Lacie Heart, 18, is a leggy blonde from San Luis Obispo, Calif. While working as a stripper in the San Fernando Valley, she was encouraged by an adult actor to give porn a try. She reluctantly agreed in August to meet with adult uber-agent Derek Hay of Direct Models. As of late January, she is a Vivid contract star.
"I like having sex, and I don't mind being naked," she says. So Heart thought nothing of it when Hay asked her to get undressed so he could look her over. Quickly, however, her confidence plummeted. "It was the most uncomfortable I ever felt because you can tell he's scrutinizing your body," she says. "He didn't even say anything. He just stares at you. I seriously almost had a heart attack."
Of course she passed muster and rapidly became one of Direct Models' most sought-after starlets, shooting for top companies like Adam & Eve, Digital Playground and Playboy. Vivid signed her to a contract in January.
Yet during her first month, she wasn't really sure what she wanted out of the business. "The more I did it, the more I wanted to stay in it," Heart says.
As many industry experts will tell any fledgling star just starting out, a good relationship with an agent can be pivotal, not only to a performer's bookings but to her whole outlook on the business. Georgia Peach, a 21-year-old from Tampa, Fla., says of her agent, Mark Spiegler: "He doesn't whore you out. He doesn't treat you like shit. He gets you the work that you want, but he doesn't overwork you."
Peach is a green-eyed blonde with girl-next-door appeal. (As one fan posted to AdultDVDTalk.com, she's "take-her-home-to-meet-your-mother hot.") Her resume includes studying to be an electrician and managing a movie theater. She had planned on doing just a few Internet sex scenes to make some money, but when everyone found out, Peach figured: "If I'm going to go, I want to go big. I want to be the biggest anal whore of all time." Since coming to California in April, she's appeared in more than 60 releases, mainly gonzo, from companies like Red Light District and Evil Angel.
Whether you're a new performer or an experienced hand, a porn set can be the ultimate pressure cooker, pushing people — many of whom have never met before — to their physical and emotional limits.
"I love it all as long as you're into the person," Peach says. "Sometimes people don't even try to work with you. Every scene I have, I want everyone to enjoy it."
The Good, The Bad
"I've met a lot of really awesome men in the business," Franchezca Valentina, 21, says. "But you've got to take the good with the bad, and unfortunately there are those few."
Valentina, who has been in the business since October working for Platinum X, Diabolic and others, claims that surviving in the industry has nothing to do with looks. "Their attitude is what really gets to me because attitude is everything. It can either turn you on to someone or turn you completely off," she says.
Valentina recounts a shoot where she was dressed like a schoolgirl. Her co-star took out a Bible and told her to hold it. When she refused, he taunted her about being religious. She wasn't religious but she didn't want to insult other people's religion. That taught Valentina the importance of being on your feet because people will try to make you do anything. "And if you're not ready and prepared mentally for it, you don't know how to respond," she says.
"I try to make every situation positive," Russian native Maya Hills, 18, says. If someone on the set makes her feel uncomfortable, she works with her agent to resolve the situation as tactfully as possible. "We don't cause a scene," Hills says. "We don't get rude or anything like that. It's just not worth it. The [adult] community is so small, word travels so quickly."
Hills, a 5'7" blond, started performing in October. Adult photographer Suze Randall calls her "drop-dead gorgeous, adorably sweet and nasty as hell."
Being an adult star "is a dream for me," Hills says. But she notes the tremendous pressure regarding how you look, how you're supposed to feel, how you're supposed to act.
Adult actress Brooke Haven seems at ease with the industry's emphasis on physical perfection. "I've done a lot of stuff to myself since I've been in the business to give myself a whole new look," Haven says. She's lost more than 20 pounds in recent months, gone blonder and has changed her dressing style. "I'm about to get my veneers done," she adds, and she also is considering a chin implant. She even tried the growing fad of bleaching the skin around the anus (popularized by Tabitha Stevens, who had it done on the E! channel) but didn't see much of a difference.
At 26 and with just over a year in the business, Haven is more of a veteran than the other girls. But a look at her performances, as well as dozens of box covers (for Acid Rain, VCA and others), shows someone who's arguably one of the most striking actresses in adult today. Haven recently inked a non-exclusive contract with Vicious Media. As part of the deal, she'll get to direct and produce.
How do these starlets' careers affect their relationships with their family? Heart had been in the business three weeks when her parents found out. "My mom freaked out," Heart says. "We didn't talk for a couple of weeks after that, and she wouldn't let me talk to my sister. But it's better now. She kind of realized that she still wants a relationship with me because I'm still her daughter. She doesn't support what I'm doing. Neither does my dad. But we're still really good friends."
Heart's sister is in high school. "She's really innocent, and I would never want her to do this," she says. When word got out about Heart's work, people would taunt her sister, "‘Oh, do you fuck like her?' I don't like that she's having to go through this."
Although her new status as a Vivid Girl likely will mean greater exposure, Heart says that her family likes that she'll be working less as a contract girl and technically won't be having as much sex. "And it'll be prettier, classier stuff because it's Vivid, not gonzo," she says.
Hills refers to her mother as "the light of my life." Her mother knows she's in adult and isn't thrilled about it. "But as long as I'm happy and healthy and I'm OK with what I'm doing, she couldn't be any happier," Hills says. "I'm not going to be in this business forever. It's just a stepping stone to my future."
That future also includes aspirations of launching a lingerie company with her mother acting as vice president.
So what does it take to last in the business?
"There are so many girls that are in and out," Peach says. "My goal is to try and keep a little bit of longevity, keep bringing something new to the table." For Peach, that includes "changing your look, your hair color, keeping yourself in a good state of mind and staying healthy and pulling no punches. Don't look like you're a crackhead," she says. To stay grounded, "You have to like what you do. If porn becomes a job, then I need to take a break for a long time."
Peach recognizes a tension between keeping an image that everyone likes and staying true to herself. She's well aware that part of her following is drawn to what she describes as her "huge ass." It presents a problem when she wants to shed some pounds. "When I start losing weight, people bitch that I'm losing my ass," she says.