Maitland Ward: How Porn Saved Me From Hollywood 1
Maitland Ward

Excuse me, are you…” a voice in a restaurant catches me just as salmon flakes off my fork. I look up. My silverware is settling onto my plate as a man with shaky hands gives me the back of a menu to sign. He’s smiling as he tells me he loves my work. Really smiling. Really really loves my work. Did I mention he was smiling? But he’s also wearing a Frozen the musical T-shirt. He hands me a pen and I loop his name onto the paper. As I finish, he asks me what I’m working on next. My jaw slacks in the expectant pause. It’s moments like this that I have to take a quick scan of the evidence before me and assess: Does he know me from Disney or from porn?

A decade prior the answer would be clear. A dad and his boy would approach. The kid skipping up to see the redhead from Boy Meets World. We’d chat about episodes or story points, and how a penguin really is a fish (if you watch the show, you know). The kid would pose for a selfie as the dad would look on. Well today, more than ever, the dads are looking on. And the kids that watched me in their family rooms on Friday nights are all grown up. They’re in their twenties and thirties, and are part of the porn generation, where internet access to viewing sex has always been easily accessible and readily attained. They’re parents themselves now, too. And while their kids may binge me on Disney+, the grown-ups are viewing me in a whole new way.

It was a big deal when I starred in my first hardcore adult feature. The college roommate of Eric and Jack, who used to dance around washing dishes in her purple underwear, was now taking them off. And she was doing a whole lot more than that. The day Drive, the film I made with Kayden Kross for Deeper.com, was announced, the site’s traffic skyrocketed. Subscriptions for the site and Vixen Media Group went wild. The headlines were international and viral. I trended No. 1 on Google all day, topping Bernie Sanders’ heart attack (the joke was that I gave it to him). I guess you’d have to expect news of a TV teen crush becoming a full-fledged porn star to have legs, but I don’t think anyone expected they’d have such long-running ones. Celebs, especially ones from children’s TV of yesteryear, are always trying to grab their 15 minutes from TMZ. If this had been my intention, I would’ve followed the formula: make a bad sex tape, cry that it was a mistake to make said bad sex tape, then start a YouTube channel where you gain followers and sponsors by constantly wailing in your shame about your really bad sex tape.

Read more at The Daily Beast.