to Small's seasoned, and at times conflicted, attitude toward sex. It features a happy-eyed Ashley Blue with a fist crammed in her mouth. This is not an act of subjugation. The fist is hers, as is the desire to be gagged.

“I cannot have any kind of sex to this day until my hand goes in my throat. Pull out some of my soul’s thirteen-year-old innocence and curiosity. That’s what I’m reaching for. I can erase everything I know with that hand down my throat. Fresh tears, cleansing the mouth with watery saliva, recreating innocence—returned to an innocent state. I think it does work. I still go there.”

Her writing serves the same function. It is a purging, a reduction, a distillation. It is a search for meaning in the grotesque the same way paleontologists analyze fossilized scat to understand the being that produced it.

“I love to look at shit and fantasize about how it came to be. It’s so disgusting. I do love that feeling of strong repulsion.”

  • Oriana Small, AKA Ashley Blue

In many ways Girlvert is like viewing an anthology of Ashley Blue's sex scenes. An overarching plot and expository pillow talk are kept to a minimum. Small even suspends much of her feelings and reflections on porn beyond her immediate gut reactions. Like the narrator, readers eventually become numb to the endless orgies of cocaine and anal sex. This may not be a problem for Blue's hardcore fans who pick up her book for literary masturbation fodder. However, traditional readers may start to lose interest after their mental boners wane. The problem is the same as the one that keeps porn from going mainstream. Without an imposing storyline that justifies the endless string of hardcore scenes, the audience's attention wavers. The closest Girlvert comes to a moral revelation is when Small does all of her back taxes from her porn years and realizes how much money she blew through. Her dependence on cocaine and making a living off of hardcore scenes is dismissed in a few pages. She exits porn with the same ease she got in, and on the arm of an older man. As a memoir, the book lacks an emotional or revelatory money shot. With that said, Girlvert delivers when it comes to taking an uncensored and unflinching look at a world few people will ever experience.


Follow Oriana Small's photo blog at davenaz.com/oriana, follow Small on Twitter at Twitter.com/Girlvert, and buy Girlvert: A Porno Memoir at Amazon.com

Follow Alfie on Twitter, Facebook, or at shawnalff.com

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