by Rich Moreland, November 2012
Steve’s bringing over the “new girl,” Bill Margold said.
Photographer Bill Knight and I are sitting in Margold’s Hollywood apartment on a slightly cool fall afternoon. I’ve pieced together a bit of an interview on his memories, but it’s all very informal. Bill’s a friend and one the last living porn historians who remembers the days when the business was a small fraternity of actors and actresses.
There is another item on our agenda. We’re awaiting Steve Nelson, editor of Adult Industry News, to head out to dinner.
Meeting an industry model for the first time is a plus, especially if I can get another perspective on the business. So a “new girl” is always welcome, but a quiet objection on my part is due here. The adult film industry refers to its male and female talent as boys and girls, terminology I’ve always considered somewhat demeaning. Porn is a sometimes tough, sleazy, and shady business and it’s not cut out for boys and girls. Though I’m used to the industry language, “girl” is still off-putting. On this afternoon, the person who walks into Bill’s apartment proves to be anyone but.
The “new girl” is a delightful surprise. Her name is Leena Sky, a Floridian who flies out west to shoot (that’s a porn phrase, it has to do with cameras!), and she is every bit a woman. I let her talk career with Bill for a bit before catching an opening to introduce myself. I’d done my homework and know she has a Ph.D., perfect for me to instantly bond with her. We both teach in the college classroom.
And connect we did. Leena spends the next few hours with four middle aged men who are interested in helping her launch the “Porn Valley” version of her career. One more thing, Leena is no kid, she’s in her early thirties and has her head wrapped around the porn business. She knows where she is going, drawing her own roadmap along the way.
After dinner, our group drives over to the pier at Santa Monica for a late night visit with the Pacific, a treat for me because I’ve not been here. The night air is chilly and the ocean placid. Fortunately, Leena gives me the bulk of her time; she is willing to listen to some ideas I have.
Simi Valley and Coffee
The next morning Bill Knight and I set out for Simi Valley just west of the San Fernando Valley, aka “Porn Valley.” We’re to meet Leena at a local coffee shop. She’s due for a shoot that morning and is gracious to give me an hour of her time. When we arrive, she’s easy to spot, leopard tube top and black hot pants, very “pornie” and very cute. I suggest we take our discussion outdoors to the patio where the customers are fewer, a tactic I’ve learned over the years.
Most interviews with porn models are much the same. Tell me a little about yourself; now let’s talk about your favorite shoots and what you like to do on film. Mostly it’s graphic sex and penis size, stuff to get the fan off. I try to approach things a bit differently, particularly if I can concentrate the performer on her past. The question that is usually on everyone’s mind about adult film models is “why would you do this and how did you get your start?”
Here’s Leena’s view, and I will warn you, she is smart, articulate, and knows how to identify opportunity.
“I grew up in Philadelphia,” she begins. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do except go to college and leave home at eighteen to spread my wings.”
She recounts that she graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina with a major in psychology. “I found psychology to be something I could relate to, having gone through a lot of turmoil in my own life.” A not uncommon response I get from my own students who want to major in psychology, by the way. And, like most psych students, Leena realized a graduate degree was a must.
At this early juncture in her life, Leena was embroiled in significant changes. She went to grad school after an initial education burn out, ended up in Georgia where she worked in social services, doing everything from family counseling to working in abortion clinics. A master’s in counseling came her way, leading her to private practice where she encountered patients with suicidal thoughts and drug addictions.
“I like things that are fast and changing,” Leena tells me, speaking of her counseling years. Though sex addiction and therapeutic techniques involving sex were not topics she studied, she confesses she had nagging thoughts about the sex industry she could not shake. “I always had these fantasies of being in it and I shared these thoughts with my mother,” Leena explains, “she strongly discouraged it and I am happy I did get an education.” But, Leena adds that sex work in front of the camera “was always in the back of my mind.”
Leena got married along the way, had twins, and pursued a doctorate which she completed recently. It was not an easy run and perseverance was the key to her success. “I am really goal-oriented,” she says. But like so many directions we can take in our pursuit of happiness, the expectations exceed reality. “I really hoped that light bulbs would turn to magical things when I got those letters (the Ph.D.),” she sighs. However, fate, with its longings that intuitively shape our decisions, had other thoughts in mind.
Over dinner last evening, Leena and I talked about the idealism we had when we started teaching on the college level. Conversation turned to the students in our respective classrooms who don’t have the responsibility they need to take ownership of their education and how disheartening that can be to a professor. In her case, Leena was burning out, yet she managed to hang on for a while by teaching online.
Then another opportunity poked its sensuous head around the corner and leered its lewd thoughts in Leena’s direction.
“Around this time, she begins, “I had learned about webcamming through an accountant who did my taxes.” Her divorce left a financial hole in her checkbook and the CPA knew she could use extra work. “He planted the seed,” Leena says, but adds she had “no idea” what she was getting into. “I never watched porn. I was sort of in the very vanilla world.”
“Had you ever seen porn before all this came about in your life,” I ask, because her words I’ve heard before from other adult film models.
“You know what my earliest memory is?” Leena says. “It was a Jodie Foster movie I saw way too early on. She was raped on a pinball machine. It was almost like porn to me. I was twelve or thirteen and at a friend’s house. We didn’t have cable, it was on HBO.”
Next, into Leena’s life came a kid’s easiest outlet, print material. “I remember my girlfriends and I would steal nudie magazines, which was really pervy,” Leena explains.
Pervy may be fun, but it does not create porn a model. Leena remained as uninformed as the average girl. “I really didn’t see a lot of porn, so the webcamming thing, I didn’t even know what it was.”
Decision time was on the horizon; the fantasy is morphing into reality. Once the college gig was downsized, Leena stopped hating to go to work. She shifted her teaching to adjunct status and limited her work to online classes. Leena’s happiness level took a quantum leap forward, but bills had to be paid. Stepping up the webcam was the answer, at least in the short run. Yet, Leena knew full well webcam is a tenuous enterprise and wouldn’t last forever.
Opportunity showed up again, this time in embedded in one of her webcam accounts.
“This one guy that kept coming into my (webcam) room and said, ‘What are you doing here? Why don’t you do porn’?” Leena’s response was befuddlement. “Porn? What are you talking about? Me? How would I do that?” she thought.
“I think he had connections from formerly being associated with the business,” she continues. “He was able to take a few pictures. I sent them to Reality Kings (a Miami Beach-based adult online company). I thought it’d be kind of cool if they wanted me. It turns out they got me my first shoot.
So a porn career that was perfect for the MILF and Hot for Teacher genres was birthed. It was a good thing because if it had not, then our paths would never have crossed.
Leena is now part of the adult film universe and is expanding her options every day. Her adventures, by her own admission, have been difficult to negotiate at times, but they have also been a turn on.
By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that in life there are no second acts. Leena Sky and I have something in common: we’re proving Mr. Fitzgerald wrong.
More on Leena is coming in another post. Perhaps she will discuss orgasms on film, could not resist the pun! Not all of it is positive because as I mentioned above, the porn business has its characters and its vagaries.
Stay tuned as they still say in the media business.