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Whore Next Door: Guess Who's Cumming to Dinner - By - February 17, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Whore Next Door: Guess Who's Cumming to Dinner

Mere days after Beyoncé stopped the world with the release of her groundbreaking video (and Super Bowl performance) for “Formation,” which addresses issues of systematic racism and police violence against black people, a prominent adult talent agency sent out the following email to their list of producers:

“Hi all,

February is Black History month and all of this month our talent will be doing IR BG scenes at their lowest rate.”

Now, for those who aren't in the know, “IR BG” is the industry acronym for “interracial boy/girl.” It's code for when a white person has sex with a black person on camera.

While black female talent usually receive the same rate regardless of their co-star's race, it is common for white female models to ask for several hundred dollars more to shoot a scene with a black man. Scenes marketed as “IR BG” capitalize on the racism bubbling under the surface of the American porn consumers' psyches, often including racialized tropes of white feminine purity and black male sexual prowess. It's not uncommon, as seen in the 2011 XXX parody of Roots and the cringe-inducing 2015 release, Black Wives Matter.

But even more offensive are the discriminatory business practices so commonplace in the adult industry that few people even question them — let alone publicly call them out — as model Ana Foxx did when she posted a screenshot of the agency's email on her Instagram account last week.

“I'm sharing this with everyone so you can see first hand how agents treat this industry,” she wrote in the caption accompanying the post.

This agency's attempt at temporarily abolishing the practice “in honor of Black History Month” while perhaps well-intentioned, was also received as disrespectful.

Some female models choose or are encouraged by their agents to refuse to shoot with black talent altogether, or at least not until further along in their career, opting to shoot hardcore BDSM and even gang-bangs before they will shoot “interracial.” This perpetuates the colonialist notion that sex between people with different skin tones is taboo. Producers and agents condone and perpetuate these practices, resulting in an industry that has yet to meaningfully address its racism problem.

“I've lost a lot of money in the last nine years based on models not wanting to work with me because they don't do interracial,” says Jack Hammer, performer and director of HardTied.com. “I've been told by models that it would be detrimental to their career to have sex with a black man on film. That's some ignorant, racist, white-privileged bullshit.”

In what other industry is it acceptable to discriminate against black workers so openly?

Of course, the sexual id isn't the most politically correct place, and porn — as well as sex — can sometimes serve as a playground for taboo fantasies. There is certainly a market for this kind of racially charged content, as studios like Blacked and Bang Bros crank out hundreds of “interracial” releases every year. Thus, performers of color are often faced with deciding how much they are willing to be tokenized and for what price. In front of the camera, people can consent to be fetishized for the right paycheck, but behind the camera they must be treated with equality and respect.

“Black Lives Matter is about so much more than just living without fear of being shot by a cop,” says Cinnamon Maxxine, a porn performer and activist based in the East Bay. “For me, this movement is also about fighting for the right for my fat, black body to be seen as valuable and desired in this world.”

Beyoncé's groundbreaking video ends with the advice, “The best revenge is your paper.” She rubs her fingers together and raises an eyebrow at the camera reminding us that she is most definitely a “black Bill Gates in the making.” And while the sentiment may have made millions of people scream “Yasss!” it's important to remember American capitalism has been built on the backs of millions of enslaved black people, and our entire infrastructure is informed by that history of violence.

Beyoncé may have stopped the world with a chorus line of Black Panthers in short shorts, but Levi's Stadium and Pepsi are still run by white men.

In the capitalist endgame, “No matter what, you're still not free,” Jack Hammer says. “You're still under the thumb of some white person somewhere.”

Systems that perpetuate racism need to be stopped, including within the porn industry. But the terrifying truth may be that it will take so much more than a Super Bowl halftime show to do so. We may have to dismantle everything first.