For a feature on storytelling in the adult industry that ran in the April 2014 issue of AVN magazine, reporter Jason Lyon interviewed a dozen big names in the business, including Digital Playground contract star Jesse Jane ad Golden Age performer Veronica Hart. AVN is posting longer versions of the interviews as separate stories online. Click here to read Lyon's interviews with Wicked Pictures directors Brad Armstrong, Stormy Daniels and Jessica Drake. Click here to see all the interview in the online edition.
It’s 11 a.m. on Thursday of AEE 2014, and I have a time slot pre-arranged to interview Jesse Jane at the Digital Playground booth. I’m excited to hear Jane’s take on the art of storytelling in adult, as someone who has portrayed some of adult’s most compelling characters. The noise of AEE is increasing all around us in ever-higher decibel levels, but Jesse Jane is cool and focused, answering each question without pause.
I begin by asking Jesse Jane what a good story brings to an adult production.
“You need a storyline so people can get involved in your character and create the fantasy,” she answers. “You get to live somebody else’s life—it’s your job to create that person and bring that story, that character to life. It needs to come across so people buy that story and get into it. They want to get involved, they want to get into the story sexually, because they want to feel like they’re intimate already with that person.”
“It takes a team of people to create all the different things so you get the feeling of the story,” Jane adds. “So not only do performers need to feel out the characters and make it come alive and be realistic, but then everybody else watching it. But a lot of people don’t know how to feel that character. A lot of people can just read lines. But reading lines is one thing and it comes across as—reading lines! It takes getting lost thinking about what this person would be, and how that person would be, and then feeling it out to play that. Because you can’t play yourself.”
I ask Jane if she ever needs to takes some quiet time to get a sense for the characters while reading the scripts.
“It depends on the scripts. Now, sometimes this is porn—sometimes you get it last moment … and you better figure it out pretty fast and go with the flow. They’re shorter scripts so it’s fine. But things like Pirates and Fighters. For Fighters, I had to train for four months, and gain 20 pounds of muscle, and learn how to fight, be a fighter.”
Describing her starring role in Fighters, Jane says, “I really felt like I was training for a fight! But a lot of girls won’t do that. You have to be dedicated to the job, and a lot of people don’t care.”
I ask Jane if she feels she can express emotions through adult that others actors cannot.
“Yes, it takes a certain type of person to be comfortable with their sexuality to exude it out, where people feel it.”
When I ask Jesse Jane what would be lost if viewers simply download scenes online with no semblance of a story, she says something that would inspire me during this entire project from then on:
“There’s nothing to it, it would get boring. You would lose the fun of sex. You would lose the art of sex.”
The art of sex. A perfect way to view storytelling in adult.
As we conclude our talk, I notice that a line of fans have already cued up behind us, and the noise of Muse Hall is quickly reaching its height. So I ask Jesse Jane one final question: What does it feel like when you watch your performance on-screen and you know that you have done good work?
“It feels really good. You know, I have typical characters that we play: the cutesy it-doesn’t-matter ‘hi! La, la, la, la!’” she laughs. “And then I think back and I look at things like Pirates and Fighters and anything like the big movies and then I’m like wow, I remember what a pain in the ass that was and all the work it was, but man! It paid off, because to watch a movie that you do—especially the ones that have acting and actually have a story—to you watch a movie that you do and actually believe the story is a good feeling.”
From acting in the New York City-era of adult films, to her remarkable career as a director and producer at the turn of-the-millennium, Veronica Hart is an icon of the adult industry. I had not anticipated seeing her in Las Vegas, but Like a Brad Armstrong film where wise figures magically appear along a character’s journey, you never know who you will meet at AEE. Sitting in the lobby outside the Paradise Towers elevators, Hart graciously agrees to chat.
I begin by asking Hart why sex seems to be able to inspire such good stories.
“Anybody can just have sex,” Hart says, “but I like to see sex where I’m actually interested in the people, and I love for the sex to actually follow the story line. So in my movies, if a guy is kind of pushing a gal around or, you know, having probably particularly rough sex, unless it’s like an S&M scene, the guy’s probably an asshole, you know? And if it’s a loving romantic scene, then you’re going to see them in real close positions, you’re probably going to see them face to face, where they can connect to each other and look at each other.”
“I think what I would like to do right now is make a regular movie that had just one or two sex scenes in it. Just trying to figure out where that would show, and how I could get that financed!” Hart laughs.
I ask Veronica Hart if she feels porn can express things that other forms of storytelling cannot.
“It’s always nice to see a love scene that doesn’t just fade out after the initial kiss and some fondling, or a couple disrobing. I think that’s what we can show better than anything. Sometimes you’re limited in the story you can tell, because you must have, you know, so many sex scenes … certain kinds of couplings.”
“So I guess my favorite is stuff that doesn’t necessarily adhere to that. I think that’s what the charm of the old school stuff was a long time ago. They weren’t paid per sex scene. You kind of got paid for the day. So you could have a sex scene where you just maybe panned across a blowjob,” says Hart. “We got probably fifteen minutes of story development for a five-minute sex scene, and now I think you’re pretty lucky to get five minutes build-up for a fifteen-minute sex scene. It just seems a little reversed.”
But speaking of today’s performers, Hart adds: “There are a lot of people from my age that say, ‘Well, you know, everybody was better, things were better back then.’ It’s baloney. There’s incredible talent still available, and lovely, lovely women and great guys. So I don’t prescribe to any of that.”
I close our short talk by asking Veronica Hart what it felt to like to see the results of her work on-screen at the end of a project.
“I was lucky to have a passion for movies while I was making them. Like Love’s Passion, I was passionate about that movie! I really wanted to tell that story. I was lucky that I wanted to tell pretty much all the stories that I ended up doing. And I was lucky, I guess, that I stopped making movies before I felt I didn’t have anything to offer. As a director, if you get 80 percent to 85 percent, even 90 percent of what you kind of envisioned, you’re so fabulously lucky. So any time that I got close, or I felt like the scene was really clicking or the people great chemistry—it makes you so happy! Very happy! You go: Damn, yes! That worked!”