Shift – Lydia Ann Lee

There’s a lot to Lydia Ann Lee.

She’s a filmmaker, an artist, and an incendiary rabble-rousing disseminator of infrequently hear truths (among many other things). She used to live in Texas, she was once in her teens (and her 20s), and she also used to work as an adult performer (also, among many other things). Therein, she used the name Julie Meadows.

Lydia stopped working as adult talent several years ago, however she did continue to employ “Julie” now and again – people knew Julie… well, they knew the name and the fantasy. Julie was a part of Lydia that carried a measure of mystique and celebrity, so it only made sense for Lydia, who was finding her legs in other interests and pursuits, to put her to good use. Julie was a resource.

But life has shifted such that Julie is no longer a necessary or integral part of Lydia’s life. Consequently, she’s making some changes.  But don’t take it from me – read on for Lydia’s story in PVV’s first installment of Shift.

Hi Lydia!! So many people may know you as Julie Meadows, but you recently started a new site under your given name, Lydia Ann Lee… Can you explain a little bit about what’s going on?

“My life began through the lens of ‘Lydia Ann Lee.’ Through that lens, I saw a great big world that I wanted to experience. The hunger to live led me into marriage, and then motherhood; a taste for ambition led to exotic dancing, and then becoming an actress.

‘Julie Meadows’ was born as the part of my personality that could be outrageous and communicate more clearly than ‘Lydia’… because deep down, I am an extremely shy person. Julie, on the other hand, gets things done and doesn’t care too much if people don’t like her. Julie Meadows is a brazen badass who also manages to be very kind.

But then two things happened…

I got divorced, and I suddenly saw myself as someone who would never be in a serious relationship ever again. You see, there is a tendency to lose one’s identity over twelve years of marriage because two people become one. After my divorce, I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to assert myself properly and that changed me.

Then I stopped performing and got married for the second time. Now, I don’t think any performer, after years of working as a certain character, can just step out of that persona very easily. Julie Meadows is like a best friend to me; but, honestly, she had started to take over a little too much.

So, with the help of my husband Doug, I went through a process of rediscovering myself. My fears [about being able to assert myself properly] were gradually dispelled, and I stared to move into a new space in my life.

So it’s almost like Julie has outlasted her usefulness in a way, but it’s sounds like you are completely putting her to bed… Is that true? What’s behind that decision?

I wanted to start writing… but the problem with that was how to direct people to my writing without using Julie Meadows. That’s who people knew, so I developed JulieMeadows.com. I also created a blog called ‘Jaded and Other Gems’ and used the alias ‘Jaded Gems’ as my non-adult alter ego. I started posting silly things, but all the substance went into the Julie Meadows blog. Eventually, I abandoned writing at ‘Jaded and Other Gems’ altogether.

The last six years have been a slow process of disrobing Julie. Only six months or so ago, I took the words ‘Julie Meadows’ off of the site header and replaced it with ‘Lydia Lee.’ But changing the site’s header is not enough. Like removing a layer of clothing at a time, I have to admit – I feel thoroughly exposed. The final pieces to fall come in the form of old memorabilia and the site url… everything is up for sale, except the url. I will probably always own my domain names, and Julie does deserve protecting in that sense. She will fade into the background, but never be completely gone.

I do all of this to discover my voice, as myself, and to experience freedom the way I wasn’t able to before. Julie Meadows is a kind of iconic image of myself, but she’s trapped in the adult world; and one world, alone, is limiting. There’s so much more to experience and I can’t do it through her, which leads me to two tangible experiences that have added to my deeper need for a new site and perspective.

Wow… that’s a really involved process, but I imagine everyone goes through something similar over the course of their own lives. Did anything specific happen to encourage this process?

Many things actually, but I’ll give you two examples.

I was promoting a photographer’s work at JulieMeadows.com. He is not from the adult industry at all, but graciously thanked me every time I posted his beautiful photographs. Somehow an adult site linked up with my site’s tags and married both our names in a url that featured pictures of naked older women. I must admit that it’s somewhat amusing, but this kind person who appreciated my writing about his beautiful work and linking to his site found it and had a panic about being associated with adult content.

Needless to say, I was instantly depressed over the situation. Of course, the adult site also listed things like ‘MSNBC’ and ‘Michael Jackson’ among their keywords… but for this photographer, the damage was done. I had to apologize and promise never to use his name in my writing ever again.

And even before that, there was an instance where I had run to a coffee shop to make a quick update on my site… but I couldn’t because their internet service provider had flagged my site’s url. You see, the name ‘Julie Meadows’ is so thoroughly attached to the adult industry. Even though I do not feature any pornographic imagery, in a situation where I’m forced to rely on the wifi offered by a commercial service, I cannot access my own site!

Wow. That’s got to be frustrating… Especially because there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with Julie, but she’s not reflective of where you’re at in your life.

Yeah… that is why LydiaAnnLee.com is my new home. It’s terrifying to jump into the unknown, but it’s also exhilarating! I feel like I’m stripping down my personality and simplifying things, but it’s also adding a new chapter to my blissfully complicated existence!”

Lydia Ann Lee is an amazing woman, and she always gets me thinking…

Lydia is out there in the world every day living her life and growing and fighting for what she believes in. Her passion is inspiring, and her experiences also help us to see the adult business in a more complex light.

Like any other industry, people may work in the adult business for a while… and then, also just like any other industry, some people may decide to move on. There is nothing particularly unique about this process.

But for various reasons, the adult industry is regarded differently. People may have a difficult time with the process of shifting their lives because of the stigma and misconceptions often associated with “porn.” Consequently, just like it’s important to get a clearer picture of what happens in the business, it’s also important to consider what happens to people after they leave it.

Lydia has helped me to understand this more fully, which is why Shift is for her.

(pictured: Lydia and Doug)

And read Lydia’s Back Story here.

* * *

PVVOnline’s feature Shift explores the joys, trials, tribulations, and everything else associated with big career and life changes within the context of prior association with the adult industry.

Shift: every experience is part of a larger process (inspired by Lydia Ann Lee)”

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”