June 3, 2010
Meet Dana DeArmond (or maybe you already know her). Just like the movie, The Girl Next Door, my neighbor is a Porn Star and my latest Local Celebrity. Well, maybe not just local, she has 870,169 friends on Myspace, more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 5,000 Facebook friends. I mean, she is known as “The Internet’s Girlfriend”. Dana has been in hundreds of adult films.
Hailing from Orlando, Fl, Dana was born an entertainer. As a child, her parents pushed her to try modeling, but she didn’t see herself as a fashion model. Instead, she liked roller-skating and performed as a roller figure skater. As a teen, Dana worked at Disney World as a dancer in those fancy fireworks parades (she opened the 25th Anniversary Parade dressed as a fish).
“To be a dancer at Disney, you have to be physical, be pretty, have good dancing skills, and have a nice body, so it sort of made sense that there was a cross over to adult entertainment. Are you gonna dance around, in basically the equivalent of wrapping yourself up in carpet, with a bucket on your head in 95 degree weather for $6.10 an hour, or are you going to go work at a bikini bar and do table dances for $20 a song?”
So, she made the switch into adult entertainment, but very cautiously, “It took me years to actually take the step to doing more. And even every step in my career, I’ve over thought it and it over-analyzed it and freaked out about it.”
CK: So, how did you get into porn?
DD: I’d seen “fucking machines” on the internet and HBO’s “Real Sex”. I thought it was really interesting.
CK: What are “fucking machines” for those out there who might not know?
DD: They’re machines and they have dildos attached to them and they thrust in and out. Did you see Burn After Reading-that George Clooney movie where he was making a fucking machine in his basement? That’s a good example. I mean, I’d been a stripper for seven years, and I was like, I should probably do something different. I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have sex with a robot? And that’s how I got into porn. I just like applied, like any other job–like you apply to McDonalds.
CK: So was it hard to get started in the industry?
DD: I was already acclimated to the idea of the adult business, and I’d known people that ran a website and did porn. It’s kinda common in LA. Do you know there’s another porn star who lives in the same building? In that building over there, there’s at least three porn people. A lot of porn people live downtown.
CK:…but nobody really knows….
DD: They assume we live in the Valley like we’re mutant creatures and stay in the Valley, and we don’t leave Canoga Park or something…like we’re sewer people. Honestly, the Valley is where they do the mastering, and the reproduction of the dvds and crap like that. All of that is done in the Valley, just because it’s like a sanctioned thing. But porn people can live right next door to you!
CK: Or across the street?
DD: Or down the hall.
CK: This season on “Entourage”, Sasha Grey plays Vincent Chase’s (Adrien Grenier) porn star girlfriend…
DD: I’ve heard that, I’ve never watched “Entourage”. So Sasha Grey is playing a porn star?
DD: Ooh…that’s gotta be a stretch…gotta be a stretch. I mean honestly, not. Because if you’re a porn star and get any sort of mainstream break, you have to play a porn star or a hooker, or dead hooker, or stripper or something. Even like Lindsay Lohan is supposed to play Linda Lovelace. Scarlett Johansson wouldn’t play that. I even read that she completely rejected that role. It’s [porn] still seen as a skeezy thing to Hollywood.
CK: But in “Entourage”, the show about Hollywood, a porn star becomes the girlfriend of this huge celebrity. Do you think that’s realistic?
DD: There’s escorts. But porn stars? I don’t think so. I don’t know anybody who dates…. A girl who has the same agent as me met Jeremy Piven somewhere, and he was like chatting her up and he’s like, “Well what do you do?”, and she said, “I’m a porn star”, and he like leapt away from her, like she was contagious with the Black Plague. Like I cannot be seen with you. And she was like “Fuck off. Who the fuck do you think you are? You’re a weasel. And you’re an actor. And you pretend to be something you’re not for living, at least I get fucked”. Good for her. There’s no reason she should have to put up with crap like that. And she totally called him out and put him on blogs and Twitter, and was like “Jeremy Piven is a piece of shit”. Isn’t he on that show?
CK: Yeah. He plays an asshole agent.
DD: Apparently not that far…He’s probably not stretching his acting job too much either. I don’t know. Being a porn star is weird. People all treat you weird.
CK: What does your family think about your career choice?
DD: My parents were both in the Army, but they’re some of the most liberal people I know. My dad’s openly gay now. I didn’t even start doing porn until I was 24, and I lived on the other side of the country. It’s not like they could have said anything to me about it really. It’s not like I hid it from them, and then after the fact, said, “I need to tell you something”. It was like, “Hey, I’m going to apply to this website, because they have robots that fuck.” And my parents were like,” Ooo Kay..that’s kinda weird”, and I was like, “Yeah, they’re like robots, like they’re engineered. I think from Japan.” And then they were like, “What are they made out of? Are they made out of metal?”
It’s actually a little bit harder for my brother, because he looks exactly like me. He was kinda over it. He would be working at the Apple store, and see people looking at my My Space profile or something while he was working. He was like, “Why don’t you stop being like that––naked on the internet?.” I think it was kind of inconvenient. My buddy icon on aim was a .giff of me taking my shirt off. So whenever he would talk to me on aim, he had a piece of electric tape he would put over the .giff so he wouldn’t have to look at it. And I go by my real name so it’s Dana DeArmond and Devin DeArmond. I mean it’s really obvious. Going by my real name was something I didn’t really give a lot of forethought to.
CK: Would you have done it differently?
DD: I mean like Sasha Grey. She had like “Sasha Grey’s Anatomy”, something more a play on words type of thing. But it’s also kind of cool because people think I’m really original, and that I made my name up. They’re like where did you come up with that? And I’m like “I read it on my birth certificate”.
CK: Did you go back to your High School reunion?
DD:… I really didn’t care to go to High School when I was enrolled. Why would I go back? Honestly, with Facebook, what’s the point? You can see everyone’s stupid looking kids any day of the week. You don’t have to have some awkward conversation, like, “Oh, you’re in the Air Force?….Well, I suck cock for a living”.
CK: Do you look down at yourself for doing that?
DD: Oh no. I really like what I do for a living, but I can see where other people do look down on it. I mean it’s socially marginalized me as a person. Like I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. My family doesn’t think anything’s wrong with it. My friends don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it. But I’m not deluded to think that most people don’t think that it’s a ludicrous thing to do for a living. On the other hand, there are people who show their appreciation for what I do by sending me presents.
CK: Like What?
DD: From my Amazon Wish List, I got a Play Station 3 and video games. I got a mini-coffee maker. I got omaha steaks wrapped in bacon and Godiva chocolate. I got a French press. I’ve gotten a butt plug, vibrator, workout shorts, crotchless underwear, a pillow girlfriend, and I got a pillow boyfriend a couple days ago.I get lots of shoes–I’m obsessed with shoes. I’ve gotten a lot of awesome stuff- really cool shit. I do have a lot of interaction with my fans. They’ll come up to me at trade shows and before they can say anything, I’ll be like, “I know you…you’re so and so”. If I talk to them long enough and they have real pictures of themselves on the internet I remember them.
CK: That’s pretty rad. Presents are definitely a job perk. But, being in the porn industry seems tough. You seem strong.
DD: You kinda have to be-not only to be a single woman or a sex worker. I’ve marginalized myself in a lot of different ways. You have to be a strong person to live in LA. You have to be kind of tough to live here. I’ve seen this city eat people up and shit them out like diarrhea.
CK: How long have you lived in LA?
DD: This is my 10th year? I love it.
CK: Why did you move down here?
DD: I was living in Silver Lake, which I thought was going to be awesome. But it turned out my neighbors were real assholes. Like there was a certain amount of hipsters and people who’ve been there before the hipsters that haven’t quite been pushed out. They’re just clinging. They’re kinda crappy neighbors and just really inconsiderate, loud hipster people. When I lived in Silver Lake, I got my mail stolen all the time. People would figure out where I lived. People would see a package, and they’d just pick it up and take it. One of the reasons I moved down here was for the 24-hour security. I love it here. It was cool because you could walk places [in Silver Lake], but then I found you could have the same thing in downtown, and not have shitty, punk, squatter people not giving a crap about anything. People own their lofts here, and they’re adults. I call them yupsters, because they’re like a hybrid of hipsters and yuppies. They’re cool people, they’re a little bit older, and a little bit more successful. They kind of give a shit about where they live. And, they’re trying to make it nicer. Downtown was completely scary only a few years ago. I wouldn’t go downtown for anything if you asked me to five years ago.
CK: Why did you move to the Arts District in particular?
DD: My friend was leasing a place in this building, and I started to come down here- Tony’s, around the corner, had their Summer Camp. They had a pool, an inflatable water slide, and live music. My friend lived in this building, and I saw all the amenities and stuff like that. And just then, I was like downtown is awesome. I was sold. So, I went on Craigslist and found a place in here and moved in a couple weeks later. I love it here. It’s so cool.
CK: Where else do you like to hang out down here?
DD: I eat most of my meals at Urth Caffe. I go to Royal Claytons, they [used] to have trivia Mondays. I was on a team called “Open Mouth Kissing Booth”. It was pretty fun. Varnish. And I go to Church & State all the time. You can’t walk by without the bartender waving at you and making you come in. And I hang out with all the people who work around here. After they get off work, they’re always dragging me out somewhere. Once they dragged me off to the Gorbals, which is some kind of crazy- shit place that has chicken feet. But, we had everything on the menu. We met the chef. He was really nice. It’s cool when you live above a gourmet restaurant or something like that; it’s sort of inspiring.
CK: Do you ever do the Downtown Art Walk?
DD: It’s too much. I did it once during Summer last year. There were too many people. I think a lot of art sucks anyway. I’m not a huge art fan. I like the few things that I have. Those prints were made by a friend of mine, and those prints are by Glenn Barr. He used to paint the background for “Ren and Stimpy”. Low-brow art has gotten so kitsch. I liked Mark Ryden before people knew who he was. And then all of a sudden, you can’t get a print anywhere. Or if you can, they’re a few thousand dollars. He’s like a low-brow artist. He does a lot of paintings of meat and Abraham Lincoln, and bunnies and bees and weird looking dolls, celebrities; weird looking celebrity paintings of like Christina Ricci. He kinda like blew up in the late 1990s. That style got way overblown and everybody likes it so much. It’s like Hot-Topicified.
CK: Is porn creative?
DD: It can be. For the most part it’s not. For the most part it’s gonzo. You address the camera. You get picked up in some random place, you end up on some couch and you do a formulaic bj, 3 positions, facial pop and the end. Some people are doing some really interesting things. I directed two…I actually shot one entirely in downtown, like all the sex scenes were shot on a warehouse on 6th st.
CK: What was directing like?
DD: I directed a feature length documentary-style pro-am pornographic movie. It’s called Dana DeArmond’s Role Modeling. It’s a really good movie. It sells really well and everything. I get a lot of emails about it and it came out in 2007. In a way it’s creative. I got to decide what my art direction was going to be. I made sets. I shot the set so it has an element of reality to it. There’s people on a set right here and then you can see this crazy dirty huge downtown loft warehouse in the back. It was a cool location.
CK: Did you like directing?
DD: I directed four girls that had never done porn before. In a way, I was the man. I was convincing these girls to take their clothes off for money and get fucked. And they did it. And only one of them felt really super great about it. One of them was like this is just not for me. And that’s gut-wrenching, as a woman, to know that you may have done something that could have potentially hurt them personally ,or hurt their social standings–because that never goes away. That movie is still being produced and sent out and shipped. So it’s like people find out about that. It makes you feel like kinda sleazy, in a way. But, there’s people who willingly come into this industry all the time.
CK: It must be hard to separate your film life from your real life. For instance, what do you look for in a guy?
DD: I’m single. I don’t really look for anything. I like handsomeness and tallness, and a good sense of humor, but I really don’t put much into it. Like handsome bartender says to me, “Like I just got out of a thing[relationship].” I don’t care to know that. I want to look at you while your working. I want to watch you clean the bar, maybe make out with you in the stairwell a little bit, and I’ll go upstairs and you go away. People are like you must be a slut. And I’m like, I don’t sleep with just anybody–even like a hot bartender. He was talking about all this shit he was going to do to me and I was like…That’s really funny. I’m like, one, you have no idea who you’re talking to. There’s nothing that you could ever possibly do to….you could not fuck me silly if you had eight friends with you. And two, I’m not that person. I just don’t fuck hot bartenders when I first meet them.”
**Article/Interview Copyright Carrie Kravetz
*Photos copyright Penthouse via Dana DeArmond, Focus Features, Amazon.com, and Adultfilmdatabase.com.
Follow Dana on Twitter @danadearmond