Q&A: Jiz Lee Talks First Book
LOS ANGELES — Adult star Jiz Lee has announced a September release for “Coming Out Like a Porn Star,” a new book that contains personal stories from more than 50 porn professionals who “came out” — or chose not to — to family, friends, and lovers.
Published by ThreeL Media and edited by the industry veteran Lee, the collection reflects society’s view of sex as experienced first-hand by its workers, the award-winning performer said.
“I struggled with the reality of telling my family about my increasing involvement in the adult industry,” Lee writes in the Introduction.
“Were others out to their parents? How did they talk about it to their siblings? What could I learn from their experiences? In asking the questions, I’d hit a nerve. Everyone had a story to tell.”
The contributors represent a wide range of sexualities, ethnicities, and genders who share their stories on intersecting topics such as coming out as trans and queer and instances where performers' own voices push back against media that further stigmatizes the people — particularly women — who have chosen porn as a career.
Lee included essays by notable industry figures such as Annie Sprinkle, Candida Royalle, Nina Hartley, Joanna Angel, Stoya, Christopher Zeischegg, Conner Habib, Lorelei Lee, Ashley Blue and more. A full list of contributors can be found at ComingOutLikeaPornStar.com.
Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, author of “A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography,” wrote the foreword, while the book cover was designed by Jamee Baiser.
In this exclusive interview, Lee discusses how "Coming Out Like a Porn Star" came together and previews several other upcoming projects.
XBIZ: How does it feel to be this close to your book release?
JL: Between writing my own piece and wrangling over 50 contributors, the process has left me feeling relief and exhaustion. However as the publication date nears I've been feeling a ‘second wind’ — especially now that book tour and panels are in the works. It also feels terrifyingly vulnerable. I think I feel this both as an author/editor/creator, and due to the sensitive nature of the topic. I've exposed a lot about myself through this book, as have many of the contributors. Several of them have used pen names, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered that strategy myself. It's a calculated risk.
XBIZ: How long did you work on it?
JL: This project has been five years in the making. It began in 2010 when I started to come out to my family and asked peers informally about their own relationships and process. I recall conversations with Belladonna and Sinnamon Love, and later with Dana Vespoli and Tyler Knight, and many others who I gained a lot of insight from, despite not having them as contributors.
In 2012 I considered the self-publishing route, consulting with friends who had published their own books, including Lux Alptraum, Audacia Ray, Ivana Ford, and Allison Moon. After seeing how much work goes into publishing and considering everything else I'm juggling in my life, I concluded that signing on with an established publisher was my best option.
I consider myself lucky to have found the perfect publisher in ThreeL Media. I heard about them through hairy pornographer Nikki Silver, whose photography book, ‘Unshaven,’ was the first to be released through ThreeL. When I learned Tina Horn was the Creative Director that sealed the deal. As a sex-positive culture curator, a sex worker, and not to mention a literary genius, my first introduction to Tina was years ago through her brainy, seductive zine. I have a lot of trust in Tina and know I'm in good hands.
In 2014, I signed on with ThreeL Media and revamped the call for submissions to begin what has yet to be the most difficult task: soliciting contributors. Tons of people had a great story to tell, but few of them felt confident as writers or were comfortable publishing their story for the public record.
XBIZ: How would you describe the experience putting this book together? What did you learn from it?
JL: The experience has been overall very rewarding. I've learned a bit about editing. I've mostly learned about the power of asking others for help. I think most people are excited to share their experiences and be invited to be part of a project. I've lost count of how many people have helped make this book a reality, from those working directly behind the scenes, to each of the contributors, to those who simply shared their enthusiasm and encouragement.
XBIZ: What other projects are you currently working on?
JL: Well, besides continuing to help organize a book tour and panel discussions for the book, I can focus attention on the other projects I've been juggling. I've recently wrapped up the IndieGoGo campaign for Pink & White's new film ‘Snapshot,’ which is in production July 27-Aug. 7. It's another large beast, as I am coordinating over 40 cast and crew. In my downtime, I'm co-editing the ‘Porn Studies Journal special issue: Porn and Labor.’
Working on this has been different from my commercial book deal, as it is unpaid and is intended for a scholastic audience. (Though I do think academics will find value in ‘Coming Out Like a Porn Star,’ which will already be cited in Shira Tarrant's forthcoming book with Oxford University Press!)
There's a few fun gigs and shoots in the mix. With porn now occupying such a large portion of my life, two years ago I started competing in Olympic triathlons. Training for these three sports (swimming, cycling, running) gives me much-needed downtime and forces me to prioritize my health above all else. It's been so rewarding that I've raised the bar — this September I'll compete at Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz. A change is better than a rest!