Local anti-porn activist faces Ron Jeremy
Donny Pauling isn’t your average anti-porn crusader. When he graced the same stage as the legendary Ron Jeremy at a recent debate at Yale, he knew what he was talking about. Intimately.
Pauling used to produce porn. In Chico. By his estimation, he photographed more than 500 Chico State women during his nine years in the industry. Mostly soft-core stuff for the Internet.
A little over a year ago, he called it quits. He says he could no longer live with himself knowing how many lives had been ruined.
So Pauling, who now lives in Corning, turned to Christianity, something he knew well having grown up the son of a pastor. These days he tours the country in collaboration with XXXChurch.com, an anti-porn Christian Web site, speaking in front of congregations and university audiences about his experiences in the porn industry. And he’s enrolled in the seminary.
This past weekend, he traveled to Yale with XXXChurch pastor Craig Gross for a debate to be aired on Nightline tonight (Thursday, Feb. 21).
The topic: Is America addicted to porn?
Pauling and Gross’ adversaries: Ron Jeremy, who holds the Guinness World Record for most appearances in adult films, and actress Monique Alexander, who works for Vivid, the world’s largest producer of adult films.
“Their whole point is that people choose whether or not they want to consume porn, and they should be responsible if they get into it,” Pauling said in a phone interview earlier this week. “I’m not about porn legislation in any way, but just because we have freedom of speech and we can do something doesn’t mean we should. The average [porn] career only lasts a very short time, and people have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.”
Pauling and Gross talked about the effects pornography has on the individual “stars” as well as on relationships, how it creates “unrealistic expectations.” Having been involved in making porn, especially in a small town like Chico, Pauling said by the time he quit, almost every model who worked for him was discovered by friends or family within two weeks. And the photos Pauling took and posted on the Internet affected those models’ lives.
“Monique was asked how it’s affected her family, and she says, ‘Well, my grandma still talks to me.’ But she doesn’t talk to her father,” Pauling said. “She made a little jab at me because my marriage ended over this. ‘Well maybe your wife was just too jealous of all the girls you were around.’ No, she just didn’t want a person who was involved in pornography. That’s about as personal as it got.”
ABC’s Martin Bashir moderated the debate, but Yale students also were free to ask questions, and they weren’t shy.
“The toughest question that they asked Ron was whether or not, if he had a daughter, he’d want her to be in porn,” Pauling said. “He’s always afraid of that question being asked.”
One of Jeremy’s biggest justifications for why pornography is such a big industry is because there’s money to be made and it has made a lot of women (and men) very successful.
“The reason that we won [the debate] is that I pointed out that for every one of the successful people there are hundreds of others who only last a few days to a few years and have their lives forever altered,” Pauling said. He admitted that if you asked Jeremy, he’d probably say his side won.
Jeremy and Alexander acknowledged that, yes, many actors and actresses have short-lived careers in the industry, and for them it can affect their lives and relationships, but advised that “when you get involved, make sure it’s something you want to do,” Pauling related.
Then he said: “Our culture has made porn so cool, so popular, and the college mentality is that, ‘Oh no, that will never happen to me, I’m bulletproof.’ But it does.
“Ron Jeremy is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Pauling added. “He is very funny, very down to earth, very lovable. He’s a little vulgar, but I’ve been around plenty of vulgar people in my life.”
Speaking of vulgar, Pauling was quick to note that the content of the debate is definitely not family friendly. So he advised against inviting the kids when viewers tune in to Nightline tonight at 11:35 on ABC or watch online at abcnews.com.