An adult film star has spoken out about how the industry helps support 'invisible disabilities' and has improved her mental wellbeing.
Sinn Sage has just woken up. A peer into her living space - along with her own admittance - reveals she's a night-owl, the frames of bat pictures lining her walls eluding to her nocturnal nature.
It's hard not to ask fairly raw and sensitive questions given the nature of the adult film industry - and how many narratives against it accuse it of being damaging to mental health - but Sinn is quick to reassure: "It's okay to ask me anything."
Three of five adult film stars to sit down and chat with UNILAD, Sinn strips it all back and reveals the impact 20 years in the industry has had on her mental wellbeing:
While acknowledging the industry certainly 'isn't for everyone and isn't something everyone can do', Sinn explains being an adult film star has always been 'a big part' of fulfilling her dreams - having been 'jumping in-front of cameras and in theatre' since the age of five.
When I asked why she didn't choose the mainstream film industry, Sinn replied: "Pursuing a career in Hollywood? F**k that s**t. To me, that’s more abusive, because that’s lying about what it is.
"At least the adult film industry is honest. We f**k. That’s what we do. Whereas the mainstream industry it’s: ‘If you suck my d**k I’ll get you this job'. That still goes on. You also have to deal with rejection and scraping to live."
Sinn reflects on the glamorous world of Hollywood's not-so glamorous effects on the mental wellbeing of many women - arguing the #MeToo movement having occurred long before within the adult film industry.
Twitter has acted as 'a big megaphone to the industry' for a while, so powerful in elevating performer's voices it's swiftly 'taken some men's careers out'.
Subsequently, Sinn sees the mental health's of adult film stars as well-supported by an online community and taken seriously within the industry.
However, social media also has a dark side within the world of adult film, opening up the possibility of performers' mental health being negatively impacted by trolling.
"It doesn’t make its way to my eyes often, but it's going to slip through no matter what. For anyone you can only take so much before you start to collapse regardless of industry or who you are," Sinn says.
One particular incident became 'constant and un-ending' for Sinn.
"When I blocked their email address they’d just make a new one and get after me any way they could," Sinn reveals. "Some of the things they’d describe were extremely violent and scary. They were able to find out all personal information about me."
Sinn says her mental health was 'pretty strongly' affected by the stalker, despite how she likes to think she's 'mentally tough'.
"I'm not someone who has anxiety, yet this harassment led to severe anxiety and depression. I couldn’t sleep. I had never had problems with that before," she says.
Thankfully, the stalker was located in the US, Sinn found their phone number and address and contacted the police.
However, Sinn had to speak to an officer 'like five times' before they took it seriously and pushed through with prosecution.
Ultimately, just like how the type of pornography - fetishes, fantasy and extreme violence - are not a reflection of the performers but of viewers and their desires - the dangers of the porn industry often don’t come from within, but come from outside.
As Dee said, the lack of representation in the industry also lies with consumers opposed to stars themselves.
While recognising her position of privilege as a white, cis woman, Sinn admits she had her 'own hang ups about [her] body' when entering the world of adult film due to the 'heroin chic' and 'incredibly skinny' ideals of the 90s - Sinn being a 'big butt girl'.
However, as years have gone by, Sinn's realised there's been an increase in 'many different sizes and shapes of people' in the industry - all successful - giving her security' in her body, as well as making her a 'more confident' and 'stronger person'.
When it comes to stereotypes, it's not body image but the opinions of those outside porn which are cliched and affect Sinn's mental wellbeing the most.
Despite mostly performing in 'passionate lesbian' videos or 'loving and consensual' films with her husband, when younger, Sinn enjoyed being 'hit hard, whipped, roughed up and hair pulled'.
"Some porn portrays women getting throat f**ked and slapped - a vast majority of women in those scenes knew exactly what they were getting into, were 100 percent informed and said, 'Yes, I want to do this because I like it'."
Sinn hates that 'some people are convinced porn is men abusing women'.
"The people who make these claims are completely erasing any agency we have over what we enjoy getting involved in. I feel like that is the big problem with sex work overall."
It's also dismissive of people to demonise the adult film industry when it acts as a massive support for those with 'invisible disabilities'.
The star knows a handful of people who have lupus (a long-term autoimmune disease) and many with 'some sort of invisible disability' whether mental health or physical.
Sinn argues: "We choose this kind of work because we can decide if we’re not feeling well one day, we don’t have to work. But when we’re feeling better, we can work five days in a row. We’re the ones in control of our lives.
"You have people with these disabilities trying to fit themselves into society which says, 'This is how you’re supposed to live your life' - It doesn’t work for a lot of us."
In order for the mental wellbeing of adult film stars to be better supported in the future, Sinn hopes to see 'a little more acceptance'.
"I think OnlyFans did that: It showed it's not just salacious porn people doing this, but your neighbour too, as a result of the pandemic.
"It brought it to our living rooms," she reflects.
However, Sinn ultimately notes it's very much 'baby steps forward' followed by 'a lot of push back'.
"It might take 100 years, but I think younger generations could help with seeing sex workers as human beings and giving us a seat at the table.
"We face housing and banking discrimination - we’re not a protected class - we all have a story if we’re moving into a new place about what we do for a living to be able to get a lease or buy a home.
"The reason why sex work isn’t legal is because of the patriarchy - because it doesn’t want women commodifying their own bodies. It doesn’t like to acknowledge we might have this power over men and we could provide for ourselves with only our bodies in ways which men do often, but it’s okay for them to do it, i.e. construction work.
"Virginity too is a patriarchal construct, this precious thing you must treasure until you gift it. F**k no dude, that’s so damaging on so many different levels."
Sinn resolves: "My career has made me more confident and stronger as a person. It’s taught me how to set my boundaries and hold them - in ways when I struggled with when younger.
"You have to be fierce, stand up for your life and choices - be proud of who you are - because so much of the world wants to tell you you're bad, doing things wrong, or that this isn’t the 'right' lifestyle. I feel like it’s helped me not be affected by that.
"I do see a shift in global mindset happening, but like all progress it’s achingly slow. I hope people see [porn isn't] a big f**king deal. It’s just a job in entertainment like any other."
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