I can mine the details of my life for expositional anecdotes all day long in an attempt to answer the unceasing question of what sex work is like, but all that will give you is an idea of what my experiences in the adult industry have been. Everyone sees different things and understands them in individual ways. If you really want to comprehend what a porn star, stripper, or other sort of profesional sex symbol's life is like, consider doing some recommended reading:
Ron Jeremy's The Hardest (Working) Man In Showbiz
Ron is bigger than Jenna Jameson, Tera Patrick, and a handful of us upstart newer starlets put together. He's seen the entire evolution of adult films as we know them, and tells pieces of the industry's story alongside his own. Ron's talent as a raconteur might be bigger than his penis. This past weekend at NJ Exxxotica I watched a group of twelve or so people stand outside in the freezing cold just to hear the end of one of his stories, and you can read them all from the comfort of your couch.
Kathryn Leigh Scott's The Bunny Years
Kathryn Leigh Scott has collected writings from an array of former Bunnies, some who were also Playmates. The women in this book lived six months or ten years as sex symbols, and talk both about their time as Bunnies and their realizations that it was time to move on. They've gained a perspective from distance that isn't seen in Porn Star biographies written and the height of the author's fame, and I think it's a valuable one.
Elisabeth Eaves's Bare: The Naked Truth About Stripping
Sections of Eaves's book perfectly capture the moments when the adult industry feels like the coolest sorority ever. Groups of girls spending large amounts of time together gets intense. When it's dramatic, five minutes can give an entire soap opera season a run for its money, but when it's good it's like a family. A false eyelash wearing, spandex thong losing family.
Zak Smith's We Did Porn
Zak's eloquent description of his personal experience in porn gives the reader a look into what so many men think they want to live. He writes about mundane things in interesting ways and sensational things in honest ways. Reading We Did Porn feels like reading a transcript of a really adventurous male friend's inner monologue. This compliment had to be delivered via the internet because he is hot, his girlfriend is hot, and when confronted with the two of them in one place I lose all ability to string together functional sentences.