Cam Noel Johnson, Porn Star Gone Activist, Dies at 90.
You either loved her or hated her. Cam Noel Johnson turned heads first as a porn star, but by the end of her life she turned hearts to her anti-porn campaign that sparked a nation to action. This curly haired spitfire, who loved pina coladas and Hemingway, grew up in Condor Vista, a town with around the population of an LA elementary school. Desperate for a change, at 18, Cam packed her bags for LA, to become Stella Star, amateur porn actress.
Cam lasted three months before she’d had enough. Her experience as a porn star would later be recorded in her autobiography, Dirty Days: “I was so broken, I didn’t even want to look at men. To leave the apartment was as difficult as Kalita Pierce replacing Donald Trump.” After a few mental break downs, a flight back to Condor Vista, and several rounds of therapy, Cam decided to go back to LA—but not as a porn star. As an actress.
She attended NYFA, acted in several startup plays, ran out of money, got a job at a call center, and worked a 9 to 5 shift for two years. She thought her acting days were over, when she met Michael Ashton, a blogger, turned documentarist, who wanted to know more about her three months in the pornography industry. Ashton was fascinated with her story. He urged her to help him craft a documentary to show the world a porn star’s daily ups and downs. Cam agreed, they set to work, the film was made, and in true film making fashion, the two fell in love.
The documentary, What a Girl Wants, was a Netflix hit. Cam would go on to film seven more documentaries while traveling coast to coast lecturing on her time spent in pornography, meeting with state officials, giving interviews, and coauthoring a book with fellow porn star, Sarah James. Her activism against prostitution and pornography led to awareness that eventually had amateur pornography outlawed and proof of age required before site entry.
Cam’s legacy is controversial, but it is undeniable that the heightened security around porn prevented many sex crimes and illegal exploitation of minors. “People weren’t talking openly about porn until Cam came along,” Michael Ashton said of Cam. “The industry hated her, but activists want a memorial erected in her honor.”
*This is a fictional character from Life is Joy.