Ask Nina Hartley Anything: Sex, Politics and Sexual Politics. Plus Porn!
I’m that Nina Hartley. I’ve had enough sex to lose my fear of it, but not my respect for it. Nurse, educator, entertainer, Feminist, Kinkster, and more. Thirty-one year veteran of adult entertainment, author of “Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex.” Check out my 38-Volume sex-ed series, the “Nina Hartley Guides,” from adam&eve
If you never got into the porn industry, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a midwife, likely. or a therapist working w/the body.
Would you consider working as a sexual surrogate?
Absolutely, though the training for it I don’t think would fit into my schedule. Love the idea, though.
A sexual surrogate works with psychiatrists/sex therapists in helping clients with any sexual issues they may have.
Best sex you have ever had? (apart from your husband of course)
Randy Spears, Hamburg, October ’89, on a stormy night.
Porn Guy From Germany, St. Tropez, ’87
First Time Getting My Fist Into a Woman, porn set, ’85
So statistically, Germany is the key to the best sex?
No, but I do have a good track record, it would seem!
Were you treated differently on the set of Boogie Nights because you were an actual pornstar?
Yes and no. I had a private dressing/resting area, a makeup artist, etc., but no one hung out w/me. Except for Macy, w/whom I had scenes, no one really talked to me. Don Cheadle for a moment. The others, not so much.
I think they were scared of me.
So what was Macy like then?
A complete darling. A gentleman. A great guy.
Did you normally, always or never climax when you were filming? Or some other combination?
rarely. It’s not why I’m there. That’s why it’s important to only do things on camera that I actually already like IRL.
Is it awkward to be on the set with everyone watching or are you used to it by now? What have been some embarrassing moments?
I’m used to an audience. Don’t forget, I’m exhibitionistic, so an audience is right up my alley. As you can imagine, the most embarrassing moments come when one needs to pass gas during a scene. oops!
If you could change one thing about the current sex industry, what would it be and why?
DECRIMINALIZE CONSENSUAL SEX WORK to allow sex workers to band together for safety, to get the cops off our backs, to allow for a normal family life, to remove the need for pimps/exploiters.
This would also bring working men and women into the fold, so they can tell police when/if there’s actual trafficking/underage workers in the neighborhood.
The adult industry has come a long ways in the last few decades, what do you think has been the greatest influence in the industry during your 31 year professional career? What do you think could be in store for the industry in the future?
Well, Numero Uno is the invention of the Internet/Digital media.
Also, the advent of fast, reliable, accurate, sensitive STD testing, especially the PCR-RNA test for HIV.
The Internet does place the “means of production” into the hands of the worker, though the Bankers still have the power to censor via banking regulations.
I don’t know what’s in store for the industry, except more change. The “industry” as I came to know it is almost gone, done in by the Internet. The way we do business is changing and I don’t know where it will go.
Do you think it’s more difficult now for women to be successful in porn?
It’s a mixed bag. If she works hard and understands Internet marketing/outreach, etc., she can be successful. In the old days the company would pay for advertising, marketing, promotion, etc.
Those days are pretty much gone for the most part.
But the Internet did make it possible to focus on a narrow fetish niche, allowing a performer to find his/her own audience.
Based on all the women (civilians and sex workers) you’ve encountered, what would be a good penis size (in inches)?
5.5-6.5 inches. Really. Thicker is better than longer, though one can always learn to work better w/what Nature gave him.
When William H Macy said “my wife’s got an ass in her cock on the driveway” in Boogie Nights, did he misspeak or was the line written that way?
He misspoke and they decided to keep it, I believe.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Besides needing to pee? Continuing my work in sex education. Being with my husband and family.
Any advice for a marriage that is struggling because the husband has a huge sex drive but the wife just seems to not have one at all?
It depends on whether or not the wife is willing for the husband to have an outside sex life w/a professional or someone who is willing to date a married person.
I don’t advocate cheating, as that brings more pain and suffering to all.
She’s not wrong for not having a sex drive and he’s not wrong for having a high one. They just might be wrong for each other.
If she won’t partake at all, that’s a red flag.
She should see her doctor to make sure her hormones/health are fine.
My sex drive is low but my interest in sex is high, so it’s not hard to get me in “the mood “because I’m WILLING to be gotten “in the mood.”
If the wife won’t attempt to get herself in the mood, or allow him to get her in the mood, you need more help than I can give you now.
How often have you been exposed to others in the industry who got lost in emotion (actually formed a relationship)? That and how does it even start for most? Is it just the stereotype “Oh, you want in on the (general) film industry? Take your clothes off”?
Oh, there have been dozens and dozens of relationships formed on set. Some of them have endured, most were over w/in a year.
People’s reasons for entering porn are as varied as they are but some reasons include:
Sex Money “Fame” The party The attention To be their own boss To get back at ________ Curiosity
I remember seeing a scene where you got with a “lucky fan,” don’t know how much truth to it although you have many fans! Anyway in that scene you got a surprise creampie, you genuinely seemed surprised. Has that happened often and how do you normally react?
Ah, that scene was an act, as he failed to keep it up, so we faked a creampie and took it from there.
I love the idea of being with my fans, though.
In one scene you play a naughty aunt seducing her nephew. Did you find it difficult to portray such an incestuous character? Was it uncomfortable?
Actually, yes. I don’t accept those scenes any more. My being older is enough to set up the power dynamic.
If we were doing a real movie, with a script and rehearsals, I’d be more comfortable, but as it’s all ad-libbed I just feel silly.
What’s the most alcohol you ever drank in one sitting and what was it?
My limit is one drink. I’m easily susceptible to alcohol.
I like to say, “I’m a cheap date. I don’t need to be drunk to have sex with you.”
What was Berkeley High like when you went there? Have you been back?
Berkeley High was great. 3,000 students, grades 10-12, with a college-level drama department, which was where I made my home and some of my oldest and closest friends.
I’ve been to all my reunions and have loved them all. It’s sad to know that some of my friends have already died, which sucks.
There’s fences around the campus now. No more civilians freely walking onto campus, etc.
I graduated in ’77, so there was plenty of drugs around, though I didn’t do them.
I was lucky enough to meet you at a movie convention in Cleveland and you were just the absolute sweetest person I met there. Who do you think is the greatest living actor or actress today?
Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew McConaughey, Bennedict Cumberbach.
So do you have a fetish for nylons? Always noticed you wear them often.
I don’t have a fetish but I feel I look better on camera with them on, and I do have a lot of lingerie fans. The ones who want to see me naked have to watch my pre-2002 porn.
How much prep does it take to do a DP scene? Is it weird having two guys inside you at once?
Each woman uses a different ass-cleaning protocol but the prep is to make sure your butt is clean enough to fuck (I don’t do ass-to-mouth). It’s not weird for me but it can be for the guys, who are het and squigy about being so close to another guy’s nuts.
Of the early performers in the 70s 80s, which women enjoyed their work the most? Also which women were the most talented as actresses in the non sex scenes?
Annette Haven Porshe Lynn Serena Juliette “Aunt Peg” Andersen Annie Sprinkle
Best Actresses: Georgina Spelvin Annette Haven Veronica Hart Sharon Mitchell
You are still and always have been a gorgeous lady! Has years of doing anal affected you in any negative way? Just curious!
No, my butt is fine. I was never an anal specialist. I now keep it for my private life, as I’ve done the best anal I could do already.
Spit or swallow?
Depends. Swallowing is less messy and, if you put the end of the penis at the back of your mouth, you bypass all the tastebuds.
I’ve never liked the taste of semen but I like oral pop shots. Go figure.
Who is your favorite woman in porn industry to work with and why?
Any woman I like to work with especially is due to having a real connection w/her, or attraction.
Charli Piper Amber Michaels Dana DeArmond Shayla Laveaux Mika Tan Lotus Lain
What steps would you recommend for people who are nervous about sex?
Education! Better to wait until you have the information you need before stumbling into something you may regret. Learn about your body and what it likes to get off. Learn about your values and beliefs as they pertain to relationships, intimacy, romance, etc. Learn about how the body of your target gender works. Reorient your relationship to pleasure, so that you’re okay with any and all CONSENSUAL acts of pleasure. Make friends with your butt. Start out w/Cuddle Parties, to help you relax around other people. Check out Sex Positive bloggers, sites, groups, and communities.
Does it ever get kinda creepy to know that there is always a fresh 18 year old discovering your work, or do you enjoy it? At this point I think I’ve been enjoying your work longer in my life than I have not been aware of you, and just want to say thank you for all you’ve done.
I love that that young adults find my work every day. I’d be with all of you once but, logistically speaking, that’s just not possible. So, I make the movies to let you know I’m there in spirit if not in flesh.
Plus, you’re watching someone who’s having a good time doing something she’d be doing at home, anyway, so your conscience is clear!
What is your favourite sex toy to use alone, and with a partner? And what type of Lingerie do you feel the sexiest in? Asking for my wife.
I love the Pure Wand by NJoy Toys (accept no substitutes), also the NJoy Eleven.
Tantus has the best dildos. They’re releasing an excellent rechargable wand-style vibe this Christmas, I believe.
Lingerie is super personal, so whatever makes her feel sexy and in the mood. I like stockings and garters and really nice heels, but that’s my femme speaking.
Whatever makes you wife want to bone you, buy that for her!
What are your religious beliefs, if any?
I’m atheist. Secular Jewish background. My parents discovered Zen when I was ten and have stuck with it all these years. So, after 46 years of exposure to Buddhism I’m a quasi-“JewBu.”
I believe that “spiritual” feelings, generated in the mid-brain, are a human reality. I believe “religion” was created by the forebrain to explain/give shape to the our feelings and emotions.
What porn production companies treat their employees the best? Do you think there can ever more emotionally involved – story driven porn that makes it big?
Hmm, re: emotional porn. Try Jacky St. James, Pink&White Productions; some Wicked movies. Emotion in porn is tricky, as it’s so personal. What’s one person’s turn on is another’s snooze fest. The emotion usually comes when there is a real connection between the players who allow it to show, such as Sean Michaels and me.
If it happens it’ll be more of a fluke than anything else, imho.
I’m always well-treated by my employers, so I don’t have an answer for your first question.
Fellow nurse here. According to your wiki page, your nursing license expired in 2001. Why did you let it lapse?
Actually, it expired in ’86, two years after I got it. I never have earned a paycheck as a nurse, as I wan’t ready for a patient to die if I had a bad day.
I’m grateful every day for my degree, though. Nursing was the best background for me to have for my career.
Sexuality in our culture is sick and sick people need a nurse’s care. We’re harmed in our bodies and it’s through our bodies that we can heal, one moment of pleasure at a time.
I like to think of myself as the Clara Barton of sex, working in the trenches of our sexually warring culture.
What was your most memorable day of work?
Having live, hardcore, boy/girl sex in front of a live audience of nearly two thousand people, in Barcelona. I love Europe!
And Boogie Nights, since working w/William H. Macy was a real dream.
Of all the porn videos out there what video would you say is your favorite video of all time? Also I was wondering if you ever watch porn that you are in when you are home?
Gawd, I don’t have a favorite of all time, though the scene between Adreana Nicole and Even Stone in my “Guide to Advanced Anal” is super hot.
I don’t watch video porn at home. We prefer illustrated porn.
What are your thoughts on “casting couch” porn? Is the genre as exploitative as the media makes it out to be?
The casting couch in porn is not a real thing. In mainstream movies, yes, but in porn the blowjob IS the job, not the audition for the job.
That being said, there have been slimy producers who would get blowjobs from women in return for agreeing to hire them. Not super widespread, though.
However, as a fantasy, “casting couch” porn can be fun, like “babysitter porn,” or “my friend’s hot mom,” “My son’s hot friend” etc.
Porn is fantasy, after all.
I’ve been wondering lately how long it will be before sex work and pornography will become both viable and safe careers in America. Do you have any predictions as to how long it will take for our society to shift enough to make that possible? Also, what do you feel needs to change in that regard?
Porn, being legal, is a safe career.
Sex work, not soon. We’re way too Puritanical to allow adults to make that decision for themselves and believe that punishment will somehow, after thousands of years, Make It Stop.
You can’t stop the need for commercial sexual services any more than you can stop the need for food.
The laws need to change but they won’t, as the Religious wingnuts have a stranglehold on most statehouses and the Congress.
Support groups like SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Program) or HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive) , if you want to make a difference.
What’s been more fun for you between filming porn and your fantastic educational products?
Both, but I’m most proud of the educational efforts. Though, many people have learned from my regular porn, as well.
Do you have a personal collection of all your porn films?
No. It’d be over a thousand titles, most of them on VHS. No room!
Any personal “never again” porn stories to tell?
Never again on a boat, or with Ron Jeremy.
What advice would you give a clueless young lady wanting to get into the sex industry today?
Run! Wait! DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Try to get your jollies off camera, as once you fuck on camera it’s FOREVER. As in, always there.
Do you enjoy watching porn on your own time or is it like bringing ‘work’ home with you?
We don’t watch porn but I look at books about sex and sexuality all the time.
“Voluptuous Panic,” by Mel Gordon, is a favorite.
Here in the UK there are a handful of documentaries on the porn industry, most notably done by Louis Theroux. Would you agree with the sentiment in these documentaries that women get a ‘better deal’ in the porn industry as it were?
That’s a tricky one. Generally speaking, women earn more but men have longer careers. W/the Internet, that’s changing. Many women now have careers going on 15+ years, while it’s harder for men to make pay sites/Internet work pay well for them (unless they’re okay w/catering to a Gay market).
The issue is always one of consent. If a person gives informed consent, then their experience on the job is pretty okay. As well, it helps a lot to be exhibitionistic and have an “alt-sex” mentality. Porn is not good for people who are “regular” in their sexual outlook/desires.
To be fair, with straight porn, we ain’t paying to see the men , they’re not as important.
Correct. In het porn the men are mostly prop dicks, acting as a stand-in for the viewer.
If you want to make it a career, one would be well-advised to learn how to to html coding (so you don’t need a webmaster), how to shoot video, edit video, upload video, manage the books, etc.
The more one can do on one’s own, the better. Also, if one is “quirky” one can find one’s own audience and that audience can sustain you for a lifetime.
What is something that you weren’t up for doing but when you tried it you enjoyed it?
Can’t think of anything, because any consensual sexual activity is appealing to me and I’ll find a way to like at least some aspect of it.
Really. If I like the idea of it I’ll try it.
In your opinion, what year(s) would you say porn reached it’s peak?
It depends on the criteria one uses.
Peak production: mid-late ’90s: 10,000-12,000 titles per YEAR.
Peak production values: Radley Metzger, Anthony Spinelli, Wicked, Digital Playground.
Peak Weirdness: Ongoing.
I’ve heard some porn contracts have stated that the actress “does not have to have sex with Ron Jeremy.” Are you able to confirm this?
No need for it to be in the contract. Each woman can say, “yes,” or “no,” to any partner, for any reason.
You’ve done almost every race under the rainbow. However would you consider performing with a Asian or Indian male?
Love to! I’m an equal opportunity fucker. If a South Asian or East Asian man gets into porn and wants to work with me, it’s on!
As a long time participant and observer of the industry, what do you think the best / worse things to happen to porn were over your career?
Best things: getting the legal right to make porn in California in 1988. Also, the advent of reliable, fast, accurate STI testing and its universal adoption by the industry.
Worst things: HIV, Michael Weinstein and the AHF. Religious moralizers. The rise of the censorship complex, both of the religious right and the feminist “left.”
Not sure yet about the Internet. A very, very, mixed bag, imho.
Would you rather fuck one horse sized dick? Or a hundred duck sized dicks?
The latter. I don’t have room for a horse dick!
How is the underwater porn on the internet even possible? We all know porn is no way indicative real life, but everybody is still human, and humans need oxygen.
Any commercial porn you see is a m-o-v-i-e first and foremost. Don’t believe everything you see!
Plus, the drying effect on the woman would be very uncomfortable, though the idea is sexy as heck!
You’ve shot a lot of fetish porn. Is this because of general open-mindedness, you enjoy it, it pays better or it’s what you’re offered? How does this sexual fluidity impact you’re offscreen life?
I do fetish work because I’m kinky IRL. I’m a top-heavy, bisexual switch married to a heterosexual, non-switching dominant. When we’re alone I always play from the submissive role. When we have threesomes he and I dominate our female partner, whomever she may be that day. She can be dominant anywhere else, but to play with us she needs to take the submissive role until we’re all done.
Lucky for us, many women like to play the sex kitten for a few hours.
I’ve always been fluid w/my sexuality but the older I get the more it comes out.
Isn’t life simpler if you just go and knock one off/rub one out/choke the chicken/flick the bean rather than get involved sexually with another person?
Yes and no. Yes, because it’s disease free, consequence-free, hassle-free.
No, because most people want intimacy and pleasure w/another, and that does entail risk: hurt feelings, embarrassment, etc.
Most people figure it’s worth the risk, but not all do.
It’s important that any solo sex be done w/the intent to show oneself a good time, i.e., “making love w/oneself,” as opposed to an angry, fast beat off while choking back resentment over one’s life.
Context is everything!
Which politician do you support and why?
I’m a red-diaper baby, but Bernie won’t get the nomination. I’ll vote for the Democratic nominee, as the lesser of two evils.
Do you think the USA as a whole will ever shake off our puritanical roots and stop treating sex as secret and taboo? Any ideas on how to accomplish that?
Hi. I don’t think the US will fundamentally alter it’s erotophobia any time soon, though there are pockets of resistance all over. The laws are based on an outdated idea of what is “right” or “wrong” for people do to w/their own bodies. Those ideas are hard to root out, as the Religious Right has a tight hold on how we talk and think about sex.
Do you still have sex outside of your job and if so, do you still enjoy it?
I have lots of sex outside my job and love it more all the time!
I’m in porn because sex is my thing and porn’s the place for sex. Everywhere else I’m considered “inappropriate.” Here, I’m just right.
I tend to use toys to please my girlfriend far more often than my penis. As long as we are both happy, this is ok right?
100% all right. It takes the pressure off of your penis to do all of the heavy lifting, which is nice.
As long as you’re both happy, party on!
What’s your favourite book?
“Sex for One,” Betty Dodson “Sex at Dawn” Chris Ryan, Ph.D “The Ethical Slut,” Easton and Hardy “There is Nothing Wrong with You,” Cheri Huber “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” Alice Miller
“His Dark Materials” trilogy “Harry Potter,” yes, I know, but it’s true.
What turns you on after such an illustrious career?
Turn ons are pretty much the same as ever:
Good kissing Good dancing Good massage Good conversation Big brain, not a big dick Sense of humor Celts in kilts Good legs on a dude (worthy of being seen in a kilt)
If we were to take children out of context, is sex really that important in persons life. I mean, if you were to try to live a sex free life, would that really be that unhealthy?
One can have a sex-free life but one should not have a pleasure-free life. Asexuals don’t need “sex” to be happy, though they, like any human, need friendship, closeness and intimacy.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla. The more vanilla-y, the better. Then a good coffee ice cream and a strawberry or peach IF, and only IF, it’s fresh made w/fresh fruit.
How do you see the ideologies of socialism and of pornography meeting in any kind of productive way? Socialism is about breaking away of institutional structures of power and domination, and porn, as an institution is based on maintaining cultural ideologies that uphold power and domination over women. How does that mesh?
Yes, they can merge if the producer/director/performers have that intention.
The workers now can own the means of production, though they don’t own the means of distribution (the Internet). That’s a two-edged sword.
Under capitalism any- and everything can be, will be, has been, commodified, and sex is no different.
Porn is not so much an institution (as it’s not supported by the government in any way) as it is a business run by people who’ve been raised in our culture, heir and prey to the values of that culture. Because sex is so secretive in our culture, porn was left to criminals and outcasts, as sex-as-a-topic-of-investigation wasn’t deemed “proper” enough for “real” artists to deal with and finding patrons when one’s subject is sex is nearly impossible.
This statement, “porn, as an institution is based on maintaining cultural ideologies that uphold power and domination over women.” is incorrect and sounds like you got it in class. It is a false analysis made by people looking at it from the outside instead of learning about it from the inside.
It’s not based on any Meeting of the Patriarchy, which decides how we’re going to keep women down. It’s much, much, too disorganized for that and the people who run it do not have that level of self-awareness, politicization, or intention. They’re business men looking to exploit, for profit, the culture’s dis-ease w/sex.
They use “sex” to sell sex, unlike Advertising, which uses sex to sell widgets, mouthwash, cars, lawn mowers, deodorant, etc., etc., etc.
Does it help or hurt to be a somewhat attractive male looking to get into hetro porn?
Helps a lot, as the ladies have to want to work with you. But it’s more important to have at least 7.5″ hard and to be able to get it up under difficult circumstances.
Whats it like being a professional whore?
Hmm, I can tell you mean the question to be degrading or insulting, as you clearly think the word “whore” is degrogatory.
I’d love to be a professional Whore, but that job is not legal in this country, which is why I make porn, which is legal in California.
I like being a sexual teacher, healer, entertainer, educator. It suits my personality, sexuality, philosophy and outlook on life.