Lumi Ray: Adult Stardom? Yes Chef!

Lumi Ray: Adult Stardom? Yes Chef!

Back when Instagram controversially outed adult performers’ legal names whenever they signed up for verification, several of Lumi Ray’s friends texted her, warning that her account was now telling the world she was also known as Lumina Adams.

She shrugged it off with her signature laid-back nonchalance — perhaps a by-product of having been born and raised in Northern California’s Humboldt County in the woodsy “Emerald Triangle,” famous as the largest cannabis-producing region in the U.S.

No matter what path I’m on, I’m always going to have to put myself out there. If I want to be in a space, I need to make my own room in that space.

“I don’t really care,” Ray tells XBIZ. “I don’t keep porn separate from my life. Lumi Ray is Lumina. There’s not really a difference. Unless I’m playing an elaborate character, most of the time I’m just myself in movies.”

The interview takes place over a delicious meal, well-prepared food being one of the constants in Ray’s life. She began learning the intricacies of professional cooking at 17 and by 24 was a veteran of some of Humboldt County’s most demanding kitchens.

Even now, long after exiting the “kitchen confidential” lifestyle for the world of sex work, Ray frequently rereads and quotes the late Anthony Bourdain, who remains a constant lodestar for her as she pursues her ambitions. Beneath her NorCal chill, Ray is “hella motivated” as her hometown locals are fond of saying.

The path from her culinary beginnings to her current bona fide porn star status — directors and studios now create scenes and even features specifically for Ray — was gradual and steady. It began when she opened an OnlyFans account in November 2021, almost on a whim.

“Early on, my OnlyFans was just me, naked,” she explains. “I started trying to promote it on Twitter and Reddit, and then I tried to promote my nudes on Instagram. I was so clueless that a close friend had to tell me, ‘Stop! You’ll get banned.’”

By a stroke of good luck, a hometown friend happened to be the sister of social media personality and marketing pro Sawyer, aka @NotYourPublicist, who at the time was repping OF megastar Stella Barey and others. Ray consulted with Sawyer, who gave her advice and guidance on how to run her page.

Reinvigorated, Ray’s OnlyFans hustle started paying dividends to the point where she could afford to quit cooking.

“Before OnlyFans, I did nude modeling, but I never thought I could make money being naked,” Ray recalls. “Then suddenly I started getting messages from porn agencies and production companies.”

Asked what the scouting process was like, she laughs, offering, “They asked me if my boobs were natural.”

Ray enjoyed creating on OnlyFans, and continues making OF content to this day, but she was curious about porn. Her knowledge of the field however, was limited to the occasional self-pleasure sesh watching free girl-girl tube site fare.

“I didn’t even know who Johnny Sins was!” she reveals, bemused. “I knew him more from the memes — ‘That’s the guy who looks like Mr. Clean!’”

Nevertheless, Ray decided to go for it. She accepted an offer from a newbie-focused company, which flew her to Arizona for her debut alongside seasoned stud Tyler Nixon.

“My first scene felt like this weight lifted up,” she says. “Tyler is lovely and it helps that he looks like a Zac Efron-type Disney Channel star. He was very sweet and totally not intimidating. Everyone on set was cool. Any idea I had of what it was going to be like, faded. Any worry or opinions faded. I just knew that decision was going to change the trajectory of my future forever. I didn’t know if it was going to be for better or for worse; I just knew I didn’t care what society thought. It was the first time in my life when I made a decision for myself and I felt good about it.”

Shortly thereafter, Ray moved to LA. Landing in the porn scene in early 2022, she set out to win over studios, agencies and co-stars with her unique personality and what director Mike Quasar once referred to, in a much-noticed tweet, as an “insane” body.

“My first agency signed me but then proceeded to tell me, ‘You have a very young face but you have too womanly of a body,’” she says, rolling her eyes. “‘You can’t be a teenager, you can’t be a MILF, so booking you is going to be really hard.’”

Rather than resign herself to just shooting her own content, however, Ray decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I knew no matter what path I’m on, I’m always going to have to put myself out there,” Ray affirms. “If I want to be in a space, I need to make my own room in that [particular] space. So I took it upon myself to reach out to certain companies. I would tell them to book me through the agency because I wasn’t trying to fuck anybody over, but I thought, ‘If you don’t know how to book me, then I will do the work.’”

That’s when the bookings started pouring in. Over the course of the meal, Ray shares some highlights since then, starting with the cinematic short “Hopeless,” which ended up winning the 2024 XBIZ Award for Featurette of the Year. The film was written and directed by industry DP Jeffrey John Hart, for Holly Randall Productions.

“Jeff wrote the ‘Hopeless’ script with me and Casey Calvert in mind,” Ray explains. “I had worked with him on Adult Time sets with Stella Smut, and one day Stella asked me to do my own version of the ‘When Harry Met Sally’ scene where she calls him after finding out her ex is getting married and she’s crying. And I was full-on improvising and crying on camera at Codey Steele, and being totally hysterical. After that, Jeffrey wanted me to act for him.”

It also didn’t hurt that Ray loved photographing landscapes back in Humboldt, and admires great photographers.

“Imagine how I felt when I got a DM from Holly Randall herself asking me to do ‘Hopeless!’” she exclaims. “Then Jeffrey sent me the script and they told me that Casey would be my co-star. I was like, ‘No brainer!’”

Ray describes the demanding three-day shoot as fun and inspiring.

“I love working with people who care,” she says. “It gives me a chance to approach a role in different ways and feel like I can put more heart into a project. I mean, Jeff, Holly, Casey, plus Codey and Ivy Wolfe — what more can you ask for?”

It turns out she could indeed ask for more, as evidenced by “Amuse Bouche,” a big French-flavored Dorcel production constructed around Ray’s and co-star Nathan Bronson’s real-life experiences as cooks.

“Ricky Greenwood reached out during awards season 2023 and asked me and Nathan if we were interested in doing this chef movie,” Ray says. “Then Ricky’s screenwriter, Shawn Alff, contacted me and I said that I would love to watch his writing process and maybe answer questions about working in kitchens. So we sat down at a cafe in Tarzana and brainstormed the script outline. He’s a very brilliant writer and to sit and witness his process was a great learning experience for me.”

Being on Greenwood’s set for 12 to 18 hours a day didn’t feel like a burden to Ray, because she was creating something that excited her.

“It almost felt like this parallel to my past life, being in kitchens again, being hot on set because I’m in a chef coat all day,” she reminisces. “It was kind of funny to go from something that I was doing in real life for so long, to all of a sudden playing dress-up as pretty much a past version of myself.”

“Amuse Bouche” also helped Ray overcome a bout of impostor syndrome.

“On that kitchen set, part of me finally had this realization that I put in the work and I deserve to be where I am now with my career,” she shares. “I came to realize, ‘OK, every move, every decision I’ve made in my career has led me to this. And I’m very grateful and proud of myself for that.’”

These days, the Lumi Ray brand increasingly tends to reflect her real-life passions, which enhances the organic appeal of her marketing efforts.

“People out there are paying attention to my background and my interests outside of porn,” she says. “When people realize through social media that you’re interested in things like cooking and boxing and photography, it becomes part of what they want to see you do. I love to act, but most of the time, there’s always still a core sense of Lumina in each thing. So it’s cool that I get to do projects that highlight that.”

After Ray posted about taking up boxing to stay fit, Hart and Randall pitched her on doing a boxing sequence for “Hopeless.”

“They saw how serious I am about training,” she says. “Then last year I also did this rom-com for Erika Lust — Casey Calvert’s “Blind Date” with Michael Vegas, Alexis Tae and Casey — and my character was a photographer, like I am.”

Ray’s latest venture is a podcast called “No Substitutions” — arguably a logical next step, since she herself has been a frequent guest on a variety of podcasts.

Ray says she plans to highlight people with compelling insights to share.

“Guests are from all walks of life, not just the industry,” Ray says. “A lot of my questions and interviews are based around the guest’s upbringing, and then their work, plus life, love, loss. I’ve listened to podcasts for a few years now and I’m always drawn toward the ones that show something vulnerable. So that’s kind of what I’m trying to do.

“With food incorporated into it!” she adds with a laugh.

Ray’s podcasting and comedy projects are just part of her very busy 2024 calendar. She is taking certification courses to become an intimacy coordinator. She also has plans to direct for the first time. That project could take the form of an homage to the 1985 cult lesbian classic “Desert Hearts,” which sparked creative inspiration when she recently saw it for the first time.

Despite the hectic pace, two years into her career, Ray feels more in charge than ever.

“I’m very grateful for the life I lived before porn,” she reflects. “When I got in at 24, I already had a sense of self, so I wasn’t going to let people tell me how to do all this. I have navigated my whole career based on what feels right to me. I don’t think I would be where I am if I had started at 18. And I definitely don’t think I would have the relationship I have with the industry, and with sex, if I had started at that age.

“I learned early on that you have to do what feels good,” she concludes. “For me, doing porn didn’t change my perspective on sex or make me resentful toward the industry or men, because every decision I’ve made, I have been fully present for and had full accountability.”


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