“Can I ask you an awkward question?” he asked me in his drunken stupor, via Snapchat messages. “I’m going to do it anyway. Have you done porn, and if so, where is it?”

Names have been changed to save the innocent.

It was 6:04PM and considering he lives downstate, somewhere near Manhattan, it didn’t make sense that this was just something he had come up with on his own for fun, in some extreme drunken state. I had never thought of Kent as the city type. As far as I know, he lives in New Jersey and commutes to work in his khakis. That makes more sense.

I had known Kent since I was 4-years-old. We were playing “fake kitchen” in Kindergarten when I decided I had a crush on him. He was my first crush, essentially. We hugged once and it was wild when he touched my 5-year-old hand. Wow, this is what love feels like, my underdeveloped brain thought.

We continued to be friends and go to school together through 8th grade. Besides a stint of fake-little-kid-dating in 3rd grade, we were buds. As we progressed into high school, we stayed close friends, hanging out with our old middle school buds going bowling, attending concerts, and walking through county fairs. We called each other our “best friend” for a little while and we were. We didn’t keep any secrets from each other. We lost touch around my sophomore year of college, after promising to visit each other at each other’s respective schools, which were only about an hour or so away from each other. That gives Kent and I about 15 years of solid, real friendship.

Even though it’s been about 3 to 5 years since we had spoken at all, it wouldn’t be strange to hit up someone I had seen as like a brother to me and strike up a conversation. This, however, was very weird.

What do you do when someone you know very well and have known basically your entire life comes up with some fantastical image of you as a fake porn star? I doubted there were any self-help articles on this. I didn’t even check (hey now here’s one).

Full disclosure: I have not done porn and I don’t ever plan on doing any porn in the future.

So, during that 3 to 5 year stint, Kent had been coming up with this faux idea that his old friend was working in pornography based on my social media posts entirely. That’s pretty terrifying. Not only did he not feel comfortable asking me as soon as the thought came into his mind, but he did feel comfortable stalking me and asking if he could see it. How strange… I started getting this sinking feeling in my chest/stomach. Who else thinks I work in porn? Do I come off that way somehow? Short answer: no, definitely not.

To be fair, the film industries in Prague and Los Angeles, where I have mostly worked/studied, sometimes run alongside the porn industries a bit. Not only is “Hollywood” the hub of entertainment in the United States, but the Valley, right above it, is the hub for American porn. Same with Prague. The Czech city shares the title for film center of Europe and porn center of Europe.

So, I have worked with porn stars, but on things that have nothing to do with porn at all. This includes a feature film I worked on, a gay romantic comedy, in which the notoriously hung Ron Jeremy guest-starred. I worked on a short making fun of the porn industry in Prague that took place in a sex toy store. However, none of these films involved any kind of pornography and I was very explicit about what the projects were about.

Despite all of this, there’s no shame in working in porn, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine, but it is 2018 and I ran into a very well-made website of a 22-year-old international prostitute today that was linked to an interview they did with VICE. You can literally run a business doing sex work now and it’s totally fine. That’s not my point.

My point is that I have a completely different life compared to the one Kent fantasized about, one that does not involve porn at all. It’s suddenly okay for people to stalk others online instead of contacting them face-to-face and coming up with their own theories of what they are like based on how they look online, even if the person doing the stalking is someone you had known very well.

That idea was just utterly terrifying to me. Kent. How could Kent think I’m someone completely different than who I am? Doesn’t he know me better than that? That 3 years wouldn’t change a person that much?

Hey, maybe it does. Student loans are so high now that maybe people are heading towards sex work as a means to sustain themselves. If it pays well and entry-level office jobs are trying to pay $12/hr, I don’t blame someone for wanting to do what can allow them to pay their rent, their bills, to allow them to live their lives.

It’s just nuts to me that social media can screw someone’s perception that much. I blocked Kent on Snapchat.

We can be friends in real life if he ever wants to hit me up and get a drink or something, but he’s not allowed to see how I portray myself online ever again.


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