Mia Li and Tasha Reign are not your average soldiers. Sworn to protect the industry’s talent, they’re stronger, wiser … and armed like battle-hardened crusaders.
Li leads the battalion, wearing the president’s emblem, while Tasha dons the chairperson’s medallion. Together, they march as the vanguard, waving the flag of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) with pride and the utmost honor.
I would love to make APAC something that our entire adult community wants to be a part of. I want people to come to the meetings, and discuss the industry and just really string together to work as a team. I want everyone to have fun and get to know each other!
And when they yell, with a battlecry that can be heard all over Los Angeles and beyond, the masses cannot help but be drawn to their clarion call — for these two possess hearts of gold and personalities brighter than the sun.
It’s evident to any member of their potent performer army that Reign and Li exude power. They stand tall and with confidence, with passion practically dripping from every pore. They breathe, eat and live adult. The clear markings of leadership adorn them.
Though the terrain they scout is new, Li and Reign are no rookies when it comes to bloodied battles — in fact, they’re seasoned veterans, for they’ve fought alongside adult’s greatest defenders in the Prop 60 plight; rose from the ashes of “free” porn decimating the biz; and now hope to put an end to the blurred lines in the ongoing battle of “consent.”
As they tumble into uncharted territory — this year marks their first time as APAC board members — XBIZ takes you right into the battlefield for an exclusive first look at what APAC has brewin’ for 2018. At ease, soldier, because you’re in good hands.
XBIZ: Let’s start off simple! Tell us how you got your start in the industry.
Mia Li: I started with camming, but I got into the adult industry through a Craigslist ad! That actually wasn’t my first attempt at getting in, either. I knew there were different gateways into the industry, but that Craigslist was a popular one.
When I started, I was very self aware, you know? I understood that, like in every industry, there were certain power dynamics that existed, and that some people would act as gatekeepers. I was really aware of that. So, when my first agent was sketchy, I signed with a different agency. Now, it’s four years later, and here I am! Still camming, still in adult.
Tasha Reign: I got into the industry in a bit of an odd way. I was in high school, and I was watching “Girls Next Door” on E! And, I thought to myself, “That’s it! That’s my job. That’s what I want to do. I want to be naked. I just want to be naked in front of a camera! And party, and have fun. I mean, if you don’t want to do that, then I don’t know what you’re thinking!” I told everyone in my hometown of Laguna Beach, “That’s what I wanna do!” I think nobody believed me, cause it’s a real conservative neighborhood. It’s like the Bible belt of Southern California. I don’t say that lightly. It’s a very small town, we are very Republican, very white … very conservative. I feel like I didn’t even know that when I lived there! ‘Cause it was all I had ever seen.
And, my boyfriend at the time was like, “Ew. Why would you ever want to be a whore? It’s disgusting.” He really talked down to me about that job. I think it probably made me want to do it more! And when I moved up to L.A., you know, my parents supported me so that I could go to college, but on the low … I was stripping at a club called Silver Reign just for fun! I didn’t need the money, I just wanted to do it.
I was, you know, socializing while I was dancing and somebody invited me up to the Playboy Mansion. From there, it just kind of spiraled. I got to model for them as my first job, and it was so exciting. I had so many great experiences up there, hanging out every weekend during college! After a while, I was like, “You know, I would like to make more money than this. And I wanna be able to shoot all the time, not just once in awhile for a pictorial.” So, I tested for Playmate after I had already had, like, four things out with Playboy. I had a personal relationship with Hef. and he made me a Cyber Girl with those testing photos. I was so mad! I was like, “Fuck this. I’m going to do porn.” And so, I basically just researched all the big name girls, like Tori Black and Alexis Texas. And, I just went to their agency, LA Direct models, and I just signed with them!
That seemed like the smart choice to make, and I just did it. That’s how I did it. I showed up with pictures of me in Playboy, and was like, “Look! I can be a porn star!” And Derek was like, “Yeah, I think you’re going to work a lot.” I was with them for seven years, and recently just this year, decided I wanted to represent myself and then, I signed with OC Modeling, because I am not great with schedules it turns out! I love the industry, and love shooting still. I just feel honored that I’m still here.
XBIZ: Mia, you’ve been in the industry for four years, and Tasha you’ve been in the industry for seven … what prompted both of you to join APAC now?
Li: Outside of APAC, I volunteer at an LGBT community center, I mentor incarcerated youth … and even though I have a firm grasp on the concept, I attended LGBT sensitivity training. I know that, regardless of anything, I wanted to serve.
I have a YouTube channel where I try to destigmatize sex work, and as a queer woman of color, I speak frankly about why activism is so important. My vision has always been to help the community. I identify as a sex worker, and being in adult film has formed my politics. That is why I’m on the APAC board, because I want to take what I’ve learned and implement it into my community!
Reign: So, we recently had the Prop 60 election, and I kind of went psycho! I got so excited and I put my all into it. Which, I feel like I do with everything. I’m passionate.
I went to different college campuses and spoke on behalf of not passing prop 60, and then I got other people involved. APAC really worked together, the FSC worked together … everyone really came together as one unit. And I believe that had so much to do with why it didn’t pass, you know?
I also think that we can channel that kind of energy into everything else we do as a business. Our business is really based on independence and people that don’t necessarily work together all the time, because we’re this minority group. For a lot of reasons, I feel like we’re here and we represent ourselves. And that’s great in a million ways! But, when it comes to politics, I don’t think it’s working. I want us to be more fully represented in the eyes of the law.
XBIZ: Why would you say it’s not working? What are those issues, politically, that you feel the industry is struggling with right now?
Reign: There are so many. I mean, I would love for us to be more respected by government, by the capitol. I mean, we went up there to speak on, I believe, Measure B … even though it felt great, and I believe we were taken seriously, it just wasn’t necessarily a representation of our industry that was up there. There were people, but none of the faces that I’m familiar with … and I just feel like there should have been more people.
It should be something where it’s not, like, an uncommon thing that we all bond together and represent ourselves, or fight for our permits. Our permits should be a lot cheaper, so it would be real nice to do everything rightfully by the law. The lawmakers are willfully ignorant, you know?
It would be really cool if everyone could come together in that way, and just make the adult industry a lot more legitimate. Even when it comes to banking … there should be no reason that Wells Fargo can shut my bank account down. They won’t shut down other minority bank accounts, but they’ll shut down an adult performer’s bank account? Does that seem right? No. I’m just really passionate about it, and all of those reasons, I was like, “I gotta get in there! I have some time on my hands to do it!”
The timing was just right!
XBIZ: So, what would you two say, personally, are the top issues you’re going to focus on as president and chairperson respectively?
Li: Above all things, I want to focus on educating new and old performers. We’re booking Dr. Miao from Cutting Edge Testing to help clarify protocols and the science behind testing. You know, we understand that false positives occur, but a lot of performers have no idea where it happens — is it a sample thing or a personal thing? I want to help bring clarity to this protocol that we all voluntarily take place in.
I also want to help people with their expectations of the industry. That way we can offer assistance in properly navigating situations, and eventually get them what they want — or expect — from this industry.
As in every industry, there’s exploitation and behaviors that are problematic. How do we, as a collective, address that and change that? I think education is important and helps with efficiently changing that, too. I want to help address that, clear up the issues.
And, as someone who has worked with other organizations and demographics, I want to help people self-identify their needs. It’s important that the community understands that they can reach out to APAC. If there’s things happening in the industry, such as problems with privacy, or managing a career properly … I want to help people through this. I want to give people advice on what to do in certain situations, because this isn’t knowledge you’d find in the civilian world, because these are not civilian issues.
I’m also looking forward to being more active politically. So often legislation is written by individuals who have no real insight on the industry. And, even though they say that their intention is for worker safety, in actuality when that legislation is pushed through or implemented ... it’s harmful to our industry.
So, political action in regards to laws that impact our bodies ... that’s essential to APAC. I remember, before I was on the board, that APAC was really integral to mobilizing members to help with Prop 60. It was their jobs to uplift individuals who were not often given an opportunity to give input on the laws about their body. You know, to speak up. I’m proud to be a part of that.
Reign: I feel like the industry is being impacted by tube sites, and because of that, performers are looking for new ways to make revenue and money. I mean, a lot of people do porn for money, and a lot of people do porn because they love sex, but also for the money. Bottom line, people do porn for money. So, we need to figure out a way and make sure our performers are still shooting even if they’re not big name stars, or they’re not working for the big name companies, that they are able to find other platforms to make money. They can go on a camming site, get an OnlyFans account, peddle their content and make revenue, you know? I really think that’s my main objective right now.
And, then, testing. People want to make sure that they’re safe, and they’re doing their job the right way in a way that the whole industry is behind, so that we all stay safe and protected. I mean, that’s an issue all the time. That’s something that’s not going to go away. But that’s just the nature of the business … well, the nature of sex! At least we contain it, you know? We identify the source.
Then, you know, I think people have a lot of different issues they’d like to address. For me, though, I really want to make sure, for myself and other performers, when they get to set they’re always in a safe environment. I want to make sure that the way things are going, they are comfortable. And if, for some reason, they’re not … they have the voice and ability to speak out and seek action. Whatever that may be. Whether it’s sexual harassment, or the set is something they’re not comfortable in, they feel like they can speak out. I don’t know if everyone feels that entitlement that I feel — that sense of strength. That’s something I want to press and make sure everyone feels.
I would love to make APAC something that our entire adult community wants to be a part of. I want people to come to the meetings, and discuss the industry and just really string together to work as a team. I want everyone to have fun and get to know each other! I want to reach out to my peers in the industry, and try to make sure that everyone knows what APAC is in the first place, why it exists, ways to get involved and when and where to attend the meetings.
You know, everybody has their own opinion and issues, and APAC is here to represent the voices of all performers!
XBIZ: You’ve told us what you two would like to do and what you want to focus on for the 2018 year, but what responsibilities has the board already entrusted you with?
Li: With the way our board is organized right now, Tasha and I actually share similar responsibilities and weight. In our APAC meetings, we identify our strengths and weaknesses. I, personally, make sure board members are clear with our intentions and goals, so when we take action ... there’s progress. I also track the metrics of our board’s progress, and help with the organization.
I’m happy to have the board organized into committees, because it’s easier for people to invest their energy into things they love and are good at. If you have self-identified interests, APAC encourages you to put all your energy into that. Essentially, the APAC is a board of volunteers, you know? So it’s important to make sure that we are motivated to work on our individuals projects, since we also have our careers to support and manage!
Reign: What’s great about APAC is that we all work in these committees. So, whether it’s social media or emails, or the actual physical meeting every other month, we all have our own units.
I don’t feel overwhelmed with everything, because there are people taking care of the things I don’t really know how to do, like spreadsheets or organization! Right now, when people reach out to us, press especially, that’s one thing I’m in charge of, and I feel pretty capable of doing it!
I also work with planning for the meetings and trying to get a panel to figure out who is going to present to the performers. One of the great things about APAC is that we have a panel come in and basically educate the attendees on whatever the panel is themed around. Whether it’s talent testing coming in and talking to us about diseases, or if it’s an accountant coming in and talking about taxes … that’s something everyone needs to know about!
Basically, if people reach out to us in regards to Prop 60 or things like that, we’re here to offer advice from the performer’s perspective. That’s what we do together as a team.
I also really love social media and being on my phone. Instead of going to rehab for my social media and phone addiction, I’m just going to channel it into APAC. I actually just started an official APAC instagram — follow us at APAC_Social!
On Twitter, I’m definitely going to be actively reaching out to performers and just figuring out ways to interact with them on that type of level. I’m always clicking away on my phone, you know! And I think that will help garner a presence. Something that APAC was doing before, but I’d like to do more of, is little video updates on Twitter about “Performer 101.” Showcase protocol and all that good stuff.
Just the social media aspect of it. Also, because I am a huge advocate for consent, and because I’m very passionate about this subject, I feel like I will be different by putting a focus on that. Because of my new focus with educating young fraternity men, because I’m such an advocate of your body and your choice … like, just because you’re in the adult industry doesn’t mean anyone can just touch you. And people, unfortunately, due to a lack of media literacy just don’t know how to interact with stars, so I’d like to change that. I think that is something that differentiates me.
XBIZ: Young fraternity men must love you, hah! How did you come up with the idea to lecture college-aged boys on consent?
Reign: Well, I do lectures occasionally at UCLA. I do some in their sociology department, some about sex and health … all sorts of classes. One of the students was a fraternity brother, and he was like, “Do you think you can come to AEPi and just talk to our pledges about consent? They don’t know anything!”
Well, that’s not even the case. I came and they knew everything! They were so beyond what I expected that I felt silly being there! I realized that I needed to understand more details than I already did, because they brought up a lot of real life experiences that I did not have the answer to, and I’m not a lawyer! I don’t know enough, so now I realize that I need to go back to the drawing board and really, thoroughly understand these California laws, and how to give information to these 21-year-old guys that need it.
So, it was really exciting and the fraternity brothers were so supportive, and now they’re telling the presidents of all the fraternities about it. I want to call it: “Fraternity Sisters” and have adult performers from Nikki Benz to Mia, and go to campuses and speak on behalf of consent, and what it means. Those boys learn sex from us, whether we like it or not, and I don’t like it … but they do! It’s the reality.
You could really see their excitement. At the end, I made them write on a piece of paper what I could do better. I was really preparing myself for the worst, but every single message was nice. They were the sweetest. They gave me so much confidence!
XBIZ: Back to APAC, tell us a little about the board, and how you’ve managed to integrate yourselves into the team . Did you seek any advice from your predecessors, or anyone in the board in general? What advice did they have to offer?
Li:I think from the get-go, Chanel (Preston) and Ela (Darling) were really clear about how there would always be critics. Be it mainstream critics, or harsh critiques from within our own industry. They were going to exist, and they both said that we should not let that criticism deter us. We’re all here because we want to do better for our community.
And, likewise, don’t let people’s criticisms in regards to how much you’re doing, or whether you’re really doing enough, impede your desire to help the community.
As for the transition, the entire board was new, so it was a huge change of pace! There were definitely some growing pains. I’d say we had some issues with communications, because there were so many voices trying to talk at once, and everyone has a different communication style, you know?
But, we realized that everyone who applied to be a part of this board did so voluntarily. Everyone was there out of their own commitment. So, we’re really held together by the passion we all have for this community. I’m very, very proud of this year’s board.
Reign: Chanel is incredible. I really love what she stands for, and we see eye-to-eye on most things. Her shoes will be hard to filled, but she’s definitely still guiding the whole board! She’s there to make sure that when the emails come in, that I’m answering those emails. And you know, she’s there to watch over me and make sure I’m not overspending when I’m looking at venues for our meetings. She’s so hands-on, it’s her baby! You can really tell by the way she’s involved. She was even at our last meeting.
I think she’d like to be in the shadows more, so we can fully take it over. But, because every single board member is a new member this year, I don’t know how somebody can transition with one meeting. So, we’ve just now made the rules work a little differently, where next year, it’s not a whole new board all at once … instead, only a few new members get inducted at a time, because otherwise it’s just too difficult.
XBIZ: Another important advocacy group in the industry is, of course, the FSC . Do APAC and the FSC work hand-in-hand to address industry issues, or is that a relationship you two would like to help enhance?
Li: The FSC is definitely a different animal than APAC. You know ... it’s an organization and it’s staffed. It’s their day to-day job! But, it is very nice to have the FSC as a resource, especially when it comes to broader issues. Their ear to the ground is way different than your average performer.
They have the power of this well-seasoned board, which includes lawyers and people that have experience with grassroots. But the wonderful part about people on their board and staff is that they are knowledgeable people that want to willingly help APAC. They give us the time of day, and they’re willing to collaborate with us. The FSC works because they work with the entire adult industry. We work towards very similar goals.
Reign: I think we offer advice from the performer’s perspective. We’re different from the FSC in that aspect. FSC does represent our industry in a lot of ways, and it’s wonderful, but they are often for the producer and director, which is not always the same as the performer.
We actually work closely with them. It’s great to be able to ask them questions too, because they have so much knowledge and people with experience, they can just help us out. They really, I believe, paved a way for the industry to be represented in the eyes of the law. They made it feel legit.
Now, we’re the performers who are doing that. I feel like they’re very supportive of us, which I feel is amazing. I don’t know if it’s like that in other industries, I don’t think it is. It’s pretty exciting and cool that we can have meetings with them and ask Eric questions like, “Hey! What do I do if I want to pass this?” I love that.
XBIZ: Well, it seems like you two have a lot of stuff coming up for 2018 . Are there any words of encouragement you’d like to give to new (and veteran!) performers who are still curious about what APAC has to offer?
Le:I encourage new performers and old performers to not be hesitant and to join APAC! It exists to support all performers at any stage in their career.
We’re really developing content in the form of a new performer packet. It’s going to really showcase what is APAC, what it means to be a performer and it’s going to include basic kernels of knowledge, you know? Things like where to get tested, and so much more. APAC is a resource for all types of performers. We’re here for you. We’re just an email away!
Reign: APAC is a fairly new group, you know? It’s kind of made for novice performers and people who are coming into the industry that need help and guidance.
We have so many goals and so many projects coming up. We definitely are trying to make sure that new performers have all the tools they need to succeed in today’s economy.
Porn is just different than it was a few years ago. The industry changes every few months, and we’re here to answer your questions.
I’m honored to be the Chairperson of APAC, and I’m excited for what the future holds. I hope that our whole industry gets behind it and joins APAC. I’m here if anyone needs anything or has any questions!
For more information, visit APAC-USA.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. APAC can also be found on Twitter @APACSocial or Instagram @APAC_Social.il.co