Porn Performers Share The Sex Positions You Shouldn't Try At Home

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
In our society, where sexual education in schools often leaves out the concept of pleasure entirely, it’s no wonder that adults and teens look to the easily accessible world of online pornography for information. And while some directors and performers aim to make their films informative in nature, the vast majority of porn doesn’t even feature a condom — much less a realistic perspective on what sex looks like.
“I think porn sex compared to real-life sex is like comparing someone running in the Olympics to someone running to get into shape,” says Chelsea Poe, a porn performer and director. “There's a lot of practice and building of stamina to run a marathon, just like there is to perform in a porn scene.” It’s true — people often watch porn and think, That looks fun, without realizing that being a performer in the adult industry is real work, and these people are not just having sex for pleasure.
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“One common thing I hear from men is that porn must be easy,” says Christopher Zeischegg, a retired porn performer. “They don't take into account the context of the day, the production, the crew, the waiting around, the pictures performers often take before a scene (that still require a male performer to maintain an erection), the stopping and starting.”
Of course, as the consumer, you’re probably not watching porn and ruminating on the logistics and how difficult some of those positions really are — which is completely fine, as long as you’re not mistaking what you see as something you should expect from “real” sex. “In reality, porn [performers are] athletes who specialize in a specific set of physically demanding abilities rooted in sex,” Poe says. “So, while the sex acts might look like something you do in your real life, realize performers are usually fucking longer and harder than in real-life sex, because we train for this.”
It’s not that the positions themselves are unenjoyable (everyone has a personal preference); it’s more that it’s a “different kind of sex,” as Poe puts it. A lot of what makes porn sex different from real-life sex for a performer is the way a position feels and how they go about enacting it. “The unpleasantness for me usually had more to do with the surfaces we have sex on, or the temperature of the room, or who is looking over my shoulder with a camera,” Zeischegg says.
Ahead, we take a look at common positions and sex acts you may have seen in porn — and why they might not be the wisest ones to replicate.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Doggy Style, with one leg up

Doggy style can be a fun way to have sex from behind, but this modification exists for the purpose of letting the camera get a better view of all the action. “[As] a porn performer, you have to be generally aware of where lights and cameras are, when in real-life sex you are just worrying about the moment,” Poe says. Having a leg hoisted up during this position is not only physically taxing, it also makes it difficult for a penis or dildo to penetrate an orifice, and may even cause discomfort or pain for the receiver. No thanks!
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Missionary Position, with the giver leaning back

When you’re watching porn, it’s easy to find variations of sex positions you’re already familiar with, like missionary. “The difference is that, in porn, the male performer is often leaning back to reveal penetration to the camera,” Zeischegg says. “The point is usually to be explicit for a third party, so the bodies aren't typically as close together — at least not for such an extended period of time.” So unless you have a friend watching, don’t be afraid to get close.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Anal sex without lube

While the vagina self-lubricates, the anus does not. And while lube may not be used for all vaginal penetration scenes, Zeischegg says that there’s almost always lube for anal scenes. “Usually, there's just a cut in the scene before penetration, and the performers apply lube,” he says. Translation: Just because anal in porn appears to be lubeless, that doesn't mean that you should assume your butt (or anyone else’s butt) can handle anal sex without lube. So, in addition to prepping the anus with strategic foreplay, make sure to have a thick lube on hand — otherwise, anal sex can be painful and far from pleasurable.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Lap Dance, with the legs held back to either side

This position is another example of one that’s optimized for showing the action to the camera. While this receiver-on-top pose can potentially stimulate the G-spot, holding the legs out to the side serves no additional purpose in the stimulation department. If anything, exposing the vagina this much will only make vaginal lubrication dry out quicker (if the receiver has a vagina). So, if you really want to try this one, make sure you have lube within reach.
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appearance by Annie Georgia Greenberg.
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