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Heather Corinna: Writer, Artist, Model, Photographer, Sex Actvist & Educator, Dyke, Feminist, Erotica for Women Pioneer, Boxer and Curvy Chica Extraordinaire

Is the photography, fiction, poetry or nonfiction/journal porn?

That really depends on how you define pornography. Is it material made for sexual entertainment that also portrays or celebrates sexual behaviour that degrades, dehumanizes, exploits or abuses? No. Do I create the material for the purpose of a viewer's sexual entertainment? No. Do I create the material to sexually arouse or incite a viewer, reader or myself? Sometimes: some of my work has that intent or experience, and just as much of it -- if not more -- does not. Generally, I intend to examine sexuality, to document relationships, to explore the body and how I and others perceive it, to examine womanhood and the variances between my perception of it and that of culture-at-large, to explore my own identity and use all those aims to create work that creates questions. Does it include sexuality, eroticism and/or nudity? Often. Am I a porn star? No. Many people who work within the porn industry have the vaguest idea I exist; many in that interest absolutely do not wish to claim me.

Because the term "pornography" has so many different meanings to so many different people, and is so purposefully vague and arbitrary, I don't spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out whether my own work is porn or not, not to control what others might call it or how they might classify it. I know most of my viewers don't use the material I produce simply for sexual entertainment, if at all, though many do use it to explore various avenues and approaches to sexuality and sexuality and nudity in the arts. The term "pornographer" is not one I use to identify, but I'm also not hurt nor offended to be termed such -- by some definitions of pornography, namely the most literal one (that being material which is created for the purpose of sexual arousal) -- I sometimes am a pornographer. But that does not mean all of my work is pornography, nor that I intend it to be so.

Do you have a problem with pornography?

It depends on the material. I have issues with a lot of pornography. I grossly object to the way in which most of it is produced, and I often object to what is being represented or MISrepresented. I abhor any form of sexual violence or subordination. I truly despise the way in which most of it is marketed, and the way in which (via spam, popups, billboards, cultural edicts, etc.) all too much of it is forced down people's throats. I don't care for plenty of what most pornography encourages or enables. On a less intense note, I think much of it is just vapid and mindless, and is intended to be so (which I feel is also destructive to healthy, egalitarian sexuality). But I do feel that freedom of expression is incredibly important, and I would not suggest that porn which is produced legally, ethically, and fairly to all participants (and in an environment in which it truly is optional for all participants) with truly informed adult consent, should be banned or censored. It's generally nothing I feel I can make broad statements about, because what is termed pornography is so vast, and I'm not comfortable considering it and making judgments outside a case-by-case basis.

I do have a problem with any and all work which includes nudity or sexuality being immediately plopped de facto in the porn pile, and I have a very big problem with any or all consensual adult sexuality, depictions of such or depiction or description of the human body being termed obscene if it happens to either get someone off OR incite sexual jealousy or insecurity. And suffice it to say, I have the biggest problem of all with categorizations like pornography and obscenity being used -- and often affixed to people or work no matter how they define their own work themselves -- to reinforce our culture's substantial problem with joyful, positive sexuality, free sexual expression and creative enjoyment and expression in and with the human body.

Why do you do all this? For the money?

Not hardly. From subscriptions to this site each month, on a good month, I net a few hundred dollars, and that's before taxes. For a whole lot of work. That money pays for my art supplies, my bandwidth, to fund other projects, and now and then, for a little of my labor (though it does promote my photography skills, so the site often helps net me freelance gigs for companies like gay.com and for private clients who want nudes done for their personal keeping). If I did more mainstream work, if I really made porn, or used business practices and scams like those listed at the top of this page, I'd make more money, but it'd be at the expense of my integrity, my creative freedom and own ethics in terms of my artwork and business dealings. The idea that the minute a woman gets naked, she makes a buttload of money is fallacious: that only holds true with some people, in very specific avenues, and not for any fine art nude photographer or self-portrait artist, sexuality writer or freelance educator I have ever met. (And not for the most marginalized and vulnertable of sex workers, either.) When I chose to do the work I do at this site, and my work in sexuality overall, I knew I was making a choice to make LESS money than I could at other jobs or with a different approach to this work.

Sexuality, sexual politics, queer politics and issues, body and self-image, feminism, human rights are all issues that have taken precence in my life and my head since I was pretty young, and I've always worked via the arts (visual, textual and in music) and education. My aims in all of what I do -- in photography, in writing erotica, in sexual education and address of sexual politics -- are to get issues, imagery and objectives out into public discourse and private consideration, to try and further the positives which sexuality has to offer, publicly and privately in the ways I am able and which align best with my own talents, skills and personal ethics and to explore my own forms of self-expression.

Why is this site different from a porn site?

• Most sites online which have visual sexual material make most of their money via banners, links and popups to OTHER mainstream porn sites, most of which are the same-old same-old vapid, misogynist crudola. Most use affiliate agreements so that other companies or individuals make money via spamming, popups or banners for those sites. In order to find my work, any viewer is either going to have to search for it themselves, or be referred due to a gallery show or publication I've shown at elsewhere, or an unpaid and unsolicited link to me elsewhere. No one is going to arrive here by accident, nor through a solicitation to do so, and while here, they will not find popups or java which sends them elsewhere, nor traffic trades or agreements which push them unto any other sites; this site does net any income from other porn sites or enterprises, only from subscriptions to the site itself.

• With most sites online which have visual sexual material, the person making the money and calling all the shots is NOT the subject of the work, the creator of the work or the active participant, but someone partially or wholly removed from that aspect. In addition, I do the whole of the site myself: no venture capital has been involved, and I design, code, and edit all the content I create on my own. No one else is receiving a portion of my profits nor paying me as a performer: what I make goes to fund the basics of my life, my work and not-for-profit projects I run like Scarleteen.

• Many sites online which contain erotic photography of women use the "bordello approach." In other words, create a collection of "our girls" or "my girls." The majority of the work here is self-portraiture, work by guest photographers in which I am the subject or work I have done with subjects who wanted photos taken for their own purposes, and have agreed to let me show the work in exchange for doing the photos and consultations for them. Subjects agree (and they don't have to, and they also can choose to include or leave out any of the work I have done with them as they like) to have the work I've done with them shown because they simply want to help support and sustain my work. No one, save myself, is owned by me, nor do I intimate that they are because I have taken their photo and am showing the work. I never resell my work, and never will, and if a photo subject wanted the work I have done with/of them removed from my site, it would be removed without argument or question.

• Very, very, very few sites online which contain nude or sexual female work are 100% women-owned and operated. This site has always been 100% women-owned and operated, in every aspect.

• The language surrounding erotic or sexual material at all sites is highly targeted and intentional, in terms of telling the viewer it IS erotic, and nearly always, clearly speaking to men. From my own viewpoint, some of my work is primarily erotic and sexual in nature, some of it is not -- but how a viewer sees it is not something that I can decide nor dictate, nor do I wish to: chances are good that a given set, photo or text piece that I may not feel is erotic to me at all may be seen as very much so by a different viewer or reader. Moreover, much of that language is selling the subjects in the photos as commodities. No one is purchasing myself or my subjects here -- patrons are buying an entrance into a virtual gallery and library to view and read the work. As well, there is more written work here than photographic work, and that written work, like the photographic, rarely is written with an intent to incite arousal or serve as a means to a sexual end. It would be incredibly difficult to view me as mere object or mere sexual object, when my viewers and readers, per their own reports and my traffic logs, spend just as much time reading about my daily life, my politics, and the whole of my work, as they do looking at the photographs. Anyone who did view me or my work as object would be doing so against my expressed wishes and my intent.

• While my work is often of an erotic nature, and/or includes the nude body, that is because that is where my interests and inspiration often lie, and because the body is not merely sexual object to me, but part of the whole of the self, not because I am required to produce work of that nature. The beauty of being my own publisher in the fashion I am is that I can shoot or show anything I like to, and beyond the fine art nude or erotic work, that has also included a lot of portraiture and self-portraiture, nature photography and other subjects.

• Much of the site here isn't about nudity or photography or sexuality at all, nor is it intended to sexually arouse or be masturbation fodder. In other words: I don't intend for this site to BE a porn site. In fact, the largest body of work here is the archive of my journal, which does sometimes recount my romantic or sexual relationships or sexual experiences, it's more often about issues in all the facets of my work -- in photography, erotic and nonerotic, in sex education and sexuality writing, in writing poetry, in activist work -- about my friendships and community, feminism, my buddhist practice, politics, boxing, gardening, authoring, and all the minutae of my daily life.

Is it different because you don't look like most women in "porn"? Or because you call yourself a dyke? Or because you're literate?

No, no and no. As I see it, we can look however we like, and simply looking - or not looking -- a certain way does not create a difference when it comes to what the nature and intent of the work is. Anyone can be objectified, anyone can be presented as commodity, whether we are fat or thin, a bare canvas or tattooed and pierced, this age or that one, this color or that.

The jury is always out as to how much I do or don't fit certain cultural ideals in terms of my appearance. For instance, I am generally appear fairly femme by most standards, though I don't identify as femme OR butch. I do, in many photographs, wear some makeup, and occasionally, a good deal of it to explore identities. I have long hair. I like the look of things like fishnet stockings (though mainly because I dig strong, graphic lines), I do sometimes wear femme clothing, and my body is one that is generally considered attractive by some standards of beauty. On the other hand, I'm over 35. I'm short. I have scars, stretch marks and the like that I like to highlight, and I don't tend to glom myself with makeup, and I don't have any cosmetic surgery (even on my disabled hand). I don't weigh 110 pounds and a lot of my curve is muscle from boxing, biking and yoga, and I don't fit some standard ideals. I don't play the ingenue (I ate her). I do not hold myself or other women to mainstream beauty ideals, or fit the ideas of femininity, lesbianism or bisexuality as represented by most pornography.

I am literate, much of my work is paired with well-crafted text and I'd never dumb myself down for anyone. However, plenty of women in sex work and pornography are intelligent and literate.

But what about the money, and the fact that one has to pay to view a lot of your work?

The primary motivating factor in my work here on site is creative, not commercial. The fee for subscription to see my entire portfolio, written and visual, and the archive of my journal, is akin to the cost of a museum membership -- it exists primarily to pay my overhead and to enable me to have the supplies I need -- as well as a roof over my head -- to create work. I do what work I like, which is directed and motivated by my own interests -- not catering to an audience with requests to be sure I keep their dollars.

In the free portions of the site, you'll find as much, if not more material than you're going to find at most artists and authors personal websites. The members area contains near to every piece of work -- visually, textually -- that I have done in the last five or six years, well over 10,000 pieces. To show all of them publicly, especially at a site like this with such high traffic, and which includes nudes ( so requires a more costly adult server), would cost me sums of money I don't have. As well, much like one must buy a book in order to read it, or an album in order to hear it, or pay a fee or have a membership to a museum to see everything within it, there is a charge here to view all of that work. The cost for such is minimal compared to the cost of my time, labor and bandwidth. I strongly feel artists should be paid for their work: if we are not, and are not independently wealthy, especially if we are full-time artists, we cannot have the means to create our work: I'm no exception. In other words, I'm working and am entitled to be paid for my work like anyone else, and asking TO be paid does not diminish the quality of my work or make it unimportant, because I am compensated for it.

Having much of my work go to a smaller patrons area also gives me a bit more freedom to experiment with the work I'm doing, without the pressure of every piece being shown to an incredibly large audience. I've found that knowing that I can show my work publicly, but to a limited group unless I want to put certain pieces all the way out there, contributes to my ability to take risks with my work I might not otherwise feel able to be taking.

Should subscription to the site not be of interest, I do also sell prints of my photographic work, and my written work has been included in several print anthologies and publications, as well as no-cost websites. Local patrons interested in seeing a full catalog of my work can also attend open studios which I hold every so often.

For more information on what I do and why, see the about page, some of my favorite journal entries or the journal entire, the photography or words pages, my two other websites, Scarleteen and Scarlet Letters, or do a search with Google to find more articles or columns I've published, anthologies you can find my work in, the works.


All content and design © 1997 - 2001 Heather Corinna. All rights reserved.
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