Words by Asa Akira
Images courtesy of Shelby Sells (@SweaterPuppiez)
I often wonder why I’m in porn. Contrary to what one might think, I’m not on drugs, I’ve never been raped, I didn’t experience any kind of trauma as a child. Boring, I know. So what is it in me, that feels this strong need to show my asshole to the world?
As with seemingly anything in a woman’s life, I think it stems from my dad. Before you draw conclusions like he fingered me in my sleep, or beat me when I got bad grades, you should know he’s not that kind of dad. My dad is the coolest man I know. He’s the son of a diplomat, and has been to over 70 countries throughout his life. When it was time for my grandfather to retire and return to Japan, my father, seventeen at the time, stayed behind, alone in New York City to pursue his dream as a photographer. For a seventeen year old foreign kid to do that, back when the city was still grimy, back when Union Square was a place you wouldn’t want to walk through alone, during the day, that’s pretty fucking ballsy. As a traditional Japanese couple who were joined through an arranged marriage, my grandparents were completely against this, but my father convinced them it was important for him to follow his dreams. After graduating high school in the Bronx and later photography school, he saw a good amount of success as a fashion and portrait photographer. He hung out with the likes of John Lennon and Winton Marsalis, and if Instagram had existed back then, he’d probably have more followers than me.
Demeanor- wise, my dad can best be described as “chill.” I have yet to meet anyone as laid-back as him. Nothing bothers him, not even when my mom is having a hot flash and screaming with a knife in her hand. He’ll just shake his head and go into the other room to read his book. When it comes to making jokes, nothing is off-limits, and he is certainly where I got my sense of humor. My mom often sighed tiredly when we made crude jokes at the dinner table, but that only furthered our desire to do it- it felt like our special thing, something we bonded over. When I was fifteen, and going through an especially difficult time (my first love broke up with me at the height of my recreational drug-use,) my dad dropped everything, wrote me a sick-note for school, and arranged a week-long road trip for just the two of us, where we talked, laughed, and ate, a kind of therapy he gave me that I’ll never forget. He’s always supported me in everything I’ve done, including the start of my porn career when I was 23. When everyone else in my family was begging me to quit, he just asked me if I was happy.
Anyone who really knows me will tell you, I am spoiled. I am completely defined by my status as an only child: entitled, selfish, impatient. Sharing is not something that comes easily to me, and I crave time alone like it’s my energy source. While I’ve gotten better as I’ve grown older, I’m self-absorbed and competitive, and when i don’t get my way, it’s more upsetting than it should be. Although I’m happiest in a relationship with as few rules as possible, I also require a ridiculous amount of attention. “Pay attention to me,” is likely my most commonly used phrase.
Back at my parents’ house in Brooklyn, there are tall, thick photo albums each labeled with my name and a year, starting with 1985, the year i was born. I am in exactly every one of of the photos. If you went through them, you would understand why, out of all the only-children, I am the most only-child of them all. It seems every moment of my childhood was captured, and from my face and body language, it’s apparent I love it. Smiling, making goofy faces, holding dance poses—I was as comfortable in front of the camera as a child as I am now, although I showed a lot less pink back then. My dad is in exactly none of these photos—he was always behind the lens. It’s obvious he was a man enamored with his daughter, unable to get enough of watching her.
There are seven of these big albums, and after that, there is just one incomplete album, holding photos from all the years of my childhood after 1991. I don’t remember the photography stopping, specifically, but I do remember that ’92 it was around the time we moved to Japan, and my dad started a new job working for a magazine in Tokyo.
After years of reflection, I’ve come to believe that somehow, in my young developing mind, I learned to equate being photographed to being loved. That’s not to say I stopped feeling loved once the photography slowed down- my father was as attentive as ever. But in those crucial years, in ’85 – ’92, my subconscious was set. Being filmed meant being loved. Add to that my hyper sexuality (still unsure where that one came from, aside from the fact that orgasms feel fucking amazing,) and porn seems a logical choice.
I feel lucky to have been born to my father. It’s a strong belief of mine that women are defined by their relationships with their fathers. My father certainly raised an attention whore. But in addition to that he, by example, instilled in me a drive to fight for what I want. He made it clear I was to live my life to the fullest, my way, without compromise. He made it possible for me to have the pleasure of loving many men, all while free of trust or abandonment issues—a rare luxury these days. Add to that, he was a great father in general, raising me to be ethical and reasonable. All these things he’s given me, I see them as symbiotic pieces. Because of him, I’ve been able to rise to the top in an industry that I’m absolutely in love with. An industry where I’ve found happiness, success, and even a husband. An industry where I proudly show my asshole to the world.