WIA Profile: Kelly Shibari
Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
How did you get into the business?
I started in 2007, after the WGA Writers’ Strike and subsequent other mainstream strikes that nearly destroyed Hollywood. I had been working as a production designer/art director for mainstream film/TV as well as crew for national tours for over a decade until then. A friend who I’d known during my mainstream years worked in the industry with his girlfriend, and suggested that I get into the industry as a sabbatical during the strike. At the time I had no idea that BBW porn existed, and they showed me a few sites that showed that plus-sized performers could be portrayed in a sexy light and not as a joke. I submitted my photos to those sites, not thinking I’d be accepted, and was pleasantly surprised when I was accepted. I started performing, really intending to return when the strike was over — but six years later, I’m still here. The money isn’t quite the same, but the hours are definitely better and I am (for now) still having fun.
What in your background prepared you for what you are doing now?
My background in mainstream film/TV allowed me to approach the industry as a fun sabbatical in the beginning, but as a business in the long term. Appreciating the crew, director, and support services that make the industry what it is comes from my background as someone behind the scenes. I know that successful projects come from working with a team, and without collaboration, things fall apart. My years as crew taught me that. These days, my social media consultancy, ThePRSMGroup, also allows me to share my background and the network I’ve developed with other performers and companies. In addition, having been born and raised in Japan means that I don’t take sex too seriously — which means I can actually have fun in my performances. The combination — a sense of fun and a strong business ethic — means I really am having fun with this current career choice.
What do you see as the challenges of working in the adult online business? How do you overcome them?
My challenges are the same as most others in the industry — the overwhelming amount of free porn online, especially in a niche such as BBW, it’s particularly important to keep visible on a regular basis, and to keep inventing and reinventing the products and offerings available to fans to keep their interest. You can’t depend on your name to keep things going. Assume that everyone has an “out of sight, out of mind” ADD-like mentality, and keep working on new and interesting ways to keep their interest. Those that can do that well can stay “popular” — as much as that word means these days.
Does your work life affect your personal life?
I feel blessed that I have a network of friends that accept my current career choice, as well as fans that see me not only as a performer but as one with an accessibility that allows them to interact with me not just about sex but about every other topic under the sun. My mother was supportive when I chose to add this life experience to my list, and my father and I have experienced a very open discourse about sex and health. I do admit that with some, the inclination to treat me as nothing more than a living sex toy means that I am subjected to rude conversation ... but now that I have a Fleshlight, I can simply offer that to them instead.