Perhaps prompted by the furor over the woman commonly referred to online as “the Duke porn star”, veteran adult entertainment performer Stoya took to the New York Times’ op/ed page today (“Can We Learn About Privacy From A Porn Star?”) and described her own choice of stage name as matter of creative branding (“more like deciding on a user name for any Internet service or website”) more than an attempt to maintain anonymity :
I chose Stoya because it was there. It was a diminutive of my grandmother’s maiden name, and my mother had considered it before naming me after Jessica Savitch, the news anchor. Spoken aloud, Stoya had a nice balance between femininity and strength. It felt rightfully mine because of the family history. An insurance agent owned the domain stoya.com, but I didn’t think I’d ever need a website of my own.
The strangers who call me Jessica at publicity appearances lean in far too close. They hiss it as if they have top-secret information. All they’re doing is letting me know that they had 30 seconds to spend on Google and no sense of propriety — which may sound funny coming from a woman who flagrantly disregards it herself. They’re often the same people who refer to my orifices as “that” instead of “your,” as though the body part in question is running around free-range instead of attached to a person with free will and autonomy.
Maybe it would be easier to navigate the dissolving boundaries between public and private spaces if we all had a variety of names with which to signal the aspects of ourselves currently on display.
With Stoya’s words in mind, I’ve come to the difficult conclusion that it is highly rude and inappropriate for Dino Costa’s internet critics (most of whom he’s recently blocked — again — from his Twitter account) to continue to refer to the jobless ex-broadcaster (above) as “Ryan Patrick”. So he’s using a stage name, BIG DEAL. Whether it’s a branding exercise or simply an attempt to outrun creditors is really none of our business.
And just as it would be completely wrong to presume Stoya’s artistic & commercial efforts represent the full sum of what she’s about as a person, it would be equally mistaken to judge Costa purely on the basis of…of…well, he’s not on the radio anymore. He hasn’t been able to pay the server bill for his blog. So really, the only place left to jump to awful conclusions about him is the protected twitter feed, the one where’s taken to baiting atheists, professing that he doesn’t fear death (y’know, what with being saved by J-E-S-U-S) and going all Truther on Sandy Hook.
Who are we to say this represent the “real” Dino any more or less than one of Stoya’s more celebrated performances represents the sum of what she’s about? Why is it so hard to believe that Costa, like Stoya, was being paid (albeit not nearly as well) to serve as an embodiment of any number of fantasy personas?
That Stoya is far better at her job (and immeasurably better writing about it) than Costa ever was is not the point. Maybe the Dino Costa who used the airwaves and internet to call President Barack Obama, “that thing”, to call a transgender artist, “it”, the
deadbeat fucking con artist Dino Costa who took to Fox News days after the Boston Marathon bombings to speculate that, y’know, maybe it was an inside job, is a bigger fantasy construct than anyone in the pornography business.
I mean, that would be nicer than believing any human being could possibly suck that much.