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December 22, 2014

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Weekly Q&A: Ex-porn star Jenny Hendrix looks to her future

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Leila Navidi

Very few porn stars retire at 23, but that’s exactly what Jenny Hendrix did, and she’s looking forward to new ventures.

Jenny Hendrix used to be a porn star. a big one. She was nominated for three AVN Awards, and she won in 2009 for Best Three-Way Sex Scene. Earlier this year, though, she left the porn industry to focus on mainstream projects. She’s been in horror movies and music videos, and now she’s looking to take the next step.

First of all, do your parents know? My dad and mom both know. They found out after a month. My mom was supportive, but it was pretty hard for my dad. After he saw what I was doing, though—how I was building my brand—he was more accepting.

Have you watched your own work? I don’t even like hearing my voice on my answering machine.

Aren’t you a little young to be leaving porn? I was 23 when I stopped doing scenes. Most girls don’t stop until they’re 31 or 32. I guess I felt like I’d accomplished everything there was to accomplish.

Surely there was more money to be made, though. When I got into the industry in ’04, they made big features with big budgets. Vivid, Digital Playground, Hustler—companies like that, they paid their girls really well. And they’d spend tens of thousands of dollars in advertising to make their girls stars. But then the “Tube” sites got big. People were offering so much free content that the studios just couldn’t afford to make the same kind of movies and pay their contract girls so much.

So you left for purely professional reasons, not personal ones? Right. I feel like I’ve always been the same, and the industry just changed around me. Oh, and the AIDS breakout—that was a factor, too.

How did it affect you? Several close friends of mine were infected—either that or they worked with someone who was infected. I’m not at liberty to tell you their names, but believe me: This thing was real. And it drove home the reality of our business: Our safety was being compromised, and the industry was taking fewer and fewer precautions to keep us safe.

In general, you speak positively about the industry; do you have any regrets? Nope. I left at the top. I was one of the most sought-after stars in history. I was treated as an entertainer, not a piece of meat. I learned a ton, and will take it with me. No regrets.

Do you have any advice for girls entering the industry right now? There are so many people trying to manipulate newcomers—promising them the world. So do your research. Make sure you’re working for licensed, reputable companies. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask for references. Look over your contracts. Anyone legit will appreciate inquiries.

How’s the transition into non-porn acting going? If you want to go mainstream, you can’t still do adult. So I shut down my website, which had over a million hits. Now I’m totally focused on the next step. I mean, there’s obviously a stigma that’s with me, but I’m moving in the right direction.

What have you done so far? I performed at Theatre 7 on First Friday. It was a monologue I’d written, and after that, some people made me some offers. I’ve got a film role coming up—one where I don’t play a porn star or a stripper or anything like that.

If you’re trying to transition into film, why are you hanging out in Vegas instead of LA? I used to live in LA. I came here three years ago, because I needed a change of scenery. Also, two of my good friends moved out here. One’s going to UNLV, and the other one is a real estate agent. Also, I do some hosting here.

Is that where you make the bulk of your income? I still make residuals from the videos, and then the club appearances supplement that. And then I do some non-nude modeling, and I make money from my calendars and T-shirts.

Are there any other questions you want me to ask you before we go? Ask me who my muse is.

Jenny, who’s your muse? It’s Jayne Mansfield. She was a sex icon—she had beautiful measurements—but she was smart, too. She wanted serious roles, and she got them.

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