Interviews

Q&A Quickies with the beautiful Casey Kisses!

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This week’s edition of Q&A Quickies features the beautiful Casey Kisses! Casey is the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards winner for Stroker of the Year, sponsored by Shemale Strokers, and she is always a fan favorite! When Casey isn’t busy shooting scenes she can be found on Chaturbate where she is always in demand!

And stay tuned for a full-length interview of Casey coming soon! And based on some of her answers to these questions it’s going to be a fun interview!

Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Bacon cheeseburger or tofu burger?

CK:  Bacon cheeseburger, with extra bacon

Favorite sex partner: male, female, or trans?

CK:  Male

What songs are on your playlist right now?

CK:  Deceptacon, Short Skirt Long Jacket, Are You Gunna be my Girl

Favorite scene you’ve shot?

CK:  My first hardcore and it was for Two Tgirls. It was my favorite because it was the first time Korra Del Rio and I kissed. We haven’t been too far apart since.

If you could choose anyone, who would you want to do a scene with?

CK:  Spit roast with mark whalberg and James Franco

Casey Kisses Through The Benz   Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  I love making connections and learning things that help me improve my image.

Least favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  Buying outfits only to use them once

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

CK:  Milk

Where would your dream vacation be?

CK:  Greece

Favorite movie or tv show right now?

CK:  Finding Nemo

What are you wearing right now?

CK:  Short shorts and flip flops

How often do you masturbate?

CK:  2-3 x daily, mostly on Chaturbate

Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Oral sex or anal sex?

CK:  Both please!

Favorite social media site?

CK:  Twitter and Instagram are my go to

Interacting with fans on social media: fun or not fun?

CK:  Fun fun fun!

Who inspires you?

CK:  Nicole Charming, Korra Del Rio, Morgan Bailey, & Foxxy

Are you left or right-handed?

CK:  Right

How old are you?

CK:  27

What would be your dream job?

CK:  Life guard in Hawaii

What do you like to do in your free time?

CK:  Movies, eating, swim, kayak, hike, explore and adventure. Clubs and casinos are super fun too!

If you could choose not to be transgender, would you?

CK:  Not really. I love myself too much!

Best advice you have ever received?

CK:  Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Favorite subject in school?

CK:  Drama and art

Favorite city?

CK:  Miami, so far

Casey Kisses Through The Benz    Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Favorite fast food place?

CK:  Starbucks

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

CK:  Harriet the spy

Last movie you saw in a theater?

CK:  Moana

Beach, city, or mountains?

CK:  Beach, any time of day

What age did you know you were trans?

CK:  Super young

Do you work out regularly?

CK:  I try to stay active

If you could have dinner with any three people from history who would it be?

CK:  My grandmother brother and sister

Favorite animal to see at the zoo?

CK:  I don’t like zoos, I love all animals!

Are you a cat or dog person?

CK:  Both

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

CK:  All of my tattoos were given to me by friends and I let them pick out the design

Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of America?

CK:  Optimistic. I love my country and the freedoms I have. I love and respect anyone in service trying to protect these rights as well.

Describe yourself in three words:

CK:  Always hungry. Always.

Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Star Wars, Star Trek, or Dancing with the Stars?

CK:  I’ve never seen any of them lol

How did you choose your model name?

CK:  My cam name was Casey Haze originally but I thought Kisses were cuter

Mac or PC?

CK:  Alienware

Do you have a kinky side?

CK:  Very kinky..

Do you sleep clothed or in the buff?

CK:  Naked, face down

Thanks Casey, this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to do our interview, which will be coming soon to Through The Benz!

Be sure to follow Casey Kisses on Twitter at @Caseykissesxoxo!

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Kayleigh Coxx: Brains and beauty and so much more!

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Kayleigh Coxx is someone who caught my attention the first time I saw her on Twitter not only because of her stunning beauty but also because she is intelligent and articulate and not shy about expressing her opinions, which makes her Twitting feed very interesting. But most of all she seems real and genuine and is someone I can relate to. So, this is an interview I was really excited to do because I felt Kayleigh would have some interesting insights to share, and also because I have to admit to having a bit of a crush on her; those eyes of hers and that smile are beyond sexy! And it’s not very often that I get the chance to interview a fellow Oregonian! Kayleigh is flat out gorgeous and she has a natural beauty that shines through in her pictures and videos, so it’s no surprise that she her recent sets on Shemale Yum have done so well and garnered her a strong following. And like all her other fans, I hope to see more from her soon!

Hi Kayleigh, and thank you for doing this interview!

Hi Becca!!! Thank you for having me 😀

Kayleigh Coxx Through The BenzCongratulations on your most recent set coming out on Shemale Yum! How has the reception been for the sets you’ve released with Grooby?

It’s been fantastic, I was really taken aback by how much people liked my first set. It’s been really amazing to see the directors and actual porn stars (that I looked up to for so long!) who said I had a great set.

When can we look forward to seeing more from you?

That’s definitely the plan going forward, I hope to really broaden my social media with a bit more content once I get all moved out. Current limitations of living at home with parents and doing porn!

So you cam from home with your parents there?

I do! My parents are unaware! I tend to do it late at night and I lock the doors and put something under the door to stop the noise! The giant ring light, mountains of sex toys/lingerie, and constant traveling probably has tipped them off though! I don’t know what they think I’m doing. I think that they think I do graphic design consulting ????????

And more congrats are in order for being named the Shemale Yum Model of the Month for April! As a Model of the Month myself in December 2014 I know how much it means to be selected.

Thank you, I didn’t expect it truthfully and am very thankful to have been selected. Thank you Grooby. Thank you Becca!

You’ve worked with Grooby as well as Christian XXX with Pure TS. Are there any other sites you’d like to do shoots for?

Sites I’d like to work for… Hmm… I mean the main ones that jumps out to me is TransSensual, SMC, & Trans500? I would also like to see some of the normative-straight brands like Brazzers, Wicked, etc branch out and dip their toes in the transgender side of porn. I just love all of those site’s production quality. I would love to shoot anything with Dylan James. Ay, Chihuahua! <3

Christian XXX is a controversial figure in the world of trans porn; people either seem to love him or hate him. You posted the following tweet about him: “I really wanted to give a special thanks to @christianxxx1. He’s taken care of me like a brother, and he is an extremely special guy to me.”  Can you tell us about your experiences with Christian and why he’s so special to you?

I greatly appreciate Christian’s willingness to start me off in the porn industry. He took care of me post-surgery and that’s more than I could have asked anyone for. I’d rather leave it at that.

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

Whew, this is a strange story. So, I was seeing a couple for casual sex and they asked me to cam a few times, I said “No,” and “It’s not my sort of thing,” and so we grew apart. Then one day, I asked the guy of the couple for a dirty picture of me he took sucking his dick because I no longer had it. Conversation eventually leads back to the “Want to cam with us?” question, and this time I caved. Maybe I had a glass of wine too many, maybe I was feeling adventurous who knows! That was basically late November/early December. Later that month I think messaged Christian, or he messaged me—not sure, on Grindr (of all places) and I thought it was a troll account, turned out it was actually him! He offered me those scenes and then the rest is basically where we are today.

Is being a model in porn industry really as glamorous and interesting as people assume?

I mean porn (and camming) have led me to do things I would never else have. Go places, do things, meet people etc. But on set it is pretty basic, it’s a camera, cameraman, and sometimes just you, or you and your costars. There’s no fancy red carpet to your dildos and butt plugs. No personal anal douche assistant, nothing! Camming sort of prepared me for what to expect.

Kayleigh Coxx Through The Benz   Kayleigh Coxx Through The Benz

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

Favorite part of the job is the hot fucking sex! I mean hands down, this is easily the best part. I mean the guys in this industry know how to lay pipe. It’s almost disappointing going back and getting dick from hometown boys. I myself feel that I am almost overdoing it when having sex with someone who isn’t in porn. Least favorite part is actually a hard question, I mean I enjoy a scene from start to finish almost entirely. Maybe the not being able to eat mass quantities of Taco Bell because I have a body image to maintain lol.

For models who are looking to get into the industry what advice would you give them?

Gosh if anyone actually wants my advice! My advice is you need to get yourself out there go put your pictures on Reddit or something where criticism is given about your look, passing/not-passing (I know this is very controversial—but if you want to be in most Trans porn it’s the measuring stick). Bare in mind that a lot of these places kid glove you so look for critics. My best friend is a very blunt genetic girl, who I adore to pieces and absolutely dearly love, she would give me no-nonsense answers (sometimes it hurt) that really helped me progress. Anyways LEARN MAKEUP. When you think you’re good, you’re not. Keep pushing yourself to LEARN BETTER MAKEUP. However, if there’s any piece of advice I want to give, it’s that no one, not even the prettiest genetic girl, is built without some masculine or unattractive feature—you don’t need a different body you just need to learn to love the one you have! Change whatever you want but don’t lose sight of what makes you original!

Kayleigh Coxx Through The BenzSo be honest; what’s it really like doing a shoot and having sex in front of the camera?

If you aren’t kinky to begin with you’re probably gonna have a hard time. I didn’t realize how much of me is really a weird kinky person. And I love it I might add. Think porn being… having sex out on the balcony of your apartment… in the middle of NYC… during the day… and you’re just drunk enough to say all the dirty shit you hold back most times. To me I would do that hundred times over and sober! I love it, and I love the dirty thought of hundreds, thousands, of guys jerking off to it.

You’re very active on social media and you tweet about a wide range of subjects which makes your Twitter feed very entertaining. Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

I love seeing fans on Twitter, Instagram, etc! I fangirl and fawn over different porn actresses/actors myself and I can’t help but follow all the hilarious and talented makeup artists that are on twitter. If someone actually has something interesting to say to me too and they’re a fan it always makes me happy. I also love seeing all the different types of people who are into my sets!

One of the subjects you tweet about a lot is food; including your love of Taco Bell. A girl after my own heart! When did your love of Taco Bell begin, and what is it about their food you love so much?

Interesting question. As a younger kid in middle school I remember Taco Bell had a “4th meal” ad campaign and I went and ate Taco Bell 4 times in one day. Not a healthy choice, but I was young and dumb! Basically ever since then I’ve been sorta hooked!

 

Favorite burger place? -Good question! Until about a month ago I would have said Cornucopia in Eugene! but now it’s got to be Fukuburger in Las Vegas. OMG so good.

Taco Bell or burgers? -TACO BELL OVER EVERYTHING.

Favorite kind of pizza? -Quote directly from my tinder “My favorite pizza topping is sausage, don’t fuck with me if you like cheese pizza. Cheese isn’t a topping you whore.”

How long have you been camming? Which do you enjoy more, camming or doing shoots?

Camming started in about early December. It depends honestly sometimes between the two which one is better. Sometimes camming is super fun and tips are coming in and you have interesting/hot private shows and then other hand it’s hard to give up those deep-dicking, super hot-bodied sexy times. I like to talk, like a lot, so camming gives me that opportunity to interact with people which I really love. As anyone who comes into my cam shows can probably attest to. My cam show is either running my mouth or cumming! I like them both equally because they are pretty different. Being good at camming doesn’t necessarily make you good at porn and vice versa.

Kayleigh Coxx Through The BenzYou recently had breast augmentation surgery; can you share what that experience was like?

Different! It’s honestly not that bad of a recovery. Pretty quick and easy. I mean there was the strange feeling of like “What are these big oranges attached to my chest?” Though I love what I see in the mirror every day even more! Of course there was the fear of a bad result or worse but it helped me confront some of my insecurities too! I was a bit nervous doing it since none of my friends from home were able to come with me, so I was kinda on my own. All went well and am healing quickly.

You’ve mentioned on Twitter that you play the piano. Is music something you enjoy and do you play any other instruments?

I am a piano player and I used to be able to play the guitar. Guitar is almost impossible with acrylics all the time. Although guitar was always difficult because I have small hands! Same thing for piano too. I’m a creative person at heart, I like to do graphic design, I used to produce EDM music as a passion and I even got asked to DJ as a paying gig at one point. However I’m pretty private with my art, the introvert in me fears the criticism. Art though really for me is a way to express myself in a way, and it’s one of those things where I get so focused on making the project better or playing something better that I completely forget about anything else.

As a fellow Oregonian I’m curious if you enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest?

I love how different Oregon and really specifically Eugene/Portland are from the rest of the USA. There’s nothing quite like the camping here either. And the coast!  The coast is… it’s strange, it’s scary at times, and beautiful because of those things. One of my favorite things to clear my mind was drive to the coast and drive as far down or up the coast as I felt and then take the offroads back. Cheesy I know. There’s silence and so many pretty trees and rivers that you don’t really get in other places and parts of the country. I hate the rain and the cloudiness 8-months out of the year, and that’s why I’m moving to the big LV. Sun sun sun.

It sounds like you’re into camping?

I do! I know it doesn’t fit the wearing lots of makeup and “getting my hair did” persona I sorta portray, but I love camping! The isolation and the outdoors are amazing. And when you’re with friends you finally start to talk you start drinking and it’s a blast! Salt Creek Falls or basically anywhere up the coast are my favorite places!

Why did you decide to move to Vegas and when are you moving? And may I add I’m sorry to see you leave Oregon 🙁

I believe my last trip in April was the tipping point. Even from the first time when I flew out to meet Christian and it was snowing in Eugene I think I sorta knew. What really made the difference was I felt like I made some really good friends out there and I knew it would make sense. Also it’s a great place I hear if you want to shoot porn 😉

I hear ya. When I l went to Los Angeles in March for TEA it was so hard leaving the warm sunny weather there to come home to the cold and rainy Portland weather. I can definitely see the appeal of Las Vegas! And it does appear the porn biz is moving away from California and into Vegas.

Kayleigh Coxx Through The BenzWhat was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

My earliest memory of being transgender was trying on girl’s clothes when I was like in preschool maybe 3-5years old? My family is… different. I have two much older siblings almost 20 yrs older and then a 3yr older brother. All males. Maybe it was only natural when it turned out I wasn’t a boy in gender. I had a kind of stereotypical childhood. Always battling with acceptance and the confidence to come out as transgender throughout. I always had mostly girl friends growing up, a few friends knew about me being trans and spread the rumors and such and I was made fun of etc. I’m 25, so back 10 years ago when I was younger the atmosphere and acceptance for coming out as trans was much different today. It led me to being closeted until really about 22 years old. I had finally reached the point I decided that I no longer cared about anyone’s negative opinion of myself being trans and so I got the help I needed and about a year and a half later I got on hormones. I’ve been on hormones for about a year and a half now.

Is your family accepting and supportive of you?

In an odd way. I made the transition abruptly and to my surprise there was barely any family/coworkers/family-friends who recognized me as the other person but transgender, so they sort of and in some cases refer to me as the daughter they never told people about. Which has created it’s problems… when my health-insurance dropped me because I was not the person they had on their coverage list. In private they are very supportive, I understand it’s hard and different. I appreciate the values they gave me and the discipline they taught me nonetheless. My parents are a much different generation, in their late 60s.

Do you find it difficult to date being trans? Does working in the porn industry make it harder or easier?

With any trans individual you’ll find the answer to that question is at points in life it is, and at others it’s no different than being any other stranger on the street. I mean I’ve had credit cards frozen because they thought I was some malicious girl attempting to screw up some guy’s credit card, and then on the flip side I’ve had doors opened and drinks bought etc that any girl in the world is privet to. I don’t think porn has really changed my acceptance or lack thereof. Porn has certainly adjusted my normal life in dating especially and like the assumption that I must be horny 24/7 only thinking about sex individual. I love sex but I also have hobbies -_-

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I’d like to preface this answer with, I am not political and I am not pointing fingers at any particular person or politician. I think there are a lot of issues in the trans-community. I think one of the biggest issues (as a transgender woman) is the distinction/perception of passing-transgender people and non-passing-transgender people vs transgender people as a whole. Although I think that our tendency is to hide behind passibility sometimes to avoid dealing with actual trans-threats. I certainly think, as we all know, we have a ways to go before the end of discrimination—but my god does it feel a lot better than 10 years ago.

Kayleigh Coxx Through The BenzThere continues to be a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

Hard question to answer! Honestly I wish I knew the exact answer. I find that there is this common misconception that people who work in this industry just have sex for fun and then put it up on a website and that’s it. Yes sex is fun, very fun in fact, but it takes time to do hair, makeup. Creativity and artistic design to come up with an interesting scene. Good camerawork. Good editing. Great sourcing. So on so forth. Also someone’s body didn’t just happen to be good looking it’s because that guy/girl went to the gym and continues to go to the gym so you can see his/her sexy ass plow trannies/girls/guys whatever you’re into. Yes some of these things are things everyone does but not to the degree that the really good people in porn do. And also the art of being sexy on camera as you’re getting fucked/fucking someone is not quite so simple. I mean for goodness sakes the straight porn industry has so many HORRIBLE renditions of these casting couches where you have directors speaking on camera and girls like totally pulling themselves out of the scene. Like do you want to watch that or do you want to see Ricky Johnson fuck the bejeezus out of August Ames or like Christian XXX fuck Sarina Valentina (trans-equivalent). The product speaks for itself. I know that’s more of a justification, rather than a “what can we do?” but that’s like idiots thinking they could be pro golfers, gamers, etc, just because they do it on their off time occasionally.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I don’t know, I don’t really have a certain goal. I want to do big things, but I hope if I’m lucky I will be doing something interesting with art, whether it be makeup, graphic design, or music and I would be happy. But truthfully I’m so new to all this I’m trying to figure out where I want to go from here in porn/camming and how long I want to do it for! Oh and maybe I’ll have a boyfriend at that point ????

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Hard to surprise people now that I’ve practically bared all my interests and other life things on social media. Especially after exposing my insatiable desire for Taco Bell. Possibly that I’m actually really intelligent, I get painted as a ditzy cute girl or even sometimes as dumb, but I have depth, intelligence, and enjoy my boundaries being pushed out from where I’m comfortable. And if that corny answer isn’t good enough, this one seems to always to get a few ???’s I only eat one meal a day! Just the one. And sometimes that one meal is Taco Bell :v

Your answer was not corny at all and it shows exactly why I was so excited to interview you; to show there is more to you than just good looks. If society can see past the stereotypes and look at the real people who work in porn and see the intelligence and kindness and the good qualities it will go a long way towards putting an end to the stigma of being a sex worker. So, thank you again for the interview Kayleigh, I really enjoyed it and I’m an even bigger fan now that I’ve gotten to know more about you.

You can follow Kayleigh on Twitter at @kayleighcoxx84

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Kelli Lox on art, porn, life, and social media!

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Kelli Lox is one of the biggest names in the trans porn industry, but her popularity and influence far exceeds that of just the world of porn. Kelli is known for her intelligence and her open and honest approach to life, and for her willingness to speak her mind. She is a true artist in every sense of the world, expressing her creativity in a wide variety of mediums. Kelli has broken down the stereotypes of what so many people assume a pornstar to be and has blazed a new path and become a role model to many. I had the pleasure of interviewing this amazing lady and getting a glimpse into her life and a better understanding of what drives her.

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

Yes and no. It’s very Wizard of Oz in that way, as in, you sometimes do and sometimes don’t want to look behind the curtain. I don’t know if it’s better to maintain that ‘it’s so glamorous’ thing or to humanize it with unglamorous details. But I will say, yes. Yes the life of a porn star is fucking rad. You get to travel and have sex with beautiful people and party and make money and get treated like a fucking rock star everywhere you go and interact with fans and great creative people. It is a dream job, for sure.

How did you get your start working in the porn industry?

I modeled for art classes in college and when I transitioned I wanted to get back into it. A photographer friend of mine helped me make a profile on a modeling website and I started dancing at a local trans strip club. I got some modeling work and then got an offer to do a shoot for Grooby. The scene did well and I attended what was at that time called the Tranny Awards in LA. And the rest is history I guess.

Dancing seems to be one of your passions, since you’ve done everything from ballet to stripping. Can you tell us what dancing means to you?

Dance is one of the purest art forms. It requires little to no equipment and anyone can do it. And the trained dancer’s body is a work of art, too. I had to quit ballet when I transitioned, and I might be getting too old to dance in strip clubs, but I still have my pole in my bedroom.

Did you attend college before or after transitioning? Can you talk about what your college experience was like and what you majored in? Has your college education been useful in helping you to become successful in porn?

When I was in college, I was a boy with a secret. I was in a serious relationship with a girl and I earned my B.S. in geography. I went on to get a Master’s degree and got a professional job and that’s how I supported/support all my loved ones and why today I have been unemployed for nearly six months but drive a new car and live in a mansion. College is so important for a lifetime of financial stability and my dream is to help young trans girls get a college education. Sucking men’s dicks as a way to make ends meet is fun but when you get older you will want stability and you’ll question the choices you made in your 20’s with a critical eye.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzWhat does Grooby means to you?

Grooby is to the transgender movement what the Beatles is to the 60’s. You can look at the Beatles’ work and track an entire mental process of a generation. Same with Grooby. If you look at the way they’ve changed their terminology and marketing over the past few years, it reads like the diary of our social movement. For example, they changed the name of their awards show from The Tranny Awards to Transgender Erotica Awards. That’s like leaving the Sgt. Peppers and Yellow Submarine stuff and going to White Album, you know? It coincides with a mental change in awareness of a lot of people. Like, okay that’s not cool anymore for whatever reason, let’s class it up and grow up a bit. I am very proud of the people at Grooby, and I am very proud of my good working relationship with Grooby. They get a lot of flak from lots of folks, but that’s to be expected. Like Peter Acworth at Kink, you just become an easy target for a lot of angry people who have an axe to grind. At the center of these companies, there are very cool and well-meaning people who really just want to do the right thing and also remain profitable. I know we want to hold people accountable but if there’s a way to do that without being dicks to them, that would be appreciated.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

Yeah, everyone knows. The metaphorical cat is out of the metaphorical bag, so to speak. I don’t know how everyone really feels about it because I only get what they say to my face or whatever. I know some of my relatives know and judge me and either don’t want to associate with me now or will act nice to my face but still judge me. And other relatives know and think it’s kind of cool – they’re proud that I did something with my life that I enjoy and attained some kind of fame – the whole American dream thing. And some of my relatives don’t really care either way, they just want me to be happy and healthy and look forward to seeing me again soon. I text my mom about going to the awards show and working and stuff, at the end of the day, she is proud of me and wants me to succeed.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

I don’t really want to give advice. If I had followed all the advice that was out there when I started, my career would have gone differently. I think you have to see it as art – there’s no wrong or right way to do it. Make it YOU, or not, I don’t know. Advice is tricky because the wise don’t need it and fools don’t heed it. lol

Do you foresee a point anytime soon when you’ll retire from porn?

I was told once “never retire from porn.” I don’t really understand why but I think it’s something about letting work happen or not happen organically. A lot of times people get into a mood and want to make some kind of fatalistic statement and then, like, no one really cares, and maybe instead of stewing and brewing statements like that, you could be doing something more productive. And anyways, I know I’m a porn star but secretly I never have seen myself as a porn star – I’m an artist and an internet personality. If you look at my behavior on twitter, it’s very different than most porn stars. I’ve been told that I’m doing it wrong by a lot of people, but I have more followers than them so I just nod and say thanks and keep doing what I’m doing.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by your behavior on social media being different than other porn stars?

Well, most porn stars are careful not to offend any fans or potential fans, and many don’t feel comfortable revealing personal information such as hobbies and interests. They feel very strongly that their Twitter is a facade, just business. Their approach is to never be political, never say anything that could jeopardize future work, never say anything controversial, etc. So if you see a porn girl talking about how she hates Trump (Janice Griffith) or a porn girl bitching about how she’s getting blacklisted by some studios just because she’s done scenes with TS girls (Adriana Chechik), that takes balls. And I’m like that too. Most girls, even trans girls, don’t have the balls to be girls who speak their minds. or they just made a decision to keep their Twitter purely a business facade, which is okay too.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzNot to make generalizations, but in many ways you seem to be outside of the norm in what people generally assume a pornstar would be like with all your artistic and intellectual pursuits. You express your creativity in so many ways such as in front and behind the camera, in your drawing and painting, writing, composing and playing music, and dancing. You’re also well-educated and speak several different languages, and are obviously being very intelligent and independent. Would it be fair to call you a renaissance woman?

Yes, people have called me a renaissance woman. Ii am 100% a renaissance woman. I’m not like other girls, and I’m certainly not like other girls who say they’re not like other girls. I have paid my dues and I don’t take shit from anyone. I’m smart and talented. Before I start listing too many good traits I should remind myself that I’m also modest lol. Really, I’m just another woman who depends on a support network of women.

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and had what I would call a pretty normal childhood as a boy. I always knew I was a girl, but I also very quickly realized that I had to hide it. I saw a gay boy in kindergarten getting teased and I didn’t want to get teased like that.

I lived in Pocatello and Idaho Falls for 13 years, so I know what a beautiful area that is, and also how conservative, although Boise is one of the more progressive cities in Idaho.

Yeah Boise is mostly alright now, especially the north end where I grew up. but it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. And still, it’s one corner of one town in a big state that’s run by conservatives.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

Well, my PR lady says not to talk about drugs in interviews, so I’ll just say that I went on a deep spiritual journey sometime in 2009 or 2010. I went really deep inside myself, and realized that it was suddenly more painful to go on pretending that I was a boy than it was to face my fears and decide to transition. So, all by myself, in the dark, sitting naked on the floor with a blanket, a candle and a jug of water, I asked myself “am I really going to do this?” And there in the silence there was this really deep little ‘click’ as I said “yes.” And that was that. The decision had been made and rest was a matter of execution.

Looking back, was transitioning easier or harder than you expected?

I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I would have a difficult time with family members and friends, and I was right about that. Obtaining hormones and getting rid of boy clothes was work, but learning how to do makeup and put together stylish outfits wasn’t that hard at all. It felt like home to me. Yes, there were a lot of heavy social tribulations but there’s no way to tell how much of that was just my life and how much was a direct result of transitioning.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their transition?

Young trans girls should just know that they’re gonna need support groups, and they’re gonna lose some social groups, so they’ve got to find new ones. I’d tell them to make allies among genetic females if they haven’t already, because they’re gonna need them. They might need to move to a city where they can function normally among the population. The first years can be really awkward, so realize that it won’t always be that way, at least for most trans girls. After those awkward few years right out of the gate you start to settle into a new personality and pacing that is really you and feels more comfortable. You gotta stick with it for a minute and after a few years you’re like “oh, okay, okay.”

Kelli Lox Through The BenzIs your family supportive and accepting of you?

I think it’s all relative. I mean, when it came to being supportive, my parents were better than some parents, not as good as other parents. There are a lot of valid reasons that I could be really resentful towards them. There are ways I really needed them and I guess I was asking too much of them, or it was just beyond their ability to deliver. I don’t know. But they stuck with me and my relationship with both of my parents is really good; better now than it has ever been. Not everyone can say that, whether they’re transgender or not. That took a lot of work and forgiveness on all sides. I’m just at that age now where you’re like “holy shit I hope I didn’t cause too much damage when I was being a mega brat!” and you really start to value being on good terms with your family. My brother is also very close to me. My transition was a challenge for him because he always saw himself as open-minded and progressive and found himself painted as kind of a jerk in some ways during those years. We worked through it all, and now we’re super tight in a new way. In fact, he’s getting married in Seattle later this year and he asked me to be his best lady!!  I’m so excited!!

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Interacting with fans on Twitter is, like, my favorite thing in the world. And not only that, but interacting with other artists of all kinds all around the world, and giving voice to artists I support, and constantly showing my support of other performers – these things are the things that make me feel good about what I do. And there are lots of younger trans girls who follow me on twitter. I actually am a huge influence for a lot of them. I appreciate that so much and I also recognize that I have some kind of responsibility towards them. I am doing the best I can to live up to that responsibility. I think that’s how I sleep well at night, knowing that I am making a difference and authentically doing the best I can, not just for me, but for all trans people, and all artists, and all women, and all sex workers.

Speaking of sex workers, there are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

Meh, all people are exploited. Yeah I have it harder than many but mostly I’m super privileged. We need to complain when it’s time to complain about stuff, and call things out when it’s time to call things out, but we also need to sit back sometimes and just shut up and thank our lucky stars. I don’t know, it gets tricky. It takes a lot of presence and intelligence and creativity to fight social injustice in a way that is actually effective in fomenting real change. Sometimes people introduce an issue to me like “wanna get worked up about this? what’s your opinion?” and I’m like “I’ll pass, thanks.” Opinions are like chopped onions, I don’t want anyone’s in my face and I’ll cry if I can’t get away fast lol.

Can the trans porn industry be a positive influence within the trans community since there is still such a stigma attached to the industry and being a sex worker?

The porn world isn’t just one thing, it’s a lot of different studios and distributors and fan bases and consumers. I think if you look at it a certain way, you’ll find some evidence that you’re looking at it the correct way and find what you though you would. Like, if you approach it with a “porn is bad” mentality, you will find evidence to concretely back that up. And if you start with “porn is good” you’ll find indisputable evidence that it’s true. So, I don’t know, a lot of it is like clay – if you want something good to come out of it, make something good out of it.

What is a typical day in your life like?

Hmmm I don’t know there are times I party hard for four days straight and there are times I sleep all day and do laundry.  Sometimes I exercise religiously every day and sometimes I have a friend over and we order takeout from two restaurants at the same time and eat them in bed, so I dunno. Some days I’m really busy with work, running errands etc.  and sometimes I just clean my room and play my keyboard and sing or draw. Sometimes I am hanging out with friends but a lot of time I’m alone. I like being alone, it helps me think.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzDo you find it difficult to date being trans? Do you think working in the porn industry make it harder or easier?

Oy, this is tricky because it’s hard to tell what people’s real motives are. It’s like, when someone acts interested in me, I ask the magic eight ball “what are their true motives here?” and the magic eight balls says “… time will tell.” So sometimes you get burned and sometimes there’s a fun experience to be had with someone. In the end, you have to make sure you got your rocks off, at least, or had fun or got financial help or whatever, so that you don’t feel like you were taken advantage of, but also still think of the other person respectfully even if things didn’t end well. Relationships are like hamburgers – the most delicious ones are often messy, and though you might swear them off for a while, one day you’ll be ready to bury your face into another one. Also, it’s a meal – it’s a one-time thing, it ain’t forever. For better or worse, no burger lasts forever. hhaha

Looking onto your crystal ball, where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

More famous. Author of a book. In a major movie. Writing for a TV show. Doing amazing shit with amazing people. Making art. Making a difference. More followers. And, I dunno, in love and living with a beautiful girl who dances or draws comics or something. Drinking iced tea on a sunny day or snuggled watching cartoons on a rainy day. I see my future self as fit and healthy, with something to smile about.

What sort of book would you like to write?

I book about my life. I have seen some shit and I have been through some shit. Even people who have been through some shit tell me “holy hell girl you’ve been through some shit” lol  I have a very important story to tell.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Hahaha I don’t think I can surprise anyone anymore. I was talking about a dream I had where I jumped out of an airplane with no parachute on, and a close friend of mine had missed the part where I had said it was a dream, and walked in when I was in mid-story, and he says “oh my god Kelli, you are the only person who can do shit like this and live to tell the tale! go on.” and sat to listen to the rest of my story. Then we explained that I was talking about something that happened in a dream and we all laughed so hard and he said “Kelli, that’s how amazing you are! You could mention things you’ve done and I’d just be like ‘okay, and then what happened?’ even though it’s something completely unreal that if anyone else said I’d immediately be all like ‘bullshit!'” hahaha

Thank you for taking the time to do the interview Kelli, it was a lot of fun!

Be sure to check out more about Kelli on:

Her official blog at kellilox.com/

On Facebook at facebook.com/kelli.lox

On Twitter at  twitter.com/KelliLox

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Get the inside scoop on pornstar Raven Roxx!

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Raven Roxx is a fan favorite who keeps busy with her dancing, camming, and of course making porn for her many fans! I had the pleasure of interviewing Raven and learning more about this fascinating lady!

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

I had a pretty typical childhood.  We weren’t rich but we weren’t poor.  The common misconception is that transgender people were molested as kids, I was not.  I was pretty happy most of the time doing all the normal boy things like playing baseball, riding bikes, sledding, and camping.  I actually knew I was different at 4-5 years old, it’s the first time I ever put on something that would be considered “girl.” It just felt right, but at the time I had no idea what to call it. Truthfully until the internet was easily accessible I thought I was the only one in the world that felt this way.  I had cross-dressed my entire life, but I guess it wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I started thinking maybe this is more than just weird feelings and urges.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

It was!  I long 38 year process.  I’ll pick up from my mid 30’s since before that was covered in the previous question.  I knew another person who was a crossdresser but he worked at the VA.  I’m a veteran, and he explained that recently the VA started covering therapy and medications, so I ended up going to the VA and started the process.  The first thing I did was meet with a gender therapist, and after three months I was referred to the endocrinologist.  I continued therapy for two years total and I highly recommend it.  I ended my therapy the day I went as Raven, she looked at me at the end of the session and said “you don’t need me anymore, I think we are done.”

Raven Roxx Through The BenzIs your family supportive and accepting of you?

Oh my gosh, overwhelming yes!  My parents took it very well all things considered.  I asked my mom once if I disappointed her and her response was “I still have a son (my brother), I just have 3 daughters now.” That was a teary moment.  My brother and sisters all took it very well, and they are very supportive.  I’m truly blessed in the amount of family I kept because I know a lot of girls lose everyone.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their transition?

It’s never too early to start working on your female voice.  It takes a long time and a lot of practice, so start early.  You can ace the clothing, makeup, hair, and mannerisms but if you don’t work on your voice you will out yourself as soon as you open your mouth.  I waited and didn’t work on my voice until the end and wished I had started earlier.  You don’t need to see a speech pathologist or have surgery in most cases.  I used voice memo on my iPhone and a $6 tutorial I found online.

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

It was kind of like an escalation process.  When the excitement of transition began to subside, I was approached by Kimber Haven, who was dancing at Wendy Williams Lexington tgirl parties.  I attended the parties but did not dance.  She knew I was bored and suggested I ask Wendy if she needed dancers, which I did, and I now I am a dancer.  After that though discussions of doing some porn started floating around.  I guess you could say that was around the beginning of Bad Girl Mafia Productions.  The first movie I ever did was a solo masturbation scene and OMG it took me forever to get off!

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

What everyone sees is glamorous but behind the scenes is not nearly as glamorous.  What you don’t see before I shoot is the 12-24 hours before I don’t eat.  Anal douching……yes it’s gross, but it’s sooooo necessary. Water based lube is very sticky when it dries, just saying.  Silicone based lube is almost impossible to wash off.  Some lube may look like cum but it DOES NOT taste like cum.

Raven Roxx Through The Benz

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

Favorite:  Going to shows and cons, and meeting fans, and other people in the industry.  I’m really chatty so any chance I get to run my mouth I jump on the chance.

Least Fav:  All the prep work required before filming.  Douching, shaving, plucking, and my least of the least fav…..starving myself!

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

My siblings know I do porn.  As far as I know my mom and dad don’t and I’m not going tell them.  There are just certain things you don’t discuss with your mom.  Besides, she most likely knows anyway and just will never bring it up.  Not that I’m ashamed of it, but the older generation comes from a much more sexually oppressed society and I just don’t think they would understand.

Raven Roxx Through The BenzDo you foresee a point anytime soon when you’ll retire from porn?

I hope not for a good while.  What I will say is that I want to end my porn career like the show Seinfeld ended; I’d rather end it on a high than try to drag it out to where people only remember the downward spiral at the end because I held on too long.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

Grow a thick skin.  People are going to say things about you, and it doesn’t matter how good you look, it’s going to happen.  The quicker you learn to brush it off and do your own thing, the easier it will be.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

I absolutely adore my fans!  Let’s be honest, without my fans I’d be nothing.  I picked up a good habit from Kimber Haven, and I spend large amounts of my free time answering messages from fans.  No one does it for me so I spend a few hours every day responding to all the messages I get on various social media outlets.  It’s the least I can do for my peeps.

Can the trans porn industry be a positive influence within the trans community since there is still such a stigma attached to the industry and being a sex worker?

As with anything, positive or negative really depends on who you talk to.  I’m sure the bible thumpers claim no good can come from any porn.  I’m really not sure, you’ve kinda stumped me on this one because I know the way I personally feel is not necessarily the belief held by others.  I think it’s great, it’s a huge market, and it provides jobs to girls who may not have any other recourse.

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

I’m sure some are to certain degrees.  I personally don’t consider myself to exploited.  I enjoy what I do.  I mean I get paid to fuck and take sexy pictures of myself.  Let me say it like this; I’m going to be fucking, everyone does, so why not let someone video it and see it online?  It’s like a total win/win situation.

Kimber Haven Through The BenzWho inspires you?

Well, I’m always giving props to Wendy Williams as an icon, so in this interview I want to give props to someone I hold in equally high regard, Kimber Haven.  I’ve known Kimber almost as long as I’ve been actively transitioning.  And while she pisses me off on almost a daily basis I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She’s not afraid to tell me the truth, even if I don’t want to hear it.  While sometimes I hate her for it, it has made me a much better person inside and out, which would not have been possible without her.

Do you find it difficult to date being trans? Does working in the porn industry make it harder or easier?

I find it very hard.  Especially when you factor in that I’m a porn actress, cam model, exotic dancer, non-monogamous and polyamorous.  I’ll be the first to admit it’s hard to find anyone to accept all that.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

Without a doubt all these religious freedom bills, aka bathroom bills.  We all know who we really need to keep out of bathrooms to prevent sexual assaults: preachers.  We also need better healthcare coverage.  Some companies are pioneering this kind of acceptance but sadly too many are lacking.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I’m not sure I’ll be in front of the camera still then, but I hope I’m still working in the industry. Or sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a margarita……beaches and margaritas are good too.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually a really good gardener.  I can make my own canned spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickled jalapeños, and like potatoes.  It’s a really rewarding hobby.  Nothing beats walking out to the garden and grabbing stuff and making it from fresh produce.

What is a typical day in your life like?

Typical days are pretty boring.  I still have a day job so there I have accounted for at least 8 hours.  The rest of the day is spent answering fan mail, going to the gym, walking my old dog, or hanging out with friends.

Raven Roxx Through The Benz

Violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. What can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

We need to stop stigmatizing trans people and shaming them for being authentic to themselves.  I hate to say it but religion plays a big part in this.  I am appalled at how many people who claim to be godly are the first in line to cast stones at others.

There is a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

People need to be less uptight and stop being so worried about what other people are doing.  There are two kinds of people in the world, the ones who watch porn and the ones who lie about not watching porn.  If everyone could just admit they watch it and not be made to feel guilty I believe porn would be just another job.

Thank you for the interview Raven, it was a pleasure!

You can follow Raven on Twitter at @TsRavenRoxx visit her cam site at TsRaven.com, or see her official website at RavenRoxx.com

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Holly Parker opens up about life, porn, and being trans

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Holly Parker is one of the biggest names in trans porn, and for those of us fortunate to be able to know her as a friend, she is one of the most caring people you’ll ever meet. I got the opportunity to hang out with Holly and get to know her at last year’s TEA and discover what a special person she is, so being able to do this interview means a lot to me. Holly has achieved a great deal behind the camera, but it’s her voice as an advocate for the porn industry and the trans community where she really shines. And she has become a leading voice for trans health care, which we will cover in Part 2 of this interview. So without further ado, I give you the one and only Holly Parker!

What was your childhood like growing up?

My childhood growing up was mainly influenced by my immediate family. I was born in a sleepy little fisherman’s town in the early 90s. My family was very religious and until my grandparents died in 2003, I attended a prestigious private school. In 2004, I began going to public school. I was immediately introduced to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I kept it a secret from my family for some time, but then it got out of hand. My addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs was causing me to be reckless. By mid-summer 2006 it was either a long-term inpatient rehab or alternative school and outpatient.

The change of pace and size of my alternative school made it possible for me, for the first time, to acquire straight A’s. I drank every weekend I attended that school and passed every urine analysis. One day I decided to be honest about my substance abuse and my counselor told me that I needed long-term rehab or I was to be kicked out of school. I was 18 and dropped out of that school and went back to my old high school. I decided to drop out and got my GED in 2009 as Holly.

I grew up in a typical single-parent, American family with most relatives alive until I was 14. I even got along well with my dad separately from my mother. They were never married, I am a bastard child. I was raised privileged and loved, and was protected by my family and well taken care of growing up. The one thing that made my childhood difficult and stemmed any trouble or misunderstanding, was the fact I was transgender. I was never molested or abused, was always given the chance to make mistakes and learn from them and if I did not, whatever punishment WAS necessary, in my opinion now. Looking back, I never wanted or needed anything growing up, except acceptance and understanding of my gender dysphoria, although, I did not know how to do that or where to begin until I was 14. I had developed a full understanding of myself and was able to begin explaining and expressing myself in ways that may bring better understanding to other trans* people someday. This is regardless of how different my experience may be from theirs.

Holly Parker Through The Benz

Have you always known you were trans, and was it a process to come to terms with that?

I have always known I was trans. Recently in San Francisco I was with my mother for my gender reassignment surgery. We were being interviewed by BBC for a documentary on gender, and my mom and I discussed many things including random memories from my childhood. I’m talking about when I realized I was trans, which I unfortunately did not have that word for back then because of lack of education on gender. I thought I was a normal girl and the memories I have just so happen to be from meeting around two years old that I begin remembering. I didn’t even think I would have consciousness at that point ha ha that is enough for me, personally, so now I have been female all of my life, or a more general term, trans.

The only process I have gone through is convincing people I am “female” and I had a real disorder, mentally and physically debilitating. Passing cars, passing trains, overpasses, building windows, a gun. Many different choices for taking one’s life at any given time at RANDOM. I now look at those things and think of them as they are in the moment and not anything else harmful. I would like to avoid harm at all costs because I love life now and I see a real future ahead of me.

If I can bring more understanding and involve as much of the world in my transition as I can, I have a chance to bring some acceptance to all trans people across the world. As a young child, I just did not want to see anyone suffer and dreamed to be like Princess Diana and travel to other countries and volunteer with the sick and less fortunate. Although I realize that if you are going to make a difference in this world, it starts by making a difference on your home soil first or wherever you call home.

Is your family supporting and accepting of you?

My family may not have understood me all the way through, but they have never let that factor into their decision on whether they will except me in their life or not. Knowing it’s none of their business to understand me, for I am not hurting them or anyone mentally or physically to be happy myself. They just love me and are happy to see me happy when they watched me be miserable for so many years.

Now, even though they may not always understand me, they have always supported me in my journey be happy and grow as a human on this planet. I deserve to feel just as human as the next person. They have witnessed every decision I have made, and it has only bettered me as a person and helped my transition. My family knew me before I came out as trans and continue to know me and want to know me now. They remember how miserable and sad I was and for years no one knew what to do. Now that I am me and only become more of me each day, they see how happy I am and have been since I’ve transitioned. They have not only seen how much good I have done for myself, but the good I have done and kindness I have shown to others in order for them to feel acceptance when no one else may have been showing them acceptance at the time.

Holly Parker Through The Benz   Holly Parker Through The Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

I googled “trans porn applications” and found a step-by-step application process and originally shot my first solo and hardcore with Radius Dark Photography. I began working in the porn industry after I moved back from Arizona, broke as fuck, after attempting to start over with my fiance at the time in Phoenix, Arizona. Sadly, he passed August 20, 2015. Little did I know that first shoot I desperately applied for online would be the first of many. It would be the beginning of my career as a “Porn Star.” I thought I would shoot one and fade out quickly. Sometimes I still wish I did.

Can you tell us a few of the people who have influenced you the most throughout your career?

There are so many influences in my career I don’t know who to begin with! These people did not influence me to get started in porn, but they influenced me to stay. I hate mentioning names because my philosophy on that as, “Every name you mention, you forget a name to mention.” My Twitter shows many retweets, posing photos, and advertisements for past work with many people who have made a large impact on my life as a Trans Porn Star.

Can you tell us what Grooby means to you?

Can I tell you what Grooby means to me? Friendships and paychecks!

Holly Parker Through The Benz

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

My family has always known I’ve worked in porn and they see my success and happiness today. I am happier and a lot less broke than working for minimum-wage 9-to-5 job. I want to build a career. I do not want a job. I learned a job stands for “Just Over Broke.” I was over working paycheck to paycheck many moons ago.

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

Well, all women in porn are exploited as sex workers, we have sex for money. Is it anyone’s business, other than the government at this point, to know how we make our money, pay our bills, feed our children and stay alive like the next privileged American? Most of us (Trans*) Women exploit ourselves as sex workers all day, every day. It is our livelihood. Porn is the ultimate advertising for sex work. There is nothing wrong with that. If it is done right, everyone is safe and making money.

Now that you’ve had reassignment surgery will you be retiring from porn?

Retiring from porn is a statement. For some, porn is a career. For others, like myself, it was an artistic outlet to temporarily support myself.  I did not need tax money from someone else to buy my groceries or federal funding support to help me with my transportation. I was able to work legally and pay my taxes, comfortably. Porn has, unfortunately to some, opened up many other doors for me to be successful. At this point, it depends on how I feel after I am 100% healed from my Gender Reassignment Surgery.

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

It is considered a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. You question if it is glamorous, is it as interesting is you think? This is a hard question to organize an answer to. Working is always interesting. In the beginning of your career, you think you will only be asked to do what you are comfortable with personally. That is not always the case. You are challenged, mostly in your own thoughts, to questions you are asked about performing acts you may have never considered comfortable to try. I have not been in a porn setting where I did not try and learn something interesting about myself that was new. Then again, I am a girl who says go forth and face whatever you are scared of and just get it out of the fucking way! There is so much more opportunity for you to bloom without restriction.

Porn is glamorous when you attend award shows, like the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards and the Transgender Erotica Awards (TEA) Show. You get to dress up and attend red carpet events with costars, producers, photographers, other models, directors, etc. Really, any title you can think of in film attends those awards to celebrate the individual success brought together by so many in the adult film industry to create so many productions teamwork could only accomplish.

Holly Parker Through The Benz

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

My favorite and least enjoyable parts I endure in porn? Well, my favorite part is getting ready for the project. I become a princess preparing for her coronation day, figuratively speaking, when my make-up begins. Each fresh curl is like a brand-new, warm and beautiful day. I become presentable and I feel ready to be seen.

I do not like traveling to the shoot, since I’m always dealing with some kind of unnecessary delay, although I don’t stress if it is in the same state or city. A missed flight because of uncontrollable weather conditions, traffic or some unexpected delay. Also, most adult production companies make you pay for your travel and do not reimburse you. Like a 2 way Spirit Airlines ticket is going to break the bank! lol

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

My best advice to aspiring models is never let yourself feel like lesser of a human due to your personal or someone else’s personal negative opinion. Constructive criticism him should always be welcome to. Only to humble, better yourself and build self-confidence. You were born to be who you want to be. Let it show, let it shine. Your individuality will be what makes you stand out from the rest.

As you know, violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. There are organizations like Trans Lifeline which provides vital resources for trans people in times of crisis. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

It does not start as a community or society together that makes a difference. Making a difference starts with yourself individually. Suicide comes from so many places inside one’s self. There is no knowledge of what giving up does for you once you cross over. Know the pain of your own life’s loss you cannot understand, that is something you will cause someone else. Surviving and helping others find a reason to survive inspires hope. Do not stop inspiring hope. Do not stop inspiring a future for Love. Your own story in survival of doubt will save someone else. Save lives on behalf of your own story about simply making a conscious decision to live now and in the future when you consider ending your life.

Always believe in finding a light at the end of your tunnel, figuratively speaking. If you do not see the light, never lose hope, or give up and let yourself die or kill yourself to put yourself out of misery. You claw and scratch kick and chew if you have to. If you are going to go out, always go out with a fight.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

An individual need to understand a human’s personal life in order to confirm their existence as deserving the same basic rights and respect as your own only if you relate to them in some way that, subconsciously, you do not feel physically threatened or mentally inconvenienced. Whatever the word is for that need of equal or greater value as a human with no lesser accepted based on specific personal identification and beliefs. That is one of the biggest issues facing the transgender community today.

Holly Parker Through The BenzWho inspires you?

My inspiration in general, for life? I have parented and loved a life and I thank my lucky stars I am responsible for him until death do us part. My American Staffordshire terrier, Jengo Fett (Yes, from Star Wars). Jengo was gifted into my life in October 2012. An interesting fact about Jengo is that he was born the same day I was. I will be turning 26 while he turns 6 this Summer.

Jengo Fett. Do I want to be responsible for the death of my dog with an “Oh Well!” Attitude after he dies? Nope. I will always choose to be responsible for the death of nothing, especially a life. He inspires me to live. He inspires me to be responsible for my own life, I come home each night happy and don’t feel alone. I cannot accept him going to the pound because I decided to give up responsibility for a life I allowed into mine knowing originally the only way we would part is if one of us died. Jengo is the reason I wake up in the morning and why I strive for success. I do not want him to be homeless!

 

As a trans woman do you find it difficult to date, along with being a pornstar?

Dating is difficult not only for trans women, but every human that is able to date. Some make it feel easy until it is not. Do not stop and stay on my own when it is not easy, settling in sadness. Move forward. Do not ever give up on even the smallest chance to fall in love!

I have dated so many. Enough that more than a couple are no longer alive. I evaluate myself on dating in the past. I ask myself, “What have I learned? Not a fucking thing! I am still so fucking confused!”

Holly Parker Through The BenzWhen you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

Currently, home is in Las Vegas. You can only imagine how much there is to do here. In my free time, it is always the same things, just in a different order on a different day. I walk my dog, I love music and I especially enjoy traveling. I also enjoy keeping up on my laundry and every once in a while, I will receive a great recommendation for a TV series to binge watch.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Something people would be surprised to learn about me. I was arrested two times before I turned 18.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

When time allows or something hilarious pops up from one, I will interact with fans on social media. I really enjoy unique messages or fan art. I also appreciate the personal messages and it sucks I cannot respond to all of them. I apologize for any recent weird messages or posts on one of my social media accounts. It was maliciously hacked several times, but it has been resolved

Holly Becca TEA 2017

Holly Parker Through The Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself well established in my choice of career and close to a comfortable retirement. Possibly married, definitely a few kids. Two or more dogs and simple family filled holidays. I may have put on a few pounds, ideally in the right places! All this in the a well-deserved home.

There continues to be a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

Avoid complaining about negativity. Be yourself and make an attempt to discuss the professional side of your experience if given the chance to share. Give some examples on how your career in the adult industry has benefited you. You can begin to bring a better respect to adult entertainment, maybe not by discussing the work you are performing, but the benefits the work has allowed you to prosper from.

The only way to normalize adult work is to leave out the discussion about the sex aspect. Talk about the business aspect and how it allows you to enjoy life when you’re not working. The work for some may not be agreed with, but the advantages business-wise can create a better platform to show people there is positive profit from adult entertainment. Sex is one of the few things in this world that will always and forever continue to sell in all shapes and forms.

You can follow Holly in Twitter at @TheHollyParker

See more of Holly on her website at hollyparker.xxx/home

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Getting to know three-time TEA nominee Lianna Lawson!

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Lianna Lawson is a new face in the trans porn scene who has made a big impact and become a fan favorite. Her work can be seen on several different sites such as Shemale Yum and Tgirls.porn, and she can also frequently be found camming. Lianna was nominated for three 2017 TEAs for Best New Face, Best Solo Model, and Best Scene with Casey Kisses.

Hello Lianna and thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

No problem, I’m happy to oblige!

Lianna Lawson TEACongratulations on your three TEA nominations! How does it feel to get that many nominations?

It’s almost surreal. I wasn’t going into porn thinking I’d get nominated for anything, however that being said, it’s amazing to have not only one but three nominations among many other talented and beautiful ladies. So something is being done right, I think.

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

Well I just started posting images of myself on social media revealing more and more. Eventually Grooby director Omar Wax scouted me and got my ass, quite literally in front of a camera. The rest kinda just went from there.

Many consider being a model in the porn industry would be a dream job. Is the job really as glamorous and as much fun as people would assume?

To the uninformed it would seem like the “dream job,” but it is, in fact at the end of the day, a job. I mean there are some cool parties with cool people though, but you gotta *work* to get there.

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

My favorite part about the job is getting to meet all the amazing people in front of AND behind the camera. Some of the most interesting and amazing people I’ve ever met have been through doing porn. As for the least favorite thing about the job is the stigma attached with being a trans sex worker.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

I would tell them that they should know the risks and to think really long and hard about what they want out of working in the adult industry.

Who are some of the people who have influenced you the most throughout your career?

A lot of my influences comes from fans and friends, some of my friends being people like Shiri, Robin Banks, and Natalie Mars. All wonderful people. As they’ve all definitely helped me throughout my career in one way or another.

Lianna Lawson

Can you tell us what Grooby means to you?

Well as you know Grooby is one of the flagship companies that produces and distributes trans porn. That being said, it’s quite an honor to be featured by them and basically be propelled onto the home screens for those that appreciate and admire trans porn. And for that I’m pretty grateful. It means a great deal that I can be a part of the Grooby community and be accepted for who I am.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

They know I do porn, but like any parents they’re concerned with all the risks associated with doing porn, I assure them that I am safe and doing well. They’re not happy with my choice to be in porn, but hey I’m here.

What was your childhood like growing up?

My childhood was pretty ordinary growing up so to say; I grew up in a military household, so there was lots of moving around and some strict rules. I was also the youngest of three siblings and for the most part I stayed outta trouble, got good grades, and played an unhealthy amount of video games. I didn’t necessarily have any long friendships because of the moving, so I found solace with online games and their communities and kinda explored things from there.

Lianna LawsonHave you always known you were trans, and was it a process to come to terms with that?

I wouldn’t say that I always knew I was trans, but I had a feeling that things were not “right” growing up. My teens were basically a period of self-discovery and lots of teen angst. And being raised in a fairly strict conservative household did push me to hide some of the ways I felt and acted. Initially I thought I was just gay, but I was drawn more to the feminine side of things and felt more comfortable exploring those aspects of myself. Eventually I sought professional help and guidance when I was 23 which allowed me to be more comfortable with myself and much happier.

Is your family supportive and accepting of you?

I would say they’re still getting used to the fact that I’m transitioning and are slowly coming to terms with it in their own special way.

How do you address those who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers?

There’s exploitation in almost every aspect of life, to think that trans sex workers are an exception is a little naive. You just have to have a steady head about yourself and know when something just isn’t right.

Violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

A part of the solution would be the community recognizing the warning signs when people are at risk of committing suicide. It’s up to the community to know and address what’s wrong or troubling the individuals who reside in said community. Support groups for LGBTQ people would be a great place for trans people seeking help and to get the care that they need to help prevent suicide. With increased efforts by the community it can bring awareness to society to change for the better and hopefully decrease suicide rates among transgender people.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I think one of the big issues facing the transgender community would be acquiring and maintaining a job in the workforce without discrimination or fear of losing their job and having job security not only on a federal level. The mainstream media tends to focus on some non important issues like trans women in bathrooms and are primarily concerned with what our genitals look like. So the public is being informed that when it comes to trans people, you should be afraid or disturbed. Not to mention the media has a tendency to portray only the bad news, but that’s an entirely different subject.

Lianna Lawson Shemale Yum

There is a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

What would really help break down the negative perception of the adult industry would be the normalization of sex and breaking down how it is seen as a holy ritual. However that isn’t going to happen anytime soon because we live in a puritanical world where violence is rewarded and sex is shamed. Hopefully society’s attitude towards the adult entertainment industry will evolve and everyone will be better for it.

Who inspires you?

I’d say friends and a little bit of Sasha Grey.

As a trans woman do you find it difficult to date, along with being a pornstar?

Well I don’t date much and I’ve only been on a couple dates and the dates I have been on the people I’ve seen have known that I’m trans and do porn. I can see how it would be difficult, but I have not encountered those problems just yet.

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

Well I enjoy playing videogames, watching movies, reading books, etc. y’know the usual. Two things worth mentioning though are my interests in photography and dancing. I’d like to explore a little bit more with both, but they’re kinda just little hobbies that I dabble in. Also dancing is a great way to stay active.

I read that your favorite movie is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is also one of my favorites. Do you enjoy classic movies?

Yea I really enjoy the classics, they’re a great place to delve into the beginnings of a really fascinating industry.

With your interest in photography would you eventually like to get behind the camera and shoot or produce porn?

I think it’d be an interesting move to shift from in front of the camera to behind and end up shooting porn. That would be something to see.

Lianna Lawson     Lianna Lawson

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Sometimes it’s an absolute blast talking to people from all over the world and other times it’s a total drag. For example I can talk about some really cool things like chemistry or firefighting and other times it’s some Joe Blow who is looking for some wish fulfillment or a cheap thrill. it’s kinda all over the place, lots of hits and misses.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

That I have a dick, but seriously I think people would be surprised to know that I’m down to earth and a fairly easy going person.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I just don’t know, I do however hope that it is not as a statistic.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Lianna, it was a pleasure!

Be sure to follow Lianna on Twitter and Tumblr!

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A Canadian original, the beautiful Jelena Vermilion!

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Jelena Vermilion gives us one more reason to love Canada! This sassy and articulate young woman has made a splash in the porn industry and leaves quite an impression when you get to know her. She has that special star quality of being amazing in front of the camera while performing and also being extremely insightful and informed about not only the issues within the trans community and porn industry, but also global issues. This lady can definitely hold her own in an interview! One of the things I enjoy most about doing these interviews is that it gives me the opportunity to get to know people a lot better, and I particularly enjoyed chatting with Jelena and doing this interview. Jelena is a special lady and I see great things ahead for her in whatever endeavors she chooses. And congratulations are in order for her recent Transgender Erotica Awards nominations for Ms. Unique and Best International Performer (West)!

Jelana Vermilion

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

My childhood was pretty tumultuous. I experienced a lot of trauma growing up, which I think contributed to my delayed realization of being trans until around 16. I had always acted in my own way which I suppose would have been read as ‘feminine’ archetypically, but I didn’t express it knowingly until around 16, even though my presentation was pretty femme.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

Yes, it was a challenge. I struggled with feeling helpless to do anything about my feelings of dysphoria. I balked at starting HRT for a long time because I was conflicted about being on medication for the rest of my life. Thankfully when I decided, I was able to start before the end of my puberty, at 17.

Is your family supportive and accepting of you?

My folks are strange people. They are superficially accepting of me as being trans and who I am in general. But, I don’t have contact with them, as they can be quite inadvertently abusive, without effort to be accountable. My siblings and other extended family (I have few relatives I am in frequent contact with) are accepting, mean well, and we are on good terms.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

I had recently started escorting, and I was scouted by Toronto Grooby Producer (at the time) Kevin Dong. He asked me if I’d be interested in modeling for Canada-Tgirl.com, and that if things went well, there may be opportunity to shoot a hardcore set. I agreed, and I really enjoyed myself. The rest, as they say, is history. I was then scouted again by new Toronto Producer Vito Scalia once Kevin left Grooby.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

I have no interest in hiding who I am or what I’m about, so I have told them. My mother gets paranoid about my safety, driven by her misconceptions and (of course), sincere concern. My father- I’m sure- has complicated and condemning feelings about it as he doesn’t want to think of his (daughter) in that light. I couldn’t care less what they think about it.

Jelana Vermilion

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

I think that it’s a complicated issue. I think in a world where trans people- especially femme trans folks- had the same employment, educational, and economic opportunities as their cis peers, many would not choose sex work. Many people revel in sex work, and others choose it because it is the least foul/best overall choice for them. I know that I fall within the former category. I think, however, that it is poverty and capitalism which exploits people to make choices (i.e. consent to labour) that aren’t ideal.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I think that transgender people being given more exposure within the collective consciousness has been a good improvement. I also think that the gender binary has been reinforced through these homogenized narratives of Male-to-Female and Female-to-Male transitions being disseminated. I think an issue the trans community faces is the erasure of non-binary and intersex identities. I think medical coverage for trans folks who choose to medically transition is obviously a contentious issue, also.

When you look back at 2016 what will you remember most?

I was nominated as Ms. Unique and Best International Performer (West) for the 2017 TEAs, and that was a pretty special moment for me in 2016. I am ever grateful.

Congratulations on your nominations!! Will you be attending TEA in March?

I’m not sure; I’d really like to I’m just not sure if I can swing it.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

As a Canadian, what are your thoughts when you look at what’s going on in America, with the country so divided over Donald Trump being elected?

I feel for my American neighbours. Many people are hurting and scared, and many people are now emboldened by what they perceive as righteous and valid behaviour. It seems to have created a large dissonance within many communities in every state. I hope that people will focus on being kind to one another.

Do you see any big differences in how trans people are treated in Canada versus America?

It does seem that on a federal level, Canada makes a conscious effort to ask pronouns/gender identity/preferred name in interpersonal dealings and on their governmental forms. I have even noticed these changes trickle down provincially and municipally, so it is quite interesting to see. We also have gender identity and presentation protected from discrimination under our criminal code, so that is neat.
I had lived in Virginia for six months, and while I do think attitudes vary by state, America is still learning how to respect and understand trans people. Canada is also still learning.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Generally, yes! I am very grateful to have my fan base and a loyal following. I enjoy having meaningful discussion and sharing parts of myself for them to see. It’s always neat to see the kind of connections that can be made!

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I would like to have a partner (wouldn’t most?), and I’d like to be focused on creating more art- whether that is erotica, pornography, fashion photography, film, etc. I am interested in creating and disseminating beauty into the world. I feel like it is something of value.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I can be quick to tears, I struggle with depression and anxiety, and I prefer living in smaller spaces as I prefer not to own many possessions.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

I am an audiophile, so I listen to a lot of music at home on my record player or on-the-go in my car. I like dancing, going on road trips, exploring nature, trying new food, and spending time with friends.

Who inspires you?

So many of my friends! I’m also inspired of the musicians that I listen to, such as Stevie Nicks, Alysha Brilla, Grimes, or Crystal Castles. I get a lot of inspiration through beauty and exhibitions of beauty.

You have very good taste in music! Stevie Nicks is also someone who has inspired me for her sense of style and obviously her voice.

Thank you again Jelena!

To learn more about Jelena:

Twitter: @IsisIntrepid

Facebook: Isis Jelena Vermilion

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Isabella Sorrenti: beauty, brains, and so much more!

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Hello Isabella, and thank you so much for doing this interview!

Isabella Sorrenti TEA 2017You’ve been nominated for multiple 2017 AVN awards including Favorite Trans Performer and several TEA awards including Best Solo Model and Ms. Unique. What does it mean to you to be recognized by the industry and fans for your work?

It means a lot to me. Receiving recognition and these accolades just sweetens the deal for me. It shows how much my fans appreciate not only my work but me as a whole. I try to keep in contact with a lot of them when they message me. I have some awesome fans, that’s for sure.

If I win then I win but if I don’t at least I was recognized for something and the experience on it’s own is enough for me.

When you were younger, what was your perception of sex workers and porn, and has it changed now that you’ve worked in industry?

When I was younger I guess I didn’t care much about porn or anyone who did sex work. In fact, I didn’t know that term until I began industry. Honestly, it was fun in the beginning but things aren’t so fun for me anymore. It’s a lot of personal stuff that I’d like to keep to myself.

Our stories are similar in that we both did a lot of research and blog reading before we applied to Grooby. What motivated you to enter the porn industry?

It was actually a dare from a few of my friends. They told me I couldn’t do it so I went ahead and decided to prove them wrong. It wasn’t anything I wanted to do long term. It was honestly all for fun but then things got serious I guess? At this point I’m deciding as to whether I should stay in the industry or leave. I guess we’ll see wont we?

Isabella Sorrenti TEA 2016

What was your childhood like growing up in Missouri? At what point did you realize you were trans?

My childhood in Missoura was great! We had a lot of woodland, ponds, long grassy fields, barns, horses, fruit trees, beautiful landscaping and privacy. I really miss a lot of that and wouldn’t mind settling down in a place similar to where I grew up one day. I realized I was a trans when I was about 4-5 years old I just didn’t know the term at that point. I was confused and wondering why I couldn’t dress like the girls in school. Why I had to dress up as a boy back then.

Has your family been accepting and supportive of you?

I do not speak to my family; it’s been 10 years since I last spoke to them. I’m on my own and have been since I was 15. With the history I have with them I would never allow them to be a part of my life now. They’re selfish and judgmental. Since they’re Catholic and Mormon I highly doubt they would be accepting of my career.

You have a degree in Neurobiology and at one point were planning to go to Med School. Why did you decide against that career path?

I decided not to fully pursue medicine because I wanted something different. I decided to transition instead of going to medical school. School is boring in general so I didn’t want to be stuck in it for another 8-10 years. By the time I had progressed in my transition I could no longer stomach blood so I definitely don’t wanna pursue that now. Would I pursue it in the future? Probably not.

Isabella Sorrenti

Can you tell us about your Twitter name, Goddess Persephone, and the meaning behind it?

That’s actually my domme name. It may seem like a pretty or beautiful name but there’s actually a dark meaning behind it. I wanted to choose a name that chose my personality as a domme.

I’m part Greek so it’s of Greek Origin, back to Ancient Greece actually. “Pertho” means “to destroy” and “phone” means “murder”. It just fit so well to my personality as a domme so I chose that name.

Brief History: Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus but was abducted by Hades. She was allowed to return after one year and her coming and going is why we supposedly have our change in seasons now.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

That depends. I used to be very responsive but I’m actually a lot more irritated with some of these “fans” now. Since this is going out to the public I’ll say what I need to say now. I am not seeking marriage or a relationship with clients. I like to keep my business professional. So when I get idiots messaging me things like that I get irritated. That’s why I either block or simply don’t respond anymore. I’m not so nice anymore. I do speak to a large amount of loyal fans who respect me though when I can. Some of these idiots should keep their tiny pricks in their pants. They’re making men look even worse than they already are.

Isabella Sorrenti Altomic Visuals

Does being a famous pornstar make it easier or more difficult to date?

It actually makes it very difficult. I thought it would have the opposite effect but many people are either intimidated by me or they change their tune and want to use me for fulfillment of their personal fetishes and to cross off having sex with a pornstar off their list. So I no longer date for those reasons. Besides the guys I’ve dated all had exponentially smaller pricks. I put them to shame. Do I want to date someone in the future? Highly doubtful. People are just disappointing.

What are your thoughts about Donald Trump winning the election and what concerns do you have about his upcoming presidency?

Please leave politics out of this interview. I cannot stand politics and some of the things people are doing are completely preposterous. There are better ways to cope.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I think the biggest issues are resources. It’s a bit easier to get things done here on the West Coast but after speaking to a lot of people from all over the US I learned how difficult it can for them not having the proper counseling, having difficulties getting their hormone therapy and help in getting surgery. I know too well how closed minded some states can be with their support for the LGBTQIA community. So acceptance and support seem to be the biggest issues.

Isabella Sorrenti

Being a pornstar seems like it would be a dream job. What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

I kind of laughed a little. This is far from being a dream job. In fact I feel the longer you’re in this kind of career the harder it can get for that person mentally and physically. There are a lot of people out there who shame you for who you are and it makes you do things that are stupid and nonsensical. A lot of these girls can be brutal and mean so it’s hard to see how this would be considered a “dream job”.

My favorite part. It gave me the self-confidence I desired for so long and opened up a lot of doors. Least favorite part? I don’t really want to go there. Let’s just say certain people should calm down and realize this isn’t Hollywood, they’re not A-listers and they should be a lot nicer to others rather than showing they’re better than everyone. I’ve seen that kind of behavior too much in this industry. Rather than being connected to each other I feel it’s very much disconnected. Things need to change.

You mentioning being shamed for working in this industry, which is something I’ve written about before. What can we as an industry do to combat this shaming and present a more positive image of who we are and of the industry as a whole?

I think for starters people should keep their comments to themselves. They don’t realize they are committing an act of bullying when they stoop that low. It is demeaning and a completely irrelevant. You’re supposed to encourage each other not grab each other by the necks. This goes not only to the people outside the industry but also a lot of those who are in the industry.

We will never fully deplete the issue but we can try and suppress it as much as possible. We aren’t better than the next person because we are all in it for different reasons. Some of us want to save up for sexual reassignment surgery, others want to amplify their self-confidence and there are a few who see it as a career choice (typically the younger ones). So we can’t judge one person or another for the things we do. We’re all sex workers, either deal with or go away as far as you can from people who want to do something with themselves because you’re not helping.

What is the one thing you treasure the most from your time in the porn industry?

The support from fans. I’ve spoken to a lot of great people. I would never take that back.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

Tread these waters carefully. It may seem glamorous and all but it’s not what it seems. They should consider doing extensive research and making a competent and sound decision before pursuing it. Not everyone is going to accept it. I’m not trying to discourage anyone but without the needed support it can be hard. Just make sure it’s something you want to do 100%.

Isabella Sorrenti    Isabella Sorrenti

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

I like to travel to national parks for the day, go out to the desert to stargaze, try new vegan restaurants, read romance novels, go hiking and watch Netflix.

What shows on Netflix have grabbed your attention lately?

I don’t have really have any shows that catch my attention. I usually watch a lot of the movies they have on there. White Christmas was something I enjoy watching every year so I indulged myself with that!

What’s a typical day in your life like?

The typical day in my life is like anyone else. I’m not some Hollywood celebrity who has paparazzi outside their house. I just live my life and that’s all.

How long have you been a vegan? Did you choose a vegan lifestyle just for health reasons or was it also a moral issue about eating animals?

2 years. I chose it because of the animals. Veganism to me is about making better choices to help animals and showing others how doable this lifestyle is. Ideally, the use of animal products and the exploitation that it involves should be eliminated. I support products, while not perfect, that will nevertheless help prevent the vast majority of animal suffering.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I’d like to hopefully be married to a billionaire. Have a kid. Live in Europe. Be traveling all over the world.

Who inspires you?

I think the main person who inspires me is my best friend. She’s very sick and dying. A lot of her words and encouragement has helped me become a better person. A better and stronger woman.

Isabella Sorrenti

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Honestly after doing so many other interviews I think everyone knows things about me. Like the fact I’m a US Marine, or that I was an MMA instructor, I speak 4 languages and I have an IQ of 145 (yes I took the Mensa IQ Test).

What was it like for you serving in the military as a trans person and having to hide who you really are?

Before joining the military I was very depressed and was trying to figure out any way to mask my femininity. I tried hanging out with the popular guys, who gladly made me an addition to their group, and even tried being an adrenaline junkie. After many fails to put up a facade I decided to join the military. Keep in mind, I had zero clue what I was getting myself into. Some of my friends were joining the Marines and so I decided to tag along during their pool functions. After some time I made the decision to sign all the paperwork and get sworn in at my local MEPS. I figured if I joined a bunch of meat heads I’d be just like them.

The struggle was very much real. Even during boot camp. It was hard to find guys I could relate to. Fortunately my battle buddy was really nice and understanding so I wasn’t alone. You realize really quick that the Marines take care of their own, no matter what. Its sorority and frat house for the elite. That doesn’t always apply to everyone though. After going through MOS school and being stationed with an artillery unit my gender dysphoria only got worse. After my third year of serving I confided in one of my fellow Marines about my deepest, darkest secret. They swore to keep it but that didn’t last long. After some psych evaluations and counseling they deemed me unfit for duty that my participation was unsatisfactory. Wasn’t up to par with the other Marines. I was pretty bummed, depressed but I didn’t realize I was given freedom once more. The freedom to be who I was truly meant to be. So I have no regrets for everything that happened.

Did being trans affect your ability to serve or your decision to reenlist or not?

I feel that identifying myself as trans caused a lot of issues during that time mainly because it was a gray area and considered taboo at that time. I was incapable of re-enlisting so there was no way for me to get back in. The Army approached me once saying they wanted to help me and could sign me up but I would have to choose infantry as my MOS. I really didn’t want to go through any more stress and pressure. I wanted to focus on school and learning more about myself. I think when you want to be identified as a man or a woman and your unit doesn’t accept that it can be difficult for anyone.

Were you involuntarily separated from the military because of being trans?

Yes I was. It was a very dark time in my journey but it was the beginning towards my freedom to be myself. I didn’t immediately come out to society about it. It took time and I had to muster a lot of courage. I’m glad it happened because there’s a chance I wouldn’t be here right now.

How do you feel now that trans people can serve openly in the military?

It took them long enough! Honestly, I’m very happy for my trans brothers and sisters. I know the third phase hasn’t really taken effect but once that happens I feel it’s gonna open a lot more doors for everyone. It’s gonna be hard to come to terms for a lot of individuals but they’ll soon realize that they’re all there to do the same thing. They’re all there to serve their country with honor and integrity.

What does Veteran’s Day mean to you?

To me Veteran’s Day is a tribute to all the women and men who have served their country and to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty. It’s the day where all the communities come together in order to recognize this and to celebrate the sacrifices made. If it wasn’t for all the sacrifice we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today. We wouldn’t be breathing the air we breathe today and there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be here today or you’d be speaking another language. Next time you see a veteran go up to them and thank them. Not for being in the military but for making the decision to do something not everyone can. The Few. The Proud. The Marines 😉

Thank you so much for doing the interview Isabella, it was a real treat!

You can follow Isabella on Twitter here: @IsaSorrentiXXX

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A very special interview with my oldest son J

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This is an interview I have been working on for several months and is very special to me for obvious reasons. I initially came up with the idea of interviewing my oldest son J because he’s had the unique perspective of knowing me before my transition as his dad, and after transitioning as I became Rebecca, and also because he knows about my career in the Adult Entertainment Industry as Becca Benz. As the interview progressed and we talked about our lives and shared experiences we discovered that it allowed us to see things in a different perspective, and it ended up being a really enlightening experience for both of us and something we really enjoyed.

My son JJ and I have been through some very difficult times together that severely tested our relationship. At one point I made the decision that he was no longer welcome to live at home because his behavior was too disruptive for our family. Another time his brother and I sat handcuffed for over six hours while various law enforcement agencies searched our house because of him. Yet we survived and are closer because of it. He and I talk almost every day and he is the one I reach out to when I need someone to talk with or need an opinion on something, and I am the one he calls when he needs to talk or vent. He can get me to talk when I don’t feel like it, and no one makes me laugh like he does. We have a special bond because not only is he my son, he’s also my friend and one of the people I trust most and respect.

There have been numerous transgender themed articles written about parent-child relationships, but it’s usually the child who is transgender, not the parent, so this column is distinctive in that respect. But what really makes this interview unique is that I suspect there have been very few, if any, interviews of a son whose father is now a transgender woman working in adult entertainment industry.

J is 26 years old and lives in the mid-west working as a sub-contractor in the construction industry.

How would you describe me when I lived as a male?

This question brings a flood of memories to mind, but it seems like another lifetime ago. When I think of you before your transition I think of a man who did typical “manly” things. You enjoyed playing and watching sports, and you were great at coaching me and my brother. I always enjoyed hearing you talk about all the cool jobs you held over the years that seemed so much cooler than the jobs my friend’s dads had; and for some reason they all thought you were in law enforcement. The demolition work you did and your love of woodworking played a huge role in the career path I have chosen.

I also remember you were very reserved and kept to yourself; you never went out for a beer with the guys or did social things like that. It seemed like you were never really comfortable in social settings. You also didn’t smile very much and seemed unhappy, like there was some underlying issue that you were struggling with. But you were very family oriented which in many ways made it easier for me to adjust to your transition since we were so close as a family.

Geo and sonFor the first 20 years of your life you knew me as dad. Did you ever suspect that I was transgender?

I noticed you started growing your hair out when I was 16 or so and I remember you getting your ears pierced a few years before that, but I never looked at those things individually as signs that you were transgender.

How would you describe me as a parent, both pre- and post-transition?

Supportive. Very supportive of any and every off the wall scheme I can come up with, and there are many. We are a small family but we are very close with one another even when we haven’t seen each other in a long time. We have had many things that we have had to deal with from very early on, things that they don’t tell you how to handle in a book. You have not only managed to raise us to be respectable young men, you did all that while trying to figure out what was going on inside of you. That is something that makes me proud to call you my dad. I have been a handful, even at 26 years old and I know I can call you and vent over something stupid, or bounce an idea off you and you will always be there to listen and never judged me for it. You have been a great parent, better than most get the privilege to have.

How did you perceive trans people before I came out?

I had limited knowledge and experience with trans people so I didn’t really have an opinion one way or another, along with the LGBT community as a whole. If you hadn’t come out I wouldn’t be as passionate as I am now about the treatment of LGBT community and about people in general. It’s made me a lot more open minded.

Coming out to you and your brother in May of 2010 was a huge step for me. Even though we’ve always been close as a family and I knew there was nothing that would ever make you stop loving me, I was still scared. I wrote letters to you and your brother because knew I would be really nervous and have a difficult time focusing. I had you over for dinner, and after we ate we went into the living room where I assured you it wasn’t an illness or anything bad, and then I gave you each the letters. What were your thoughts as I handed you the letter?

It’s almost like the tone of the meeting was very somber, which made me nervous. Our family had a history of not-so-fun discussions after dinner and I knew the signs by that point. I was slightly relieved when you said it wasn’t an illness or anything like that, but that left me very confused about what it was actually about. And that was not a fun thought given how crazy our family is!

What was your reaction after you had read enough to realize what I was telling you?

I was thinking “that’s it?” I felt relief, that this wasn’t a problem, just something new to adjust to. This was going to be a big change in our lives and I was thinking about how we could make the transition for you as easy as possible and what I could do to help.

It was agonizing for me while you and your brother were reading the letters, praying you would accept me for who I was. You and I were sitting next to each other on the couch and you reached over and held my hand, which brought out a flood of emotions and lots of tears. Even after all these years it still brings tears to my eyes. That simple gesture meant more to me than you’ll ever know and made me realize that things were going to be okay. What prompted you to reach over and take my hand?

I don’t know the specific thoughts going through my head, there were many, but I do know that it never crossed my mind to be anything other than supportive and as helpful as I could be throughout this process. As you said earlier I have put you and my brother through some shit and made some interesting choices in life and you never left me standing alone, and I never worried that I didn’t have your love or support. That’s why I have strength and support tattooed on my chest, these are things you taught us growing up and it wasn’t going to change just because you are a transgender woman.

The whole coming out thing was almost anti-climactic after I’d stressed about it for so long. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. But mostly I felt thankful that we have such a strong relationship and that I didn’t lose you or your brother. After you went home and had time to think about it, what were your thoughts?

I wanted to know as much as I could about being transgender and transitioning. I knew next to nothing about it so I spent that night reading all the packets of information you gave to us, which was very helpful for anyone wanting to come out to family who may not know much about trans people. I talked with my girlfriend and she also had a lot questions about it, even more than I did.

Rebecca and sonAfter I came out you were very protective of me, to the point where you would not hesitate to confront someone if they were rude or disrespectful to me. Was it difficult for you to witness the way trans people get treated?

Very much so. I am not religious and I’m a firm believer that this is my one shot at life, so I want it to be the best it can be. I think everyone deserves that opportunity and I get very angry when I see people treat others like they are less than human.

I really had no idea how trans people were treated and the discrimination they faced. I’m very protective of my family and I don’t hesitate to get in someone’s face if they’re not being respectful to me or my family, like correcting someone if they called you sir. I remember the time we were at the grocery store when you first started your transition and there was some guy openly staring at you with a look of disgust, so I went over and asked him he’s ever seen a trans woman before and told him he better be more respectful and to stop staring. I have no patience for rude people like that, especially when it concerns my family.

Can you tell us how your view of trans people has evolved over the past six years?

I have a deeper understanding of what it means to be transgender. I get to see from the inside the struggles of being a transgender woman in today’s society, and that has made me much more open and understanding of others facing similar treatment from people. I have also gotten a chance to see the things that you don’t necessarily see yourself; I get to see you learning who you truly are in life for the first time. Not many kids get to see their parents find themselves, it’s a cool thing to see.

Were you uncomfortable about your friends knowing I was trans, and did you try to make sure they didn’t find out? Has it ever caused an issue between you and your friends?

At first I was a little uncomfortable, but I’m not sure why. I never went out of my way to hide it. It would sometimes come up over time and now most of the people I am close with know about it. It has never been an issue that anyone has made me aware of. If my friends have questions I see it as an opportunity to help them understand about trans issues, so I always answer questions. I haven’t had any negative experience with any of my friends, it’s been very positive and enlightening. I just tell people this is my dad who is trans and if you don’t like it, fuck you.

I avoid telling the people I work with because they can sometimes be kind of close-minded, so it’s easier to just not talk about it or elaborate if it does come up. Which is sad that I feel that way.

Because we have always been close and talk so often, you knew all about my struggles with depression in the years following the loss of my job at the university. What was it like for you seeing me so depressed and struggling so much?

It was hard. You were the one who helped me when it was difficult for me to deal with mom’s mental health issues, so when things got hard for you I didn’t feel like it would be fair to put my stresses on you, so I ended up getting more reclusive for short periods of time, something I still do. It also motivated me to press harder for success any way I could. You had just gotten to start out as your true self and I didn’t want you to not be able to enjoy it. I wanted you to know that if you couldn’t get a job because of it I could cover you. I hated that you had to deal with depression at the same time you were starting out as Rebecca and trying figure out who Rebecca was. That was the worst part for me.

Given how badly I struggled in the years following my transition, did you ever wish I hadn’t transitioned?

Never once. I feel like you struggled and got depressed because you couldn’t find a job. That was made difficult by the fact that you are trans, and that’s a problem with the businesses hiring people and society, not you.

Geo and son       J

You and your brother were the reason I kept going when I felt hopeless and wanted to end my life. Did you ever fear I would give up and attempt to kill myself?

I had moments when I wasn’t sure what you would do; I saw how bad things got but I also knew how it had been hard before and we have always pulled through. But I could understand why you would think that was an option and the only way out. And I also figured that you wouldn’t kill yourself after having seen how mom’s struggle with her depression affected me and my brother.

My mom recently made the comment that she occasionally misses the male me, which I completely understand because in some ways she lost her son. Do you ever miss having me as your dad, the way I used to be, before I transitioned?

Sometimes, but in all honesty I feel selfish when I do and I feel like my relationship with you now is stronger than it was when you were male. You transitioning has been something we have connected over and it helped give me a better understanding of the male you were before. As George you were a strange individual and no one knew why. There was nothing to explain it until you came out and then everything made sense.

When you transitioned to Rebecca I had to relearn who you were, and that gave us a good foundation to build on after some difficult times. It was a new start. I don’t see it as you being gone; you’re not really gone, just different. So no, I don’t think I miss him.

At the beginning I was a little worried because mom has her issues and needs us to parent her, which I’m fine with doing. But I was concerned about having two completely insane parents. I didn’t want to lose the one stable parent I had.

So no, there has never been a time that I wished you hadn’t transitioned.

Geo and son

You still call me dad, which probably seems odd to most people. I’m fine with it because in my mind I will always be your dad, regardless of what gender I am. But can you talk about why you still call me dad? Was it just being uncomfortable with using my female name, or is there more to it?

Part of it started out being a little uncomfortable calling you anything other than dad, because you were always dad to me. But more than that, I have a mom and I have a dad, and when I think of my mom she pops into my head. When I hear the word dad I think of you. And calling you dad never seemed like it bothered you. If it had I absolutely would have called you Rebecca. This is the thing I get asked about the most by people when they first learn about you.

And basically, I can call you whatever the fuck I want and if anyone has a problem with it then oh well.

Another part of it was that being able to call you dad was the one thing that was consistent and I wanted to hold onto that. It was like still being able to hold onto a piece of my dad. Dads are a very important part of a boy’s life and I didn’t want to lose that.

You raised us and I know you better. The connection with mom was distant because it was mostly through phone calls and letters; the connection we had was close because you were there with us every day. It would have been easier to call mom dad if she was the one who transitioned, but calling you mom just didn’t seem right. I have a shit ton of many memories of us with you as my dad. Calling you mom would have meant all those memories were associated with a whole different person. Like thinking of memories of someone who passed. Calling you dad was the string holding the two people together and I don’t want to lose that, it was a way to keep the two parts of you together.

And I’ve always thought it was disrespectful for kids to call parents by the first name, and I never would have called you George, you were just dad.

You were the first person in our family I told about my porn career. I made the decision to tell you about it early on because I needed your support and to be able to talk with you about it, and I knew you would be okay with it because you trusted my judgment. But it still must have been a shock to you when I told you. Prior to that revelation from me, what was your perception of the adult entertainment industry?

It was definitely a shock. I told you for years and years to think outside the box, and when you did you went way outside the box, much further than I expected! I hadn’t thought much about the porn industry other than the occasional conversations with friends about how that would be the best job ever.

I’m not judgmental, especially since I’ve made some interesting career choices, and any job is better than no job. I was surprised, but happy you had work. You’re an adult and are capable of making your own decisions and I trust you. You seemed excited so I was happy

I have friends who know you’re in the porn industry but they don’t know who you are exactly or what you do. It doesn’t come up too often since it’s kind of awkward conversation for them to talk to me about. And some know you have an adult themed blog, but not like it’s something they’ll ever read.

If someone asked me if that was your dad, I’d just say why yes it is and it’s none of your fucking concern.

Has your understanding of the porn industry changed since we’ve talked so much about it?

Absolutely. I have a deeper understanding of how business-like it really is. It’s an interesting industry for sure.

This is another one of those times where my prior work history and your acceptance of it doesn’t really allow me to be upset or embarrassed about it. A job is a job and I’m very proud of the fact that you have finally started to use what I have tried to show you for years and made it work for you.

It’s easy to slam people who do porn and to be judgmental, but the industry is driven by demand and a lot of the people who are doing the judging are the same people who fuel the industry.

Now I look at people as just regular people and not just as pornstars. It’s much easier to see them and realize they are also parents, someone’s kids, brothers and sisters, instead of just thinking of them as objects. People are people.

I look at you and how empowering it has been for you to feel good about your body and your sexuality. Too often people get beaten down because of who they are, and porn is a way to take the power back. And look at all the doors it has opened for you; you have your own column and blog, and you’re doing something you like. It’s cool to see how quickly things blossomed from you working in porn industry.

GeoWhat is the major difference you see in me now compared to when I was living as a male?

You are a million times more social than I remember you being. You go do things and have a group of friends as well as a handful of what seem like really good close friends.

It’s also empowered you in the workforce. You have the confidence in your ability to land a job and now you try for more out of the box type jobs. You have so much more confidence now in all aspects of life. You’re still not on my level, but you’re getting there! Haha

It’s like once you transitioned it took you a while to get comfortable in your own skin, and it got worse before it got better. We had many, many talks about your voice and not worrying about what others think. I know you still have some issues with your voice from time to time but it doesn’t come up near as often now.

You’re also more open to listening to my opinion. You used to tell me all the time “I know more because I’ve lived longer” which drove me fucking nuts, but you don’t do that nearly as often now. It’s cool that it’s a two way street and you take my advice and listen, and seeing you change into who you’re becoming.

We can both relate to finding ourselves and becoming someone different. Because of Drug Court I couldn’t be “J the drug dealer” so I had to figure out how to be someone different and how to make it work. We had lots and lots of conversations about figuring out who we were.

Lots of these little things have bonded us closer together. I don’t think we’d be as close if you weren’t trans. You and my brother had so many common interests and were always doing things together, but we just butted heads. Things got better after you transitioned and it made us much closer. No one should transition alone; it’s a huge life changing thing that will make or break a relationship. You have two sons and you’ve had to experience both ends of the spectrum on that.

What is something you think people would be surprised to know about me?

The wide variety of jobs you have had over the years. Talking to people about your job history is like me talking about my criminal history; people find that very intriguing. Always a good story!

And how much more your sense of humor shines through now. Back then people just thought of you as that quiet guy and didn’t expect the sense of humor.

Geo and son

Given my life now and how much different I look, is it odd for you when you look at family photos that show me as a male?

I have a couple of pictures right here of when I was a baby, and one of me with you and mom. It is weird, but not in a bad way. It is strange to think that the same person in the picture is the same person you are now, that two totally separate people are the same person.

I store most of the photos at my house but I never look at them. It has nothing to do with it being weird that you aren’t the same person pictured in them and everything to do with the fact that I’m not the same person. Like I said earlier I’ve lived two lifetimes already I feel like and I’m too excited to see what the future holds to dwell in the past.

Geo and son    Becca Benz

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview and for being so open and honest with your answers. I always love taking with you and this gave us a chance to talk more in depth about my transitioning and things we hadn’t really touched on too often. It was interesting to hear your perspective and I learned a lot more about you, and about myself. It made me think a lot about myself and you and about our relationship. I think our discussion about why you still call me dad helped us both to understand that a lot better than we had before. I was deeply moved by many of the things you said and I love you even more.

J

I couldn’t finish the interview without including this picture!

Thanks, I’m really glad we did this interview too, because talking about all these questions made me think about a lot about myself and why I’ve handled things the way I have. Not just about you being trans but about everything. But I’m still stuck on the dad thing so I have to give that more thought.

These are really good questions and I can’t wait to see the responses from people who read it. I’m curious what else they want to know, and I’ve love to do another interview.

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Chatting with Ms. Unique, Chelsea Marie!

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Chelsea Marie is one of biggest names in trans porn and definitely a fan favorite! Known for her colorful hair and many tattoos, Chelsea is the 2016 Transgender Erotica Award winner for Ms. Unique and looks to be a strong contender again in 2017! I had the pleasure of getting to hang out with Chelsea while I was living in Los Angeles earlier this year and really enjoyed getting to know her. I’d always seen her around but I have to admit I was a little shy about approaching someone as famous as she is, but Chelsea is a really sweet and down to earth lady and I’m happy to be able to call her a friend. This was a really fun interview for me because there were lots of messages and chatting going on between us, with me pestering her about the questions and asking her to answer just one or two more, and she was always very gracious and accommodating to my many requests! So thank you Chelsea, I owe you a drink next time I see you! I think we did a really great interview and I hope you like it as much as I do!

You were the winner of the 2016 Transgender Erotica Award for Ms. Unique. Can you tell us what it is about you that makes you so unique?

I think what makes me unique is my personality, I am down to earth and very giving to people. My looks also make me unique; I am always changing hairstyles and covering up tattoos or getting more tattoos. At 5’9” I’m tall and slim but I am trying to change that, so I asked my doctor to give me curves so he upped my hormone dose and told me to do squats with weights, so that’s what I am doing.

Chelsea Marie TEA 2015

What color hair can we look forward to seeing next March at the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards?

I am thinking all black with a bright color or I really want to back to blonde, but I guess you all will have to wait find out at the TEA show in March!

Chelsea MarieYou have quite a few tattoos, do they have special meaning?

I have always been into tattoo art and fashion, so when I turned 17 I got my first tattoo, which is now covered up by my angel wings. To be honest they don’t really have meaning, I just always wanted to have colorful art on my body as my way of expressing myself. Sometimes I will be in the mood to go get tatted and feel brand new, sort of like cleansing my soul. People may love my tattoos or they won’t, but they are mine and I am proud to walk around covered in ink. Most people will stop me and ask about them, and that always puts a smile on my face.

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

I realized I was trans at a young age, around 8 years old, when I used to play with my brothers and sisters and cousins. I always played with them and I would wear their clothes and they would put makeup on me, and I even had my step-dad at the time paint my toes. But I did boy stuff too; we all used to play football and basketball together but I got picked on by my brothers when I didn’t want to play football; they would say I was a sissy or a girl so I guess in a way they all always knew I was transgender.

When you were that young did you understand what being transgender meant and was it something you accepted right away?

When I was a young boy, girl stuff didn’t matter to me because I played with both girl and boy toys. I didn’t understand what it meant to be transgender until I was about 13 years old when I came across a picture on the internet of a transgender porn model. I didn’t know about hormone replacement until I was older when I saw a doctor for hormones and began therapy to make sure this going to be my life.

Once you realized you were transgender was the process of transitioning difficult to reach the point where you could live full-time as Chelsea?

Transitioning is hard for everyone in our own way since we all have unique lives. What was hard for my transition was just starting hormones and throwing all my boy clothes out, and starting out new and learning how to wear makeup and being confident in public and not being clocked and called sir. But as the years went by and the hormones took effect I learned how to look good and become passable. I was happy and felt this is who I am supposed to be in my life and felt good to be looked at as female and getting called female pronouns. Surgery helped out a lot to and I am wanting to have more surgery, but that will come in time.

Is your family supporting and accepting of you?

My family is very accepting of me; they took it kind of hard when I came out to them, but they got over it. My family is really close and they all live in the same town and I stay with them from time to time when I want a break from California life. Like right now I am staying in my room at my brother’s house taking a break, so I guess you can say this is my family time because I don’t want to have regrets in life and family is a big part of my life. I love them all even if we have our issues, but every family does. It’s how you overcome them to be a good person to others, at least that’s how I was raised. Family comes first.

Chelsea Marie Shemale YumDoes your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

Yes, my family knows I work in the adult industry. I don’t tell them about the movies I’ve done; I’m not like ‘hey Mom I just got fucked on set today by a big dick.” Even though my Mom and I are close I tell my family everything and we talk about sex, but not my scenes. My Father tells me he’s proud of me and how good I am doing. I am happy the way my life turned out even if I am not married or have children. One day Mom!

How did you get started in the porn industry? Was it something you ever thought you’d do?

I didn’t think I could get in to the industry but it’s actually pretty easy to do porn these days, but to be a pornstar you have to work at it and always try to improve the quality of your porn. I was actually going to be in gay porn before but it didn’t happen because I couldn’t make it to the shoot. But when I transitioned I was told by one of my friends I knew from Florida who said I should try trans porn and I did my first shoot for Grooby for Shemale Yum. I was so shy because it was my first time being in front of a camera, but I enjoyed it and it took off from there and here I am today still making films for everyone to enjoy! I am looking forward to working with more pornstars and to be in a gangbang by a bunch of men and them destroying me haha I can dream!

What does Grooby and the people who work there mean to you?

Grooby to me has been my second family; everyone behind the scenes, working on editing videos, the photographers who make us models look like Goddess in pictures and videos, everyone has a part. I was a Grooby fan before I became a model, so I love when we all come together for events and the TEA Show. I don’t always get to chat with everyone at Grooby, but I love you and all the hard work you do!

So what’s it like being a famous pornstar? Is it as exciting and glamorous as people would think?

I never really think I am famous because if I was I would get stopped all the time by people saying “are you Chelsea Marie?” I won’t lie, it has happened, but not that often. I would love to have famous people with money sign me up. For me, people are fun; I always have a good time and have enjoyed getting to know other pornstars and photographers over the years. But porn is work and you have to know your angles and where the lighting are and the camera; that’s why if you ever watch porn we are always flipping our hair out of our face or giving head a certain way. In real life we aren’t worried where the camera is or if the lighting is okay; you just fuck or make love.

What’s the difference for you between fucking and making love?

Fucking is just sex with no strings attached; getting my orgasm and saying bye or just being friends with benefits. Making love is when you love being with that person, you’re not just out for sex. It means more because when I make love I end up falling in love and I want that person to be close with me and share secrets and to have a future with each other. That’s making love.

What’s your favorite part of being a pornstar and your least favorite part?

My favorite part of being a pornstar is getting booked with other pornstars that I like watching because I know I’m going to have a good day and make an amazing film. I also love having fans give me feedback on how they like the work I do or what they would like to see me doing in my next film. What I don’t like about being a pornstar is that some people judge me for it when I work just as hard as anyone else, if not harder.

Chelsea Marie TEA 2015    Chelsea Marie Grooby 20

Do you enjoy being on social media and interacting with your fans?

I love being able to reach out to my fans, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have even become really good friends with some of them over the years. I have fans say to me that I am their favorite pornstar and that makes me feel like this was supposed to happen in my life. So I wanna say thank you to everyone out there for showing me love and voting for me over the years and to those who joined my website and bought my movies. To be honest, I love you all!

When I got into porn it was a way for me to model and work on my beauty and to help people be okay with their sexual desires and know that it’s okay to be sexually attracted to transsexual women. As for me I am gender open; I have always seen the beauty in people no matter what gender they are.

Does being a pornstar make it more difficult to date?

I want to say yes and no because I have had both good relationships and bad relationships; some lasting a few years and others just a few months. It’s all about honesty; if you are honest with your partner and love them and trust them shouldn’t be a problem. You’re not making love to your costar, it’s just work and then you go home to your loved one. If you have an understanding with your partner then I don’t see it as a problem, at least for me anyway. But, I am single and probably going to stay that way. I am going to focus on myself for 2017; I want a few more surgeries so when I am older I won’t have to worry about my looks. I want 1990’s Pamela Anderson’s boobs and a big ass like Nikki Minaj.

Personally, I love your boobs and butt just the way they are, but that’s just me 🙂

Skin City Chelsea Marie

What was it like working with Al Tom on his Skin City shoot?

Al Tom and I have been friends over the years but finding time around our busy lives was hard, but we made it happen. When I saw Brooke Zanell and Holly Parker in their Skin City shoot I knew I had to be in it so I got in touch with Al Tom and begged him to put me in it! haha No, I didn’t really beg, but Al is so much fun and so down to earth to work with. I love seeing his work on the internet

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I would love to see myself still being part of the adult industry; we are a family and I am sticking around for a long time. I am healthy and on top of my career, and the fans seem to love me and enjoy watching me in films, so let’s keep on making porn magic!

Chelsea Marie and Honey Foxxx   Chelsea Marie TEA 2016

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Wow what a question! Probably that I am really awesome at playing pool and playing video games. Or that I have a sick sense of humor; some people take it the wrong way because I love playing jokes on people, but it’s all in good fun. I get messed with a lot too by friends and family members; my father and I always text funny things to each other.

What is a typical day in your life like?

I would say getting a lot of sleep and then waking up to check emails and texts. I’ll get out of bed and shower and get ready with coffee and do my makeup and then have lunch with a friend or by myself. I’ll do some shopping and then come home and play video games, do some webcaming, and then plan out my next trip. My days aren’t really that exciting and I know my life is slow and boring. Just kidding! I love my life and can’t wait to see what is to come!

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the transgender community right now?

I think since Trump is going to be our new president I don’t see a change for the better. I think he’s going to make it hard, not just for the LGBT community, but for the hard working people out here. He’s probably going to take a lot of our rights away that President Obama gave us. All this hate in our community and always seeing another trans sister getting murdered needs to stop. I think as trans women we should help each other because we don’t have many options like getting a job or having somewhere to live. When I was just starting to transition I never thought I could get a real job, but now transgender women have achieved their own success and careers, so I think some of these girls including me should always help support our brothers and sisters. Life isn’t always easy, but if you have people who support you then we can stay positive and go for our dreams.

Thank you again for doing the interview Chelsea, it was a pleasure!

Visit Chelsea’s website here

You can follow Chelsea on Twitter at @XXXChelseaMarie

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Chatting with the one and only Honey Foxxx!

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Honey Foxxx has established herself as one of the premiere stars of trans porn over the course of her ten year career. It’s only been recently that I’ve gotten to know Honey and it’s hard not to be impressed by how intelligent and articulate she is and how she’s so sweet and down to earth. She is definitely a wonderful representative of the adult entertainment industry and all that is good about it. She devotes a lot of time and effort to her advocacy efforts in the LGBT community and sets a great example for the rest of us. So it’s my pleasure to have the opportunity to interview the beautiful and talented honey Foxxx.

Honey Foxxx TEA 2016

At what age did you begin to realize you were trans, and did you have an understanding of what it meant to be transgender?

I knew around six or seven that I was different. I grew up in a house with my mother, grandmother and three sisters. Growing up I was just one of the girls. I didn’t know what it was to be transgender until I was in high school. Even then I wasn’t ready to come to terms with the fact that I was trans.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

It wasn’t a process to face the fact that I was trans, It was more about how to transition. I had to take into consideration every aspect of my life that it was about to change. Once I had that figured out, I then started researching how I could make it happen.

As far as your transition, which parts were more difficult than you expected and which parts were easier?

The hardest part of transitioning was losing so many people. I lost one of my best friends. He was gay and once I transitioned he just wasn’t the same. Part of my family turned against me and tried to break the bond I have with my dad’s. The easiest part came when I learned to stop caring what other people think. When I learned to love myself and my flaws unconditionally. My faith became stronger and my life became amazing.

Has your family been supportive of you?

My transition was initially very hard on my parents. I was the first child my fathers adopted so it was very hard for my parents. As I’ve gotten older my parents and I have become closer. They’ve come to accept me as their daughter and have been there step by step as I’ve gone through my transition.

Do you think it was beneficial to you growing up with two dads and having some knowledge of the LGBT community at an early age?

It was a blessing and a curse. My fathers assumed I was gay for so many years. They weren’t too knowledgeable about trans people or what it was to transition and that had been one of the best experiences, teaching them and having them by my side.

Have you ever had any desire to contact your birth parents?

I contacted my mother and grandmother after my adoption when I was fourteen. I was reunited with them until my grandmother passed in 2011 and then my mother committing suicide in 2012.

Honey Foxxx   Honey Foxxx TEA 2016

You began your career in the adult entertainment industry at the tender age of 18. Can you tell us how you got into porn and why?

When I was eighteen I was living in south central Los Angeles. I was in college and broke. I was living between the dorm housing and my god mother’s house. One day I was at 103rd street train station off the blue line when a gay porn recruiter walked up to me and says “you look like you have a big dick.” He proceeded to give me his card and told me if I ever want to get in the industry to call him. A week later I was in the porn studio making my first film. I was hooked from there, I loved being in front of the camera.

What would you say are the biggest differences between the gay porn industry and the trans porn industry?

Well the pay difference is huge. I make more now then I did in gay porn. Also, the gay porn industry has a huge stigma of letting their guys shoot any TS stuff. Some can cross over but not many.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

My dads do know I am in the industry. Is it awkward….. yes…. but I wanted them to hear it from me rather than finding out through social media or by fans. They have been supportive of my alternative lifestyle. They always tell me as long as I am safe and happy that is all that matters. They know I take precautions as I am on prep and do a lot of condom shoots. As well as getting tested.

Honey Foxxx Grooby Girl

You’re a strong voice within the trans community and put in a lot of time and effort towards making positive changes in the community. Can you share with us some of your advocacy work that you’re involved in?

I love the LGBT community. I have received so much love and support that the least I could do was give back. Try to help make a change in someone else’s life. I have done advocacy work for HRC’s NOH8, Anti-Bullying for kids, Black Trans Lives Matter, Angels of Change, Aids walk, PKD walk as well as donating my time and money to several charities.

Can you tell us about your non-profit group KODA-nonymous?

KODA-nonymous which stood for Anonymous kind of Difference, was a non-profit initiative that I had started. It had two components to it. The first part was a monthly outreach where I would go out to skidrow in downtown LA and pass out pre made meals to the homeless as well as sanitary items, clothes and blankets. The second component was my podcast cal T-Time with Cake Moss and Lamonistat (two drag queens) which served to discuss taboo LGBT issues. The Outreach program was doing well for a few months however due to the lack of funding and resources I had to cut that. The podcast died when Cake basically stole my idea and took it to TRadioV where she is now doing the podcast Spill the T with Cake and Melissa B. Honestly I learned a lot from starting my own non profit. I hope to be able to do something similar to it in the future.

There was recently a series of posts on Twitter attacking Grooby Productions and Steven in particular. You were one of the people who stood up to this person and put her in her place using facts and reason to refute her claims. As someone who is very well respected in the industry how would you access the health of the trans porn industry in terms of both as a business and the opportunities available to models?

The health of the porn industry is always an ebb and flow. looking at it from a business standpoint the companies are looking to make the most money and spend as little as possible in the process. With all the pirating of porn the industry is hurting and the model rates have been declining. The talents perspective is that porn is a hustle. Companies will hire you based off your image, race, fan base, and personal preference. If you can find your niche you can make it a career. This industry can make or break you though. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful talent come in and not last a year. Now going back to the attack on Grooby. Said person was stating that because Grooby and Steven make so much money that they should provide models with a living wage. Now in a perfect world, that would be the case. However this is reality. Going in you know exactly how much you will be getting paid and what is expected of you. They have the choice to work with them or if they feel they won’t be paid enough, they have the choice to decline the offer.

Can you tell us about your relationship with Grooby and what Steven means to you?

Honey Foxxx and Steven Grooby TEA 2015My relationship with Grooby has been pretty awesome over the years. Grooby was the first to shoot me after my transition. Working with the talents of Blackula has been really fun as I got to play Catwoman in their Transtastic series. Not to Mention Blackula’s photos are each a piece of art. I also got to work with KilaKali. His picture of me was featured in the 2016 Grooby calendar. He is an amazing photographer videographer. To get that Image was a definitely work but he got it! We were set to shoot outside. It was a fairly overcast day and the winds had started to kick up as we were shooting I was half naked and windblown but Kila still managed to make me look flawless. He also shot one of the hottest black on black hardcores I’ve done. Steven is someone that I admire and respect. He is the type to tell it how it is but is humble and has one of the biggest hearts. I admire that he gave the trans porn community a voice. Before the TEA show we didn’t have much recognition through the AVN’s, XBIZ, or too many others. Now the TEA show is a huge success models fly in from all over the world, Grooby has some of the top of the line sponsors and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for the models or fans. Beyond the awards he set up TEA con, for the fans to meet and greet with the models. He is definitely and icon in the industry.

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

First I have to say that sex work is not for everyone. Many people have this fantasy of meeting a rich old sugar daddy who is going to take care of them and they will live happily ever after….. Reality Check! It rarely happens like that. Sex work is hard work. For most people there isn’t someone who is going to teach you how to survive and navigate the industry. Without the skill and commonsense you can be taken advantage of and even black listed. There is a certain unspoken etiquette in this industry that no one will teach you. You have to build a clientele, you have to market/brand yourself and, YOU HAVE TO BE PROFESSIONAL! I know so many people who show up hours late to shoots, bad mouth talent and producers on social media, or talent who say they will work with other girls or trans people and get on set and can’t perform.

In addition to your porn career you also have a regular day job. Has your porn career ever come up or been an issue at your day job?

I have been lucky in the sense that my involvement in the industry never caused any issues with my day job. When applying for my job I was up front and honest with them. I told them I had been in the industry since I was eighteen and that I was still actively a part of the industry. In addition to being honest about being in the industry, I had my degree as well as all my certifications. I recently quit my day job due to my stance on Black Lives Matter and the tensions between the black community and law enforcement. I felt I had a huge target on my back and decided to resign. After 6 years with them I can honestly say I am happy for the reprieve and am focusing on my site and a few new projects.

Do you foresee a point anytime soon when you’ll retire from porn?

Well, seeing as this is my tenth year in the industry I would have to say NO. I took some time off a few years back and got my boob job but even then i couldn’t wait to come back and show them off. I think porn has become such a beautiful part of my life and sexuality that I will continue to share it with my Honey Bees.

Honey Foxxx and Becca Benz TEA 2016   Honey Foxxx

You seem to be very appreciative and close to your fans, more so than a lot of other performers. Can you tell us about your relationship with your fans, the Honey Bees?

I have an AMAZING relationship with my fans. My Honey Bees! What can I say….. without them I would be nothing. The unconditional love and support that I receive has been such a blessing. In my best time and at my worst they have been by my side. I give them a 110% as they deserve the best!

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

The biggest issues I think the trans community is facing, is the lack of qualified healthcare providers, as well as trans protection rights. Its’s crazy to think that we live in 2016 and these basic human rights don’t seem to apply to trans people. I do think that the trans visibility in mainstream media has definitely been bittersweet. I know the sad reality is that it’s going to take more trans lives to save trans lives.

Where do you envision yourself in ten years?

In ten years….. wow that is Hard to imagine because ten years ago I never thought I would be here. I honestly hope that I am making a bigger impact in y trans community. I hope to adopt some more puppy dogs and to still be making some seriously hot porno magic.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Well I am fairly public with my life. What most don’t see behind the selfies and glamour shots is that I can be a super tomboy. I love camping, building stuff, getting down and dirty. I can go days at a time where I will shut my phone off and disconnect form the world.

Thank you so much for doing the interview Honey, it was a pleasure getting to know you better!

Visit Honey’s website here.

You can follow Honey on Twitter at @HoneyFoXXX

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The Art of Porn: Al Tom and his Skin City project in Part 2 of our interview

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When you ask most people what they consider art, porn is usually not at the top of the list or even on the list, oftentimes because they find porn morally objectionable. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the human body is a beautiful thing which has been celebrated in all forms of art since the beginning of time, and porn is just another way of showcasing that beauty. In the past twenty years, thanks in large part to the efforts of Steven Grooby, founder of Grooby Productions, transgender porn has become more popular and has helped expose more people to the beauty of the transgender body. And make no mistake about it, transgender people are every bit as beautiful as cis-women and men. In fact, it’s my feeling that there is an extra depth to that beauty given the journey we’ve had to go through to reach the point where we can be ourselves. There is a certain beauty born through adversity and the strength that results from overcoming those challenges. For many of us it’s our new-found self-confidence and simply being happy that shows through so clearly in our pictures.

But the bottom line is that the adult entertainment industry is a business and needs to be profitable, so there has to be a balance between creativity and marketability. As Steven Grooby explains, “Our job is to provide sexual titillation and raise excitement in the viewers but every viewer has a different perspective which is completely subjective. One individual may be turned on by the high art look of MetArt while another gets visually stimulated by amateur shot porn. It would be very difficult to shoot what we do, and try and keep it only what one may call, ‘artistic’ there just isn’t the amount of people there willing to pay for this in a paysite or DVD model. Most producers including ours try to get a balance. A number of shots which showcase their creative skills and promote the model in a more artistic setting before moving into the standard ‘crowd pleasers’ which we need to placate those who are paying for us to do this, the members and fans.”

Thanks to the efforts of the many talented photographers, models, and producers involved in creating porn, the creative process continues to move forward and new innovations and artistic visions arise. And it is that idea, the Art of Porn, which will be featured in upcoming columns on Through The Benz. I want to showcase not only the beauty of the art but also the creative process. And to kick off this new Art of Porn series, we’re going to feature Al Tom of Altomic Visuals. Recently we’ve been getting glimpses of his new Skin City project, and the images we’ve seen so far have created a lot of buzz on social media and among the modeling community.

Altomic Visuals Skin City

Welcome back Al, and thanks again for doing this interview! Do you consider porn as a form of art?

Absolutely! Art is all around us. Thirty second television ads are some of the most creative art forms out there as far as trying to get their point across. Look at all the pop-ups we get on out computers trying to get us to click on them. That’s all art. Anything someone creates, that’s all art to me. Porn is no different. It’s all created by someone or a group of people who gave some thought of how to put it together so others can enjoy it or use it.

You mentioned that Skin City was sort of an experiment about how you’d like to see adult content. Could you tell us about what you like and what your vision is for how you’d like to see porn?

Adult content as it is right now works. I mean it’s tough to make money in the adult world and the way things are done right now works. There are a lot of really good photographers, videographers, actors and producers. They’re artist themselves and they all have their own vision of how to make adult content, and that’s a good thing. So that’s what I mean when I say I have my own way of how I’d like to see adult content.

Without giving away my untested ideas I’d like to just have fun with how the scene is captured and assembled. Which is why I talk about doing some dry runs and getting feedback. I like to experiment with my photography and video so this is the process I’m in right now. I mean it could be a total disaster, but it’s exciting to me because, what if it works.

Altomic Visuals Skin City   Altomic Visuals Skin City

What is the inspiration behind your Skin City series?

It’s obviously a take on Sin City the movie. That whole movie is a work of art to me. It just recharged my batteries to make some art myself. Plus I really liked the “look” of the movie.

You’ve worked with a lot of big-name models for the Skin City shoots such as Chelsea Marie, Holly Parker, Brooke Zanell, and Michelle Austin. Have you had a lot of interest from models wanting to be involved with this project?

Now that the Skin City shoots are slowly coming out I do have some interest from other models. Both in the adult industry and outside the industry. So I’m happy it’s getting some good reaction from people.

Where would you like to see this project go? Would you like to create it for use on other sites, or perhaps have your own site?

No I’m not even thinking about having my own site. I’m already horrible at updating my own personal photo site let alone my Facebook page. I wouldn’t mind doing things for other peoples sites though. That’s really where I think I’d like to go, at least for now.

Altomic Visuals Skin City

You tend to use black and white shots more than a lot of photographers. Can you tell us what it is about black and white photos that you like?

Black and white just gives me a little more to think about. Depending on the picture it can be more calming, more mysterious or more erotic. Without the color information I think it makes you think about what you’re looking at just a little more.

On the other hand, I’m trying some new color techniques. They’re not new to photography or film. Just new to me. So I’m excited to see where that takes me.

Thank you again for the interview Al, and I can’t wait to see what the future hold for Skin City!

If you would like more information on Al Tom or Altomic Visuals please visit:

Altomic Visuals

Twitter.com/Altomicvisuals

Facebook.com/al.tom.334

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[Interview] The Talented and Mysterious Al Tom of Altomic Visuals

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Al Tom was one of the first people I got to know when I was new to the industry. We met for the first time the day I arrived in Los Angeles for TEA 2015, and we did a shoot for the swimsuit issue of Transformation Magazine that same day. Al has become a good friend and he is one of the sweetest people I know. Each time I’ve had the opportunity to work with Al it has been a learning experience for me and always so much fun. And his photos are amazing, which is a testament not only to his skill as a photographer but also about how much we all enjoy working with him. During my time in Los Angeles we were able to get to know each other and hang out when we would run into each other at various clubs. Not to mention the fact that he’s taken a lot of photos of me at Hamburger Mary’s, TEA, and various shoots we’ve done. So it’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to do this interview with my friend, Al Tom.

Al Tom of Altomic Visuals

Hello Al! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, I’m really excited to finally get the chance to interview you!

Hi Becca, thank you for asking me to do this. This will be my first ever interview, a totally new experience for me. You’re bustin’ my interview cherry, and that’s as far as we’ll go with that comment lol.

Can you tell us about your photography background and what led to your interest in working with trans women?

As far as my photography background I have very little schooling. I took some classes at community colleges but that was it. Most of it was by just doing it and reading and learning from others. The first time my photos were ever published was in my last year of high school in the yearbook. I look back on it now and laugh cause it was some really bad stuff.

How I got started photographing trans women, to be honest, it was something that never crossed my mind. For the longest time I enjoyed photographing hotrods and exotic cars. Then one day a friend of mine got me into taking photos at female modeling events all around southern California. At about the same time someone told me about this thing called the internet. You could see all kinds of things on it, well, like porn. As a red blooded American male, who was I to deny myself such a thing. So I started getting on the internet. Being a newbie to this, I just mouse clicked on things I saw and stuff popped up, I was amazed. All these beautiful pictures of naked women online, I was amazed. Then one day as pictures of naked women popped up on my screen, I clicked on the hottest one and was taken to Shemale Yum, I, WAS, AMAZED. Confused was my next reaction, then amazed again, and it went that way for a while. Then I saw at the bottom of the page was a call looking for photographers in the Los Angels area. Wait what? You mean I could actually get paid for this?

A couple days later I brought it up to a close friend at work and he said, “yeah, there’s a coupe of clubs here in LA where those kind of girls hang out”. My head damn near exploded for two reasons. First that he knew about trans women and second that he knew about not one but two trans clubs, but that’s another story.

Anyway long story short. I replied to the ad looking for photographers and did a few shoots for the Shemale Yum site. I didn’t do very many photo shoots for Shemale Yum because my life was also taking a different path at that point time. But I did meet another guy at the club that happened to have a trans pornstar girlfriend and started shooting some content for her personal site and a couple of her friends sites. That’s how it all started.

I had no idea you had shot for Shemale Yum! That’s why I love doing interviews, because I always learn something new and interesting about the person.

You are well known for the work you do photographing the Transgender Erotica Awards and the after-party. How did you get connected with Grooby and end up as one of the photographers at TEA?

I’ve known the owner of Grooby since it was in its early years and although not close we’ve maintain a friendship throughout the years. When they first started holding the awards at the local clubs I always brought my camera and took photos. It was something I just did at the time. As it got bigger I started to ask permission because now I could see they were starting to control the photo rights to the events which I can fully understand. We ended up working it out so that the photos I took at their events could benefit the both of us.

Altomic Visuals TEA 2016

I get exhausted just watching you hustle around all night taking photos at TEA! How many photos do you typically take during TEA and how long does it take you to edit them?

I end up taking somewhere around a little over 2000 photos. It takes me about 2-3 days to edit and finish them. I would say the hardest part sometimes is picking which photos to use. Of the 2000 shots I only end up using maybe a few hundred maybe a little less.

When I look at your photos it’s the candid shots at events like TEA which always stand out to me, and where your talent really shines through. How do you manage to capture those moments in time where we seem to get an intimate glimpse of the person?

I’m glad you like those because that’s what I really like to try to capture. A personal moment in time. A big zoom lens is where that comes in handy. That’s another reason you see me constantly moving around. I’m looking for those shots. They’re really all over and happening all the time but I have to catch it before they change or move or see me and that’s the hardest part. I really miss tons of shots because I can’t move to the right spot fast enough or they see me raise my camera. So with the big zoom lens they don’t really know I’m looking at them. I know, sounds a little creepy huh. lol

TeddyBoy French TEA 2016 Altomic Visuals TEA 2016

Has the exposure you’ve gotten through TEA and Transformation Magazine allowed you to work with more of the models you’ve wanted to shoot?

Yes it has. When I first started taking photos no one knew who I was or if I was just some guy saying he was this or that. Having my work published and on the TEA website gave me some legitimacy. At least the models would know that if I asked if they would be interested in working with me it was for a real reason.

You have a unique place in the industry in that you’ve become the go-to guy for many trans models in the Los Angeles area when it comes to shoots which are more erotic and sensual rather than just porn. Is this just your personal preference in what you like to shoot?

What you don’t really know about me is that I used to help another person shoot a lot of straight porn for his own site. But after a while I really wanted to shoot more creative things. I’ve always wanted to shoot more high-end fashion stuff. But since I had no idea how to shoot high end fashion, I ended up using models both trans and cis females who needed photos and I asked if they would entertain some of my ideas. Lucky for me everyone loved doing something more erotic without being x-rated.

Altomic Visuals

Is shooting porn something you’d eventually like to do?

Yeah I’d like to shoot porn again but I want to do some trial runs with some of the people I know. Because I’m not sure the way I like to see porn is something that other people would enjoy. In other words I’m not sure my style of shooting porn will make anyone want to pay for it, and really, that’s more important than how I create it.

Are the trial runs you referred to the Skin City series we’ve gotten peaks of on social media?

The Skin City thing is something I’m still trying to get right so it probably won’t be those. It’s still in it’s experimental stage and I’m also experimenting with the video side of it too. You may have seen the short video clips I also posted on my Facebook page. But mostly in the beginning I’d just like to experiment with how I’d like to see adult content. I mean it could be a total failure, that’s why I want to do some dry runs and see how people react.

Well, in my humble opinion, I think you’ve definitely gotten it right just as it is!

You’re a regular contributor to Transformation Magazine, and your photos are always a prominent part of the Sexy Swim issue. Your photos of me have appeared in the past two Sexy Swim issues, but my personal favorites are the photos of Shelbe Chang from this year. How did your association with Hanna Rogers and Transformation come about?

A good friend of mine (Marlayna Lacie) who was a fixture at one time in the trans community was the one that got me first published in Transformation Magazine. She would write the articles and I would take the photos for the articles. She’s since retired and is now writing scripts for Hollywood. After the magazine was sold to Hanna we kept submitting articles. While Marlayna moved on to Hollywood I kept in touch with Hanna. She told me some of the kinds of photos and articles she’d like to see in her magazine and I would go and try to do them for her and that’s how that all came about.

Becca Benz Transformation#98    Shelbe Chang Transformation 98

Among the many events you photograph on a regular basis is Jamie’s T Girl Nights held every first Saturday of the month at Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach. Is it a challenge to focus on taking pictures when there are so many people, including me, who enjoy hanging out with you and want to talk?

Lol yes it is. I love to hang out and talk too, so sometimes I have to remember I’m there for a job. But Jamie’s Saturday night event is always packed and it’s great to see so many different kinds of people there. There are both trans men and women, gay and lesbian, gender queers and straight couples. Every color of the rainbow, so it’s pretty easy for me to photograph. Even when I am having fun chatting up people I normally still end up taking just under a thousand shots.

It’s always very odd to see you without your camera; it just doesn’t look right. Do you find it difficult when you’re out socializing to keep from thinking about photography, such as what would make a good shot or a good setting?

It is weird for me to go out and not have my camera but that’s why I’m so glad cell phone cameras have become so good. Sometimes it’s a joy not having to carry around a brick. Also, being a person that likes to experiment, I like the challenge of using the cell phone camera. I find it really fun and freeing not having to think so seriously about a lot of technical things. But sometimes yeah, I do get into it and start messing with any adjustments the cell camera has to offer. But the point being, pictures come from the person, not the equipment.

You have your own photography business, Altomic Visuals, based in Los Angeles. Do you envision a time where photography becomes your main occupation?

That’s a good question. I’m currently thinking about retiring from my current full time job. I know I will continue with my photography, I’m just not sure I want to turn my photography into my next full time job. I’m not quite at the point where I can make a decision yet. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

You’ve recently begun work on a new project, the Skin City series, and you’ve created quite a stir with the glimpses we’ve seen of it on social media. To say it’s tantalizing would be an understatement! And your Skin City project will be the subject of Part 2 of this interview where we focus on the Art of Porn.

Skin City Altomic Visuals    Skin City Altomic Visuals

Stayed tuned next week for Part 2 of my interview with Al Tom of Altomic Visuals along with some exclusive new Skin City photos!

If you would like more information on Al Tom or Altomic Visuals please visit:

Altomic Visuals

Twitter.com/Altomicvisuals

Facebook.com/al.tom.334

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Buddy Wood talks about photography, modeling, the porn industry, and the Cubs!

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When I first approached Grooby about writing for them my initial idea had been to do a series of interviews with photographers, because the models get interviewed all the time but the photographers aren’t nearly as well known. And as someone who has had a life-long interest in photography, I find it fascinating to hear them talk about their craft as well as their unique stories and experiences. I have gotten to know many of the photographers who work for Grooby and enjoyed hearing their stories and felt people might enjoy seeing the industry from a different perspective; that of the photographers. And I wanted to give people a glimpse behind the scenes of what goes into a shoot and that producing the quality content that Grooby is known for is more involved than most people realize.

But what really got me motivated to do this was when I hung out with Buddy Wood at a club one night and we talked for quite a while about a wide range of things and it was so interesting to hear how he got into the industry and to get to know him better and his views on so many things. He doesn’t remember that night but I certainly do, and that is what ultimately led to this column, so I will always owe Buddy a debt of gratitude for that. So without further ado, I present to you, Buddy Wood!

Buddy Wood has been a mainstay at Grooby Productions for over 15 years as a photographer, producer, and director. Many of the top models in the industry got their start with Buddy and have done shoots in his famous and often photographed pool! He likes to enjoy the many social opportunities in Los Angeles and I think we all have gotten to party with him at one time or another!

Buddy Wood TEA 2016

You’ve worked for Grooby Productions for about 15 years and have played an important role in the success of the company. How did you end up working for Grooby?

I was editing porn in San Diego and then started shooting the video for an adult company there also. It was fun! So I decided if I was going to be making porn… I might as well jump into the ts scene. I knew a few girls in San Francisco from going to Divas. I contacted Grooby because all I saw online when I looked up transsexuals were pics with Shemale Yum watermarks on them so figured they were the biggest company. Steven asked me to do a few solo sets which I did mostly in San Francisco. Celeste was one of my first shoots. I would just meet girls at Divas and then go back to their places to shoot. Eventually I moved back to San Diego and shot a DVD that was all pov called Buddy Wood’s Shemale Neighborhood and I sent it to Steven. I did a few other DVDs quickly after that and have been a full-time Grooby Crew member ever since.

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a photographer in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

No. Definitely not. I always say… I’m an adult video producer/director and photographer…but what I mostly do is laundry. I wash a lot of towels. No of course it’s a great job! It’s always VERY interesting and incredibly fun. And yeah there are moments of glamour with fun parties and fancy award shows, but those are pretty rare. Ultimately the job itself is like any other production job. Lighting and framing and editing. It just happens to be mostly buttholes and wieners on very pretty girls.

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite?

Tranny Vice Grooby Productions My favorite part of the job is working with girls on a movie. Putting a cool project together with a group of girls…like my new DVD Tranny Vice. When you sit around with a few girls and tell them a crazy idea you have and then a few months later there’s a thing that you’ve all done together … because in porn…anything is possible!

My least favorite part is all the paperwork.

Have you always had an interest in trans women?

Well…I was probably 21 or 22 in Chicago and my friends and I drove by a bar late at night with all these really sexy girls in short skirts with nice legs and high heels all standing outside smoking. We stopped and I jumped out of the car and ran across the street to check it out. When I got there I realized they were all transsexuals and I was amazed at how beautiful they were. This is long before the Internet so these were the first trans girls I saw. I ran back across the street and told my friends to go ahead and drive on and that I was gonna stay. That was it. I had a blast that night and many blasts on many nights since. For me it was very much about a social scene in the beginning. A cool place to hang out and talk to sexy and amazing girls.

Can you tell us about your photography background?

I honestly don’t have much of a photography background. I’m more of a film/video guy. I went to film school in San Francisco. Made lots of short films, worked in commercial production and some music videos. Worked as an editor a lot. I’m a film nerd. I love movies and making movies and shooting and editing stories that I’ve shot. So porn is great for that. As long as people fuck somewhere in there you can tell any story you want.

You must have one of the most photographed backyards and houses in all of Los Angeles. Is it a challenge finding new ways to utilize settings which are so well known?

No. Not really. I mean if I’m shooting for a site like shemaleyum.com then there’s 4-5 other producers coming out with their work on there also which makes the content on the site diverse. If some guy gets sick of seeing my pool behind a gorgeous naked transsexual then he should re-evaluate why he’s looking at porn in the first place. Maybe he should be jacking off to architectural digest. I kind of have a seasonal thing with shooting too. I don’t use the backyard for a few months so that mixes it up. It’s shooting for a DVD that gets a bit more difficult. Redecorating and rearranging the inside to make it look a bit different all the time.

Morgan Bailey TEA 2016 We are both privileged to know Morgan Bailey and to be able to call her a friend. Can you tell us what her friendship means to you?

Morgan is one of my best friends in the world. Without a doubt. I know her family, she knows mine. We spend a lot of time together and have a lot of fun together. We’re both from Chicago. I was the best man at her wedding!! She’s divorced now…but still. Her friendship means the world to me and we’ll be close friends forever.

You’ve hosted many pre-TEA parties at your house, so I’m sure you must have some interesting stories to share from those experiences.

I have tons of great stories! The best stories aren’t even from those nights but just random nights after The Cobra or back when we used to do Blue Moon Nights. Just think of all the sex, drugs and debauchery you could possibly imagine…then quadruple it! But I can’t share those stories here. I’d have to change so many names to protect so many of the not-so-innocent. That and my memory ain’t so good anymore.

Are your neighbors aware that you shoot porn, and how do they feel about that? Do you ever catch them trying to sneak a peek when you do shoots?

My next door neighbors know exactly what I do and they love it. They know several of the girls and have been to a few of my parties. I could really care less what the other neighbors think. I just try to keep a low enough profile so they can’t call the cops on me.

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who want to get into the industry?

Don’t just be a photographer. Be a producer, videographer and an editor too. Be a brilliant model scout. Be social. Be a one-stop production shop that knows how to hustle with the best of them.

Aside from actually showing up for the shoot, what advice would you give to new models?

Buddy Wood at workBe nice. Be cool to hang out with for the few hours you’re shooting. It’s one thing to be hot and look great…but if you’re an asshole nobody will want to work with you. No matter how hot you think you are. You might have a great first couple of months of shoots but it’s those reshoots you really want. Bottom line if nobody likes being around you…. then you’re not gonna get that work. It’s pretty simple but I see a lot of girls not getting that part of the industry. The ones that get it…have very long careers.

What are some of the most common mistakes new models make during shoots?

Not relaxing. Just relax and have fun. The best shoots are the ones where the models have a good time and you can see that.

What separates the good models from the great ones?

The great ones are pro-active about their own careers and take it seriously. They know how to work the camera and everyone behind it too! They market themselves properly and are always a pleasure to work with.

Most people know I’m a big Cardinals fan and you’re a die-hard Cubs fan. Is this the year the Cubs finally break the curse and win the World Series? If they make it to the series are you going to Chicago to catch a game and join in the celebration if they win?

Buddy Wood and Becca BenzThis is definitely the year and I will definitely NOT be missing that party!! I’ll be in Chicago as soon as it becomes apparent that The Cubs are in the World Series. That’s all I can say as I don’t want to jinx anything.

Well, there is the whole goat curse thing, and the fact that they haven’t won the World Series since 1908, but we won’t go there… But I will say that if the Cardinals don’t win the championship then I will be rooting for the Cubs. (but I’ll never repeat that, so don’t tell…)

Rumor has it you once caddied for a young Michael Jordan in Chicago back in the day?

Lol I did!!! I must’ve been 14 and he had just been drafted to the Bulls. I think I caddied in the same group he was in and I said to him that I had heard he was going to be a big celebrity and asked for his autograph. He signed it to …the celebrity caddy!!

Becca-Signature2

Jen Richards on being trans, the show Her Story, politics, The TSA, and Caitlyn Jenner

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Jen Richards is a writer and actress who is the co-writer/star/producer of Her Story, a show about the dating lives of two transgender women, and was a series regular on I Am Cait. She is also a consultant & advocate focusing on gender and social justice. She was previously the Co-Founder and Director of The Trans 100, creator of the websites We Happy Trans, WTF Trans Dating, and Trans Love Stories, and co-hosted Sugar & Spice, an advice and news podcast with Bailey Jay. She was also the Managing Director of the multiple Grammy Award-winning music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and served as President of New Music Chicago. Jen received her BA in Philosophy from Shimer College, studied at Oxford University and in Kyoto, Japan, and has published articles, lectured, and led workshops on a variety of topics across the country.

Hello Jen, and thank you so much for doing this interview!

It’s my pleasure! The role of adult performers has been huge in my life, and I’m always excited to have some overlap between the worlds of advocacy and sex workers. Thanks for including me!

Her Story is six episode series that debuted in September 2015 about the dating lives of two transgender women in Los Angeles and stars trans writer and actor Jen Richards, trans entrepreneur and actor Angelica Ross, and writer/actor Laura Zak. Richards and Zak also co-wrote the script. What makes this show so significant is that it was created by trans and queer people, who also play the characters. The quality of the series is a testament to how important it is for trans people to be able to tell their own story instead of having cisgender people tell it for us.

Emmy nominated Her Story

Her Story is in the running for an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Drama. What would it mean to you if the show got a nomination, and what can people do to support the show so it does get nominated?

We got the nomination!! I keep saying that my life is being lived in all caps these days. That’s what it feels like. Every day someone else hears the news and I get a text or email in all caps “OH MY GOD CONGRATULATIONS!”
So many people have said that our nomination feels like a win for them. That really touches me, and speaks to the level of investment we’ve had across the board. As the only independent show in our category, the only LGBTQ project, much less the only one created by trans people, it’s a recognition of what “the rest of us” are capable of.

Can we look forward to a second season of Her Story, and has there been interest in the show getting picked up by a network?

There won’t be a 2nd season per se. Rather, Laura Zak & I have a detailed treatment for a full version of S1, 10 30-minute episodes, at least. What we shot is really just the start of a bigger story, one with a larger cast and some very intense, never before seen storylines. Given that we have a story ready to go, a great team, and proof that there’s an audience ready for it, our hope is that with the Emmy nomination, and hopefully a win, we’ll have a few networks and media platforms vying for the rights. We’re just now starting to take meetings about it.

As one of the co-writers for Her Story, how much of the show, and in particular your character Violet, is based on your personal experiences?

Almost everything in Her Story is taken from mine or Angelica Ross’ life, or the experiences of our friends and wider network of trans people. I think that’s why it resonates so much. Whenever we do screenings, I watch the trans women in the audience for their reactions, and every time I see them nodding and snapping. As you know Becca, nothing in Her Story is that extraordinary or unusual for girls like us. Except maybe James! That aren’t many men like him. He is loosely modeled on a wonderful man I know, who married a trans woman, but it’s also partly aspirational. I created the man Angelica/Paige deserves.

How does it feel to know you helped create a show which has had such a positive impact on trans people and hopefully empowers them to believe in themselves and gives them the courage to keep moving forward?

It’s hard to process, but in the rare moments when it does sink in, it’s oddly humbling. I feel part of something bigger than me, and blessed to be one of the channels this story is working through. I really love the idea that it can directly empower trans people. I owe so much to the women who helped me when I first came out, and carried me through dark times. And I look to people like Bamby Salcedo and Cecilia Chung and Miss Major and realize how much more I can do, how much I owe to my community.

Sex work seems to be an issue which is important you, and was one of the storylines in Her Story. Is this because trans women are over-represented in sex work, or is it more personal than that?

Both. When I was first starting to transition, the only trans women I knew of were adult performers. That’s who I looked to because they were the most visible. I saw strength in many of them. And then the first trans person to take an interest in me, to push me to do something, was Jasmine Jewels, a trans sex worker in Chicago. I don’t know how or why, but she had noticed me on Twitter and would engage me. One day I was complaining about the lack of positive trans representation, this would have been about five years ago, and she said, “Are you going to complain, or do something about it?” She scared me into action! I launched We Happy Trans within a couple of weeks, which started me down this path. So in everything I did along the way, I tried to include sex workers and their perspectives. Most trans women I know have done sex work at some point in their life, whether it’s escorting or porn or cam work. It’s part of our community’s story, and I’m interested in both the why’s of that, and the consequences, but mostly just the human face of it all. And of course my BBF is a porn star, Bailey Jay, so it’s just a part of my life. As far as my own story and experiences, at this point in my life I still prefer to maintain some privacy.

As you know, violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. There are organizations like Trans Lifeline which provides vital resources for trans people in times of crisis. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

It’s hopelessness, right? Suicide is born out of a belief that ending life is preferable to continuing it, which means there is a lack of hope. Part of the reason the suicide rates for trans people have been so high is because of how little hope has been offered to trans people. However, as I discovered only after transition, it wasn’t that there weren’t trans people leading rich, full lives, it’s that they weren’t visible. The media didn’t have any interest in them, and many are read as cis in public, so they’re basically invisible. And while I don’t begrudge anyone else their privacy, or a decision to live stealth, that lack of visibility has consequences for others. And not just aborting those opportunities to give hope, but also of material resources, mentorship, networking, advocacy, etc. If you choose to be out and visible, then you’re more likely to give back, to help, even if it just means being someone who others can look to on social media, or in your neighborhood. When we move through the world, we’re often very conscious of all the eyes on us. I certainly am at least. But what I don’t know is when those eyes might belong to someone who is just beginning to realize their gender. Maybe you’re the first trans person they ever see, really see, and that becomes a seed. I’m rambling aren’t I? My point is that one thing we can each do is live out loud and proud. That act alone may save a life. And of course if you can do more, do! Give to trans organizations and projects, ask your employer to have trans inclusive health care options, vote for non-discrimation legislation, speak out again all forms of bigotry, hire trans people, buy their art, defend someone being harassed in public, and don’t allow anyone around you to mock trans people.

When you came to Los Angeles you had neither a job nor a car, and lived out of suitcases and off the charity of friends. What was it that brought you to LA and did you have a plan as to what you wanted to do and how to accomplish it?

None of that’s changed yet! I’m very lucky to have so much support here in LA. It’s the only way I’ve been able to continue writing and acting. I came out to shoot Her Story, as well as pre- and post-production. Then then I did a few videos for BuzzFeed, was cast on I Am Cait, got a great agent…one thing after another kept me here. Eventually I went back to Chicago, threw everything in storage, and came right back out. I miss my stuff! But I’m happy to stay focused on my work. As far as a plan, I’m not sure that I had one at first, but over time I’ve developed a pretty clear vision of the road ahead. Basically, keep writing and acting and producing until something takes off and I can then make a lot of money writing and acting and producing. I know now this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my too few days on this planet. I don’t have enough time left to get out everything that it’s in my head now, and new ideas are barging in every day.

You initially declined when you were first contacted about appearing on I am Cait. Aside from logistical issues of living in Chicago, what led you to turn down the invitation?

It was such a media frenzy. It was a circus really, and I have no interest in spectacle. I had never seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, so I didn’t know the world I was walking into. I also hadn’t met Cait yet and the truth is that I’m terrible at hiding my dislike of other people. I can’t do small talk or kiss ass, so I was afraid that if I went on camera and didn’t get along with her, it’d show and I’d be the villain. And of course, I knew I’d have zero control over editing or how they framed our stories. That’s a lot of faith to put into the hands of strangers, particularly ones are working for a for-profit entertainment company. But then Cait and I talked on the phone and I genuinely liked her. Despite everything she’s said, I still have a soft spot for her, as I do for most trans people. At first it was just one evening. I changed my mind right beforehand, but my friend Zackary Drucker was going and she said, “Girl, it’s just dinner.” I went and had a blast. It was just a lot of fun. Then they asked if I would go on a road trip, which also sounded fun. One thing led to another. It all happened very organically, and when you’re just hanging out with friends, you forget about the cameras, and it’s inconceivable to you in the moment that what feels like a private conversation may later be seen by millions of people.

What was it like for you being part of the show and getting the opportunity to know Caitlyn Jenner and work with people like Jennifer Finney Boylan, Candis Cayne, and Kate Bornstein?

Fun! Lots of fun. I had known Jenny (Boylan) and Zackary for years, and hung out a bit with Drian (Juarez), but was meeting Candis and Chandi (Moore) for the first time. I was more nervous about meeting Candis than anything else! She’s one of the few people in our world that seems loved by everyone, and I had been so in awe of her on Dirty Sexy Money. She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, just good to her core. You can’t help but love Candis. Same with Chandi, she’s just a ball of light and love. You immediately feel like you’ve known her for year. In addition to the cast, the crew was great. I really adored them all, and there were a couple more trans people behind the scenes.

Kate (Bornstein) is my trans mama, so I introduced her to Cait. That was one of my favorite moments of the entire experience. Kate was in LA for an event at Trans Pride. After she spoke I puller her aside and said, “I need you to come with me, right now.” Cait was staying over at Candis’ that night, so I brought Kate over. I’ll never forget watching these two women talk, both 65 year old white trans women, each celebrities in their own ways, but on opposite sides of so many issues. Cait was all about blending in, respectability politics, being palatable. Kate was about embracing being a freak. The show caught the moment well, but of course the few minutes they show is from an a few hours of talk. It was special.

I think we all agree that the attention Caitlyn Jenner gets from the media has played a huge role in helping to bring trans issues to the forefront of mainstream society, but she has also been a controversial figure within the trans community Having had the chance to get to know her, why do you think she has become such a polarizing figure within her own community?

There’s nothing innately progressive or conservative about being LGBT. Nonetheless, the marginalization that comes with it is often enough to make people aware of the need for legal protections, social services, etc., and traditionally liberals have been more supportive of those endeavors, and more welcoming to us. Contrariwise, conservatives, particularly in the culture wars, have used opposition to LGBT rights as a way to stoke their other-fearing, white cis heterosexual base. Long story short, there’s an assumption that LGBT folks would vote Democrat, and Caitlyn is a staunch Republican. Which really should come as no surprise. For all intents and purposes, she was a rich straight white man for several decades before coming out as trans. Her political beliefs were forged long before she personally had any sense of the marginalization that is so definitive for many of us, and her wealth protects her from it now. So it makes perfect sense to me that she’d support Ted Cruz and Donald Trump despite their opposition to … well, LGBT protections, Blacks Lives Matter, women’s rights, immigration reform…the list goes on. To her, it’s a matter of principles, like small government and lower taxes. But the reason she is so polarizing is that it then looks like she values her own wealth more than she does the health and safety of other LGBT people. I do take that personally. She and I have had some intense arguments over these issues. But I come from a traditional conservative southern family, so I’m quite accustomed to these arguments.

The entertainment industry is known to be fairly conservative, so how do you balance the needs of wanting to be involved in social advocacy for your community versus trying to conform to what the industry wants?

I can’t really think too much about either side of that. My fidelity is to story. I have write honestly and authentically. Off the page, I’m personally deeply influenced by intersectional social justice work and ideas, so those attitudes do find their way into my characters, my choice of themes and character arcs. It’s inseparable. As far as the industry is concerned, I’m led to believe they want compelling content and original voices. We’ll see if that’s true!

Can you talk about what inspired you to create the Trans 100 and what you hoped to accomplish with it?

I’ve told the story of its origins enough times, so I’ll skip that if you don’t mind. The intention of The Trans 100 was to give a glimpse into just how big, dynamic, diverse, creative, and giving the trans community was. The idea was that shining a spotlight on 100 different people each year, we’d shift the perception of trans people as these hidden, isolated tragic figures. And it worked! It became a resource used by the White House, led to a few job offers for people on the list, and generated a ton of positive media at a time when that was incredibly rare. More importantly, it was part of a larger shift in the tone of the trans community. Admittedly that’s a bit of a amorphous assertion to prove, but I felt it and I know many others too. Each year we would gather to announce the names at a live event which included keynote speeches and live performances, all by trans people. To be in that room filled with so many trans people, to celebrate each other, was transformative. I’m very, very proud of the impact The Trans 100 had, and I hope that in time its legacy becomes clearer.

What led you to step away from the project?

Health mostly. I was working full-time running a nonprofit arts organization while also doing We Happy Trans and The Trans 100. I wasn’t sleeping much and kept collapsing from exhaustion. I ended up in the hospital a couple of times, and the doctors warned me that I was doing serious damage to my body. Also, working with the trans community, or communities really, was … difficult. We’re all traumatized and often that comes out abusive ways. I grew very weary of the infighting and personal attacks. I was also upset that no matter how many times we said that it wasn’t a “top 100”, it was still treated as such. People’s feelings were hurt when they weren’t on the list, some people lobbied to get on it. It just got ugly, and contrary to the original spirit. I was even sued by someone who claimed I had stolen it (not only was the case dismissed, the lawyers for the other side apologized to me). There was once a claim that one of our honorees was a rapist, and I had to investigate it, something I was in no position to do properly. It all just kind of broke me, and I don’t think I’ll ever work with large groups like that ever again. Still, the public face of it was beautiful, and I am proud to have been part of it.

In your interview with TransEthics last year you made the comment “98% of all the hate I’ve received over the years has been from other trans people, and in response to the work that I was doing, all of which was designed to lift others up, and for which I’ve never received a dime. Knowing that no matter what you’ll do, your own community will try to bring you down, wears you out.” What is it about our community that seems to bring out so much divisiveness and hate among our own people, especially towards those who are trying to accomplishment something positive?

I think it’s gotten better in the last year. Or maybe I’ve just become such a recluse I don’t encounter it as much! No, I do think it’s better, and I think it’s because there’s less pressure on the few of us who are in visible in the media to represent everyone. That was part of the issue before, before Caitlyn, before Laverne got so famous, there was just so little out there. So many of us felt isolated, alone, either invisible or under attack. We rabidly seized upon any representation we could find and always found it lacking. Bear in mind too that for a long time, the only sympathetic trans narratives we did get were very narrow, typically older, late transitioning, white, lesbian women. People who were straight white men. That’s a very narrow perspective, and frankly not one that has a long history of community building. Now we have several people to look to, and many of our most visible are black trans women with a deeply intersectional perspective and commitment to social justice. That’s a huge shift. And there’s a real national conversation. The left has finally become explicit about trans rights, and with all the media, the public’s understanding of trans issues has seriously advanced. While we still have far, far to go, in many concrete ways, it’s better today for trans people that it was five years ago.

You spent over five years as the Managing Director of the classical music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and also served as President of New Music Chicago. Can you talk about the role music plays in your life?

Music has been my sanctuary for as long as I can remember. My mind is a bit overactive, and is louder than my body or feelings, but great music commands my whole self, my full attention. At its best, it is a merger of intellect and aesthetics and something that transcends both. It’s also been one of the few forces in my life that I can’t easily rationalize away. It’s superfluous, its not necessary for our survival or propagation as a special. As best we can tell, it’s the result of excess, whether of joy or sadness or lust or time and money. Its changing form carry with it the history of human consciousness and how value manifests in different ways according to time and place. It’s the “yes” that alone serves as an answer to the question of why anything exists at all. This is all true of any form of art really, but music had been the steadiest companion for me. It was an honor to work for eighth blackbird for those years. They were some of the finest musicians in the world, and the finest people.

Sugar & Spice is an advice and news podcast you co-hosted with Bailey Jay. Can you tell us about your friendship with Bailey, who you have described as the one person who loves you unconditionally?

You really dug deep for my quotes! Bailey had asked me to appear on her earlier podcast. We hit it off and she asked me back the following week. Then she decided to launch a new podcast with me, which was Sugar & Spice. We only did a few episodes, but I’m shocked at how often people mention it to me. It was always just her and I rambling about whatever came to mind for nearly two hours, but people liked it for some reason. We have very different backgrounds, and would seem like odd bedfellows, but we just hit it off. She is one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, has an incredibly sharp mind (she’s one of the best examples of someone who lacks education but is smarter than many people who do), seems almost immune to the kind of ideological myopia that afflicts most of us, myself included, and most importantly, has one of the biggest and kindest hearts I’ve encountered. She’s a rare and special person. I tend to isolate myself from others, but Bailey just put herself squarely in my life. I talk to her more than anyone else. We often talk about ending up quirky old crones together, rambling around in a big old house like the aunts in Practical Magic, cackling perversely and causing trouble.

We’re similar in that we both chose writing as the means of coming out to the people we care about. Has your family been supportive of you?

I’m closer with my family now than I’ve ever been. It was a journey to get here, a hard one, but ultimately worth it. My mom had to grieve the loss of her son, which I can understand now. But at the time, I was sensitive to any discomfort around me. I couldn’t tolerate anything less than explicit unconditional acceptance in those early days. How could I? Every day was a gauntlet of harassment and threats. The only way I could go about my day was to fake confidence. I couldn’t allow anything to threaten that confidence, because it would have threatened my safety. In time I eased into myself. After all these years, and because I’m often read as a pretty white cis woman, I have the luxury of my transness being secondary, or being able to take pride in being trans because it’s less and less weaponized against me. That takes a lot of pressure off relationships.

You’ve written that like most trans people, you were afraid of what transitioning would end up costing you. Has the cost been more or less than what you expected?

Far, far less. At the time I was first considering transition, the narrative online was that transition meant a total loss of the life you knew. If you were lucky and you “passed”, you’d have to start a new life stealth and eliminate all trace of who you were, start over in a new place with a new name. Or if you didn’t “pass”, which I didn’t expect to ever do since I started in middle age, you’d always be a pathetic “man in a dress”. Instead, I was met with a great deal of support and encouragement. I did lose some friends, but for the most part my relationships were deepened. People noted that I was happier, nicer, more present. I was also lucky in that my work was very supportive, which made a big difference. And of course my involvement in trans projects led to the many great friendships and opportunities that now define my life.

Did that have any bearing on why you didn’t transition until the age of 36?

No, not really. It certainly upped the stakes of transition, but my hesitation was that I didn’t think I was trans. Again, there were very few narrative available, and I didn’t seem to fit them. I went to a therapist and told her I wanted to know if I was trans so that I could just get on with it if I was. She assured me I wasn’t. At the time, a common diagnosis was “self-loathing homosexual”. The idea was that people like me were gay men who didn’t want to be gay, so we wanted to become women instead. It’s so laughably absurd now, but I assumed she was right. It turned out though that I wasn’t self-loathing in that particular way. In fact, I was quite comfortably bisexual. Then she reasoned it was childhood trauma, but I worked through that and it still didn’t go away. Then she theorized that because I was so relentlessly driven in my regular life that I had created an alternative persona where I could relax and just have fun, a feminine one. Again I went with it at the time, though the misogyny of that is so clear to me now, but still my desires wouldn’t go away. So I really, really tried not to be trans. I eventually decided to start hormone replacement therapy to prove to myself that I wasn’t trans. I often have to take things too far in order to know what’s enough. But lo and behold, after just a couple of weeks I suddenly felt right for the first time in my life. It was crushing in the moment, but I accepted that I really was trans. All of this is part of the reason why I say there is no wrong way to be trans, and why all my work has been to expand our view of what being trans means. I don’t want anyone to lose so many years like I did. I’ve come to terms with my own path, the skills and perspectives I gained as someone treated by the world as a middle-class straight white man have allowed me to do all the work I do today, so I trust it was all part of my destiny.

What was life like growing up in the south where people are generally very conservative and unaccepting of the LGBT community?

My family was southern, but I mostly grew up in Chicago. The attitude towards gay people in the south, at least in my family, was very much “don’t ask, don’t tell”. You just didn’t talk about it. It was less an attitude of condemnation and more one of willful ignorance. For me the harder part was the clear delineation of men and women and their roles. At family events, men were in the living room watching the game, and the women were in the kitchen cooking and talking. I naturally gravitated to the women in my family, who were all bright and funny and strong, and all great storytellers. I didn’t care for sports, but I loved the company of the women in my family. But I also don’t remember being explicitly policed for that either. I was just always the weird one, which gave me a lot of latitude in many areas.

You’ve stated that you were a very masculine guy prior to transitioning. Looking back, do you see this as a conscious attempt to deny your feminine side, or was it something which you weren’t aware of at the time?

It was very much a conscious attempt. I learned early to hide femininity. Again, it wasn’t because of direct efforts by my family, at least not that I remember, but more just a learned sense that men were supposed be masculine. I was a pretty typical boy as far as I recall. I had other boy friends and I happily played with action figures and guns. I excelled in sports, and I liked girls. It wasn’t until high school that I remember real agony over gender, efforts to monitor the way I talked or walked, what music or movies I liked. That’s also when I first began kissing boys and doing theater, so I just thought I was gay, despite liking girls too. I didn’t have language for it. All I had were those inchoate feelings, a desire to be feminine and a profound sense of shame wrapped up in it. If I had known about trans people then, I probably would have identified as such. Still, being “weird” gave me a lot of room to play with sex and gender. Artists have always had much more freedom in that way. I have to be honest, looking back I can’t really construct an adequately consistent narrative. Even as I write this, I’m having other memories that counter some of these statements. Ultimately all I really know is that I feel much more at ease as a woman than I ever did as a man or boy. Anything beyond that is going to be, at least in part, an effort of imagination.

Like many trans people you’ve experienced feeling guilt, shame, and self-doubt about being transgender. Have those feelings eased up since you transitioned, and how do you deal with them?

I was talking with Bailey about this the other day. I notice that I occasionally have these moments where the whole idea of being trans strikes me as so utterly bizarre and nonsensical, like a familiar word that suddenly becomes weird in your mouth. The idea that we could change from one gender to another is laughably preposterous, this flimsy construction only possible with some serious convoluted rhetorical engineering and destined to collapse. But the interesting part is that in those moments, my disbelief isn’t that I’ve become a woman, it’s instead that I was ever a man. That’s the inconceivable part to me. So ultimately I understand the incredulity of others towards trans people. I experience it too! But my clear, unshakeable sense of myself as a woman despite the absurdity IS the very heart of what it means to be transgender for me. I don’t understand it any more than anyone else. And I don’t need to. Yes, I still feel a great deal of residual guilt and shame, but less and less of it has anything to do with my transition. I deal with it in varying ways, from distraction to therapy, art, friendship, service, and simply surviving another day.

You’ve had several issues with TSA agents while traveling, which unfortunately is all too common for trans people. What do you see as the cause of these problems, and what can be done to resolve them so that trans people aren’t afraid of being embarrassed and humiliated every time they go through airport security?

It’s hard to convey just how fucking tired I am of having my genitals touched by strangers in airports. Well…TSA agents specifically. The system is constructed as if trans people don’t exist, and the TSA’s attitude has pretty much been, well, tough shit. An agent literally presses a blue or pink button based on your appearance, and the body scan then goes to someone else in some dark room somewhere to identify any anomalies for that gendered body. Which means pre/non-op trans women, or trans men who haven’t had top surgery, get flagged as anomalous and are subject to further pat down. This happens to me half the time I go through. Half. And as much as I traveled, that means I’ve been groped over 25 times in the last couple of years. It’s humiliating, and there is zero recourse. There was literally nothing I could do about it. If I asked them rescan me, then my breasts would get flagged. Telling them I’m trans at best deescalates the situation, if the agent is trained and sympathetic, and at worst causes discomfort or derision. I will say that the agents have gotten better at handling it over the years. That is, they are friendlier and less freaked out. Which is great, but they’re still required to touch my anomaly. This has been going on for years, and nothing has been done. Is there a clearer indication that the TSA doesn’t give one damn about us? I did finally cave and get pre-check, thank heaven. But that’s not an option for many, and still doesn’t make this consistent and unnecessary humiliation and harassment anywhere close to acceptable.

The trans community has made progress in many areas over the last year or two, but it seems like this year there has been a significant increase in legislation specifically targeting trans people, such as HB2 in North Carolina and all the “bathroom bills” that seem so prevalent lately. Is this the byproduct of election year politics, or a focused effort from the conservative right pushing back against the gains we’ve made?

Oh yes, clearly. Most of the some 19 laws in different states this year bear remarkably similar language. There has been an effort by right wing groups, under the guise of “family values”, to target trans people ever since the lost the fight against gay marriage. The right operates by triggering fear of the unknown. In this case, they created a figment of men dressing up as women, poorly mind you, in order to enter bathrooms to harass little girls. This is a fever dream that’s only possible to conjure when devoid of any critical thinking of direct experience with trans people. There are already laws in place protecting people from spying or sexual assault in restrooms, there is nothing preventing anyone from walking into any restroom anyways, it completely ignores trans men, assumes trans women are predators, or that actual predators are somehow only going to prey under the guise of trans protections and will be deterred by these laws, assumes that predators have no interest in boys, completely ignores that most cases of sexual assault are committed by someone known to the victim and there isn’t an epidemic of restroom violation…I mean, we could go all day. It’s a solution in desperate futile search for a problem. Of course what it’s really about is not wanting trans people to exist. That’s the heart of it. When you say certain people can’t use bathrooms, you’re saying they can’t exist in public. They should simply go away. That’s the signal they’re sending, and the one heard loud and clear despite McCrory and others’ transparent protestations otherwise. And this is very personal to me. My mom and brother and sister-in-law all live in North Carolina. My brother was in the statehouse the day the pushed HB2 through. I’ll be there in two weeks, and technically it will be illegal for me to use the women’s room in the airport when I arrive. I’m astonished that McCrory won’t budge, despite the billions in lost revenue. What a pathetic hill to make a last stand on. Peeing. That will be his legacy. He’s the governor who lost his state billions of revenue because he didn’t want me to pee in a women’s restroom. Congrats dude.

We recently experienced yet another mass shooting in Orlando, this time specifically targeting the LGBTQ community. What can we as a nation to do lessen the risk of these massacres from repeatedly happening?

The hell if I know. It’s madness and I don’t have any solutions. I think getting rid of the guns would be a great step, but beyond that, I just don’t know.

Do you have any upcoming projects or events that you would like to share with us?

I’ve just written a feature about trans women, and it got into the Outfest Screenwriting Lab this year, which was incredible. I learned so much, made a ton of contacts, and I know the script is going to improve dramatically when I incorporate the feedback I received. I have another project coming out soon, with Silas Howard. It’s a docu-series called ‘More Than T’, and a s series of nine accompanying PSA’s, which we’re calling ‘Trans 102’. It’s a great project and is part of a larger effort by the MAC AIDS Fund to raise over a million dollars for trans projects and organizations. I have a lot of irons in the fire, and new ones every day.

Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview and for being so open and candid in your answers!

You can follow Jen on Twitter at @SmartAssJen, and on Facebook.

And be sure to visit the Her Story site where you can view the show and learn more about the amazing people who created this wonderful show!

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