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AEE 2019: Ela Darling

by Rich Moreland, March 2019

Ela Darling is the final installment of our series on the Star Factory clients we interviewed at the 2019 Adult Entertainment Expo.

Formerly educated and politically active, Ela is not typical of adult stars.

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

*          *          *

Ela Darling and I go back a few years. It’s a delight to interview her again.

We begin our discussion with VR. Apropos, I might add, because this statuesque model is an able promoter of VR in the adult business.

She is the chief marketing officer for PVR Fun, an adult headset company.

“It’s incredibly good, very lightweight, really good tech,” Ela says of the product. “I would say it even outperforms some of the more mainstream standalone headsets.”

This University of Texas grad has been involved with VR for five years. “As you know, I created the first ever live broadcasting platform in virtual reality and I’m the world’s first VR cam girl,” she says.

Personally, Ela is branching out in the VR world. She’s learning code and building robots for her new company, Gonzo VR (nothing to do with porn, by the way), that she named after her dog.

“VR is basically my life. I’m held hostage to my house by VR robots and I escape the world through my PVR Iris,” she says with amusement.

A Librarian First

Ela Darling received her masters in library science from the University of Illinois, the gold standard for that profession.

“I was a librarian before I made the obvious transition to pornography,” she says matter-of-factly.

If that isn’t an interesting combination of talents, try this: Ela is political and acts on her beliefs. She took her  APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee) resume — she was on the board of directors and served a term as president — and reached into California politics.

The Texas native ran for the position of Democratic Assembly District Delegate in her home area.

“I was second runner up, which for someone who does porn, I think is pretty cool,” she says. “It was great running with some awesome progressives and getting to know some of the people in my community without [being] laughed right out of the house.”

Chalk one up for porn star activism.

Knowing how outspoken Ela is on political issues, I ask her to reflect on the #MeToo movement and the adult industry.

She begins,

“Adult film performers are feeling more emboldened to speak up about their experiences on set with people who are abusive and act in ways that are unacceptable.”

That is no mean feat, she implies.

“We still see people who come out and share their experiences being ignored. Some of that has to do with the fact that they are adult film performers. We’re a very marginalized group and people still have this idea that if we fuck on camera, what were you expecting?

“But there are boundaries in any sexual experience and establishing and respecting those boundaries is paramount, especially in a professional workplace.”

Ela continues. The public doesn’t understand that if a porn model claims she been abused on set, it isn’t easy to go to the police.

“The first thing they do is question your personal decisions. They start to look for any reason not to believe you and that goes twice as much if you’re a sex worker.”

Not only that, but pressure to stay silent comes from within the industry.

“We have this fear that if we speak up, we’re gonna be blacklisted. No one’s going to hire us again.”

Despite the barriers present, Ela is encouraged.

“People are sharing their experiences more, [but] I don’t know that they’re being granted the credence they deserve. It’s a very complicated discussion to have.”

From her end, Ela is there for victims who come forward. “I support anyone who is experiencing something like that and I will always be here to hear them and listen.”

Tolerance

We change the subject to camming. Does she?

Sort of, Ela says, but it is more like “live broadcasts” that are not always involved with adult entertainment. What’s more, she’s busy with it throughout the day.

“I’ve got a twenty-four-hour livestream from my living room. I’m talking to people who are driving around in my little VR car.”

Does she think the cam girl is becoming the new porn girl?

“It’s really insightful to say that cam girls are the new amateur porn because that’s basically what it is,” she says. Live broadcasting is their trademark, but only a portion of their business.

“Most of them also make clips. That is amateur porn. And, with the diminishing taboo with camming, we’re seeing a lot more people enter that space than we ever have seen before.”

To put things in perspective, Ela offers a short back story.

“Maybe fifteen years ago, most of the cam performers primarily were porn performers. Because if you’re already in porn, it’s not that big of a jump.”

On the other hand, it was challenging if sex work was not your thing back then.

Today is different. The public sees camming as “a light, exotic thing to do and more people are doing it all over the country. That’s awesome because that drives acceptance and tolerance,” she says.

Ela sees an increased fairness in the industry today because cammers and porn models are more alike than different.

“Both porn and cam performers have a lot more control and ownership over their careers and their brands and for what they do. So, they’re becoming a lot more similar than people imagine it to be,” she concludes.

Only One Part of the Picture

However, we can’t lose sight of market forces when it comes to porn models turning to camming, though one influence is not necessarily more  important than the others. It’s cumulative.

“I wouldn’t say that the growth of camming is driving porn performers to cam,” Ela contends. There are other factors, she believes, like “decreasing sales in porn, fewer work opportunities, rates either stagnating or decreasing.”

Of course, she adds, other money-making opportunities like “producing clips” and “feature dancing” are part of the total picture.

“The porn star of today is not just someone who goes to set, fucks, collects a check and goes home — the way that it was in the golden days. The porn star today does pretty much a little bit of everything. They go to set and shoot, they also shoot their own stuff. They cam because it makes sense. It does increase your brand, your reach [and] your fan base. It drives more people to buy your clips and your scenes and whatever wears you might be selling.

“I would say that camming has become one part of the very diverse job that is being an adult film performer.”

Legs Everywhere

We next talk about the modern porn girl. Some circumstances are updated, others not so much.

“These days, you have the ability to work a lot more. Your work and your financial opportunities aren’t at the whim of someone hiring you. You have more control so you can decide ‘I’m not shooting for a studio today, I’m gonna use this time to create something that I can make money off of forever.’”

On the other hand, “When you’re a sex worker, the rest of the world always sees you as a sex worker. You always have the same weight of discrimination and marginalization,” Ela says.

I bring up the three-legged stool analogy and Ela suggests the modern performer is like a centipede with legs everywhere.

Beyond shooting scenes, feature dancing, and escorting, all choices available to any porn girl, Ela asserts, they have other responsibilities.

“They do porn, they do clips, they do camming, they do production for their friends, they do production for themselves, they do editing, they do every aspect of the business, every job that there is.

“They learn to do it themselves so that they can create their own content and own it and maximize their profits off of it.”

Often performers do all of this without agents, perhaps the most telling change in the profession today.

Of course, stigmas remain, she insists, and brings up escorting as the longstanding example. But a girl in the business today builds her own choices, especially in producing their own content. They “own it and maximize their profits off of it.”

So, the cammer is the new porn girl?

“The new cam girl and porn girl are growing to be one and the same,” Ela Darling concludes.

And don’t forget, she’s an entrepreneur.

That’s the new porn industry that is growing around us everyday.

 

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AEE 2019: Ember Snow

by Rich Moreland, March 2019

This is the fourth installment of our series on Star Factory clients.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Ember Snow is a Filipina who came to the United States as a child. She is a trained actress with mainstream credentials.

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

*          *          *

Perky and sexy are the best words to describe Ember Snow. And, oh, that smile. It’s a charmer.

To get us started, I bring up Ember’s childhood.  She was brought up in a strict household, apparently. With sparkles of sneaky merriment in her eyes, she replies, “Oh, you know how Asian culture can be.”

I do and that makes her switch to porn in February 2017 even more interesting.

We chat about the AVN awards (Ember has one for a group scene in Wicked Pictures’ Carnal) and she asks porn fans to look for her at next year’s awards.

“Remember this smile. This is my trademark basically,” she says.

Intimate Experience

Did she begin her career as a cammer?

“I started in porn, actually. But even before I got into porn, I was already researching about the adult industry and that includes camming,” she begins.

Ember notes that she originally considered a cam girl career because she was “kind of wishy-washy about the whole adult industry.”

“I did more research about the porn industry [and] it turned out that bookings aren’t actually as consistent as I would like [them] to be,” she says. That meant shopping around to find other outlets to make money.

“I thought of camming and that’s how I got into cam modeling. My goal is to give a more intimate experience with the guys because it’s usually one-on-one. It’s kind of different from porn because you’re trying to connect with one person as opposed to porn scenes [where] you’re actually acting.”

Actresses and Shows

Does Ember believe there is a difference between cam girls and porn girls?

“I believe so,” she replies. “Porn girls are more like actresses except they’re doing hardcore sex. But cam girls do shows. There are certain cam girls who do really unique shows that involve something basic, like cooking in the kitchen, that doesn’t involve having to act.

“I think that there’s a little bit of a difference between the two.”

Ember brings up an important cam girl ally: VR. The adult industry is invested in VR, she indicates, and that’s a boon for cammers.

“If you’re a cam girl, you’re going to be better in VR because you’re talking strictly to the camera. Not all guys are going to turn on their cameras and show themselves and half the time, when I see the guys, I just see them from like down here.”

She motions to the lower half of her body. “Yes, like down here.”

In other words, no faces, just the tools?

“That’s how some guys think of it,” Ember says. “I don’t mind, I like it. I love watching.”

Ember turns into cam girl mode and adds, “So, I encourage you guys, it’s okay. So as long as you show it to me live, I’m fine with that.”

But if it’s just a picture, “who cares,” she shrugs. That could belong to anybody!

Different Desires

As for other distinctions between porn and cam girls, Ember doesn’t see much.

“I have a lot of respect for all the women out there because whether you’re a cam girl or a porn star, we don’t just perform in front of the camera. We also have to produce and direct because cam girls do videos, too. They have to sell those videos even if it’s just a solo, or if it’s with another girl. They have an idea on how to work the camera.”

She talks for a moment about improvisation and reinforces that both types of performers need to know how to do that. Cam girls, especially, because “different guys require different desires and fetishes.”

The dark-haired beauty wraps up her thoughts with, “Maybe because I’m also a cam girl and I do porn I kind of see both sides. But then again, I started acting before getting into the industry.”

Reflecting on my comment that camming is a portal into porn, she laughs, “Yeah, it’s kind of like a prerequisite.”

Here are My Prices

My final question is about advice Ember would give to a new girl who wants to enter porn. Should she start as a cammer?

“It depends on the girl because some girls may just be ready for porn,” she replies. “But it is a good idea to try out camming first, if they’re kind of awkward or a little too shy.”

Either way, she says, the model is going to have plenty of viewers. So, be prepared.

Ember references her personal experience and mentions the difference in filming venues.

“For camming, you just have a screen in front of you. Granted there may be more than one guy watching you. You don’t always see them,” she says.

“But it is so much different than being on a porn set. You have people there watching you, too, and sometimes you need to listen to how they’re directing you. In cam you don’t have to worry about any of that ‘cause you’re basically directing.”

She adds a final piece to the conversation. Some cam shows are group events, though most are one-on-one experiences. For those occasions, some girls are fine with being directed by the fan who is paying for the show.

However, for Ember, there is a difference.

“There are cam girls like me who are like ‘Okay this is what I can do, do you want this and this and this, here are my prices, what do you want?’ . . . because it is a business as well.”

*          *          *

For Ember’s fans, here she is on the red carpet Awards Night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AEE 2019: Alexis Fawx, Part One

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

This is the first in a series of interviews from the 2019 Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

My thanks to Tanya Tate’s Star Factory PR for scheduling their clients with us. All photos are by Kevin Sayers.

*          *           *

Before every interview I do, there is small talk. While videographer Davyana San Migel and photographer Kevin Sayers were setting up in the press room for our interview with Alexis Fawx, I mentioned flying in from the Washington DC area for the show.

Unexpectedly, Alexis and I discovered we were practically neighbors because Alexis grew up near my home on the Maryland side of the District. She reminisced about playing on the hillsides as a kid and enjoying the laid back life of her rural roots.

It was a great start for a terrific interview.

*          *          *

First, let’s begin with an overused phrase, but one that is most appropriate. Alexis Fawx is a woman who knows what she wants and has a blast accomplishing it in every phase of her life.

The over-thirty superstar comes equipped with a dynamic personality and a world view that is inviting and invigorating. Armed with an intelligence that empowers her career, Alexis’s confidence and electric energy have served her well in her five years in adult entertainment.

Working Together

Raised in “a small middle-class family,” Alexis didn’t have a long-term plan of what she wanted to do. Nevertheless, she did get a formal education highlighted by a degree in psychology. Anatomy was her specialty.

“I love how the mind and body work together,” she says, because “that is about life.”

Later when Alexis moved to Florida, that mind-body thing stayed with her. She became “a licensed massage therapist,” she states, with a reminder that “massage is all about that mind and body connection.”

No doubt it has benefited her in porn. When working with her “co-stars” Alexis is “able to be in tune with” bodies and reactions when shooting. It “all transcends together,” she states.

Her professional career has not always been rewarding, however. Alexis worked as a paralegal but found it wanting.

“It was so structured, it was really making me unhappy. I think some people need that structure and they thrive really well. I’m not one of those people. I’m really creative. So, I need that space to do it.”

The popular MILF performer goes on to say that her adult career is a perfect fit for her.

“It has empowered me as a woman” Alexis adds with a smile. “I love what I do. I’m just taking my passions and really enjoying life.”

Five Years in Adult

Nommed for ANV’s MILF Performer of the Year, Alexis elaborates on where she is in her career.

“I have a comedy show that I produce and host. I’m coming out with my own coffee beans. I’m able to take my passions and things that I really truly love and turn them into a money making machine.”

Of course, add to that shooting scenes and camming. This is a busy woman!

Yet Alexis uses her self-awareness–nurtured by spending time alone–to energize her life.

“If you’re always working on your inner self, the things around you become better. If you’re healing the inside of you . . .  then you’re healing people because you’re approaching things in a totally different way.”

Alexis goes on to talk about the destructiveness of anxiety and how best to tackle it to strengthen “your state of mind.” For her the key is to recognize if the situation causing anxiety is even “real.”

“We sometimes just worry about shit that doesn’t even exist. If it’s not real then stop worrying about it because it doesn’t matter.”

Boy, if it were only that easy.

A Career Start

After she served in the military, Alexis lived in South Florida, as we mentioned, where she worked “around the clock [for] somebody else’s dream.”

After quitting a job she considered to be a dead end, Alexis checked out Craigslist for a way to supplement her income and the rest is history, as they say.

She explains.

“They had an ad to be an extra for Dancing Bear. It happened to be the same studio as Bang Bros.”

When she showed  up, she says, “they gave me a laundry list of things to make more money if you wanted to do it. Got to blowjob [and] I raised my hand without even thinking.”

They offered her the scene and she decided to go after it.

“I was like ‘I guess I’m gonna give a blowjob on camera. Okay I better do my best!’” she laughs.

There is an Alexis Fawx lesson here. We’ll let her nail it for you.

“If you start just saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, it really opens up a lot of doors. If I never said ‘yes’ to that opportunity right there, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

The Red-Headed Stepchild

Bearing in mind that Alexis remains a girl-girl contract star with Mile High Media (she has her first girl-girl showcase with them coming soon), I’m interested to know her feelings about crossing over into mainstream film. Is it possible for porn people to make it in Hollywood?

“I think there’s a lot of stigma that we’re still gonna have to get through,” she begins. But times are changing. “More people talk about it, people are more open about it,” but “I think there’s still a lot to work to do.”

For Alexis, the stigma, though unfortunately relevant, is insulting.

“Until we’re not the red-headed stepchild anymore and really taken seriously,” progress is going to be slow, she implies. But her upbeat attitude never gives up. Alexis looks forward to the day when people look past the denigrating porn trope of “just spread your legs, how do you dare have a brain?’”

To make matters more annoying, the prejudice goes beyond the studios. “Right now, not even mainstream actors take us seriously,” she says.

“We have some phenomenal actors in the industry because there are people with talent that get overshadowed because this (porn) is their life. [It’s] how they make their money so their singing or dancing, or whatever the fuck it may be, gets overshadowed.”

Sometimes all that is needed is someone to take notice. Alexis references her comedy show when she says,

“Maybe they (porn performers) don’t have the avenue, maybe they can’t get on stage.”  But she’ll offer them the opportunity.

“Hey, come, reach out to me, I’ll put you on stage,” she says, all smiles.

Best of all, her show is in Hollywood.

“You never know who’s sitting in the audience,” Alexis Fawx comments, “you never know who’s gonna be walking around that day and decide to come to my show and be sitting in there and be like ‘Oh wow, this person has a great voice, I wanna connect with them.’”

It’s all about faith and opportunity, just like the mind-body connection insists.

*          *          *

In Part Two of our conversation with Alexis Fawx, we’ll take a look at her views on camming.

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