Vanna Bardot: In It to Win It

Vanna Bardot: In It to Win It

Vanna Bardot looks like a porn star.

This may seem obvious now that she’s four years into her career as a regularly booked adult performer, currently riding high on a 2023 XBIZ Awards nomination for Female Performer of the Year — her second in a row — plus multiple nods for scenes in a variety of genres and styles. But it wasn’t so obvious back in 2018, when she showed up in Los Angeles as a 19-year-old with ambition, a higher-than-average sexual appetite and a colorful, exotic background.

Back then, she had a lot to learn, but she was up for it.

“I thought I knew how I looked,” she tells XBIZ at a Highland Park espresso joint. “But I didn’t. It took me a while to figure a lot of things out. When I entered the industry, I did not look anything like the way I do now. I really looked like a completely different person!”

Although Bardot had braces then — which are still prominently mentioned on clickbaity titles for her early scenes — she didn't think she looked especially young. After all, by the end of her teens she had been around the block, so to speak, even across the Atlantic. She was already a student of porn industry content, a legit fan, and an explorer of different forms of sex work.

“First I thought I would wait until after I got my braces off,” she explains. “But then I was like, ‘You know what? I want to do this, I might as well start now.’” She laughs knowingly, as someone who has long thought of ways to make her erotic appeal pay. “And also kind of exploit this look, because I know it's a look that some people like, and then I can move on past it.”

In her early scenes, she does indeed look like a different person. Yet pay close attention to her hunger for genuine arousal and sexual satisfaction, and to the unmistakable “I really want to be here, doing exactly this” glint in her dark eyes. It’s the look that differentiates the lifers from the dilettantes.

She felt a little awkward at first, she readily confesses, but she was also fully aware of having always been “an extremely sexual person.”

“I had already been doing a lot of, quote unquote, crazy things before getting into porn,” she smiles. “Crazier than most people do. I was very, very interested in many things before even getting into porn.”

Bardot’s “crazy” spells started early, as she hit puberty running.

“There's something in the Florida water, I swear,” she says. “And in Arizona too — I feel there's so many girls who end up doing porn from both of those places. I don't know if it just has to do with very hot places. Maybe people are just naturally more sexual in hotter places.”

Early on, teen Vanna became extremely interested in BDSM and fetish. “I think one of the big reasons I was interested in porn,” she muses, “is that I became aware of For me, that was what I was most interested in. I mean that personally, sexually, but also I started paying attention to the award shows, and then I would follow what was going on in the industry.”

By the time she turned 18 in 2017, Bardot had idols and role models, like Sasha Grey, Stoya and Riley Reid. She was also aware of and turned on by big names such as Rocco Siffredi, Xander Corvus, James Deen, Manuel Ferrara and Owen Gray.

“I knew I wanted to be there. In porn,” she says.

There was a slight problem, though. After a wild, wild youth tearing up the beaches and clubs of Miami, Bardot ended up stranded in, of all places, Glasgow, Scotland.

“I had lived in Miami my whole life and I was a little overwhelmed. My dad is Brazilian. He left America, went to Brazil first, but ended up moving to Scotland. He loves Glasgow! After growing up in Brazil and spending 20 years in Miami, he was done with hot tropical weather. So I went to stay with him for a little bit because I just needed a break from being an adult and to figure out what I really wanted to do.”

What did the hard-partying, sun-deprived Glaswegian pub crawlers and football fanatics make of the hypersexual, red-hot fish-out-of-water brunette teen stunner who had landed in their midst?

“I hate saying this, but it's true: a Glasgow 10 is like a Miami or an LA five,” Bardot admits. “I was the most exotic thing they had ever seen. Everyone was like, ‘You're half French, half Brazilian from Miami? What are you doing here?’ It’s not like London, which obviously is much more cosmopolitan. But Glasgow has some of the loveliest people I've ever met. They’re actually voted the friendliest city in all of Europe. Super, super nice. But they’re also wild. I thought people in Miami partied? These motherfuckers, they can really drink and party! It's kind of a problem, actually. There's nothing else to do. It gets dark.”

Adamant about pursuing sex work, Bardot tried stripping in Glasgow, but it did not go well.

“It was awful,” she says. “I do not advise anyone to go strip in the U.K., even Europe in general. Because there's no tipping culture. Everyone there is paid a fair wage. When you go to a restaurant, it's not typical to leave a big tip like here in the U.S., and that's the same thing when you go to the strip club. So, over there when you do stage dances, you don't get tipped anything. And also there's no single pound bill, so they're not going to make it hail on stage.”

After a few months of what sounds like a depressing cross between “Hustlers,” “Trainspotting” and “The Full Monty,” Bardot needed an out.

“I became a little desperate to leave,” she says. “I knew I didn't want to stay there. My dad was like, ‘Well, you could go to college here for free if you wanted to.’ But I had already been doing sex work before going there, camming and stripping, and I knew I wanted to do porn.”

Bardot made enough money from camming — which she says is not really her thing, personality-wise — to get herself a ticket to Denver, where her Miami friend Jade Baker had moved.

“I wanted to see my friend and also figured that once back in the States it would be much easier to make money stripping and camming together with her,” she says. “We both had already been thinking about doing porn, and so I found an agent. The very next day he contacted me and said, ‘I can fly you out tomorrow and we can do two weeks here and you can start shooting. And I told Jade and she said, ‘Okay, I want to do it too.’ But she only was interested in doing girl/girl and the agent said, ‘I can absolutely book you plenty of girl/girl.’” Jade Baker went on to a successful career as a G/G performer.

The pair flew to Los Angeles and Bardot immediately loved it, although she knew she had a lot to learn.

“I was very nervous,” she admits. “Not just being naked, because I was already so used to being naked and stripping, and none of that bothered me. It was more having to be pretty on camera, and posing, and in that regard I was still very awkward and didn't know quite what I was doing.”

It turned out, however, that her awkwardness was exactly what the “new girl companies” were looking for. After a very successful first shoot with ExCoGi in Arizona, Bardot shot a few more scenes in LA and never looked back.

“By the end of that first trip,” she says, “I was like, ‘OK, I’m moving here. Done deal.’ I went back to Glasgow and told my dad, ‘I’m sorry but I'm just coming back here to pack up all my stuff and move.”

But even that early on, and even if the crucial decision to join porn was somewhat impulsive, Bardot knew she didn’t want to be “just another girl who shoots and then just leaves.”

“I want to be nominated,” she told herself. “I want to be on the awards stage. I want to really do something. I want to do these incredible movies, like all the really big girls do.

“I was very goal-oriented,” she smiles, with zero doubt.

“Once I got into porn, I felt that, finally, this was where I was meant to be. I loved being with other people who were on the same level. I went to a performing arts high school, for dancing and acting. So once I came into porn, I felt like ‘I’ve already got this down a little bit.’”

Bardot rates being on set as her favorite thing to do. “I love being with a crew and creating something really interesting, whether it is a feature movie with lots of acting and story, or gonzo. I like all the performative aspects of the job.”

Although she recently did some mainstream acting for a Netflix show —playing a party favor sex worker during a yacht party scene in a show about Miami drug dealers in the 1970s — Bardot says those opportunities are not something that she’s focusing on too much right now.

“I think maybe once I'm getting closer to the end of my career in porn, or moving on, then maybe I'll be more interested in doing more mainstream work, but for now all my focus and energy is into porn and then my OnlyFans. I already got multiple nominations, I am a Penthouse pet, I did a lot of ‘Girl of the Month’ things — I’m very happy with what I've done. But my next biggest goals are that I would love to win an acting nomination in porn. I feel like there's three different kinds of performers in the industry — there's the gonzo girls, the model kind of girls and then the actresses. And I can be all three.”

This not a mere boast. Bardot has been nominated for 2023 XBIZ Awards in the categories of Best Sex Scene — Feature Movie, Best Sex Scene — Vignette, Best Sex Scene — Gonzo and Best Sex Scene — All Sex. She’s already a multiple threat, and her career curve continues on the ascent.

In it to win it, Bardot is already looking ahead, feeling extremely confident about her 2023 slate of projects.

“I’m very excited for the 2024 award season,” she says. “I'm now starting to really think about those ‘firsts’ that I haven't done yet. I want to challenge myself as a performer and really do all the things that I've wanted. I've been waiting for a while to start doing things that are more intense or crazy. Getting in the industry, I knew I should save all my big firsts for as long as possible, and I'm glad I did because now I am in a position where I can really do things exactly the way I want to, without feeling like they were rushed.”

Currently, Bardot is most thrilled about her Slayed contract, which she describes as “like a dream come true.”

Vixen Media Group, she enthuses, “is a company I very much admired and even idolized. I noticed their branding before I came into the industry — they were just so different. I was obsessed with it. I loved the way they made the girls look, and all the girls were beautiful, but then also the storylines showed very empowered women.”

Bardot reflects for a moment, then elaborates, her recollections blurring the line between porn glamour and reality, between her porn-star present and the fantasies of a hopeful, exotic aspiring model, hustling and finessing her way through dreary Scottish strip clubs.

“They showed a woman going after what she really wanted in the scenes. It wasn't the women being coerced, or convinced to do something, or uncomfortable or unsure — it was very much women exploring their sexuality. When they asked me if I wanted to be contracted with them, I was like, ‘Of course, say no more!’ This is where I've always wanted to be.”


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