The Porn Debate: Shelley Lubben
TABATHA LEGGETT talks about the shocking truth behind pornography with ex-porn star SHELLEY LUBBEN. “Porn destroys people: both viewers and makers.”
Shelley Lubben was sexually abused when she was nine years old. When she was 18, she became a prostitute, and at 24 she entered the adult entertainment industry. After making around 30 porn films, she contracted herpes and HPV, which led to cervical cancer. Now Shelley is an anti-porn activist and works to spread awareness about the dangers of the industry.
I began with a simple question: why did she start doing porn? “I was young and I believed a lie,” Shelley told me. “I was addicted to alcohol and drugs, and I was promised that porn was safe. They said I’d be tested every 30 days. But I wasn’t. I thought I was going to die.”
I could understand how in the circumstances she described the false promises of the porn industry could be tempting, but why did she continue to make porn films for so long?
“Once you start, it’s so difficult to stop.” she began. “You’re drinking so much, and you’re constantly high and you’re making so much money. Stripping and prostitution seem like such a quick and easy way to make more money. But I, like everyone else I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I was mentally and physically raped. It was horrific.
“Porn is not glamorous. You’re constantly told: you’re so pretty; you’re beautiful; you’re so sexy. Porn directors feed the egos of young girls who are hungry for attention.”
After filming her first scene, she was asked to make anal sex tapes and be filmed in gangbangs. “They threatened to kill me, so I did it, and I made a lot of money. But, it’s ultimately not worth it. Yes, I had a lot of money, but I’ve lost it all paying for medical care. I’ve suffered from haemorrhaging, anaemia and I think I’ll eventually need to have a hysterectomy.”
Did she ever enjoy doing porn at the time? “No.” she answered. “No one enjoys porn… I never once orgasmed in porn. And the horrible thing is, once you’ve done porn, you can never take it back. It’s always there.”
Shelley Lubben speaking out about the porn industry
It became apparent that Shelley counts her unusual relationship with religion as the most significant aspect of her recovery. “I was neglected by my parents. They practised false Christianity.” And what exactly is false Christianity? “They didn’t believe what they preached,” Shelley explained. “I went to Sunday school when I was a kid, but… they weren’t really committed to God.”
“Porn stars are constantly high on drugs, and that causes you to mess around with some really weird stuff. Stuff like Ouija boards, vampirism, and witchcraft. It’s really scary.” Shelley told me that she was “possessed by demons” when she was making porn. I asked her what she meant. “I was messing around with some really scary stuff, and demons possessed me and made me do the things I did.
“I’d been told that I was a piece of shit, or a whore, or a slut. God rescued me. He’s left scars, so that I can still feel compassion for those in the industry, but He saved my life.” Slightly dubious, I asked Shelley about her religious experiences.
“He brought my husband to me,” she explained. “I was in a really bad place. I had herpes and a kid. I needed someone. And then God sent me this man. I married him, for security. But then I found out he was a pastor’s son and I understood that God loved me… And so I devoted my life to God. My husband made me feel like I was worth something.”
I asked Shelley what her relationship with sex is like now. “At first, when I had sex with my husband, I felt no enjoyment,” she confessed. “You have to remember that I am a rape victim, and so he had to be gentle with me. It took me eight years to recover from my past, and so I would give but not receive love. But, we’ve worked at it, and he’s the best lover I’ve ever had.”
I asked what her aims for the future are. “I want to expose pornography for what it really is,” she told me. “I know that I have to help people overcome to their addiction. I want to enforce the current laws and ultimately stop porn being made. Porn destroys people: both viewers and makers.”
So what does Shelley think of her opponent, porn director Anna Span? “I was watching one of Anna Span’s movies earlier today, with two girls using a champagne bottle to reach orgasm. The blonde girl looked like she was in so much pain. She hated it. It’s truly disgusting.”
The thing that I found most interesting was that Shelley doesn’t appear to have a difficult relationship with sex anymore. Is Shelley happy now? “Obviously,” she told me. “God is with me. I’m excited.”
Shelley Lubben is speaking against the motion ‘This House believes that pornography does a good public service’ at the Union on 17th February.
READ: Anna Span’s side of the porn debate here.