International Academic Journal AG About Gender Releases a Special Issue on Pornography

Vol. 8, No 16: Rethinking Gender and Agency in Pornography:

Producers, Consumers, Workers and Contexts is Available Now



In consideration of the significant influence that porn has on society, an Italian-based academic journal, AG About Gender, has published a special issue on pornography, marking the first time an Italian academic journal is dedicating an entire issue to the subject. The special issue, which features an interview with Wicked Pictures contract performer jessica drake, is available free of charge to everyone, here. After entering the site, users may choose their preferred language on the upper right, register, then log in.

Following the launch of Porn Studies in 2014, the first academic journal exclusively devoted to research on pornography, this issue of AG About Gender reflects a growing interest among researchers worldwide in taking pornography and its impact on social and economic life seriously.

“Academic research on pornography has the potential to expand our understanding about an extremely popular and profitable, yet often stigmatized, segment of popular culture. The articles included in this issue contribute in exciting ways to the growing academic literature on pornography by engaging with questions of gender, agency, and power in a variety of contexts, including Italy, Australia, the Czech Republic, and the United States,” said University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Lynn Comella, who co-edited the issue with Italian scholar Mariella Popolla.

“The result is a truly international collection of scholarship that examines how porn producers and performers navigate a rapidly transforming industry, one in which ideas about authenticity, agency, objectification, intimacy, and personal branding are perhaps more important than ever,” she added.

The issue opens with the article “From Amateur Aesthetics to Intelligible Orgasms: Pornographic Authenticity and Precarious Labour in the Gig Economy,” written by porn star and legal scholar Zahra Zsuzsanna Stardust, a teaching fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Drawing upon interviews with Australian porn producers and performers, Stardust explores the challenges for performers to meet the expectations of producers seeking authenticity.

“In my article, I wanted people to really understand the gendered and sexual labour of porn performance. We exist in a world where consumers and companies are demanding greater access to our intimate lives. Everyone wants authentic realness and free content, and I wanted to show what that actually means for sex workers trying to pay our bills,” Stardust said.

The issue also examines how the changing porn landscape is impacting trans performers. In the article “From Porn Performer to Porntropreneur: Online Entrepreneurship, Social Media Branding, and Selfhood in Contemporary Trans Pornography,” anthropologist Sophie Pezzutto, a researcher at the Australian National University, draws on ten months of research in Los Angeles and Las Vegas to reflect on how trans performers are navigating the various economic, technological, and social changes confronting the industry today. This includes discussing how they harness social media to earn income from a diverse range of erotic and sexual services that are based on carefully crafted personal brands.

Adult superstar, humantarian and sex education activist jessica drake is interviewed for AG About Gender in an insightful conversation with Comella in which she reflects on her career, award-winning instructional series “jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex” and the ever-changing landscape of the adult industry and its impact on society.

“I am so grateful to have been included in this project. When researchers of pornography and sex work talk to the people who actually do those things, our lived experiences humanize us and create a broader understanding of our industry an in the turn, dispel the archaic stereotypes that some people still hold,” jessica drake said. “This is truly history in the making and I thank Lynn Comella and Mariella Popola for making this a reality.”


Other featured articles include:

  • “Subscription Intimacy: Amateurism, Authenticity and Emotional Labour in Direct-to-Consumer Gay Pornography,” by David Laurin, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.
  • “Between Sexual Objectification and Sexual Agency: The Most Watched Porn Videos in the Czech Republic,” by Michaela Lebedikova, a researcher at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.
  • “Playboys and the Cosmo Girls: Models of Femininity in Italian Men’s and Women’s Magazines and the Popularization of Feminist Knowledge,” by Dalila Missero, a researcher at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom.
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