If there is somebody who can be defined as a punk porn star, that is Bridget Powers.
Born Cheryl Murphy in 1980 in Boise, the capital of Idaho, Bridget became known to the general public as “Bridget the Midget” and was introduced to the porn industry by a friend of hers, a make-up artist. After the first pornographic movie in 1999, Bridget starred in more than 60 films.
She subsequently distanced herself from the industry for safety reasons – her choice to always use condoms proved unpopular in the world of hardcore pornography – and appeared on the big screen in several mainstream productions, playing small roles in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Tiptoes (2003), and S.W.A.T. (2003). Furthermore, she appeared in TV series and reality shows, played in a rock band for years and has been performing for years as a burlesque lap and pole dancer in the best nightclubs in America. She regularly features in the top ten of the most successful people affected by dwarfism.
This woman is a one metre and eighteen tall heap of political incorrectness, starting from the stage name she has chosen for herself, midget, a derogatory term in the United States that has become as unmentionable as the “N-word” for African Americans.
But Bridget is accustomed to controversies. In 2010, her lap dance performance for Rihanna’s birthday party aroused the anger of the conformists, as the famous singer had been appointed Youth and Cultural Ambassador for Barbados just a couple of years before: how could her institutional role be conciliated with the private show of a porn star, and a dwarf one at that?
Maybe the most paradoxical of disputes arose when Bridget was expelled from Little People of America, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature, which obviously did not want to be associated with Bridget’s too uninhibited behaviour. Nevertheless, she suggests a different explanation for what happened: during an interview, she confessed that she was expelled because during a convention she was caught while sexually satisfying about ten other members of the organization…
What Bridget manages to unmask – maybe unconsciously and often playing on the edge of exploitation – is our hypocritical attitude towards misfits and, in wider terms, disabled people: as long as freaks allow people to pity them, or do their best to push their limits – which basically means acknowledging their handicap – we are willing to accept them, to be moved and even admire them. Our bigot perspective is nevertheless checkmated by those different bodies that present themselves as worthy of admiration, beautiful in themselves, and don’t ask to be pitied. This is why her shameless attitude is sometimes frowned upon even by those who suffer the same discrimination: any woman who deliberately chooses to show her body is accused of a “lack of self-respect” (while it is usually those who utter such a sentence who obviously show lack of respect for other people’s choices); in the end, if the body in question is considered as obscene, that is to be kept “out of the scene”, the stigma gets worse.
Bridget doesn’t seem to care, and she goes her own way. “People point and laugh and do anything they can to undermine you. You can do one of three things: you can let it happen; you can cry and get depressed and run away; or you can stand up for yourself and say, ‘I am going to get in shape and be awesome’. (…) Everyone stares at people who are blind or in a wheelchair. I want to change that. I want people to see me and go, ‘Look, a sexy midget!’.”