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Embracing Your Inner “Porn Star”

Jason Portnoy on a hiking trip with his children, Maya and Milo and his wife, Anne Marie, in Hawaii.
Jason Portnoy on a hiking trip with his children, Maya and Milo and his wife, Anne Marie, in Hawaii.

When I first heard of Jason Portnoy, I was immediately drawn to his story. A high-powered Silicon Valley executive who was part of the “PayPal Mafia” and was almost destroyed by his addiction to porn and sex. He meets a straight-shooting life coach who helps him confront his own childhood traumas and eventually he finds redemption through self-love and self respect. To help other people trapped in their own struggles, the guy writes a memoir and exposes his ugly past to the world. For me, this was material for a binge worthy Netflix special. I was hooked.

The person who told me about Jason is named Melissa. At the time, I thought Melissa was the only thing Jason and I had in common. Melissa is a life coach and we both were and still are her clients. (Disclaimer: Jason had given Melissa permission to let her tell me about him.)

Not So Different

After my first call with Jason, it was clear that we had many things in common. While I never helped establish a billion-dollar global company, suffered an addiction, later founded a successful venture capital firm and now sit on the board of dozens of companies, Jason and I bonded over the feeling of abandonment which we both experienced as children. When Jason talked about his urgency to break out of the vicious cycle, I knew exactly what he meant. As he was sharing his intention to help others to live a life of integrity, I nodded with vigor in agreement. By the end of the conversation, we agreed that it would be amazing if we could share his story with the readers in Taiwan.

Straight away, we went to work. He sent over a full manuscript of his book, “Silicon Valley Porn Star: A Memoir of Redemption and Rediscovering the Self”. As I expected, it read like a movie script. But what I didn’t expect was the emotional rollercoaster that I went on. In the span of a few hours, I experienced sadness, yearning, disappointment, anticipation, disgust, pain, anxiety, fear, confusion and peace.

Moreover, I experienced a sense of sure-footedness that comes when you know you are understood and loved without judgment. It was a feeling that I rarely felt growing up and I liked it.

Time to Grow Up

Many have asked me why Jason refers to himself as the Silicon Valley porn star. Well, he doesn’t but he also kind of does. “Porn Star” was definitely not his profession but it was an integral identity inside Jason. In chapter 10, Jason details a session with Melissa when she explains that we all have a host of different identities inside of us and they each serve a function. They could be “Hard Worker,” or “Party Animal,” “Gracious Host,” “Doting Dad,” “Liar,” “Helper”, etc.

“All of us are all of these identities combined at the same time. Our personality that the world sees on the outside is the external expression of these identities inside of us that are most active or prominent,”

~Jason Portnoy 

With the help of Melissa, and after lengthy self-reflection and internal dialoguing, Jason realized that the “Porn Star” identity was the force that made him act out. But it was also what made him so successful. It was “Porn Star”’s risk-taking and go-getter attitude that landed Jason his lucrative career. It was “Porn Star” that got Jason the wealth and freedom he treasures. It was “Porn Star” that created his fancy lifestyle. However, it was Jason who could not keep “Porn Star” in check. As the leader of the identities, Jason was solely accountable for giving “Porn Star” free rein. “If Porn Star is acting out, it is my fault. I need to start accepting responsibility for his actions. I need to start being a leader of my identities….I need to grow up,” wrote Jason.

Dragon and Porn Star

The recognition of his inner “Porn Star” and his need to grow up was followed by a gush of love for this identity that had worked so hard to please Jason. The identity was doing the right things in the wrong ways. Jason eventually reconciled with “Porn Star.” Instead of berating and quashing that particular identity, Jason made peace with it and even came to love him. “Porn Star” was able to retire now because Jason stepped up.

On the surface, Jason’s book is about a recovering addict. But if you read deeper, you will see it is a book about loving yourself wholly, inclusively and unapologetically. This kind of love is brave. It gives you the courage to be brutally honest with yourself. It nudges you to face your own worst inner enemy. When you can offer yourself love and forgiveness, that’s when you can fully radiate.

In the words of Rainier Maria Rilke, “perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

Go and love your dragon. Go and embrace your inner “Porn Star.”

Silicon Valley Porn Star
Available on Amazon
Jason Portnoy - Silicon Valley Porn Star
Click to Join Jason at the Center - April 12th
J. Portman What People are Saying
Visit Jason's website (click the image)

jenny hsu

Jenny’s linktree:
https://linktr.ee/cetaceacomms

Jenny W. Hsu is the editor-in-chief of 「走出慾望矽谷:新創浪子救贖自白」, the Chinese-language version of “Silicon Valley Porn Star: A Memoir of Redemption and Rediscovering the Self” by Jason Portnoy. She is the CEO of Cetacea, a communications advisory she founded in 2022. Prior to this, Jenny worked in Hangzhou as part of the Alibaba Inc’s international affairs team. Before entering the PR world, she was a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

She also worked at Taipei Times, Central News Agency, and Taiwan News. As an avid animal lover, Jenny recently published her first bilingual children’s book, “Billie”, (available at The Center) about a dog she rescued in China. Jenny is the proud big sister of three dogs—Gnocchi, Hunter and Radar– and one cat named Scoops.

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