The church school teacher who became a reality TV porn star

We talk to Blair Williams about owning her sexuality, being cruelly outed by her stepdad and why she’s as close to religion as she’s ever been

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Instagram via @godblessblair

The way we consume porn is always changing and last year it stepped in a whole new direction. xHamster, one of the biggest pornographic media and networking sites in the world, launched their original web series The Sex Factor – a competition in which sixteen contestants compete for a three-year filming contract and a cash prize of $1million, with one female winner and one male winner. Though the show is the first ­of its kind, structure of the show was similar to the same reality TV shows we all binge watch: contestants had no previous professional experience and competed in challenges to be eliminated or go on to win the prize.

But The Sex Factor became more than just a reality TV show about porn stars – it was a vehicle for sex positivity, and a way for sex to be viewed as the normal, everyday thing that it is. It changed the way I spoke about porn with my friends – I was no longer just casually mentioning that time I masturbated to a really good scene, I was engaging with this show on a social and educational level. I learned how porn was shot; the techniques required to make a good scene; how vital consent is to the industry; how mental blocks can make or break a performer’s career. The contestants were humanised and you got to see a side of them that wasn’t just filming scenes – you became familiar with their senses of humour, their background, and their insecurities. After the first few episodes, I completely forgot I was technically watching porn. I started to see the contestants for who they were, rather than what they were doing.

But it was the story of the female winner Blair Williams that stood out the most. Her story didn’t fit the usual porn star gimmick of small-town-girl-wants-to-make-it-big-in-porn; she came from a background that was conflicting and colliding in every way possible. Before she decided to audition for the show, she was working as a live-in nanny and Church pre-school teacher, and claimed to have only lost her virginity a year ago. As a viewer, the shock didn’t come from her being a sexually liberated Catholic – it came from seeing how much more comfortable and enthusiastic she was than the other contestants, considering the lack of sexual experience in her personal life. It was clear Blair really wanted to be there, which was a refreshing angle on the usual save-this-poor-girl narrative the media associates with sex workers.

When I first met Blair – whose real name is Taylor – at a coffee shop in downtown LA, she carried herself with the same enthusiasm that you see on The Sex Factor; she’s bubbly, talkative and always one step ahead. At face value, you could say there isn’t a difference between Taylor and Blair, but when we talk about the nuances of playing a character in porn rather than a TV show, she tells me it’s sometimes hard to know when Blair stops and Taylor begins. When you’re selling a fantasy based on someone else’s reality, rather than just occupying a visibly fictional character, there’s a grey area. “I have friends who I’ve known since I was young who now call me Blair because everyone calls me Blair and it makes me feel like a novelty,” she says, tiredly. “But the part that’s really challenging is when it comes to my personal life. When I’m ‘fucking guys for free’ I hate when they call me Blair. I want to feel like they’re fucking Taylor. I never know if they want to fuck the porn star or they just want me.”

But in the same way that it’s hard to break out of the porn star stereotype in real life, it’s also a hurdle performers – especially female performers – face in the industry. Once you’re type-casted as a wholesome, all-American good girl, it’s basically impossible to break out of that, despite wanting to, or having grown in a different direction as a person. It’s especially evident when Taylor goes to casting and speaks to people as herself, and not Blair. “I think people are surprised to see that I’m not unintelligible. I can totally play the ‘hi, can I suck your dick’ character, but that’s not who I am all the time. For the viewer, I’m seen as a dumb blonde, who is part of my character, but I have the potential to shock people and progress in different ways. I know some people see me as a ditzy porn star – I get it, it’s because I chose to play that role in my professional life, and that’s all people see. But it’s not who I am.”

There’s a preconception that female porn stars are too stupid to have any other career, so they turned to fucking on camera as a final act of desperation. Not only is that ideal distinctly harmful to women, it’s also harmful to society as a whole – equating sexuality to intellect further feeds into the shame that’s associated with sex to begin with. Except this time, it’s not just oppressing your body; it’s oppressing your mind, leaving you with nothing to defend yourself with. Taylor tells me that this is what her mother has struggled with the most; the thought of some people not thinking her daughter isn’t intelligent because she’s in porn. “What’s hardest for my mom is the stigma around my intelligence or capability as a person because of my job,” she says. “I’m college-educated and had an academic scholarship – how else can I prove that my career was a thought-out decision? There’s this idea that I’m not using my brain the way I’m supposed to, when really, I’m using the tools I have to succeed in a job, just like any other job.”

Then, Taylor started to speak about the crucial moment in every porn star’s life: the moment they’re outed to their family. She was able to hide Blair for six months – a timescale not afforded to most – because of the editing process of The Sex Factor. She was found out by her former stepdad who called her to say he knows about Blair Williams, and gave her an ultimatum: either she tells her mom or he does. She wasn’t ready because she hadn’t yet received the money from the series, and she wanted to show her mom that there’s a tangible pay off. As a strict Catholic, her mom didn’t approve and took her to a joint-therapy session. “After an hour, the therapist told my mom that this is something she should really let me explore because it’s not harming me. I think my mom expected me to say ‘I’m sorry, I’m going through stuff’ or whatever. She just had to let go – regardless of whatever our religion told her. She never abandoned me and I’m really lucky for that.”

Though Taylor has left the Church she grew up in, she says her relationship with religion is the strongest it’s ever been, despite the criticism she faces in her hometown. The performative nature of Christianity has been a cause for some of her resentment, but it’s all to do with the people, not the doctrine. “I still believe in God. Religion doesn’t condemn you; the people who follow it obsessively do. If I went back to my church, I feel like I couldn’t tell people what I do without being taken into a back room for a fucking exorcism. I have a problem with people who like to speak on behalf of God. They place their fear of sexuality onto me. People use religion as a weapon because they’re uncomfortable with themselves.”

Her brand of Christianity follows a set of simple rules: do good, come from a loving place and don’t condemn others for being different to you. “I still feel like the same girl who worked in the Church; I still have the same ideas and values, I just happen to fuck people on camera for money.”

“I still feel like the same girl who worked in the Church; I still have the same ideas and values, I just happen to fuck people on camera for money” – Blair Williams 

In a way to express herself outside of Blair, Taylor has just finished filming a documentary that examines her religious upbringing, her sexual awakening, her family life and her hopes for Blair Williams. She was inspired to create the film after watching Hot Girls Wanted, the controversial documentary following a group of newcomers in the porn industry, and feeling like she had been wildly misrepresented. While she acknowledges that everyone’s experience in porn is different, she felt the need to counteract the media narrative that women are forced into porn and don’t have an ounce of bodily autonomy.

As a porn star, she felt overlooked; as a woman, she felt betrayed. “The media doesn’t look at girls like me, who have degrees and could’ve just had a regular job, because it doesn’t fit their narrative. People can’t bear the thought of women being so in control of her sexuality that we use it for our pleasure and advantage. The producers of Hot Girls Wanted basically reinforced slut-shaming and spoke over women. With my documentary, I want to show a different side of our industry that’s positive.”

“I have a problem with people who like to speak on behalf of God. They place their fear of sexuality onto me. People use religion as a weapon because they’re uncomfortable with themselves” – Blair Williams

Our attitudes towards sex are changing every day. Something that was once seen as taboo, only to be enjoyed in secret, is now a topic that isn’t only spoken about in hush tones – it’s increasingly celebrated, nurtured, and most importantly: it’s coming to be seen as healthy. Performers like Blair Williams aren’t just seen as a sex object anymore; her fans use her work as a vehicle to come to terms their own desires and realise their sexual expression ­­– and that’s a philosophy she hopes outlives her career in porn and carries through to whatever she does next.

“My plan is keep shooting porn until it doesn’t make me happy, or it’s no longer physically sustainable, whenever that may be,” she says. “I see myself retiring early, having enough money to support myself and live comfortably, and just volunteering for the rest of my life. For now, I just want to do work that’s going to break the stigma of my profession – I want to demystify Blair Williams.”

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