LOS ANGELES - Wendy Williams was almost the Susan Lucci of she-male porn.
Nominated and defeated three consecutive times in the race for AVN's Transsexual Performer of the Year trophy, Wendy finally scored her big victory in 2009 on the strength of her self-produced, award-nominated release A She-Male Gang Bang: The Interracial Version.
Sadly, the hard-working TS star wasn't present at the AVN Awards show to bask in the glory. So we caught up with Wendy for an exclusive interview about her career, her award win, and the TS genre.
"Winning this award meant I had finally achieved the highest honor in our industry," Wendy told AVN. "It was also a nice 'told you so' to the people out there that said I didn't have the right look to achieve success. For years I worked so hard only to watch the new 'it' girl get all the work and backings by the bigger companies, so it just made me work harder. That's one of the reasons I started my own production company in 2005."
Wendy is a triple-threat: performer, director, and owner of Hot Wendy Productions. Originally from the hills of Eastern Kentucky, she began performing drag shows in college and later got into the porn biz thanks to TS star Joanna Jet.
"Joanna Jet was the person who gave me my first video scene and then offered me a job to move to L.A. and work as her assistant," Wendy said. "She taught me the business from the inside and financially backed my first DVD, Wendy's Wild Shemales 1. She also helped start Hot Wendy Productions."
Since launching her company, Wendy says she's learned to adjust her style of shooting to suit the audience.
"When I first started, I thought it was all about the penetration," she laughed. "When shooting, I try to remember that the viewer wants to see not only the close-ups but also the facial reactions and the entire body. When I perform, it really depends on the guy and the attraction. I love to kiss, but if the guy is just there for the money and maybe not feeling the scene, I try to remember that my fans are watching and play to the camera instead."
Asked about her own turn-ons, Wendy remarked: "Men with a full round booty and thick thighs are my weakness. When watching porn, I prefer interracial sex; my favorite part is when they film the guy on top and from behind!"
TS porn stars and men who perform with them have been the subject of much controversy on porn gossip sites such as the JM Productions-backed XXXPornTalk.com and Cindi Loftus' LukeIsBack.com. No man has felt more of this wrath than performer Christian (a.k.a. Christian XXX). What's Wendy's take on the bashing?
"Christian and I have known each other before either of us were doing porn!" she said. "I am caught on the fence many times, because it hurts and angers me that Christian felt he had to 'hide' or alter the truth when it dealt with my genre. He and I have discussed the issue many times. and it's hard for me to totally understand. However, when I read comments left by some people identifying transsexuals as men or stereotyping American transsexuals as spreading HIV because of Brazilian outbreaks, it really does anger me!"
Wendy admits she's shared her bed with a few A and B-list male porn performers, but she won't name names.
"That was behind closed doors, and all involved were straight up and honest about their intentions," she said. "I can't fault them for wanting it to be kept private; however, it amuses me greatly when those leaving hateful comments think Christian is the only male performer to be involved with a transsexual! I assure you that there are more admirers than you think; Christian just happens to be the most visible!"
Conventional wisdom dictates that if a man expresses interest in sucking a cock, he's...well...gay. But according to Wendy, the audience for chicks-with-dicks identifies as straight -- and that's an important distinction to be made for adult retailers who want to push pieces of the latest tranny porn titles.
"I have dealt with many admirers of transsexuals, and I really believe that the large majority identify themselves as straight," Wendy said. "They are attracted to the feminine appearance: long hair, breasts, smooth skin, hips, and ass. Experiencing the cock is more of a fetish, just as if they allowed a female to use a strap-on. Most would never be seen at a gay bar picking up a man because that's not what turns them on! Bigots will scream to the roof tops that a man who deals with a cock is GAY! My response is unless you live the lifestyle or experience it, then how can you classify it?
"I really don't like to use labels at all,so I'm glad to be classified as straight, specialty or fetish," Wendy continued. "Men who buy our porn do NOT buy gay porn. As a business owner, when I'm traveling on my club tour I always try to stop at adult stores in the area to introduce myself and my product. One of the biggest things I noticed in the beginning was when a store had our product in the gay section. I am sure they lost a lot of potential sales because our fans wouldn't feel comfortable shopping in that area! If you don't have a section for transsexuals, then place us in fetish...but never the gay area."
As niches and micro-niches continue to drive porn market trends, many a straight studio has jumped on the tranny train. But Wendy says she's offended by some of these cash-in efforts.
"It bothers me when I see all these new companies jumping on the transsexual niche and releasing titles with names that are outright disrespectful," she said. "As transsexuals, we identify ourselves as female, so I don't want to see some stupid title like My Uncle has Breasts or My Girlfriend is my Boyfriend. I know we as porn directors have to come up with some gimmick title to sell DVDs, but in reality, most of these companies are straight-owned and only in the genre for the money!"
Wendy hopes to one day work with fellow AVN award-winner Belladonna and perhaps get her own volume in the popular Virtual interactive TS series produced by Devils Film.
"I am going to continue to aggravate Belladonna to do a she-male movie," she laughs. "I am a HUGE Belladonna fan and it would be such an amazing career highlight! I also hope to work with Steve V. at Devils Film, as he has some of the best product on the shelves. His Virtual series has done well, and it would be great for me and my fans. From my own company, I will release a few new projects I have in the works while continuing my Wendy's Wild Shemales series. Finally, I hope next year to be more visible at the AVN Awards, whether it's presenting or anything I can be used for!"
Wendy hopes her AVN Award will allow her to get more involved in the mainstream side of the porn industry.
"[Transsexuals] sadly aren't accepted enough on the mainstream side, and we really don't fit on the gay side," she said. "I have several 2009 goals; first, I want some type of role, whether sex or not, in a sex comedy or feature DVD. I think it would be ground-breaking and something fresh. Not only that, but it would bring in new fans on each side."
In the meantime, Wendy's grateful for her 2009 AVN trophy. She credits several past and present AVN contributors with helping her navigate the long, hard road that led to the Performer of the Year plateau.
"I have to thank [former editor] Heidi Pike, Mark Kernes and Darklady for all their advice and contacts when I first started, and for still being there for me today!" she said. "I also want to say thanks to Grooby Productions for sponsoring my gang bang this year, and finally, thanks to Eric, who has been the most supportive best friend a person could ask for!"
For more on the wondrous world of Wendy Williams, visit hotwendywilliams.com.