Illustration af Lia Kantrowitz for VICE.

Anal Sex in Porn Is Much More Complex Than You Realize

Fans "see the penis going in. They don't see me laying on the bed for half an hour squeezing water into my butt and stretching it out."

by Mark Hay; illustrated by Lia Kantrowitz
|
May 16 2017, 6:56pm

Illustration af Lia Kantrowitz for VICE.

Between June and July of 2016, Holly Hendrix—then 19 years old and only one year into a now-illustrious porn career—spent 27 days filming hardcore anal sex scenes. As even causal fans of anal porn know, the sex in these scenes is not the slow, gentle, brief butt stuff. More often than not, it's a hard, fast, and over-long ass-poundage. By any standard, Hendrix says, that run was a challenge.

But that's hardly Hendrix's only big anal achievement, and she's not the only porn star to indulge in serious rectal athleticism on the reg, either. Over the last couple decades, a mix of porn studio one-upmanship and a gradual increase in mainstream interest in hetero anal sex turned what was once a borderline fetish into a porno mainstay. As a result: Anal Queens—porn stars who film gobs of butt sex, sometimes almost exclusively—are now a thing.

Common wisdom about anal suggests that, given the intense and frequent pressure these queens put on their posteriors, many of their careers ought to be limited by pain, strain, and the risk of short- or long-term injuries. But real pros can usually avoid those potential pitfalls and go strong for years on end because they do more pre-anal prep than the average civilian diving into butt stuff, and (more importantly) because they tend to have almost supernaturally resilient rectums.

Generally asses are trickier than vaginas. Taut and thin-skinned, short and mildly curved, dry and insensitive, rectums often can't tolerate the friction and force of deep, fast penetration. Sexual health gurus tell people pursuing anal sex to wait until the receiving partner is relaxed and take things slowly at first, avoiding the pain of pushing past a tight sphincter. From there, they advise couples to carefully figure out good angles, use tons of lube, and communicate openly and often. For some, anal may never be pleasurable. For others, it can stimulate the g-spot and the legs of the clitoris, or the prostate, leading to real pleasure—even fully anal orgasms. Still, your average how-to guide will recommend any couple treat anal as a sometimes food; even many gay male couples, new research shows, follow this rule, doing more oral or manual than anal play.

Rough stuff risks ripping or tearing rectal tissue or temporarily loosening anal muscles, which can lead to temporary anal incontinence or even a prolapse, in which your rectum basically falls out of your asshole. Prolapses may be a fetish for some people, but they, and some serious tears, require medical attention. There's no great medical data on the long-term effects of continual hard anal sex, but some studies suggest it can permanently weaken muscles, causing long-term rectal incontinence. And serious tears or repeated prolapses can cause lasting issues. "Like any other muscle in your body," said anal queen and seven-year adult industry veteran Cherie DeVille, who happens to have a doctorate in physical therapy, "you can stretch your sphincter to the point of failure."

Recognizing these risks, DeVille took things slowly, practicing anal at home for five years after getting into the adult industry before jumping into the specialty. Other women, like Charlotte Sartre, enter the industry with a ton of personal anal experimentation under their belts already and decide to specialize because they know they already enjoy and can regularly take hard anal.

Oddly, most anal queens I've spoken to had almost no experience with butt stuff before starting their specialist careers. Hendrix hadn't even had a finger up her ass before her first scene. Many didn't even get much advice before their first anal shoots, and some get into the specialty more due to necessity than self-starting anal enthusiasm. "I'd had a really big hiatus," said Hendrix of the incentive for her first anal foray. She wasn't sure she'd be able to get more traditional vaginal sex work, but knew anal was in high demand, so she figured, "If I'm going to put stuff in my pussy on camera, I might as well put stuff in my butt. Let's just try this."

"Like any other muscle in your body, you can stretch your sphincter to the point of failure."

There's so much information floating around on anal now that, according to longtime anal queen Joanna Angel, even inexperienced girls know more about how to take it up the ass than she did in her first self-produced and clueless scene. Still, not all of them can relax or get into it. "I encounter a lot of newer, younger girls who try it and hate it," said Sartre. "But they keep doing it because they know it's popular and it pays well. So they take painkillers and they're absolutely miserable." That, she argues, is a perfect recipe for pain, injury, and a relatively short anal career.

Formerly inexperienced anal queens, though, come out of their first experiences thinking, as DeVille put it, "Oh, I can do this, yeah, this is good… OK, I'm all in." Although oddly enough even if they rapidly adopt anal as their professional specialty, they rarely do it in their personal lives. When they do, they say it looks more like the anal sexologists recommend than porn anal.

No matter how little experience they have at the start, most anal specialists develop protocols that help them manage the amount of ass ramming they engage in. Every queen's routine is a little different, but they usually involve some kind of dietary restrictions and enemas to keep things clean, anal stretching with fingers or toys, mental or breathing techniques to psych up or relax, and sometimes off-screen pre-trials to see how a male performer's member feels when inside. Fans "see the penis going in," said Sartre. "They don't see me laying on the bed for half an hour going back and forth between squeezing water into my butt and stretching it out."

Even with prep, these performers push their asses hard. Bookings are irregular, anal queen Mandy Muse notes, so they can wind up doing no anal for weeks on end, then do several anal scenes within a few days. Many anal queens push their boundaries as well, moving up to double or triple anal or "circus anal."

Still, these specialists make it a point to recognize their limits and listen to their bodies. Some, like Sartre, set rules about how often they can shoot hardcore anal: every other day for her, because "it's like working out, give your body a rest day to let it recover from all those micro-tears." Since every butt has a different tolerance and injury risk level, shooting limits vary; DeVille will only do one anal scene a week. Others like Hendrix just try to notice when "things get kind of uncontrollable, if you know what I mean," then take a break for a few days or weeks to recover. DeVille recommends doing the anal equivalent of kegels to tighten back up during breaks.

"You need to be 100 percent sober," added Sartre, to "feel everything happening to [your] body and say if something's wrong… I wouldn't even recommend taking a Tylenol before a scene."

Most people can easily develop anal mindfulness and learn the prep tricks of the anal queen trade. But few people likely have the rectums for safe and regular hardcore reaming. "Even if you teach people all the right things, sometimes they're like, 'You know what, this feels weird,'" said Sartre. "I have so much respect for people who just own that it's not their thing."

That's something DeVille thinks anal fans should keep in mind. She worries some viewers take the fantasies anal queens create too seriously, and expect that any woman can take it up the ass as hard and as often as a specialist without issue. To these viewers, DeVille cautions, don't jump into anal too deep or too fast. Because if your anal partner isn't comfortable, or gets injured, "she's not going to want to do it again."

Follow Mark Hay on Twitter.

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