Like AVN magazine, Amber Lynn is celebrating three decades in the industry as of 2013. She talks to Tod Hunter about her experiences—past, present and future.
Like many people, Amber Lynn was awakened to sex and sexuality by porn. But unlike most people, it happened on a porn set, when she was an inexperienced 19-year-old doing her first scene for a film called Personal Touch in 1983.
"I was a kid. I was 19, I was really not in touch with my body and didn’t have a lot of sexual experience. I remember hearing this CRACK. I went to see what it was and they were shooting this scene with this woman, Tantala, who was a female dominatrix. She was a big woman, broad shoulders, with giant hair sticking up. Not particularly attractive, but there was something about her strength and her delivery. I was just completely moved by it. The crack had been the sound of a whip. I was like, WOW. I was totally turned on, I was totally intrigued, I couldn't believe that she had pinned this guy down on the floor and she strapped on a strap-on and fucked him in the ass. I was revolted in a way that was really cool. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know people had sex like that."
She was raised in Orange County and regularly went to the Sunset Strip to see bands, and got work as a magazine model. "I met Althea Flynt, and Clive McLean—who was the senior photographer at Hustler—and Lonn Friend, all at the Rainbow. I shot Hustler, I shot Penthouse—I had done bikini modeling and fitness modeling, so it was a natural progression. I had no intention whatsoever of getting into the porn industry, even after I started doing nudes. It just never occurred to me. First I met Bill Margold and then I met an agent named Reb Sawitz, who had a little organization out in Sherman Oaks called Pretty Girl International, and I started working with them. I got a call one day saying somebody wanted to meet me for a single-girl scene, non-sex, just nudity, and I went out and I met Bobby Hollander for the first time. The rest was just history. It was very rapid-fire that my career happened. Bill Margold told me the day I met him, 'You're going to be really big in this industry.' I think they stared talking to each other."
Amber was one of the models in the Hustler picture layout staged by former evangelist Marjoe Gortner, a variation of the Last Supper with 12 models at a plexiglass table with their open legs in the air. "They were going to put me on the cross, but my height was wrong," Lynn said. She met mainstream actor/director Dennis Hopper at that shoot, and also first saw Larry Flynt. ("The man enters the room and you sense the power. I've always had a thing for intelligent, powerful men. He took my breath away.")
She shot movies with Hollander ("Bobby was about breaking whatever boundary you had. If you told Bobby, 'I never want to have sex with three pigs and a goat in the background' he would find a way to put them on a set one day and try to get you to do it.") and he offered to have her work with "some big players." Hollander told her, "I have you in mind for John Leslie."
She didn't know who John Leslie was. But she found out on the set of Centerfold Celebrities, where she also met and worked with Jamie Gillis. "We shot a scene together and he looked at me and said, 'You're my new girlfriend.' I was laughing and I said, 'You're being silly.'" She and Gillis had an "intense relationship," Amber said. They lived together and at one time they were going to get married. "I was in love with Jamie."
The initial experience watching Tantala came in handy when she was involved with Gillis: "Jamie was completely into that. It opened up this whole other world for me. Outside of this new career I was having in porn, I started to experience my sexuality. Jamie and I would go to the Pussycat Theater after my movies became popular. He'd dress me up in some hot porn-looking outfit and we'd make out and fool around and the guys would go crazy. I loved the feeling, and all the attention."
Shooting was illegal when Amber started, and she remembered a police raid on a location: "We always had to keep our clothes nearby, right off camera. I was shooting a scene on a ranch with Peter North, and they said, 'Here they come! Get your clothes on!' We were on a dirt road. We jumped up, pulling our pants on, laughing. They had parked the talent cars on one end, facing out, and they went out the other way with the tapes. We jumped in our cars and they followed us, and they got the tapes out. It was so exciting. We loved it."
She dismisses the story that people found out that she was the sister of Buck Adams when they were booked together. ("That never happened, and I see it everywhere. Nobody booked us together. Everybody knew he was my brother from day one.") They never worked together in a movie. The one time he was supposed to direct her in a scene, cameraman/director Jack Remy and Amber co-directed the scene instead.
Amber took a break after Buck’s death in October 2008. "It was unexpected, devastating. He was my big brother; I'm 10 years younger than him. I got to the hospital in the nick of time with my niece—his daughter—and he wound up dying in our arms. I walked out of there just shattered. I needed to take a break."
She shot online scenes for Brazzers in 2012, and those scenes began releasing last month. ("It's good for me. It's light vignettes," Amber said.) But the recent syphilis scare led her to start mentoring and advising new talent "so they have the information that can only be gained from experience. You can be an agent, but if you've never been on a set, you can't explain to somebody what it's like to give their first screen blowjob because it's not the same as having sex in the real world. You need to know these things."
She's also a candidate for the Free Speech Coalition board. "People have a lot of negative things to say, but if you don't like the way it's being done, why don't you roll up your sleeves and do it? Make a commitment.
"It's my 30th anniversary in this industry, and I'm always looking for ways to give back. I think that the talent in the industry, now more than ever, needs to become involved. Thirty years ago I was so involved with my own career, I was more self-obsessed. Now, with experience -- getting older, learning about life -- I think there are a lot of things that can change about this industry, and make it more positive. I know that when [performers] go out in the world we're looked down upon for being in the porn industry, and people don't understand it's a business. It's time for the industry to work on that outer image, so when people like [AIDS Healthcare Foundation President] Michael Weinstein makes outlandish claims about the industry, they are seen to be untrue."
She is working on an autobiography, and starting a website at AmberLynnXXX.com.
"I am so grateful to have been a part of this industry. I haven’t always felt that way, but by going out there and experiencing life—sometimes you'll go out there and people will say 'Oh my God, you're in porn?' and you wonder if you should be ashamed. When you go through that, you can be a mentor. Never doubt yourself. Never doubt the industry."