Joanna Angel: The reality of the porn industry

The adult movie veteran on what it takes to make it in the porn industry.

Joanna Angel on the reality of the porn industry – Loaded
Burning Angel The AVN Hall Of Famer has enjoyed continued success with her porn production company.

More people watch porn than ever before – but how does the industry cope when so much of it is free?

The increasing popularity in free sites like PornHub and Redtube means that, much like the music industry, people working in porn have to work harder than ever before to succeed.

One of those businesses is Burning Angel, which was launched in 2002 by Joanna Angel, who writes and directs adult movies as well as performing in front of the camera.

Through the firm, Angel also pretty much single-handedly invented what has become known as alt-porn.

“There are more people watching porn. That’s what happens when something becomes free”

“There are more people watching porn now, but that’s what happens when something becomes free,” she tells Loaded. “Because of that, making a profit in the industry is very difficult now. It can be heartbreaking sometimes but, as with anything you love, there comes challenges.”

Despite the difficulties Angel in 13 years at the helm, this year she will be inducted into the AVN Hall Of Fame. The AVN Awards, which take place in Las Vegas on January 23, are the XXX equivalent of the Oscars.

Joanna Angel on the reality of the porn industry – Loaded
Reality check Despite loving her profession, Angel is clear that performers should know the ins and outs of the industry before starting the job.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but sometimes it seems surreal as I still feel like I’m a nobody,” continues the 35-year-old. “I think any small business owner can relate to what an incredible feeling it is to start something from nothing and then watch it explode.”

Angel says she started working in the industry because of the taboos around porn, and to do something fun. So as she prepares to take her industry’s top honour, does she feel she’s achieved that with her business?

“My life is definitely fun!” proclaims the New Yorker. “I’m very thankful for everything that I have and feel blessed to be able to continue creating interesting products. Even on the most challenging days, I never wish that I’d done something else for a living.”

“Even on the most challenging days I never wish that I’d done something else for a living”

Despite that pride, certain stigmas around porn remain. Many still believe those working in the industry are exploited.

“We’re selling beauty,” she counters. “We’re selling sexuality. I pay people to photograph them doing sexual things. Those photographs are then what I have to use to keep my business going. I have to sell that product. I’m sure people could say that’s exploitative, but I’m not sure it’s the right term.”

Angel dated adult movie actor James Deen for six years, who was accused of rape in December by another of his exes, porn actress Stoya. A number of other performers, including Tori Lux, Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, Kora Peters, Nicki Blue and Lily LaBeau, have also gone on record with further allegations, which Deen denies.

Joanna Angel on the reality of the porn industry – Loaded
Won’t take it lying down Angel made is clear that the recent allegations around James Deen are not representative of the wider industry.

Angel is keen to stress that the allegations are not representative of the wider industry.

“What’s been happening in the news recently is specific to one individual and I don’t think it exists in the industry as a whole,” she says. “I want to make that very clear.”

Something else Angel makes clear is what performers must be comfortable with before deciding to work in porn.

“It’s not an industry for everyone. If it’s not making you feel good about yourself then the mental anguish is not worth any price”

“This is an industry where your body and things that are very personal to certain people are going to be on display,” Angel explains. “Some people are going to like it and some people aren’t, but you have to realise as a performer that’s something you have to be OK with.

“I have people commenting on me being beautiful and wonderful regularly, but at the same time I have people taking my body apart and telling me how they don’t like the way I look. That’s something you have to be prepared for.

“You’ve also got to know what you want to do and what you don’t. It’s about knowing where your limits are and sticking with them. It’s not an industry for everyone. And if it’s not making you feel good about yourself, then you shouldn’t do it. The mental anguish that you are going to face is not worth any price.

“If you don’t feel that this is the right place for you then don’t stick around. That’s the reality of the porn industry.”

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Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum

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