Born 4 Porn
By Amy Benfer
Photographed by Richard Phibbs
Jenna Jameson spends most of her life naked. In person, the first thing that one notices about her is that she is tiny everywhere (those ankles!), except where she is not. The icons of several lovers, past and present, are tattooed on her body. (The blonde Jenna look-alike on her right calf is Melissa Ann, a very close friend and Penthouse Pet; the name of her fiancé, Justin Sterling, is written across her knuckles.) At the Paper photo shoot she poses covered by nothing but a strategically placed snowboard from Sims, which bears an image of herself. "I can't ride my own board, of course," she says. "I'll have my man ride me. And I'll ride one of the other girls. Maybe Briana. That would be hot."
Briana is Briana Banks, who, like Jenna, is a Vivid Girl. She also happens to have starred with Jenna in a video called Briana Loves Jenna, which just happens to have become the best-selling adult title of 2002. The popular mythology of Jenna Jameson has her walking into the office of Steve Orenstein, the president of Wicked Pictures, to inform him that she was going to be the biggest porn star in the world and that, if he wanted to get on board, he should probably sign her up right then and there.
"My dad always told me that you've got to act like you own the world," she says. "I lied through my teeth. And it worked. I'm happy doing what I love, and I love what I do. The money is like the cherry on a sundae."
At 29, Jenna Jameson is indeed the biggest porn star in the world. She has starred in 48 movies and is under contract with Vivid Video. There is a Jenna Jameson doll. She runs her own Web site, ClubJenna, and owns the rights to her movies, which means that she will receive fees from her distributors from "now until I am 90, which is a lot of money, considering that everything I put out is the No. 1 best-seller."
She is also a cultural icon. She has hosted E!'s Wild On series, appeared on NBC's Mister Sterling (playing a senator's girlfriend) and starred in music videos with Korn and Eminem. She's a regular guest on The Howard Stern Show and
also played a role in his movie Private Parts. She already has enough material to be the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story. ("That was a big deal for me," she confesses. "Usually, you have to do something horrible -- like rob a bank or murder someone before they notice you. So I tried to pull out as many horrible stories as possible.") And now she's writing her autobiography with the help of New York Times music writer Neil Strauss, who also collaborated with Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson on their autobiographies. ("I'm letting loose! I'm telling everything! It's scary but fun.")
Jenna is perfectly happy to have the attention of the mainstream media, but she has no intention of giving up her day job. "I'd miss the sex," she says. "My first love is sex, not acting. I'm not Meryl Streep."
The most striking thing about Jenna Jameson is that she is absolutely unapologetic about how much she loves her work. Many former adult stars -- Linda Lovelace, Traci Lords -- have distanced themselves from the industry, claiming they did porn either against their will or for money or drugs or in hopes of becoming a "real" mainstream actress. Jenna insists that being a porn star is what she wanted to do with her life. "I never thought of it as a stepping stone," she says. "Being an adult star is what I wanted."
Jenna Jameson belongs to the first generation of porn stars who came of age when porn itself was going mainstream. First, a new generation of boys took their dirty magazines out of the closet. In the mid-'90s, action-sports magazines like blunt and Big Brother began running reviews of porn videos in their pages. Streetwear companies like Fresh Jive and snowboard companies like Sims put porn stars in their ads and on their products. Porn stars already had a place in the music subculture, but rappers and heavy-metal artists started putting porn stars in their videos. Hell, even Britney Spears is rumored to love porn and has been spotted partying with Vivid Video Girls. (She was also rumored to have had an affair with Jenna, but that's another story.)
During this same period, porn also became more acceptable with girls. This was the decade that saw increased popularity for women-owned sex shops like San Francisco's Good Vibrations Seattle and New York's Toys in Babeland. Strippers formed unions in Seattle and San Francisco, and brothel workers adopted worker-safety codes in Nevada. Many young women, both straight and gay, became willing to buy porn by and for themselves. (In fact Jenna says that when she works as a featured dancer, about 40 percent of the audience is female.)
Jenna is the perfect porn star for the sex-positive generation that came of age in the '90s. She's a cult icon among the skateboarding and snowboarding set, and is one of the rare adult stars who is loved by both lesbians and straight girls. "It's because I'm part lesbian, and they know it," she says. "I'm flattered that the gay community recognizes that I am being real, and that I'm really turned on. A lot of girls in the industry are gay for pay. When I meet up with gay fans, it is the coolest thing ever. It's flattering when a lesbian thinks I'm hot or when some hot gay guy says, 'You're the only girl I'd convert for.'
" Before Jenna Jameson was the world's biggest porn star, she was an awkward teenager growing up in Vegas obsessed with her single father's Playboy magazines. "I was beat with the ugly stick," she claims. "I looked like a baby colt. I was short, but I had these long legs. I wore glasses, I had fucked-up teeth, I was smart. I had a mullet! I hate my father for that!" But during the summer that she turned 15, she says, "I grew into my womanhood." She went from having no boobs at all to wearing a double-D. "And I weighed 90 pounds!" she exclaims. "Suddenly I was very popular.
Jenna wears a bikini top by Aem'kei Femme customized by November 18; hot pants by Baby Phat; earrings, bracelet and ring by David Yurman; necklace by supreme, shoes by Gina for Luella Bartley; cosmetics by M.A.C
"When you live all your life with insecurity and then all of a sudden everyone loves you, you feel obligated to do something with it," she explains. Her mother, who died when she was four years old, had been a showgirl, and Jenna thought she wanted to be one too. She made the rounds of Vegas clubs, but they all turned her down, saying she was too short. Finally, Vegas World agreed to hire her. "But then I realized, fuck, man, this is a lot of work. And I'm not making any money. So I decided to strip."
Unfortunately, the managers of strip clubs weren't any more interested in hiring a stripper with braces than the club owners had been in hiring a short showgirl. Vinny, the long-time manager of the Crazy Horse Too, told Jenna to come back when she had her braces off. "So that night I went home, pried off my braces with needle-nose pliers and marched back in there the next day." He hired her.
She was spotted by an agent from Penthouse while working at the club, and soon she was posing for men's magazines. She had plenty of offers to do movies, although, she says, she didn't find it that "appetizing" -- until she and her girlfriend Nikki Tyler, with whom she was living at the time, agreed to do a soft-core girl-on-girl film together. "Girl-on-girl was easy and natural. Then they offered me lots of money to do boy-girl." Jenna's first experience with straight porn was anything but hot. "The thing that turned me off was that he sweat on me. At the time, I was mostly gay. Women don't sweat on you. That grossed me out.
"But I knew that if I really was going to be the biggest porn star in the world, I had to love what I was doing. So I told myself, 'I'm not going to just go fuck this stranger; I'm going to abuse this man.' I taught myself to get off on the whole idea of having sex with someone I didn't know in front of 30 people. I got turned on by the fact that I was doing something the public considers to be wrong.
"I've been working my ass off to go to Middle America and take a stand that porn is not dirty, it's not unacceptable," Jenna says. She debated Bill O'Reilly on his show when he criticized Pony sneakers for using her in an ad campaign. ("No one in their right mind would go on Bill O'Reilly. But I felt an obligation to women to go there because he didn't take me seriously before I got there.") She debated porn with a panel of anti-porn activists at England's Oxford University in 2001, and won the debate 204 to 27. ("I can't even tell you the feeling I had when I was walking out of that huge stone castle. It was totally freaky.")
"They can't argue with me by saying 'This is degrading to women,'" she says, "So they say, 'How does it make you feel when children get their hands on porn?' My response is, 'Well, sex is a natural thing.' I think the most appalling thing is that parents agree to let the computer or the television or the PlayStation baby-sit their children. And then they want to blame me? Maybe you shouldn't leave your pornos out! You freaks! I don't think it's up to me to baby-sit anybody's children. I'm a porn star. Let's get real, people." She's also working to change the industry itself. "My industry has been run by men since the beginning. I've done everything I can to change that. A lot of times, women aren't taken seriously at all. The way I look at it is that the only reason this industry is successful is because of me and all the other beautiful girls."
On the day of the PAPER photo shoot, Jenna was telling anyone who would listen that she was done with porn. She'll be 30 next year, and it seemed as good a time as any to quit the business, finally marry her fiancé and have a baby. Over cigarettes, she even discussed baby names (she prefers boys names for girls, like Chase and Jason) and a date (July). Two weeks later, much of that has changed. ("It's my prerogative as a woman to change my mind," she tells me.) She still plans to marry Justin Sterling, who lives with her in Scottsdale, Ariz., helps run her Web site and stars with her in movies. (She persuaded him to break his porn virginity by pointing out that someone had to do the boy-girl scenes with her.) And she still wants a baby. But she's not ready to quit. "Right now I'm on top of my game, so it would be stupid to say that I'm done -- unless my ding-ding gives out."
Maintaining her ding-ding -- as well as the rest of her considerable charms -- makes her life a "constant beauty struggle." She often does several movie or still shoots a week and a live Web chat once a week. "Which means," she says, "I'm basically naked all the time."
It's a lot of work to maintain a literally multimillion-dollar body. "Oh, it sucks so fricking bad," she says. "It's easier to be a supermodel: A lot of times you just don't eat. But in porn, you also have to be womanly. That means having a trainer at the house five times a week. It means I have to have my hair done every two weeks, my nails done every week. I spray-tan like a fricking maniac, because I don't want the skin damage. Waxing is the worst thing on earth, and you have to do it. Now I'm doing laser-hair removal, because you have to let your hair grow out to wax, and I don't have time. My life is a constant battle with body hair, because it's now in style for girls to be hairless. I'm like, Why can't I go back to the '70s? Can't I have a bush?"
Though Jenna is with Justin now, she cops to plenty of long-term relationships with both girls and boys -- something that prompted Howard Stern to admonish her on a recent show for even thinking of marriage: "But, Jenna! You're a lesbian!" She's not particularly worried about her sexual identity. "I'm able to love both sexes," she says. "I've had amazing times of incredibly deep love with women. It's different with men. Men demand more submission, which maybe I like right now, because I exert so much control in my career, it takes some of the pressure off."
She is, however, entirely over rock stars, of which she has dated many. "Don't ever date a rock star," she advises. "They all have what I call Lead Singer Syndrome. They're all fuckers."
Although Tommy Lee, whom she dated in his pre-Pamela days, is a "cool guy," he's also very affectionate -- "too affectionate for me," she says. "He wants to conquer every hot chick. All of the rock stars I've dated are all about having the trophy. But when people start focusing on you or asking for your autograph more often than theirs, they freak out."
Marilyn Manson, on the other hand, is her favorite. "Yeah, he's a little scary," she concedes. "But he's so smart and interesting. Everything about him I really like. We dated for about three months. He was a fun guy, but it was a shitty relationship. It didn't really work out."
Then there are the rock stars she hasn't actually dated. Last summer, Jenna's alleged lesbian love affair with Britney Spears was all over the tabloids. According to Jenna, it was nothing more than affair-by-publicist: Britney's publicist called her publicist and invited Jenna to a concert, then the opening of Britney's restaurant Nyla. Neither time did she get close enough to speak to Britney, much less fuck her. (Though she did send a cease-and-desist letter to a site that was marketing a nonexistent video that was supposed to show Jenna and Britney doing, well, something.)
She's amused, however, at the prospect of hooking up with the members of Britney's ex-boyfriend's band, with whom her fiancé recently hung out after their concert in Scottsdale. "They need a little nastiness. They need to grow up. And I'm the one to do it!" She pauses to consider the brilliance of her idea. "An 'N Sync gang bang! Can you imagine?"
"I'll settle for Justin [Timberlake]. Isn't he hot? Every man I know loves to hate him. He's talented and cute and has a good personality. So they all say, 'Oh he's gay.' Of course, Justin [Sterling] says that about every guy I like." She also loves Matthew McConaughey. ("You have to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. There are so many gratuitous topless scenes.") But she's revealed her crush on him so often, she's convinced by now that "he probably thinks I'm a stalker."
Unlike the rest of us, when Jenna lets it be known that she would be willing to take some cute famous person home, it's not unheard of for them to take her up on the offer. "I doubt Justin will respond," she says. But here comes the shout out: "He needs to have me in a video. It would prove he's completely heterosexual. I'd even do it for free. Because, you know, I'm a giver."
Styled by Andrea Katz * Stylist's assistant: Cassandra Tsaknis * Hair by Desmond Miller * Hair assistant: Travis Coloma * Makeup by Michelle Vanderhule * Interns: Alden Davis, Matthew Gliet