Jay Smooth is a Polish-born porn actor based in Los Angeles. A former athlete, Jay joined the industry in his late twenties. Today he works in a variety of industries, including the mainstream acting world, as well as the ‘adult’ one. After connecting with Jay on Twitter, he enthusiastically agreed to an interview, and over the course of a long conversation we discussed the industry, societal attitudes towards sex and porn, and the possibility of using porn as a sex education tool.
Thanks for talking with me today, Jay!
I’m very happy that you’re doing this. I always tell my fellow performers who have big audiences, especially the female ones, that the presence of people from this industry in the mainstream has to be way larger, and this discussion has to be conducted at the level of a normal, intelligent discussion. We are in the 21st century, and we have to be civilised about something that is our human nature.
How would you define sex?
I define sex as physical contact between human beings in a sexual way. It’s more on a physical level, for me, than on an emotional level. You can separate your deeper feelings from the pure act of sex.
What about sexuality?
Sexuality is the way humans communicate their sexual power, their sexual energy, with their environment. Some people are more sexual than others; some people have very little sexuality in them. That’s why there can be misunderstandings, especially in relationships, when one person is very sexual and needs to express that sexuality, versus the other partner, who is not. It happens all the time.
Some of us approach life in a more sexual way because we have more sexual energy and sexuality appears in every single moment of our lives: we perceive the world with sexual energy. When you meet somebody and you have lots of sexual energy another sexual person can feel it easily. I feel it very quickly when I meet people, and I feed from it, because I have a very large amount of sexual energy. I discovered it when I was younger. At first it was very overwhelming, because, you know, I’m looking around, thinking, ‘Is this normal? I think this is not normal, there’s something wrong.’ But once you find yourself surrounded by similar people you feel it is not something weird anymore. It is actually very natural. Many people are afraid of this energy, because of societal norms, culture, religion which all stigmatise sexuality and shine a negative light on it.
Intimacy is very special to me. Intimacy is something that is very real between partners. The sole act of sex doesn’t create intimacy. ...if I have a romantic partner and we have sex, we can create intimacy because we have something special that doesn’t occur just like other physical acts do. We connect on a higher, emotional level. It’s like the highest level of sexual energy and trust that two partners can have.
People ask me: ‘You have sex all the time – do you really have sex at home, with your loved one?’ But that is the real thing, for me. It’s something that…I can’t really explain in words, because the connection that you have with someone you love, and the trust and openness, it’s like love, a flower that grows, it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a process. There are so many chemicals to it that I’m probably not knowledgeable enough to explain, but I feel it, and I see that big difference between performing and having intimate sex. So, of course, I’m a very emotional person, but because I do this kind of work, I am able to distinguish between those different levels of emotional involvement in those acts.
How did you become involved in the porn industry? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did it just happen?
When I discovered my sexuality, at first, it was pretty scary because, obviously, I was like every teenager and young person trying to discover all those pleasure points and what really happens. I was super shy as a kid. I started to feel like I was definitely more sexual than the average person - because you feel it, it’s just in you, it’s how you perceive life, how you look around, how you discover everything. When I started having relationships with girls, I was still shy, but that was always there. As a teenager, I discovered pornography; basically, my uncle said, ‘Hey, watch this channel after 10 pm, there are so many naked women there. Obviously I was so curious so I had to watch that. This was software erotica. Then I discovered a collection of my father’s VHS cassettes with 80's porn, I saw them and obviously I became very intrigued, and that triggered something.
How old were you?
I believe I was…fourteen, fifteen, maybe? When I grew up in Poland, I never experienced any real sexual education. I discovered sex physically, by reading, by researching. There were those adult materials, and it was like – ‘Oh wow!’ Some inspiration. It stimulates you. I’m sure that porn affected me; I don’t think porn changed me in the sense that I wouldn’t do what I do if I’d never discovered it. It just helped me to be myself more: I found a place where I could be myself.
I was in professional sports for many years. That career ended because of an injury, so I turned to my ex-girlfriend who happened to be a model, I started modelling, it worked out, I started travelling. I went to school, graduated from university – I have two degrees from two different universities. I worked in the field that I’d studied, I didn’t like it, and at a certain point in my life I was mature enough to make the decision: ‘You know what? This is an avenue that I would like to pursue. I’m ready for this, mentally.’ I always liked to perform. I always liked to be on stage, speaking, acting, you know: poems, speeches.
If I had started when I was very young, who knows what would have happened. I might be lost, not confident enough. I think when I tried myself in the industry I was ready mentally, but I wasn’t ready for what I was getting into, so I had a very rough beginning. I had to learn the hard way. In adult performing, there’s no help for male performers, you make it or break it. They throw you in the deep water, and if you can do it, you can do it, and if you can’t - ‘Sorry, next.’ There are only a handful of us; there are really very few guys who can constantly perform at a certain level, and it’s a very difficult club to be in. That’s the reality of performing and making a living out of it, because doing it occasionally, as a hobby, is a different story.
The Realities of the Industry
It’s a very difficult, stressful job. It’s a lot of pressure. The male performer, in the straight performance industry, takes all the responsibility. The woman is the star, she gets all the credit and she is getting paid way more than the man, on average. There are very few male performers who are getting paid similar wages to women, and of course, that comes with experience and ranking.
I am getting a lot of messages from guys asking me how they can start this career. I tell them that this job is not like having sex with your girlfriend in your cosy bed. I tell them, ‘Okay, first of all, go to a swingers’ club with your friend or girlfriend, and try to have sex with people staring at you. If you can do that without a problem, you’re on the right track. Then, have somebody that you don’t know well and you’re not comfortable with do the same thing with you, in front of other people. The third step is to do the same thing in a very hostile environment, with everyone looking at their watch – because it’s business, don’t forget – under the pressure of those lights and everything, in an artificial environment. If you feel that you can perform in these conditions then maybe you should try yourself in this job. But be careful if you screw up you may burn some bridges right away.
This job is like acting. People think that acting is a glamorous profession. No, you wake up at five in the morning, you practice sixteen hours on set, then your close-up comes and you have to deliver it fifteen times, the same way, with all the emotional involvement. It’s the same thing. It’s work, it’s a lot of work, believe me! And sometimes you have to deal with characters who are tough. My job sometimes is being a psychiatrist, a sociologist, before I even start a scene: I’m dealing with somebody who’s in some turmoil in their life, and I want to put out those fires, because if I don’t do this, I will have a hell of a day, believe me. So as you see not everything looks so easy and glamorous. Of course, they are amazing, fun days but it’s work and as a male performer you always have to be professional and responsible. At least I am holding myself to these standards.
How has the internet affected the industry?
The business is very difficult nowadays. The internet damaged the adult business very much. Few tube sites that offer free, often stolen porn give away so much content that myself and my fellow performers put some much effort to make. People stopped paying for porn and the younger generation think that they deserve everything for free and are bragging about that. In addition to that, there are so many amateur performers and webcam performers from all over the globe who offer amateur content that it is much more difficult for professional performers to make good money. The internet gave us an opportunity to have this conversation face to face through Skype, communicate better and connect the world but it also diluted the brand of porn. The business went from a handful of performers to a huge number of performers who are doing their own content, doing videos and Skype shows, private shows, in corners of the world where they’re making what is a lot of money for them, but not for me here in Los Angeles. And I have to compete with this market, unless I’m working with a big studio, right? So that’s the 21st century of the industry.
You mention that woman performers get paid a lot more – so that’s the exact reverse of the mainstream acting industry. Are women paid more because the camera focuses on them more, making them the object of desire, as opposed to the man?
The straight porn industry is based on women. The women are the stars. The men used to be just props; now, fortunately – that’s why there’s a place for me in this industry – there’s a greater variety in our audience. There are women, there are couples, there are people who maybe like to watch more aesthetically appealing situations, not a stereotypical disgusting, fat guy who has a decent, big dick – sorry for the word – and she’s just in ecstasy, without even any foreplay, he’s ramming her right away – that became the standard. It’s unreal.
Since the audience were mostly males, the companies only cared about catering to males. And those old-school pornographers, as I call them, they still cater for this predominantly male audience. Even in the events, like the AVN events, which are like the Oscars for porn: whoever has more financial interest to push their ideas, they’re being glorified. It doesn’t matter what artistic value their work has. It’s business, and unfortunately, as long as that is what’s being promoted to the mainstream, we’ll be surrounded by those opinions that view porn negatively, left and right.
There are other alternative styles of porn, but you have to dig for them, you have to put ‘porn for women’ or ‘pretties’ or whatever. You have to put in that effort, and most people… you know, if they really want to dig, they’re going to dig, but there’s not like a standard that promotes a different way of approaching this. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing, the same scenarios: huge dick, little girl, super rough sex, you know. They’re fantasies!
Beautiful People in Intimate Situations
I really like to work for companies that value the quality of the content and who appeal to a wider range of newer customers: couples, females. It can shed a different light. That’s a new trend that can be put to the mainstream and say, ‘Hey, I think this is really pretty; I think that we are artists; I think we are doing things that shouldn’t be stigmatised and shouldn’t be negatively approached. We create positive energy. We spread sexuality, which is a positive force. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for sexuality, for sex! If we look at Ancient times, I don’t know, Romans, Greeks – they worshipped the body, they sculpted men and women. And now we’re in the 21st century, and we’re still in mediaeval times.
I love to perform for companies like Frolic Me, SexArt, X-Art, EroticaX to name a few. Beautiful content. They love to depict beautiful people in intimate, life situations – I’m drinking my coffee and she’s there – it’s fun, not this staged, fake stuff. There’s a genre for this, there’s a place for that. I like to bring quality and connection. I love to really give a performance where there’s a connection and it feels real. I believe in those values.
The sex begins way before you start taking off your clothes.
Absolutely. For me, I see kissing as one of the most sexual forms of expressing yourself. People think sex is intercourse, that it’s genitalia. For me, kissing is so much more intimate and sexual than intercourse. Because you can have intercourse and be looking at your watch, and I literally did it for some videos where I was really doing it mechanically, in contrast to when I really have a connection to my partner and there is something there in contact, touch, kissing – it can turn into something beautiful. It’s artistic.
I always have a conversation about limitations with my fellow performers that I don’t know. I always tell them, ‘I’m never here to hurt you. If you feel uncomfortable, let me know, for whatever reason.’ This is important. I respect women. I’m not this stereotype of male performers, where some people say they are former rapists or abusers. Some people, unfortunately, are bad, and I’m not going to deny that.
I’m really happy to see that Erika Lust and others, especially a lot of female directors, took that baton and tried to lead the way. I told Erika, I think if anyone will save this industry, it will be women. People will listen to women more than men on these matters of promoting sexuality. I’m very encouraged when I deal with people, especially women, who are interested in adult content, because I think it’s very empowering and important for women to be true to themselves, just as men can. There’s nothing worse than living your life and regretting that you never really faced who you really were. Everybody is different and everyone has a different path to happiness.
Mariella Hudson is a travelling writer of international origins. You can read more of her work on her blog, Strange Wild Birds. Mariella is currently researching for a podcast that explores the gaps in sexual education by recording and discussing the personal experiences of people from around the world. To get involved with the podcast, take her survey on Twitter via @mariella_hudson