Above: Photo by Rob Venditti of Bulldawg Studio
By Jack Vidra | @JackVidra
The popular opinion is that people in the porn industry are psychologically damaged, that our work is a form of recovery over abuse, or that we live risky lifestyles of drugs, drinking, and sex. I like to think that my life paints a different picture.
I have never seen myself as a social deviant. I was never abused. I was born a very sexual creature and never felt that sex was wrong or forbidden. Being more interested in men than women never seemed wrong to me. I grew up in a conservative household, and my parents were very affectionate. I started masturbating before I even hit puberty and instigated several sexual experiences with childhood male friends. I had experience with oral sex at age 11, anal sex at age 13. I experimented with dating girls but knew I was not committedly interested in them. At a young age, I wondered why my attraction to men was a problem for everyone else.
I joined the Marines during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was a technical expert in an infantry unit, and being open about my sexuality was impossible. Before online apps, we were always in fear of being caught. I found it exhausting to lie about things that I didn’t find shameful. I loved being in the Marine Corps, and I had significant success. My decision to get out was primarily based on me wanting to live in my truth.
I came out officially at age 22 and dated monogamously over the next ten years, as that was the example I thought was acceptable. I learned a lot about what I wanted, and what I wasn’t willing to put up with. Always the more sexually adventurous one, I pushed to communicate about wants and needs, experimenting and fulfilling fantasies. I became frustrated feeling like I was always apologizing for my approach to sex. Along the way, I began to think there must be something wrong with me. I thought I should be embarrassed, and if I wanted to be a professional, responsible adult with a job and a relationship, then I needed to suppress myself.
I thought sex-positive people were unstable rebels. I thought that, if someone did any type of sex work, there must be something wrong with them, and they must have to do it out of desperation. I remember hearing one ex-boyfriend say that he would never date anyone who had done porn. After we broke up, I realized how suppressed and insecure he was. If doing porn made me un-dateable, then I didn’t care to be.
After my career as a chef had reached a successful stride, and I felt like I had security in my identity, my self-worth, my finances, and my relationships, I knew it was time to do something I’d always wanted to do. I wanted to do porn. I wanted to do it because I had always been afraid of it. I had been asked by several studios that had seen some of my freelance modeling work, and I had run out of reasons to tell them no.
I did it. It is so much harder and stressful than it looks, especially your first time. The attention can be overwhelming at first. I learned to try and approach all the attention with humility, and take the negativity in stride. I know now that I will never be everyone’s ideal, and the fact that I don’t have to please everyone is very satisfying. It makes handling rejection easier. Someone could walk right up to me and say, “You’re ugly.” To them, it might be the truth. And that’s fine. But theirs isn’t the only opinion that matters. So why should I spend time trying to change their mind?
I have a hubris about the way I look, but I don’t consider myself flawless. I am short, I have scars, freckles, and a crooked tooth or two. I have never been fond of my nipples or my big ears, but these are traits some people like about me. I try to be the best version of myself. I appreciate all my traits now, and I appreciate different traits in others. I don’t agonize about why I don’t have a certain person’s physical attributes. With this acceptance of myself, I was able to see and appreciate differences in others.
Porn actors are lumped in with sex-positive, sexually aware people from all walks of life. I have grown to see the beauty in people who do not fit traditional archetypes. It’s empowering to see them loved and appreciated for their differences. People in the fetish communities, people in drag culture, and transgender people have taught me a valuable lesson: No matter what your physical traits are, you can find someone that embraces you. I now feel that even though I may not fully understand someone’s different viewpoint, I can appreciate it.
This is not me advocating for you to do porn. This is me pushing you to do something that scares you, to put yourself in a situation that makes you learn about people and opinions that are not your own. To live in your truth, and own your actions.
Nothing can be scandalized if you don’t hide it. I wish I could encourage people to have this strength, which I firmly believe gives you a genuine appreciation for others. Judge people on their deeds, and the content of their character first. Porn has been my vehicle for that, and in its own way, porn has given me a clarity that I never thought I would achieve.
Jack Vidra is based in Chicago and works as a Chef. He has worked with Raging Stallion, Titan, Hot House, and has had recent projects with Deviant Men and Boomer Banks’ project for Cockyboys. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram under