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April 20, 2014

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Q+A: Porn star Jessica Drake: ‘As long as I look good in HD, I’ll keep going’

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Adult-entertainment star Jessica Drake.

2014 AVN/AEE: Jessica Drake

Adult-entertainment star Jessica Drake. Launch slideshow »

Underworld trailer

Blonde beauty Jessica Drake, who has more than 300 adult films to her credit as an actress and director, is one of the industry’s leading ladies, and she’ll be the standout star this week as one of the Wicked contract girls at the 2014 AVN and Adult Entertainment Expo starting today and continuing through Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel.

She’s nominated for 10 AVN Awards at the “Oscars of Porn” on Saturday night, including Crossover Star of the Year, indicating her acceptance in mainstream film rather than solely the adult-entertainment world. Jessica, who majored in psychology at a Texas college, went from being a strip-club dancer into the world of adult movies and wound up one of the handful of box office stars.

Now 39, the 5-foot-9, 110-pound bombshell says that after 12 years in the business, she’ll keep filming until she’s no longer happy shedding her clothes and making love in front of the cameras. “It’s a love of mine, a passion of mine,” she told me in advance of flying here Tuesday. “As long as I look good in HD, I’ll keep going.”

There’s a new look to the sexpo this year. While in Las Vegas, Jessica will not only screen her new big-budget, six-figure production “Underworld,” which is nominated for numerous awards, but also answer fan questions in a Q+A format about the making of the film and its behind-the-scenes secrets. She also will host a sex-education class that she delivers on the North American lecture circuit.

Ten nominations — congratulations. What are you up for this year, and please keep it to the family-friendly material!

Yes, of course! I am up for our informative series of erotic educational films “Guide to Wicked Sex,” which I directed this year. We’ve been nominated for the best educational release, and the “Guide” itself is nominated. I’m also nominated for several sex awards and a crossover award. I’m really excited, plus, our big movie, “Underworld,” is the movie that I starred in this year, and it’s nominated for the majority of awards.

The crossover nomination is just from the mainstream media exposure that I’ve gotten. No one thing specifically, but I’ve been in a lot of places with all the campaigning against Measure B and all the sex-education speeches that I’ve done. I’ve done a lot of public speaking at universities and even on CNN.

Look back at 2013 in adult entertainment and give me an overview of the business. What’s changed? What’s different?

I think in 2013 we thought that slowly the industry was coming back a bit. We’d gone through a tough two years and seen a refreshed interest in featured movies; movies with more of a storyline and bigger budgets. We’ve gotten a really great response from all the movies that we’ve released this year, especially our Wicked Passion couples line. I really noticed that there are a lot of women and couples who are seeking out bigger-budget, high-quality movies.

When you say that you went through a rough couple of years, is that the blatant piracy?

I would say piracy was predominately our main problem, but there was a secondary issue with the hit the economy has taken. A lot of the time, those two are tied very closely together because when people don’t have a lot of money for extra luxury items, that’s when they will be more likely to pirate the movies. People are still looking for entertainment; they still want to feel good, especially during difficult times, and now with technology, they’re able to do that by stealing our movies.

This past year, I also noticed while doing seminars at adult stores and sex ed is couples coming out and wanting this extra information. I think that has boosted our business recently, too, especially to the point where Wicked has even created its own line of sensual care products. We have an entire lube line called Wicked Sensual Care.

One would have thought that sex was recession proof.

Well, yes, one would think that, and the bottom line is it is recession proof, but then you have to fight piracy to stay profitable. It’s all a matter of our industry being creative and innovative and finding new ways to cater to people who are hungry for our product. We’re doing two different things at AEE that we haven’t done before. We’re holding a screening for our big movie “Underworld.” I will give a seminar for couples at Vinyl; the topic is not very preachy, it’s more R- and X-rated.

After the seminar, I have an open Q+A session for people to ask me questions. They also can do this anonymously by putting it in the comment or question box. I think that by catering to what couples are really into right now is where our success lies. I think the Hard Rock really has it together by now. The first year, I don’t think they were really prepared for all the madness. I think this year is going to be really smooth.

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Wicked Girls Jessica Drake, Alektra Blue, Kaylani Lei and Samantha Saint at Tao in The Venetian on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013.

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Jessica Drake arrives at the 2013 AVN Awards red carpet at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

What has changed with the business in 2013, particularly Los Angeles regulations vs. Las Vegas freedom?

That’s a really great question, and I’m sure as you realize some companies are choosing to shoot in Las Vegas. Measure B was passed. It is not being enforced necessarily, but there are many more restrictions in which the industry is dealing. Measure B has to do with condom use in the industry, and the company that I’m contracted to, Wicked Pictures, we’ve been condom only for more than 14 years.

So it hasn’t really changed the way that we’ve done business, and it’s certainly not changing the ways that we shoot our movies, but it is a huge inconvenience because when we are on location, we are now dealing with people showing up and checking for permits, and they weren’t doing that before. Even with us — we’re following the rules. I think it has driven some of the adult business to Las Vegas.

Have you filmed here?

I haven’t yet. I’ve done a few photo shoots in Las Vegas over the years. People are definitely booking work in Las Vegas before and after the show. We have been to Las Vegas for the live-chat shows, just not shooting movies yet.

Is that going to eventually happen for everybody coming to Las Vegas?

I’m really not too sure. As it stands right now, L.A. County has not really gone along with enforcing Measure B, so I can’t say for sure. As far as Wicked Pictures is concerned, we’re pretty firmly rooted in California. I know other companies have gone to Sin City.

From our perspective, I think we are certainly on an upswing. I’ve seen a bigger interest in feature movies, I’ve seen larger turnouts at feature dance bookings and seminars. It really does seem that our consumers are seeking out higher-quality adult entertainment, and we’re really thankful for that.

I think that over the years, we had this sort of surge of porn, and no one was doing it properly. Anybody who was holding a smartphone or could pick up a camera considered themselves a director or an artist. I just don’t think that that’s the case anymore. At the end of the day, people will want to see things that are higher quality.

Which means big-budget productions such as your “Underworld.”

It’s a fantasy movie. I play a character named Tonya, recently engaged, and I’m leaving my fiance’s house and am mugged in a parking garage. I’m shot and left for dead, and when I’m taken to the hospital and on the operating table, I’m put under. The effects of the anesthesia are amazing. I enter the “Underworld,” and everyone I meet has something to do with what’s going on in the operating room.

So the first character that I encounter is Slice, and he’s the scalpel that has cut me open. He’s an amazing-looking character, very Cirque du Soleil on stilts. If you cross Cirque with “Nightmare Before Christmas” and Marilyn Manson. It’s really edgy. I keep on meeting these characters, and in the end I encounter death. We have a lot of special effects. I’m in the majority of the scenes in the movie. It’s been one of my favorite movies to make. It may have even replaced or tied with my favorite movie, “Fallen.”

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Stormy Daniels, Alektra Blue, Samantha Saint, Jessica Drake and Kaylani Lei arrive at the 2013 AVN Awards red carpet at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

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Jessica Drake and Brad Armstrong arrive at the 2013 AVN Awards red carpet at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

Was it one of the biggest-budget adult movies of all time?

It is six figures. One of the bigger ones. The reason we’re screening it at AEE is for a tremendous response. We find that when we do things like a public screening and bring out the stars of the movie, it makes it so much more accessible to fans.

So we’re going to hold the screening at Vinyl in the Hard Rock and then afterward, I’m going to be there to answer questions and take photos along with Asa Akira, Adrianna Luna and Brad Armstrong, who is the director of “Underworld.” Fans will get a chance to watch it with me and ask questions about the movie.

Can you make some predictions for 2014 with the business that we’ll get a hint of while you’re in Las Vegas?

I think Wicked is going to do a lot more movies. I know personally I’m going to direct more and expand my line of instructional DVDs. As far as the business goes, I think that the cream is going to continue to rise to the top, and companies are going thrive if they’re always on top of new technology and catering to the consumer.

As far as performers go, I think the secret to longevity is a really great personal brand, but even more important than that is the way we relate to our fans. My fans have always been of the utmost importance to me, and I’ve always made myself very accessible to them. I try to give everybody as much time and as much of my energy as I can at AEE because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.

How long have you been in the business now? How much longer do you see yourself continuing in it?

I’ve been in the business for 12 years and with Wicked Pictures for nine. I’m going to keep on performing as long as it makes me happy. It is a love of mine; it is a passion of mine, and as long as I look good in HD. I think the second I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, it won’t be for me anymore. I know I’ll always be involved in the adult industry in some way, and of course I’ll continue being a sex educator.

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Jessica Drake at the 2010 AVN Awards at The Pearl at the Palms on Jan. 9, 2010.

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Jessica Drake at Pure.

As a sex educator, what’s the question that has surprised you most of all, and what is the question that’s on everybody’s mind?

The question that’s on everyone’s mind, there are two. The most popular question that I am asked is how do I introduce (fill in the blank) to my partner. The second one is how do I please my partner better? Something else is how do I keep my partner from cheating? That’s a really tough question to answer because I think communication and confidence in the bedroom and the ability to open up with your partner are imperative. If you don’t have that, then it’s a roadblock in your relationship.

As far as the strangest question, I don’t think even you, Robin, can publish it! I was doing a seminar on oral sex, and a woman stood up at the back of the room, she was in her late 60s, early 70s, and she screamed out, “Well what about using your face?” I was even blushing! I didn’t know what to say to her. The audience started clapping for her. This woman was clearly still having sex. Sex is not just for 20- and 30-year-olds. Sex is for everybody, and I applaud anyone seeking more knowledge.

You mentioned the 20s, 30s, so what do you recommend to keep the music playing, to keep the spark as one gets older? Is that a question you get asked?

I have been asked that, and I think the most important thing is to connect and pay attention to your partner; don’t fall into a rut. Even I fall into a rut sometimes, but you have to be able to recognize that. If you’re doing the same thing over and over again, or only having sex in your bed or in the dark, in just one position, it might be convenient, but it’s not fulfilling, it’s not passionate. It’s not going to keep the spark alive.

You need to go out and try new things with the same person; not go out and try new things with new people. Try to take your partner by surprise; take turns doing it. I tell guys if they want to have a better sex life, it’s so important to start by paying attention to the woman who you’re with — connect with her, woo her, go back to when you were dating.

When you’re chasing after someone and you get the feel of the chase, that’s what turns us on. I’m speaking from a woman’s perspective. We want to feel special and desired. After being with someone for so long, we tend to forget, and you need to remind them of that.

Jessica will dispense more sex-and-love advice at the Hard Rock Hotel starting today, and we’ll report her AVN Awards successes here after the Saturday show. Later today, Part 3 of our inside look at 2014 AVN/AEE with rocker Phil Varone, who runs a successful swingers video series from Las Vegas. Then on Thursday, awards host Chanel Preston provides a preview of the Oscars of Porn.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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