Joy King has enjoyed her 24 years in the X-rated movie business, but that’s not to say that it has always been an easy road, especially for her personal life.
She grew up in Riverside, Calif., across the street from a horse ranch. “I moved when I could turn the key in the car,” she said, laughing, “and went west.” While working for an auto parts company, a girlfriend told King about a job opening at an entertainment business.
“I was 19, 20 years old and that sounded pretty good.” King was hired by a video distribution company that marketed kids’ productions such as “GI Joe,” “Strawberry Shortcake,” “Gumby” and “Transformers.” But the company also had an adult division and when the owners learned that King was not offended by the titles, they moved her there and she began marketing to the growing VHS adult market.
After becoming a single mother at 22, King realized she might face special challenges, not only financially but socially. Working in porn, even if off camera, was far less acceptable than it is today. She became especially vigilant to “keep work at work.”
When her son was about 11, “I told [him] that mommy works in a business that he is not allowed to be around,” King explained. I said, ‘We make adult movies only for adults. As you get older you will understand more.’”
For her son, it wasn’t the nature of the business that bothered him at first as much as it was King’s hectic travel schedule once she moved to Wicked Pictures, located in California’s Canoga Park. She is now the vice president of special projects at Wicked.
But even though she works in management rather than on camera, she’s felt the stigma of her work. Once, after King made an appearance on a talk show, the mother of her son’s best friend refused to allow King’s son to come to her home.
“That was very difficult for him. He was 13 at the time. People who meet me see that I am just a regular person. If you were to meet me at a grocery store, a restaurant and I were to say, ‘I promote porn, I make it — I’m not in it, but I make it,’ well, most people are surprised. So I went over to her home and spoke to her and we resolved it. My son and her son are still close.”
There is a certain irony to the story. When King was promoting Wicked’s actresses, they would sometimes stay at her home, for example, the night before an early morning plane flight. “So as a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kid, my son had Jenna Jameson staying at my house, [actress] Sydney Steele coming over, [actress] Stephanie Swift staying over and you would think that would make him a little horndog who loves women.”
But King’s son, now 23, is gay. “If there was ever a situation that makes it clear [being gay] is not a choice but you are born that way, this is it!”
Her own love life has not been very successful she said, mainly because of the nature of her industry.
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“Men are either fans, which is too much, or they are, well, maybe intimidated by the industry. Some just don’t like it. So a certain portion of the population will not consider being in a relationship with me because of that.”
How about dating inside the industry?
“I am not interested in dating the talent. I did that for about a minute, I admit. But I had to take a step back and think about my reputation as an executive and how my customers would feel about it.”
One way the adult industry is like any other, she said, is in its double standard for behavior in the corporate suites. “If I am whoring around, I have no integrity. If a man does it, it is just what goes on. When women have done it, it is frowned upon. Nobody thinks twice if a man does it.”
© 2013 msnbc.com