in

Meet the Therapist to the Porn Stars Who’s Also a Porn Star

Name a profession, and most likely someone has been kicked out of that job (or not hired) after being outed as a current or former sex worker, even though they’ve taken pains to keep their jobs entirely separate. Teachers. Nurses. Professors. Lawyers. Bankers.

Typically, such firings are legal under company “off-duty activity” policies; only four states—California, Colorado, New York, and North Dakota—have laws prohibiting employers from firing workers for legal off-duty activity. (Even in these states, if a sex worker is operating in the criminalized portion of the sex industry, it’s open season for firing them from their non-sex-related jobs if they’re outed, even though there was no crossover or other interference between the jobs.) In addition, many state professional licensing boards (such as for social workers and therapists) prohibit the license-holder from engaging in activity that “discredits the profession,” which can be interpreted widely.

Though social worker licensing boards—which authorize social workers to provide psychotherapy—do not have rules specifically prohibiting a social worker from also being a porn star, the litany of sex workers being fired from their non-sex-industry jobs certainly makes it a risky proposition. Nonetheless, licensed social worker Jasmine Johnson, owner of Blue Pearl Therapy, believes so much in both her work as a therapist, and her work as a porn performer and producer, she’s willing to push the envelope.

Under the performer name Jet Setting Jasmine, she is an international BDSM educator with her partner King Noire, and they also star in and produce porn through the studio they co-own, Royal Fetish Films.

The risks that sex workers face in being outed and losing day jobs, along with the criminalization and stigmatization that lead to these risks, and the stress these risks cause, are some of the main reasons sex workers seek out mental health support. And Jet Setting Jasmine is there to provide it: her therapy practice largely consists of supporting other sex workers in an environment that is affirming and non-shaming. As a sex worker herself, Jet Setting Jasmine is uniquely positioned to understand and empathize with the particular challenges and stresses of her fellow sex workers’ lives and work.

Here is the video of my interview with Jet Setting Jasmine. The text version below has been edited.

Between being a kink educator, a porn performer and producer, a licensed therapist, and a mother, you wear so many different hats. Please tell when these different threads developed, and how they overlapped at different times.

Yes, it’s been very fluid, my life as both a therapist and a sex worker. I did some exploring with sex work early on, coming right out of high school and my early college years, trying to recreate Coyote Ugly, or the Player’s Ball. But I was always in college and pursuing higher degrees toward my work in sociology, social work, and in gerontology. I always knew that these were very important aspects of my life—my sexual expression, as well as being involved in therapy. So they’ve always overlapped. I entered the porn industry about 10 years ago. My therapy career was really taking off, but I realized that it wasn’t as fulfilling without that other element of creativity and sexual exploration. So, I decided to continue to pursue all of my passions, regardless of how unconventional it may have been at the time.

Was entering porn while you were a practicing therapist a challenging river to cross? Like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to be putting myself out there like this?”

It was a pull-the-band-aid-off moment. It was like, “You know what’s under there. You know it needs to breathe. You know it needs to live.” And I never wanted someone else to discover my participation and the lifestyle and my desires to be an exhibitionist. I didn’t want it to be some crazy headline that let everyone know some “dirty secret.” Because I wasn’t ashamed of these desires at all. I did understand that they are not traditional in our culture. They’re not traditional for a Black woman, for a woman with a child. They’re not traditional for all the many reasons we’re policed on how we spend our free time as professionals, on what standards we’re held to, which are to some extent unrealistic and/or unfair.

I understood there would be potential consequences, but I was ready for it. I also knew that there was a niche within porn for real, authentic Black sexuality, for decolonized images and media. So, I was willing to risk it. And I did. There were some consequences from this decision, but I haven’t lost one family member or one friend that I know of. However, professionally, there was some pushback. But I was able to push back against the pushback. I know my laws and professional ethics. I know my licensing boards, and I’m not behaving unlawfully. So, here I am talking to you now about this journey.

What pushback did you receive in spite of not breaking any rules?

There was a grievance against me, claiming that I was not representing the profession well. My licensing board was able to see that the claim against me was unfounded. There was nothing that supported misbehavior or illegal or unprofessional behavior. I don’t sleep with my clients. I don’t cross their boundaries. I don’t allow them to cross mine. All of the protocols that you would practice if you worked in a medical center or group practice, I’m doing in my private practice as well. And so, as they were looking at these complaints, they may not have liked my decision-making for my life, or the autonomy that I choose. However, they couldn’t hold me to anything that would cause me to have to relinquish my position as a therapist.

Tell us a bit about your therapy practice.

I work as an independent contractor with a great organization called Pineapple Support. Pineapple Support network links sex-work-friendly therapists with sex workers who are in need, and will supplement some of the costs of their care. And I work with a couple of other like organizations, including the BIPOC Adult Industry Collective, with much the same setup. It’s great to be able to provide virtual therapy services and support groups; I was already doing this pre-pandemic. It’s important for people to be able to connect with their therapists from the most comfortable space, the corner of their bed, in their environment. And to be able to talk about things that are really typical to the lifestyle of a sex worker, which is often as normal as anyone else’s life.

We’re able to quickly get into what their presenting issue [is], because I’m not bringing preconceived judgments about their work. Having a fellow sex worker as a therapist allows them to bring their full self. Many of my clients tell me they’ve been in therapy for years, and they’ve never disclosed the kind of work that they do. Or they’ve made up some other type of work to tell their therapist. And it’s like, “Are you really getting health care? Can you go to your physician and not share your external factors that are contributing to your health, and expect comprehensive treatment?” It’s the same with mental health.

Having a fellow sex worker as a therapist allows them to bring their full self.

What are some of the issues you see that are unique, or more common, among sex workers seeking out therapy?

That high stigmatization. That constant concern and stress of whether your lifestyle is going to be interrupted by some thoughtless law—or rather, thoughtful, but thoughtful against you. Things that further marginalize or make it very difficult for you to do the work that you do. That’s always a constant. The way that it often shows up in sex workers is the difficulty in being able to take a break from work, being able to disconnect, because of that need to earn in case of an interruption in income. As of late, for many obvious reasons, with the global impact on finances, it’s having a trickle-down effect on people who purchase entertainment—as well as people not being able to go to strip clubs, and all the many places that sex workers are involved, such as modeling, or shooting porn. So, that is definitely having an impact. I think those are very parallel to what we’re seeing with most small business owners or entrepreneurs. However, it’s so stigmatized. We’re unable to apply for certain types of loans and resources. It can become really, really difficult for sex workers during this time for sure.

A lot of sex workers I’ve talked with will say something along the lines of, “My work is almost like therapy. I feel like I’m helping my clients.” Other sex workers will say, “I don’t want my work to be seen that way. It puts an expectation of more emotional labor on us. This is entertainment, not therapy.” What do you think about some of the differences and similarities between therapy work and sex work?

I definitely think there’s a lot of intersections. And a lot of it is based on style, personality, and skillset. I think that sex workers across the board are so diverse in how they want to provide their service, and how they see their service, whether it’s camming, shooting content, dominatrix work, fetish work, or hands-on, in-person sessions. Whatever it is, they have a style—whether they treat that as a creative art that they just want to share and be done, or if it is a transference of energy, so to speak, between them and their client. Some sex workers are very much like, “This is the time that I am at work, and I don’t want to do any emotional labor.” I think that a range of stances is great. Even from day-to-day, moment-to-moment, act-to-act, it’s important for sex workers to be able to honor those boundaries that they feel at that moment with that client, with whatever activity that they’re doing. Certainly, there is a formal and ongoing education and experience that comes with being a mental health professional; but there are definitely some key skillsets that can be found in any helping profession, including sex work. These include, but are not limited to: active listening, empathy, and working together to problem-solve through intimate sexual and relationship issues.

Let’s say that we lived in a society where sex work was not criminalized or stigmatized. Could you see a society where a therapist would say, “It’s not appropriate for me to work on this issue with you directly. However, I think you would benefit from working on this issue with a sex worker. Here’s a list of people that I trust and that my clients have gotten good results with.” Could you see something like that happening?

I refer my clients to cam models all the time. It’s a great way to help clients connect, practice communication, practice listening. It’s an opportunity for them to learn how to communicate their needs and actually see them actualized. It’s fantastic. It’s all the work that there’s no way in the world I can do ethically in a formal therapeutic setting. It’s legal, and there is a benefit to both parties involved. It’s not like sending someone out dating, and they’re practicing on people; that’s unfair to the people they’re practicing on! Whereas it’s totally appropriate to tell a cam model, “Hey, I want to practice for an hour flirting with you.”

When you’re in your role as a kink educator, you’re not a therapist. You don’t have a clinical or healing relationship with your student or your clients. But have you seen healing effects from people learning about BDSM, and learning about their fantasies?

Absolutely. You’ll hear people say, “I was able to use my safe word, and the person actually stopped, and this has not been my experience.” And that coming from someone who has experienced sexual trauma is huge. I can’t give that experience in a therapeutic setting.

What’s your intention around the porn you create? Why do you create it, and what change do you want to see in the world with it?

Our intention is to show people actually wanting to do the things that they’re doing on camera, and to allow the performers to guide the directors based on what it is that the performers enjoy and want to bring to the camera. Not what they’re known for, but what they’re enjoying that day. An hour before, a performer will say, “I know we talked about this, but I’m feeling a little bit of this.” And we’ll say, “OK, cool. Let’s make that happen.” That’s the very essence of Royal Fetish Films. We started it because people were saying, “We would watch more porn if we saw people like you, who look like us, who are into the things that we’re into, who aren’t stereotyped. Performers who model what sex looks like when you’re actually talking about it before doing it or after doing it.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’d watch that porn too.”

We put the camera in the hands of women. We allow them to show us the parts of the body that they would like to see. I love seeing how the body reacts outside of the genitalia. To me, sex is a full-body experience. So I want to see the full body reacting. That’s what you’ll see in the films that I direct. We want to see our Black bodies lit well, so that our full beauty is brought to film. We were told that people don’t want to see Black kink, that Black people aren’t into kink, that our films would not sell. That people don’t want to see people of the same complexion together. We have not missed a meal since, so they were wrong. I’m glad we followed our intuition.

We were told that people don’t want to see Black kink, that Black people aren’t into kink, that our films would not sell. That people don’t want to see people of the same complexion together. We have not missed a meal since, so they were wrong.

On that note you brought up around Black kink. I found a book in my research once written by SWERFs [sex worker-exclusionary radical feminists], called Against Sadomasochism. And in that book, there was an interview with two Black women who were very negative on BDSM, and who were saying, basically, “Any participation in BDSM is white supremacy because it’s eroticizing the tools of slavery—collars and whips and chains.” I can see how someone might view it that way, but obviously you view it another way. I’d be curious to hear your response to this critique that BDSM eroticizes chattel slavery.

What triggers one is a trigger and it’s valid. So for someone to have those strong emotional feelings to seeing some of the items that we use in a BDSM setting and feel that connection to slavery, I definitely can see that argument wholeheartedly. We work really hard to help redefine sexuality, and to help heal those generational traumas around sex and sexuality. It’s much bigger than collars and other items. Those items are innocent. It is what was done with those items that pose the issue. It’s the fact that those items were put on people without consent. And those people who were shackled weren’t even considered people. BDSM can get very complicated for people of color. Added to that, sex exploration is a privilege. I think that I need to state it that way. For Black and Brown people, we’re given a very small window of what our sexuality is supposed to look like, determined by society. When you think of a Black woman, and you think of stereotypes of our sex, it is this very salacious, very aggressive, and often incredibly objectified and caricatured version of us.

When you actually want to explore aspects of your sexuality that may be feeding into these stereotypes, it leads to cognitive dissonance. “I really want to enjoy that, but I’m not allowed to. The only time I’ve ever seen a Black person be whooped was in a way that was violent toward them because they were Black.” We, as Black women, are always having to be on top of everything. What a relief it is just to not have to make a decision. How nice it might be to not have to think for an hour when you’re with your Dom. We talk about how that could be a very different relationship than what you may think of with words like “master” and “slave.” You get to define that kink for yourself. That’s how I approach conversations about decolonizing sex. It is really allowing you to redefine what you want it to look like. And it may include some whips and chains. Or it may not if those items are triggering to you, and that’s OK too.

On your site, you have a category called “therapy fetish.” I thought that was interesting, because you’re probably the only porn performer doing therapist/client roleplay scenes who is actually a licensed therapist in real life. But you do it with a twist. In one of your scenes, you play a therapist who is guiding a client, played by Angelina Castro, on a visualization exercise about some of her sexual fantasies. And then, the sex scene between you and her and King Noire occurs within the context of the client’s fantasy. So actually, within the plot of the scene, nothing inappropriate happens between therapist and client, because it’s all in the client’s imagination.

I’m glad that you picked up on that! When I create a porn scene with a therapist roleplay, it’s important that, within the plot, the sex is within the client’s fantasy. It’s not actually a plot about a therapist taking advantage of a client. Other people are turned on by that kind of plot, and I’m fine with that. But I just don’t feel comfortable making that kind of porn myself. I wouldn’t want anyone to have this misconception of what therapy could be like!

Most sex workers go to great lengths to keep their legal name private, for very good reason, especially if they’re also operating in a strict professional context like academia or healthcare. What was your decision about being open about your legal name?

This has been a journey. I have been Jet Setting Jasmine, the brand, for ten years now. And I wasn’t doing all the things that I’m doing now at the start. Maybe three or four years in, I was like, “Oh, maybe we should change the name of the LLC to an unrelated doing-business-as.” Yet I kept asking myself, “Am I addressing my shame?” I got into this to be comprehensive within myself—to experience all aspects of me. And then, just when I got to that point of, “Yeah, your life is awesome. You’re doing all the things you want to do”—I noticed myself trying to pull it back apart. I was having cognitive dissonance. I was thinking one thing, but doing something different.

I decided to be intentional. This journey was about my sex and sexuality as a full human being, who has a socially acceptable role, who is a mom, who is a partner, who is in a poly relationship. If that’s what this is about, make it about that. I’m willing to do that because I get to be my full self. I don’t have to complicate things and decide who I’m going to be that day. I don’t need to keep track of, “What do I need to tell this person, and not that person?” And like I said, I never wanted to be outed by anyone. If I out myself, I get to tell the narrative. Like having this interview with you—these are my words. This is not someone saying, “Can you believe?” I choose my own narrative.

I know that you and King Noire teach a workshop on “Porn and Parents: Sex-Positive Parenting.” How do you talk to your children about your work?

King and I have a 20-year-old daughter, a 16-year-old daughter, and a 2-year-old son. When I decided that I was going to go into visual media and putting X-rated media out there, knowing that most teenagers are going to end up accessing porn, I decided to talk with them about it. Like, “We’re going to run into each other online, and let’s do the things that we need to do to prevent it. And before even doing that, let me share with you what decision I’m going to be making about my body and the things that I’m going to do, and how it may have an impact on you as my daughters. And how we’ll figure out how to work through that. But this is a decision that I’m making.” That’s what the conversation was over time. It started when they were younger, with having my toys and being like, “Girls, this is mommy’s bag of adult toys. I don’t bother with your toys, do not bother with mine.” I made it clear adults have items that are for them. “And this is how I expect you to respect my boundaries, like I respect yours.” As King and I started to become more popular, we keep having these conversations with our children about our lifestyle, about being in an open relationship, and respecting whatever their decisions will be when they are at the decision-making age.



#Meet #Therapist #Porn #Stars #Whos #Porn #Star

Why you shouldn’t be celebrating Pixar’s ‘soul’ for finally having a black runway

When a flat earth refused to concede and all hell shattered