WARNING! VERY GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING CONTENT BELOW!
A lot of people knew my fiancé only as "Sledge Hammer," the porn actor who had performed in more than 800 porn scenes, or they knew him just as "Sledge." These people only knew what they saw in porn -- a tall, muscular, light-skinned black man with a larger than average appendage. Marland was often portrayed as the "big black man" who had sex with mostly white and Latina women, "stretching out" their various orifices. But I knew "Sledge Hammer" for the man he really was -- Marland Anderson.
I was in a relationship with Marland for about four years, and I lived with him for just over a year. I knew the real man, the man that struggled with his career path that he fell into by chance. The man who had great respect for women, yet worked in a business that often degrades, humiliates, abuses and exploits them. The man that loved action figures, comic books and movies. The man that was soft-spoken, gentle, kind, and extremely patient. This is the story of the real man behind the "Sledge Hammer" character, and the story of my relationship with him.
Marland and I met in a very unconventional way, to say the least. I was working in porn and I was asked to do a four-man gang bang and my very first double-penetration scene. Wanting to build my reputation as a "hardcore porn star," I agreed to do it.
I showed up on set, got my makeup done, and went out to the backyard where the four men I was about to have sex with were waiting. They were smoking weed and joking around, and when I came out they all made various sexual comments and the typical "porn guy" remarks. I responded with the typical "porn girl" flirtatiousness.
There was one man that didn't say much. He just shook my hand and offered me some weed. That man was Marland. He stood out right away to me as a man that was just there to do his "job," to get his paycheck and go home.
We did the scene (which resulted in my rectum tearing and some bleeding), and even during the gang bang Marland was gentle and considerate, doing his best to not hurt me. (There was only so much he could do, because anal sex with a man of his endowments was no easy task for any woman.) Marland also did his best to not call me the usual degrading porn names like the ones that the other men called me.
After the scene Marland gave me his business card. I got the feeling that he gave his card to every woman he worked with, as a way to be polite and hopefully create some more work with them, but I still took it as a sign that maybe he was interested in me personally.
At this point in my life I was no longer shy around men because I had learned to interact with them on a sexual level while working for years in a strip club. So, realizing that Marland would probably never make the first move, I called him, which is something that I had never done before with any other man.
My opening line wasn't very smooth. I said, "Hey! This is Alexa... the girl from the gang bang. Remember me? Wanna hang out sometime?" Thankfully Marland didn't seem to mind my lack of sophisticated social skills, and he agreed to hang out with me.
I was ecstatic. Although I had had sex with many men before in my porn and "escorting" careers, and had "hooked up" with lots of guys in my personal life, I had never been on an actual date before, and I had never had an actual relationship with a man. So it was very exciting to be having a real date -- with a man who wasn't just another "customer."
Marland came over to my place and brought some Captain Morgan rum and offered me a shot. Being the class act that I was, I proceeded to drink almost the whole bottle and then led him into the bedroom. Since we had already had sex on the set, I figured there was no reason to delay it.
It goes without saying that the sex that we had that night was much better than it was during the gang bang, because I was one-on-one with a man that I actually wanted to be with, as opposed to performing unsafe, painful, and uncomfortable sexual circus acts for the camera with four other men.
We then went out to dinner and a movie, and for whatever reason I insisted on eating at McDonald's. Marland found my choice of restaurant to be strange, but he politely took me there anyway. Afterwards we went to go see the action sci-fi movie District 9, and I fell asleep on Marland fifteen minutes into the movie. When I woke up I had drooled on Marland's shoulder and the film was halfway over.
Are you wondering why after all of this Marland decided to pursue a relationship with me? Yeah, I have no idea either. But I'm grateful that he did. For whatever reason, Marland continued to go out with me, to call me, and to come over. After two months we were officially a couple.
Marland was the most patient person that I had ever encountered. No matter how atrociously I behaved, Marland stayed calm and just gently guided me towards making better choices. When I bragged about some porn scenes that I had done, Marland always took the time to explain to me that although he was okay with me doing porn, he really didn't need to hear all of the graphic details of my work.
It seems so ridiculous to me now, but at that time I truly didn't know how to interact with a man in any way other than sexually. I had never had a real boyfriend, and I had no idea how to show intimacy or to express the feelings I had for Marland. I only knew how to behave in one way -- as "Alexa Cruz," the pornified sex object.
Marland helped me learn how to be Vanessa, the authentic human being with real feelings and no alternate agendas. It took him awhile, but Marland even managed to help me see that I didn't need to dress like a porn star twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Before I met Marland I wore clothing better suited for a porn movie, such as tiny skirts, sheer tops with no bra, and the tightest pants I could find. Marland was never mean about it, he would just gently point out to me that it wasn't necessary to wear shorts that looked more like underwear to a family restaurant, and other things like that. Slowly but surely I grew to understand what Marland was trying to get across to me -- that it would be more respectful of both me and others to dress in clothing that wasn't constantly so revealing and sexualized -- and I started to dress in a more appropriate manner.
Marland struggled with his porn career because he truly loved women as full human beings and didn't view them as merely objects to be used for sex. He also didn't care for the rough sex and racist name-calling that was, and still is, so prevalent in the interracial porn in which he often performed. Additionally Marland often got turned down for porn movie roles because he wasn't "dark enough" or "rough enough." Some porn consumers even slammed him on porn forums for not being aggressive enough -- for being "too soft" with the women he was having sex with. It's a telling thing about the porn industry and it's "fans" that a man not being abusive enough towards women was considered a bad thing.
Marland had been doing porn for over ten years when I met him, and he was tired of it. He hated doing anal sex scenes the most, because the women were often in pain, and he couldn't get aroused knowing that he was hurting someone. Unlike most men in porn, Marland still had empathy for the women he worked with, and in real life he managed to avoid turning into the uncaring, sex-obsessed character of "Sledge Hammer" that he played in porn. In this way Marland was noticeably different than so many other men in porn, who over time often seemed to transform in real life into the unfeeling misogynist characters that they portrayed in their porn scenes.
Due to Marland's empathy for the pain that the women that he worked with often experienced, and the lack of sexual arousal that it caused, he often had to take the drug Viagra in order to be able to get and keep an erection during his porn scenes. Marland expressed to me how much he wished that his regular job, (he worked as a security guard since porn was so unreliable), gave him more hours, so he could quit porn and just do that instead.
Because of Marland's unhappiness with doing porn, in the last year of his life we made plans to save up some money and move to Nevada, in order to take advantage of the cheaper rent there. Marland planned to find security work out there, and if possible, he wanted to support me financially so that I too wouldn't have to do porn or webcamming anymore.
You might be wondering how such a sensitive and caring man like Marland ended up in the callous and uncaring misogynist porn business. Well, I don't know every detail, but from what Marland told me, he had been attending community college and living with his mother when he met the future owner of a porn company named "Sly."* Marland and Sly became friends and they moved in together. When Sly started his porn company, he wanted Marland to work in his movies.
Marland had previously dreamed of being in the Air Force or playing sports, but a knee injury and sinusitis kept him from pursuing those dreams. So he decided to start working for Sly as a porn performer. After a few years Marland started doing porn for other companies, and the business of Sly's company took off. Marland figured that this must be the best career path for him, and so he went with it.
Unfortunately, though, thorough the years porn became more and more of a freak show -- all about degrading and abusing women in more and more extreme ways, and less about normal sex. By this time Marland felt stuck. He had no education and trying to live off of some side security jobs alone didn't seem like a very good option.
In the last year of our relationship -- Marland's last year alive -- things got tough for us. Porn work had dried up for Marland because the porn industry had become so extreme and abusive, and Marland just wasn't comfortable doing that sort of porn. As for me, I was completely burned out on the sex industry and had became became irrational and jealous. Hearing and seeing so many men betray their wives and girlfriends had finally gotten to me, and I felt like all men were untrustworthy. Despite the fact that Marland was always honest with me, and that we were now engaged to be married, I would accuse him of seeing other women, or of plotting to run off with someone else. I started fights with Marland and drank too much because I was so desperately unhappy. I often cried the night before I was scheduled to do a porn scene because I just didn't have it in me to do such painful and degrading sex scenes anymore.
Marland did the best that he could to try and comfort me, but I was worn out. I wasn't easy to be around -- let alone love -- due to my frustration and feelings of hopelessness. My webcamming and porn money was unpredictable, and Marland's work didn't pay very much, so we started to have financial difficulties.
On top of all this, in the last two months of his life Marland experienced severe difficulties in getting enough sleep. Marland had always had trouble sleeping, but all of this stress made it worse, and now nothing could get Marland to sleep. No pill was able to help, and Marland even had to quit his job and stop webcamming with me because he was so exhausted.
Due to his sleep deprivation Marland even started to hallucinate and hear voices. For instance, he would talk about how he could hear the neighbors though the wall talking about him, and he said that they would never let him move to Nevada. Or he would hear children playing outside and think that they were laughing at him. I had no idea how to deal with all of this, but I tried to help Marland relax and at least get a few hours of sleep each night.
So I did my best, but things just got worse. The last weekend we spent together, Marland started talking about "going away." I was confused -- what did he mean by "going away?" When I realized that he meant suicide, I started hiding all of the cleaning products, medications and knives in our apartment -- anything that Marland could use to hurt himself.
That final Sunday that we were together Marland seemed to be better. We watched movies and ate pizza, and I thought everything would be okay. Marland seemed hopeful about finding a job in Nevada, and maybe training for a new career. I was relieved to hear him talking positively and sounding normal again.
My relief was premature. That night Marland started behaving strangely again, so I stayed up to watch him and to make sure that he got some sleep. At some time during the night, without any warning, Marland grabbed a knife that I had missed when I was hiding the knives, and ran into the bathroom. I ran after him, but he had locked the door and told me to just let him die.
My first thought was "Not on my watch!", and I broke through the lock of the bathroom door. I wrestled the knife away from Marland, but he continued to try to commit suicide by putting a plastic bag over his head and by filling up the bathtub. (Presumably to drown himself.) I then grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
I can't go into much detail right now about what happened right after that, due to a pending legal case concerning Marland's death, but after what seemed like an eternity the police and EMTs arrived and took him away. Marland left with them peacefully, and just kept repeating "I'm so tired." I told Marland that I loved him as they led him away, and that was the last time that I saw Marland alive and fully conscious.
The next thing I knew I was going to the hospital to visit Marland, thinking that he was placed on a 72-hour hold in the psychiatric ward. Instead I found Marland in the Intensive Care Unit, hooked up to life-support machines, covered in bruises and cuts, and completely unresponsive.
It was the worst shock of my life, but I didn't cry until I got back to the car where my mom was waiting. Once I was safely in the car, I started sobbing hysterically. I felt like my heart and soul were being torn to shreds. That's the only way that I can describe it.
I spent almost that whole week at the hospital, holding Marland's hand, talking to him, and praying like I had never prayed before. Marland's mother and aunt were there frequently too, and Sly came by to see him as well. Unfortunately Marland's condition only got worse, and he died on April 13th, 2012, after being taken off of life-support.
I couldn't believe Marland was gone. I felt like he was the only man that would ever love me and accept me for who I was and what I did for a living. I missed his hugs, his smile, his patience, and the way he valued and respected me despite the lack of respect that I had for myself.
I could barely function for months. I stopped working, stopped exercising, and rarely left the house. I lived on red wine and drank from morning to nightfall. But I was lucky enough to have my family, my best friend and her mother visit me and make sure that I ate and didn't completely wallow in despair.
Eventually I got back to webcamming because I needed to pay my bills, and then I had to deal with people asking me in my free chat room about Marland. I even had some people say cruel things to me such as, "You miss Sledge Hammer? Ha ha." Yeah, really thoughtful. On top of that I had to see cruel and degrading comments about Marland that were posted on the news stories about him. After all, Marland was "just a porn star." These people making mean comments acted like Marland wasn't even human. They joked about his death and said some incredibly hurtful things. Seeing the horrible things that people wrote about Marland only made my pain that much worse.
Marland's death did do something very important for me, though. It made me see the porn industry for how shallow and worthless it really is. Sure, I received some nice texts and emails after Marland died, but with the exception of one porn performer, Jack Napier, no one really reached out to me.
Sly held a memorial for Marland for all porn performers to attend, and it was nice until the women there started flashing their breasts and taking pictures with other people, smiling and laughing. These women couldn't even turn off the porn star act during a memorial. I found it totally disgusting and disrespectful. This was the business that I had defended for so long? It was like I suddenly woke up and realized what a total waste this "career" was. I didn't leave the business right away, but that event set my exit from porn in motion.
Thankfully Marland's family held a real memorial for him in a church a few months after the disturbing "porn people" memorial that had been held by Sly. It was beautiful and was a stark contrast to the earlier one. Sly was invited but didn't show up. That's right: after over fifteen years of "friendship," Sly couldn't bother to come to Marland's memorial held by his family.
So much for loyalty in the porn world! For years I had felt a misguided loyalty to the porn industry, and now I could see that the industry had no loyalty towards anyone. The way it casually discarded Marland after over ten years of working in it was really a wake-up call.
I will miss Marland for the rest of my life, and I think about him often. I don't think of him as "Sledge Hammer," the manufactured porn character, I think of him as Marland Anderson, the true authentic person.
I can only hope that this article will help more people see Marland as the kind, caring, and multi-dimensional human being that he really was, and not as "just a porn star." I also hope that this article serves to show another side of porn -- the side that treats both men and women as nothing more than disposable sex objects. Marland deserved better than the heartless porn industry, and no man or woman deserves to be treated in such a cruel and disrespectful manner and with such a lack of basic human compassion.
* "Sly" is not the real name of the person identified as Marland's friend who started the porn company that Marland worked for.
FOR NEWS REPORTS ON MARLAND'S LIFE & DEATH, PLEASE SEE THE LINKS BELOW:
Sledge Hammer, Porn Star, Dies After Being Tasered By Police
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