Never in a million years did I ever think that I would meet a porn star. Moreover, I never thought Nina Hartley would be in my hotel room talking to me about aging, sex and the adult film industry. Needless to say, my inner sex geek was completely star struck. At 56 years old, Nina is still filming, advocating and teaching people about sex. After the initial shock that a girl who grew up in small town Kansas had a porn star in her hotel room wore off, I couldn’t get over how friendly and down to earth Nina was. I brought this up and her response was, “I am down to earth because two clicks away there are raunchy pictures of me on the Internet. I can’t be on my high-horse." For the next two hours we chatted away about the porn industry, sex, and life in general. So instead of giving you the entire interview at once, it will be in segments. Think of it as foreplay.
Ashley: Do you thing the porn industry will take a shift and focus more on older adults with the aging baby boomer population?
Nina: The industrial pornography industry, the one based in California has been completely rearranged by digital reality of media creation and dissemination. It has found a way to fetishize and monetize every aspect of the human body; hair color, eye color, body shape, body size, genital size, breast size, age, perceived race. There has always been a tiny, tiny niche for so called ‘granny porn’, which was always, “look at the horny old lady getting nailed by young studs.” That is when I started. As I've aged in the system, I started at 25 in the movies and I'm now 56, my role as I've aged, has changed. In the beginning I was a bunny. The girl in this very small bathing suit and a very short dress playing all these roles, which I loved doing. It was a great exercise in curated exhibitionism. Then there was a bumpy period in my 30s where I, neither flesh, nor fowl, nor a good red herring; I was no longer new and young, but until I got in the business ten years, I wasn't a so-called icon or legend. Years five to ten were a bit in the wilderness for me. The business then was still a top down traditional business model. The pre Internet model was companies hired you or didn't hire you. If they didn't hire you, you didn't work. There was no independent way to work. There was no independent way to distribute your videos. My friend Juliette Anderson got me in the business. She was the original MILF and didn't start until 39. She was Aunt Peg and she was a casting agent. She played the power position and played the mentor roles and that was her thing. She was Juliette Anderson, she wasn't called a MILF or a cougar, she was Aunt Peg; a character that she played. Once the Internet hit, it changed the distribution model, the production model and the pool of available talent. When the whole MILF thing started being in the media. I got alot of attention because I was a person known to speak to the public and the press. I had been in business, by that time 20 years. What hit me then were Boomers are aging. We are not going to put down our sexuality lightly; it's not going to happen. When our mothers were my age, a good half of them were so glad to be over all of that. The roles were more delineated. The boys go to the els club and the women do whatever they do. Now we have the Boomers. It's a three-pronged thing. First women...married couples that use pornography, like in all other consumer decisions, the woman is in charge. She is more likely to let a movie into the house that has women her own age, so she's not challenged, disgusted, turned off or annoyed by yet another movie of some older dude doing some younger chick. Number two these wonderful feminist educated middle class men are fathers. They're not interested in looking at women who could be their daughter's age or are their daughter's age. As a feminist man he can look at a mature woman and know that a. (phew!) b. they’re most often more interested in age appropriate women. The myth of the guy always wanting the younger woman is just wrong. They want somebody they can talk to. They can rest assure in their feminist heart that this person was not lured off a high school lot with a promise of a candy bar and a dollar bill. She is clearly an adult person, she clearly knows what she's doing. The third, Boomers are aging and we want to see representation of ourselves. That being said age is still a fetish.
Ashley: How so?
Nina: As an older woman I am rarely put with people who are age appropriate. I am almost always with people young enough to be my child. Because it's older-younger; bigger-smaller, darker-lighter. It is all mix and match. We have a bowl labeled color, a bowl labeled breast size, and a bowl labeled ass size, a bowl labeled dick size and a bowl labeled age. And then jobs, ‘large breasted blonde cheerleaders in jail with black guys,’ ‘small breasted Asian women with white guys in an office’. There is no rhyme or reason how the themes are chosen. There is no market research in (older) adults, so they just put stuff out there and see what sells. Now older guys are being fetishized. DILF porn...the whole babysitter porn. The babysitter porn is the whole dad bod; the dad aged dude and the dad aged dude and the baby sitter. Other women who have started in their early to mid twenties are now 40. Now because of the Internet and because of the explosion in mature [porn], many women are starting their adult careers at 35-40 to varying degrees of success. Because again, you can be older, but you have to be a really good one of what you are. So your average looking middle aged woman, if she wants to be in porn she's going to get the joke porn.
Ashley: Will the porn industry ever celebrate aging?
No. Commercial pornography's job is not to celebrate anything. It is to make money off of your fetish, your itch, your nerve. Whatever combination you think, somebody made a movie about that thing. It has been done, it's all been done 20 million times to Sunday. Now ‘mature’ is the second biggest category of popular pornography, which I think is directly tied to Boomers. In the beginning, half my fans liked me because of a body part, half of them liked me because they could tell I liked what I was doing. I lied about my age in the beginning, I started movies at 25, said I was 23, but I got older every year. So by the time Nina admitted to 40, she's 42. In porno years, 40 might as well be 80. Then there are the fans that picked up when I was 40 because they fetishized age. Until I hit 40 they weren't interested in me. Now there is a whole other generation that realize ‘oh cougars’.
There is your Nina foreplay for the month. In the next few weeks be sure to check back to see more of my interview with Nina!