37.

You Will Grow Up

At least next year, we’ll waste less time wondering, “How could things possibly be this bad?” And then maybe we’ll start doing something about it.

By Stoya

Illustration by Ana Benaroya

Christian Mann was one of the adult entertainment industry’s greatest patriarchs, instrumental to many of our community bonds. During his 34 years in adult he held positions like CEO, vice president, and general manager at major companies. He was tried for obscenity in 1990 and acquitted. Two decades later he helped keep Evil Angel running while owner John Stagliano navigated his own obscenity trial. If pornography is the canary in the First Amendment coal mine, Christian Mann is a hero of free speech.

Three times over the course of my career I found myself on the receiving end of Christian’s gaze as he delivered his opinion. Once was on the role of negotiating in the context of business. The second was on the need for performers to organize and advocate for themselves. The third subject is mine to keep private.

On each occasion I made much better decisions because of his opinion, first securing a deal much closer to what I deserved from the company I was contracted to and later doing my share of the work required to found the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.

When I heard of his death on July 31, 2014, I was preparing for work. I paced the hotel room I was in as tears dislodged my false lashes and muddied the paint on my face. When I was finished crying I said, “Who are our responsible adults now?” And there weren’t many left.

For me, Christian’s death was the sharpest note of a year in which the awful state of the world could not be denied. For others it was clearly biased coverage of events in Ferguson, the propagandized beheading of James Foley, their own personal griefs, the racist overtones of Ebola panic. All conversations, whether with casual acquaintances or close friends, contained at least one heavy pause followed by mutual expression of how terrible everything seems.

Maybe your moment came earlier, in the 2000s while watching smoke pour out of the Twin Towers, feeling the steady erosion of privacy in the name of homeland security, or seeing bank after bank massively fail. Maybe your moment was some other event offered up by 2014’s hideous, sprawling buffet. Maybe your moment hasn’t come quite yet.

As my piece of this great generational disillusionment sunk in, I thought that this couldn’t possibly be the first time the world has felt so utterly sucky. So I called my mother.

Her moment of shattered belief was the assassination of JFK. For others of her generation it had come later, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy, or during one of the many revelations about the level of American involvement in Vietnam. But 1968 didn’t suck any less than 1963, and 2015 won’t actually suck any less than 2014 did.

The redeeming hope for 2015 is that even more of us will have stared into the immeasurable depths of suck that the world holds. We will have come to terms with the fact that things do not magically become better. Fewer will waste time standing around with our hands in the air saying, “My God, how could things possibly be this bad?”

We’ll have realized that we have to be the responsible adults now, to put on our grown-up pants and figure things out for ourselves.

Stoya is an adult-film performer and freelance writer.

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