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The Business of Being Brittany

Joanne Cachapero
There's never been a porn star like Brittany Andrews and there probably will never be. The headstrong way in which she charted her career — confronting the industry on her own terms virtually every step of the way — greatly limited the opportunities for Andrews to become an iconic adult megastar (that title went instead to her former roommate Jenna Jameson).

But the choices she made did leave her sense of integrity intact, along with a razor-sharp self-awareness that enabled her to stick to her guns, being one of the only condom-only female performers in the industry.

And she's a savvy businesswoman, overseeing the operation of multiple websites and dozens of employees. She negotiated her own business in an era when female talent was expected to just shut up and look pretty.

For Andrews, those things have always been more important than any recognition as some XXX-rated diva.

"The difference between me and Jenna — she came in and was like, 'I want to be a porn star,'" Andrews said. "I never wanted to be a porn star. I just wanted to have a smooth-running business. I became a porn star because you had to, in order to have a smooth running business. So I always did a few movies a year so I could say I was a porn star and do all the press and negotiate deals. Because nobody wants to do business with a producer, they want to do it with a porn star. So, I'd do 10 movies a year and that enabled me to be able to do what I really wanted to be doing."

And now, with 15 years under her belt, she is about to receive that recognition anyway. On Jan. 11, she was inducted into the Legends of Erotica at the annual event held at Showgirl Videos, on the rough end of the Strip in Las Vegas. The next night, at the AVN Awards held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, she was named to the Hall of Fame.

The honors come at a time when Andrews, 34, is at a crossroads personally and professionally. It's not the same industry that it was when she arrived in 1995 (after a few years of dancing). And she doesn't like some of the things that have changed — not to mention, some of the things that might never change.

It's not that she has a bad taste in her mouth, she said, as much as she would like the taste of something new.

As she talks, we're sitting on the couch in her downtown L.A. apartment, with views of glittering skyscrapers and klieg lights swirling down by the Staples Center. Andrews lives pretty large, even for a diva; she drives a Mercedes convertible, has traveled the world, will scrimp on other things to buy a beautiful gown from Roberto Cavalli's couture collection or, lately, she's into Dior. Always keeping a little distance from the industry at large, Andrews' friends come from all walks of life — artists, IT people, stylists, musicians, financiers, designers, architects.

Pretty good for a pink-Mohawked punk rocker who dropped out of school in the 7th grade and worked mainstream midlevel management jobs until she found out how much money she could make as an exotic dancer.

The industry allowed her to cultivate those caviar dreams, and she loved every minute of that part of it.

"The industry back when I was in it was a much more family-oriented feeling —100 percent," Andrews recalled. "There wasn't all this gonzo and degradation and anal. It was feature films being shot in 16mm. It was a more clean mentality, where girls could be stars. Everyone kind of took care of each other."

Andrews and starlets like Jameson, Nikki Tyler and Taylor St. Clair came along at a time when the star system was in full effect. Andrews was established almost immediately when her first scene, from 1995's "Internal Affairs," was nominated for an AVN Award for Best Sex Scene. The movie, which was directed by Bud Lee and starred Asia Carrera, Jon Dough and Steven St. Croix, also is distinguished by the fact that the Andrews' scene is the one-and-only performance she ever did without using a condom.

"I don't think that anybody in this business can say that they've been 100 percent consistent. I have been consistent, not just for three years or five years, but 100 percent. I had just the one scene, my first scene [without a condom]," she said. "I've spoken to a lot of girls about this. A test doesn't protect you. It just tells you you've got something, after you've already got it."

Despite having a contract at Vivid for a period of time, with the decision to be condom- only, Andrews found she was turning down lucrative contracts and jobs. VCA Pictures offered her four times the rate of any contract performer, but it wouldn't allow her to use a condom.

So while her peers went on to careers as hardcore superstars, Andrews took another route and became a softcore fetish queen with 28 magazine covers in her first year and more than 600 photo layouts over the course of three years, including more cover layouts for Leg Show and Leg Sex magazines than any other model.

Overall, she has never shot more than 15-20 movies a year.

"I was with an agent named Hal Gathu, and Hal was such an interesting character. He had the studio that Ed Wood shot in; right on Santa Monica and Gardner [in Los Angeles]," Andrews recalled.

"[Gathu] would not send you or put you on a job where anybody would be foul, so he primarily specialized in all the softcore kinds of things, mostly magazines and phone sex commercials. I did nude bowling, nude golfing, nude swinging and nude kiting. This was before the Internet, so it was mail-order stuff, and there was a lot of foot fetish, pantyhose fetish and custom videos," she said, with her trademark braying laugh.

Now, according to Andrews, softcore gigs are hard to find (long since mainstreamed into magazines like FHM and Maxim) and the star system has all but been eliminated.

"Wicked put like 5 million dollars into Jenna, and the day that she left and went to Vivid, the star system absolutely collapsed," Andrews said. "Because everybody knew who Jenna was, but nobody knew who Wicked was and, after that, you really didn't know who anybody was anymore. They became the 'Vivid girls' or the 'Wicked girls.' It opened up every major company's eyes, and they said, 'Oh shit. We can't make the bitch bigger than the brand.' The only studio that still does it is Digital Playground, when they made Tera [Patrick] and Jesse [Jane] — but really, that was the end of the star, when Jenna went from Wicked to Vivid."

Andrews, known as the "Niche Bitch," was one of the first to brand herself as an online producer, alongside other web queens like Danni Ashe and Shane, formerly of Shane's World.

She still hosts numerous sites, including the flagship ClubBrittany.com site and its affiliate program (which is operated by PornStarBucks.com), a foot-fetish paysite called Exquisite Feet.com, the strap-on site called StrapOnFantasies.com, her own financial domination fetish site called PayMissBrittany.com and her affiliate program BitchPayz.com, among others.

Still, in retrospect, she sees now the effect the Internet has had over a short decade, especially on the small producers.

"I've always said the adult industry is a leader of technology from VHS to CDROM to DVD to wireless broadband, and of course, now that technology has completely fucked us with all the free porn on the Internet," Andrews said with a sarcastic grin.

"The subscription-based website is so archaic and a thing of the past. I think everything is going to go VOD. Everything," she said, speaking with well-honed business instincts behind her opinion. "Right now, it's almost impossible to make money off of VOD because it's so cheap. So, [as] a smaller producer to stay in the business, why would I want to stay in the business if everything that I'm doing is just going to get ripped off and downloaded for free?"

So, for the last several months, Andrews has been contemplating her next move. There has been the charity work, which she has always supported, for nonprofit groups like Children of the Night and Hollywood-based teen outreach center My Friend's Place.

After a long hiatus from shooting magazine layouts she also has been working with photographers like Bob Coulter and Justice Howard, and she appeared on the cover of Coulter's coffee table tome "Bad Girl Hotel." She also will be drawn by renowned pin-up artist Dave Nestler.

And because those Jimmy Choos and couture aren't cheap, because she has a porn star reputation to uphold, she still shoots some hardcore — mostly strap-on/ fetish content and an occasional gig for companies like Bang Bros.

Andrew is considering film school, to study filmmaking and producing, and then moving into mainstream reality shows and commercials.

The 19-year-old girl who planned her career so she would never have regrets is presently trying to plan her grown-up future with the same kind of foresight.

"I had a great time. I had a lot of fun and made a lot of money, and rocked it out with my cock out. You can quote that. It's been great," Andrews said, laughing. "I had the ability to be in a business where I loved it and enjoyed it, and I own my Internet company. I had my own studio; I was producing and directing. It gave me an opportunity, in a way that no other business could have given me. I was doing everything — I was writing for three different magazines. I was doing so many different things."

I never asked what she would wear to accept her awards, at the Legends or when she is inducted into the Hall of Fame. You can be sure — whatever she wears will be fabulous.

The last time I saw her out on the town was at a gallery opening for Justice Howard. Andrews arrived, wrapped in a fur coat, blonde hair stylishly asymmetrical, and flanked by two male friends wearing platform boots, make-up and Mickey Mouse ears.

On the wall, pinned up, was a portrait of Andrews, shot against a poisonous yellow backdrop. In the photo, she is stark naked, sitting with one knee propped up, legs spread and a half-dozen hemostats attached to her labia, fanned out on the floor in front of her. She smiles at the camera like some crazy Hindu goddess, ready to bestow strange blessings.

The woman who never wanted to be a porn star somehow became a little larger than life — and they just don't make them like that anymore.

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