AN UNLIKELY ROLE MODEL (FOR ADULTS)
A Spotlite on STOYA
By Lori Zimmer
When I first met Stoya, as we bonded over an annoying Frenchman at an art opening, I assumed she was a gymnast or a ballet dancer. Slight, toned and with flawless porcelain skin, she is too tiny to be a model, but I figured she was an actress of some sort. Clouded by (many) glasses of free champagne, I thought she revealed she was a porn writer…so I asked her if I could interview her for PMc Magazine‘s Sex Issue. I figured: a hot girl that writes porn, what are the chances?!
But no. Oh no. I was wrong. After recovering from my champagne cloud the next morning I googled “Stoya,” and quickly discovered that she was not only an adult entertainer, but a VERY popular one. Gossip came up about her ex Marilyn Manson, her three–yes, three–Fleshlights, and about a zillion message boards of fans proclaiming their love.
We met for coffee at the Gershwin Hotel, and I learned that my champagne cloud had not eluded me–Stoya is as bubbly, smart, and effortlessly beautiful as I’d first thought. We talked about our mutual disdain for Philadelphia (we’ve both lived there), the art world, and how we wish Americans could talk about sex more easily.
I saw her transformation from adorable to vamp during our shoot, as her giggly grin turned into a sex goddess. She is comfortable with her body, as I suppose should be expected, but in a way that made me question why anyone else wouldn’t be comfortable with their own. I realize that she is an adult entertainer; but her lack of a fake tan, fake boobs and fake personality make her entirely relatable to me. As she paced around Molly Crabapple’s apartment between shots, totally nude (so casually that I hardly noticed her lack of clothing), it dawned on me: Stoya is a role model. No, not for children, by no means, but as a much needed role model for adults. I know plenty of adult women who still have body and sex issues and insecurities, which is really not just a shame, but a total time sucker. Time spent scrutinizing thighs would be better spent enjoying a museum, or a restaurant, or, even better, a lover. I myself am guilty of this, and as I get to know Stoya, I realize that she is the role model for adults that want healthy sex lives. Comfortable in her own skin, extremely smart, and both comfortable and knowledgeable about sex, Stoya is a Renaissance woman–for the extremely open minded and sexy set.
Lori Zimmer: Like modeling, the career of the adult entertainer has a shelf life–what do you see the average age to be? Have you thought about that aspect of your own career? Where do you see yourself going when that happens?
Stoya: The average age is late teens/early twenties. A few women make a serious impact on the industry during that time and can keep filming forever (Nina Hartley, Joanna Angel, Katsuni, Belladonna), but most do the rounds of each company or do a few movies under contract to one studio and then disappear. Personally, I’ve been a contract performer for one company (Digital Playground) all four years of my career and have always used my free time to pursue other skills. I know a time will come when I no longer look great completely naked in high resolution, and I’m already laying the groundwork for things to pursue after it’s time to put some clothes on. The absolute back-up plan is to go to school for fashion, but I just did my first run of aerial performances on my lyra/hoop with the Pretty Things Peepshow (although, admittedly aerial acrobatics is a field that will probably have an age limit as well), a few quote-unquote mainstream films (an independent feature called Leaving Circadia in which I had three lines but played someone’s non-sex-worker girlfriend and kept all of my clothes on among others), and am just about to leave for Japan to hole-up and pursue a couple of writing opportunities. The only real sticking point I can see about life after the sex industry is picking jobs to pursue that will be accepting or at least tolerant of the graphic openness I’ve engaged in as a performer on camera and in being a persona that constantly talks about my life on the internet. Teaching children or being a politician may not work out so well, but I figure as long as I work hard enough to achieve a sufficient level of competency one of those four (circus-style performing arts, writing, C-level acting, or fashion) I should be able to secure a job in a field that I find interesting and stimulating.
LZ: You have not one, but three Fleshlights modeled after you. How does it feel knowing there are people masturbating with a copy of any one of your three main orifices? Would you do any other merchandise partnerships?
Stoya: Since I had to go all the way to Texas to get the vulva made I figured we might as well do the other two usual orifices while they were set up and my pants were off. I take the sales figures as an indicator of good branding/marketing and very much hope that the people who own the Fleshlights are masturbating with them, but I’ve never really sat down and spent a serious amount of time considering the whole thing. One day I’ll have the time to sit down and wrap my head around it. The result will probably appear in a blog somewhere like my tumblr. I will say that my boyfriend is kind of bummed he didn’t take his copy of my Fleshlight to Japan (he’s there for a year with a flying trapeze troupe and I can only spend a third of that time with him because of visa requirements and my work schedule) so they must be kinda nifty…
LZ: You’ve reached the point in your career when you can pick and choose-making only a few films per year. That said, what is your day to day like?
Stoya: There is no day to day. Every single week holds new things. I really enjoy that constant state of flux. As long as I make sure to get enough rest and stay grounded, I thrive on it.
LZ: You look more like a classic ballet dancer than an adult entertainer–no fake boobs, fake tan or fake lips. In fact you told me you are sometimes mistaken for your co-stars’ assistant. You are far from “ordinary”-looking, but represent a more realistic representation in porn. Have you consciously tried to maintain this natural-looking identity?
Stoya: Ha! Yes, someone in Alaska thought I was Jesse Jane’s assistant. It was kind of hilarious. I do like to play around with hair colors and have nipple piercings that appear and disappear depending on how athletic I am at the time, but I’m pretty much just me. When I first figured out that being a contract performer was more about personality and press than the actual scenes, I figured it would be a lot easier to just be myself than to have to keep up a fictitious persona for days at a time during conventions and on the internet. I did consciously decide to just be myself, but the idea of me putting together a natural looking identity is a bit off.
LZ: In ten years, what would you like to be known for?
Stoya: Oh gosh, I really have no idea. I’ve just turned 25 and looking at how differently I saw the world at 15 I can’t imagine what will make me feel like I’ve done something meaningful at 35. The two basic things I’ve really learned over the past ten years are that you can’t predict what life is going to throw at you, and the smartest thing I’ll ever know is that I really have no clue about a lot of things.
LZ: You are involved with the arts–both visual (Dr. Sketchy’s, etc.) and performative (with your lyra practice)–what are your passions in both facets of the arts?
Stoya: I really enjoy the satisfaction of looking at a finished piece (photo, painting, film, etc.) and knowing that I listened to the artist (photographer, painter, director) well enough to portray their vision. When it comes to the performing arts, when I was a dancer the joy was in executing the choreographer’s work to the best of my ability and receiving constructive notes. The thing about dance is that usually the harder you’re critiqued, the better you are. The worst thing ever was leaving a class without a single correction, it meant the instructor thought you weren’t worth the effort to fix. I’ve only done a couple of shows with the lyra stuff, but there’s an interactive feel to it. As a solo performer, I’m able to judge by the applause and draw out a pose or trick that the audience seems to enjoy, or quickly move on from something that doesn’t get a reaction. There’s a back and forth to it, the piece is constantly evolving and changing to fit the viewer. I look forward to exploring more of it.
Stoya is an adult actress, writer, lyra performer and entrepreneur. She calls New York home, when she isn’t incessantly traveling.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography by Shaun Mader
Design by Marie Havens
Stoya in NYC, July 2011, Photography by Shaun Mader