By Rebekah Sanderlin
Eight months before he’s supposed to retire from the Navy, Chief Special Warfare Officer Joseph John “Jay” Schmidt III’s retirement pension is in jeopardy. Schmidt, who has appeared in at least 29 adult films, is being investigated for possibly violating rules that require a commander’s approval before engaging in outside work.
The 42-year-old father, who has served 23 years in the Navy, been recognized for valor, and volunteers his time to help special needs kids, has been married to the same woman for 13 years.
His wife is also a porn star.
After many years of war, any couple that has managed to navigate the high OP TEMPO and other stressors that accompany high risk, frequently deployed MOS like the SEALs without being torn apart surely has some wisdom to share. Add to that the tension no doubt caused by knowing that your spouse is having sex — publicly — with other people, and it seems like there is much stacked against this couple.
“You know, it’s been as difficult as people probably would guess,” Schmidt’s wife, who performs under the name “Jewel Jade,” said. “We’ve had jealousy and lots of fighting about it. Really, it took Jay actually being on set and in a film himself to understand that I’m just doing a job.”
Jade said that she and Schmidt have been able to stay together for the same reasons as couples in other enduring marriages.
“Quite honestly, a lot of our friends are divorced,” she said. “But we’re still married, even with all the stress, even with my crazy occupation and his crazy occupation. I think it’s because of our communication and because we have a lot in common. I mean, Who is going to be a Navy SEAL? Are they going to be completely normal? No.”
Jade said she worked in the adult entertainment industry before she and Schmidt were married. She left the industry when they got serious and went back to school, earning a nursing degree. Schmidt’s job moved them from San Diego to Virginia Beach. At the height of the real estate rush, they attended a seminar to learn how to make money in real estate. Jade decided to get a real estate license, too. The couple began buying properties just before the housing market crashed in 2008.
“We had about $10,000 a month just in mortgages due,” she said. The 2008 housing market crash destroyed their real estate plans. To make matters worse, they got stuck with a deadbeat renter in one of the homes who wouldn’t pay rent and trashed the house. When they took the renter to court, the court wouldn’t let them evict her. With more funds going out than coming it, they were hemorrhaging money.
“We used credit cards to try and get by and just got more and more in the hole,” she said.
Like many military couples, Jade and Schmidt worried that their mounting debt would cause him to lose his security clearance. If that happened he would lose his job.
“I was still new to Virginia Beach and didn’t have a real estate client base yet,” Jade said. “I had my nursing degree, but we owed so much money, more than I could earn nursing. We were scared to go to his command and tell them what was going on because we didn’t want him to lose his security clearance.”
Schmidt was making $60,000 a year at the time–nowhere near enough for the couple to pay off their debts. Jade said she knew from past experience that she could make a lot of money fast by appearing in adult films.
“And it helped,” she said. The money she earned gave the couple the financial breathing room they needed, but they still had the mortgages and credit card debt to pay.
“Eventually we did file bankruptcy and his command was actually really understanding,” she said. “I wish we’d gone to them sooner, but we didn’t know how to they would respond.”
By the time they filed bankruptcy Schmidt and Jade owed over a million dollars and the bankruptcy meant they lost all of their property. On top of that, Schmidt was still dealing with PTSD from an Iraq deployment.
In the midst of everything, Jade learned that she was pregnant and that her mother had a cancerous brain tumor and just six months to live. Jade had already lost her father to cancer several years earlier and was determined to use her nursing degree to take care of her mother. Schmidt was able to get transferred back to San Diego and Jade– who also had an infant to care for–became the full-time nurse for her mother.
“Bankruptcy, a new baby, a dying mother who needed 24/7 care … I did the best I could,” Jade said.
The couple was terrified of falling back into financial trouble, so after her mother died, Jade tried to find a normal job that would allow her to contribute to the family finances. She soon discovered that it’s nearly impossible for someone who has worked in porn to slip back into regular life. Each time she tried to work a normal job, she was recognized by a fan.
“My tattoos are recognizable, my voice is recognizable,” she said. “Everything about me is recognizable. I’ve done over 300 films. I can’t just get a normal job anymore. I’m trapped. That’s the thing people don’t realize before they get into this industry.”
Jade got back into adult entertainment and, rather than pay a male actor to appear with her on her website and in her own films, she recruited Schmidt to join her. He performed as “Jay Voom,” initially appearing only in films with his wife, though he later appeared in films without her, too.
Jade said the couple is in limbo while they wait to find out what happens to Schmidt’s Navy career and retirement. They’re hoping they can use their experiences to help others.
“Porn has taught me that women come in all shapes and sizes,” she said. “I always thought that porn stars had to have perfect bodies. But a lot of them are really just normal women–with saggy thighs and flat chests–and men are attracted to those women. I realized, why was I always so hard on myself? I never had to be perfect.”
She said she and Schmidt would like to take that lesson and some of the other lessons they’ve learned working in porn and share them with other couples . . . particularly military couples.
“I know a lot about what men like and want,” Jade laughed. “Men are visual, they’re imaginative, they need to be stimulated. Men are just wired differently, they think differently than us. But we need to try to meet their needs. The kids can’t always come first.”
And Schmidt, she said, wants to share what he’s learned in the industry with other men.
“He wants men to know that porn is not real, it’s a job,” she said. “The actresses are performers and they’re only pretending to enjoy those things. Men shouldn’t expect their wife or girlfriend to do all that stuff. He wants to educate men on what women really like and want.”
They hope that all of their experiences–maintaining a wartime marriage, surviving bankruptcy, losing friends and loved ones, overcoming PTSD, raising a child together and, yes, working in porn–have prepared them to help others.
“This has been a big shock for our family,” she said. “I hope that maybe this is all for a reason. Maybe there’s a higher thing we’re supposed to be doing. I have to think that there’s something better after this.”