Reflections on Maitland Ward’s Rated X

by konkon


In the final pages of her autobiography, Maitland Ward is on the set of The Big Time, a 2021 TV comedy series that unites mainstream entertainment and porn “in superhero costumes.” Her metamorphosis complete, she says of her final scene, “I let them light my path.” And that path reinforces a new and different view of adult film.

The heart of Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me from Hollywood is Maitland’s intimate camaraderie with director Kayden Kross. The women develop a partnership that forges Maitland’s Vixen Media experience: what it means to be a woman in charge of her own destiny in a business that has not always recognized her value. Simply put, Maitland Ward’s talent has expanded the playing field for all women in the industry.

Yet, in her early years, the Long Beach native was “a sheltered only child,” who, not surprisingly, “spent a lot of time alone,” she writes. What’s more, guilt was never far away. Her religious grandmother gave her a “miniature gold-plated frame” enshrining a blue-eyed Jesus and put it on her granddaughter’s bedroom dresser. The message? Being a good girl is life’s better path.

Unfortunately, glorious virtue becomes a slog because that special “tingling” that grips teenage girls informs Maitland that being “good” will be forever elusive.

Rated X is a sharply written with an energetic narrative that merges humor with the travails that too often plague female actors who crave Hollywood’s approval. Take notice of Maitland’s relationships with Kat, a “real” Tinseltown actress who struts her stuff with references to “big agents” and “big studios.” Kat was “the personification of Hollywood. And I needed her to like me,” the author says. But at what cost?

Maitland presents her story in two parts. First, she discusses her mainstream TV and feature film years, commenting on her willingness to remain trapped in the suffocating box Hollywood constructs for young talent. To her discontent, Maitland’s character “Rachel McGuire” on the soap opera Boy Meets World becomes the benchmark of her Hollywood experience. Though she forms a handful of friendships in those early years, dissatisfaction was always hanging around the dressing room door.

Eventually, Tinseltown rejection will lead to professional irrelevancy—a bitter lesson. “To be expendable is to be a woman in Hollywood,” the author laments.

Undeterred, Maitland seeks meaningful adventures that include cosplay and BDSM flirtations. Eventually, she realizes that porn offers a female actor a different, more comfortable, career interpretation that celebrates stripping down on her terms. In other words, “liberation” for an assertive woman is not “diminished” in this genre. Once that revelation sets in, Maitland’s path to empowerment accelerates and industry awards decorate her filming history.

The second half of Rated X describes Maitland’s personal growth. That special “tingling” never goes away, of course, and with her loving husband in her corner, Maitland explores sex with other men, moving from social media to adult film.

The industry embraces her, freeing her from crushing self-doubt. It is a fortuitously timed rebirth. The new face of porn, the emerging woman, is stepping out of the shadows.

The result continues to be revolutionary. Powerful “female directors and writers” are moving the industry forward with a collective vision, Maitland declares. She names a select few, among them her beloved friend Kayden, Bree Mills, and Jackie St. James. By the way, Maitland asserts that porn is indeed art and women have played a vital role in this long-awaited interpretation of adult film.

Maitland Ward is the real deal. An icon. Her voice is legitimate because, as she points out, she was in our living room via mainstream entertainment before venturing into our bedroom through adult film. By the purest definition, she is an authentic crossover star who insists we see the adult industry “in a different way.”

Pick up a copy of Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me from Hollywood. You’ll be pleasantly entertained.


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