Originally published at The Well Versed
If you missed the memo, Joanna Angel is kind of a big deal. Actually, a really big deal. After starting her company, Burning Angel, in college with her roommate, Angel went from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of the industry as a pioneer of the alternative porn genre. To be clear, Alt Porn isn’t “just” porn. It’s a movement. The college graduate sat down with TWV to talk about her beginnings, why women shouldn’t be afraid of porn and why nothing—and we do mean NOTHING—in the industry is ever “degrading.”
The Well Versed: You’ve been around a long time. Can you talk about some changes in the industry?
Joanna Angel: It’s gotten a lot smaller with the piracy and the economy crash. Five years ago, I felt like here were a thousand companies. Now there are like ten. It’s sad, but I think it’s brought some positives. It got too saturated. There were too many people watching and not enough paying for it. The people left are all very smart and motivated. A couple years ago, people were just throwing shit together. Everybody was just buying a camera, filming people fuck and throwing it up somewhere. We’re getting to a place where it’s more quality than quantity.
TWV: How has that effected what you do?
JA: As much as people like to think porn is an addiction, nobody is buying porn over groceries. People don’t have as much expendable income.
TWV: We’re seeing a generation of new consumers that have grown up thinking porn is supposed to be free, how do you talk to younger people or what would you say to them about why they should buy?
JA: It sucks. When I was younger, when people turned 18 they would go buy a Penthouse orHustler.
TWV: It was like a rite of passage.
JA: Right. People need to know that if they continue to enjoy porn, music and movies for free, it’s not going to be there one day. If you have any respect or regard for things to continue, you need to pay for it. That’s a hard thing when you get it for free, but its wrong and it’s hurting people.
TWV: Can you talk about the quality difference between what you can buy versus what you get for free?
JA: I don’t download free porn.
TWV: Or at least what you’ve heard.
JA: When you buy a membership to Burning Angel, you can interact with the girl, you can have a profile, you can blog. It’s like a membership to a club. If you like Burning Angel, you like a certain style of girls. You can see them all in one place, we have different formats and we try to give some added benefits that are more than just porn. We want people to feel like they’re a part of something that’s more than just downloading a movie.
TWV: A lot of people have all these stereotypes of what porn stars are, I know you have a college degree. What prompted you to get into the industry?
JA: My senior year of college, my roommate asked if I wanted to start a site. I realized I didn’t want to do anything I had been studying. I love this industry and I think it’s great. I don’t regret going to college and I learned a lot of things. There are a lot of smart people in this industry. This industry wouldn’t be what it is if was run by a bunch of morons.
TWV: And your degree is in English. If there was no porn would it have been Joanna Angel, English teacher?
JA: Maybe. Joanna Angel School of… whatever
TWV: The alt porn genre wasn’t as big as it is now, when did you realize you had something big?
JA: I still have a long way to go. But it started to sink in… maybe in 2005 there was a big article on us in the New York Times. That was the turning point. I literally stood at a deli at 5 in the morning waiting for the paper. And I thought, “This is something.”
TWV: How does it feel to break out in to the main stream?
JA: I’m thankful for any attention my company receives. I work so hard. I spend weeks and weeks writing scripts and putting movies together. I wonder if anyone is looking or do they care? Are people watching or just looking at 2 minutes of sex and signing off? Everything takes a few weeks. All these things take time and it’s nice to see when this is all paying off. This is my own money. I make money and put it back into the company. When something positive happens, it’s nice.
TWV: Have you found that the community aspect has been a saving grace for Burning Angel with so many people downloading porn?
JA: That’s what keeps us going. If you could just see videos—why would anybody pay for that?
TWV: What’s next for the company?
JA: I’m happy where we’re at. I just want to do it bigger and better. We want to do more offline stuff. We have t-shirts, but I want to work on a clothing line. I think we’ve become a brand and there might be people—we have all these fans and they like what we’re about but they may not want to watch porn. Like Hustler. They may not want a magazine, but they want a t-shirt. We’ve built and built. I just want to keep doing what we’re doing.
TWV: You’re in a male dominated industry. A lot of women are still uncomfortable with porn. Can you tell me why women who may be on the fence should embrace porn if their man is watching or even for themselves?
JA: I think women enjoy sex more than men do. I was hanging out with my guy friend and some of his roommates. And they talk about movies, cars and other stuff. When me and my girls get together, we talk about sex. Guys do it once every blue moon. Girls break it down; we know everything about each other’s sex lives. Women love sex. If you like sex, you should like porn. And if you don’t like sex, you probably shouldn’t watch porn.
People see one bad porn and it scars them. There’s so much. Porn is a million different things. You shouldn’t be scared of it. There’s going to be something you like and you may learn a few pointers. It’s really hot and sexy when a girl is in bed with a guy and she can tell him what to do or she knows what she wants and isn’t just there. It’s a great industry and a lot of girls have a lot of fun. There’s porn for women, they just need to look for it.
TWV: Other than Burning Angel, where should they go?
JA: If you like hardcore stuff, you should check out Belladonna’s stuff. It’s twisted and filthy but she doesn’t pile on a lot of makeup. I think girls can watch it and not feel threatened. I’ve always like the Jules Jordan movies. They’re more for males, but I think it’s very sexy. It’s dirty but not degrading. He does cool stuff with sexy outfits. If you want to see a girl all dolled up and being slutty, but not in a degrading way, I’d recommend him too.
TWV: Can you talk about the difference between something being dirty versus degrading? I was reading a quote in a book where you said that a woman could be “getting choked and hit and spit on, the guy’s calling her a dirty slut and stuff and . . . that can still be feminist as long as everybody there is in control of what they’re doing.”
JA: That sounds like something I’d say. All porn is consensual. All porn is a movie. Everything is planned. Nobody is showing up and getting into something they didn’t know or they shouldn’t be. If it happens, it doesn’t happen often. All the companies around are legit and they don’t want to hurt anyone. They just want to stay in business there is porn out there that I don’t like or find arousing because it’s too extreme and I’m not into that. I still don’t think it’s morally wrong because it’s a fantasy
If somebody has a rape fantasy and that’s what they want to watch, that’s ok. It’s a fantasy. I would never call out anyone in this industry for making degrading porn. There’s porn out there where it’s a fantasy for a girl to be degraded like hard core BDSM. Sometimes I watch on a personal level and I cringe. I wouldn’t want to do a video where the guys are hitting a girl and spitting on her and calling her names.
TWV: But somebody likes it.
JA: The girl who’s in the scene knew what was going on. I know a lot of girls that have a great time doing scenes like that. I don’t’ think there’s porn that’s degrading. That’s an offensive word and I wouldn’t want to put that on anybody in our industry.