The adult entertainment industry is America’s nearly $100 billion dollar a year dirty little secret. Each year, established stars and novices earn their pay checks entertaining our most intimate fantasies and carnal desires. While the industry can be kind to guys who consistently perform—and perform well—the starlets that make the industry so profitable often end up battered, bruised and out of work faster than you can say “one minute man.”
In spite of all that, there are some ladies that have aspirations that go beyond performing in front of the camera. This is where Vanessa Blue comes in. After becoming fed up with the misogyny of the industry, she took matters into her own hands and began directing movies and building websites, namely her exclusive homepage, www.vanessablue.com.
Ms. Blue sat down with DX to talk about her grandparents influence on her career, why she discourages girls from getting into the game and how the industry isn’t as safe as many may think.
HipHopDX: Tell me a little about life before the industry.
Vanessa Blue: Life before the industry, wow. There was none. [Laughs] Life before the industry I was a regular girl. I was a dancer and I went to school to be an emergency medical technician. From dancing, I met a girl named Persephone who became a very famous dominatrix and glamor model and she introduced me to fetish modeling. From there, I met another girl in the same club by the name of Kitten and she and I became very close. She creatively suggested that I try porn.
DX: What was your reaction at first?
VB: No. My reaction was no. I like doing fetish work, I was never really looking to do anything more than that. But one girl-girl scene I figured wouldn’t hurt anything and then came [director and producer] Ed Powers. Ed Powers was offering us a crazy amount of money. I did my research and I was like, “Alright, he’s never put a sista on the box cover in sixty series.” He’s never put one.
VB: So I hoped [that] he’s racist enough that he won’t put us on the cover… I was wrong. So we did the scene and he put us on the cover. After that, I figured I might as well finish what I started.
DX: How many movies followed?
VB: After that I did about 16 scenes. I didn’t like the way things were going, I didn’t like the way people were talking to me, I didn’t like the business… and I quit. I moved away to Nebraska for a few years. I danced at the only nudie bar in the whole state and I was the only black girl, so I did well. I stayed there for a few years and my grandparents kept talking to talking to me about it like, “What are you going to do with your life, you’re not really gonna sit here while people make money off your naked ass are you? You’re not gonna strip, this isn’t the end, don’t stop here.”
My grandparents are big into watching porn. My grandfather’s always talking about how much it made and what products sell and [he said] if you know so much, you’re a nerd already, you love computers, why don’t you go back and see what else you can do. Doesn’t mean you have to fuck but just go back and see what you can do. I came back and was roommates with Kitten for a while and I got back into the business again. I did maybe 50 scenes and I quit, again and I moved away to Las Vegas
When I don’t like a situation, I get out of it. I don’t wait for shit to get better, I go. So I came here and danced for a while at Cheetah’s until 9/11. Right after 9/11, there was no work. Literally, there was no work, nothing was happening. So I said, “Okay, I have a little bit of money saved up, just a little, and I’m gonna buy all the books I want cause I know I want a website, I know I’m a nerd.” There’s books on anything I want to know, I’m going to buy all the books I think I need. I’m going to lock myself in the house and I’m going to do nothing until I figure out how to build a website.” I locked myself in the house for about three weeks, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I was really wild… but I figured it out.
DX: Going back a minute, you mentioned before that there were things happening on the set that you didn’t like, what was going on?
VB: I didn’t like the way the owners of the company would talk to you. Everybody in California believes there’s a certain body image that a woman needs to display in order to be viable or be on a box cover. We know now with all of today’s niches, that’s not true. Back then every thing was about being skinny, being lighter, not being so dark, not being so ghetto. Being a black girl, if you don’t have the immediate connections when you walk in, you’ll be relegated to ghetto product. You’ll never get out of it because you won’t know how to get out of it. You’ll get half your rate, you’ll get crappy work, you’ll get crappy sets. No one will care about anything. Literally, it’s a situation where there’s a mattress in the corner. The director comes in, tells the camera guy what to shoot, how many positions, and the director leaves the room. He goes out and smokes a blunt or talks on the phone or whatever he’s doing and the camera man is left to run the scene. How on earth can anybody care?
I didn’t like it. I said, “Okay, a monkey could direct better than half the people I see and they’re making more than me and I’m the one giving up my body.”
DX: Doing all the work
VB: Right. If I get sick and catch HIV, there’s nothing on the back end for me, nobody here is going to take care of me. So with that, I quit [laughs] and I said I’m not coming back unless it’s the way I want it.
During that time, I was dating [Lexington Steele] and he was trying to get his company off the ground and I came back and we worked together for Playboy TV on his show Lex in the City. We did that for two years and I wouldn’t move back, I just drove back and forth like twice a week
DX: From Vegas?
VB: Yeah. I refused to move back. There was no way I was going to come back and be hanging on the tits of this fucked up business. He gets work with no problem, what am I gonna do, sit here and starve? So I stayed here where at least I could go strip and make ends meet with no problem.
We did Playboy for two years and then after that he got his company open. He opened his company and we made a deal so I moved back to help him build Mercenary. And then after that, I left.
DX: Retirement or…
VB: Breakup. After we broke up I went to Hustler and I directed for them for a little while. After them, because I got tired of Hustler too, but Hustler is a great company, I will say that. I love big companies when they let you do what you want to do. After Hustler I went back to Mercenary ’cause that’s what women do. Then from Mercenary to Adam and Eve, that’s where I am now.
DX: What made you want to get into directing movies?
VB: I always wanted to, from the first movie I ever saw. There was so much lacking and I love sex but if somebody’s literally counting down minutes when you screw to make you change positions, that’s not sex, it’s all mechanical.
I grew up watching porn. My favorite older actress is Georgina Spelvin. Everybody’s like Vanessa Del Rio, I’m like “unh uh”. This crazy white woman who looks like she’s channeling the devil when she fucks and the only woman by comparison to this day who works, fucks and is as hot and brings as much passion is Monique. An unsung hero… shero, who never gets the praise she deserves. But when you watch her perform it looks like she’s channeling the devil.
DX: It looks more realistic.
VB: Yeah. She’s really into what’s happening and I know that, you feel it. And you don’t feel that in today’s porn.
DX: Why do you think that is?
VB: How do I say this nicely? Most of the guys behind the camera don’t like women.
DX: Really? As in homosexuals or misogynist or…
VB: Both, all of the above. There’s a very famous porn star who does all big booty product now and probably out of 100 girls, 80 of us have a story about him attacking us behind closed doors. Physically, like ripping our clothes off. So no, when you have personalities like that, how on earth can it be good?
DX: How do these guys stay working with everything going on off camera?
VB: What do you mean?
DX: As far as attitudes and attacking actresses?
VB: The girls deal with it. It’s very unfortunate, but the girls… they deal with it. They’re just adjusted to being run over. The industry has expanded and grown into something so toxic. Whenever a girl tells me she wants to do porn, I will spend hours trying to talk her out of it.
VB: Because it’s not what you think it is. Everybody comes in thinking Jenna [Jameson]. Jenna’s not who you think she is. Its like, how do you say you love Magic Johnson when you’ve never met him? You love an image. All you love is an image. He could be the greatest jerk you ever met in your life. And I guess once I got to California it was so many stars I looked up to, so many black celebrities and I met those cats at the club and they were like [in mock man voice] “What’s up biiiiitch? You trying to fuck? You wanna fuck me and my boys?” I’m like, “Oh my God I used to love you!” The girls get very disillusioned once they get here. But once you get here you can’t say no to the money, so you’ll take the abuse for the check.
DX: What if a girl wanted to work for you, would you still discourage her from the industry? What would you tell her?
VB: It depends on what she looks like. I’ll be very frank. If the girl is not very attractive, I will try to talk her out of it and make other suggestions. Cause honestly, this is a business about your looks, and if you don’t look good, how far are you gonna go?
DX: There’s a market for everything.
VB: But there isn’t a market for ugly girls yet. I mean, they’re being put out there but there’s no true market. Consumers are not buying that. If you pick up a tape and 10 of the girls in it are ugly, you’re not going to pick up that line anymore, I’m not going to waste my money, them bitches are ugly.
If the girl is attractive, depending on her level of experience. If she’s already an escort, fuck it, go ahead and do it. If she’s a dancer, think about it long and hard. The money you’re going to make on set to risk your health don’t mean shit. If you catch something, God forbid, that little $800 to $1,000 [per scene] you’re going to give back to a doctor. It’d be better to just be an escort. You can wear a condom and when you say it’s over, it’s over.
DX: Are there a lot of health risks in the industry, I know it’s once every 30 days as far as HIV testing goes?
VB: Now they’re doing it every two weeks. The girls who work less do it monthly. Some girls only do it when they’re called for work. The testing is so expensive now; some people ain’t on it like they used to be
DX: Now are there risks for other diseases?
VB: Oh my, yes! There was just a case of syphilis going around. When was the last time you heard of that shit?
DX: Even with the testing going on?
VB: Even with the testing. What we have in this industry right now are tons and tons of under cover mutha fuckas. Some of them are under cover and some of them have box covers. Some of them are gay contract stars and they’re doing straight product. No offense to the gay guys, but I’ve shot gay porn. I’ve shot gay porn for several companies and I never once saw anybody swap a test. Never. You’ll see condoms but you don’t see a test. I’m not saying that one is better than the other and its ok because of the product, not at all. A lot of male talent, they’re dicks don’t work with condoms, so they’ll rip the condom during the scene and you the viewer don’t see that…
To be continued…