Tag Archives: Sarah Vandella

AEE 2020: Hard Core at the Hard Rock, Final Curtain

by Rich Moreland, February 2020

Photos by Kevin Sayers.

*          *          *

Call it the end of an era or the final curtain, but never suggest it’s a swan song. The Adult Entertainment Expo and the Hard Rock Hotel are no more, but the trade show is not going into retirement.

Here’s the story. The talk around the Hard Rock this year was what to expect in 2021. What is going to be new and different? Well, as it turns out, not a whole lot. The Hard Rock is going under a name and branding change.

“We are signed with the Virgin Hotel through 2023 already. They are thrilled to have the AVN Awards and Expo at their property,” Dan Miller, managing editor of the AVN, told me. The only real change is the name because the venue remains in place. Next year fans and industry people will meet and greet at the new Virgin Hotel on Paradise Road in Las Vegas, the same location that carried the impressive guitar logo of the Hard Rock.

Enough said on that. Let’s take a look at what this year offered.

Networking

The Expo’s opening day on the collective floors of Artist Hall, Muse Hall, and The Joint is much appreciated by media people. A modest number of fans are just getting into the swing of things. The bulk of them will arrive Thursday and Friday so movement around the three adjoining facilities is less crowded which means many of the stars are conveniently accessible. For an industry writer, corralling porn’s finest for a short interview or brief chat is hassle free.

Simply put, this is orientation time, if that’s what I may call it. Find out where the talent agencies have their girls, scope out the best times to visit the booths of the major studios, and check the layout of the novelty expo. For veterans like yours truly, the day is filled with networking and renewing old acquaintances before everyone’s schedule becomes too hectic.

My photog Kevin and I stopped by ATMLA’s (Adult Talent Managers) signing area to pass a few moments with a favorite I interviewed last year, Ember Snow, and one of the industry’s most likeable MILFs, Sarah Vandella. We first met her on a Girlfriends Films set a couple of years ago.

Sarah Vandella

Stopping by Adult Time in late afternoon, I congratulated Tommy Pistol on another productive year. I congratulated him on a superior performance in one of the year’s top comedies, Love Emergency, but didn’t stay long because a couple of fans showed up and they always come first. Then I dropped by Foxxx Modeling to set up an interview with newcomer Paris Amour.

Tommy Pistol

Taking a few seconds of conversation with AINews editor Steve Nelson at the Foxxx Modeling booth

One of the fascinating aspects of networking day is an impromptu chat with a performer I’ve never met, but am familiar with her work. Early in the day I introduced myself to Victoria Voxxx, an AVN award nominee for a shoot she did with Kink.com. Very personable and I mentally put her on my list of talent to interview if time allows.

The Press Room

Kevin and I have learned that the best way to take a break from the hyperactive pace of the trade show floor is to retreat to the press room. Everything there is calm, bottled water is available (we are in the desert, after all), and talent comes and goes in response to interview requests.

We had some informal time with Cory Chase, whom we interviewed last year, spoke with Bree Mills as she passed through and with Seth Gamble whose acting talent is unmatched in the industry. Even offered a brief “hello” to Lauren Philips as she waited for someone from the media.

Lauren Phillips

Good-natured Tim Williams and Jill Hagara are the bedrock of the room, checking people in and keeping everyone informed. If anyone needs anything, they’re the ones to ask.

Tim and Jill

During the week, Kevin and I networked in the room and, as we did last year, enjoyed our conversations with Captain Jack who knows every performer in the business (or seems to).

Later in the week, I reconnected with Jillian Janson whose porn comet is rocketing into the galaxies of stardom. She was sitting on a couch waiting for her interviews (she had a couple lined up).

Jillian’s no longer that skinny kid I remember from a few year ago. Lamenting that I did not get a scheduled interview with her for this show (it’s tough, she’s in demand), Jillian gave me a hug and we made informal arrangements for next year.

Getting back to the floor, Kevin and I spent a few moments with John Stagliano of Evil Angel early in the day and later with veteran actor Dick Chibbles who was holding down a spot at the AVN booth.

John Stagliano

Dick Chibbles

No Vixen

In summarizing our sweep through the show’s major venues, three thoughts crossed my mind. First, some kiosks were cleverly placed among the signing tables available to talent. That was particularly helpful for fans in The Joint where corridors are narrow. The facility is a really a theater with tiered seating and a stage where the AVN Awards show is held. Traffic flow was much less congested so fans could move more freely from one girl to the next for momentary conversations and signed photos.

Second, more performers were there on the first day than I remember from the past, a boon for fans eager for a selfie with their favs. And lastly, director Greg Lansky’s Vixen Media Group was absent this year. Lansky sold his business shortly before the show to pursue other interests. In the recent past, Lansky’s presence was a focal point for meeting talent.

Sex Dolls

On a final note for the day, Kevin and I invested significant time getting an overview of the novelty part of the AEE, something we had done only cursorily in the past.

This year I had an interest in an up-and-coming topic: sex dolls. My knowledge of what constitutes a sex doll was limited to TV skits and off-color jokes. As someone in the press room mentioned to me, “who would buy one of those things?”

I was determined to find out and that is where we go next!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sarah Vandella: Open to it All

by Rich Moreland, November 2018

This is the final installment of my day with Dan O’Connell. The older woman/younger woman theme of the shoot that afternoon paired Sarah Vandella’s porn maturity with Elsa Jean’s  youthful appeal.

Much to my pleasure, Sarah put aside some time to chat about her career and the importance of seasoned performers in adult film.

All photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

*          *          *

In the world of adult film, veteran performers are a treasure. Any girl who has shot for over a decade is wise to the tricks of the trade and has incredible staying power. Best of all, she knows how to keep her brand fresh and exciting.

With those thoughts in mind, meet the lovely Sarah Vandella, a pure delight.

On a beautiful fall afternoon, Sarah and I took a few minutes before her scene with Girlfriends Films’ director Dan O’Connell to discuss a subject that permeates porn today: the rise of the cam girl and what that means for the industry as we’ve known it for the last two decades.

Before getting into Sarah’s opinions and insights, a little background info is appropriate.

Born in the early 1980s, Sarah’s parents blessed her with a spontaneous, easygoing attitude that influenced her adolescent years. When adulthood greeted her, the sex industry appeared on Sarah’s agenda. She worked in a porn shop at twenty-one and was dancing at twenty-two.

This engaging beauty shot her first scene in 2007 at the age of twenty-four.

Older, Powerful Woman

We talk about being an over-thirty performer, the MILF image, if you will, by porn standards.

“Since I have entered my thirties, my sex drive and desire has grown into a new area,” Sarah begins. “I’m definitely more open-minded when it comes to certain things than I was in my twenties. Once you have a little experience coming into your thirties, you’re just adding to your resume in terms of being an actress.”

Does this evolution create a better performer?

“I definitely think that women in their thirties can be considered better performers. However, there are some incredibly sexually attuned ladies in their twenties that make just as great performers.

“There’s definitely something to be said for a woman with a little more experience.”

She amplifies her comments by suggesting that an older, powerful woman is pretty sexy, citing the “step mom thing” (a version of MILF) as one of porn more popular taboos.

The New Porn Girls

The conversation shifts to cam girls. Are they the new porn girls?

Sarah’s reaction reflects what I’ve heard from a couple of directors.

“To take any average cam girl and try to turn her into a superstar won’t work,” she says. But the daughter of liberal parents concedes that there are exceptions who have done some “mainstream porn stuff,”, commenting that “the cam girls that turn into performers are the special ones.”

But shooting for studios is demanding and not for everyone.

“I don’t feel that just any basic cam girl can overnight or over a year’s time become the next Ginger Banks. I don’t find that to be reasonable.” [Ginger Banks is a webcam model who produces her own porn vids]

The native New Yorker goes on to say that these girls “have a built-in fan base” and are “available to their fans” online, of course. As a result, some have reached porn star status. “They make their own videos and have them available on their sites.”

Sarah quickly adds a personal note. “I wouldn’t call myself a cam girl because I never cammed until I was a porn star.” Now she does cam “on occasion,” this blonde stunner says.

Intimacy and Connection

Has camming changed the adult business?

“First of all, porn has changed, as you know. We don’t have adult stores anymore. Distributors are dying. Everything is online now. Thank God for fans who still support the websites,” Sarah says.

Technology has forced the adult business to reposition itself. Where does the cam girl fit into this new business model?

“Cam girls provide a certain level of intimacy and connection that not every porn girl has. When you’re camming you’ve got to open yourself to conversation, to sex play, to help instruction, to be that all-around fantasy girl. Porn stars aren’t available to their fans that way.”

As we’ve suggested, camming is much different from shooting video, right?

“Absolutely,” Sarah says. But there is a positive in camming. Fans have high expectations for online models, she points out, and that pressures established porn performers to “keep up with these girls who are giving these fans so much attention.”

To emphasize response, Sarah explains the cam girl advantage.

“They’re just so easily accessible. They’ve made it their priority. I really admire a lot of them, truly. I think they’re hard working girls. They keep their schedule; they never flake. They can’t afford to. It’s their show, their name and their brand, and also their income.

Waiting on Dan.

Empowerment

I suggest that camming may be the ultimate empowerment. Sarah concurs, but insists that camming “can be brutal, just like being a dancer,” the other job that cultivates the personal touch.

From her perspective, it’s not easy dealing with the grind of her three entertainment personas—part time dancer, film actress, and sex worker—Sarah says. However, through it all rewards do show up.

“There’s days when you get to the club and nobody wants a dance from you. Nobody cares that you do porn. Those days are rough. Then you get that one guy who is your biggest fan and he buys ten dances from you and it makes your night.”

It mirrors the online girl’s experience, she believes.

“Much like camming, you can be sitting there in your little room and waiting and waiting. You’re beautiful and you’re ready to go and time keeps on ticking until the next day, and that’s your lucky day.”

This well-established porn model offers one more thought.

“Like we said a few minutes ago camming is the ultimate empowerment in terms of being in control of your finances because you don’t need a studio, you don’t need an agent. You don’t need to get in your car and drive anywhere. It costs you nothing to put make-up on and put on a cute outfit and get your toys ready.”

All in all, she concludes, “I feel a lot of these cam girls are hustlers and want to make their money while they can. They’re smart about it. Those girls never quit and I really admire that.”

Get a Little Messier

Finally, how does Sarah maintain her on-screen freshness because sometimes porn is a yawner in its repetitiveness?

“Indeed. It sure is,” she responds, then describes her formula for success.

“I keep pushing myself and my boundaries as a performer as long as I’m comfortable with them. So, maybe going a little harder, a little rougher, different positions, or going in the opposite direction and being more sensual and connecting more with my partner. Giving that softer side.

“We continuously switch it up and push ourselves in all directions so we’re never doing the same thing.”

I joke about creative oral sex and Sarah comments with humor, “A blow job is still a blow job, but you can do a seductive blow job and a not very seductive blow job.”

Spoken like a true veteran.

“I think that when a girl keeps pushing her boundaries, she tries to go a little harder,” Sarah adds. “Maybe she tries to deep throat a little more, get a little messier with it. As long as you’re showing genuine interest and desire to be there on-set, that’s the key [to staying fresh].

“Yes, oral sex can be repetitive. But if it’s a Riley Reid or a Maddy O’Reilly, you want to keep seeing their new scenes because it’s so fucking hot and you love it,” Sarah notes with appreciative excitement.

What is in her future porn-wise?

“I really admire ladies like Julia Ann and Lisa Ann who have put their time into the business. They have evolved with age.

“So, you never know. I’m open to it all. I would love to have a movie deal, do feature work and/or gonzo. I’m a lifer. I never want to stop,” Sarah proclaims with her dimpled smile that I’m certain her fans have come to love.

Elsa Jean enjoying the afternoon while waiting for her shoot with Sarah.

*          *          *

Sarah Vandella’s porn resume has produced seven AVN Award nominations, an XRCO Award and one from Urban X.

She can be followed on twitter @MssSarahVandella

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Dan O’Connell: A Gentle, Loving Approach

by Rich Moreland, November 2018

Recently my photographer Kevin and I were on set with Dan O’Connell. Out of that experience, came this post.

What you will find here are testimonials and observations about a porn legacy.

First, a few of shots of Dan’s set to put you in the mood.

Outside . . . .

And inside . . . . First the equipment . . .

Then the room where the action is recorded!

[All photos are Kevin’s unless otherwise noted.]

*           *          *

I wrote my first article on the adult industry in the winter of 2011. Previous to that, I’d visited the AVN trade show and networked in the business as part of a book I was writing on adult film.

All in all, I’m now a ten-year veteran of adult scribing.

During my industry tenure, performers have come and gone while behind the camera personnel–company owners/producers/directors–have remained remarkably constant.

Of everyone I’ve met and written about, no one stands out like Dan O’Connell, founder of Girlfriends Films and its leading director.

Dan’s warmth and understanding of performers’ desires and needs is well-respected industry wide. Likewise, his easy-going attitude on set is appreciated by every performer I’ve talked with.

But that just scratches the surface. Dan and the good folks at Girlfriends take things a step further. They care about the performers they hire.

From my perspective, Girlfriends is top-of-the-line friendly and always accommodating. Just a few weeks ago, I took my new photographer to GFFs’ facility in Valencia. There we met with company president Moose who assured me (as is his habit) that whatever I needed, just ask.

Like Dan, Moose is friendly and always available for conversation and a fresh outlook on the business of porn.

Photo by Bill Knight, 2013

Hall of Famer

In this post, I want to take a moment to celebrate Dan whose kindness, positivity, and political wisdom is well-known within the business. To put an exclamation point to that remark, let me say that in my industry travels over the last ten years, I have not once heard a negative comment about him.

And for good reason.

Photo by Morgan, 2015

The native Montanan is an industry award winner. Two of the most notable accolades occurred in 2015: Nightmove’s Lifetime Achievement Award and enshrinement in AVN’s Hall of Fame, the highest honor in porn. In 2012, he was tapped for XBIZ’s “Man of the Year.”

Of course, Dan’s greatest accomplishment is the creation of Girlfriends Films, a company known for charity sponsorship and combating piracy, the bane of porn today.

I decided to go back through my interviews to look at what performers have said about Dan. What follows in a brief catalogue of their remarks about a man they regard as a top-notch director and a friend.

*          *          *

From 2013 interviews at the AVN trade show

Dana DeArmond at AVN 2013. Photo by Bill Knight

Dana DeArmond

On Girlfriends Film and Dan:

“They give you the freedom to do the scene the way you want to. They’re cool people. They advocate for the industry probably more than any other company. They’re very involved with the Free Speech Coalition (the industry’s political voice).

“I am in the Girlfriend Films family. They take really good care of me. They treat me awesome. I was sick this morning and Moose came up to my room with bottles of water and Pepto. I was like I am going to go down there and do press for this fucking company because they take care about me. I am not going to sit in my room and be sick all day. I am going to get my shit together because I love them.

“[By the way] Dan is fucking cool.”

Daisy Layne at AVN 2013. Photo by Bill Knight

Daisy Layne

On Shooting for Dan:

“I used to do some midwifing. Dan contacted me because one of the girls [he was shooting] was pregnant and she wanted to do a scene. I met up with her and she was like you used to midwife? And I said, ‘If you go into labor, I’ve got you.’ She was just so enthralled. We had a blast. Dan said he loved it. He wanted ‘real’ and we had chemistry.

On money:

“Several times Dan and I have worked out deals, I was expecting less and I got more and I even reminded him. ‘Dan, we agreed I was going to get this rate’ and he says, ‘Oh no. The scene was so beautiful I had to pay you full-rate.’ That was just above and beyond. He takes care of the girls.

“He wants acting. He has a script so you have lines to memorize while he’s doing the blocking. Then he shoots the scene. Generally, there is a little shooting after that. He’s doing your day rate, acting rate, scene rate. He gets quality work because the people who work for him know what to expect and he pays for it, so he should get it.”

[It’s worth noting that Dan gave me a space in the Girlfriends booth to interview Dana and Daisy, an accommodation not to be minimized because the trade show is a cacophony of club music and chatter that makes interviewing difficult.]

From 2015 interviews done in LA:

Dani Daniels, 2015. Photo by Morgan

Dani Daniels

On Dan:

“Dan’s like a big papa bear. I love it. His brain is awesome, he can come up with stories that I couldn’t come up with in a year. I love working for him. His sets are comfortable. You always get to work with a girl you wanna work with. He treats his girls great. He’s got a great attitude. He’s calm and always about connection. He’s all about the girls—this real sex, real chemistry.

“If he needs something, he’ll let you know. If you’re blocking a shot or if you’re in the wrong room or whatever, he’ll voice it. But for the most part, he just lets you do your thing.”

On Girlfriends:

“There’s very few companies that will turn a camera on and say, ‘Ok, have sex. Do whatever you want.’ I feel like my best scenes are from Girlfriends films. I love it.”

Aidra Fox, 2015. Photo by Morgan

Aidra Fox

“With Dan it’s real the moment you walk on set. The crew gets along with everyone. It’s super nice. ‘What do you need? What do you want? What’s going to make your day?’

“When it comes down to the actual scene, it’s easy. He’s always puts me with good girls, someone that is very into their job, very into me and having sex. It’s just real sex, Dan lets you do the positions that you want to do for however long you want. He doesn’t really tell you how to have sex, just lets you do whatever feels good, whatever feels right and natural.”

Dan getting Dani Daniels (foreground) and Vanessa Veracruz ready for their scene. Photo by Morgan

Vanessa Veracruz

On Girlfriends Films:

“I recently started shooting for Girlfriends back in November. They are one of my favorite sites. I’m bisexual, I got into the business because I had an attraction towards women. Since I am a girl/girl only performer, there’s not a lot of companies to work for.

I love the way Girlfriends directs [their scenes]. It’s very different from what a lot of people shoot. It has its own style and it’s definitely more about sensuality, connecting instead of just being a sexual act.

On Shooting for Dan:

“Dan loves to talk about your character and he gives you a breakdown of what he thinks your character is supposed to be like. He’ll include other things to put the idea in your mind about the kind of person you are going to playing. Today, he gave me a little bit about my character’s background I can remember and convey during the shoot.

“Dan usually tells us he wants a lot of eye contact, a lot of touch, a lot of feeling. In my honest opinion, we don’t have enough of that in a scene. It’s more of the foreplay leading to the sex act which for me is exactly what I like to do.

“It’s a lot easier to enjoy the sex when you have an actual connection, when you’re looking into somebody’s eyes and really touching them and feeling their energy.”

“It’s awesome shooting for them and really connect with the girl that you are working with.”

Getting Jorden Kennedy (on the left) and Aidra Fox ready for their scene.  Photo by Morgan

Jorden Kennedy

“Dan actually cares about the scene looking beautiful and passionate because he cares about the viewers as well as us. To make sure that we’re having a good time, he wants us to be enjoying ourselves. Doing the scenes involving sex. He doesn’t cut. He doesn’t switch positions or do this or say that. He lets us have sex which, I think, makes it really nice to watch because it’s just natural.

“He might stop us once or twice to say ‘Can you position yourself more to the camera’ or ‘Can you push your hair back so we can see your face.’ But otherwise, he’s very open to ideas, especially with the dialogue.

“Dan is more flexible than most. I’ve never had him say ‘No we’re not going to do that.’ He encourages your input. He’s outside the norm as for as taking suggestions.”

From 2018 interviews done in LA:

Vanna Bardot

“I love Dan’s whole demeanor. He’s very easygoing. He’s never too serious. That makes working with him really pleasant. Lots of laughing.

“He says it’s all about real lesbian experiences. He likes the soft affectionate kind of sex. A lot of guys really like that. They don’t just want to see a girl getting pounded or slapped in the face. They want more softer touches. It’s really nice.”

Sarah Vandella

“This is actually my second time on set with Dan and what I have noticed is that he is extremely hands on in a way that will walk you through the scenario from start to finish.

“What makes Dan different is that he has this real gentle loving approach. When we go to roll, I know what is expected, I know where my mark is, I know the tone and the contents of the dialogue and it just makes for a great shooting experience.”

 *          *          *

So, there you have it. A handful of remarks about a director and overall nice guy whose has left his stamp on lesbian sex in adult film.

From my personal perspective, Dan, Moose, and the good people at GFFs are more than professional colleagues, they are among my most treasured industry friends.

*          *          *

Some boxcover shots Kevin snapped during our visit with Dan and the girls on set that day:

Reagan Foxx and Vanna Bardot, Elsa Jean and Sarah Vandella

 

Reagan Foxx and Vanna Bardot

*          *          *

Never seen a Girlfriends Film DVD?  Go here and here for a look at the company and the product.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized