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I was lonely and depressed as a student but becoming a porn star at university gave me confidence

I was lonely and depressed as a student but becoming a porn star at university gave me confidence
05 May
9:08

IF things had gone according to the plans she had growing up, then 25-year-old Jade would now be working in the fashion business.

It was her dream since she was little, and she pursued it determinedly for many years, studying fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University.

 Jade studied fashion at uni, and always dreamed of working in the industry

BBC

Jade studied fashion at uni, and always dreamed of working in the industry

She graduated in 2015, but while she’s found career fulfilment, it’s not quite in the area you might expect: these days Carly-Rae, as she’s known on camera, is a fully-fledged porn star, complete with a wardrobe not of designer clothes but stripper heels, sexy underwear and see-through tops.

It may seen a strange choice for an educated, articulate young woman – but Jade insists it has brought her far more fulfilment than a career in fashion ever could.

“I love my job, it’s changed my life for the better,” she says.

But while Jade likes to present herself as empowered – “a self-fulfilled woman” is how she puts it – it also seems clear that Jade’s choice of career is more complex than she first lets on.

 The independence of her job as a porn star attracted Jade to the industry

BBC

The independence of her job as a porn star attracted Jade to the industry

Strict upbringing and abuse

Jade allowed herself to be filmed for a BBC documentary called: “Jade, Why I Chose Porn” and at one point she tellingly confides that working in porn was a way of rebelling against her upbringing.

“My parents were so strict about everything I did that’s how I rebelled and ended up how I am,” she says. “If you let your child be their own person then she probably wouldn’t make the same decisions I did.”

More poignant, however, is the revelation that Jade was sexually assaulted when she was 16 – at a time when she had never even kissed a boy.

Understandably the traumatic experience had a profound effect on her.

“Anything that happens to someone at a young age when boys cross the line it is going to affect you,” she says now.

“Afterwards I was having sex a fair amount and I thought that was all I was worth.”

“Getting into the porn industry allowed me to mature, to grow into myself,” she says.

 When her student loan dried up, Jade took to selling explicit photos online

BBC

When her student loan dried up, Jade took to selling explicit photos online

“When I got into this, there were people telling me I was beautiful and it brought me out of my shell, it made me believe in myself more than I ever did before.”

“It’s given me independence and self-esteem.

“On some level I’m the last person you would think works in the adult industry – but often it’s the girls you never would have expected having sex for a living, like the quiet ones you used to see sat in the library with a book.”

 Jade makes good money doing something she says she enjoys

BBC

Jade makes good money doing something she says she enjoys

Jade wasn’t quite that girl, although she describes herself as a “naïve” teenager. She won’t discuss her family, although she describes her upbringing as “perfect.”

By the age of 13 however, she was already watching porn online.

“Boys in the playground at school were using all these sexual terms. I didn’t have a clue what those words meant so I started looking things up on the internet,” she says.

“It was curiosity really. We’re the generation that’s grown up with the internet, with online pornography, it’s more normalised for our age group.”

 Selling her photos and videos gave Jade enough money to go shopping

BBC

Selling her photos and videos gave Jade enough money to go shopping

Unorthodox student job

Initially a more traditional career path beckoned though: Jade was accepted on a fashion degree course in Manchester and embarked on student life in the city.

But as her student loan started to run out she took an unorthodox route to topping up her funds.

“I tried everything I could to get a traditional job to get some extra cash but every job in retail I applied for there were to 200 applicants for,” she insists.

“Then a guy I’d met online suggested I sell some pornographic pictures and videos.

“I already had some on my phone from previous boyfriends so it wasn’t a big leap.

“Suddenly I had £100 in my bank account every few weeks and I could go shopping and it made me happy.”

 Jade found that performing in adult films boosted her self esteem

BBC

Jade found that performing in adult films boosted her self esteem

Then, aged 19, she received an email from a website asking if she’d like to make a pornographic film. “I said yes, that I would absolutely love to,” she says.

The “basic” shoot involved a “very simple” boy meets girl scene. “I had no idea what to expect but I wasn’t nervous,” she insists.

“I knew nothing though – I turned up with just the clothes on my back. I remember them asking me where my underwear and outfit options were. But I enjoyed it.”

 Jade appears in a BBC doc about her career called Why I Chose Porn

BBC

Jade appears in a BBC doc about her career called Why I Chose Porn

Unhappy experiences

Quickly, it seems, Jade found that performing porn gave her a sense of self-worth that had been missing from her life: she describes her student days as “lonely” and “depressed” and says that her newfound porn career gave her confidence.

Nonetheless, it’s clear she has gone through experiences which made her unhappy, some of which unfold in the documentary.

In one scene, in which her male co-star is struggling to perform Jade can be seen having a panic attack as she worries about filming with him again.

In another more shocking incident, she confides that she has been bleeding after suffering a tear in her vagina after a vigorous sex session – yet feels she has no choice but to have sex with the same man on camera again. “It’s my job,” she says to camera.

Today she does not want to dwell on these incidents, saying they are “in the past”.

 Although the pay wasn't huge, Jade was making decent money from porn

BBC

Although the pay wasn’t huge, Jade was making decent money from porn

Full-time career

It was the start of what would become, post graduation, a full-time porn career, travelling to shoots all over Europe – among them Prague, Budapest, Spain, Austria.

“For two years I didn’t see my bed for more than about three days in a row.” she says. “But I found it very fulfilling. It gave me independence in a way that getting coffees as an intern in the fashion industry could never do.”

And while the pay wasn’t huge – some shoots pay £500 a day, some much less, with an hourly rate of around £12 – it was enough for her, by the age of 21, to rent her own city centre flat.

She was also able to fund a boob job, something she calls her “21st birthday present to myself”.

 Jade says men in the porn industry respect her more

BBC

Jade says men in the porn industry respect her more

“I didn’t do it for men,” she insists. “I wanted to balance my body out. I went from a small B to a DD. I wanted that perfect rounded shape.”

She insists that she’s never had a bad experience or felt vulnerable. “When I first started out I did some things I’m not proud of – someone was a bit rough with me,” she says.

“But it was because I was bottom of the ladder. Now in terms of what I do on set everything is agreed on before I arrive.

“If I think a guy is going too hard I will just tell him to stop and they always respect it.”

Like all sex workers, she has regular sexual health checks as 90 percent of sex takes place without protection. So far, she has emerged unscathed.

 On a shoot, Jade says she can always tell a man if she's uncomfortable

BBC

On a shoot, Jade says she can always tell a man if she’s uncomfortable

Life away from the cameras

Years later, she now says that it is her work in porn, not real relationships, that give her a sense of self-worth.

“In my professional life men treat me with nothing but admiration and respect. But I find in real life that’s not the case,” she says.

It’s one reason she has decided to remain single for the foreseeable future, describing herself as “asexual”.

“It’s just easier this way,” she says. “One ex-boyfriend was fine with it at first but then got jealous.

“It’s just easier to have either porn or a boyfriend, you can’t really have both at the same time.”

Her friends, meanwhile, are aware of what she does but are unfazed.

“They’ve known me a long time and they know I enjoy being outlandish. It wasn’t the biggest shock to them.”

 Jade's friends are unfazed by her unusual choice of profession

BBC

Jade’s friends are unfazed by her unusual choice of profession

Again this description seems at odds with the portrait of the naïve and lonely girl that Jade also likes to paint of her past self.

Either way, today Jade likes to think of herself as an entrepreneur as well as a porn performer.

She has given up travelling to shoots and instead works from her Manchester flat creating her own content, which she sells to subscribers.

“I work three days a week from my own home and while I’m not rich I’m not poor. For me it’s not about the money,” she says. “It’s about doing something I enjoy.”

 Jade was sexually assaulted when she was just 16 years old - before she'd even kissed a boy

BBC

Jade was sexually assaulted when she was just 16 years old – before she’d even kissed a boy

Is there a sell-by date on what she does? “Who knows?,” she asks. “I live each day by the day.” What about regret in the future? After all, the 60-year-old Jade might feel differently about what she did as a young girl.

“Maybe but I don’t think so,” she says. “I like to think that I’ll enjoy seeing how hot I was.

“I am proud of what I do. I honestly think that discovering the porn industry made me the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Jade features in “Jade: Why I Chose Porn” on BBC iPlayer and “Things Not To Say To Someone Who Works In Porn” on BBC Three’s YouTube channel

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