There have been a few books and ‘tell-alls’ from people (specifically women) in the porn industry, but few, if any, come from someone who worked as a high-profile Hollywood actor prior to making the conscious decision to start working in porn. Maitland Ward was a teenager when she worked on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and a young woman when she was cast in the role of ‘The Girl Next Door’ Rachel McGuire on the successful Boy Meets World series and in the film White Chicks.
But Maitland quickly ran into casting issues – as in, no one wanted to cast her in anything … especially anything beyond the cute arm-candy girl – and she got frustrated with The Industry. She continued to interact with fans at conventions and found she really enjoyed doing cosplay. Her fans seemed to really like it as well, which is not surprising since she leaned toward the more exploitative cosplay (ie dressing as Slave Girl Leia from Star Wars). Each time she did this, which often got press attention, her manager would tell her that such action would make her untouchable in Hollywood. Not much of a threat if Hollywood isn’t casting you anyway.
Ward developed her cosplay, creating an OnlyFans account (a website where people can load videos and photos and then fans can then subscribe [for a fee] to look at the videos and fees) and realized that she still had a lot of fans who would shell out good money to catch a glimpse of her. This led to some nudity (good money there). She often posed for cosplay photos with a friend who also did some porn and Maitland had a lot of questions about how this worked. She was then introduced to a porn producer who was wanting to make some ‘serious’ porn … films with hardcore action but also with a story (and dialog) which would require actual acting abilities. Maitland Ward, with a built-in fan base and some real acting experience, was just what this producer was looking for.
The first third of the book details a lot of Maitland’s upbringing (strict, repressed, religious) and her constant curiosity regarding sex, as well as the leering males she had to put up with for years (I’m not quite sure the purpose of all the information about a specific male actor from her The Bold and the Beautiful days).
What Ward doesn’t note (perhaps because she’s not aware of it?) is how much of her ‘legit career’ was pretty much handed to her. As an actor, she didn’t suffer through hundreds of cattle calls just to be excited by a callback much less getting a role.
The second third of the book talks about her no longer getting cast and her interest in cosplay and developing her fan base through online sites like OnlyFans, which leads to her involvement in porn. And then the last third of the book is how she is changing the face of porn by bringing it some legitimacy with her acting and with the producer willing to spend money on actual sets and costumes and porn actors.
Ward does take a lot of credit for her presumed changing attitudes toward porn (I can’t say if there’s a change in attitudes or not). Her awards (porn has its own versions of the Oscars) for her performances give her some credence.
Ward is clearly excited by this new phase of her career and by her discovery that she can combine acting with sex – something she really likes (she also constantly tells us that her husband is very supportive of her new career), and I think it’s great when anyone is excited by what they are doing. But I also think she has a bit of a Pollyanna attitude (a naked Pollyanna, of course) about the porn industry and her new profession. She may have gone a little too far to call her new porn films ‘art,’ but what is art is generally pretty subjective.
I believe it’s true that the professionals in porn – specifically those in the porn film industry – are likely pretty good people (I’ve read other such books and I had a friend years ago who worked behind the scenes in porn), but she doesn’t touch on the seedy side of porn which seems to have taken off with the ease of getting porn on the internet.
There are some parts of the book, very specifically some of the frank sex discussion, that I didn’t need. I didn’t need all the background (pun not intended) on the preparation for and then the act of anal sex. This was definitely a “TMI” moment.
Yes, I did go to watch some of Ward’s porn and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it. It was much too rough and aggressive for me and I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t watch a whole film, just a scene, so maybe I selected the wrong one?
It will be interesting to follow Ward’s career from here. Does she stay in porn? Does she get some ‘legit’ offers again now that she’s getting a lot of attention? Does she shun porn at some point? Does she fade into obscurity?
Looking for a good book? Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me From Hollywood by Maitland Ward is a quick read biography of a young women many watched on the Disney channel who is now making porn films with the hope of bringing the ‘legit’ and porn industries together.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me From Hollywood
author: Maitland Ward
publisher: Atria Books
hardcover, 256 pages