Through the Benz

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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Beginnings and endings

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This has been a busy week in which I experienced the happiness of a new beginning but also the pain of a loss and the finality of death. The cycle of life continues and death is an inescapable part of that cycle, but with death comes a stark reminder of how fragile life is and a renewed appreciation of the time we do have and making the most of it.

On Monday May 1st I moved out of the apartment where I’d been renting a room since January and which had become an extremely stressful and uncomfortable situation. I’m now renting a room in south-west Portland which is in a beautiful house with roommates who are respectful and considerate. I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally breath. I’m now living in what can best be described as a sanctuary; it’s like living in the middle of the woods where there is not another house in sight and where the only sounds I hear are the sounds of nature. I now go to sleep listing to crickets and frogs instead of the clamor of delivery trucks being unloaded, and I wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and singing instead of roommates yelling and screaming at each other. My room has three big windows so there is lots of light, including the morning sun. And best of all, I have my own little private deck where I can sit in the patio chair my mom gave me and just relax. There are so many birds here and I’ve found that it’s really relaxing to just listen to all the birds and watch them fly around; who knows, maybe I’ll take up bird-watching! A few days after I moved in we had two days which were absolutely perfect; lots of sun and temperatures in the upper 70s, and I was sitting on my deck in the evening watching and listening to the birds and feeling so incredibly relaxed, and I was thinking this is exactly what I had dreamed of for the past month as I waited to move out of the apartment. This was the moment that had gotten me through the last hellish month, and it was so worth waiting for.

Becca BenzNormally when I move I do everything myself because I’ve moved often enough that I have it down to a science, but now that I own a bed I decided to hire movers. Plus, I didn’t feel like lugging everything up and down all the stairs. The movers were great and everything went smoothly and I’m all unpacked and settled in and getting used to my new surroundings. It’s so nice to have a clean kitchen to use instead of having to clear away dirty pots and pans and having my shoes stick to the floor because it’s so dirty from food that was spilled and not cleaned up. I’ve never been accused of being a neat freak, but I do like things clean and organized, and it was not pleasant living in such disgusting conditions. Thankfully I can put all that behind me and focus on the future. I feel more relaxed than I have in a long time and I can get out of survival mode and start living life again. I haven’t been too active on social media for a while, but I plan on changing that.

But with all the positive feelings I’ve experienced this week I also received some sad news a few days ago when I learned that my step-father had passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Death is never easy but in this case his passing was a blessing because he is no longer suffering and my mom can now move on from what has been a difficult ordeal for her. She has been by his side over the many years since he was diagnosed and has taken care of him as the disease ravaged his body; the past few years have been especially difficult for her as she watched him deteriorate both physically and mentally. I’ve known him my entire life and he was a good man and we will all miss him deeply, but there is comfort in knowing he’s in a better place and now my mom can get back to living life again. My oldest son is planning to fly out here next weekend and we’re going to drive up and spend a few days with my mom, and we’re both really excited because it’s been quite a few years since we’ve seen him. When I notified my youngest son of his grandpa’s passing it led to another hurtful encounter. I am at a loss as to why my own son treats me this way, but I’m done with it. This is a difficult time for me which was made ever harder by his insensitive and belligerent comments. I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. I thought perhaps this might bring up together and give us a chance to move forward, but sadly I was wrong. My focus is on my mom and being there for her through this difficult time; she has always been there for us and I’m happy for the opportunity to be there for her during this difficult time.

So that’s where I’m at right now; lots of change in my life but feeling excited about the future. Summer is fast approaching and I feel like a bear emerging from hibernation; it’s been a long, difficult winter and I’m ready to shake off the effects of my long slumber and sow my wild oats! During winter when it’s cold and rainy I don’t feel much like getting dressed up and going out, but now that the weather is warming up I can’t wait to unpack my summer clothes and get out and explore all the fun things to do in Portland! Summer clothes are much more fun and sexy than winter clothes!

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The future looks bright for Becca Benz!

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After spending almost a week with my mom I’m feeling recharged and ready to get moving. The past few months have been difficult but things will soon be changing for the better. I’ll be moving on May 1st, which will be a huge step in the right direction to get out of my current living situation which has been extremely stressful and frustrating and into the new place which will provide some much-needed calmness. And I will have my own little deck outside my room, which I’m really excited about! With summer approaching I can’t wait to sit out on my deck and enjoy the warm weather!

My mom and I have always been very close; she raised my sister and I after my parents divorced and I could not have asked for a better mom. She was both a mom and dad and was always there for us, and it’s because of her that I am the person I am today. After spending so many years in the mid-west where we rarely got the chance to see each other it’s nice to be in Oregon where I’m able to see her more often. We still don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but now that the weather is improving I’m going to make it a point to spend more time with her this summer. As she’s gotten older and has had her own issues to deal with it’s nice that I can be there for her and help take care of her. It’s interesting to see how the cycle of life works, that our parents take care of us and then later in life the roles reverse and we get the chance to take care of them. After all my mom has done for me I feel it’s a privilege to be able to be there for her. She has always been there for me and stuck with me through some difficult times and has accepted me as her daughter, and shown me what it means to be a good parent and a good person. I may not have had a father in my life but I was blessed to have a mom who more than made up for my father’s absence.

On May 2nd I have my consult for my reassignment surgery, which I’m really excited about. For most of my life having the surgery was not an option for financial reasons, but now that it’s covered by insurance it became a possibility for me. My penis was always a reminder that my body was not as it should be, but even so, I never had any hatred for my penis or a burning desire to get rid of it, but since the surgery is an option now I decided it’s something that made sense to do for several reasons, and now that I’ve made the decision to go for it I’m really excited! I think the one thing which I’m most stressed about is not being able to go to the gym for several months after the surgery while I recover, but I think I can handle it.

So there are a lot of exciting things to look forward to in the coming months and I’m ready to get on with my life and start moving forward again.

And finally, I want to thank everyone for all the support and encouragement and nice comments I received after my recent column about my uncertainty about whether or not to continue writing this column. The outpouring of support showed me that people do read it and that I have reached people. So I feel a renewed sense of excitement and I’m going to keep writing it. And I’ve had several people reach out to me about interviews, and I’m really excited about these upcoming interviews, so stay tuned!

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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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Becca Benz 2017 TEA Part 2: Parties and shows!

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The Transgender Erotica Awards weekend is always such a fun time, and my week in Los Angeles had already been pretty eventful before the TEA events had even begun!

Thursday night at Club Cobra signals the unofficial start of the TEA festivities and is always a fun time, and this year was no different. I got there early and was sitting in a booth chatting with friends when my good friend David gave me two bags of delicious Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel chocolates! David is so sweet and thoughtful; last year he brought me flowers, and this year chocolates! It’s moments like this, and seeing good friends again, that makes TEA so meaningful to me.

2017 TEA Awards     2017 TEA Awards

And then a bit later in walks none other than the beautiful Staci Miguire, looking decidedly more blonde than the last time I saw her! She and I always have fun hanging out and dancing and she brings out my wild side! And it’s nice to be with someone taller than I am for a change! And it so happened that I wore a leopard print dress and Staci wore a zebra print dress, so we had fun with the animal print theme, and there were lots of jokes about predator and prey! We even considered swapping dresses since she’s more predator and I’m more prey, but thankfully we never actually got around to doing it lol

The club closed and security had their hands full ushering us all out of the club and off the property, and then trying to get everyone to go home. There were large groups of people mingling on the street and suddenly a fight broke out and it was like watching moths being drawn to light; everyone ran to the fight and cell phone flashes were going off like mad. We soon heard the sound of police sirens, and then a police helicopter appeared overhead with its light scanning the scene, followed by a fire truck and police cars screaming down the road. It was a crazy ending to a wild night!

Friday I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my dear friend Fran, who is someone I’ve gotten to know a lot more this past year and who has become near and dear to my heart. We’d been counting down the down the weeks and days as TEA approached, looking forward to breakfast and being able to talk and enjoy a break from the dreary Pacific Northwest weather. And it was definitely worth the wait, getting to talk face to face and just hang out and enjoy being together. We had the most wonderful conversations and I wouldn’t let her go back to work because I so enjoyed having her all to myself! And she also gives the absolute best hugs! It was such a wonderful afternoon and one of the things I will remember most from this year’s TEA.

Friday night it was the TEA party, which was moved up this year instead of being the night after the awards show as in previous years. The party was at Bardot and fabulous as always, and it was so much fun seeing everyone, and of course seeing what everyone was wearing, and in some cases, not wearing lol The folks at Grooby know how to throw a party, and this was one of their best!

2017 TEA Pre-Party

My favorite moment from the party was getting Fran and Kristel together for a picture of the three of us. Last year we’d forgotten to get a picture, so Fran and I had been reminding each other not to forget, and I was on a mission to make it happen! And we had such fun doing this picture, and it could not have turned out any more beautifully. These two ladies are good friends who mean the world to me, so I was pleased we got such a wonderful picture together. And as you can see, Fran was kind of getting all touchy feely back there, but she can cop a feel of my ass any time she wants 🙂

In previous years I remember seeing the food vendors outside the Avalon after it closed and how delicious the hot dogs smelled, but I never got one because I was worried about slopping food onto my dress, but this year I was hungry and it smelled so good that I broke down and bought one, and it had to be one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. And I managed to eat it without getting any on my dress!

2017 TEA CON After a late night of partying we all dragged ourselves out of bed Saturday afternoon for TEA Con, which this year was held at the Avalon, site of the awards show, and it’s such a great venue; much roomier and you couldn’t ask for more beautiful setting.

I spent the entire afternoon wandering around talking with everyone and never did settle down at a table; my friend Hanna from Transformation Magazine let me put my stuff at her table and it was nice to just sit with her and talk when I needed a break from wandering.

I went for comfort this year, wearing a casual maxi skirt and comfortable top, and flip-flops to give my tired feet a rest! I did have a pair of heels in my bag in case I felt too under-dressed, but they never did make it out of the bag lol

One of the funnest moments from TEA Con was getting the photographers together to pose for a picture for me, which was not unlike trying to herd cats! They have all become good friends over the three years I’ve been attending TEA, and I am so appreciative of the awesome work they do and all the time and effort they put into capturing all the special moments during the TEA events. And I always have so much fun talking and joking with them, and they are always so gracious when I ask them for a picture with someone, which I tend to do more than I probably should!

2017 TEA Con

I had decided I wasn’t going to attend the Saturday night event at Cheetah’s because the previous year had been such a fiasco; instead I had planned to go to either Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach or Club Shine, but for some reason I was really tired decided to just hang out in my hotel room and order room service and watch the Food Channel. I felt guilty spending a Saturday night in Los Angeles in my hotel room, but I just needed a break and some time to rest and recharge. I don’t have access to tv or the Food Channel where I live, so it was kind of nice to just relax and watch Chopped, and take a nice long hot shower.

Sunday was the TEA awards, and I got my hair and makeup done that afternoon, which is always a fun thing to splurge on. I went to the same salon in Burbank that I went to last year but had a different lady do my hair, and I really enjoyed talking with her. I guess I’m getting chatty in my old age! And it turned out I got to see the lady who did my hair last year, which was nice!

It’s always fun getting all dressed to the nines and getting to wear a gown, and I really liked my gown this year; simple but elegant. I initially hadn’t planned to wear a gown this year because I felt I’d never be able to do better than last year’s gown, but I couldn’t resist. I mean, how often do you get the chance to wear a gown? So I took my time getting ready and then took Lyft to the Avalon. It’s always such a cool moment to arrive and walk in, knowing it’s finally here and that it’s going to be such an amazing night, and seeing everyone there! One of those magic moments that never seems to get old. This year I had the pleasure of walking the red carpet with my friend Eddie Wood, and we had a lot of fun; in fact I may have gotten a bit too carried away with the fun part, but I think Eddie had a good time!

Becca Benz 2017 TEA Awards     Becca Benz Eddie Wood 2017 TEA Awards

I mingled and talked and hugged and posed for pictures and was having such a wonderful time and felt so fortunate to once again be part of such an awesome event. When I looking through the program I was so excited to see that Al Tom was getting the Best Industry Professional Award!! I got up to go find him so I could give him a great big hug! Al is such a great photographer and a good friend to so many of us, and if anyone is deserving of this award it’s him.

The show was going to be starting soon and I was sitting at our table when I saw Laura Espinoza across the room, so I ran over to say hi to her, and we talked for a while. When I went back to the table I noticed my purse was gone. I asked the people at the table if they’d seen it and asked security if it had been turned in, but no one had seen it. I didn’t have time to worry about it because the award Jamie Jameson and I were presenting was the third award, so we had to go backstage before the show started. It was neat to present an award, and I was happy I got to do it with Jamie because I knew her and knew I could get by with not having to talk much. We were announced, which was pretty cool and then we walked out onto the stage, and I managed to do so without tripping, so I was happy and relieved! Jamie did the talking and I just stood there and smiled and clapped and enjoyed the moment. I kind of felt like Vanna White from Wheel of Fortune! After the winner was announced we moved off to the side and then exited after the winners.

I made it back to the table and still no sign of my purse, and that’s when I really started getting worried. And then when I realized I would not be able to fly home if I didn’t have my driver’s license, which was in my purse, I really started stressing out. And without my credit card or identification I wouldn’t have access to any money, and I stressed even more. I asked a friend who also lived in Portland and who had driven to Los Angeles if I could possibly get a ride back with her, and she graciously said yes, so at least I didn’t have to worry about being stranded here. And thankfully I hadn’t left my phone in my purse so at least I had that.

Miran Becca Benz 2017 TEAWhen the nominees for Best Internet Personality were announced it was such a cool moment to hear my name and see my picture, and to be included among such a distinguished group of nominees. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to win this year because I just felt like there were people more deserving than me. It was still a little disappointing not to win, but Miran is a friend and someone I have a great deal of respect for, and I was happy she won. And I have to say she looked stunning in the gorgeous gown she wore, as she always does.

I stayed until the intermission and then checked again with security, and when my purse was still missing I decided to head back to the hotel so I could call my bank and report my card missing, so I got a Lyft and went back to the hotel, where I had to get another key card so I could get in my room. I changed out of my gown and got cleaned up and then called the bank to report my card missing and arranged for a new card to be sent which would be waiting for me when I got back to Portland. Once that was taken care of I took a shower and tried to calm down. I would be leaving early in the morning to go home with my friend, and I still had to get packed, so there wasn’t much point to going to sleep, even if I could have slept, which was doubtful.

After the awards show ended a friend called me and left a message saying my purse had been found and it was in the security office, so I got dressed and drove back to the Avalon, hoping it wasn’t too late to get my purse before everyone left. I got there just as they were closing up and it took a while to find the right person to unlock the door, but when they opened the security office there was my purse on the counter, and my driver’s license and credit card were still in it. I was so so relieved.

When I had walked in I smelled the hot dogs from the street vender and as I was leaving I realized how hungry I was so I was looking forward to grabbing a couple of hot dogs to take home, but of course they were gone by the time I came out. I got home and checked online to see what was still open, but everything was closed or was not delivering, so I finally ended up going through the drive-through at McDonalds and getting two Egg McMuffins, which seemed an appropriate ending to what had been a long, long night. I got to bed just as the sun was coming up, but thankfully my hotel room had blackout curtains so I was able to get some sleep. I was exhausted Monday and didn’t do much beyond getting packed and having one more meal at In N Out. I had an early flight Tuesday morning so I went to bed early. The trip home was uneventful, and I was just thankful to be on the plane. It was good to get home, except for the weather. I had left warm, sunny California and returned to cold, rainy Portland, which was depressing. I got home and unpacked, and as much as I enjoyed my time in Los Angeles it was good to sleep in my own bed again.

My 2017 TEA was filled with lots of wonderful memories, even though it ended on a sour note with my purse having disappeared, but such is life. Last year was magical in every possible way and I will forever have those memories, and this year was special in its own ways. It all worked out in the end, as it invariably does.

It wasn’t until last week that I even looked at any of the pictures from this year’s TEA events, and when I did I was struck by how tired I looked. I was missing the energy and sparkle from previous years, and that was sort of a wakeup call that something was not right with me.

As for TEA 2018, I’m not sure at this point. I have a lot of personal things to sort out and I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I have three years of special memories and so many wonderful friends, and those will stay with me forever, no matter where my life takes me.

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Becca Benz 2017 TEA Part 1: Adventures in Los Angeles!

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I had been counting down the days and looking forward to TEA for a long time; actually since last year’s TEA ended! I got my gown and all the accessories and had all my reservations made and was ready to go! I was so excited to see all my friends, and was looking forward to lots of warm, sunny weather after having endured a Portland winter in which we’ve seen very little sun and lots of rain. I had been checking the weather forecast and was so relieved when I knew the weather would be good. I got packed and managed to get everything into my luggage, including four pairs of heels and my sneakers, and was ready to go!

Going through airport security is never fun because I always get “selected” to go through a pat-down and have my luggage searched. Go figure. So I get the Portland airport and check my bag and get ready to go through security, and it looks like I’m going to make it through without getting searched, but then the TSA agent points to my carry-on suitcase and asks me if that’s mine, and I reply yes, wondering what’s going on. He then gives me a funny look and asks me if I realized I had a large hunting knife in my bag. Shit! My bag has a small pocket on the side which I never use because I never remember it’s there, and when I recently moved I must have thrown the knife in that pocket of the bag and forgotten about it. I try to remain calm and collected and I tell him it’s my son’s knife and I hadn’t realized it was there, hoping I wasn’t going to be detained and have to explain all this. He gives me another funny look and then takes the knife to swab it for residue. He then tells me I can’t keep it, which I already know, and then sends me on my way. So, I normally always get patted down and searched, but when I carry a large hunting knife in my carry-on bag through security I don’t get patted down or even have my luggage searched. Huh. Guess I’ll have to put prohibited items in my carry-on bag from now on.

Becca Benz TEA 2017

Becca Benz TEA 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I make it on my flight, which was no small relief after the knife incident, and have a smooth trip to Burbank, and get my rental car and find my way to the hotel and get checked in. I splurged a little and went with a nicer hotel, but I was blown away at how nice my room was, and how amazing the shower was! I knew I’d be enjoying lots of long hot showers while I was there! My apologies for not doing my part to conserve water while I was there.

My first order of business was finding the sun-deck at the hotel to lay in the sun and get some much-needed color, but I find out the sun-deck is closed for repairs. What??? Thankfully their sister hotel was across the street and had a nice sun-deck, so I found a comfy chase lounge and enjoyed the warmth of the sun while I relaxed and looked at the palm trees. It was good to be back in Los Angeles! The second order of business was heading to my favorite In N Out Burger for dinner. Surprisingly it wasn’t too crowded and I got a booth to sit in while I enjoyed my animal-style burger and fries. God how I’d missed In N Out burgers!!!

I spent the next two days lounging in the sun and working on getting a tan, but being careful not to burn, and just being lazy and checking out my old haunts from when I lived there. Wednesday night I went to The Abbey, which is a place near and dear to my heart. The people who work there are so friendly and always so good to me, and it’s such a fun place whether I’m there to dance or just people-watch, plus they have really great food! I got there fairly early before things got too crazy and order a drink, which is the first drink I’ve had in a long, long time, so it doesn’t take much to get me feeling good lol And then Brooke Zannell, Eddie Wood, Chelsea Marie, and Montasia showed up, which was a really nice surprise! I was so excited they were there and to get the chance to catch up! Little did I know just how exciting things were going to get! We were sitting at a table talking, and I leaned over so I could hear what Brooke was saying when all of a sudden Eddie jumps up and starts furiously patting my head, and I’m wondering what the heck is going on. Then I smell something burning and Eddie is telling me my hair caught on fire when I leaned over the table and my hair went into the candle, which I hadn’t even noticed. Thank God Eddie saw what happened and took such quick action. And thankfully I didn’t have any product in my hair or hadn’t worn hairspray, otherwise my hair might have gone up like a Roman candle. Everyone assured me not much hair burned and that it wasn’t noticeable, but I was still pretty freaked about it. But after another drink I wasn’t so worried lol I managed to get back to the hotel at a decent hour without any further incidents. My first few days in Los Angeles were pretty exciting, and the TEA events hadn’t even started yet!

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Next week in Part 2 I’ll cover all TEA Con, the TEA Pre-party, and the TEA Awards, as well as a fun night at Club Cobra.

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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!

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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

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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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Trump abandons transgender students, condones discrimination and bullying

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Last week I attempted to write something positive to show that there is still hope for the trans community and progress is still being made, but unfortunately I feel compelled to wade back into the cesspool of politics given the importance of Wednesday’s events and the impact they will have on the most vulnerable members of our community; our children.

It was a shameful day for America Wednesday when the Trump Administration rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use the bathroom which corresponded to their gender identity, and in the process overruled his own Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. A letter issued jointly by the Justice Department and Education Department rejected the Obama Administration’s stance that nondiscrimination laws required federally funded schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice in schools, claiming it disregarded the primary role of states and local school districts to set educational policy, and was an example of federal overreach and a misinterpretation of federal law.

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So the Trump Administration has made it official that they will not protect transgender students from discrimination and bullying. They have in effect sanctioned the bullying of trans children, who already have to deal with disproportionately higher rates of bullying, violence, and discrimination. And the sad reality is that there will be an increase in the bullying of trans student and a corresponding increase in suicides of trans students. Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, wondered “What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this? These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking.”

The letter did state that “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment” but personally I don’t put much stock behind that statement, given the systematic assault on LGBTQ rights since Trump took office. This is not just about transgender students; it once again shows how the Trump Administration feels about federal civil rights and specifically rights for trans people. The Obama Administration was progressive about rights for the LGBT community and a lot of gains were made, but the Trump Administration has made it clear they take a much narrower view of civil rights law, and that trans people have a lot to be fearful of. If we cannot count on the government to protect transgender children in schools, then there is something very wrong with this country.

I have always been proud of my country and proud to be an American, but today I feel ashamed of our nation and the direction we’re heading; that I as a trans person am treated as a second-class citizen and forced to fight for basic human rights. We as a nation need to take a hard look at ourselves and the decisions our elected representatives are making, and ask ourselves if this is really what America stands for and if this is how the Founding Fathers envisioned this nation being run. And as citizens of this country we need to ask ourselves if Donald Trump is upholding his responsibilities as President of the United States and giving all citizens equal rights and opportunities. Has our society deteriorated so badly that it’s become acceptable to openly discriminate against certain groups of people, and to put children at risk? I thought America and its citizens were better than that, but sadly it appears I am wrong.

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Hope for 2017: trans community is still moving forward

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While 2017 has given the transgender community a lot to be fearful of, there have still been some positive things which have occurred that may have gotten overlooked. We’ve all been inundated with politics lately and everyone should be well aware of the intentions and risks we’re facing from the current administration, but in the midst of so much negativity and fear there are signs that we as a community are still making progress and moving forward, which is an important message that we need to make sure people hear. We need to give people in our community hope and to show that in spite of the overwhelming amount of fear we are still here and moving forward and we’re not going anywhere.

Among the positives for the transgender community so far in 2017:

Texas Mayor Jess HerbstNew Hope Mayor Jess Herbst became the first openly transgender mayor on record in Texas when she made the following statement in an open letter posted on the town’s website in February: “As your Mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories. I am transgender. Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the Mayors position, but here I am” Herbst wrote.

Herbst’s open letter comes as transgender rights have been thrust into the state and national spotlight thanks to a slew of so-called bathroom bills, including Texas’ Senate Bill 6.
 

The Boy Scouts of America announced in January that it will allow transgender children to enroll in scouting programs. Boy Scouts chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a video message that the organization will now accept boys based on the gender a parent puts on a child’s scouting application, ending a policy of accepting boys based on the gender listed on a child’s birth certificate. One week later a New Jersey boy has become the first openly transgender member of the Boy Scouts.

National Geographic Gender RevolutionNational Geographic Channel premiered the documentary Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric in February. A companion piece to National Geographic Magazine’s recent “Gender Revolution” issue, the new documentary follows Couric across the states as she unpacks all the complexities of gender. The documentary premiered at a screening in Washington, D.C. to a very appreciative audience, including Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who praised the show by saying “This is going to save lives.”

And in a first for the magazine, National Geographic featured a transgender person on its cover, with 9-year-old Avery Jackson who appeared on the subscriber’s edition.

 

 

 

Long-time transgender advocate Laverne Cox made history as the first transgender actress to play a transgender series regular on a broadcast television show when the legal drama Doubt premiered on CBS February 15th. Cox, already known for portraying Sophia Burset, a transgender woman on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, became the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy award back in 2014 for her performance on the show.

Laverne Cox Doubt

At this year’s Grammys, a transgender woman served as a trophy presenter for the first time in the award show’s history, which puts the Grammys in the lead among award show diversity. Slay Model Management’s Martina Robledo joined actor Derek Marrocco and model Hollin Haley as presenters at Sunday night’s festivities, which broke away from the outdated tradition of simply using a “trophy girl.”

French Vogue transgender cover For the first time in the magazine’s 97-year history, Vogue Paris put a transgender model on its cover. Valentina Sampaio appears on the magazine’s March issue, which is the second biggest cover of the year for any fashion magazine. The cover’s celebratory headline reads, “Transgender beauty: How they’re shaking up the world.”

 

And finally, Tonner Doll Company announced it will release a doll based on 16-year-old transgender teen Jazz Jennings from the TLC reality series I Am Jazz, which will be the first doll based on a transgender person.

While these are not all ground breaking news they do show that progress is being made in a variety of areas, and there is still much to be hopeful about. And 2017 is barely even two months old and a things can change in the blink of an eye, as we are already beginning to see. There is hope.

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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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TEA Time is almost here: the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards are coming!

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With the Transgender Erotica Awards coming up soon I thought I’d share my perspective about what it’s like to attend the TEA events for those of you who have never gotten the chance to experience it in person. Hopefully this will help convince you that it’s an event that can’t be missed!

TEA 2017

The purpose behind the Transgender Erotica Awards is to recognize those who work in and have excelled in this industry, but it’s so much more than just the awards. While it is nice to be recognized for your accomplishments, the best part of TEA is just getting together with friends to celebrate what we do. And with all the negativity we face because of working in the porn industry, let alone the fact that we’re also trans, it’s nice to be with people where it’s okay to feel good about what we do and who we are. We get a chance to put aside all the negative crap that seems to predominate the news lately and have some fun for a few days. And for me, it’s more than just a gathering of people I work with and the fans who enjoy the product we create, it’s more like a family reunion. I’ve made so many friends in this industry, people who have come to mean the world to me and are like family, and that is what makes this so truly special. I get to dress up in a fancy gown and hang out and party with some pretty amazing people, and it doesn’t get much better than that! And for those new to the industry it’s a great opportunity to learn how the industry works and to meet people and network. But TEA is so much more than just about the awards!

TEA Con 2016     TEA Con 2016

TEA Con debuted last year and was a rousing success, and it looks to be even better this year with it being held on Saturday March 4th at Avalon, site of the awards show. TEA Con gives fans a chance to meet and hang out with the performers in a more relaxed environment, along with the opportunity to get autographed photos and merchandise, along with a picture with their favorite model. And Grooby will no doubt have some goodies to give away such as their awesome Grooby Girl t-shirts and calendars. I think I spent all of five minutes at my table because I was having too much fun wondering around talking with people and taking pictures. Even though I work in the industry I’m still a fan, and TEA Con gave me the opportunity to hang out with people I hadn’t met before and make new friends.

TEA 2016

The After-party has traditionally been held the night following the awards, but this year it’s been moved up to Friday March 3rd, with the awards being held on Sunday March 5th. The party takes place at Bardot which is a fabulous venue, and the folks at Grooby know how to throw a heck of a party! It’s always fun to see the outfits people wear, which range from elegant to outrageous and everything in between! The music rocks, the alcohol flows, and the party is one of the best! What I notice most are all the smiles and laughter and hugs, and people just happy to be there among friends. You can say with absolute certainty that a good time is had by all!

TEA 2016

And finally, the Awards Show is Sunday March 5th at the Avalon, and is always an amazing event. The Avalon is a beautiful venue and adds to the over-all atmosphere, which is one of excitement, elegance, and celebration. When you first walk in and see the red carpet and then the big staircase and the auditorium beyond that, it literally takes your breath away. And even more breath-taking are the people who attend and all the amazing gowns and dresses you see, along with some pretty snazzy tuxedos and suits! If you like to people watch then TEA will be your dream come true! The awards show begins with walking the red carpet and getting interviewed and photographed, which in itself is quite an experience! Morgan Bailey is the queen of the red carpet and nobody does a better job of interviewing that her! Then we mingle and have a drink or two and socialize with everyone before making our way to our tables for the award show. And then the fun begins, with your friends and coworkers getting recognized for their hard work. It’s always hard to pick who you want to win because most of the nominees are friends, so no matter who wins we’re all happy. It’s quite an evening.

TEA 2016     TEA 2016

And the TEA weekend wouldn’t be complete without attending Club Cobra on Thursday night which is the unofficial start to the TEA festivities. Cobra is always a fun night and a good chance to hang out and have a few drinks with your friends, or to make new friends!

And come Monday when all the festivities are done and we’re dead tired and our feet are killing us from wearing heels for the past four days, you’ll look back and have a lifetime of great memories and understand what an amazing experience the Transgender Erotica Awards really are! It’s one of those things that has to be experienced in order to understand it! And then you’ll be counting down the days until next year’s TEA!

TEA 2016

This would not be complete without a big thank you to everyone at Grooby who put in so much time and effort to make this event so special. A lot of work goes into organizing and planning TEA and making sure everything runs smoothly, and it’s a credit to them that these events always seem to come off without a hitch. The Transgender Erotica Awards have come a long way since the first one held in 2008, and it will be exciting to see how it continues to evolve and grow in the coming years.

TEA    TEA

Nice socks Dev 🙂

And last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to the many talented photographers who cover all the TEA events and never miss capturing all the special moments. You guys are the best! It’s nice to have so many amazing photos to remember these events by, and to use to promote things. TEA photos are always the first ones I go to when looking for images to use for my interviews, so thank you for that!

TEA 2016     TEA 2016

For more information about TEA and to purchase tickets, visit the TEA website here: theteashow.com/

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My thoughts on the Chelsea Manning case

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I have to admit I have mixed feelings about Chelsea Manning’s sentence being commuted by President Obama. I suppose I’m okay with it because it does not absolve her of the crimes she was convicted of like a pardon would have, and she has clearly suffered inhumane treatment while being incarcerated.

Chelsea Manning is a United States Army soldier who was courtmartialed and convicted in July of 2013 for 17 violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, including five counts of espionage and theft, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. She has served nearly seven years of her 35-year sentence.

I am not a lawyer or an expert on the Chelsea Manning case. I am a transgender woman and also a veteran. Transgender people have a long history of serving honorably in the military, and as a veteran myself I feel she has brought dishonor to herself and the Army and brought a lot of negative attention to trans people in the military, especially since her defense used the fact that she’s trans as one of the main reasons to justify her crimes. Being transgender and serving in the military is not easy, but it can be done as evidenced by people such as retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck and Shane Ortega who served while being open about the fact he was transgender and played an important role in getting the military to allow trans people to serve openly.

Whether you view Manning as a traitor to her country or a hero for being a whistle-blower depends on your point of view. This is a topic which people seem to have very strong views about and there seems to be no middle ground. But the one thing which is not disputable is that she was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act for releasing classified documents and that she pled guilty to 10 of those charges.
But, after doing some research it became apparent that it would be a tough if not impossible task to mount a defense against these charges because the way the way the Espionage Act is written and the limitations the defense had to contend with. However, Manning’s defense was based largely on the claim the Army disregarded Manning’s emotional turmoil over her gender identity and isolation in a military that barred homosexuals from serving openly, which in my opinion is a pretty weak defense and does little to defend her actions. Again, transgender people have a long history of serving honorably in the military and managing to do so without committing espionage.

I’ve also learned more about the Edward Snowden case and I have an easier time understanding what he did and why he did it than I do the Manning case. There are obvious similarities between the two cases and it’s difficult not to compare the two. But to me, the main difference is that Manning was a soldier and broke her oath to serve her nation and fellow soldiers. She voluntarily joined the Army and took an oath to serve her country, and she broke that oath and the law when she willfully stole classified documents which she released. Should there be no consequences for her actions? But, Snowden fled the country and is living in Russia to avoid prosecution, while Manning went through the legal process, acknowledged she had done something wrong, and was tried and convicted. So, it does seem kind of hypocritical for me to be okay with what Snowden did while condemning Manning actions, but as a veteran what she did just doesn’t set well with me.

I also take issue with all the people who have campaigned for Manning to be pardoned for her crimes because of the inhumane conditions and treatment she has had to endure while incarcerated. I think we all agree that her treatment while being detained has been inhumane and unacceptable. But to say she should be released because of that is unreasonable because the two issues are completely unrelated. She was found guilty of 17 charges against her, and while her mistreatment is deplorable, it has no legal baring on her conviction; that is a separate legal issue. I’m sure Charles Manson has claimed he hasn’t been treated fairly in prison, so should he be pardoned too? Any trans person who is incarcerated has my sympathy and support because I can’t begin to imagine what a nightmare that must be. Anyone who is incarcerated deserves to be treated in a humane way and given the rights they are entitled to, but in my opinion they deserve nothing more. Prison is for people who have broken the law and been convicted for their crimes; it is not meant to be a fun place. Perhaps she, as with all people who willingly choose to break the law, should have considered the consequence of her actions.

The other argument which I take offense to is that she should not have been convicted to begin with because she was reporting war crimes. Again, she did plead guilty to 10 charges and was convicted of 17 counts including espionage. And I’m fairly certain that the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Espionage Act have no exemptions which state that espionage is acceptable as long as you’re reporting war crimes. And speaking of war crimes, has there been an official investigation and hearing to determine an official ruling of war crimes? She was also convicted of theft, having stolen information which was not hers. So, everyone who wants her pardoned must feel that stealing is acceptable and that people who break the law should not be punished? The bottom line is that she was found guilty of espionage. Her guilt or innocence is not in question and should not be an issue.

Whatever your opinion of Chelsea Manning, be it from the perspective of a citizen of this nation, a veteran, or a trans person, the fact remains that she committed a crime which she was convicted of and sent to prison to serve her sentence. I suppose time will tell what her legacy will be in the history of our nation, but in my opinion she failed her country as a soldier and she failed the transgender community by attempting to justify her crimes by using the fact that she was trans as an excuse. And our nation and military failed her by not providing safe and humane treatment while she was incarcerated. Perhaps something positive will come from this, that her mistreatment will serve to highlight the problems within our military and civilian prisons and prevent other trans inmates from being subjected to inhumane conditions. And hopefully Ms. Manning will find peace and be able to move on with her life.

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The war against porn…yet again

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So once again we have a President and a Republican led Congress who feel the need to declare war against the porn industry. Excuse me, but hasn’t this been tried numerous times, most recently under the Reagan Administration, and haven’t they all failed? Yes indeed. Apparently no lessens have been learned from these past failed attempts. In July of last year Trump signed a pledge promising that as president he would, among other things, consider appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture. Could it be that this new tough stance against porn is to help win points with conservatives who have questioned his ownership of a strip club and being married to a woman who once posed nude for GQ?

Numerous states, including Tennessee, Virginia, and Utah have filed legislation declaring porn a public health hazard. But South Carolina wins the prize for most originality. Legislators there want to require all computers to come with preinstalled porn filtering software, and then charge people a $20 “digital access fee” payable to the South Carolina Attorney General’s office in order to get the filter removed. Wow, that seems a tad bit illegal to say the least. I’d say there would be far more interest in filtering software that would block Trump’s idiotic Tweets that we seem to be bombard with daily.

The war against pornSo now we have hordes of bible-thumping Republicans who are claiming that pornography is a public health hazard. Really? And even more ludicrous, they’re claiming that porn is a threat to the future of society. The Future of Society. Okay, I’ll play along. Please show me some quantitative data to support these claims. Anyone? I wasn’t aware that pornography caused poverty, hunger, mass shootings, unemployment, global warming, terrorism, homelessness, global instability, increased crime, increased the national debt, or any number of other actual problems that plague this country. I’m pretty sure if these same politicians take a look at themselves in the mirror they’ll be staring at the actual cause of these problems. And doesn’t it seem a bit odd that so much time and effort is being spent introducing legislation to wage war against porn and discriminate against trans people when there are much more urgent problems to deal with such as our nation falling apart at the seams because we have become so divided over our President-elect and so many people are losing faith in our government. But sure, let’s waste time worrying about where trans people pee and about porn. I think the Republicans need to take a hard look at their priorities. But then again, this quite clearly shows what the Republicans see as their top priorities: taking away the rights of certain groups of people, and censoring things they don’t agree with. Is it just me, or does this sound awfully familiar, kind of like Nazi Germany? That’s comforting.

The Adult Entertainment Industry is not a public health hazard nor is it corrupting society. Porn is like anything else; a bit of common sense and self-restraint is needed when partaking of it. Same as with alcohol, junk food, gambling, and recreational drugs, which, by the way, are all legal. And if we want to take a look at public health hazards, let’s consider two of the more obvious health problems facing this country: smoking and obesity. Please note that I am not shaming anyone or making judgements about either of these, I’m just using them as examples. Smoking is a known carcinogen and will cause damage to your health. There is enough data supporting this that it cannot be argued or refuted. And last time I checked, smoking was legal. So, dear Republicans, please explain why you aren’t going after the tobacco industry. Could it be that the Tobacco Lobby lines your pockets with obscene amounts of money? Now let’s talk about obesity, which is a national epidemic. Recent reports have estimate that 38% of adults and 17% of teenagers in this country are obese. American’s obesity epidemic is now three decades old and obesity rates continue to climb year after year with no end in sight. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. The annual nationwide cost from loss of productivity due to obesity-related absenteeism is nearly $3.38 billion. So obesity is a known health risk and a large burden on the economy and the health care system, yet I have not heard that the Republicans are waging war against obesity. It seems clear that Republicans view pornography as more of a risk than smoking and obesity, in spite of a wealth of data that proves otherwise. Huh. And this makes sense how?

The fact remains that pornography showing consenting adults has been deemed legal in the eyes of the United States judicial system. You can argue the morality of porn if you choose, but defining morality in the legal sense can be a sticky wicket, and the bottom line is that people in this country have the right to choose whether or not porn is immoral and whether or not to watch it. If you don’t like porn then don’t watch it; it’s actually pretty simple isn’t it? This is America where there’s a nifty document called The Constitution that guarantees us certain rights, including the First Amendment which among other things guarantees the freedom of speech. So no one has the right to dictate whether we as Americans can view porn. Of course the Republicans seem hell-bent on rewriting the Constitution so it fits their own warped beliefs, and if that doesn’t work they seem okay with just ignoring it. Welcome to the new America. And if porn gets censored, then who’s next, because it won’t end there. The new slogan of Trump’s America: If we don’t like you we’ll just censor you and legislate you out of existence. Again, it’s hard not to notice the chilling similarities to Nazi Germany.

The war against porn

The Adult Entertainment Industry, and please take note of the word entertainment, provides a product for the entertainment of customers. And judging by the popularity of porn in its various forms and the revenue it generates, I’d say lots of people enjoy their porn and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Porn is a business which is here to stay, and there would be a lot of unhappy people, including a large number of the self-righteous conservatives who hide behind their bibles, who would not be happy if porn were to go away. Let me correct that; even if the Republicans do succeed in regulating it somehow, porn will never go away because there is too large a demand for it. This country runs on supply and demand and the all mighty dollar, and don’t kid yourselves, porn is a big business that generates a lot of revenue. And money talks. Look no further than all the lobbyists on Capitol Hill to see what money can buy.

Trans people who work in the porn industry may as well get a big target tattooed on their foreheads, because we seem to be the number one target of the Republicans. It seems odd that we’re such a threat to them, because we in the trans community are far more likely to be the ones attacked or murdered or discriminated against. These days we have to be concerned for our safety and fear of getting pummeled with bibles from the religious zealots who feel the need to “save us.” Speaking for myself, I’m just fine thank you and don’t need to be saved, especially by people who are so hypocritical and judgmental. I don’t know about your God, but my God is loving and sees people for who they are and how they live their lives. And quite frankly, if people like you are going to heaven, then I have no desire to be there with the likes of you. I prefer to be with people who are accepting and kind and don’t judge or preach, which disqualifies all the conservatives, religious zealots, and Republicans.

And lastly, it is these types of witch hunts which fuel stereotypes and shaming which are all too prevalent in today’s society. Please see my Through The Benz column here from last November which I wrote about shaming and the porn industry. Shaming is used as a means of taking away people’s dignity and it eats away at the core of who we are and makes us question everything. It leads to depression, it leads to suicide, and it leads to hate, especially the worst kind of hate; hating ourselves. Shame kills, and that needs to stop. But sadly, it appears that the culture of shame in America will only increase under the Trump Administration.

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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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