My Son, The Porn Star

What it’s like being the mother of an adult film actor.

By Jessie Schiewe

When you find out the little boy you raised now has sex for a living. (Art:   Bryan West  )

When you find out the little boy you raised now has sex for a living. (Art: Bryan West)

There are tons of porn stars out there which means there are tons of mothers who’ve raised them out there, as well. But have you ever met one of them? Or thought for a second what it must be like to have a kid in the porn industry?

I did and I have. The day I adopted my second dog from an animal rescue organization, I met the mother of one of the most popular male porn stars in the industry. A bubbly blonde in her early 60s, Barbara (whose real name is not Barbara; in fact, all of the names in this article have been changed to protect people's identities) was the manager there, and it was she who introduced me to the dog that would soon become the next member of my family.

As I pet the pup, who was curled in a ball on my lap, I chatted with Barbara and we quickly got way off topic, discussing everything aside from the dog I was about to adopt. It wasn’t long before she casually mentioned that her son Sam was an award-winning porn star.

She was surprisingly candid and unembarrassed about the whole thing, claiming that her son’s career choice doesn’t bother her because it is, after all, legal. She told me she even jokes about it, too, saying things like, “I’m a horrible mother. I raised a porn star.” Or “Hey, I’ll babysit your kid. They can turn out to be a porn star like my son.”

Twenty minutes later, I walked out of there with a new dog and Barbara’s business card. I’ve actually met a porn star before, but I’d never before known a woman who’d created one, and the more I thought about it, the more questions I had to ask her.

Thankfully, Barbara was more than willing to speak with me about the intricacies of her relationship with her son, why she doesn’t hate porn, and whether she’s ever watched any of his films.

As she told me, “I’m pretty much an open-book because at my age, who the fuck cares, right?”

The following is an edited interview with Barbara;
her quoted responses are included below in italics

The first thing you should know about Barbara is that she wasn’t someone who wanted to be a mother.

“He was not planned, and my mother died three months before I conceived him. My shrink would say that was kind of subconsciously planned because I really don’t have family. But I only wanted one child. I wasn't up to having a bunch of kids. He's my only child, and believe me, I'm not a big kid fan.”

She and Sam’s stepfather raised him in a well-to-do California beach town where surfing was common and ordering delivery food instead of cooking was normal for most families. Barbara had a policy of being candid and open-minded with her son and claimed they were just like “any other normal family.”

“We were always open with each other. And yes, we talked about sex. It wasn’t taboo in our house, meaning it wasn't something nasty. If we went to the movies and boobs came on the screen, it wasn't like, Oh my god, shut your eyes! I took him to the premiere of Howard Stern's Private Parts and he was probably 10 or 11 when that came out. He listened to Howard every morning when I was driving him to school and back. Howard was always on the radio.

So I think I was pretty open with him, maybe too open. I didn't want him to think that the body was nasty. You know, when kids are sheltered on stuff like that and it’s taboo, I think they grow up more curious and not normal. So I just never was that way around him.”

Sam started becoming aware of his body at a young age.

“My son, by the age of probably 7 or 8, definitely would never let me walk in on him in the bathroom. He was a very private kid.”

But for a while, he kept Barbara in-the-know about his love life.

“He had a few girlfriends in junior high and high school, but nothing serious. I don’t know if he was having sex back then, and I don’t think he was because he never told me. At least I thought we had an open enough relationship where he would have told me.”

Sam wasn’t a loser growing up.

“He was always a real confident kid, not a follower. He was the one that gets everyone in trouble, always the class clown. I think a lot of that had to do with his ADHD, which he was diagnosed with in fifth grade, because he would rather get in trouble in class than be called out and not know something.”

He’s also got a bit of acting experience under his belt.

“When he was really young, he did a few commercials and he did a pilot with a Tony Danza that was never picked up. He wasn't tall enough to be a model, but he was very cute. For a while he was signed with Nina Blanchard’s agency, which Eileen Ford bought out, but then it interfered with surfing and snowboarding, and he wasn't doing that great in school anyways, so we just stopped.”

Barbara and Sam’s relationship started going downhill when he entered puberty.

“We used to be attached at the hip until he was about 16. We used to talk about everything. But then something changed and I didn’t really know my kid anymore. That's when the drug use started and everything else. I got a phone call from his school that he and his best friend, who had been my son’s buddy since second grade, that they were very lethargic. It was because they were taking opiates. And I just couldn’t handle it.

So I kicked him out to go live with his dad, and then the next day, at about 7 a.m. in the morning, I got a phone call about his friend. It was his mother calling and she was screaming that he wasn't waking up. The boys had gone to a party the night before and he’d overdosed on opiates and alcohol. So that kind of started my son's and my disconnect.”

Over the next few years, things got worse. Barbara’s father passed away and she went through a nasty divorce with Sam’s stepdad. “It was really really bad, and I completely checked out,” she said.

For five years she didn’t see Sam, communicating with him only sporadically through text messages. But then something happened that thrust him back into her life.

“I was up at a friend’s house in the mountains, and I got this email from some random person I didn't recognize named Nicole. And it said all this stuff, like You're a horrible mother. You should be ashamed of yourself. Blah blah blah. Then she wrote, If you want to know what your son does for a living, Google Johnny Canter. And I'm just going, What the fuck?

Her curiosity piqued, Barbara searched the name on Google, only to discover that her son had become a porn star. She picked up her phone and called him immediately.

“Now, I hadn't talked to my son in a few months. And every time I called him during this time when we were distant, he would be very short with me on the phone. He’d say things like, Mom, I've got to go, I can't talk now. I'll give you a call later. And I'd never get a phone call back.

So I called him and of course he picked up the phone and said, Mom, I’d love to talk to you, but I'm working now. Can you call me later? And I said, What do you want me to call you? Johnny or Sam? He was silent. And then he goes, OK, what do you want to know?”

The question of how Sam got into porn was first on her mind.

“He told me he was teaching skiing lessons a few years back when these girls came and he was teaching them. At one point, somebody said, Have you ever done porn? Would you like to get into it? And the rest, he told me, is history.”

She discovered she wasn’t the only one who knew of Sam’s louche career.

“His dad is ultra-conservative, has never done a drug in his life, and doesn’t drink, but when I asked Sam if his father knew, he said Yes. Even his new wife knew! He said she actually does his books! I think I’ve spoken to his dad twice since then, and he’s just kind of laughed it off, which was surprising.”

Barbara is more concerned. There are a few things that bother her about the whole situation.

“I want to know is he safe? Is he happy? Is he healthy? That's all I care about in any of this. I don’t give a shit as long as he doesn't fuck animals and he's happy healthy and safe.

Because I just don't want him to get AIDs or HIV. They don't use protection a lot of the time in porn. I don't really know the reason why they don't want to use condoms, and I hear they're supposed to get tested all the time, but that is my utmost fear.”

Don’t worry, Barbara is not a creep. Most of her information about Sam’s porn career has come from a friend who does “research” and reports back to her.

“I haven't seen any of his stuff. No, no, nooo! That just to me is kind of, that, no...I've not yet done that because I really do not want to know.”

OK, well there was that one time…

“I did start to watch something of his once, before the part where he got naked. He knocked on a door, and the lady answered, and he started to talk, and I said, OK, he's even a shitty actor. I cant even watch this. That's as far as I got, like the first 30 seconds, before I went, OK, what am I doing? This is creepy! So I've not seen any of them in entirety yet.”

Not that she has any issues with watching porn featuring other actors.

“Yeah, I watch porn, though not so much now since I don't have a partner. I guess porn can start shit up, it can kind of get you going, but I've never gotten that. And, while I'm not offended by it, sometimes I'll watch it and go Really?!”

To make things even weirder, most of Sam’s pornos involve banging stepmoms, MILFs, and older blondes with huge fake tits. And yes, Barbara is aware of this.

“From what my friend told me that Googled him, it's always stuff like that. He's with a lot of older ladies. Maybe it's because he doesn't speak to me? Maybe if we psychoanalyzed this, it's because he misses me? Is that creepy or is that cool? I don't know. I've gone through twenty-something years of therapy, but my therapist got his license revoked, so I don't know.”

But though Barbara is in the same age bracket as the women Sam bones, she doesn’t look a thing like them.

“In the past, when I could afford it, I'd get Botox and Restylane, but my tits are real. I’m not plastic.”

Barbara does spy on him every now and then though.

“I'm so bad, but I also follow him on Instagram, and I know that he doesn't know that I follow him. From following him, I know that he travels a lot and that he just got a new apartment.

I've also Googled his name and I know that he was nominated for best newcomer, no pun intended, for one award show. And then again this year, he was nominated for best something.”

The relationship between mother and son has not improved since Sam’s secret was revealed.

“This sounds crazy, because I'm his mother, but I always walk on eggshells around my son because I don't want to piss him off. We've had a turbulent relationship in the past, and I just keep it...It's really sad, but I just kind of keep it like How's the weather? type of conversation.”

Not that they keep in touch that often.

“We text each other for Christmas. I text him for his birthday. Maybe I’ll send one if  I think of him or something brings back a memory, and we might talk for a little bit.”

Barbara has grown comfortable talking to others about her son’s livelihood.

“It's an amusing anecdote. I use it when people ask, Oh, is your son married? Oh, do you have any grandkids? How often do you visit your son? And I just say, My son’s a porn star. It's kind of my way of not dealing with the questions. I don't want to be asked stuff like, Why don't you see your son? Or, So what do you mean you have kind of a shaky relationship with your son?

Once I say he's a porn star, those other questions go out the window and all they want to talk about is his job. It's easier for me to answer those questions because it's not personal for me. When I talk about my son in that way, it's almost as if he's a character. But when you start getting into the heavy shit, I don't want to do that.”

Despite their current situation, Barbara has hope that someday they’ll rekindle their relationship.

“I don't think I was a bad mother. But I get it. I’m his mother and he holds me to a higher standard than I am. The kid can hold a grudge better than anybody I know. It's getting better as he's getting older, but its not great. I would like a lot more, but I don't push it. All I hope is that someday it's not too late to reconcile.”

 

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