She's Back: Lisa Ann Arises, a Phoenix Aflame

She's Back: Lisa Ann Arises, a Phoenix Aflame
Alejandro Freixes

LOS ANGELES — Greatness is controversial, for its towering glory shames the mundane. To ignore it… to remain the same after witnessing it… is impossible. And those who gaze upon its all-encompassing power, who feel their very souls stirred with alchemical hungers, are forced to react.

Worship it. Attack it. Eclipse it.

Just ask Lisa Ann. Few have reached such heights. Fewer still cast so lengthy a shadow. And yet, for all her grace and noble poise, Ann has weathered brutal storms. Such is the fate of an obelisk that daggers the clouds, for she is beset on all sides… by solar winds above, by cavernous sinkholes below and by pickaxe-wielding hordes ‘cross the horizon.

Rival spires, darkly silhouetted in the distance, send forth their assassins. From billowing curtains, these minions spring with scimitars in hand, eager to snatch Ann’s glittering crown… rabidly piling on, desperate to snuff that vibrant stardom, to steal happiness and peace from her. And as she clashed, with assailants untold, the clang of steel rang from every hall, echoing from as many unlit chapels as candelabra-filled penthouses.

Despite the endless siege, Ann rarely slowed the pace of construction, laying brick after brick, a trowel in one hand and a blade in the other. Parry. Riposte. Thrust. She fenced, in more ways than one, reinforcing the gateways, balustrades, arches and spiraling stairwells of her ascendant destiny.

And though she was hunted with venomous ferocity, hounds baying… snapping at her heels as she fled into a dangerous wilderness… Ann never lost sight of her mythical skyscraper. Battered and bruised, she would return every time, torch in hand.

Her armor still smoldering, she would brush off the ashes of foes and former selves, only to realize her regalia gleamed brighter than ever before. Burnished by blood sacrifice, its gloss was sanctified, nicks winking like godly blacksmiths bestowing blessings. Kissed thus by redemption, Ann has reached a newfound crescendo, straddling the industry she left behind and the territories beyond.

To herald her rebirth and the passing of her 45th year on this earthly plane, the legendary icon knew that only one storyteller, only one spinner of fabulous fables, could sing her sagas with a minstrel’s mastery… XBIZ. And so it was, that after she spilled arias and ballads from the depths of her heart, the maestros celebrated her name day with a delicious cake... and this operatic interview!

XBIZ: Tell us about the genesis of your career in adult entertainment.

Lisa Ann: So, I was very lucky to work at a stripclub in Pennsylvania named Al’s Diamond Cabaret, and in my two years of working at Al’s, I met all of the feature dancers of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, like Savannah, Teri Weigel, Blondage, Janine, Julia Ann and Leena… Ginger Lynn. These were glamour girls. These were girls that I looked at on this very elevated stage. And, I remember standing like a young girl on the side of the stage, watching every one of their shows — from the music they picked, to the costumes and thinking it was just such a step up from being a house girl at a stripclub, you know?

And I knew that the mission was: how do you get out on the road and become a well-known feature dancer? So, I started to interview the girls, and some of the features would talk to me — for example, kind women like Christy Canyon would give you every bit of every minute that she had to talk. She’s still a wonderful woman. Janine was the same, who I recently reconnected with after the premiere of our documentary, “After Porn Ends 2.”

Leena, who was a really popular porn star in the ‘90s, introduced me to Peter Davey. At the time, Peter Davey would take an exclusive handful of girls and he would help them get to California. He would do the meetings… he was, like, an independent agent, right? I flew one-way, stayed at his place — he was wonderful to me, he took care of me. She, Leena, recommended him to me. So many people recommended him.

It’s amazing to think that as a young girl, I flew across country to move in with a man that was a stranger, and I had no problem with him. He was never disrespectful to me, because in the ‘90s they really looked at the female talent like: we need you, we worship you, we can’t be anywhere without you. We were so propped up, because not many girls wanted to be in the business. The business was also fussier back then. It was kind of a bad thing back then to have a tattoo, there were certain looks they wanted, certain looks they didn’t want.

Like, even coming in as a brunette in the early ‘90s was kind of difficult. There were no Hustler covers with brunettes yet. So, it was kind of a little bit of a groundbreaking thing. I wasn’t willing to change my hair color. I’m not willing to work that hard to keep up a look that isn’t mine. So, from there, my career built nicely. I was doing everything I wanted to. I was a contract girl for Metro Home Video, I was feature dancing. I was doing everything I wanted to do, but I was also able to live this really awesome double life.

XBIZ: Whereabouts did you reside once you planted your roots in California and what was the industry like back then, compared to now?

Ann: I lived in Huntington Beach. My friends and everybody in my real life knew who I was and what I did, but I was able to still go out and about. Now, here comes the internet and everyone knows who you are. You forget that when you go to the drycleaner, the kid’s actually talking to you because he knows who you are — not just because he’s your service person at the drycleaner. So, I was able to live this great, little beach life. I took off for the summers my first couple of years in California. Which, as a young girl, is different than nowadays, when girls work so much and want to make so much money. They want to make $10k… 20k a month! They work themselves to the bone. Back then, if you were making 3.5k to 5k a month, you were rich. It was my early 20s! What did I need more money for? So, I booked all my movies. I didn’t like to shoot in the summer because it was very hot in the Valley — I learned that quickly. I booked movies in the fall and winter, and I worked my feature schedule around that.

I had this amazing life of going to the beach, going to Powerhouse Gym and eating at Sugar Shack Cafe with my friends. Awesome. Couldn’t have had a better, young life. Discovering California, driving to San Diego, driving to San Fran… you know, this industry brought me here. Coming here opened up this whole new world for me.

Then, we had our big AIDS scare in 1997. Started with male Brazilian porn stars, and also Marc Wallice. It was just one thing after the other. When that happened, it was very close to me because I almost worked with one of the guys from Brazil on a set that the talent got switched at the very last minute. He didn’t have an American test, and the producer kept yelling at me saying, “We already shot you for the box cover! You have to do this scene!” But, I had been taught to only accept tests from, at that time, our one clinic in Venice — it had that seal on it, you had to carry it with you, and the guys would fold it in their pockets and wash it accidentally in their jeans.

I said, “No,” and that ended up being one of the performers from Brazil that was positive. So, that freaked me out and I went on a hiatus.

XBIZ: How long did you step away from adult filmmaking and how did you occupy your time during this hiatus?

Ann: From 1997 to 2005, I didn’t shoot anything, but I did stay on the road feature dancing until 2001. After 9/11, all of our feature bookings were immediately cancelled, because clubs were not going to fly us. I get it. I was on the road during 9/11. We were stuck in South Carolina for three weeks. When I came back from that trip, I bought a local day spa in Huntington Beach and owned a business for four years.

That business was like my college education. It seriously was. You have to learn how to manage employees, how to work with the state board, how to work with the inspectors that come in. Everything is so fearful, because you never know all the rules.

When I decided to sell the spa, I took a couple months off and then a friend of mine said, “Well, you know, there’s this agency in L.A., and you can maybe go there and work as an agent.” At the time, it was LA Direct Models.

So going in to work as an agent at LA Direct Models was kind of like a reunion with all the people I hadn’t seen in years — like Suze Randall, Mike Quasar… all these people that I loved. But, it didn’t take them long to say, “You should shoot again.”

That was right at the beginning of the MILF genre taking off and I was 35 years old. When I was in my early 20s in the ‘90s, we all wondered where porn stars went in their 30s. Back then, older women weren’t really being shot. Unless, of course, you were Nina Hartley, who no one was ever going to let go of — I mean, why should we? She’s wonderful. It was one of those weird things where it was like, “What do you mean? I’m too old to shoot.”

It was around the same time as “Desperate Housewives.” And I think that show translated a lot into our industry, because there were a lot of hot women in their 30s. Let’s face it, anyone watching that show wanted to have sex with those women. Even the neighbor who killed a bunch of her husbands, you still wanted to have sex with her. She was hot! So, that part laid into me coming back.

XBIZ: Riding that momentum, your career truly skyrocketed around 2008, courtesy of Hustler. Tell us about the unforgettable ‘Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?”

Ann: Everything definitely changed in 2008 when Hustler called me and said, “Hey, have you seen or read anything about Sarah Palin?” Now, let me backtrack to a month before that, when Nina Hartley said, “You need to play Sarah Palin. You look just like her.” At the time, I was so entrapped with the business and everything else, that I hadn’t done enough research on Sarah Palin. Ironically, a month later when Hustler called me to ask if I would be interested… it was the same night as the VP debate. So, I said, “You know what? Let me go home and watch this VP debate… see what this chick is about. Let me do some research.”

Seeing her walk out on that stage, she had this black, shiny suit. And she had these multiple pairs of fake eyelashes, these sexy glasses and she spoke a certain way. I texted Hustler back and said, “Yeah. This has to happen.” Then, when they told me the name of the series would be “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” how could I not? I saw the script and it said the Russians were coming to my door, then every time she spoke, the script became that much more rich. That’s how we ended up doing a series of six “Paylin” movies, which most people don’t realize. We wrung that out.

That experience changed everything about myself. It just opened up my demographic in so many different ways. It became a mainstream project that even people who watched porn, but didn’t necessarily know who their favorite porn star was — they were just casual watchers — they knew who I was.

Also, the glasses I wore in Paylin were my actual glasses. When I drive, I have to wear glasses. So, when I’d be driving, people would pull up to my car — and my hair was always in a bun, I had the bangs — and they would say, “Oh my god! It’s that Paylin chick. Oh my god!”

I mean, it propelled me to a level of all things — getting my Fleshlight. At that time, Fleshlight had no MILFs either. So, I was the first in that category. I got to travel to other countries. I got to do shows in Finland. I got to go to Australia. I was, like, stamping my passport, all because of this woman.

And when we backtrack to when I was 18 years old and started dancing… my three goals in life were the same as they are right now: to have financial freedom, to make my own schedule and to travel and see the world. This business really facilitated that for me. All judgments aside from people who have one opinion or another, our own freedom is what we make of it. And I took those three little basic things… I didn’t want anything more than that. It was never about what kind of car I drove, what kind of house… it was just financial freedom that meant I could go to the store and buy what I want when I need it, that I could pay my bills when I get them. All of those little things that you see your mother struggle with, and you look at that and go, “How can I prevent that from happening to me?” And this was a fast track to setting up the rest of my life, and to building this brand that, before the internet, would have been impossible to build.

XBIZ: After achieving such success, you eventually stepped away from adult filmmaking around 2014. What led to your “retirement” from the biz?

Ann: Well, the year beforehand, 2013, was such a turbulent year in the business. We had multiple players in the industry come up HIV+. We dealt with the syphilis situation, the hepatitis situation. It was a mixed bag, for me, of... every day I was driving to set, whether I was producing and worried about the talent I was shooting, or whether I was talent and worried about myself. I’m one of the few people that never caught anything permanent in the industry. The fact that I have the gene that allows me to not get herpes is something I learned from a blood test. It wasn’t until after I retired, when I elected with my insurance to do a cancer screening and blood test, that I found out!

I was working with performers I knew who had it, but they were respectable enough to take their medication during a flare-up. I had to have faith in that medication to have unprotected sex, but can you imagine the double-edged sword of being an agent, and having a male performer cancel because they’re having a bad outbreak, and then having to shoot with that performer the next week? This is one of the things in the industry that outsiders don’t realize. The risk that we take to have this fun for ourselves, that then translates into fun for many… this risk is something that, if you’re a responsible adult, you think about. When someone divulges their personal medical history to you, I couldn’t go and tell anyone else that, because I respected that person. But, I still had it in the back of my mind.

So, in 2013, I was also still doing a radio show for Spice Radio. It was Playboy first, then Spice. It was called “Stripper Town.” It was an awesome show. Monday nights, dudes would call in and tell us horrific stripclub stories. Like getting thrown up on, during a lap dance. Amazing shit. Then, I would get to interview other feature dancers, and I would get to talk about my feature dancing gigs. I was on the road from “Paylin” until I retired, like 45 weekends out of the year. I knew it was worth it. That changed my life. Making that money. I was on a hot streak.

XBIZ: How did that initial radio work lead to your SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio gig?

Ann: When I was doing that radio show, my real fans would call in to talk about sports. What they learned about me on the road was: if they came up to my booth where I was standing there naked to sell them a polaroid, they could talk sports with me naked and I could keep talking until the person behind them would ask them to hurry up. These men were smart enough to know this, so they would call my show and talk sports with me. And Farrell [Hirsch], who was my producer at the time for Playboy Spice, he kept saying to me, “You cancel this sports talk.”

Then, one day he came to me and he said, “There’s a Playboy Playmates Fantasy Football show out of the New York studio. You should go and see Matt Deutsch. This show just fell apart, and he’s a really cool guy. He might be able to offer you something.” That was it. Flew to New York. Met Matt Deutsch. Toured the Sirius building in New York, and was like, “I’m going to get an apartment here. I’m going to come into this building regularly. I’m going to let them know who I am.” He said, “If you can learn fantasy over the summer, I’ll link you with some hosts and we’ll do some demos and see how it works.”

I knew everything about sports, but I knew nothing about fantasy sports. I’d never played, I had known it was starting to really pop… but even when I started in 2013, my very first show was Sept. 9, 2013. I remember that day, because it was my best friend from childhood’s birthday that day. Random. When I took the summer to learn about fantasy, that was also the summer we started to see DraftKings and FanDuel… so I said to myself, “This is the sign, girl. You are, again, in the right fucking place at the right time. Do this. Do this!”

I got my first contract, and Sirius signed you for a year. I said to myself, “Start to plan 2014 as your last year, and if you get a second contract in September, then you should just retire in December.” To not get extra bookings or feature gigs for the following year, I had planned to have my boobs done in December of 2014. No one knew I was going smaller to retire, but in my mind, I paid for them looking at it like, “I’m either going to have to stay, and I’ll just go bigger, or I’m going to have to go and reduce them.” I had this master plan set in motion, but I kept it to myself because I knew how negative the business could be.

When the “Paylin” thing happened, my last couple years in the business, the bullying was real. And the bullying was so real that after I retired, I was bullied right out of my existence as “Lisa Ann.” I spent the first half of 2015 in court. I watched a ton of savings go out of the door in legal fees and lawyers. I watched my life dramatically change. I was dealing with the presence of police in my house because I was getting constant death threats. My family got death threats.

My life changed in that year, but I had two things going for me. One, my goal was to finish my book for my fans and release it the same day I retired a year later. So, having my head in my computer and writing kept me above water. And then, every Monday night, having my show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, “Lisa Ann Does Fantasy,” I really believe that was the fiber that really kept me going. I had a mission. I wanted to be good at it. It requires a lot of studying, a lot of following news or injury reports. Between my book and Sirius… I was good for 2015.

But, after I released my book in 2015, I can honestly say... 2016 was a questionable existence. 2016 was where I had to kind of take a knee, shall I say. I had to really take a knee in life. I went through a really deep depression. I went through my family giving up on me forever due to the bullying and threatening from the industry.

XBIZ: For all the years beforehand they were fine, and then suddenly your family was backing away?

Ann: They were somewhat fine. My parents were always reluctant. I didn’t reconnect with my dad until I was 40. From 16 to 40, my parents were kind of always intermittent in my life. But, when I got my job with Sirius, I also got a secondary home in New York, and my family is in Pennsylvania. So, I started to take the bus home, like, every weekend. ‘Cause I wasn’t feature dancing. My grandfather was still alive and my neighbor Peggy, who lived to be 102, was still alive. So, I was going on a nursing home run. I was going home, visiting people. I feel like everything was meant to be in a sense, because I closed out their lives before all of this blew up in my face. I have to say, once the book was done… I felt like I had no purpose.

XBIZ: Even though you were happy with the sports-related work?

Ann: Listen, Sirius saved my life. I honestly don’t know if I would have survived 2016 and the deep depression that I was in.

XBIZ: So, financially you were okay, but you were undergoing an identity crisis?

Ann: Financially, I was okay. I had to forgive all the people that had wronged me, and that was really depressing. I had to accept that my life felt so empty from the industry that I worked in for 20-plus years… from which I had no connections. When I left, and you know from your XBIZ event in 2015, there was a girl — no need to say her name — she got on stage and she made a very nasty speech about me. And when she made that nasty speech, it spread through the industry. Within that spreading, folks jumped on the bullying bandwagon. I started to get suffocated on my timeline by my previous peers hating on me.

And I mean, hating on me to such a degree that, we were getting prank phone calls during our show. My neighbors were getting harassed. My personal information was released. Every time I changed a phone number, I was stuck with that number being released to the internet. Now, I just leave my phone on silent, because people still release my phone numbers weekly. They post it on their Instagrams. They just want me dead, because when you leave the industry with any level of success, it’s like a gang member rehabilitating themselves. No one wants to see you succeed from something they’re not sure they’re going to get out alive from. That’s really what I understand, now that I’m alive and happy to be alive.

Going out to the regular world, I’ve learned that porn viewers are one of two people. Either they get it, they enjoy it, they see their fellow porn star that they love and they embrace her and are excited, or they hate themselves for watching it and whenever they see you somewhere, they spew negativity and hate at you. So, for all these girls that bullied me, what they don’t realize is that I was also dealing with the identity crisis of every day having thousands of people saying, “Why should we take sports advice from a girl who used to take dicks in her ass?” Sirius was getting negative reactions because of my existence there. And when these girls came at me, I don’t think they understand that it’s hard on the other side, where I had finally made it. And there were moments when I wanted to come back to shoot, because I still miss it.

It was this past January that I wrote myself this letter, stating the fact that I want to get off the tightrope. I want to be able to do some events again. I still want to be Lisa Ann a bit. But, I think by going back and shooting scenes, I’m doing an injustice to the girls who need to see what it’s going to be like on the other side. I need to be that voice that once a week goes on social media, and actually asks, “What makes you be on my timeline and be so degrading?”

I recently went to the Kentucky Derby and I saved this message I received. This guy wrote, “Oh god, a porn star at the Kentucky Derby. What a joke.” I get that by the hundreds of thousands a week. So, you can understand when I’m getting death threats, and I’m getting these girls that I’ve never been mean to… the girl that went up on stage and said nasty things to me, even though I had just paid her to shoot for my company two months before that. No reason for her to hate on me in such a way. For her to rally the troops of other girls that I had just shot with over the past two and a half years with my production company, even though I never did a fucking thing wrong to these girls. But, this new generation believes that if you’re popular, everyone should hate you.

So then, I wrote back to this Instagram user, “Geez, I did not know that I was segregated in a group that had public limitations. Maybe you should write down what my rights are and since you follow me and you believe that I am less than human, we would all like to read your thoughts here, so go for it.” He then said, “I like following you for your picks in fantasy football, you’re very good eye candy. I honestly just wanted to see if I could get your attention. Too many perverts on your comment board, so I thought I’d switch it up. I don’t want to be mean and voice my opinion on your previous life choices. Personally, I just think you would have been great at whatever you did in life.” I wrote back, “Yo. That’s not the right approach to get someone’s attention. Trying to degrade a woman and/or bully does nothing for anyone.” And then I blocked him.

XBIZ: What lessons did you learn from these difficult experiences, that you’d like pass on to the newer generation of talent?

Ann: The message that I want to say here for the girls is: I now realize it’s more of my responsibility to be on the outside, expressing that I own what I did and that I’m proud of my movies. That I still work on my website, and I still want to be an active voice in the industry. I want to be out there, talking to people face-to-face. When people get weird with me, I want to say, “What’s your problem? Is it a sexual hangup you have? Because I was doing what I was doing, and you had to hit enter to see it. Why do you hate me?”

And when I get on social media, 70 percent people degrading me and 10 percent people wanting to be mean to either get my attention or not. And when you see someone going through this, my question is, “How much do you think somebody can take? How much can someone take before they break?”

And I spent all of 2016 in that really dark place. The darkest place of my life. I mean, I was on my own at 16, I’ve been through some horrible situations, I’ve had guns pulled on me. I’ve been through some weird shit, but I couldn’t utilize my timelines. I couldn’t breathe and social media was such a big part of my life. I still wanted to use it, because I realized Sirius saw that value in me. So I couldn’t just shut everything down. I still wanted to try and interact, but when you have to read 5,000 disturbing comments to scale to two or three that you want to talk to… I mean there were days, during that time, between the girls and the business... where I was defeated.

Here’s another thing, these bored little bitches, that put up hundreds of thousands of prostitution ads with my photos, my real number, my parents’ address, my home address, dating profiles… I’m not app savvy. The fact that I have to go on OkCupid and learn my way around just to take down an ad that says, “I would love to cook for you, here’s my home address,” but really it’s my parents’ home address... the fact that my parents are no longer in my life because of the bullying inside the business, that’s a tough fucking pill to swallow.

Today is my 45th birthday. This birthday is easier. Last birthday was brutal, because it was right around Mother’s Day and I was like, “Okay, nobody in my family is going to send me a card, and then it’s going to be Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day.” The first year of holidays, of your parents being like, “You’re dead to us because you’re a safety risk.” And this one girl that said horrible things also brought in some personal information and decided to let the world know about my abuse when I was a child. It was something I didn’t put in my book. It was something I’ve only spoken about a few times, but when she put it there, what she didn’t realize was this: that affected my family and caused such a ripple in my hometown over her being a hateful little person. She ripped out the rug underneath someone in such a toxic way.

If she wanted to battle me, let’s meet on the street and duke it out, be an adult. But when she infects the lives and spirits of other people? Ugh. So, yeah… 2016. I’m glad to be alive right now. And this year has been a great turning point. And I think I started it by coming in to see you guys and letting you know I was alive. I went into a hole. I didn’t leave my house for a year other than go to work. I didn’t go out to dinner with friends. If you wanted to see me, you had to come to my house or you didn’t get to see me. I refused to leave.

XBIZ: How did you eventually overcome the darkness?

Ann: Thank god, I was able to keep it together, because my new career in fantasy sports, I’ve met so many nice people. I love my boss and my co-host so much. When you’re in these fantasy football leagues, I was thinking to myself like, “Alright, well, if this suicide plan was set in motion, how would that affect this fantasy football league? This would be devastating.” Luckily, these were the common sense triggers that kept me alive every day. It was really that dark. So, now that I’m out of it, I think it’s important for me to respond to people on social media once in awhile. I clap back. I ask, “What’s your beef? What I did does not affect you!”

What I did, I’m not ashamed of. I lived in a world of playing in the sexual Olympics. I had sex and learned things sexually and was with people that I could have an amazing connection. That made me a better sexual lover in the life that I live now. I got to experience the world and travel as a girl from Eastern Pennsylvania. Most of my family doesn’t even have a passport. They have no desire to leave the country. So, the fact that I was able to enrich myself… during that year of darkness, I went through all my old photo albums from the road. I went through all my old journals and I was like, “Why the fuck are you letting these people make you hate yourself?”

But, it takes a minute. So, now that I’m here and able to reach out to some of the girls that are still in the business that I still communicate with, I’ve been trying to get my hands back in a little bit. I’m going to start directing some commercials for Kiiroo and some new products and events for Fleshlight. Now, I can be that person on the other side that’s like, “I’m going to warn you. It might be a little dark at first. Let me buffer this for you, but the best bet is to maybe have a friend who will erase bad comments from your social media before you go on it. Even if your five million comments are erased and you’re only left with 10. Those are the 10 that matter. Engage with them.”

I just want to kind of put the rulebook in place that’s like, “This is what you need to be prepared for.” People are judgmental and very hung up. If you recognize me on the street, it means you’ve watched a lot of my shit. When I am somewhere and a guy asks me for a photo, and I say no and they say, “Well, fuck you then!” I’m like, woah. I had this guy who was kind of stalking me. I didn’t want to take a picture, because it was in front of my New York home. When I would say no, he’d ask me, “Do you think you’re better than me? The girl who used to take dicks in her ass?” As a single woman, that terrifies you. When I’m at the point that I’m carrying a gun illegally, you’re scared for your life. This is about them, though, not me. It’s about these bullies, not me. I’m not going to, any longer, let them prevent me from attending events.

XBIZ: When did you begin to emerge from your chrysalis to explore the world anew?

Ann: I started it slowly by going to the South by Southwest Fleshlight Launch. I got to see Joanna Angel at SXSW and she was so warm and so wonderful. I got to reconnect with people that I just didn’t know yet how they felt about me. They either hated me or not. I realized that there is so much good in this business that I don’t want to turn my back on. Then, when I went to Denver Exxxotica, and got to sign my books and meet my fans in person, the fans would say to me, “Dude, it’s so great to see you in your secondary career.” The people that actually love me and loved what I did, are just as thrilled that I’m thriving and doing something else.

They don’t need to know what I went through… but they kinda do. Understanding it was those people, who spoke to me on Twitter nicely and supported my career every day, that propped me back up. It was those people that made me go, “All these other issues have been projected on me. But, I’m no longer going to accept that. I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say to me bounces off me and sticks on you.” It gave me the greatest purpose for my next book, which is going to be all about transition. Transition in any kind of celebrity situation, whether it’s an athlete or porn star.

Because, you do lose a bit of your identity, since some people really do hate you when you quit. But then, you find this whole new world of other people. What I found is that there are more people that are supportive of the journey, where they’re like, “It’s great to see someone get a second chance in life.” You just gotta be quiet sometimes to really hear what you need to hear. I read a quote that says, “The quieter you are, the louder you hear.” And I thought about that. When I shut out the chatter, like deleting people and blocking them… it’s a numbers game. Do I want to lose hundreds of followers? Yes I do!

XBIZ: In retrospect, did the trials and tribulations of that year forge you into a stronger person? Formidable enemies and trying circumstances often force us to transform for the better.

Ann: Yeah, I guess I really needed that year, even if it was depressing. It was a reset. It was a death, and I was mourning the loss of quite a few things: friendship, family, identity, purpose. There was not a greater purpose than going into a stripclub, packing it and having the house girls come up to me and say, “We always make so much money when you’re here.” I never partied on the road. I was never tardy. I did great shows. So, when you bring that energy, the whole room is happy. And it’s a good energy when you’re not a mess. That was a purpose. Other things that saved me were the Home & Garden channel and the Food Network, haha. There were days that I was just on my couch, watching “Flip or Flop” for eight hours on HGTV.

But, what I told myself was that I was not allowed to drink, because it’s a depressant. I wasn’t allowed to do drugs. I don’t consider weed a drug. I wasn’t allowed to smoke cigarettes, because I’m on the radio and I don’t want to hear that wheezing in my voice. I made all these rules for myself, and that’s what got me through it. When I made this list of what I was comfortable with, I toyed with the thought of shooting again. There was a day that I almost went and got tested again. I was on the phone with James Deen, going back and forth about this. And he just said, “Go get tested!” It would have been so easy. There was a clinic down the street. But, I took a step back and said, “No, what do you really want to do?” I really wanted to engage my fans again and be around the girls, but I didn’t want to expose myself to the health risks again.

I love the fact that my body is mine again. I’m still shooting photos and I’m going to do some magazine shoots. But I’m at this point where I gracefully aged off camera, and I don’t want to step back in and be competition for these girls. My best bet is to be a big sister. I’d love to be an active voice in the industry again, once the dust has settled and the industry has welcomed me back completely. There were girls complaining I was attending Exxxotica. It’s been two and a half years since I’ve seen them. I said to someone who mentioned this to me, “You know what saddens me the most about this situation, is that despite the new woman that I am, they’re still carrying a grudge.” So, I did the unthinkable and went to church, sometimes on a daily basis, just because I needed a quiet place to learn how to forgive. My fans never hurt me or really stalked me. It was just this thing. So, here we are at this beautiful place, where a part of me died and a new part of me grew.

XBIZ: Like a phoenix from the ashes! Tell us about your bright new future and what upcoming projects fans can look forward to.

Ann: I’m thrilled to be working on new projects that I can offer my fans. I’m doing a photoshoot with Holly Randall, and we will be promoting a new product. When I went to Austin, Texas, I pleaded my case with Fleshlight. I did a lot of anal, and it was something I got good at. Because I got good at it in the business, I got good at it in real life. In my personal life, what keeps me so young is all these young men I’m still having sex with. And so, for a lot of these young men, I’m their first anal experience. What I’m doing is teaching them, for all the other young women in their life. So, we decided that I am just savage with the anal, and that’s why we named my new anal texture, “Savage,” which released on May 18! I’m thrilled, because with “Savage” you can be like, “Fuck the inner savage in me.” There are so many tags with the word savage right now.

When you look back on your life, you realize what you have the most gratitude for. I have the most gratitude for porn. And I had to fight that. What I realized was, as much shit as I got, porn was everything to me. Most people won’t understand that, because they see it as dark. And sure, there’s dark in everything. When I worked at a diner, I smelled like food. I thought that was dark. When I look back, the moments I had on set… back in the ‘90s. Smoking with the lighting crew. Feeling safe with strangers in your same inner circle. Dressing nice for all these events. These are all girly things that I loved. And being on the road? I feel like I’m a smarter American for traveling all over the U.S. Ironically, the only U.S. state I didn’t visit was Alaska. Go figure, after all the “Paylin” fame!

Now, I realize, after my death and rebirth, I am forever grateful for the industry and the good parts of it. I’ve forgiven the bad and I’ve forgotten the bad. A mentorship situation is what I want to do now. There’s no doubt that I can help facilitate careers for these girls, because I’m out there networking. I’m out there meeting people, and because I’m being such a great face for the past of the industry and being so legit in my new career, I hope that the whole world starts to take this industry more seriously. Not just while they’re performing, but afterwards. I hope the world starts to realize we are people, and we deserve to be treated like people. And I want every girl after me to have a little bit slower of that death period, or not have any at all. I think I can really change that, because I’ve been there.

I can also be on the lookout. If a girl wants to transition out, I can have my little army of fans help her. Report people who are posting private information, help get comments deleted. I think that one of the biggest anxieties all these porn stars feel is, “What’s next?” It’s a nagging thing, and it’s the craziest thing, because you know you can never save enough money to live the rest of your life. You can live okay, but life is expensive. Not everyone is going to be fortunate enough to shoot until 42, like I did. These girls now have much shorter careers, yet they’re branded as much as I was in the industry.

XBIZ: And, what better way to mark your rebirth than the milestone of your 45th birthday? Tell us about this “redemption” phase of your life and how you’re looking to inspire others.

Ann: It is a great place where I am now. It’s why I wanted to celebrate my birthday with you guys! I’ve also been working with Mary Carey. She was a performer and feature dancer. She’s battled addiction for a very long time. We’ve been in and out of rehab with her. About eight months ago, I was taking her to church and trying to do everything. Two weeks ago. I got to go to her seven-month sobriety birthday and give her the chip. Now, I’m like the mom on “Bridesmaids” that likes to go to AA meetings. It’s just a powerful room full of people trying to better themselves. We’re taking weekly walks every Tuesday, and I’m finding activities to do with her that don’t require being in a bar.

There’s also Richelle Ryan. I pulled her into a fantasy football league for my channel this year. She knows her sports! No fucking doubt that girl can one day do a show with me, talking football. So, I’m definitely starting to get my web out now. I’m like, “Let me plant my seeds now.” I’m helping them all consider writing books. Fans want to read your story. I love autobiographies. They buy it. It’s a very soulful thing to write down your life. It’s very cathartic. To close that chapter of your life, which is why I think the “death” happened. Because, once my book was done, I was like, “The life is over!” Now, I’m in this place and working aggressively with Fleshlight, going back to Exxxotica, etc. I plan to do all the Exxxotica shows this year.

I had a lot of anxiety going, because you never know what people are gonna say, but everyone was so warm. They would say, “Oh my god! You look so good. You look so different.” I’m like, “Well, you know, when you’re on the road, you can tuck yourself in at 9:30. I don’t have an alarm clock!” I don’t sleep in past seven, but that’s a good 10 hours of sleep. I feel fucking amazing. It’s just been this lovely life, where I’ve realized my previous life was totally fucking awesome and nothing will ever beat that, but if I can do what I’m doing now and have a little bit of my previous life, well, that’s perfect.

Pornhub is also launching a new show called “The News @ SEX.” It’s going to be web-isodes. I’m doing their first episode. We went skydiving. And on May 17, I did a comedy show in L.A. at the UCB Theatre. It’s called the “Running Late Show With Scott Rogowsky.” I did a show with him in New York and what I realized about comedy and me, is that I can just sit down and read the direct messages I get, or do a Q&A. People ask porn stars questions, then one question leads to another. So, I’m ready to get back on stage a bit. I’m ready to keep my clothes on, on-set!

Then, May 18, I started Snapchatting. But, I’m not charging! I know this is a new business for the new girls. In my plan that I wrote myself, everything I’m doing is to make sure I’m not stepping on the toes of any of the girls that are still getting a lucrative income from the business. I’m gonna start just being more present for my fans, to thank them for my past, carry me to the future. And two weeks ago, I reached a billion views/downloads on Pornhub. First girl in history to do so. Quite a lot of masturbating. So, just like I predicted, there’s enough content of me that I don’t have to do anything new and they can still enjoy me. It’s timeless. I can watch “30 Rock” on Netflix on repeat, and then go right back. It’s like comfort food. That’s what my porn is. Like comfort food.

XBIZ: In light of life’s endings and new beginnings, tell us about your involvement with the thematically apropos “After Porn Ends 2.”

Ann: I think that was like another “come to Jesus” moment for me, because I sat there in the theater and I realized, “I’m okay. I have a gig. I have a lot going on.” It also made me take note of everyone else that was there, and how can I reach out and share my success with others.

I introduced Janine to an autograph guy in San Diego who does great work. He authenticates everything, and I knew she had Blink-182 posters and all this cool stuff. So, I tried to look through all of my contacts, and go through the girls that were at the event and say, “What can I share with them? How can I buddy system up and say, ‘Hey, I know these people, they’re great, you wanna host an event and get paid this?’”

That was the night I told my friends that were with me, “Shit, I can’t force bullying away from me, only to end up turning my back on other people that could benefit from me. I can’t give up. That’s not my style. I’m not that person. I’m a good neighbor. I want to be a good neighbor to these girls.”

I want to show them that we got this, so I said to Janine, “We’re stronger together as a group than we’ll ever be on our own.” We’re influencers. I’m teaching them now how to use Hootsuite, and how to build social media to be affiliates — whether it’s affiliates for adults or other things they enjoy like clothing lines. I’m teaching them all, via Skype, how to sit down and do all of these things, because they are who they are.

I think Janine’s book would be so good and Janine’s story is last in “After Porn Ends,” whereas mine is first. Hers is heavy, and a hard way to end the documentary. I always think you should end on a high note. But her story was so important, because Janine is one of the most popular girls from the early days of my porn career. And so easily, she’s been forgotten, even by the company owners. I’d like to reach out to some company owners and ask them to offer more jobs to girls that were in the business. Whether it’s sales jobs for toys or other things.

That’s how it used to be. You’d walk into all these warehouses, and the girl at the front desk was a porn star from 20 years ago. They all hired from within. We need to get back to that. We need to start treating the business like a family again. Also, mainstream sources like the opinions of performers, and you get paid for this!

I thought the documentary was great. The history is what I loved the most. I loved Johnnie Keyes and Georgina Spelvin’s bits. Georgina Spelvin is the oldest living porn star in the U.S. and she was in “The Devil in Miss Jones,” and the story about how she got the role will fascinate you. She was on set, providing the food and they asked her to read with someone. And so she read, and they loved what she did and they asked her if she wanted to do it, and she did.

And she had a regular job. She would take days off her regular job to go into New York to shoot these movies. She only shot a couple of these movies, but she just wrote a book called “The Devil Made Me Do It.”

I also thought the Darren James story was interesting and powerful. What I thought was most interesting about his story was after I tweeted some photos about him, I got a lot of backlash from people in the business who seemed to dislike him because he contracted HIV. They feel he blamed it on the industry, and so I went back to all of them and direct messaged them and said, “It’s not here nor there, but what if it was you? How would you want us to treat you?”

That’s the way you have to look at this. He was a human being who was a part of our industry. So, he left and decided to be an advocate for AIDS Healthcare. I think a lot of us would have been pushed into that avenue. You become an activist for something that really affected your life. He works at the draw center down here on Wilshire. I got to meet him for coffee after the premiere and I thought, “You’re about to sit across the table from your biggest fear for the past 20 years: contracting HIV on set.”

While we were sitting there having coffee, there was a shutdown in the industry. Same day. Told myself, “No, you’re not going to get yourself tested, Lisa. You’re good! You’ve done enough.”

But, his story is fascinating, and what’s more fascinating about it than anything is that he was in the military before he got in the business. So he was able to use his VA insurance, he’s healthy, he works out, it’s dormant in his system. I think what I’ve learned from him is he can educate people not to fear it. It’s no longer a death sentence. You just have to be ready to step up to the plate and take extra good care of your health. Still, I was saddened by the dismal cloud over the business where everyone wanted to be judgmental about him being a part of the documentary. He was a great part of it. It’s supposed to be a cautionary tale. It brought reality to the story. Like, yeah this could happen. We can’t blame someone for getting it though.

So, for the next couple of people that get it in the industry, though, I hope we can find a way to embrace them. I wish there was some sort of support group that was able to go, “We’re gonna do a charity event. Let’s all bring out our porn. Let’s rent out a venue! Let’s sign stuff and sell it.” Like, we do this for a lot of other things, like Toys for Tots, so why don’t we have this for our industry? I think we should, because it’s going to happen again and we can’t blame that person. We just have to say, “Okay, you’re one of us. You’ve got something that’s life changing. You need a team around you. We’re all stepping up to the plate.”

I can go to my fans. If people remember Lucas Stone. He had a stroke while driving his car. He was a male performer and he sat in his car long enough that the stroke caused a lot of disability. He is finally getting out of a wheelchair now, but it’s been years. When that first happened, I set up a GoFundMe with his family immediately, and right off the bat my fans raised $5,000. Which was enough to build proper handles and add details to his home that he would need. It took me no effort.

I hope from watching that, the industry can soften a bit and say, “The next time it happens, we’ll have people that step up.” I know that Wicked does the AIDS Walk every year, which is awesome. But you think we couldn’t do a porn star walk if we started saving in advance for the next person that’s infected? This would be great for all of us. There was a lot of fun stories, too. Brittany Andrews has that great laugh that’s so intoxicating, so when you see her you giggle a bit. It went from my story, where you see me having fun, to ending on Janine’s story, which is a little dark. She actually admits that she went through her dark phase of death too, where she called a suicide hotline and they told her, “No one can help you right now, the doctor’s not in.” And she said, “Well, I guess it’s not my day to die!” That was enough for her. Some people would have just done it! 

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