Welcome to the first installment of my new column, Becky & the Pussycats, in which I will talk on the regular with the real porn stars of America (as opposed to my neighbors in Williamsburg who sport “porn star” tees with their skinny britches and dark austerity) -- the women who stay lubed for a living, spread ‘em for dollars with no shame in their game, and who, more than likely, are familiar faces to many of you out there reading.
When Savanna Samson greets me at the door of her midtown Manhattan apartment, I am immediately struck by how beautiful she is; she doesn’t look like she looks in her movies, or in any of her publicity shots. Wearing very little makeup, short terry cloth shorts, a snug-fitting tank and slide-on mules, she’s just plain petite and pretty and natural looking. Although later when we’re sitting on the couch in her living room, and I’m in closer proximity to her chest, it does seem fairly evident that her boobs are not the one’s that God gave her.
In just under an hour, we managed to address both her favorite topics and mine -- sex and the porn industry; race and politics, respectively.
Rebecca Carroll: You’re doing a lot with your life and career right now that extends beyond the porn world -- how has that come to be?
Savanna Samson: Through porn I’ve gotten everything I’ve always wanted.
RC: What was it that you always wanted?
SS: I wanted to be an actress, but I was too concerned about how I looked. I had some opportunities, but I was just nervous, you know? Then I found I could be naked in front of the camera and feel completely comfortable.
RC: The all or nothing approach.
SS: With my first movie for Vivid, I studied the script inside and out and really knew the character. I found I could lose myself and become any character I want. Now I can't wait for my next script.
RC: Do you approach your career first as a businesswoman, or as an actress, maybe even as a feminist? And how is your real identity involved?
SS: Since my wine [Savanna has her own wine company, Savanna Wines] came out, my real name and identity has come out with it -- I wish it hadn't because I think that everything great that has happened for me has happened through Savanna Samson. I've seen a lot of falling stars, and I see Savanna Samson as a way to carry out a legacy.
RC: Do you watch your movies?
SS: It's so hard for me at first, because I have to get past the “I look so fat” and “why is the camera this way” and all these things, but after I get through all that vanity, then I have an advantage because I remember how it felt too -- I enjoy what I do.
RC: Is that common within the industry -- to enjoy it?
SS: I've come across a lot of people who are like, “let's just do three positions” or “I'm not really into girls.” But I think that with anyone, if you're not in the mood for sex, once it starts you pretty much get into it. I would like to hope that's how it is for everyone else, but I can only speak for myself.
RC: How do you get in the mood?
SS: I listen to music like Bob Dylan's “Lay Lady Lay” -- but usually I go [to the set] looking forward to the sex.
RC: And how does your husband feel about your career?
SS: Well I have an unusual relationship -- I exaggerate even more of what happens sexually speaking [on the set] because he likes to hear that kind of thing.
RC: Well that works out nicely.
SS: I always put more into what I'm doing on screen knowing that he'll be watching.
RC: Have you always considered yourself a very sexual person?
SS: Definitely. I used to feel so much guilt and shame about it -- I grew up very Catholic. But when I started working at Scores, I just realized that I'm a sexual being and that's OK.
RC: What do you think it is about porn that is just so darn universal?
SS: I think there's a time and a place and a need for everything, and when the mood strikes you, what are you gonna do? Watch porn.
RC: There are, though, creepy aspects of it, right? I mean you must have some sketchy fans.
SS: Sometimes when I see that seedy element it's hard, because I live such a glamorous life -- I'm with Vivid, and it's like the best company and they treat us like stars -- but you know what? They're all our fans, and I'm not going to judge people who watch the movies and keep the porn industry alive.
RC: Tell me about your politics.
SS: My politics. Well, I fell in love with Guiliani years ago -- before and during 9/11. I was dancing at Scores when Guiliani made the 60/40 ruling [the citywide rule enacted in 1995 stating that certain adult establishments could use only 40 percent of their space for sex-oriented materials unless they were located in a specifically zoned section of the city]. I used to sit with my customers and have dinner and make lots of money, and then the dinner area became the part [of the restaurant/bar] where you couldn't be topless. But I like how he has cleaned up the city. Like I said, there's a time and a place for everything, and I think porn should be in the privacy of your own home. I don't want to see it in the windows from the street when I'm walking with my child. I feel like he could do what he did with New York City all across America.
RC: So Guiliani for president?
SS: Guiliani for president!
RC: One of your recent movies is called Savanna's Been Blackmaled, tell me about that.
SS: So many girls [in the industry] said, “Oh you can't be with [a black man] it's gonna ruin your career.” I think that's insane. I love black men, so I was really insistent about being on camera in an interracial [situation] because I didn't want to be part of that mentality.
RC: Back to Guiliani, would you feel comfortable telling him about your support of his run for president?
SS: I don't think he would turn down my vote because I'm a porn star!
RC: Would you campaign for him if the opportunity arose?
SS: I haven't thought that deeply about it.
RC: What else do you admire about him?
SS: I think he would confront the country's fear of terrorism -- I think if anyone can do it, he can. At the time of 9/11, my child had just been born and it was all so devastating, but every time he spoke I found calm. I listened to him. I felt safe knowing he was around.
RC: Do you ever argue politics with friends?
SS: No, never. No politics, no religion.
RC: Where does Guiliani stand on pornography, do you know?
SS: No, but that's a good question!
Rebecca Carroll is the managing editor of PAPER magazine. She is a former W.E.B. Du Bois fellow at Harvard, and the author of several nonfiction books including Saving the Race and Sugar in the Raw. She lives in Williamsburg with her husband and 2-year-old son.
Photo courtesy of www.vivid.com.