Summer 2001: Americans still lived under a shroud of blissful innocence in which the thought of terrorists destroying the Twin Towers was absurd; the first Harry Potter film had yet to be released; porn was still viewed predominantly on VHS; and a cute little 19-year-old waif from Fullerton, Calif., was stepping for the very first time before the cameras that captured what wound up on those VHS tapes.
Who would’ve thunk that waif—who had dubbed herself Jenna Haze in a tribute to her love for the substance she affectionately refers to as “Miss Mary”—would one day hold the prestige of nothing less than an industry icon?
Looking at her now, in summer 2011, there’s no disputing that’s what Jenna Haze has become. Perhaps even more impressively, though, it would be hard to name another adult star who’s not only maintained her popularity so consistently over the span of a decade, but arguably enjoyed more of it upon reaching that mark than ever before, with no signs of slowing down.
Take a quick glance at some of the highlights of her résumé, and the extraordinariness of it really begins to come into focus: Jill Kelly Productions contract star 2002-2005; AVN Best New Starlet 2003; AVN Female Performer of the Year 2009 (making her only the second girl to ever win both); founder/star/directrix, Jennaration X Studios; AVN Fan Favorite 2011 ... and the list goes on. Almost endlessly.
AVN corralled Jenna to gather some of her reflections on her 10 years of being a porn star. Our conversation follows.
AVN: So what does it feel like having been in this 10 years?
Jenna Haze: It’s crazy. It feels like it went by so fast it’s ridiculous. It feels like it was just the other day that I was doing my first scene. It’s like, whoa. My career’s been a bunch of different stuff; I’ve had my highs, I’ve had my lows. A decade, dude ... that’s like a third of my life that I’ve been doing porn. Wow! Pretty soon I’m going to have spent more time in porn than in school. Think about that! Unless I decide to go back to college.
What would you go to college for?
I’d like to edit books, actually. I’d like to be the one who spell corrects everything, because every time I read a book, I find tons of typos, tons of misspellings, and it drives me nuts. It’s like one of my biggest pet peeves, people who can’t spell right.
Maybe that’s why you’ve lasted so long.
Right? It’s crazy, I mean people told me when I first got in the business, once you’re in there for about two years, you’re in there for life. They say that most girls come in and they drop out within their first two years. If they stay past the two years, they’re usually in it for the long haul. I don’t know; the first two years I think were the craziest part of my career.
Well, the first year I was working every single day. Sometimes I would do two scenes in a day. It was crazy. Because I had started out doing everything, not like most girls who start out doing just girl/girl or solo. So I was really booked all the time—bam, bam, bam, bam, bam—and I was just shooting for everybody. After that, I realized it was my career, and I really wanted to do this as a career. I mean, I came in the business just wanting to make a lot of money and have sex. That’s all I wanted to do.
How would you say you’ve changed as a person since then?
Well I feel like I’ve definitely become a woman in this business. I feel like when I started I was a total teenager, party girl, you know, and while I still have my party moments, I’m definitely a lot more responsible now. I’m definitely a lot more of an adult. And I saw myself grow up and become a woman, and mature through the industry. When I buckled down and was like, this is my career, I started taking things a lot more seriously and planning out what I was going to do.
From that point, how much of what you set out to do would you say you’ve accomplished?
Well, the first year, year and a half of my company was very hard and very stressful and very difficult and very emotional for me, so I think this year when I won the awards for my company, I finally felt like, “OK, my company is established, I have a reputation for making good movies now, and I can really keep going with this.” That was like the first two years of my career, it’s the same way, where I was just trying to figure everything out and do a bunch of stuff and I didn’t really know where I was going with it. But now I feel like my company is solid, I know where I’m going with it, and I know what I’m doing.
I don’t think I’ve accomplished everything yet ... not even close. Maybe about 50 percent, because my DVD company is going the way I want it to, but now I need to work on, and my big project this fall is going to be building my internet empire. You know, Joanna [Angel]’s my best friend, and I’ve watched her with these sites and stuff like that, and they really kick ass. I’m definitely more schooled in the DVD side of things, and the production side of things, and the creativity side of things, directing, that stuff, than I am to the internet. So I’m going to probably go to some of those webmaster conferences that I’ve never gone to and start talking to people, start learning a lot more about running websites. That’s my next thing.
How do you feel like the business has changed since you first got into it?
It’s changed so much, it’s ridiculous. When I got in the business, there were no tube sites; there was still torrent stuff and stuff was pirated, but it wasn’t like it is now. And that’s probably my biggest disappointment with the way that the industry has gone. I feel like a lot of people in the business are not standing up and protecting our industry as much as they should be. I would do anything to fight that. I also feel like the age of the big stars is gone. I feel like there’s a lot more girls in the business now that there used to be, and while there’s still a star here and there, like Bree Olson, Sasha Grey ... other than a couple of anomalies here and there, there’s not that many huge stars. I feel like I’m in a totally different industry now than I was 10 years ago. AIM is gone, dude. It’s crazy.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years?
The industry’s a little bit like high school, there’s cliques and stuff like that, and I think one of the reasons why I’ve stayed so long in the business and been successful so long is that I learned very early in my career that you have your certain friends in the business that you’re really close to, but stay outside of everyone’s drama. I don’t get involved in anybody’s crazy drama, I don’t go to the weekly porn parties. I go to the big events, I go to the big things, but I’ve really watched myself. It’s like any other entertainment industry—people can be ruthless, people can be cutthroat, people can backstab you, and you have to be careful who you trust. Another thing I’ve learned is not to get involved with a lot of the drugs and the partying and stuff, because I’ve seen so many girls go down the wrong road and it just ruins them. You really have to be careful whom you associate with and what you let yourself get into if you really take it seriously as a career.
What are your proudest accomplishments in the past 10 years?
Well of course it always goes back to Best New Starlet. When a girl comes in, that’s the one she wants. So when I won that, it was very much like, “Oh my god, I’m in the same ranks as Tera Patrick and Jenna Jameson, and holy crap.” And I think that was one of the moments, too, where I was like, “All right, I kinda want to do this as my career.” And then of course the Performer of the Year was just unbelievable.
And then I think this year, with my company awards ... while the other two were amazing, the ones for my company were really like, oh my god. It was hugely different from the year before. I do think that my movies that were up for awards this year were a lot better than the ones the year before. I think my first movies the first year, I was still discovering my style and learning how to put together a movie, how to direct, produce and do everything. So those three things were definitely pinnacles of my career.
I also really enjoyed doing the mainstream cameos I’ve done in Superbad and in Crank 2: High Voltage. I really want to do a lot more mainstream stuff coming up. It’s just like the directing for me, it’s expanding me, it’s giving me something different to challenge me, because I feel like, 10 years of performing, I’ve kind of mastered performing. I mean, I got that shit down.
Is there one message to the industry that you would want out there?
I wouldn’t be able to say anything as good as what John Stagliano said at the awards this year; I believe he said if you don’t love this industry, get the fuck out. I love this business, I love the people in the business, I love what I do for a living, and if you’d rather be doing something else, go do something else. Don’t bring us down. Protect our industry, stand up for our industry if you love it.
Years from now, when you’ve ridden off into the sunset, how do you want people to look back on you?
As one of the biggest porn icons ever. I want to be a legend, I want to be memorable in everybody’s minds for forever, as that unbelievable porn star who was also an amazing director but also very true to herself. I haven’t done any plastic surgery, I haven’t changed in 10 years, where most girls if they were in the business for 10 years they would have done something. But I’m still the same as the day I came in, no tattoos, no piercings, no plastic surgery, no nothing, and I think that’s a rare thing in this business. And I’d like the people to remember me as something special in this industry. I definitely think I stand out from the crowd.