MILF. Mom. Stepmom. All three terms made Pornhub’s top-10 most-searched in 2018. Women’s No. 1 searched term in 2018 was “Daddy,” according to xHamster’s trend report. As the interest in fauxcest continues to climb, adult performers are increasingly fetishized as parents—but for some porn stars, being a mommy (or daddy) isn’t just sexy role-play, it’s real life. Not only do adult performers struggle with striking the same work-life balance as everyone else, they have the added responsibility of keeping their careers hush-hush. Some performers keep their two lives so segregated, they won’t even admit to being parents; others create boundaries and a framework within which to abide by.
Known as the “Taboo MILF,” Penny Barber has made a career out of indulging these types of desires, and much of her site focuses on mommy-son role-play. Barber happens to be a mother off-screen, too. Her kids, who are in elementary school, think Mom makes indie movies—which isn’t entirely untrue. Keeping her work separated from her kids’ realm feels “effortless” once the foundational limits were established, one of which is privacy.
“My kids are trained to respect privacy, which I assume other parents don’t have to worry about as much,” says Barber. “For example, if they see that I’m on my computer, they have to ask, ‘May I approach?’ before they come over, just in case I’m editing on Photoshop or have my email open or something.” Barber’s also taken additional precautions, like setting her computer to log out when it’s not in use.
While Barber’s flexible schedule grants her more time to spend with her kids than a nine-to-five would’ve allowed for, she’s also made a conscious decision to isolate herself from the other parents. “I can’t be involved with my kids’ school. I don’t volunteer and I try not to engage with other parents. You never know who’s going to start a rumor or who’s going to try to feel big by outing you,” says Barber. “I’d rather the other parents think I’m standoffish than have my children bullied or ostracized.”
Refraining from PTA involvement to avoid recognition, porn star Leya Falcon has imposed similar boundaries where her preteen daughter is concerned. “I get scared that someone will recognize me and take it out on her,” says Falcon. “I have no shame in what I do but I don’t want to tell her until it’s the right time, in an age-appropriate manner.” Falcon credits her career with the financial independence and flexibility to both provide for her daughter and be there to guide her as she grows.
Raising her son far from porn valley, Kiki Daire drew strict lines between her work as Kiki and her role as mom. Conversations about her career were muted, and there were a lot of topics Daire says were “off-limits” when her son was around. “I kept him far away from everything when he was a kid; he didn’t even come to L.A. until he was 18,” says Daire. “Anybody that knows me knows I look homeless half the time when I’m not working and part of that is on purpose. I don’t want to deal with being Kiki Daire all the time, especially when it’s family time.”
“I think the most important thing to realize is that we can raise well-adjusted, happy kids.”
Despite these boundary lines, Daire’s son found out what she did for a living when he was just 12 years old—and not in the way you’d expect either. “My father’s brother and his wife decided it was time for him to be told, so they told him and made it sound a lot worse than it was,” says Daire. “I was furious, but at that point all I could do was sit him down and say, ‘OK do you have any questions?’” Looking back, Daire says it’s never easy being a parent, especially when you’re in the adult industry, but “I think the most important thing to realize is that we can raise well-adjusted, happy kids.”
“When I am home and not working I joke that all my followers know that because I don’t wear much makeup,” shares adult actress Sara St. Clair. “My son is 7 so he doesn’t know just yet, all he knows is mommy travels for work. He’s never asked just yet but if and when he does I’ll tell him I’m an actress and a model—a half truth.”
Living in the Bible Belt, St. Clair is keenly aware of the stigma associated with her career and strives to raise her son with an open mind while shielding him from judgmental views. “The stigma and mommy guilt is rough. I love my son and I love my job but people so often make me feel guilty, like I shouldn’t have both. I try to ignore it but sometimes it does get to me,” she confesses. “For industry moms, waitresses, CEOs, bosses—don’t let anyone shame you for being a working mom.”
Adult performer Foxxy feels she’s just like any other working parent—the job itself hasn’t impacted how she raises her kids. “I always travel for work, so they know when I’m leaving that it’s work-related and I’ll be back when I’m done. Once I get to where my job is, I jump in a phone booth and come out like superwoman and take off. I’m kidding but truly I feel like it,” says Foxxy. “Once I’m done with work and traveling I jump on a plane and fly home. Once I land my game face changes back into the co-parent. I don’t speak of work and they never ask.”
Parents in the adult industry are judged harshly—not so much for their parenting styles but for their career choices. One has nothing to do with the other, says performer Alexander Ace. With a 9-month-old at home, the new dad can’t predict what he’ll say about his career as an adult performer or what boundaries he’ll deem necessary to set in the future. Regardless, Ace plans to parent with honesty. “How we raise our children will dictate how they act. Just because we do adult films doesn’t mean they’ll grow up to be sexually deviant. What we do isn’t going to dictate what our children do, it’s how we raise them,” says Ace. “A few decades ago, same-sex couples couldn’t adopt children because it was thought the kids would grow up to be sexually deviant if they were raised by two fathers or two mothers but that’s not true either.”
Despite the obstacles and judgments endured, well-known MILF performer Karen Fisher says her occupation made being a single parent possible. “When my daughter was young, I was around most days after school to help her with her homework. If she was sick, I never had to scramble to find a sitter. Most parents don’t have that luxury,” offers Fisher. Nonetheless, Fisher kept quiet about how she made her living, fearing her daughter would be mistreated because of her career. “As adult performers, we’re often judged harshly,” says Fisher. “Even some of our fans look at us as less than human.”
An occupation doesn’t dictate how a person will parent, or if they’ll be good or bad at it, regardless of whether that person is a doctor or a sex worker.