LOS ANGELES—It’s been a wild ride in adult entertainment for superstar Nikki Benz. From her start as a fresh-faced Canadian who sought out the porn biz in 2002 to her ascendancy to 2011 Penthouse Pet of the Year, Benz has climbed the ladder of success with a unique fervor.
“I was beyond ecstatic,” Benz told AVN as she erupted in excited laughter while remembering being told she was the 2011 Penthouse Pet of the Year. “When I got Penthouse Pet in April 2010, I was more than thrilled. But to get Pet of the Year? Wow, just wow. What an honor. I just kept saying ‘Oh my God!’”
In fact, it was Benz herself who officially announced the news on her Twitter feed. With news leaking that she had been named Pet of the Year, and fans already congratulating her, she got permission from the company to break the news via Tweet.
The blonde stunner first shot for the magazine in 2008 and landed the cover of the May issue, but was not named a Pet. Her desire to be a Pet was fulfilled in April 2010.
“I remember being at a gas station in Toronto and seeing Penthouse for the first time,” she recalled. “I looked at the cover girl and I said to myself, ‘You know what? I can be her. I can be that girl on the cover,’ never thinking I would be. But now here I am!”
Benz’s journey to POTY status comes a full eight years after she shot for Pleasure Productions’ Strap-On Sally 20 with Gina Lynn. Her journey to become one of the most in-demand porn stars has taken her from exclusive contracts with Pleasure, Jill Kelly Productions and Teravision to acting as a freelance performer who books her own gigs. She remains one of the top attractions on the feature dance circuit and has garnered scads of awards nominations along the way.
The naming of Benz as Pet of the Year represents a fresh twist and possibly a new direction for Penthouse. The title is traditionally awarded to more of an amateur model or newbie to the world of adult (see 2010’s Taylor Vixen and 2008’s Erica Ellyson). Benz’s name recognition, powerful fan base and zeal for marketing arguably makes her the most widely recognized name to serve as Pet of the Year.
Benz, after all, has graced the cover of every major men’s magazine and starred in more than 150 adult movies. There is no doubt she’s a one-woman marketing and social networking machine.
The petite yet busty blonde has experience working with Penthouse Studios and head of production Kelly Holland. For Penthouse’s various DVD lines, she’s appeared in Housewives Hunting Housewives, Slave for a Night, Wicked Wives: A Voyeur’s Diary and Girls Who Want Girls.
“Being named Pet of the Year is the single greatest honor I could have achieved in this industry,” Benz enthused. “I’m so lucky to have a huge fan base, but I think this title puts me on another level. It puts me in front of new faces that might not have watched my movies. Penthouse is really a mainstream lifestyle brand.”
With more than 70,000 Twitter followers, Benz marshals her online army with a charm and candor many other stars don’t come close to touching. She sees her fans not as consumers but as friends she wants to share her life with—and share she does, with more than 30,000 Tweets.
“I love social networking and I think that helped me to get to where I am today,” Benz said. “Yes, I am Nikki Benz, but I’m also just a girl and I want to be accessible to my fans. Thank God for Twitter! It’s really an incredible tool and now I’m such a Twitter whore. Of course I use it to promote the projects I’m part of, but it’s not about posting my Amazon wishlist or asking fans to buy my latest movies. It’s about making a personal connection.”
The Benz brand is strong, and now coupled with Penthouse, it’s a juggernaut.
“I’m truly excited to take my fans along with me on this amazing ride,” Benz said. “If I can spotlight and bring something positive back to the business, I want to put my best foot forward to represent the industry in the most positive light. I want to be a positive ambassador for the industry and for Penthouse.”
Benz truly is an international superstar too. She’s traveled all over the world building her brand and the companies she’s worked with. She’s already been to Lisbon on behalf of Penthouse to launch a Portuguese edition of the magazine and a branded TV station there.
“I’m really excited about all the opportunities being Pet of the Year holds for me,” Benz said. “Between my popularity on the internet, the feature dancing circuit, my adult movie work and the mainstream stuff I’ve done like my recurring role on Fox Sports’ Cubed, I can help elevate the Penthouse brand in my own unique way. We have a bright future together.”
Looking back at the career she’s fashioned for herself, Benz has come a long way from her first girl/girl scene.
“Back then, I was this excitable young girl that was new to the business and I didn’t know anything,” she said humbly. “I came in wide-eyed and now I have all this experience and have fashioned a great career for myself. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
Benz recalls a dinner she had as a Pleasure Productions contract girl after only a few weeks in the business. When asked what her long-term goals were by a company executive, she responded, “I know Jenna Jameson said she wanted to be the biggest porn star. Well, I want to be the biggest porn star to come out of Canada.”
Well guess what, Nikki? You’re already there.
Benz is pictured above with Penthouse CEO Marc Bell on the red carpet at the 2011 AVN Awards. Photograph courtesy Glenn/EMMReport.com.