Accepted paper:

'The fakest of them all': reflections on fame, friendship and ethnographic practice in the trans pornography industry

Author:

Sophie Pezzutto (Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is an exploration of my relationship with one of my main informants, a well-known transgender porn star in Las Vegas, whose hyper-awareness to the commodification of various aspects of her life made me seriously reflect on the nature, purpose, and ethics of ethnographic practice.

Paper long abstract:

What can porn teach ethnographers about the ethics of ethnographic practice? Due to stigma and fame, many porn performers do not have friendships outside the sex industry. In addition to spending free time together and celebrating each other's birthdays, friends are always also colleagues with whom performers shoot pornos, network at awards shows, and compare their careers. As an ethnographer, similarly, most of my friendships in the field have been working relationships as good friends become key informants, informing my thesis. In an industry where the personal is almost always also the professional, many of my informants were acutely aware of the commodified aspects of my friendship with them. This paper is an exploration of my relationship with one of my main informants, a well-known transgender porn star in Las Vegas, whose hyper-awareness to the commodification of various aspects of her life, clashed with my ethnographic mission to discover who she was behind her fame, ultimately culminating in a fight which made me seriously reflect on the nature, purpose, and ethics of ethnographic practice.

panel P17
Gender, sexuality and beyond: valuing queer anthropology