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Porn actress and entrepreneur Nina Hartley (Marie Louise Hartman) was born to communist parents in California on this date in 1959. Her mother was Jewish, from Alabama, her father Lutheran — and both became Buddhists. Hartley was studying to be a registered nurse when she entered into adult films in 1984; she achieved her nursing license, but with 650 porn films on her resumé, she’s mostly used porn rather than medicine to “heal the sick.” Hartley has described herself as a socialist and a sex-positive feminist, and is an outspoken defender of the industry in which she’s made her career. If you’re in it “for the wrong reasons,” she says, “it’s going to hurt your spirit. That’s where the religious right is correct.” But porn, she argues, provides a righteous and well-paid career for women who are highly sexed and free-spirited, and women in the business have high status and clout. Hartley has appeared at hundreds of feminist, free speech, show biz, and porn-industry venues; she sees herself as a sex educator and liberationist. “Sex isn’t something men do to you,” she believes. “It isn’t something men get out of you. Sex is something you dive into with gusto and like it every bit as much as he does.” To see her giving a talk about communication and generosity in bed, look below. To read her talking with Sheldon Ranz about porn and Jews (in Shmate magazine, way back when), click here.
“The drawback of being in the adult entertainment business is that mainstream culture does not take me seriously. They don’t take my ideas about sex seriously.... They still think that they get to point and judge. They still think they know something about me... and conclude that I must be mentally ill, I must have had a bad childhood, I must be unhappy...” —Nina Hartley