Historically, fighting obscenity and indecency charges has always been a central part of the free speech movement. Jim Morrison, Mae West, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin have all been arrested for exciting the public in ways that authorities have found threatening. Recently, however, the erotic and comedic arts have undergone more cryptic attacks via Operation Choke Point, “cancellation”, “no platforming”, and inadequate press coverage given to cases of legal intimidation (e.g. the federal case under Miller v California standards brought against director John Stagliano).
In this episode, Eric sits down with the business woman who created the enduring character of the unlikely top pornstar Riley Reid. Continuing the theme of the DISC (Distributed Idea Suppression Complex) we discuss issues like Operation Chokepoint and obscenity law as well more subtle issues like the difficulty of finding vendors willing to cross the Rubicon to work with legal erotic businesses.
Ashley, in the role of the Riley Reid character, has defied all pornographic convention by embracing body positivity, forgoing plastic surgery and opting for natural body hair at times. Additionally she has made a social statement by doing a popular artistic scene which makes a political and business case for greater transsexual acceptance. Her main tool appears to be a palpable human decency and sweetness coupled to an uncanny ability to assess, manage and survive extreme business risk within a poorly understood industry that has confounded all expectations.
While this episode is generally not explicit, it is not for everyone given the content and so listener discretion is advised.
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Eric Weinstein: It is a very simple observation that sex is sexy, that is almost but not quite a tautology. Yet its implications seem, at least to me, to be quite profound and easily missed. Given that one could argue from first principles that sex is ultimately one of the most powerful forces shaping human society. But whenever we attempt to discuss sex directly, our autonomic nervous system becomes engaged if we’re not very careful. As the comedian Tom Lehrer once said, “When correctly viewed, everything is lewd”. If you look hard enough, you will see that nearly every sentence has a double entendre like that last one. As a result, when we attempt to analyze and discuss sex and sexuality using our prefrontal cortex, the conversation almost reliably goes off the rails with a probability approaching one, as our lower brains become engaged, aroused, and amused. It’s almost designed not to be discussable.
Yet there are two groups of people I see who do better than the rest of us in this regard. Some academics such as evolutionary theorists, physicians and sex researchers, commercial sex workers. In this episode, I’m interviewing one of the world’s most famous actresses. Yet her name is all but unknown. She is Ashley Matthews, creator of Riley Reid, one of the top porn stars of our time. My goal in this conversation is to try to stop sex from becoming sexy just long enough so that we might learn a little bit more about how the pornography community and its civilian clientele are now interacting. Now you may wish to say that you have never found pornography interesting, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that an individual’s desire to avoid it doesn’t stop it from affecting society as a whole.
Like it or not, pornography is like dark matter forming an Einstein lens with an immense gravitational field affecting everything around it. You don’t have to watch it directly to feel it distorting us by monitoring our hypocrisy so that it can cater to our denied selves.It also presents a strange mirror to our society. As if there were a Newton’s law for pornography. It appears that everything we do here on Earth in civilian life is mirrored on planet porn. They have a wage gap. But one that at least naively goes in the other direction. When I call Ashley at her office, she has to be sexy to our coworkers simply to be professional, and she claims that her experience with onset harassment is near zero. Now I’m in no position to evaluate these claims, but it takes some getting used to. And just like another planet, there may be no easy way back from a one way ticket to becoming well known as a performer.
Now, I should probably describe the ground rules for the conversation you’re about to hear so that you can better understand the context of the episode.I asked Ashley to humor me and we would both try to lay off explicit language for the most part. We also agreed that we were not going to talk about sex much whether we were going to try to talk around it. I’m sure the ratings will suffer as a result, but if I’m honest, I’m not really that interested in interviewing the character of Riley Reid.I’m sure that would have been fun. But here I get to do something far more interesting because I’m talking to the person Ashley Matthews, both created her and plays her. I told Ashley that I wanted to present her in a light in which she is seldom seen. She is by nature playful and charming and that comes through here at times which is all hugely successful and courageous as a businesswoman who has stayed for years at the top of one of the world’s most brutal occupations with her charm and her sweetness seemingly intact. The woman is polite to a fault and humble whenever we speak. She has few if any of the attributes we usually associate with stereotypes of erotic performers or commercial sex workers. She’s also embraced her own bodily vulnerabilities as assets rather than deficits. And she’s induced others to talk about such things in public.
In that respect, at a bare minimum, she is a role model to us all. So the subject here is not actually as a performer, but instead her as an observer and analyst. I don’t ask her about details of her sex life because I view everybody’s personal sex life, including a porn stars’, as none of anyone else’s business and a healthy society. If that is what you’re looking for, you can find it almost anyone else’s interview of Ashley.
Instead, in the midst of what appears to be peak shame of a new worldwide shame kink bubble, fueled by social media, actually is one of the few free voices having lost go learn how to turn our shame and discomfort into her profitable business with recurring revenue. As a result, we get to discuss terrifying topics like the awesome power of the state to harass and target businesses like hers working within our legal framework. This is done by trying behind the scenes to make their access to banking and commercial services far more difficult such as happened during the Obama era is quiet operation choke point.
Well, I find this appalling and disturbing. We also need to discuss other means for facing disturbing trends that are going under analyzed within the pornographic industry. Perhaps the most disturbing of these is the mainstreaming and promotion of so called incest porn on the “Tube” sites which serve up free videos to anyone with an internet connection and a willingness to get past modest access controls. This is a challenge given the obvious risks and concerns to anyone who believes in free speech absolutism. I hope you give Ashley a chance that this gives us all food for thought. It’s a tough conversation, but with a kind and wonderful subject. Without further ado, I bring you miss Ashley Matthews.
Eric Weinstein: Hello, you found The Portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein. I’m here in studio with a special guest today, Ashley Matthews. Ashley, thanks for coming by The Portal.
[00:05:15] Ashley Mathews: Thank you for having me.
[00:05:17] Eric Weinstein: Now, it’s a unusual episode of The Portal because the way I see it, you are Ashley Matthews. But you’ve created a character who’s an actress named Riley Reid, who portrays a series of characters in erotic films and shorts. So you have a successful business.You’re a successful businesswoman. And I came to know about your existence through sort of a kind of an odd chain of events, which is that when I did one of my first large live shows with Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro at the Masonic in San Francisco, I believe that you were tweeting about how excited you were to attend the event.
[00:05:54] Ashley Mathews: Yes.
[00:05:54] Eric Weinstein: And people said, Wow, Riley Reid is going to your event and I said who’s Riley Reid? And people thought, Wow, you really don’t know this is an incredibly famous erotic actress who is apparently very interested in rationality, psychedelics, sexuality and sort of understanding where our country is going from an unusual viewpoint. So you were at that show?
[00:06:18] Ashley Mathews: Yes, I was.
[00:06:19] Eric Weinstein: How did that impress you?
[00:06:22] Ashley Mathews: I, to be honest, wanted there to be more conversation about like, all the things… I mean, Sam Harris talks about stuff like Free Will and this and that type of thing.But I think it was a lot of politic type things – kind of Ben Shapiro and him talking back and forth. I didn’t really get to hear much from you.
[00:06:43] Eric Weinstein: Well, I tried to stay out of when they were trying to get into Is there a God is there no, God, I figured that it’s like the sharks and the Jets. Yeah. Bloods and the Crips. You don’t want to get in the middle of
[00:06:50] Ashley Mathews: Of course.
[00:06:51] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[00:06:52] Ashley Mathews: But nonetheless, it was… I loved it. It was great.
[00:06:55] Eric Weinstein: Now what drew you initially to that world of Sam Harris and his constellation of issues.
[00:07:03] Ashley Mathews: The first time I listened to him, a friend of mine recommended one of his podcasts about social media and kind of the… what is it… like how it manipulates you, the manipulation in social media and social media is such a huge part of my life and my job, that I thought it was really important for me to take a look and understand it deeper in a way that I’ve never really even visualized it or even noticed what was going on in the social media world. And so because I work in it, we kind of all now work in it. I thought it was kind of like a duty to know exactly what we’re all doing and kind of like, helping influence.So when I first heard that podcast, I was really intrigued by it and thought that it was I thought that Sam was like so well spoken and it was very interesting and I wanted to look more into his work and when I listened to a few more of his podcasts and learn about his fight against religion and his perspectives on free will, which were things that I’ve never even heard of before.And I grew up religious myself. So to be able to listen to an atheist talk about all of these things I kind of always felt within myself without ever actually expressing it. I thought was really interesting and beautiful and I felt like I was like, oh, here’s like, somewhere I can relate and things that I feel to be within me, but never actually expressed or found, I guess, my following or fellow peers that I could speak to about this.So yeah, I was very, very interested in everything he had to say, and I’m an active listener on his podcasts
[00:08:50] Eric Weinstein: Would you self describe as an atheist?, if that’s an appropriate question.
[00:08:54] Ashley Mathews: I would say so. I didn’t think that at the time that I was but now kind of learning more of what it is expressed to be, I would consider myself an atheist. Yes.
Operation Choke Point
[00:09:05] Eric Weinstein: Interesting. Now, the way in which you sort of cropped up in my life a second time was that I started looking into the aftermath of something I had known nothing about, which was called Operation Choke Point.And this has been initiated under the Obama administration, if I understand it correctly, where the FDIC and perhaps the Justice Department came to realize that they could put a lot of pressure on the financial system not to do business with people in certain sectors of the economy or to make it very difficult for them to getting access to regular financial institutions. And I recall an article or an interview, maybe it was in paper, I can’t remember where it was, where you were talking about the fact that you couldn’t get normal credit and easy access to commercial banking. Despite the fact that you are running a very successful and profitable business as a businesswoman.
[00:10:05] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, there’s a lot of adult actresses and doctors and whatnot, people who have had their accounts shut down in banking institutions and things like that. I have had simple things where like, email servers where you can kind of like send blast emails to your subscribers and whatnot, kind of reject me in being able to be able to use them like MailChimp was one of the programs where I wasn’t able to use it.And there’s like many, many more when I was like building my website, I was trying to like, build my website from kind of like third parties not trying to follow the standard adult website brands, because I felt like they took a large percentage of our money so I was like, what other avenues can I attract that can work with me,and I was searching for months and months to find someone to leave It’s simple to hold my bandwidth and whatnot. And it was really difficult. And I ended up having to speak to like specific owners and reach out directly, to be able to be like, Listen, this is who I am, this is what I want, would you be willing to work with me and now through that I’ve worked with certain companies that where I’m like their biggestone of their biggest clients, and I think they work with a lot of sport networking, and this and that, and still, my adult website is their, I’m like, their number one client.And so I feel very fortunate that they would take me on but it took a lot of research and a lot of emails being sent out to people to be able to be like, Listen, I am not a criminal. I’m not a bad guy. Like, you know, I understand that there are things that make the adult industry complicated because they have to make sure people are 18 and older and they don’t want to be you know, giving access to people who are not of the age and how do you find that they are 18 and all of the retune regulations.So I understand that there are those kinds of rules that take place that make it a little bit more tricky
[00:12:05] Eric Weinstein: So, those are the parts that you accept. That is, I mean, if I refer to you as a commercial sex worker, are you comfortable with the designation?
[00:12:12] Ashley Mathews: Yes.
[00:12:12] Eric Weinstein: Alright. So as a CSW, you accept that there are some added requirements for doing this kind of work. So that it is legit and aboveboard?
[00:12:22] Ashley Mathews: Yes, of course. And so I think that the problem is that so many companies just don’t even want to take the risk that makes it a bit more of a struggle for us to try and find legitimate businesses that want to do business with us even though I think that they’re missing out on a huge market by not doingitand I’m very curious as to some of the reasons why they even don’t do it. It’s maybe politically, – religion has something to do with it, I’m sure.
Porn-related Free Speech Issues and Lawsuits
[00:14:57] Eric Weinstein: Well, that’s one of the things that I’m interested in in trying to reopen, which is that during the 1950s 60s and early 70s, when obscenity was a much hotter topic, in particular because of the need to establish a standard by which something might be deemed obscene, and there were even people who said we should not have any concept of obscenity legally,it was very much on people’s minds that obscenity and the erotic arts were part of free speech. So you had you know, novels like Lady Chatterley’s lover or Tropic of Cancer that were deemed too racy to be you know, sold.So, you weren’t even necessarily talking about films or pictures. Even text was considered too hot to handle. And for whatever reason, that branch of the free speech discussion has somewhat dropped out of most people’s consciousness, do you find that as well?
[00:16:05] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I would say so. I definitely think that to some extent, it’s somewhat there. And I don’t know if it’s just in two different degrees where it’s like, gay rights or things like that, but definitely nothing really that is necessarily adult related in our, you know, triple x community.
[00:16:25] Eric Weinstein: Mm hmm. So, one person that you’ve worked with who has caught my attention on a number of occasions is this man john Stagliano. And john Stagliano is famous for first porting the concept of Gonzo, which was originally popularized by Hunter S. Thompson in journalism, into porn,that is he abstracted it away from journalism and started bringing it into pornography. In the sense that he was using handheld cameras. He was making use of the switch to VHS from film. And one of the things that he was doing, if I understand correctly and you should feel free to correct is that he was showing females enjoying sexuality rather than being spied upon by the lens actually actively engaged for theirJown pleasure. And that this was in some weird way a feminist upturning of the concept of pornography. Do I have my facts? Even vaguely correct?
[00:17:05] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, yeah, I’d say so.
[00:17:32] Eric Weinstein: So then John, weirdly ran afoul of federal prosecutors having to do with a 1973 standard, which needs to be more in all of our consciousness called Miller v. California. Are you is Miller v. California. Something that occupies Your thoughts?
[00:17:50] Ashley Mathews: No.
[00:17:51] Eric Weinstein: Do you know about it?
[00:17:52] Ashley Mathews: No.
[00:17:53] Eric Weinstein: Oh, boy. Okay, now, I’m not a legal expert. But I think this is still the governing case law there was originally… it’s – I guess you can’t check me but see if this even plays correctly.My understanding is that in 1957, there was a decision called Roth versus United States, which introduced the idea that an average person applying contemporary community standards, whatever that means, would have to find obscene work to be in the prurient interest that it arouses passions, and maybe makes us lascivious. Right?And that was followed in the mid 60s by 1966, something called Memoirs v. Massachusetts, which was a much more liberal standard, which said that the work in question had to lack all redeeming social importance.And therefore, if you could just put one quotation from Shakespeare somewhere in your work, you will almost certainly going to be safe because anything that was redeeming would keep something from being deemed obscene.And then the court revisits in 1973, and comes up with a three pronged approach. And it says that somebody applying contemporary community standards has to find the work to be in the whole in the prurient interest of sex, that it has to run afoul of offensive standards, I think on the state books.And lastly, it has to be seriously lacking in redeeming scientific, literary, political or social importance. So not totally lacking, it just has to be fairly lacking. That is terrifying in the age of the internet, because what is a contemporary community standard when we have one giant communityif you make porn in the San Fernando Valley, let’s say where its traditional headquarters has been, what if it gets viewed in Ogden, Utah? How do you know you’re not violating somebody else’s community standards. Are you worried about this at all?
[00:20:04] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I’m- Definitely. I mean, to me, it’s like, it’s very extreme, because what one perspective is to one person is totally different to another, your life experiences, I mean, are going to be completely different. You’re even like, you know, religion has a huge play in all of these types of things.And I think that a lot of people just have totally different ideas on what is okay and not okay. And I think a lot of it is even just from lack of experience, or perspective or communication with different people. So I think that some people even-like, many even of my own friends have totally different views on pornography and actors and actresses in the adult entertainment industry. And once they meet them, they’re like, Wow, I didn’t even think that you guys would even you know, be this type of person.I’ve had people who like, speak to me directly. were like, I didn’t like you until I listened to a podcast where I was like, Oh, she’s like, a real human being. So I think that in general, it’s, it’s really daunting and terrifying the fact that if I want to do some really intense hardcore scene that to maybe the general public will think it’s, you know, regular hot porno, you know, but then there might be, you know, 5% of the population who’s like, Oh, my God, what did she just do?
[00:21:31] Eric Weinstein: Well, that’s just it, there’s no way that you can control where your material will be consumed. So having a pre internet, like almost 50 years old, decision, govern in part who can be brought up on federal charges.My understand was that Stagliano about 10 years ago was brought up and was possibly facing three decades in prison for making pornography
[00:21:58] Ashley Mathews: Yeah.
[00:22:00] Eric Weinstein: You’re like 28, if that would that would put you at nearly 60 years old before you got out.
[00:22:06] Ashley Mathews: Oh, yeah.
[00:22:08] Eric Weinstein: So what, what do you think? What are your thoughts on this? What do we do? If we I mean, look, as you probably know, we’ve been talking about free speech issues and this intellectual darkweb group, for example.And a lot of the problems that we’re finding are not exactly free speech issues. It’s not really the government that’s trying to shut you down. But instead, it’s sort of the informal- it’s the institutions of civil society, like newspapers and universities that have suddenly come up with a new concept, which is hate speech.And even simple biological reasoning, is sometimes now considered hate speech. Do you see any tie in between the erotic community and potentially even the scientific community and the ways in which these amorphous standards might get invoked?
[00:23:00] Ashley Mathews: I mean, I could hope that there is some sort of way that we can change these types of laws or perspectives and whatnot. I’m not exactly sure what it would take.I don’t know if there’s gonna be like, some sort of new television series that kind of lights people up in a different way that now people can have a perspective where they look at us as like humans, and they humanize us. I think that’s a huge part of it, we’re not given the opportunity to humanize ourselves.I would be really curious to see what it would have to be like, if, you know, do we have to all become scientists so that we get the check of a seal of approval?
[00:23:44] Eric Weinstein: Well, I’m claiming that even biologists are now running afoul of concepts like hate speech. For example, what if you start talking about a study of trans issues and you discover that trans is a giant umbrella category where some parts of trans are disorders, some parts of trans is just nature doing what nature is somehow going to do.And somebody says, Well, wait a minute, that’s completely illegitimate because you’re, misgendering people. I don’t think that biology is a way to hide out anymore.I think that in fact, the biologists and the pornographers are weirdly and quite unexpectedly, somewhat in the same boat now in that we have a very potent political strain that’s trying to regulate what can be said.
[00:24:38] Ashley Mathews: Hmm.
[00:24:38] Eric Weinstein: And that you guys are in somewhat of a similar boat, but that because there’s no- like, I mean, I would never encounter you in normal life, probably. Because our worlds are just very unlikely to collide.
Sexuality in the Workplace
[00:24:52] Ashley Mathews: When it comes to- like I know- like right now I’m working on this documentary, and they’re following myself as an adult actress, and they’re also following a researcher who studies sex andshe speaks about how she gets like death threats and things like that, for being this like, almost highly sexual woman, even though she’s literally studying, like, how vaginal secretion happens or things like that. And I think that it is like, we have this lack of free speech and we have this like, I don’t know if it’s also the era of where everyone is just highly offended by everything as well.I would have thought that through with social media and all these things and even like music, the way that music has kind of like even become more hyper sexual and aggressive that our culture would be more accepting to these types of, you know, ways of life whereas rather than kind of see the opposite side of it.I think that like when it comes to being able to be free with what you can do and say in sex work and researchers, I’m not too familiar with the researchers. But I was definitely like-I thought of this book Bonk by Mary Roach when I heard about the research study of the researcher in the documentary where it talks about like, I think it was like in the 50s, or something like that, where they were all studying animals having sex with animals, because it was so taboo, and you were like a pervert.If you watched two humans have sex, even though that’s the only way to actually study people having sex and to get real information- you’re not going to get-you’ll get information about monkeys if you’re watching monkeys have sex, but it was like, interesting to me that it was so almost pornographic for them to even be able to watch people and study them even though that’s how we’re trying to understand biology and science.
[00:27:59] Eric Weinstein: I have to admit that I have a couple of odd theories about this. And I was curious how you might find them, one of which is that in some sense, the normal world which I understand you call the civilian world,
[00:28:17] Ashley Mathews: (Laughter)
[00:28:19] Eric Weinstein: the civilian world is almost hypocritical and in denial by design, that is, we aren’t supposed to have an accurate picture of human sexuality. Because our society is based on what I call load bearing fictionsthat people are supposed to present as relatively asexual their default assumption that they go around with is that they are not sexual beings and you’re supposed to hide this aspect and then there are contradictory expectations.So for example, you might be expected to wear cosmetics in a workplace environment is a sign of professionalism, but the cosmetics, in fact, may be sexualizing. But then you’re not supposed to admit that the cosmetics may in fact be sexualizing. So in some sense, the civilian world is a mess by design.Because we’re not supposed to see ourselves accurately. And that the world of sex workers is bizarrely a truth telling world, a world in which people are far more honest. And there’s another one of these, which I think is the world/community of evolutionary theorists.And believe me, you can’t invite those guys to parties either, because they’ll tell you things that that the civilian world does not want to hear. What do you think about the idea that it is possible that commercial sex workers are just much more honest and undistorted around issues of sexuality, and that, in fact, this is why they have to be excluded
[00:29:58] Ashley Mathews: I would say so. I believe one time when we spoke previously you mentioned to me, I could be quoting it wrong but-The Real Estate Effect or something like that, where it was like the woman can sell you potentially a not a suitable home because of her sex appeal and where she is dressed in a nice suit. Maybe there’s a little cleavage showing she has the makeup done and you as a general person is kind of, you know, you’re in a daze because you see this woman almost before you see the household. And I think that with adult entertainers we kind of like are always so sexually driven and sex is everywhere. So our whole lives we- I feel like I even personally experience less sexual tension when I’m on set because we are always naked. They are so used to seeing naked women, that it’s not even like a- it’s not even a statement or a question or anything like that.
[00:30:58] Eric Weinstein: Well, let’s dig into how bizarre your workplace is because very often I hear about sexuality in the workplace. And I think, well, what happens when you take something like modeling or going even further commercial sex work on the set of a movie? Take us through what you think some of the major differences might be between your workplace and a typical office.
[00:31:23] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I even-
[00:31:25] Eric Weinstein: Again, I should just tell the audience, I have asked Ashley to try to keep this as much above the neck as possible, so that we can have the broadest possible audience and so-
[00:31:36] Ashley Mathews: Yeah
[00:31:36] Eric Weinstein: -normally, we might be making some jokes, and having some more fun, but we’re trying to keep this as classy as possible. The floor is yours.
[00:31:46] Ashley Mathews: I can even just say, like even the feeling and the difference of like how I’m working on this documentary right now, when I’m on set with that documentary, it is so different than when I’m typically on set and it’s hard for my brains almost wrapped around it because it’s very similar vibe.They’re both sets, we have like, same kind of production crews and me, I would naturally change my clothing right here in the middle of the set, and all these things and not even think about, you know, the guy on the sound.He’s doing his job. He’s looking at the things because he doesn’t care about me getting nude, because that’s what he always- every day, there’s a new girl and a guy getting nude.And when I was on the documentary, they were kind of like, Oh, no, like go to your dressing room and change, as if- and I didn’t even think that I could be potentially offending them with my body and whatnot by just undressing right there because I was like, Oh, you want me to change so I’ll just change right now. I’m like, totally comfortable with myself.And it didn’t even cross my mind that like, oh, maybe this guy is looking at me inappropriately and he has like a wife or this or that or they don’t want any set drama or anything like that. And so for me It’s very bizarre to pull myself out of my world that is so normal for us to just be like, casually having sex, like when the cameras aren’t rolling, to just maintain the energy maintain the flow, you want to make sure that the male talent has, you know, stays erect and everything like that.And so while they’re changing lights and everything like that, it’s so casual for sex to be going on. It’s so casual for the male to male- there’s even like a lot of male to male, you know, gay jokes within each other where, you know, they’ll joke about like, you know, teasing each other off and like doing all these fun playful things. Whereas maybe in the regular work environment, you would never male to male be flirting with your, you know, coworkers, even in the slightest bit because 1) you don’t want to become like, I don’t know, you don’t want all that- Some guys are so homophobic and whatnot.But in our industry, it’s so casual for everyone to kind of have this open love for one another and talk about their bodies and their sexuality that when I was on this documentary set, it was so bizarrely uncomfortable for me as the sex worker to remove myself from being who I naturally am, which is like just comfortable within myself and my sexuality in my body and, and that I could be looked at as a piece of meat on their set.So they’re like, these men aren’t used to seeing women like this all the time. So you have to make sure that you’re not subjecting yourself in this way or making them uncomfortable or whatnot. And to me, I think that like, if they were around that more if people were just comfortable with themselves and comfortable with their bodies, then it naturally would be normal and the same and the guy would be able to adjust the lights without staring at the girl the whole time, you know, not that these guys were, but I guess potentially, maybe they would. But they weren’t even really given the opportunity.And, and for us, I think that there’s this casualty in, or we’re just so casual with one another that they’re-The hypersexual that goes on set is just another playful, casual normal conversation.
[00:35:22] Eric Weinstein: So you believe, I mean, not to put words in your mouth, but I’m curious, you believe that in your workplace bizarrely, and quite unexpectedly, maybe issues of harassment, tension, unwanted sexuality or actually decreased.
[00:35:38] Ashley Mathews: I personally feel that in my experiences? 100%. Like, it’s, to me, it’s close to none. I’ve never felt creepy vibes from a director or anything like that. I’m also very playful and comfortable with myself and jokes and you know, I’m not- I couldn’t say that for every female that she doesn’t feel maybe possibly offended by certain statements, but I have never felt that there was a boundary that was crossed in our casual workness (sic) with one another, I’ve never had any creepy director to be like offering me things that he shouldn’t be or whatnot, it’s, it’s always in a very playful manner. And there’s always like 10 other people in the room. So it’s always like a casual joke or things like that, where we’re all just, you know, naked and you know, pee with the door open. It’s just like we all kind of do. Like, we’re all just very comfortable with ourselves.
[00:36:35] Eric Weinstein: You know, there was a story and I wish I could could source it, because I’ve referenced it a few times. But years ago, there was a naked musical called Calcutta. And I remember hearing a story that somebody had found that after being onstage naked in front of an audience night after night, because this was a relatively successful musical that the performers could not go back to normal life because they’d become habituated to the excitement of being viewed by like hundreds, if not thousands of people. And so, you know, one possibility is that in your world, there is a permanent or semi permanent brain shift that comes from experiencing a level of arousal and familiarity that the rest of us will never ever experience.
[00:37:30] Ashley Mathews: I would say so, to some extent, but even from me personally, to some extent, I feel like even quite the opposite has happened where now I like favor and desire more the more intimate one on one private sex life experience where it feels more emotionally involved. And I think that’s also because I’m often working with people that maybe I don’t know them very well, or things like that. And there is always other people around so the level of being able to drop your guard always and completely is very rare because there is a camera involved and we’re creating a product in the end and as much as like I can be enjoying myself I still am put in too literal positions that I can’t always be enjoying myself because it’s opening up for a camera or things like that.
[00:38:25] Eric Weinstein: And, well, you’re a professional after all.
[00:38:26] Ashley Mathews: Yes, yes, exactly. And so I find even for myself that it has almost taken an opposite turn where I’ve now desire that less than less and when I first started that was one of my favorite things was the viewers the Voyeur aspect of there being multiple people in the room and enjoying the fact that there is a guy with a boom stick holding it up who’s you know, trying to not look but definitely, obviously, wants to.
Sex in Advertisement, Social Media, and Society
[00:38:55] Eric Weinstein: Got it. Do you see any way in which… Are the rest of us in society moving closer towards pornography with, let’s say, self sexualization on Instagram, where you’re sort of part of a mildly erotic feedback loop if you’re a young woman and you notice, what, suddenly, a photo you’ve taken has, you know, 10 times the number of likes on it.
[00:39:24] Ashley Mathews: I would say social media has a huge part into doing – and kind of almost making – somewhat hyper sexualizing yourself more casual and I think a lot of it is this desire of engagement as well as like, people becoming an Instagram model or influencer so that they sell products. I know I recently listened to like a Chris D’Elia podcast where he was joking about-
[00:39:49] Eric Weinstein: The comedian?
[00:39:49] Ashley Mathews: Yes.
[00:39:49] Eric Weinstein: Oh, he’s, he’s amazing.
[00:39:51] Ashley Mathews: He’s hilarious. I love him. And in his podcast, he’s making jokes about these girls who are kind of you know, smashing their chest together holding a watch, and they’re selling a watch. But nobody is obviously looking at the watch. And it’s interesting how, you know, in every kind of advertising world and median, they use sex to sell things. And so it’s very normal. But now when you’re taking the regular girl who’s not some Vogue supermodel, or it’s like a Kendall Jenner, where she’s obviously is selling sex but not selling sex, because it’s perfume. These other girls are kind of doing the same thing. And I think for them that they almost recognize it more so that they are selling sex because they’re not getting this Vogue ad to show that it is showcasing that they’re with Vogue.
[00:40:47] Eric Weinstein: And I think this is one of the one of the difficulties that a lot of us are having is that traditionally, we’ve always been self deceptive about sexuality. And that the signals- I mean even biologically just In terms of evolutionary theory, the signals that we send, which constitute the sort of language of sexuality have always been cryptic,they’re not sent transparently. And in the clear, maybe that’s more the case, inside of the world of professional pornography. But in fact, being deceptive and self deceptive is what is normal. I think one of the things that has been very confusing is this passion, partially on behalf of like, the psychological community or professional sex educators, you know, Be open. Be explicit. Talk about everything. And that’s never been how sexuality has functioned in what you call the civilian world.
[00:41:45] Ashley Mathews: No. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the fact that people enjoy this taboo sense of things where it’s almost like, if it’s unspoken, then it’s more enjoyable. If it’s kind of subliminal, it’s almost like it’s sneaking its way into yourself and then if it is kind of like, less open, then maybe they would have- if it wasn’t- if it was direct, then maybe they would have certain other guidelines that they would have to follow. If this perfume commercial was obviously transparent with the fact that they are using sexuality to sell their perfume then maybe in the real world, the civilian world, they’d be like, you can’t do that that’s inappropriate! Our children see these commercials it’s on aired on television at regular waking hours. And I think that probably has something to do with the part of it where if it is not- if it is subliminal, and it’s not direct, then it could be more acceptable to the human eye and it could be something that, where people are like, Well, no, it’s a lingerie company. That’s, like, classy. I’m pretty even though it’s obviously selling sexuality at the same time,
[00:43:02] Eric Weinstein: I think the issue of deniability- I mean, you’re talking- I should say, this is the first day we’ve ever met. We’ve talked on the phone a bunch of times. One of the people I’ve sort of pointed you towards is this evolutionary theorist, Bob Trevor’s, and he wrote this book- I mean, it’s really, you know, one of the most prominent theorists of our time, and he wrote this book called The Folly Of Fools, that talks about the evolutionary basis of self deception as the precursor to being able to manipulate others. And if you think about, for example, just I had Bret Easton Ellis in the studio, wrote American Psycho and Less Than Zero. We were talking about the issue of seduction, and he said that he wants to be seduced all the time. He doesn’t want everything to be explicit. He doesn’t want everything, you know, as a mutually agreed upon decision. That in part, what is wonderful and delicious to him about life has to do with seduction, and that seduction involves manipulation. But in a world where I think many more people are colliding without a common understanding of each other, not coming from the same backgrounds, there’s really an increased propensity for two humans to get these signals wildly wrong. It’s probably always been there, but maybe there’s an increased ability. So weirdly, the way I see it, the civilian world has always been based on sort of self deception. And then there have been both the problems that come from that and the really much more exciting aspects that come from that when it works. Probably there’s an extra magic to it. Any thoughts on that between- like, what translates to Mystique? Do you see that when you’re looking at your civilian friends that there kind of saying, well, I wonder if he likes me, I got a message. I don’t know what I don’t know how to interpret it.
[00:45:05] Ashley Mathews: Oh, well, like… 100%. When it comes to me even just like dating, I am a very transparent, open person in these aspects of where I don’t do the whole seduction game, I kind of just am an open book. And I find that a lot of times it is faulty, where, you know, a lot of people do want this type of seduction. They like these types of games or whatnot in the sense of where they feel like when you’re, and I think it could be because the general public is not so honest and open with what they want that it’s almost like a shock value, where they’re like, well, this girl is just really being completely open in general with what she what she enjoys, and it’s often something I loop back around with my therapist where I’m like, do I need to start being like the more civilian-esque type of a person to be a more dateable person whereas instead of being this vulnerable self where I am just constantly myself and say what I like and what I feel and these moments-
[00:46:12] Eric Weinstein: A big trade off.
[00:46:13] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, it is! And I often find myself incapable of catering to the general public. I don’t know how to do these own kind of mind games on myself. But it is interesting or I do find that most common people do enjoy this type of seduction and whatnot.They don’t want things to be so blunt and almost easy to an extent there has to be some sort of work involved and trickery. I believe that it is like a very common theme at least even in like my dating world, it is.
Entering The Profession
[00:46:52] Eric Weinstein: So one of the things that I thought was really terrific that I first heard from you was some of your ideas is about how to make sure that if people are considering entering the erotic arts professionally, that they’re making good decisions.You feel that very clearly, this has been a great decision for you. It’s worked out financially at a great level, you’ve been in the business for a long time haven’t been chewed up. You seem to have an incredibly positive attitude. But what I was talking to you about was, well, you know, how uncommon is that? You’re obviously in a very unusual position. And you came up with this idea of having like a virtual reality simulator of what it would be like to enter the business. Can you say more about that?
[00:47:39] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I think that there are so many people- I mean, you get to start the industry at age 18. And I think that there are so many people who don’t necessarily start for the right reasons. Even when I first became in the industry, I was a very hypersexual adolescent. And when I began the industry was mostly for money. Though I started off as an extra, I wasn’t partaking in the sexual acts, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I had no idea- the concepts of it all and whatnot. And I think that now if a young male or female can get the opportunity to really grasp the sense of what can happen when you join the industry, it would be, I think, a good filter for a lot of the youth and whatnot.So I think it’d be great to have this idea of virtual reality that allows people to put themselves inside different types of scenarios.So maybe like, one scenario is you go in and you tell your parents that you’ve now joined the adult industry and one of the reactions are that your parents are distraught, they humiliate you, they shame you, they disown you, things of this sort-
[00:48:58] Eric Weinstein: These are fairly common?
[00:48:59] Ashley Mathews: Yes, yeah, I think a lot of people have parents who are racist… There are some parents who are like, yes, you can do porn, but not interracial porn, or like in weird things like that. And so they’re making their children racist by association because maybe this child wouldn’t care. You know, they would love to have sex with a person of another race, but they don’t want their father and mother to disown them. So, by association, then listening to their parental rules and guidelines, they will not partake in interracial sex and things like that. So I think that this would be an interesting factor. And I think it’d be very interesting to put the parents in these simulations as well for youthful characters, or maybe even older people who get in the industry, so maybe the parents could understand what it’s like to be the adult entertainer and to have their parents be so harshly judging and aggressive and whatnot, maybe your parents are in a religious state, you know, where you could maybe fill out a little questionnaire and you’re like, my dad is Christian. So like, how would his Christian beliefs affect us negatively and put the father in that same you know, virtual reality and maybe could also help change the parents to be more accepting.But there also are obviously the parents who will just be terrible and unaccepting and I think there are other ways to put the future stars in the virtual reality whereas we had one star – Rest In Peace – August Ames
[00:50:36] Eric Weinstein: I was gonna ask about this.
[00:50:37] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, she she had committed suicide. from what I gather some internet bullying where she did not partake in a sex scene with a crossover star, which is a star who performs both in male to male scenes and male to female scenes. And I’m sure she struggled with other mental Illness issues and things like of that sort. And I think that if we were able to put these adolescents in or these 18 year olds or these people- Stars in the industry, they would be able to get the experience of the humiliation, the tweets and the social media hate that you’re gonna get, the ongoing you know, struggle with dating…
Harassement and Body Image
[00:51:26] Eric Weinstein: Ashley, how do you do it? I mean, I’ve seen some of what comes back at you. It’s absolutely brutal!
[00:51:33] Ashley Mathews: It is but I recognize that when I- when I think about it- when I was in elementary school, kids would make fun of me because I am kind of like a hairy girl I have like hairy arms and whatnot and hairy legs. So they would call me wolf woman or gorilla girl and I would just start howling like a wolf or like grunting around like a like a monkey. And I think that I have always just personally taken criticism and made it comical. So for me, when I see someone saying some hurtful comments, I’m always like, Ha, you’re brilliant. It’s amazing. It’s so hilarious to me. So I have a different ability into translating how negative terminology and derogatory statements towards myself actually impacts me.
[00:52:26] Eric Weinstein: You literally have a tattoo in another language. I don’t know which one-
[00:52:31] Ashley Mathews: Chinese, yeah.
[00:52:32] Eric Weinstein: It says when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
[00:52:35] Ashley Mathews: Yeah
[00:52:36] Eric Weinstein: So that seems to be pretty deep.
[00:52:38] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I’ve always been able to make things a more positive experience within myself. And I think that if we were able to help see which people could handle these types of experiences, which- who could handle the shame who could handle you know, all of the terrible aspects that come into being an adult entertainer, then I think it would be a better filter for, you know, allowing these experiences and maybe they should have these experiences for the viewers who are saying the terrible nonsense so that they could understand,
[00:53:12] Eric Weinstein: How much pain they’re inflicting.
[00:53:13] Ashley Mathews: Yes. Like, I think that listening to one of the Sam Harris podcasts he was talking about to somebody where they were talking about putting men in simulations where they get cat called, or, you know, sexual suggestions thrown at them,where they were now almost be able to think of like, wow, actually, maybe I won’t treat women that I don’t know like this because it’s actually not okay, and it made me feel uncomfortable.
[00:53:39] Eric Weinstein: Well, could I actually, I wasn’t planning on doing this, but can I give you a compliment? Um, one of the things that really discouraged me from going into podcasting or doing anything on YouTube, is that when I started to see I think the first time I was on a major YouTube podcast was Dave Rubin’s show. And I noticed that people stop the video at particular places and they say, what’s going on at 15:37? And you may not know this, but the reason that you’re sitting to my right is that I have a condition called Dwain syndrome. And so the guest always sits in that chair, because my left eye is partially paralyzed, and it will not go out. I did not actually have this diagnosed until I was an adult. And as a result, I very frequently appeared with some amount of crosseyedness.And my YouTube comments- like, I remember one comment was, did you see that at 18:21, his right eye goes in to check for information and then it comes back out because it’s where it’s stored in the brain. And like that was like very playful and fun.But then some of them- and particularly the ones having to do with the moles on my face really started to get to me and what I found – and here comes the compliment – I found, and I have to confess, I can’t really watch your really wild stuff. But I have watched some of your discussion about your body image. And you talk about being small breasted, you’re very open about this and saying I don’t want silicon. And I know that I’m supposed to get silicon in order to earn the big money. And I thought, Wow, she’s just talking quite openly about this. And then you didn’t shave your armpits for a while and then you did a YouTube video about the decision not to shave your armpits and shaving them. And you confounded everybody’s expectations for what you’re supposed to do as a big time erotic performer and I just took so much away from that it was very inspiring that you would be that courageous, and it was something that you know, personally moved me and helped me a little bit. You know, also people Don’t think my hair is real because they think it’s a wig because I’m too old. I’m not kidding you. So, you know, it’s a that was a great image from a most unexpected corner of the world. So thank you.
[00:56:12] Ashley Mathews: Oh, of course. Yeah, I think that like a part of that simulation I was speaking about would be about body image because there are so many young women that I’ve met who- Like, one particular model, I won’t say her name, but she said that her- she had so many fans (and I don’t even know what “so many” are) but she had so many fans who told her that her breasts were like, pointed in different directions, that she had two breast augmentation. And I could imagine that the people who complimented her greatly outweighed those who didn’t but people sit and they think about these negative comments and it affects them greatly to the point to where they will change their body. I know girls who have had complaints about their nose or their this or that, and they very openly go on their Instagram and they talk about, well you guys complain about this on my body so I fixed it.
[00:57:11] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[00:57:11] Ashley Mathews: And it’s very sad to me that these people who aren’t mentally strong enough put themselves out there and allow the feedback from some Joe-Schmo wherever he is saying these hurtful things towards the women and men, and it affects them greatly to the fact to where they actually will pursue action and will change their body and put silicone breasts in them which can be very dangerous. This can be life threatening you put yourself under under this anesthesia which is already a risk as well as the risk of the poisoning of the silicone and it’s really- like I know quite a few girls who got into silicone and then have gotten it removed later. I know a girl who has gotten her butt done and then removed afterwards. And these are very extreme life threatening surgeries to put yourself through over the simple fact of you think your audience will like you more. And to me, it’s obscene where I’ve- When I first started the industry I had- My first agent told me if I wanted to be a big star, I would have to dye my hair blonde and get a boob job.
[00:58:28] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[00:58:28] Ashley Mathews: And I have done neither of those.
How Does She Do It?
[00:58:31] Eric Weinstein: So this is the thing, which is like you really are. You don’t, you’re very disagreeable. You don’t take all of the standard advice, and somehow it’s been working out for you, you know, and, like, let me be a little bit more forthcoming. I don’t think I’m entirely comfortable with what it is that you do for a living. But I’ve tried to get over that. Because you know, you’re just been such a genuine and wonderful person to talk to about all of these things. So, in part, you’re extremely disarming, you get people to be comfortable with the fact that they do have a sexual response to you. And you get people to accept you on your own terms. And you’ve risen to the top without any, you know, seemingly any consequence to just being yourself. How did you figure that out? And nobody else did in your area?
[00:59:26] Ashley Mathews: I honestly am not sure. I, I think that’s to some extent, my parents had, you know, obviously a very large part of that, um, my mother has always been, she was never like, the type of person who took her body image into consideration. My mother was like an overweight woman who kind of never really dressed nice. And I think that that kind of helped me a lot to- And she was always proud of herself and her confidence was always very high and I think a huge part of my ability to just kind of accept myself for myself it was to see that as a role model was that she still found herself to be beautiful and loved herself even though she may have not been the standards of beauty and sometimes I wonder if I would be more in my own head if I had this attractive hot mom who dressed the part and put on makeup and all of these things where she was not that at all and she always was very accepting into whatever we wanted to wear and like when I went through my golf phase she would-
[01:00:33] Eric Weinstein: You had a golf phase?
[01:00:34] Ashley Mathews: I did have a golf phase.
[01:00:35] Eric Weinstein: Okay…
[01:00:36] Ashley Mathews: And she supported and got me all the like, funky clothes and all these things and when I did go through my like more sexually explicit phase she was always like very, very open to everything that we wanted when I wanted to start wearing like thong undergarments. She was like, yeah, let’s- we’ll go get them for you.
[01:00:55] Eric Weinstein: Do you think that you’re sort of set at the factory at a more hyper sexualized level?
[01:00:59] Ashley Mathews: I do think so. I think that, like, I was always around a lot of, like, sexual activity. I grew up in like a trailer with my uncles who had a lot of girlfriends, their girlfriends were strippers, and they were drug users.
[01:01:14] Eric Weinstein: So there’s probably a developmental aspect. Not set at the factory, but that the that environment-
[01:01:20] Ashley Mathews: Yes. And and my, my dad does claim to be like a sex addict and things like that. So, sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of, you know, biological self, something in me that is more hypersexual than others. And because I don’t think that everyone is meant to be, you know, into sex I think that some are more than others. I think like Nikola Tesla was a virgin when he died, and that makes sense. He was studying science the whole time. So like, I think that there are certain people who are
[01:01:51] Eric Weinstein: Newton was also pretty asexual.
[01:01:53] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, and to me, it makes sense like not everyone is meant to be a hypersexual person. Like some of us should be studying the arts or sciences or, you know, hunting and gathering rather than procreating.
[01:02:07] Eric Weinstein: Okay. I mean, I think I mentioned to you that I heard a podcast with a professional colleague of yours, Asa Akira, and she had said, I don’t think that I’m an appropriate role model for all young women. I think that I’m an appropriate role model for hypersexual young women.And I thought that was fascinating that I hadn’t occurred to me, that we may be partitioned into different groups, and that a hyper sexualized young woman might need an appropriate role model that is highly specific. Do you feel comfortable being that in your area?
[01:02:41] Ashley Mathews: 100%. Yeah, I think that since very young age, I had always been a very hypersexual person, and I never necessarily had like a role model. And I agree, I wouldn’t say that I am a traditional type of role model. Although I would like to be – to some extent – I would like to think that the more average girl could admire me and look up to me for other aspects and whatnot. And because- Like I said, I have a lot of girls who know who I am from like podcasts and stuff, they had no idea of my work or anything like that. And they just admire me for the way I speak and my opinions on things,
Worlds Clashing and Burning Man
[01:03:23] Eric Weinstein: It’s very hard for me to integrate. You know, when I’ve spoken to you on the phone before you say, you know, it’s been great talking to you, but unfortunately, I have to get back to the set. And I have this like, it’s like somebody telling me I have to go fight the Battle of Stalingrad some terrible, crazy things about that, but you’re like, Oh, no, I love my work. It’s just very funny to see my own discomfort and prudishness proper.
[01:03:49] Ashley Mathews: (Laughter) It is interesting. It’s a very bizarre thing for me, even when I meet people like yourself, you know, and like other types of fans. I’ve because I have these other avenues of attracting personas. I’ve had very young adolescents come up to me and asked me for photos for my podcasts with like Logan Paul. And this is absolutely mind boggling to me and I, their parent will take the photo and I’m just, Do they even know? And I don’t know what I’m supposed to say?
[01:04:23] Eric Weinstein: Well, this is the thing. I think that there’s a lot of it that’s not personal, when it comes to the trepidation. It has to do with I have no plan for how we are going to negotiate all of the issues that come up, because in my world, we’re all wildly sexually hypocritical and that’s normal. That’s that’s the way the civilian world has always been. And presumably, it’s likely to be that for the foreseeable future, whereas I see you as the sort of dangerous truth telling machine experimenting with things that you know that that are unimaginable. Now, you just Went to Burning Man. And Burning Man is a very odd thing in the Black Rock desert of Nevada, because for one week, somehow the normal rules are suspended. How do you find this sort of-? I didn’t find it… I went once. I didn’t find it incredibly hot. There was a lot of nakedness. There was a lot of play. But it wasn’t a wildly erotic experience in my understanding, did you find it otherwise,
[01:05:33] Ashley Mathews: I also- Agreed, I did not find it as a very erotic experience and it could just be because it feels kind of dirty with all the dust everywhere. To me, just hygenically, I’m not really-
[01:05:44] Eric Weinstein: It is a very creative place. Like the art is astounding.
[01:05:47] Ashley Mathews: Yes, it is a beautiful place. And I think that it’s just a place of people to be able to be comfortable in their bodies. And I think that the fact that it’s not hyper erotic is also why people are so comfortable with themselves because they are able to walk around naked and look at looked at as an art piece rather than looked at-
[01:06:08] Eric Weinstein: I think that’s a beautiful wqay to say it.
[01:06:09] Ashley Mathews: -as a sexual object.
[01:06:11] Eric Weinstein: Even an erotic art piece that isn’t necessarily going to immediately lead to a sense of arousal.
[01:06:18] Ashley Mathews: Yes, exactly. They are able in that moment to embrace themselves for who they are, because you’ll find young, old, overweight, thin, attractive, unattractive people who are just nude running around. And everyone is just so confident in themselves. And I think it’s such a beautiful environment and place for people to really be able to accept themselves and it’s kind of sad that that is the one place that they are able to let their guard down
[01:06:50] Eric Weinstein: It was very interesting. I remember seeing a woman on a bicycle, who had very clearly had a radical mastectomy, and she was totally topless. And she didn’t- I mean aggressively – She was having the time of her life and didn’t care and there was this sort of, you know, cocoon of like acceptance and love that was clearly in the air. I don’t think it’s an easy thing. Now Burning Man is this very funny thing that they refer to the civilian world as the default world. And so in the default world, it’s very tough to get that kind of radical acceptance.
[01:07:27] Ashley Mathews: It is.
[01:07:28] Eric Weinstein: Do you find that there’s some sort of similarity between that deviation from the civilian world or the default world that is Burning Man and the porn set?
The Power of Editing Porn or Breaking the Mold
[01:07:37] Ashley Mathews: I would say 100%. Like, a lot of my friends that I work with- Or a lot of my friends. I get them to end up working for me. So I’ve got some friends who are like mainstream editors and I somehow managed to get them to start editing my adult videos and I have one that I ended up taking to Burning Man with me who had such a- He recently told me how he’s had such an epiphany within himself to be able to be so comfortable with his own body and comfortable with other people about other people’s bodies by simply editing my videos, he’s not on set, he’s not partaking in any of the activities or anything like that. But because he’s just been editing my videos, he’s found that he’s able to have a different relationship with nudity and sex, and all of these things whereas in his regular world previously to meeting me, he was more I guess, vanilla or follow the standards of the civil civilian type people where it was like, no nudity, you will never see him naked, unless you are his girlfriend or partner at the time and now he’s in a totally different place where he he said himself he’s like, by the end of Burning Man, I will be walking around naked, too. And I think it’s like this of ability within himself where he’s now he’s gotten to be able to put himself in th perspective in the shoes of us on set. He sees, he sees the delay of when before cameras cut, he sees like, you know, they start action and there’s moments of us getting comfortable with each other. There’s moments of us cutting and just kind of like being natural and ourselves. We’re like taking a water break and everything like that.
[01:09:23] Eric Weinstein: Got it.
[01:09:23] Ashley Mathews: And I think that there are elements that definitely have helped people grow within themselves and be able to accept themselves as they’re just natural, human self.
[01:09:36] Eric Weinstein: So it seems to me that there’s definitely something to learn from this weird pornographic universe. On the other hand, I can’t see that these lessons will ever fully translate.So for example, you remember this horrible number at the Oscars where I forget who it was, somebody was singing the song I saw your boobs, it was going through all of the actresses who’d appeared topless. And the idea being, that, Well, if I’ve seen your boobs, then in some sense, I’ve got something on you. And I thought about John Lennon and Yoko Ono doing this album called, I think Two Virgins. And they’re appearing naked on the album. So let’s get it over with. So now you’ve all seen us and lets you now you don’t have any power over us anymore because it’s done. Do you think that there’s something like that, that at some level, there’s this revelation that you have your privacy up until a certain point and then when you’ve given up your privacy, in exchange, somehow you get a comfort with self?
The Many Faces Of Ordinary Folk
[01:10:41] Ashley Mathews: Yes. 100% I think there was a study done that showed that women who perform in adult entertainment or as a sex worker, have higher levels of confidence within themselves, then the average woman and I think 100% that there’s something about putting yourself out there to be so vulnerable, kind of forces you to kind of have to not care what other people think or say. And I think that there’s also, as much as you get these negative statements, there’s still so much glorification in that there’s still so many people who are applauding you for doing what you do. Like, I look like a normal girl, an average girl who’s probably going to college or has some sort of basic job and when I go to the store and target I’m a very social person, I make small talk with anyone. And I often will like I just start conversations with like, maybe this random sixty year old lady and we’re kind of like, you know, talking lollygagging and she asks me Oh, like, what are you a model? What do you do? And I tell her Well, I’m actually like one of the number one porn stars in the world and a lot of times they look at me, they like size me up and down and they’re like, You?, like, you don’t have big silicone boobs. You don’t have all this injection in your face. Like, You? And I’m like, I explain to them-
[01:11:59] Eric Weinstein: You are so pathologically polite.
[01:12:03] Ashley Mathews: Yes. I am a lovely lady, I think. And a lot of times when it’s like an older woman, she will tell me how she regrets not being more exploring in her life and regrets not being able to, or not have done things that were more adventurous sexually, or erotically, or maybe like, I think one woman told me she wanted to do like nude modeling, but she never did because her herself was a petite small brunette woman. And it was it’s always so interesting to me that the positive reinforcement I get from older women who are always like, wow, like I am so happy that you do that. And like, I wish that I would have been-
[01:12:50] Eric Weinstein: I think there are a lot of post-menopausal regrets. I was friendly with a woman who I take to be maybe in her mid-to-late 60s, who started for some reason as I was leaving San Francisco telling me more than she might have otherwise. And she talked about how, back in the day she had allowed people to eat their meals off of her naked body as a kind of performance art stuff.
[01:13:20] Ashley Mathews: Yes!
[01:13:21] Eric Weinstein: And she was just having the time of her life cackling about it. And we were like, laughing and making rude jokes. And I thought about the way in which maybe the part of the problem is that men really need women in general in the civilian world to be much more simple in terms of their sexuality,that you want to imagine your mother and your grandmother, typically as somehow bringing forth life with, you know, not multiple lovers and not having much of a history and that somehow, I wonder whether it’s male needs for an idealized concept of women that make this pressure lifelong and that postmenopausally many women just say, Well, what did I do? I gave up so much of myself.
Dating Troubles as an Adult Actor
[01:14:11] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I agree. I do think that a lot of men want these types of desires. And I don’t know if it’s biology or what it is sometimes I don’t even think that necessarily matters. It’s probably like, environmental. But I know personally, when I talk to a lot of guys that are my friends. They’re like, I love you, and I adore you, but I couldn’t date you.
[01:14:32] Eric Weinstein: What do you make of that? Does that make sense to you?
[01:14:35] Ashley Mathews: No. It doesn’t make sense to me. And I don’t know if it’s because I as a woman, would, I guess biologically would look for the most suitable male and would probably have multiple children. If it was a primal world. I’d be like, Oh, he’s like, six feet tall and big, hunky man and he’s like a smart lovely gentlemen. Like, I would imagine. Maybe I would have these desires to have these different types of children. So it could explain my attraction to a variety of men. But I also feel like men would naturally be that way too. But I don’t know really what it is like, I think like we like what is it some one of the big cats, like, lions or something, will kill the young of another, you know-
[01:15:05] Eric Weinstein: It’s even worse than that. You wanna get into it?
[01:15:27] Ashley Mathews: Yes.
[01:15:28] Eric Weinstein: I believe the idea is that if the head of the pride changes, and there’s a new line at the head, not only will he kill the young offspring of his predecessor, but that horribly, the female lions’ response to this is to go into estrus to become receptive and aroused by the killing of their young. Right, like, no, I mean, nature is just so bizar-
[01:15:58] Ashley Mathews: (whispers) That’s so crazy.
[01:15:58] Eric Weinstein: It’s so crazy, right? And we can’t really accept this in part. And so my belief is, is that a lot of what you’re seeing is the evolutionary program that says, if I know this person to be so aroused, it’s not their personality, their looks, their this, their that… One, they’ve got a tremendous amount of sexual knowledge. So they’re going to know exactly where I am on the totem pole of sexuality, which is terrifying. I think there’s another aspect that has to do with how do I know this person is going to pick up and take off with somebody else? Because they’ve been- they’ve had their norms adjusted. There’s another one that says, How do I know that any child will be mine? But more than anything, my guess is, how do I know that I won’t be mercilessly teased. Because everyone will say, Hey, I saw your girlfriend naked. I saw her doing this. I saw her doing that. And so the assault on the male ego, and you know, just to be honest about it, I think almost none of us are secure enough to deal with.
[01:16:59] Ashley Mathews: Oh yeah. I know that every guy that I’ve dated publicly faces a large amount of sliding in the DMS of very aggressive, you know, harassment and I’m sure that even after our breakup, they are still dealing with the harassment because we were at one time a public image together, and I would see some of the comments and they are absolutely brutal and terrible. And it’s even actually one of the reasons why I’m terrified to have children because I think that I’m being the best mother possible by not having children, because I think that the life that they could live could be full of suffering, whereas they will be shamed their entire life, possibly whereas, you know, that same statement, where, How do you know that’s your real dad, I’ve seen your mom take on many partners, you know, and like, all of these kinds of very hurtful, terrible things
[01:17:58] Eric Weinstein: Direct assault on our construct of masculinity. And this is why, you know, I noticed the other day that Jenna Jameson, who was obviously a person in an era slightly before yours at the top of the porn profession, was following me in tweeting about the Jeffrey Epstein situation. And she is pretty aggressive. And she had her kid and her picture at the top of her Twitter profile. And that is a very aggressive mama bear who is not taking any shit from anybody. I think you know, one of the things I’ve-You ever see this movie The Martian?
[01:18:39] Ashley Mathews: Is that the one with-
[01:18:40] Eric Weinstein: Matt Damon.
[01:18:41] Ashley Mathews: I’ve heard of it. I did not actually see it.
[01:18:43] Eric Weinstein: Okay. You know, like, it’s one thing to get a human to Mars, but it’s much more difficult to imagine how we’re going to get a human back. So maybe it’s easy to go one way. I think of Planet Porn is like Mars.That very often, there’s a portal into something where you have a lot more to learn. That’s part of the reason that, you know, I was eager to have you on the program. But it’s not clear that there’s a return ticket.
Suppressing Genius for Sexual “Transgressions”
[01:19:07] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I agree. 100% I think that is a very, that’s why one thing I was saying earlier is like, is the seal of approval that I become a scientist? You know, like, what, what do I have to do to become acceptable in the public’s eye? Like, do I write an amazing film? A screenplay?, that now is like, Wow, she’s more than an adult actor.
[01:19:32] Eric Weinstein: We talked about a couple of these because these are fun. One thing is, I don’t know. Do you know the story of Marie Curie on her second Nobel prize?
[01:19:42] Ashley Mathews: (declines)
[01:19:42] Eric Weinstein: Okay, so, you know, obviously, this Polish scientist living in France. Second Nobel Prize. She’s told we’re going to give you the prize, but you can’t come to Stockholm to pick it up. Because we think that you’re getting busy with a married man. Right? Can you imagine I was gonna write a book called Radium Slut. Because of her work with the radioactive element radium, and we were so wrapped around the axle about her extracurricular life, that we couldn’t bring ourselves to let her have the pleasure of a second Nobel Prize given her behavior. Some other ones in this category, which I think are kind of interesting, obviously, you must know the story of Hedy Lamarr.
[01:20:22] Ashley Mathews: (declines)
[01:20:22] Eric Weinstein: So the Spread Spectrum technology that allows your phone to keep a call but to jump from frequency to frequency was apparently co-developed by her. Now she was an actress who was famous for appearing nude. She was like the most beautiful woman of her time. Early in German films, I think before she came to the US, I think was German films not quite sure. But again, highly sexualized female, brilliant as the day as long, and that these examples, there’s another one I would love to have on this program I can’t remember her name exactly, maybe Brooke Magnanti. And her pen name was Belle de Jour, she was studying for a PhD. And she was turning tricks as a high class call girl in the UK, because the stipends weren’t high enough. She loved the work. She loved her clients, she loves science. And so these are all examples of highly sexualized – self-sexualized females who have been at a very high intellectual level. Now, one possibility is is that we should desexualize the work environment in science. However, if it turned out to be a correlation between outsized performance, and hyper sexualization in females, we wouldn’t be running the experiment to be able to see whether there was any kind of a correlation. So these are, these are topics which are weirdly too hard to talk about, and my concern is, is that we’re not built- I mean, one of the things I’ve loved talking about these topics with you is that we’ve managed to keep this- and I think I’m going to take credit, I can kill the sexuality and sex, so that we’ve kept it pretty much above board and above the neck, and that we need to learn how to keep sex from turning sexy in conversation, because it’s too important a topic not to be able to discuss what do you think?
[01:22:26] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I agree. 100%. I would like to think that, you know, hypersexuality and intelligence kind of go hand in hand.
[01:22:34] Eric Weinstein: Well, I think it’s a suspicion but you can’t bring that up, because the other major force is that the workplace should be highly desexualized. And because I think that there is such incredible denial and you know, that there isn’t a recognition of female sexuality in the workplace, there’s only a sense, you know, in general of male transgression. I think it’s very unclear what the way forward is to figure out what is keeping women out of the sciences. My personal opinion is that it has to do with kin work that women are taking up most of the work in caring for children caring for older relatives, and that the burdens of kin work are often prohibitive when it comes to a really intense career. But I think we have a very difficult road ahead because I think half the brains have half the neurons in the world right on female shoulders. And that should be a huge source of opportunity. But somehow there’s a puzzle of sexuality may ask you different questions, because you’re not you’re nodding. Are you familiar with Christina Hoff Sommers? If you’re following Sam Harris, who I think is at the American Enterprise Institute, she’s sort of a second wave feminist, not a third wave feminist. She calls herself the Factual Feminist. She’s caught a lot of attention to the idea that the wage gap where women (are) thought to get 75 cents for every dollar that a man gets paid for equal work. You have a very unusual situation, which is that in your workplace, there is a huge wage gap.
[01:24:12] Ashley Mathews: Oh, yeah.
The Astronomical Wage Gap
[01:24:12] Eric Weinstein: Talk to me about that.
[01:24:14] Ashley Mathews: Um, there’s not only a huge wage gap, I think that there’s also like a huge, maybe attention gap where on the video films, a lot of times I think they even cut the guy’s head out of the frame, you know. So I think a lot of times, the male is almost more objectified than the female where he is literally just a phallic piece. He is not anything more than his penis. And a lot of times they don’t want to see the rest of his body, nor hear him speak or anything like that. And a lot of times, I think that they’re doing almost even more of the work than the female is and we get this opposite end of the spectrum where I can get paid. for anywhere from 2500 to sometimes $10,000 for a scene that I do one scene for one scene that I do whereas the male talent can get anywhere from 500 to- well, even less, like, 300 to 2000 is, like, the top star in the industry.
[01:25:23] Eric Weinstein: Wow.
[01:25:23] Ashley Mathews: And my starting rate is already above his. Those big huge stars-
[01:25:29] Eric Weinstein: You know, that’s similar for modeling.If we took the top 10 – suppose that supermodel – I don’t love the term porn star and supermodel because they get used like but let’s just have fun. If you take the top 10 supermodels, male and female, my understanding is that the pay scale is 10 cents on the dollar for the men relative to the females because there is this super premium. I mean in some weird way. The females are the males of the human species. Like peacocks: The adorned gender, or sex is the males. And the festoon gender in humans is much more the females. And so there’s this very bizarre reversal, that there really is a wage gap in this one area. And it totally favors the females. Is that fair? How should we think about this? Given that we’ve learned to think about it in reverse, and you’re in one of the few industries where it totally goes the other way?
Despite Equality Otherwise
[01:26:31] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I mean, I like to think of gender equality, myself personally. So I don’t find it fair, in my personal opinion, because, like I said, even in the sense of like, showcasing the male is not, he’s almost more objectified and they’re still dealing with the same struggles that the females are. Dating, I’m sure, like when it comes to dating, I’m sure the male struggles just as much as the female actress.
[01:26:57] Eric Weinstein: I bet not. I bet it’s pretty bad-
[01:27:01] Ashley Mathews: I don’t know…
[01:27:02] Eric Weinstein: I bet it’s not quite as intense.
[01:27:03] Ashley Mathews: I am not sure I think that it is like, because women have their insecurities. So, you know, you have to think of the this male is working with women who are mostly 18 years old for almost all their scenes and he’s maybe like a 30, 40 year old man who’s looking for a woman his age. And it’s I think hard for a lot of these more civilian type women to be confident within themselves when he’s going to see, you know, working with these 18 year old girls who-
[01:27:36] Eric Weinstein: I guess I hadn’t thought as much about- I mean, obviously there’s a lot of dating within the industry because people are at least sensitized to what the-
[01:27:44] Ashley Mathews: Both men dating the females, females dating the men, but i know a lot of the men who personally struggle-
[01:27:44] Eric Weinstein: Well, I take it back, it’s interesting.
[01:27:53] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, sometimes I think it’s worse because I think that guys’ll almost be more accepting than the the women.But I mean, I’m not really sure. But the I think I know more women who date out of the industry than men. I don’t really know many men whose partner is not within the industry.
The Trans Scene
[01:28:15] Eric Weinstein: Let me ask you another one. You did your first transexual sex scene recently. My guess is is that you were warned that this could have negative consequences on your career you elected to do it. Obviously, the topic is very hot. And you probably brought a large portion of a heteronormative audience through something they weren’t prepared to deal with. How did that go? And just keep it so that we can have the broadest audience possible, but just- I’m curious. It’s a political act.
[01:28:46] Ashley Mathews: Yeah. For the longest time, I was advised against doing a trans type of scene due to the fact that my agent suggested that a lot of my fellow peers wouldn’t want to work with me because is like a crossover type performer. They are also a more high risk performer because of the activities that they do. And I think that overall, in general, my agent just kind of thought it was some sort of a career suicide type of thing where it could really affect you overall within the industry. And for a long time, I took his advice and didn’t want to do this potential dangerous activity, and I didn’t want it to hurt my ability to perform with other peers and whatnot. And it wasn’t until recently that I, I dated a guy who asked me to quit porn and I contemplated it for a very long time and had even like a retirement date and everything and-
[01:29:47] Eric Weinstein: Wow.
[01:29:47] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, he helped kind of manipulate me into feeling like I should quit and everything like that. And I finally realized one day that this was not what I wanted to do. I loved my job. And that I would probably later on resent him if I had done so. And after our breakup, it was when I really took control over my job and realized that I want to do things that make me happy and not really for my fans. So I started to create my own content for my website that were things that I wanted to do, and ways that I wanted to portray myself and not in things or ways that I thought would make money. I kind of stopped caring about the money and was like, I’m going to invest myself and my own brand and money into things that I enjoy, and hopefully it’ll translate. And one of my things was always a fantasy of working with a trans performer.
[01:30:40] Eric Weinstein: Is it something that’s erotically interesting or is it politically interesting?
[01:30:44] Ashley Mathews: Both!
[01:30:44] Eric Weinstein: Okay.
[01:30:45] Ashley Mathews: Both. There’s something amazing about a female with a penis that is just, you get both the best of both worlds to some extent, and it was something that I had over the years-
[01:30:58] Eric Weinstein: So, I’m curious, have you ever been to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in Italy.
[01:31:03] Ashley Mathews: No, I’ve not been to Europe. So…
[01:31:05] Eric Weinstein: Oh really?
[01:31:05] Ashley Mathews: No.
[01:31:06] Eric Weinstein: Okay, well, here’s a little piece of homework. There’s a room in this- one of the most famous art museums in the world called the Hermaphrodite Room with an absolutely gorgeous reclining, apparently female figure, and then you walk around, and sure enough, there’s this penis. And so, you know, the shock that we’re cued to female indicia. And then surprise that there is this actual different state. You know, this is something that people have been playing with- This is energy that’s been played with for a very long time and much more conservative areas. And so I wonder whether some people like there’s a community that finds this specifically very exciting.
[01:31:51] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I think so. I think that more people are attracted to it than even want to admit it or even are aware of it.
[01:31:59] Eric Weinstein: Do you think that’s where some of the prejudice and bigotry comes from, is people trying to suppress that they’re actually fascinated.
[01:32:04] Ashley Mathews: Yes. 100%
[01:32:06] Eric Weinstein: Interesting.
[01:32:06] Ashley Mathews: I had a very large applause to that. And a lot of my fans were so excited and happy to see me do this activity and keep asking for more. And that’s actually – because I shot it for my own website,And it’s one of my most viewed scenes on my website. And I’ve had my website for- owned it since like 2015. And it outweighs and reaches numbers that none of my other-
[01:32:29] Eric Weinstein: I would not have guessed this.
[01:32:33] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I’ve got so many other scenes with like, you know, Daddy play and multiple partners in one scene and like, you know, the incestual things and all this stuff-
[01:32:43] Eric Weinstein: (uncomfortable) Trying not to freak out.
[01:32:44] Ashley Mathews: As soon as I said that one, I was, like, oh, wait-
[01:32:48] Eric Weinstein: No, no, no, no, no. I think I’m probably not- I don’t think I’m highly judgmental at a mental level, but I think that I’m quite comfortable with the idea that I’m not really meant to explore all of the hypocrisies. That in some sense, I think I accept that my world is a world of hypocrisies and that that’s actually structural, which is why-
[01:33:14] Ashley Mathews: I mean you could also be facing the fact that you will get socially critiqued yourself.
Louis C.K. and Undicussable Kinks
[01:33:18] Eric Weinstein: Well there is that. I think I think that I’m more comfortable defending very- well here’s something that I I’m gonna get socially critiqued for and and when we talked about it on the phone that I think I feel slightly more comfortable with. The shunning of Louis C. K. was something that I thought the world probably got weirdly wrong and that the porn world was strangely silent. So my understanding was that he was requesting to disrobe and to bring himself to orgasm in the presence of fully clothed females. And when I heard that, and I heard that this was his desire to exert power. I thought, I wonder if that’s true. Or I wonder if this is just some sort of well known kink. And it turns out that there was a category which I asked you to look into. And not only does this kink exist, it seems to be a fairly large kink. And it’s coupled to some other kink called female domination. How does that how do I pronounce that in the industry?
[01:34:28] Ashley Mathews: And we call it Femdom. Femdom? Okay.
[01:34:32] Eric Weinstein: So, what if we got that wrong? What if, to some extent, this was a powerful guy who was actually looking to be dominated by females because that was his kink, and then we couldn’t actually talk about it in terms of the complexity, and because we’re so judgmental, and because of this sort of sense that right now the Vogue is to protect very powerless females from very predatory men, and we’re going to arrange all of sexuality so that that one case can be addressed because that has been a place where we haven’t had good tools Did we effectively just kind of cancel a human being who was actually seeking to be dominated?
[01:35:18] Ashley Mathews: I 100% thing so i think that there’s like also trouble within the the females he was asking to be dominated by I don’t think that they probably even had the comprehension of what he was asking for like-
[01:35:33] Eric Weinstein: Sarah Silverman talked about sort of getting it and being down for it, like, I want to see you do that.
[01:35:38] Ashley Mathews: Oh, I would be- if he asked me I would 100% it would have been like fucking do right now. But I think that you know, even when I first started performing Femdom myself
[01:35:52] Eric Weinstein: So this is something that you do.
[01:35:54] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I do. And when I am such a sweet, kind, caring person, when I- My first-
[01:36:01] Eric Weinstein: Pull the mask off, Ashley.
[01:36:02] Ashley Mathews: Well, it was like- it took a training for me like, where, where, for my-
[01:36:08] Eric Weinstein: You can get trained for this?
[01:36:09] Ashley Mathews: Well it’s kind of like when you throw yourself in a situation over and over and over and over again you kind of learn how to become better and more comfortable in it. So when I remember my first femdom scene was kicking a guy and having to kick him repeatedly.And the whole time I was just like, are you okay? Like, are you okay? I don’t want to hurt you. I was hardly kicking him or anything.And this man flew himself out covered his own expenses and was there for free because this was a niche and a kink that he had wanted to do. And now I’m at a point to where myself where I could kick a guy and not ask if he’s fine or not.
[01:36:49] Eric Weinstein: Woah.
[01:36:49] Ashley Mathews: (backpedaling, laughing) When he- when he’s put it in the scenario. I won’t just kick any stranger!
[01:36:54] Eric Weinstein: Why, I don’t know.
[01:36:55] Ashley Mathews: You better watch out there!
[01:36:56] Eric Weinstein: First time we’ve met.
[01:36:58] Ashley Mathews: Oh, no, but my point is like when you’re put in this scenario, I have now learned how to be a better Fem Dom. And I think that the mistake that Louis made was that he was asking women who are not experienced enough to participate in activities that they are not mature enough for.
[01:37:19] Eric Weinstein: Well, you didn’t. I mean, here’s the thing that blew my mind is that when I looked into this, I found that there was this acronym for what he was doing, which was clothed, female, naked male, and you didn’t recognize the acronym and you’re in the business.
[01:37:35] Ashley Mathews: No, I wasn’t
[01:37:36] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[01:37:36] Ashley Mathews: I wasn’t familiar with it.
[01:37:37] Eric Weinstein: So this is what what I found fascinating is that the world of kink is so varied, that even if you’re in the business, and you’re like, you know,
[01:37:47] Ashley Mathews: well, I’m my own niche. I’m not really in the I’m more of the like, Girl Next Door niche. I’m typecasted. I will never play a MILF or things like that, because I’m typecast-
[01:37:59] Eric Weinstein: That’s Moro Islamic Liberation Front if you’re following at home.
Data and Genres
[01:38:04] Ashley Mathews: Not in my world. But I think that you know, even for me personally, I’ve learned to cater my brand around the type cast that I have. Whereas if I was maybe a more, all-tattooed type female, my brand would have learned to adapt to the audience around myself. So my my audience is a specific type of brand.
[01:38:31] Eric Weinstein: I guess, you know, just to talk about trends in the industry it’s now possible, like okay, OkCupid I think pioneered a blog that used the data component of a dating app, in this case, OkCupid to try to figure out, Okay, well, what patterns can we discern, like, for example, how old are people’s photographs that they use for their profile relative to their age, and then you know, an average of 2.5 years lagged or something like this. We now have have all sorts of data on people’s sexual proclivities based on their use of these websites, because of the sort of the Big Data opportunities, what have you guys learned about us?
[01:39:12] Ashley Mathews: Well, we’ve learned learned there are definitely seasons of even from the type of adult films that are consumed to the colors that the performers are wearing. So there’s like, algorithms that they could, you know, or data that they could track where they know like, holiday time you know, around now it’s like October, it’ll be October in a few days but like, October to I think like February is the niche of incest porn is huge. And I think that largely has to do with the holidays or people spend a lot of time with their families.
Incest and Teen Porn
[01:39:46] Eric Weinstein: Is incest porn, actually trying to depict straight up incest, which is I find incredibly disturbing, or is it really incest adjacent where it’s trying to depict sort step-like relationships gone awry,
[01:40:03] Ashley Mathews: it’s both and it mainly depends on the particular company you’re working with. And I think that’s only specifically because the payment processors. So certain payment processing will force you to say, step mom, like minimum three times you have to kind of establish it multiple times throughout the scene, whereas our other-
[01:40:23] Eric Weinstein: So this is sort of a legal requirement, where it wouldn’t-
[01:40:26] Ashley Mathews: Yes. If it was not,-
[01:40:27] Eric Weinstein: Oh, man…
[01:40:27] Ashley Mathews: If the payment processors did not have any input, then people would do straight up-
[01:40:34] Eric Weinstein: Yikes!
[01:40:34] Ashley Mathews: -“incest” incest. So it’s, I think, due to the-
[01:40:37] Eric Weinstein: Are you comfortable with that?
[01:40:38] Ashley Mathews: Me personally, not necessarily, I don’t feel comfortable saying the word mommy or daddy. To me it’s also not erotic, it doesn’t turn me on. I would rather play the babysitter in my interview want to keep that team spirit alive, but I also don’t necessarily feel comfortable playing a teen either like I had one fan at one point tell me that they loved my 10 year old vagina. And it was because I didn’t have a bush at the time.
[01:41:09] Eric Weinstein: Ah. Well, this was a huge trend where we habituated people to seeing females in a prepubescent state.
[01:41:18] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, I started growing my bush after that one statement. I was like, all I needed to hear was that guy say that direct sentence. And I was like, well, this is my only way of claiming womanhood.
[01:41:30] Eric Weinstein: Okay. Yeah.
[01:41:31] Ashley Mathews: And because I do look like a very young adult person. And I play a young person in my films. And so I don’t necessarily feel comfortable constantly playing a, yes, prepub- you know, teen, a little teeny bopper?
[01:41:47] Eric Weinstein: Well, and I think this is part of, you know, getting back to the issue of the obscenity decisions. Well, I usually come down on the side of free speech. I do think it’s worth making the argument against, which is where we are now—there was a five four decision one of the justices I believe in the in the minority wrote saying that there should be no concept of obscenity, that it should all be covered. But because arousal takes place not in the prefrontal cortex where we’re actually doing our thinking, but it’s taking place in the autonomic nervous system, which we have very little control over—we sort of only have supervisory control—it makes sense at some level that there are certain ideas that you don’t wish to excite. And this comes across not just in sexuality, like for example, the concept of fighting words is a defense, which is that if somebody riles you up and is trying to get your goat, and you and you smash them in the face, there might that might be a mitigating circumstance where it wouldn’t simply be considered assault because the person’s use of language was trying to elicit passion that would likely end in violence. And of course, you know, crimes of passion, which does have to do with sexuality that, you know, sexual jealousy is thought to be capable of arousing us to violence. Is there an argument to be made that if the speech or the art is intended to access the parts of our brain that are most primitive and least under control, that maybe that shouldn’t be considered speech at all?
Fantasy v Reality
[01:43:24] Ashley Mathews: I’m not sure because sometimes I wonder if these type of acts or videos or whatnot are helpful to viewers like I’m not sure if it’s like- Instead of the person going out and performing these acts on a fellow person, they’re able to view it on screen and because they’re-
[01:43:46] Eric Weinstein: That’s interesting, so maybe the idea that it could be sav-
[01:43:48] Ashley Mathews: It could be helpful. It could be- Because we are acting We are an actress and an actor performing
[01:43:55] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[01:43:55] Ashley Mathews: And we’re- I am not an actual underaged minor, though I am most time playing one but legally, I have to pretend I’m 18. Because the payment processors and whatnot and the laws-
[01:44:07] Eric Weinstein: So you’re a 28 year old woman, playing what you believe to be an underage person who is technically portrayed as being above the age. That’s three different ages that are taking-
[01:44:18] Ashley Mathews: Yes. 100%. And a lot of the times, I would like to think that it’s helping people so that they are not actually like, like the incest porn. It’s helping people to not actually take in, like, experience these activities, because it would be wrong, your guilty conscience would probably weigh on you, you would be like, what did I just do? This is a terrible mistake. Why did I-
[01:44:44] Eric Weinstein: Well, but maybe this is indicative of some kind of sickness in our society? That I don’t even understand. I mean, I have to say it’s quite a shock to me.
[01:44:53] Ashley Mathews: You know, something very interesting. My dad married his stepsister.
[01:45:00] Eric Weinstein: I had a girlfriend in college whose parents were step brother and sister.
[01:45:05] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, he- She’s not my mother. But it is something where I make like a joke where I’m like, my whole life is a big giant porno. Like, and it is interesting. He met her when she was about like 13 years old and you know, he was-
[01:45:22] Eric Weinstein: So after puberty, I forget what that effect is. That if you grow up with somebody, you tend not to be aroused by them at an earlier age.
[01:45:31] Ashley Mathews: Yes.
[01:45:31] Eric Weinstein: Right.
[01:45:32] Ashley Mathews: So it is interesting to me that like it’s, it is real life where you can partake in these sexual activities, and it’s not blood related and it is technically legal. Because they are step by step brother and stepsister, but there is still for me a personal element where I find it unattractive.
[01:45:54] Eric Weinstein: Yeah.
[01:45:55] Ashley Mathews: For me, at least myself.
What Can We Learn From All This?
[01:45:56] Eric Weinstein: Right.Listen, I’ve really enjoyed this. I have one final question. But I think that if we don’t figure out, you know, I have this, I’m gonna get a little abstract. But I have a theory, which is that the invisible world is first discovered by the visible world’s failure to close that is, for example, you learn about a, let’s say dark matter in the universe, not because you can see it, you can’t it doesn’t have photons bouncing off of it, but it bends the light around it. And so you can see that there must be something there because all the visible stuff is behaving strangely. And in some sense, the erotic entertainment complex is like dark matter in our society. It’s this enormous, influential thing. One of the things that was very strange was watching how many people literally would say Who is Riley Reid?, and their faces lighting up with delight. That- They had- I mean, they just weren’t aware that they were lying. So clearly, this is shaping our society, it’s affecting who we are, it’s affecting our sexuality, we’re not really able to talk about it, I feel like I’m taking a big risk, which may be in my mind, maybe not. By having you on the program. I think that for the most part, the discussion has been exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping to have with you. So thank you so much for being here. But like, my final question, really is, what is it that the pornographic world can tell us in the civilian world about ourselves, watching all of these tensions between men and women? And what would be the best way of being in dialogue if you do understand why it’s so hard to mix these two worlds because of their two shifts in basic norms.
[01:47:59] Ashley Mathews: It’s kind of hard for me to answer because I’ve been in the industry for so long at starting at such a young age. So I don’t-I almost don’t know what it’s like to not be this world or this person. Sometimes it’s hard for me to comprehend how people cannot, or aren’t the same, or have similar mindsets and perspectives. I almost wish that every person would just be a performer for a month or two, just so that they could understand and have a more realistic idea on what happens in our world and then take that and bring it to your world because I feel like we have so much valuable self awareness and confidence to offer that the general public is not really- it’s not tangible for them because they have all of these rules of society, standards that you have to follow and I think that if people could put themselves in our shoes and could be a performer for a month, then I think that they would be able to understand the business aspect as to where we are not these crazy criminal like type people I think that it would help them understandthat sexuality is so fluid and how love is so transparable and like you- or transferable, where I’ve personally learned how to find beauty and attractiveness and love from so many walks of Earth in just any human being basically that I got that from shooting porn where I don’t know if I would be as full of love for strangers because I am forced to have intercourse- Not forced. I’m not like held at gunpoint, but I willingly volunteer myself to have intercourse on film with strangers. And it gives me the capability of really learning to love literally every person around me. And I think that it’s kind of taught me something really beautiful and, like, accepting within, you know, my colleagues and literally all the people in the world And I get to see how vulnerable people allow themselves to be with me when they meet me or they’re fans of mine. Whereas they wouldn’t be so vulnerable in the sense of, if they were maybe even just speaking to you, or you know, your editor over there.And whereas me because I am a sex worker, they, see me in such a vulnerable states that they can also let their guard down and be their most truest self.
[01:51:00] Eric Weinstein: I didn’t mean to let you do that. I mean, you’re this absolute master at disarming people by making them feel non creepy about their own sexuality, which is something I prohibited you from doing in this interview and you know, you don’t even need it.I mean, I have to say, I don’t think my listeners even understand this, but I did the first show with Peter Thiel, which was really about innovation and growth. Werner Herzog was about high art. Timur Kuran was about our relationship to truth.I mean, these are all big themes. Rabbi Wolpe was God. And Jocko Willink was war. And I don’t feel like I could have picked a better interlocutor on the subject of sexuality.And now I think what I get from you is in a bizarrely and challengingly positive view of universal love that I was not expecting. I’m still not ready to accept it, but I’m certainly going to think about it because that’s a real surprise at the end.Yeah. Ashley, thank you so much for coming.
[01:52:04] Ashley Mathews: Thank you! Oh, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. I thought this was quite a challenge.
[01:52:09] Eric Weinstein: We were both nervous about it, but for totally different reasons.
[01:52:13] Ashley Mathews: Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity.
[01:52:16] Eric Weinstein: Okay, you’ve been through The Portal with Ashley Matthews alias, Riley Reid. Thanks for joining us. And remember to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and go to our YouTube channel. Subscribe there and click the bell so that you’ll be updated whenever the next episode drops. Thanks for joining.