Adversity, Advocacy, and Affirmation

It’s Monday, and as most of us — myself included — head back to work, I thought it would be fitting to talk about some adversity I once faced on the job. No, not at Titan… at my day job. Yes, I have one, and yes, they know about the “other” work I do. Well, they do now.

Porn is not my full-time job. I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science and have worked as a software developer at the same large Boston company for the last nineteen years. Porn is more like a hobby for me; it’s an opportunity to do something new and exciting and fun, give me a little extra spending money, and… oh yeah… have sex with some of the hottest guys on the planet.

I filmed my first scene with Titan in August of 2011. Because post-production takes several months, there was a bit of a buffer before anyone knew I’d started working in porn; that scene — with Hunter Marx in Surveillance — wasn’t released until January of the following year. My first public appearance was at the Folsom Street Fair in September 2011; even then, none of my scenes had come out yet, plus that was out in California; I had not “come out” as a porn actor in Boston yet. All that changed on Saturday, December 17, though, when I made my first official hometown appearance as one of the hosts of the Manhunt X tour at Boston’s House of Blues. It was an amazing experience; everyone was really supportive — friends and strangers alike — and I had a fantastic time.

The following Monday, though, I arrived at work to find the following email waiting in my inbox (I’ve changed the names in this post and removed any specific references to my employer, by the way, due to confidentiality concerns):

My name is Steve Richardson and I work in the Customer Affairs department. My office received a message that I wanted to share with you. Would it be possible to stop by my office so we can talk briefly? Let me know what a good time might be for you.

“Oh shit,” I thought nervously. “Why does Customer Affairs want to see me? I don’t even have any direct contact with clients. Could it be…?”

When I entered the Customer Affairs office later that afternoon, I was greeted warmly by Mr. Richardson, an upbeat gentleman with a brightly-colored shirt and a firm, friendly handshake. I had a seat in his office and asked him what was going on. Rather matter-of-factly he said, “I think the easiest thing to do is just show you.” Then he handed me a printout. It read:

To: Stephen Richardson, Office of Customer Affairs
From: Concerned Customer
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 3:01 PM
Subject: Unacceptable Staff Behaviour

To Whom It May Concern:

It is absolutely appalling that your organization would hire and employee an individual who openly participates and promotes such a despicable act as adult pornography. Tolerance of diversity and non-discrimination of an individual’s race, sex, religion, political affiliations, and sexual orientations are to be expected but to knowingly employee such an perverse individual that engages in obscene and lewd behavior is reprehensible.

In recent times, individuals have been castigated for sexual misconduct and or behaviour that is not to be associated with an organisation’s philosophy. You should be more diligent in knowing what behaviours could be potentially damaging to its credibility and overall image. Patrons would be hesitant, philanthropists would be reluctant, media would be unforgiving, and staff would be stigmatized through association.

Jesse Jackman (performing with TitanMen) may have his own reasons for participating in such salacious activities but we hold you to a much higher standard and hope that a resolution can be achieved that does not adversely affect the organisation.

– Concerned Customer

Grammatical errors notwithstanding, I immediately felt nervous. What would my company’s response be? I’d researched our code of conduct thoroughly, and was almost certain that I was well within my rights as long as working in porn didn’t interfere with my day-to-day responsibilities. Almost certain. But not absolutely certain. Was I about to be reprimanded… or even fired?

I immediately told Mr. Richardson — Steve — that the message’s statements about working with Titan were true, and commented that whoever wrote the complaint certainly seemed to have very strong opinions. I also told him that I had researched my decision to work with Titan very carefully and was convinced I was not in violation of any corporate policies.

The first words out of Steve’s mouth? “I just want you to know that we think this is absolute bullshit.”

I had never been more proud to be an employee of my company.

Steve was very understanding and reassured me that I’d done nothing wrong, and that the organization was behind me 100%. He also recognized the sensitivity of the matter and its potential for stigmatization, and as such he had contacted me directly, without first contacting my immediate supervisor (which is otherwise standard practice). The matter would be kept sealed. He was more concerned for my safety than anything else… he wondered if the complainant might have some sort of grudge against me, even though I don’t know why anyone would. Steve even offered the support of Customer Affairs to act as an advocate on my behalf should this type of harassment recur. Clearly, my company was on my side.

Even though I’ve never received another complaint and haven’t heard from Customer Affairs in the ten months since then, I’ve always been curious… who is “Concerned Customer” and what does he or she have against me, or against porn? I also sometimes wonder if something like this will happen again… but if it does, now I know that it’ll lack teeth, because I know for sure where I stand with my company. There’s no reason to be nervous anymore.

The office scene from TitanMen’s Fast Friends

21 replies
  1. frankie
    frankie says:

    The client is either British (s is used in organisation in the UK as well as the spelling of behaviour) or wants to impress you as a proper English person. It’s interesting that he seem to know what you look like, possibly a fellow employee; perhaps in the closet, jealous or very insecure. Since you state that you work behind the scenes, it seems rather strange that any of your clients would go through this much effort to out you on your other career. It speaks greatly about the integrity of your company to stand behind you as they should. I hope that you don’t have further harassment.
    Thanks for sharing with your fans this sensitive issue…

    Reply
  2. Sam Glass Jr.
    Sam Glass Jr. says:

    First of all, kudos to your company for standing behind you (no pun intended), as what you do in your own free time is your business, and you are NOT doing it as a representative of the company. If you worked for, say, the Catholic Archdiocese, that would be one thing, but that’s beside the point. Second – I pity the person who sent that letter, because they are dealing with some personal issues, obviously. The only way anybody ‘discovers’ someone’s vocation as a porn actor is if they are LOOKING for it. 99.9% of the time, nobody finds this out completely “by accident”. I’m just happy that this episode had a better outcome than the usual…

    Reply
  3. Eddy
    Eddy says:

    It must be somebody in the company since you have no contact with customers. But really impressed with the way management stood up for you, Ed

    Reply
  4. AL
    AL says:

    Wow, that person really seems to have gone through some hoops to identify and locate you, or it is indeed a co-worker of yours, or a friend of a friend of a friend… Since he or she obviously knows that you do porn (and even with which studio), and I’m assuming that you don’t walk around the streets of Boston with “I’m in porn and also work for company X” written on your shirt, that means that he/she was LOOKING at porn. Probably one of those sad cases of feeling guilty about ones sexuality and/ or porn consumption, and then blaming the “perverse” performers for seducing them. Did your company reply to “concerned customer”?

    Just out of sheer curiosity, would you say that there are any jobs where it wouldn’t be acceptable to also perform in porn in ones free time? Over here in England, there was just recently a case of a young teacher being fired because he worked as a go-go dancer (not even a stripper) on weekends…

    Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      My company wasn’t able to reply to Concerned Customer because the form was submitted via their website and there was no return email associated with it. I suppose the Customer Affairs probably could have tracked down the IP address of the comment submitter, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth their (or my) time.

      I’ve thought a lot about which jobs might not be appropriate for current porn actors to pursue. In an ideal world, it shouldn’t matter one bit. Unfortunately there are certain professions for which working in porn just simply isn’t compatible… mostly because certain (in my opinion, certain shortsighted people) might believe that the porn work will either 1) reflect badly on the company or organization, or 2) in the case of teachers, somehow “corrupt” the youth being taught, despite keeping the porn work completely divorced from the classroom environment. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality.

      A recent story from here in Massachusetts really pissed me off. A highly-qualified English teacher was the subject of essentially a “witch hunt” by a local investigative reporter for having performed in a few adult films before he was hired. That, in my opinion (and apparently in the minds of many others, judging by huge outcry of support for the teacher that ensued), is crossing the line. Whether or not he used to be a porn star should have no bearing on his current employment! If you’re interested in reading the whole story, the Huffington Post did a nice write-up on it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brody-brown/massacusetts-teacher-gay-porn_b_1119934.html

      Reply
      • Greg
        Greg says:

        Jesse – Kudos to you for getting into porn AND still maintaining your “day” job! You and Dirk are both beautiful and intelligent men who, in more enlightened societies, would be held up as models of what REAL men do – they owe up to what they do and love like there’s no tomorrow! You do both (and beautifully, too!).

        I was curious: since your first scene didn’t go public until January 2012 but the email was sent in December – how did that “Concerned Customer” ever see you in action???? It makes me think someone truly has it in for you – probably a jealous queen who would give her right nut to spend one hour with you! Keep following your heart – you’re obviously intelligent and we all know you’re HOT HOT HOT – plus you have a partner who defines the word SEX to keep your heart safe! If that doesn’t define success then I do not know what does!

        Reply
        • Jesse
          Jesse says:

          Thank you so much! What a great compliment… it really made my day. Sometimes you set the best example when you don’t even know you’re setting an example, right? 🙂

          You’re absolutely right… C.C. would not have seen any of my scenes at that point. However, the guys at Titan had already made the signing announcement (back in August, I think) and they’d already posted a few behind-the-scenes videos of me on their blog. What I think tipped off C.C., though, is that only one week earlier I had made an official appearance at Manhunt’s 10th anniversary party at the Boston House of Blues. There was a profile of me in the local gay newspaper as well, so even though I’d been working with Titan for several months, the “secret” had just come out. I imagine that he or she only got as far as “there’s a porn star in our midst and I can’t accept that”… in other words, C.C. only saw me as a concept… and a filthy, immoral one at that. It’s a shame, really. There’s nothing wrong with porn; if C.C. doesn’t want to see it, C.C. doesn’t have to watch it! I hate it when people try to dictate the choices of others based on their own personal sense of morality. Fortunately, my company agrees. Also fortunately, people like C.C. — at least in my experience — seem to be few and far between. For the most part I haven’t had any trouble from anyone; most people who don’t approve of pornography tend to simply choose not to watch it.

          Anyway, I’ve been rambling a bit. Thanks again for your very kind words. They put a huge smile on my face. 🙂

          Jesse

          Reply
  5. Frank Knottyfor
    Frank Knottyfor says:

    I, too, would suggest that it’s actually a fellow employee of your company and probably someone who’s not Out and/or is jealous of you (and, possibly, of your physical attributes). The British — “our” — also suggests someone fairly well educated since I’d guess it was an affectation on the writer’s part.

    People are strange sometimes, even scary. I’ve been reading some comments on-line about the Navy SEALs who were reprimanded for divulging aspects of their activities — for pay — to a video game company and the vitriole and nastiness were extraordinary. There’re a lot of hateful people out there.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] (a beautiful early 19th century colonial in a quiet Boston suburb), have worked in IT at the same supportive, progressive company for over 20 years, and have even built up a modest but significant savings. Dirk, on the other […]

  2. […] By the way, my regular employer is totally fine with my little side career. It’s actually an interesting story; you can read about it at http://jessejackman.xxx/2012/10/15/adversity-advocacy-and-affirmation. […]

  3. […] By the way, my regular employer is totally fine with my little side career. It’s actually an interesting story; you can read about it at http://jessejackman.xxx/2012/10/15/adversity-advocacy-and-affirmation. […]

  4. […] of our families are here. I own my house (a 1200 sq. foot 3-bedroom in a nice suburb) and have an awesome full-time job at a cool company with great benefits; Dirk’s a freelance musician and can work pretty much […]

  5. […] How — if at all — has your porn career been effected by your non-porn career/job (or how has your non-porn career/job been affected by porn)? The two are, in fact, quite complementary. My “day job” gives me the flexibility to fly out to San Francisco, film a couple of scenes, and come right home (usually on the red-eye) to resume my normal responsibilities. Titan, also, has been great at working around my schedule. I’ve only faced one significant challenge: Last year, someone sent an anonymous (and somewhat threatening) letter of complaint to my day job’s Customer Affairs department; the letter called for my termination on the grounds that I make porn — how salacious! — in my spare time. My company’s response, though, was amazing. You can read the whole story here: http://jessejackman.xxx/2012/10/15/adversity-advocacy-and-affirmation […]

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