Sunday, March 1, 2020

THE CURIOUS CASE OF MAITLAND WARD: REFLECTION AND OBSERVATIONS ON AN ACTRESS'S UNIQUE CAREER CHANGE AND WHAT (If anything) IT SAYS TO THE FUTURE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD! (Note: It probably means nothing)

Okay, so-eh, I've been putting this article off a bit, but-eh,...

(Sigh)

Alright, let's just get this over with. So-eh, without going too deep into how this came about, earlier this year, I was at the AVNs.

NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Hold on, don't....- Let's- stop rushing to judgment here, let me explain. No, I did not, go, to the AVNs. I didn't buy a ticket or a pass or whatever, I wasn't at the Awards, and I wasn't apart of the show, nor did I go to the multi-day long conventions. I didn't do any of that. But, saying that, I was, technically, at the AVN expos .

(Annoyed sigh)

Okay, this is one of the reasons I didn't want to do this. Let me try this again, for reasons that I am not going to get into, the Adult Video News Expo, and all the surrounding events regarding that, happened to be, well, where I happened to be. I wasn't there for the AVNs, I was there, despite the fact that the AVNs were there. I was AVN-adjacent you can say. Adjacent enough, that, yes, it would be noticeable that the AVNs were there. So, yes, in a roundabout way, you can say, that I was at the AVNs this year. AVNs happened to be where I was, and I happened to be where the AVNs were.

Now, I know there's a bunch of questions, did I talk to anybody, did I meet anybody, did I see anything, can I even post this article in most of my the entertainment groups that I post in? That's honestly the big one I'm concerned about. As to the others.... Yeah, it was within my eyesight, okay. It was within my earshot, yeah, I occasionally talked to some people in the porn industry, who were at the convention, and yes, some of them I even recognized. And, even if I had something interesting to talk about regarding that, I probably wouldn't say, but I don't have anything interesting like that.

I'm not even certain this is truly worth covering. I mean, it's not entirely unusual for me, I have covered or discussed porn in the past to varying extents. Not lately, I did  a long time, ago, and even then, I was writing a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article about something so minor and obscure regarding the industry that I'm not even certain that article is official canon for this blog. It's like from a different era, when I was still trying to figure out what the hell I'm even doing here.

It's this article I'm thinking of if you want context:

https://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-comedic-post-on-subject-of-very.html

I've occasionally brought it up elsewise as well. That said, I do have thoughts on the industry in general, and I do keep up and follow it to a certain extent, and I don't just mean that I watch it occasionally, I do keep some track of the goings-on and controversies and events within the industry. It's not something I talk about much, but...- (Shrugs). Actually, I do have a weird connection to this industry. For one thing, living in Vegas means that I'm fairly closer to it in general then others, like, the fact that occasionally I happen to share the same space with the industry when they overtake the city. (The AVNs wield great power in Las Vegas; they basically run this town.) That's not entirely it either though; growing up in a videostore, my family often sold porn, 'cause back then it was generally common for most video stores to have a porn section. I remember hearing stories about the day the Feds came and took all our Traci Lords materials, when that whole thing happened. So, in many ways, it's just another entertainment product, so in some ways I kinda put porn on the same level as other more legitimate art forms.

It serves much the same purpose, and let's face it, the legit film world and the porno film worlds have a lot more in common then perhaps either side would like to admit. Both have a history of being on the cutting edge of technology in the industry, both appeal to the masses, while also cultivating an independent avenue of distribution, both have been the subject of censorship attempts from the religious right and by the federal government at times, both of them are constantly struggling to reconcile their past with the advent of more modern technologies that make it easier to bring their product to the consumers while holding itself up to an artistic standard, while simultaneously being at the forefront and being the innovators and revolutionizers of those technologies, from the rise of VHS, to high-definition, to nowadays, the availability of streaming and cutting out the middle men of large production houses to having content creators directly distribute their work to their audiences. They're also both often at the center of several scandals, and yes, there's even several #MeToo-type movements that have effected the porn industry as well.

So yeah, there's this level where I feel it's hard to completely dismiss the porn industry; I mean, there's a reason I call this an "entertainment blog" and not a movie or TV blog; I do have preferences, but I don't believe I should be restricting myself to them. So yeah, I think this is a legitimate subject to discuss on this blog, and since I, had an experience with it firsthand, I think I'm justified in talking about the AVNs. So, yeah, this blog is going to discuss my observations and experiences with this years AVNs.

So what did I think of the AVNs? Umm..., um..., they were okay?

(Shurgs. Deep sighs)

It's, it's what you'd expect them to be. I-eh, I honestly, don't have too much to say about them actually.

It's a long three-day convention with sub-conventions within sub-conventions, and several other minor events throughout the schedule and calendar... it's-, it's a lot of the porn industry promoting and marketing itself. I don't really-, alright, I guess if I was younger and more into this, then yeah, I can see getting really exciting about seeing and meeting my favorite,- well, actually they call them AVN Stars now...? I think they're trying to promote that as opposed to porn stars? (Shrugs) I don't know how Pornhub feels about that but,...- anyway, they're all busy working, really. It's basically like most conventions, everybody's promoting and selling, and it's an excuse for the industry people to gather together and make connections. It's a necessarily evil in that regards. I mostly kinda felt sorry for most of the workers there, I mean, I'm sure they were happy and all to be there, but...- maybe I'm just jaded by growing up in Vegas and not finding most things that others would find scandalous, or titilating, either of those things. I mean, I literally grew up passing a billboard once a week on the I-15, that was literally just seven topless girls in thongs, with their backs turned towards us, ("Crazy Girls" at the Riviera, look it up.) and the only times I ever really noticed it was weird was when there was people from out-of-town in our car.

Also, I think I just don't like conventions, really. That might be part of it. I know fan conventions for everything is the big thing for fans to get together, and well, obviously that's why I hate them, and while I did feel sympathy for the porn actors and others working the conventions, eh, some of the fans, well, that's another matter.... I will say that the Red Carpet for the AVN Awards, was actually a really amazing experience, and the fact that that hasn't become a "Project Runway" challenge yet, is a huge missed opportunity. Like, seriously, that's gotta be an ultimate challenge. Not just for the show, but you get the performers as models, and they're all different sizes and different styles of dress.... It would be so, fierce!....

Anyway, speaking of the Awards, I guess I should talk about them a bit. I didn't see the show live, I did catch clips of what happened, and in preparation I did try to- well, not watch anything, but look up some of the stuff. I will say this, the AVNs are a fascinating award show, in good and bad ways. For one thing, they have way too many nominees in some categories, especially the fan vote categories; if you the think the Oscars Best Picture at ten is obnoxious, then you don't even want to look at these. Then again, I don't know how exactly or who exactly should go about determining the best in porn. I know that sounds like a fun project to some, but honestly, like how do you even judge...- you know, maybe I don't want to know. They also have a bazillion categories I might add. I mean, I get why, and you know, they are an inclusive bunch, so I'll give them that.

That said, there is actually a lot of artistic achievement here that's being. Admittedly, that is a bit surprising, considering how far away it seems like we've gone from that longago '70s, "Boogie Nights" era of porn where you could actually claim that porn was trying to be mainstream and artistic, but there's still some people out there trying to make projects like that, and they're getting awards. The AVNs even had their own "The Irishman" this year, a 3 1/2 hour epic porno narrative feature called "Drive" that apparently was fairly groundbreaking in the medium. Also, like "The Irishman" it mostly lost to other films, although it did get a couple big prizes.

I guess, since I'm here, both metaphorically in the blog, and literally in the past, here, I might as well, rundown, some of the "big awards" they gave out. Seriously, there's like hundreds of awards, and dozens of nominees in each, I'm not going through them all. Something called "Teenage Lesbian" won Movie of the Year, they're equivalent of Best Picture. Apparently it was actually romantic and emotionally inspiring. (Shrugs). Angela White won goddamn everything, again. Seriously, she won like 15 awards this year, including Best Actress for "Perspective" and Female Performer of the Year, for the third year in a row she's won that. Male Performer of the Year went to somebody called, Small Hands.

(Slight chuckle)

Okay, that's kinda funny. Kayden Kross won Director of the Year, she's the one who did that "Drive" film. Yeah, the AVNs have awarded many female directors and even transsexual filmmakers in the past, so, they got that on the Oscars. Leading Actor went to "Perspective"'s Seth Gamble. Supporting Actor, somebody named, Tommy Pistol, (I guess Tommy Gun was taken...?) for "The Gang Makes a Porno", which I think is a spoof of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", which, is actually a pretty decent idea for an episode of that show, so I can see that why that one caught their attention. Also, Supporting Actress, also went to Maitland Ward, again for the movie "Drive". Maitland Ward...? Oh, I know that reference! That's-, well, that's really obscure but that's actually kinda clever.

You do gotta enjoy porno names sometimes, and I always like it when somebody takes an obscure pop culture name like that. I mean, the pet name and street name thing, that's a cool name but yeah, if you're actually doing it, be a little creative. Like-eh, I remember in the '90s, there was a major porn star named Tabatha Stevens? Anybody remember her? She was on Howard Stern all the time back in the day? I always liked that name; that's-, I don't know how many people would catch this immediately nowadays, but Tabatha Stevens was the daughter on "Bewitched". When Darren and Samantha had a girl, her name was Tabatha? I mean, she's not remotely connected to the character other then her porn name, but I like that kind of reference sometimes. (BTW, not related, but I think one of the reasons I hated "The Cable Guy" was because I studied too much classic TV as a kid and literally caught every single TV character reference in the film.)

Anyway, some stars still do that, there's a porn star named April O'Neal for instance, which I think is too obvious but whatever.... Maitland Ward though, that's- like, I caught it, but that's really obscure, but it is actually clever. She's-uh, does anybody remember on the last couple seasons of "Boy Meets World", when Cory's brother and Sean's brother shared a dormroom apartment at the university and then they ended up with a female roommate and they ended up in a love triangle with her?



Ugh, I wish I could've found a better clip, but yeah, the tall redhead that moved in, remember her, Rachel something. (IMDB search) McGuire! Yeah, the actress that portrayed her was Maitland Ward. That's actually much more clever then other names; she's named after an actress famous for living with two guys in a apartment. In hindsight, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm kinda surprised there's never been an porn star named Jack Tripper. Maybe that was just too obvious? Although, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm a little surprised she didn't go by Rachel McGuire, you don't usually use the actor/actress's name, although Rachel McGuire's a pretty generic name, so I can see why she switched it up. Although I wonder what SAG thinks of her though....

Also, it makes it a lot harder to find different photos of them. It doesn't help that they actually do look really similar to each other too. I mean, she picked an actress that she looks like, but it's really-um-uh...- it's really-eh..., really kind of annoying, trying to distinguish between them. They even look like each other at the same age now, not like how Maitland looked back then, but like how she looks now, which-eh, is very, um...- Um..., hold on,....

Um.... wait a second here? That's...- wait...?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/maitland-wards-journey-from-boy-meets-world-to-porns-a-list

Wh- wait what...!?!?!?



Oooooooooooooooooooooh-kay, we need to talk about this.... Well, I found a way to sneak this back into "legitimate entertainment". Perhaps there's a half-way decent chance this blogpost won't get banned by every FB group I post in.

(Loud uncomfortable laughter that doesn't die down quick enough)

Oh dear. Let me see if I followed this career path here, um, Maitland Ward, after retiring from acting, at around ten or twelve years ago after getting married, she essentially found herself a new career, as a social media star. She kinda got into the Cosplay World, and became noted for doing that, and then, she began exploring a more sexual side to herself on Snapchat, Instagram and other sites at the behest of her followers/audience there and, eventually this led to her, in her forties at this point, mind you, entering the world of pornographic filmmaking. Again, this is, the girl from "Boy Meets World".

Okay, there's a few things to unpack here, 'cause this is a really unusual and, well, modern story, dare-I-say? And I'm not entirely sure where to begin here, so let's start with, is this actually, an unusual and unique career path?

Despite everything I said earlier about how similar the porn industry and the film industry are, they are also actually really separate from each other. That wasn't necessarily always the case; back in the '70s for instance there were actually some pornos shot on major studio lots for instance, but I think it's safe to say now that we're talking two different worlds. Two different worlds, and two worlds that are notoriously difficult to cross between them. Not impossible, but difficult.

So how unique is Ms. Ward's circumstances here? Are there previously people who went from the world of legitimate acting/performing/entertaining, but then ended up finding success in the porno world? Is this something that happens?

Umm....- well, I mean, it is a popular cliche, the young starlet who comes into Hollywood, trying to make it big on the big screen and instead ends up in the seedy underbelly of the world of adult entertainment, that's a very common narrative, "E! True Hollywood Story" used to live on this cliche, so I have to imagine this has happened at some points. That said, I-eh, I actually don't know many examples of this. Like, real examples. The last time I remember something kinda like this was-eh, Jaimee Foxworth. She was, the little girl on "Family Matters", (Huh, both TGIF people...) the one kid from the show that nobody remembers, and basically got the Chuck Cunningham treatment on the show? Yeah, she ended up in the porn industry for a few years there during some troubled times she had after she became an adult, but even then, nobody even knew that 'til years afterwards.

If I dig enough I can probably scrape a name or two out of the muck of a obscure former child actor, or a reality TV person, or perhaps a pro wrestler/valet, couple other people who once made headlines, that found their way into the industry, but even then, I feel like I'd be stretching. Cause, most of those names you can think of, they didn't like, become regular porn stars or anything. Half of them they're mislabeled as porn stars or former porn stars because they were probably had a sex tapes that was released with or without their consent. Occasionally, maybe, somebody did a couple movies for a brief time in the industry, but I would find it very difficult to say that, Scott Schwartz, Dana Plato, Dustin Diamond, or Amy Fisher were really "porn stars". (If you don't know who Amy Fisher was, don't look it up, you don't need to know. If you do know, for God sake's don't remind Ryan Murphy about her!!!!! I don't need a miniseries about that!!!) Like, they maybe were in porn for a cup of coffee, but they didn't become part of the porn industry. And the few who you might say had a prolific adult film career, well, then, you got the opposite problem where usually they didn't have a particularly notable legit career to begin with. (And most of those careers were minor child stars when presumably they had little-to-no control over what they were in or anything.)

In fact, I might argue that it's more common and maybe easier to go, the other direction, go from working as a pornographic performer and then moving to legit acting. That legit sounds bizarre, saying it out loud, but statistically I think it's actually true, and I'm not even talking about those rare occasions when an actor/actress does something in porn at the beginning of their career and then later becomes a major actor like Sylvester Stallone or Cameron Diaz or Jackie Chan or whomever, I mean, people who's claim to fame was working in porn and then through their fame in porn, moved into legit mainstream acting like Traci Lords, Sasha Grey or Jenna Jameson. (Note: That said, I can also think of several porn stars who maybe had a minute or two of legit acting experience and then either went back to porn or tried to make the transition and it didn't pan out. It's a hard transition nonetheless, but evidence-wise, it seems easier to go this way.)

Which makes this case of Maitland Ward even more unusual because, while I think the myth is that people go into porn as a path to make it to legit acting, I don't think that's a real thing, certainly not anymore. Maybe back in the day when making porn was actually hard to create, and you had less product then demand and desperate actors and actresses would take porn work while simultaneously searching for more legit roles, but porn is easier to produce then ever. Once you're of legal age, you get a camera and maybe sign onto a camming site, and ouila, you're making porn. Okay, maybe you're ambitious and you get a little extra money, get some decent cameras and some editing equipment and lights, get a Schedule C tax form and now, boom, you got a little production company going on, but you wouldn't do that if you were trying to become a regular actor or filmmaker. Porn stars, for the most part these days, they want to be in porn. And by the way, nothing is wrong with that. In fact, I kinda admire that in people who work in this industry, especially in a country with a long history of ingrained sexual repression, I appreciate that there are people who are willing to put themselves out there like this, even if it is, just another kind of acting, it's in it's own way brave and daring.

That's kinda how it happened for Ms. Ward here. She took a few requests from her fans, found out that she rather enjoyed the act of expressing herself sexually on camera and to the world, and the more she did it, the more money she started making, and then the more bigger names in the porn industry came calling and now she's a two-time AVN winner and makes more money then she said she made acting regularly. (She also won for Best CosPlayer, yes, there's a subsect of porn for cos-playing porn stars, and apparently she's good at that too. [I'm being mean, she was actually renowned in certain convention circles for cosplaying even before she started getting into porn.])

Yet, she was, making money as a legitimate actress. Before she retired after getting married, she was getting pretty consistent and regular work. Even "Boy Meets World" was her second long-running TV show gig, she had a two-year run on a soap opera beforehand. She had a lot of consistent movie and TV roles over the years. She had some syndication money for "Boy Meets World" as well, she got a lot of pilots during pilot seasons. She wasn't the biggest name, and she wasn't a big star or anything, but by all accounts, she's a talented actress who got consistent work. I think it's completely fair to say that, up until she chose not to act for awhile that, she was a successful working adult actress.

Okay, that came out wrong, I meant, "adult actress" as in, she was an actress who was an adult.... I mean, she was a regular mainstream actress who got regular, consistent work. Now she's a-eh, successful working, adult actress.... "Adult actress", in this case as in, working in porn.

(Frustrated sigh)

And the weird thing is that her path to the porn industry, through social media popularity, is not that unusual within porn. I did look up a small number of the performers and stars who attended the AVNs Expo, or were nominated or whatnot, just to know what I was getting into and most of them have several social media accounts and they, obviously promoted the fact that they were all going to the AVNs and talked extensively about meeting their fans. And, when I say that they talked about "meeting their fans", I'm not saying that as a generality, 'cause they were literally talking about meeting their specific fans. Especially a lot of the people on camsites or on OnlyFans.com, and other pay sites and social media places that allow for the porn producers to talk specifically to their fans. Some porn stars even talked about specifically wanting to put a face to the name to the fans they were constantly in contact with and essentially paying their salary.

That's,- I mean, hey, they're putting in the work and they're getting paid, I'm happy for them, but, yeah, that's-, out-of-context that arrangement honestly seems creepy and scary to a certain extent. As far as I can tell there hasn't been a Rebecca Shaffer-like incident in the porn industry of any kind so far, and barring any OnlyFans hacks and leaks, well, any more..., anyway, the industry have bigger issues with deaths then this actually, so alright, I guess it's not that weird, and the worst case psychopath scenario are indeed worst cases, so.... But it's proven to be a profitable marketing and moneymaking avenue for most of the industry in one way or another, I'm not gonna criticize it.

Still though, that is something that's unusual, the fact that celebrities, artists, creators, that they all do have such close contact to the people who, consume the products. You can also make a decent argument that the same thing been going on with people getting famous for streaming on Youtube or Twitch or whatever and then getting regular famous work in the mainstream media.

I mean, is an interesting beast and it's got a lot of strange twists and turns and, I guess it worked out pretty well for Ms. Ward. She used her fame and notoriety to help promote herself and she listened to the people who listened to her and she found herself a career rebirth here. In her '40s no less. That's another thing, from a time when it used to be there was huge turnover in the porn industry based on age and certain beauty attributes, people stay in the industry longer then ever and all shapes and sizes and most kinks are fairly well accepted, now.

So-eh, what are we to make of this? I mean, are we suddenly gonna see a run of famous people ditching their legit acting and going into porn fulltime? (Shrugs) Well, probably not. The fact that it's easier then ever for people of all ages and sizes to enter the porn industry, also means it's easier to leave and while Ms. Ward found success and enjoyment at it, I can't imagine that it's going to be a new trend, where anybody who hasn't had a hit project in a few years suddenly goes to the porn route. I mean, it's not like Renee Zellweger had the choice of "Judy" or "Southern MILFS Gangbangs 4".

Maybe this means it'll be more common and accepted for people to go back and forth between porn and more mainstream projects? (Shrugs) I doubt it.

I mean, could there be more celebs who are bored with the opportunities that mainstream acting presents them for porn as a challenge? That's something that Ms. Ward's brought up. She said one of the reasons she retired was because she getting tired of being offered quote-unquote "Disney Mom" roles and she found the projects that she got offered in porn to be more interesting and challenging. Now, part of that is that, well, she's the one with the SAG card and training, so yeah, she's the one that's got the juiciest actingist roles there are in the industry.

Although now, we're down the road of, "Are there so few good parts for women in hollywood that the mildly successful actresses has to go to porn to find roles...", and-ehhhhh, let's not open that can of worms. Besides, that's not a good argument anyway. I know it's still it's acting, but it's porn, you don't stay in it and become a part of the industry and have the industry embrace you, if you don't, you know, enjoy or a have a healthy fascination/appreciation with sex. And sex on camera at that!!!! That takes a certain mindset and type and I can definitely say that most mainstream actors, um, they don't have that. This is only from my experience, sure, but many of my actor friends are the shyest people I know, especially the women, acting is what gets them out of their comfort zone and opens them up, and that's usually much different instincts then what most in porn have. Anyway, even if you're not acting in a movie or anything, there's other things people can do, and frankly she was well-off enough that she didn't even have to do this if she didn't want to.

I mean, the same thing has kinda started happening with Hollywood too. People are becoming famous on Youtube and through other social media and they're ending up getting work through that in legit filmmaking, maybe this is just a side-effect of a social media trend. One that was bound to happen eventually, and it just happened to be Maitland Ward, because all the right circumstances of celebrity, person and everything else led for it to happen with her? That's probably it.

Yet, it is a striking case though. It's almost like she went backwards, first she became a star actor and then she fell into the seedy underbelly world of adult film. Only it's not as seedy as it's portrayed and it's mostly just, a bunch of people signing autographs, promoting their next projects and trying to make movies and talk about their next big projects at occasions where they meet with fans....

The fans who pay for their product. Can you imagine how it would be if we just told our favorite actors or directors or whomever what projects to work on, and they did it? Of course, I know a lot of fans who would love to have that kind of power and influence but yeah, generally, that's not a good thing in most cases, so I hope we aren't going to start telling Saoirse Ronan to start doing avant-garde Pinteresque stage pieces involving her playing an amoeba with a heroin addiction or anything.

Eh, maybe I'm reading too much into the similar parallels between the industries, but with Ms. Ward's move to porn, it's proof that the lines are definitely blurrier now then they've ever been. Sure, from a convention perspective, the big difference between AVN and Comic-Con seems to mainly be that the AVN people have way more interesting toys, but cheap jokes aside, I just don't know quite what to make of this, at least on a broader scale of the entertainment world.

It's, it's definitely a unique career path for someone to take, one that I- I genuinely don't think could've ever happened prior to now. That's part of why I'm more fascinated with this then others might be. If you don't look closer and just scan the headline then this might easily be those cliches about the failed starlet turning to porn, but it's not at all that story. And yet, the right stars did have to align for Ms. Ward to be able to make this sudden a shift in career choice and to pull it off. I can't figure out the scenario where this could've happened to any other successfuI actor/actress of Ward's stature or higher at any other point in history. I guess it makes it easier for somebody else to do it in the future? I don't know what that means though, and I seriously doubt that it's going to become a new thing, but... (Shrugs) it's something.

I mean, I guess I would be more appreciative if her fans/followers told her to build a new kind of flower that cures cancer and she did that instead and found out she liked being a great new scientist or something. Although whom am I kidding if somebody told me that I wouldn't try it either, and even if I did, I'd fail miserably, so to each their own I guess. (And considering Twitter, I guess it could've been a lot worst.)  I do think these days, being in the arts, any arts, for a long period of time, especially a career like acting, and for that matter, porn, it's, a calling for oneself, and the fact that someone has managed to hear both those callings and been successful at both in their career, well that's an accomplishment worth noting.

So, congrats on your new calling Ms. Ward, I hope when I'm your age I'll be happily successful in my first true calling, once I figure out what that actually is, hopefully. 

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