Geoffrey Chaucer once penned, "For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day, When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate." His verse describes the origins of next Tuesday's holiday, which was set aside for lovers and the likea day based around the tradition of European birds re-emerging from their winter lodgings to select themselves a mate.
My how the concepts of courtship and mating have evolved since Chaucer's heyday in the late 14th century. What if GC had seen two lovebirds consecrating their physical love on a flat-panel, 17-inch computer monitor? Or what if he had purchased a digital versatile disc of their exploits from the back room shelves of an 18-and-up specialty store? God only knows how his poetry would have read then.
No, Valentine's Day (oddly enough, read as VD in acronym form) is not synonymous with pornography, but on such an occasion, we are afforded the opportunity to discuss this manifestation of physical loveeven if it's often too taboo to speak of in this, America's second-most red state.
If you think that pornography is something that's only made on back lots in Los Angeles, here's a factoid: Boise itself is home to Ariel, former Boise State student and star of such never-made-it-to-the-silver-screen adult films as Pink Like Me, POV Porn, Monsters of Cock, Tug Jobs and Big Mouthfuls, as well as a slew of Internet-only clips.
Christened Maranda Jay at birth, Ariel has lived in the Treasure Valley all her life, attending Mountain Cove High School and collecting a GED and HSE at the age of 16. Now 20, she talks candidly about her profession, her relationships and the world of intercourse at-large.
Despite a seemingly dehumanizing quality projected upon her and fellow performers, she is quick to point out that adult entertainment industry workers are people, too. She stresses the point while describing the kind of Valentine's Day gift (let us not forget the purpose of this issue) one might purchase for an adult entertainer: "Jewelry. Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Though her response is paired with a laugh, she cites a ring from her mother as the best present she's ever gotten on February the 14th.
But her stories are not always accompanied by a giggle or a smile. Her track record for romance on Valentine's Day has been less than stellarit seems she's always dealing with a breakup just before the holiday. In fact, she says maintaining any sort of amorous relationship is trying when having sex in front of a camera accounts for a portion of one's living.
"It's really hard to make another person who doesn't view it the same way as you understand that it's not sex. It's not like cheating on you. It's like being in a play, and that's it," Ariel says. "There's no emotion there, by far."
If you think that's a difficult sell, try running any sort of justification by dear, old mom.
"My mom saw the first [video] because one of her friends of a long time ... [saw] it on the Internet, and was like, 'Hey, you gotta see this,' and she was like, 'Oh my gosh, don't kiss me with that mouth; I've seen where it's been.'
"The majority of the family," though, she admits, "like my grandma and my dadthey don't know, and they don't need to know."
In a field such as hers, you apparently take the good with the bad. Above and beyond the substantial monetary incentives, "You meet a lot of cool people" and "get different connections to that side of the world." And yet, "You get this image that people just label you as. Like, everybody has stereotypes for everything in their head and there's no telling what their stereotype is toward somebody in porn."
Rarely, though, are these professionals labeled hard-working or given any sort of props for what they doespecially in this city and state.
"I think that it's very uptight [in Boise]," Ariel says. "This is the millennium. Let's, you know, get with the program. Things aren't like they were 50, 60 years ago. [City leaders] are very against the adult industry in any way, shape or form. They try to force power and make all these rules and regulations for every type of adult industry profession.
"The whole state does. It's like, you know what? If you don't like it, turn your fucking head. Nobody's making you watch porn; nobody's making you go into strip clubs."
Porn is really more of a side gig for Ariel, anyhowthe bulk of her time is filled bartending in Parma and dancing at Night Moves and Erotic City in Boise. She also has two Web sites, a personal one filled with photos and video clips and one dedicated to her nearly phased-out career as an escort.
She sees the entire spectrum of adult entertainment (an industry she says she intends to continue in "until I feel the need to stop") as a means to an end. Ariel says that eventually, her ultimate goal is to open a drug rehab clinic for teens after completing college, a course she may set back upon in a year or so.
If Chaucer were alive today, it's hard to say how he might deem the adult entertainment industry's connection, if any, to the original fundamentals of Valentine's Day. Perhaps he'd chuckle at some contemporary DVD titles; "Some are just hilarious," Ariel says. But it's more than likely he wasn't picturing a Boise daughter dishing out "Tug Jobs" when he composed Valentine poetry for Richard II's engagement. Then again, you just never know.