When I was a small child and dead set on being a ballet dancer when I grew up, I had this teacher. She was tough. Compliments weren’t given often, when they were they really meant something. She believed in sweat, good pain, and struggling towards perfection. After one performance, she asked how I thought I had done. I said I thought I’d done ok. She then told me that if I don’t come off stage thinking of at least five things that I will do better next time, I might as well quit and take up running or knitting or field hockey instead.
Having taken that lesson to heart, I could nitpick my performances for hours. I do nitpick my performances for hours. I enjoy obsessing over how to make things more interesting, efficient, prettier. I pay people who have far more experience than I do to watch me train or rehearse and yell out constant criticism. This is what it takes to have a hope of being competent. Martha Graham (one of the pioneers of Contemporary Dance) is quoted as saying “No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching…” Complacency will get you absolutely nowhere. Anything worth doing is difficult and requires hard work.
I do pull ups and leg lifts until I feel like I can’t do any more, and then I cooperate when an instructor insists that I do another three. Full disclosure: this cooperation is usually accompanied by whining and muttered profanities. I’ve torn bleeding holes in the skin on my palms and the backs of my knees. I have hard-won calluses in those places now. I’m proud of them. The frequency of hand-job requests from my sexual partners has declined drastically. I perform without a crash mat, if I fall during a show I’m hitting the hard, unforgiving floor… probably with part of my spine. When you know that falling could result in serious injury, it adds a little extra motivation to stay in the air. If I leave a training session with an ounce of energy left, that means I was either doing it wrong or need to look for more challenging exercises and tricks… and this is pretty much a hobby for me. You don’t want to know what the full-time professionals put themselves through.
Which brings me to the things that make all of this worth it: the people you see on the left side of this picture. The people taking the time to stop and watch me perform for them. The people clapping to express their entertainment and pleasure when I do something they like. The people who chase me down after a show with compliments. Every single one of those people is wonderful, and Chicago was a particularly great crowd.
My career in pornography has been/still is pretty cool and all, but there is nothing in the world I love more than finishing a live performance knowing that I was better than I was the time before and hearing the applause of an audience who appreciated it. Thank you.