Nina Hartley, adult film actress, adult film director, sex educator, feminist, and author, celebrates her one year anniversary as SexIs' resident sex advice expert. In an industry where few performers last more than a couple years, what's her secret for nearly 3 decades of success?
Adult Industry Icon Nina Hartley defies the critics of pornography who declare women to be exploited by it, having no choice but to be willing victims. She was well on her way to a career in nursing when she chose a different path, starring in her first adult film in 1984. Her debut performance was in the film Educating Nina, which was produced and directed by the veteran porn star Juliet Anderson (better known as "Aunt Peg"). The film turned out to be the first step in a journey to adult film superstardom.
Nearly 30 years later, she has gone on to feature in over 400 first-run adult films, and has become one of the most enduring and recognizable performers in the industry.
Nina has been a driving force in the adult industry for nearly three decades as an adult film actress, director, sex educator, feminist and author. She has been a tireless, outspoken advocate for sexual freedom and considers herself a sex-positive feminist who seeks to "educate others from a place of practice and not just theory."
Nina has been a visible industry spokesperson who seeks to change negative perceptions of adult entertainment and sex itself. In 1993, she and ten other adult film stars were arrested in Las Vegas for "having a lesbian performance in the front of an audience." She actively supports the Woodhull Foundations whose goal is to promotes sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. She challenges the radical feminist view that the porn industry, by definition, victimizes women—instead, she points out that in her lengthy career, she's seen few examples of coercion of performers on set, and none of a physical nature. "Women have the right of refusal, always, and exercise it."
How has the industry changed, since Nina has been began her career? Would she recommend her path to women today? What is the most important lesson she's learned along the way? Join us in welcoming Nina Hartley to the Community Interview in celebration of the 1 year anniversary of Tuesdays With Nina!
What do you feel your biggest accomplishment has been?Hmm, on a personal note, being a good wife and partner to my husband has been very satisfying to me.
Professionally, I think it's been my positive impact on people's perception of porn, sex work/ers and open sexuality. I like to think that I'm a helpful influence on people's sexual lives and development; that I lessen ignorance and fear of sex, sexuality and sexual expression; that I encourage personal responsibility for one's behavior surrounding sex; that I role model healthy sexuality and sexual expression; that I make sex seem "all right" to people who may have difficulty in letting themselves have pleasure in their bodies and with sex; that I really have helped people with their suffering around sexuality.
In our culture, sexuality is sick, and sick people need a nurse's care. I've tried to provide that care for my whole career.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "We thank you for infusing our culture with such positive healing, Nurse Nina!"
If you could go back to when you first started in the adult industry, is there anything that you would change?Only a couple of things.
I'd have left my first marriage much sooner, like ten years sooner. I was unhappy and not taking action in my life. By staying I wasted many years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars on BS.
I'd also have been more serious about the business side of my profession, instead of only being a performer/entertainer. I'd have kept more of the money I made. I wasn't raised in a business-friendly household, so money was a mystery to me. I wish now I had taken classes on business and money management. So, I tell younger people that they'd be well-advised to do so, themselves.
Other than that, I'm happy to have made this my profession.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "I've heard others in the adult industry offer this same wise advice - take financial classes and plan for the future."
What is your favorite fiction book? Why? Do you have a particular genre you enjoy reading? What about a favorite nonfiction book?Hmm, I liked "The Golden Compass" trilogy a lot. I loved, "The Red Tent," and "The Mists of Avalon."
I prefer non-fiction, usually. I most prefer science and history most of all. "The Female Brain," "Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage," "Guns, Germs and Steel," "The Third Chimpanzee," The Thomas Cahill history series; those kinds of titles.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Love your taste in books! "The Third Chimpanzee" by Jared Diamond was one of the first books I read on the human animal and what we're really about. "The Red Tent" made me glad I am a woman."
What is the most challenging part of giving sex advice?Keeping my ego out of it and really focusing on the other person's issues, values, needs and questions.
Not many people are like me and I need to remember that when giving advice. I love being able to help people and am always flattered when they ask, and even more flattered when they listen!
Were there days when you came home and regretted what you were doing or more to the point, thought twice about being in the pornography industry? If so, how did you handle them?No, not really. The only regrets I have regard my poor money-management skills (so I wasted a lot), and my poor relationship skills (which kept me in a bad marriage for many years too long).
I've never regretted having sex on camera, not even once.
What was the worst pick up line someone has used to lure you in, did you go for it?I've never dated in the traditional sense, so I've not had many pick up lines used on me. It's usually the men who run from me, as I offer sexual contact so casually they usually freak out and don't know what to do.
It's amazing how few men will go for the no-strings-attached hand job. They can't wrap their minds around it, it seems!
Who do you admire most in the industry?In no particular order:
Mark Kernes (reporter for AVN Magazine)
Vanessa del Rio
John Leslie (RIP)
I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of them at present.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Like Nina, Carol Queen is also on the Board of Directors of Woodhull Freedom Foundation."
You've been doing Tuesdays with Nina Hartley for a year! Congratulations! What is the most memorable question that you've received? Do you have any questions or topics you refuse to comment on? If so, what?I have no favorite question. I don't answer questions if they are asking for advice on how to trick someone, talk someone "into" something, lie to someone, etc.
I try to treat each question as legitimate and real, and go from there.
If you could pick only one sex toy to use for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?The Hitachi Magic Wand. I have a high orgasmic threshold and this makes orgasm a sure thing, so both my partner and I can relax and enjoy ourselves.
After that, the Njoytoys Pure Wand and the Njoytoys Eleven.
First and foremost, of course: my husband!
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Hitachi Magic Wand would be my top toy pic, too!"
What makes you feel your absolute sexiest?A good massage; a hot make-out session; my partner in the throes of passionate pleasure; good slow dancing; my favorite pair of shoes; a good blow-out; my husband.
First, congratulations on your one-year anniversary! I love your videos!
Now for my questions: I noticed that one of your current projects is to develop your stand-up career. Does this mean you're working on being a stand-up comedian? If so, what inspired this and what are your plans?Well, my line of work is absurd, when you think about it.
I've done stand up for years, at all of the strip clubs where I feature danced. After each set I'd take the mic and field questions from the audience. Sometimes it was a dud: no one asked anything, but most times it would be fast and furious, which was a lot of fun.
I like making people laugh, and I have a point of view, so they go together.
I know you are very busy and I would imagine lead a relatively hectic life at times. What do you do to just unwind and relax?I like to read; cook; make love with my husband; have friends over for dinner; read; watch Alton Brown on the Food Network (I call it the Food Porn Channel).
What brought you into writing your Guide to Total Sex? Has it sold well? What are you most proud about from the book?I wanted to break out of porn into the larger world of adult sex education, so a book based on my best-selling Guide series was a no-brainer.
It's not sold well, as the company did nothing to promote it at all. Plus they nixed using any pictures, which was a mistake.
I'm most proud that it exists at all. It's an excellent book and all who've read it have reported to me that it was very useful, funny and insightful. I'm proud that it all came from my head (except to check out some anatomy and chemistry).
The Beautiful Kind (host): "You more than anyone would know that we are certainly a visual society!"
What was your favorite adult movie to be in and why? Any particular reason?I loved the "Debbie Duz Dishes" series, from the '80s. Fun, funny, silly porn, the way it's meant to be.
I've been in so many I really don't have a favorite.
If I do like a particular movie it's because I liked my partner that day, or the scene really rocked.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "It's clear that, as a pleasure activist, you see all the playfulness and joy that can be celebrated when it comes to sex."
I've noticed you do both adult educational films and act in regular porn. Do you have a preference for one or the other? Any particular reason? What brought you into doing educational adult films instead of just doing regular porn movies?I enjoy both, for different reasons.
The educational ones are more important in the bigger scheme of things, and I'm most proud of them, as they give concrete, useful advice for people to use to improve their personal experience of sexuality. The regular porn movies are fun, certainly, and have had their usefulness for people (mainly my role-modeling positive, happy behavior), but as a nurse I'm proud of the educational tapes I've done.
One of a nurse's duties is to educate the "patient." Also to role-model healthful behavior and to advocate for those who cannot speak out for themselves. Sex is a charged topic and I'm happy to have been out in the open about it, so that others can learn what they need to from me to apply to their own lives.
Adam&Eve approached me in '94 to do them and we did 38 before the series ended.
When you first started schooling for nursing, did you ever think this is where you would end up? What was it that had you jump from one to the other?I went to nursing school fully expecting to become a nurse-midwife. If I had not been cut out for porn I'd have continued on with that professional goal.
But I loved sex, and sex performance, and it turned out that I was both attractive enough to be hired, and mentally/emotionally suited to this kind of work. It's not for everyone, to say the least, and not all have been well-served by their time here.
I had an opinion about sex, sexuality and sexual expression, and porn was a great way to get that message out there to the widest possible audience, and get paid for it, too!
Have you ever been involved with a lover/partner who had a larger sex-drive than you? If so, did you 'live up' to it or tell them they might need to back off and compromise?Hmm, not really. I've only had three major off-camera partners, and none of them had a much bigger drive than I. It's not that I'm physically horny most of the time. It's more that I'm mentally interested all the time, and therefore am amenable to being "gotten in the mood" with little effort.
I also don't NEED to have an orgasm every time I'm sexual, so giving pleasure (hand job, blow job, cunnilingus) without "getting" any in return isn't a problem for me.
I know I'm weird, so don't take this as any kind of challenge! it's important that a couple negotiate any big differences in libido, and what they can/will do about it. This is especially crucial with monogamous couples, where there is nowhere else to go.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "You are so good at teaching ways for people to be creative with their sexuality - there are so many ways to connect with people and fulfill emotional and physical needs."
Whats it like to wake up every morning and do something you really love?It's really great, actually!
What was your first experience in the adult industry like? Were you nervous, was it spontaneous? Was it a photo shoot or a video?It was fairly painless, as I had been doing hard-core g/g on stage, as well as dildo shows, in San Francisco. I had dreamed for eight years about being on camera, so it was a lot of fun for me. Not stressful at all.
My first encounter with adult entertainment was doing amateur night at a strip club. I won. Then I got a job at a club as an entertainer. Then I auditioned for my first video, which was titled, "Educating Nina," 1984. When I graduated in '85 I went into movies full time.
How did you score your first adult film role? Was it something you searched out or an opportunity that was offered?My then-boyfriend and I had been fantasizing about me being in the movies. I had developed the notion at age 17, well before I met him. We had a few meetings with creepy agents and I was sure that, if I had to use an agent, that I'd just not get to do this, after all.
He then ran into Juliette Andersen at a local market and got her card. We sent her photos and she had me over for an audition. It was really that easy.
To be honest, I don't know much about your personal career, except for what's on your bio at the top of the page. If you were a nursing student, how did you get involved in the industry in the first place, and what made you decide to stick with it?
You also said that women have the right to choose what they will and will not do. What kind of requests do you refuse?I got involved because I have a message about sex and porn was a great way to get it out there; porn was where the naked women were, and I wanted uncomplicated sex with women; it's legal and prostitution is not; I like performing; I stuck with it because sex, sexuality and sexual expression are endlessly fascinating to me.
I don't do cream-pie scenes (internal ejaculation); gang bangs; double anal; double vaginal; bukkakke; harsh scenes with name-calling, etc.; anything that seems forced. I do BDSM movies, as I play that way in private, but not for just anyone, and not just any behavior.
I've never been asked to do anything illegal: minors, animals, etc.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "I never can wrap my head around why having sex for money is illegal, but having sex for money while it's being filmed IS legal."
Im a 62 yr old male who struggles with ED. I only wish that I could have any type of sex, which means my bone dosent perform. I have used viagra but the high cost of the use hits hard on the billfold. My question is: What do you think of a cock ring vs viagra?If a cock-ring is used properly, you should be able to get at least a semi-hard cock with one. They've been in use for many more years than Viagra has. For good tips on use, peruse gay sites, as they'll talk about it openly there.
Viagra and its cousins are expensive. Last I checked, Viagra was $20/pill!
However, if Viagra works for you, giving you an erection that lasts as you want it to, it's worth the price. Just don't try to hide its use from your partner, as that can make for awkward timing, etc.
Lately, I've been considering my "happy place," the place where I feel most comfortable, where I feel like, no matter what I do there, it’s important and not important at all at the same time, and that, once I leave, I'll only have fond memories. Do you have a "happy place"?I think we all do! I usually think of a forest, as I like trees (I was conceived underneath a California Redwood), with moss and a stream bubbling by.
Or a warn Swiss chalet on a snowy day.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "I LOVE your happy places! Both sound so good right now..."
After years of sex on and off film, and being the go-to-gal for sex education, what is your sex life like off camera? It seems like you've covered pretty much every genre/kink over the course of your career,do you have a favorite? Or are you just a plane jane when it comes to sex at home?Great question!
I enjoy sex at home as much, if not more, than I ever have. I'm older and more comfortable with myself and my body, than when I was younger and, truth be told, more actively neurotic.
I'm lucky to be in a healthy, passionate, romantic marriage (in contrast to my first one), so my primary partner is someone with whom I'm always "in the mood." We're a two-career couple so we have our troubles scheduling time to be together in a sexual way.
My husband and I are kinky, and in a D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationship. When we're alone, he always pitches and I always catch. When we have threesomes, I co-Dom with him, which is my more natural state of play. I'm what they call a "switch," meaning I can enjoy the Dominant or submissive role, depending on my partner.
When I'm alone with my Lover, our sex is very regular and vanilla: no role play, just laying around naked and seeing where the mood takes us. I'm a "universal adaptor" when it comes to sex: I'm happy to play the way my partner plays. I can, and do, very much enjoy plane jane sex, just as I can, and do, very much enjoy extremely sophisticated, complex set ups.
In the end, though, my private sex does for me what sex is supposed to do for any of us: feel good and bring me closer to my partner, emotionally and physically.
I don't believe that the porn industry is inherently exploitive to women, but would you say that as it is currently organized women are sometimes exploited? Or would you say that the current structure of the industry makes it easy for women to exercise their freedom of choice?My long standing response to this is: ALL work for pay is exploitation of the worker, at some level.
I don't believe that porn is inherently more exploitive to women (no one ever worries about the male performers, which I find very telling) than any other gig in the entertainment industry, which is VERY exploitive to all who come under its spell. Why not? Because I don't hold traditional views on the role of sexuality and women in society. If I felt, as many do, that sex is something men want and women "have," or "are," then I might feel differently.
If one feels that sex is FOR romance, FOR love only, FOR making babies, FOR expressing emotional intimacy (all wonderful things that sex can do), then of COURSE porn/sex work is "exploitive" to women. If one believes that, basically, that women "need sex to be romantic," or "need sex to take place only in a loving relationship," or that women don't have lust in their loins or weird sex desires of their own, then porn/sex work would be deemed a bad thing for them.
Women have more freedom in the current state of play than before. If they learn about business and the internet they can be their own bosses. They can say "no" to any act (even if they don't use their veto power, they still have it).
How exploited a person is in porn has a lot to do with their self-image, self-regard and how good their boundaries are. I knew coming in that I had the right to say "no," just as I had the right to say, "yes." I've regretted very few scenes that I've done. Fewer than 1% of them, I'd say.
What project would you say you've had the most fun on?The ones that took me to Europe, NZ and Australia!
In my search for knowledge and truth, I have encountered many people who say porn is degrading to women. How would you respond to this?
Additionally, how do you believe the pornography industry fits into feminism?I've written a lot about this, so this is the Cliff Notes version.
"Degrading" is a subjective term, and only the individual in question can say if he or she was, or was not, "degraded."
Since I don't feel that sex is something men "do" to women, and that I, as a modern woman, have the right to the sex I want, even it society says that sex is "bad" for me or "bad" for women, then the sex I've had on camera has not degraded me. I realize that others don't share my opinion, or even believe that I, as a woman, can even MAKE such decisions, as they feel women are so beaten down by inculturation as to be only victims of sex, never active in it. I reject completely such thinking. That your question is so common troubles me, as I see that the "other" side has been more effective in getting its message out there.
I know others look at what I've done and see "degradation" written all over it. I feel this is more a function of projection on their part rather than speaking any truth about my situation. THEY'D feel/be 'degraded" if THEY were on camera doing what I love to do. So, they shouldn't do nude/sex modeling. But to globalize their feelings to think that ALL women in porn are de facto "degraded" by it is just narcissistic to the extreme.
No one ever worries if porn "degrades" men, which I find interesting and troubling. What, men aren't people, too? Men don't have feelings? C'mon, people!
Porn fits into feminism to the extent that women are free to enter into this business of their own accord, and that they have the right to agree, or not, to any sex act. All I have to say is, "No, I don't do that," and they don't hire me. I'm fine with that.
I think porn fits into feminism by showing a wide variety of sex acts, enthusiastically entered into by the woman, and NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO HER AT THE END. Unlike Hollywood, where a transgressive woman has to be punished somehow (looses her husband/child/lover/life, ends up in jail/addicted to drugs/abandoned/mental hospital), in porn she has, gasp, PLEASURE, and LIVES to DO IT AGAIN! Horrors!
Porn may be dopey, silly, stupid, ugly, and more, but NO ONE DIES and NO ONE GETS HURT. This is a very subversive message to put out there, as there's nothing else out there telling women that they can have: sex with other women; sex with men to whom they're not married; sex with people of a different race; sex outside of marriage; sex with groups of people; sex with toys; sex with themselves while others watch, etc. In this way, porn is VERY "feminist," in my view.
As women we have, and must use, our right to decide FOR OURSELVES how we'll live our lives, and what our values are about sex, and then live them.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Absolutely brilliant."
Once upon a time, I worked with Dian Hanson, Peter Wolf and all those gate keepers of the promotional part of the industry, everyone says you were one of the easiest people to work with in thoe early days of the Golden Age of the business. What do you remember about those times? What do you remember about the actresses? And the directors?I remember a lot of the old days. Dian is a very nice person and I afraid I don't recall Peter at present.
I remember that it was a smaller business then, and you could actually know most everyone in it. Not true nowadays.
THe directors seemed to care more about making a good product, but I could be wrong in my memory about that!
Will the Internet kill off the porn industry? Or will the industry adopt to this technology just like movies did when the telelvision craze threatened it?
And by the way, Nina, you're a true sweetheart.The Internet has been a very mixed bag for the culture, IMHO. I'm still wondering if we'd be better off without it, which won't happen any time soon, I don't think.
Internet piracy is killing us, as it severely damaged the music industry and is damaging the publishing industry. People have spent their entire lives learning how to be a writer, editor, etc., and now people who'll do it for free have killed countless careers.
"Free porn" is usually stolen porn. If enough companies go out of business b/c of piracy, that's the end of my career, and the career of all of our favorite professional performers.
Live streaming PPV is one way to get around that, as well as bigger, fancier productions, that don't translate well to tube sites.
It's an unfolding story as we speak.
Have you found that getting older has been a help or hindrance to you in the porn industry?Neither. It is what it is. If I had tried to enter the business as a 40+ performer, I'd have had a hard time, as few women coming in as "MILFs" have done well, Vicky Vette is the only one who became a bona fide star after starting the business in her late 30s.
Since I"m a personality, an "icon" if you will, I'm in demand and it's not age related. People who have always been my fans continue to buy my movies. Those whose tastes run only to mature women have come on board later in my career. Those who prefer younger players aren't my fans, or they find my old videos and watch my younger self in them.
I've turned into a "MILF" or "icon" simply by not retiring, and continuing to work. I had a very dead period from '88-93, when people thought I had retired, since most women do retire after five years, but after I hit the ten-year anniversary, it's been pretty steady since.
You were in an unhappy marriage for some time before hooking up with "the love of your life." How did you find the courage to walk away? Was it a "light bulb" moment or more of a process?Great question!
It was a combination of waking up over time to the reality of my suffering, as well as a lightbulb moment when I realized that I was, in fact, in an emotionally abusive relationship. Put together, I knew that it was up to ME to act to save my own life, and that I could no longer deny a) how unhappy I was (soul-killingly unhappy), and b) that I had to go, and go soon.
Several books were of great value to me: "The Courage to Heal," which is for survivors of child sexual abuse. I wasn't abused, but I was in an abusive relationship and that book clarified for me that I was, indeed, fucked up in the head.
All of the books by Cheri Huber, a Zen priest, were invaluable. Since I couldn't get to therapy (part of the fucked-up-ness of my first marriage), her writings were like therapy to me and gave me structure and form from which to address my situation.
"There Is Noting Wrong With You"
"Be The Person You Want To FInd"
"That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek"
"The Key and the Name of the Key is Willingness"
"The Depression Book"
All are amazing and I give them out to all of my friends who ask for help.
Everyone "wakes up" to their suffering differently. I'm sorry I didn't act sooner, but I acted as soon as I could.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Thank you for these book titles."
Just loved you in Boogie Nights. How was it being on that set? Did they treat you differently as an adult star versus a mainstream actress? Funny stories? Please dish...It was fun, like a porn set only a hundred times bigger.
Porn: 1-3 days to shoot. "BN:" 56 days
Porn: one take and moving on. "BN:" up to 17 takes to get it right
Porn: One catering table. "BN:" three catering stations
Porn: usually DYI makeup. "BN:" two makeup trailers, with five make up artists, total
Porn: bring your own clothes. "BN:" Costume department/truck/coordinator
Porn: one production manager (PM). "BN:" at least three: a main one and two underlngs
Porn: one production assistant (PA). "BN:" at least five of them
Porn: 1-6 person crew. "BN:" Thirty people on crew, at least
Porn: average budget: $10,000-30,000 (with the biggest budgets of, rarely, $100,000). "BN:" fifteen million
No funny stores, sadly. Everyone was very polite and professional, especially William H. Macy, who is the world's nicest guy. It was during the shoot that he proposed to Felicity Huffman. It was cute to see her emerge from his trailer with a shy smile and a ring on her finger!
The only person who would be photographed with me on the red carpet premiere was Heather Graham, which was very nice of her, I thought. Julianne Moore never spoke a word to me.
If you an aspiring porn star came up to you and asked you for the one thing that you would pass on to future generations, what would you advise?You mean porn advice?
Pay your taxes
Get a good accountant
Don't do anything on camera that you don't already do at home.
Don't date anyone who gives you ANY grief over your job.
Don't date someone who doesn't have a job, a car and his/her own place to live.
Have a plan for after.
Know why you're here, and own it fully.
Save your money/take a business class/read Suze Ormand.
Be sure to have sex at home that's just for you, with someone you like. No money, no camera, no business.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Excellent words of wisdom."
I'm an amateur fetish "model," who films clips and has a website in the works. What are the best pointers you have for getting yourself loosened up for a scene even if you aren't particularly in the mood?Masturbate.
Think of the money you'll earn if the feeling is more real vs. faked.
Have ONE drink and masturbate.
If you know your target audience, and what it's after, then you can fake it better. Sex on camera is a performance. It's easier to BE turned on than to ACT turned on, certainly. But sometimes you've just gotta fake it till you make it.
What was your biggest challenge in performing in the adult industry?Figuring out how to tell my family.
What advice do you have for an aspiring sex columnist/advice queen?Learn all you can about sex, sexuality and sexual expression.
Face, and face down, your own sexual demons/fears/prejudices/ignorance. Practice what you preach.
Learn to be truly non-judgmental about any and all consensual sex acts/relationship styles, even if they're not your cup of tea.
Read, read, read!
Become a fan of:
and read all of their works.
Dan Savage, over all, isn't bad, either.
Greta Christina (do a search on her name for her blog) is an amazing writer about sexual issues. I can't recommend her stuff enough.
Read other advice columnists and see what you like/dislike about their styles.
Develop your own style/point of view.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "I met Greta Christina last month when she spoke at a conference in Springfield, MO. She's fantastic!!! (as are the others you mention)"
What does 'decadent' mean to Nina Hartley?Getting a full-body massage by an excellent practitioner.
Eating whipping cream by the spoonful.
75-85% dark chocolate (I like Green&Black's)
Sex with my husband (always a great event!)
Fine dining at our favorite places.
Where do you see yourself 5 more years from now? Retired? Still doing Tuesdays With Nina? Please tell.If TWN is still viable in five years, of course I'll still be doing it. That part is up to EdenFantasys, though.
I'd like to be doing public speaking/motivational speaking/stand up comedy/spoken word. I'm an entertainer at heart, as well as an educator, so something with people for sure.
Sex coaching/counseling is also appealing to me.
If I can make it work, I'd like to be doing my own scenes, for my own site, and keeping more of the money.
What has been your favorite part of your career? What was your least for least favorite?Favorite:
Travel (Europe, NZ, Australia, Canada)
All that sex with all those people, with no bad after effects (hysterical phone calls, etc.)
Meeting all of my fans at the various venues (clubs, conventions, supermarket)
Helping people have better, more enjoyable sex
Creating a visual history that can't be taken away
No job security (though, these days, who has that?)
Other people's BS opinions about the "morality" of what I do
Being kept in the "porn ghetto." It's very hard to get away. "Easier in than out," is a good thing to remember
Can you please describe for us what a Day in the Life of Nina Hartley is like?A lot like yours, likely.
If I"m doing a scene, I get up (I pack my bags the night before), pack a lunch and get to the set on time. I meet my partner, get into makeup, do my "pretty girl" shots, do the scene, go home and make dinner for me and my husband. I do the dishes, too, usually.
If I"m not working: I do errands: grocery shopping, mail box, nails, car wash, bank, etc. and then come home and make dinner for me and my husband.
If it's a "date night" I get home early, set up our playspace for fun. After "fun," I make dinner for me and my husband.
If it's a "guest date night," I set up the space for three-way fun, and then leave them to clean up the space afterwards while I make dinner for the three of us.
After dinner, if we don't have to work, we watch the news on TV and maybe catch a movie. We like to talk to each other, as well, so we do a lot of that.
Just want to say I have the greatest respect for you! And quite a crush too!!! Watch you on Tuesdays quite a bit and enjoy it very much. Congratulations on your first anniversary, and hope to see quite a bit more of you! ;PI'll keep doing it for as long as EdenFantasys will have me!
Who did you most enjoy working with in your films over the years, and why?The reason I like any partner over another is chemistry and personality. It's not about dick size at all.
My favorites over the years:
Good energy, very sexual, I find them attractive, good on-camera partners (not necessarily good for off-camera relationships.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "This line is worth repeating: "It's not about dick size at all. ""
Do you think our society will ever conquer its sexual hangups, or will we be forever trapped between conflicting expectations, such as the simultaneous over-valuing of virginity and virgin-shaming that teenagers and young adults endure?I don't have high hopes that we'll shed our Puritanical history any time soon. The anti-sex zealots are firmly in control of the media outlets, and a lot of the public money, as well as the text-book choosers.
As long as reproductive choice is as hot-button an issue as it is, we're not getting far.
It's hopeful that GLBT issues are becoming more socially acceptable by younger people, but it's going to be decades for the conversation to really start. Right now, we're just yelling at each other.
Our country was founded by people with a profound mistrust of pleasure and the body, based in their religious beliefs. These attitudes infuse all of our laws surrounding sexuality, our media's take on such matters, and the public discourse.
The fact that "morality" almost always means "sexual behavior of a type of which I disapprove" shows us how far we have to go.
So, no, I don't have high hopes. We can only make the inroads that we can, like we're doing here.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Terry Gould, author of "The Lifestyle," agrees with your definition of morality, and says ethics is more about respect of other people - "do unto others." He helped me realize that my ethics don't match up to the morals of society, a mismatch I often find challenging."
what has been the most memorable part of the past year for you?Reaching new depths of closeness and intimacy with my husband. Marriage is really pretty great, you know!
The birth of three new great-nieces/nephews.
What has been your biggest regret of your career?Not leaving my first marriage ten years sooner, when I first met Ernest.
Not being smarter with my money (msi) management/business.
Have you ever been bored with what you do? How do you foster passion for what you do after a 30 year career?I just never tire of sex as my subject.
No matter how many I've seen, I'm simply thrilled to be presented with another set of genitalia with which to play. I just love 'em to death! "Really, for me? Wow!" It never gets old.
I have a mission, and a message, about sex, sexuality and sexual expression, and I want to get it out there as much as I possibly can.
I'm a freak, but you knew that!
The Beautiful Kind (host): "You are a treasure, Nina, a rare gem!"
What is the weirdest/wildest request you've received from a fan?Wanting to buy a used tampon. I turned him down.
What would you tell young girls who are interested in getting involved in pornography?I'd tell them not to do it. It takes a very special personality to be able to do well in such a stigmatized industry. It taints your record for any future employment, and makes maintaining relationships extra-difficult.
They need to KNOW, and OWN why they want to do this and then find any way possible to get those needs met in a non-permanent-record-on-camera fashion, if they can. I tell them to be freaky, be adventuresome, but to think five times before committing any of it to camera, 'cuz you can't take it back, and you'll likely want to sooner or later.
I'm very unusual in that I've been happy here for so long. One of the reasons, among many, is that I don't have kids and never wanted to be a mom, so I don't have to worry what the other PTA parents are thinking of me, and my child doesn't have to suffer bullying and BS for what his/her mother does/did for a living.
Doing porn is permanent, and many young people don't realize what "forever" means. It means "forever." It's hard, at age 18-23, to think of the long-term effects of present-day behavior ( I have a friend who's been sober 23 years and just found out that she has Hep C from the ONE time she tried a needle 25 years ago. She's going to need a transplant, if she can get one).
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Having kids certainly makes things more challenging. I'm dealing with all that heartache you mention above now, and I'm not even a porn star, just out about being a woman in charge of my sexuality."
Nina, you made me feel better about my High Orgasmic Threshold and needing to use a high powered vibrator in order to climax. I went through a year or more of terrible times when I started perimenopause, after decades with a hair trigger orgasm, and your writing and videos let me and My Man know "It's OK."
What, if anything, do you think can be done to make good quality sex toys go more "mainstream?"
I know too many women in similar predicaments (High orgasmic threshold, or "Clits O Steel") and think sex toys are just for "those women." (I don't even know WHO "those women" are. Me, I guess.) Not to mention men who are completely clueless about how they could help their partners and even themselves by being more accepting of sex toy use.
What do you think it will take to make sex toys "acceptable" to every and all people who would get some use from them?Thank you for your generous feedback. It's most satisfying to me when I can help people enjoy sex more in their private lives. Keep it up!
As to your question, I think sites and communities like EdenFantasys are doing a lot to promote a healthy attitude toward sex toys and their use. It takes people like you talking to their friends to take off the stigma of "dirty" toys, or "needing a toy over the 'real thing.'" For lots of people toys ARE "the real thing," and that's just fine with me.
The acceptance of sex toys is spreading as Boomers, who made a religion of sexual adventures, age and need more support than they once did to climb the heights of sexual passion and pleasure. As our bodies age and Life gets in the way, our responses aren't as effortless as they were when we were in our twenties. Toys, and adult material, are natural extensions of our desire to have pleasure all throughout our life span.
So, time and telling a friend will do it! Though there will always be places where it will never be OK to be open about sex and sex pleasure.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "I really like EdenFantasys toy review system - very thorough and helps when shopping online."
Do you think that there's a reason lesbian performances in pornography so rarely resemble actual pleasurable sex between women? I recognize that one has to play to the camera, but the lack of pornography that even looks as if it's pleasurable to me, as a lesbian, is distressing.Well, it's mainly because "g/g' scenes are shot by men who have no clue as to what real women do together. Ernest, my husband, is better than most, as he'll wait for the real orgasms to happen, and aid them with all the toys and gizmos the women may need.
Even though there are a lot of professional performers who are truly bisexual, it sounds like you'd be better off looking at videos made by/for actual lesbians, instead of San Fernando Valley porn directors.
Triangle Films is run by a real-life lesbian couple.
Sweetheart Productions is helmed by a woman Nica Noelle, and she spends a lot of time with intimacy and kissing, etc.
S.I.R Video is also run by lesbians
Pink and White Visuals (Video?) is also lesbian-run
AbbyWinters.com is quite nice, though it's very, very tame.
Some of the movies by Good Releasing are very lesbian-friendly.
There is the classic, "Suburban Dykes," from '88 or so, with me, Sharon Mitchell and Pepper. Lots of fun!
An even older classic, hard to find, is "Hay Fever," a shot-by-and-for lesbian Western. It contains my first, and only (for the next twenty years) bondage scene, in a bed in the forest.
Professional, Southern California porn is always going to be more glossy, glitzy and "unreal" than real life. It's designed to be that way.
The Beautiful Kind (host): ""Hay Fever" sounds awesome! I will refrain from yelling "yee haw.""
I had purchased a few of your educational videos and wonder How much of your nursing skills and research do you incorporate in your educational videos ?Hope you like them!
I incorporate all of my nursing and research in my Guide tapes. That's why I make them.
Regarding the business of porn -- have the amateurs ruined it for the professionals?No, since the audience for amateur porn is only slightly overlapping with the audience for professional porn. They offer different pleasures and annoyances.
What's "ruining" porn is internet piracy.
Do you have any resources for parents looking to openly educate their children about sex without encouraging their children to do so?In my opinion, Planned Parenthood has excellent material for parents.
I don't know if EdenFantasys has educational books aimed at parents. If they don't, do a search on it and see what you come up with. I know there is a lot of material out there aimed at parents, from both the abstinence-only side (one that has a poor record in delaying first intercourse) as well as the give-them-non-judgmental-information side. You can imagine which "side" I'm on!
The most important lesson parents give their children is good role modeling: being affectionate with each other, being affectionate with their kids; keeping them from abuse and believing them if their children confide that they're being abused; giving age-appropriate answers to normal, natural curiosity about the body and its functions ("babies come from a special place inside of Mommy" does it till about age five or six, for example)'; and not shaming the child for their natural tendency to self-sooth by genital manipulation ("I'm happy that you have found a way to make yourself feel good any time, sweetie, but you're old enough to understand about privacy," or some such), instead giving the child a way to think about his or her body and how to keep it safe.
Never forget that human culture is, at most, about ten thousand years old. It's up against millions of years of evolution, and, in my game book, Mother Nature bats last. So, adults don't "give" young people ideas about sex; their bodies do that for them at puberty. By then, the basis of a child's morality, character, sexual values, self-esteem, and socialization is pretty much done. Adults have to advise, support and, ultimately, trust, that they've done a good job.
You can also make sure your kids understand YOUR value system regarding sex and sexual relations. Know that they may rebel against them, but at least you've communicated what your core values are. "We understand that people have sex before marriage, but we think sex is best within a committed, monogamous relationship," "I hope that you don't have sex while you're drunk, as it's much more dangerous that way," "I hope you don't have sex while you're drunk, as it's really no fun for either of you, and it's embarrassing in the morning," "I hope you don't have sex while you're drunk, as that's how your oldest cousin was conceived," "My desire for you is not to sleep with a boy until you can reliably give yourself an orgasm on your own," "Always use a condom, as you don't know if she's really on birth control," etc.
As parents of course we worry about our kids. All we can do is train them as best we can, give them good support and guide them well, and know they're going to make their own mistakes, regardless.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Thank you so much for this advice. I gave my daughter The Mango Talk this year; it was well-received.
Logan Levkoff is a good resource for sex-positive parenting topics."
What is it about sex that caused you to want to make it your life's work? Or should I say passion?As my father once asked me, "Why sex? Why not the violin?"
I don't know. I just know that sex has always been my greatest interest. If one wire had been put into a different outlet, I'd have been a midwife for 26 years, or a laboratory scientist, or an artist studying some esoteric artifact, or a nun, or any number of other focused pursuits.
Sex is just "it" for me. I don't know why, as no one else in my family seems to be like me at all. Or maybe there are some, but I'm just the most outspoken about it, the least concerned with what others think.
Plus, every time I get near genitals I just perk up and get happy at the prospect of playing with them. It never gets old for me.
It seems like you've only gotten more beautiful with time. Do you do anything special to keep yourself looking so radiant?Thank you, but I don't do nearly enough.
I mainly have never tanned my face, or smoked cigarettes, or been a drinker. I was blessed genetically with a pleasant figure, though I need to work out more regularly to keep it together. I have a great hair stylist and get a blow out most weeks, to keep that professional look going.
I have a moderate diet, with lots of vegetables, though I'm not a fanatic and don't deny myself any particular food item. I've never had a problem with my weight, having always maintained my weight between 129-135 pounds. I'm about 140 now, but ten of those, at least, are my fibroids, and two of them are my implants.
I've learned how to dress for my body type, and how to work the angles of the camera.
I have a happy marriage to a man who desires me and knows how to please me, and likes to do so.
Plus, my fans wear rose colored glasses when they watch my scenes, for which I'm truly grateful!
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Don't forget all those orgasms! They make you glow!"
What made you decide to become a spokesperson for the adult industry?I started as a spokesperson for my point of view. That I was identified as a "feminist porn star," when there was no such thing, got me a lot of attention in the beginning of my career. I started talking to the press almost as soon as I started making movies, as I have an opinion about sex that I want to promote.
I became the go-to person for the industry because I was willing to talk, and was good at it. I didn't say anything too silly or stupid. I was never told what to say, and I chose to focus on the positive aspects of being a woman in the industry, sine everyone else at the time was ragging on it something fierce.
Some critics say all of these sub-genres such as Interracial porn, parodies, gonzo, Latino porn, MILF, senior porn,
et al - are damaging the integrity of the industry. They complain that all these categories are slicing up the larger pie of the profits. How do you feel about this?I don't think it's a bad thing. Porn is expensive, so if I'm into a certain "thing," I'd want to spend my money to get the most of it for my dollar. If I have the choice of five scenes of my "thing," done with five different set-ups, vs. one movie that MIGHT have ONE scene of my "thing," I know what I'd do.
My biggest problem with most porn is that the people making it, for the most part, have no sexual imagination. It's just boring and clueless.
The pie is shrinking because money is tight, and porn is no longer the huge, naughty novelty it was for the first 30 years of its being legal. It's harder to compete for customers in the open market place, so some companies are dying due to that. It's no longer a monopoly, a tiny business run by a few buddies. It's much bigger and impossible to manage, now.
What place in the world do you feel most "at home" - what country or region best matches your sex-positive attitude and pleasure activism?Well, until the Radical Feminists overran the Green and SDP in Europe, I'd say Holland, Scandinavia, Germany and France. Now, their heretofore open attitude about consensual sex work have been completely upended by the anti-sexwork/er philosophy of these women and their collaborationist male allies.
Now I don't know what to think. In the end, I think here, as we have the First Amendment, which gives me the right to speak about what I want to, and for others to hear me if they want to. No other country has this amazing protection of expression. It's a two-edged sword, but one I'm glad we have.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Wow, wasn't expecting this answer at all!"
I would love to see some of your stand up, are there any on DVD?
Also what are your favorite TV shows and or movies you like to watch.No, there's no DVD, as I've not done enough to be recorded. I want to do some, though!
I like "Dexter," "Boardwalk Empire," "Nurse Jackie," "True Blood," "ER," "Golden Girls," "Murphy Brown," "In LIving Color," "MASH," "Good Eats," and more.
In the Last 20 or so Years Sex education and Sexual identity has come a long way in terms of what was considered taboo and I have to ask will you be making more educational videos and will they have more information dealing with the LGBT community ?I absolutely will be doing more educational tapes aimed specifically at the LGBTQ community. All it takes is a company who wants that material. They know I"m one of them at heart, as I identify as the "Q."
how do you like smaller penisesIf I like its owner, I like penises of all sizes. One good thing about being a sex professional is that I've learned all sorts of ways to have fun with all sorts of bodies and body parts
There are different pleasures to be had from "big" penises, and from "small" ones. "Big" and "small" are, of course, relative terms. As big as in the movies? Well, most men on camera are two-four inches longer than the national average of 5.5 inches, and I'd not have one of the super-sized ones as my regular partner, as there's too much accommodation going on for both parties for either to have much fun. If I'm worried about being hurt, I can't relax fully. If he's worried about hurting me, he can't, either, and then where are we?
I can have fun with a super-sized cock but it's a specialty act more than it is conventional lovemaking.
Some positions can only be done with "smaller" penises, and some can only be done with bigger ones, and some can be done with either size, with different results.
When men ask me about this I hold up my first and middle fingers and say, "I get women off with this, and my mouth or a vibrator, all the time. It's a question of knowing what to do with what you've got."
So, how do I like them? Just fine, thanks! It's a man's confidence and personality that make me want to sleep with him, not the size of his penis, about which he can do exactly nothing. Knowing how to pleasure a woman with other body parts/toys than your penis only increases the chances she'll have you back.
Take a look at real lesbian movies and watch what they do with their hands, thighs, eyes and mouths. You'll be amazed at how much fun can be had!
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Beautiful! I'll take a man with confidence, personality and skill over a huge tool any day. You said it, Nina!"
What did you want to be when you grew up?I wanted to be Jane Goodall for a while. I wanted to work in the primate house of a zoo. I wanted to be a midwife, and that's why I went to nursing school.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Jane Goodall is like Mister Rogers, only substitute chimps for children. Clearly you are nurturing, compassionate helper full of love."
What made you decide to take on your current career?It afforded me a lot of what I was looking for at the time: access to women without having to date them; having sex with people I didn't know well but didn't have to date; being on camera and showcasing my idea of what a "feminist porn performer" could look/be like; having an opinion about sex and being paid to get it out there; the joy of performing; having sex without having to be in a "relationship" and having that not be a problem for people.
What question do find people ask you the most? Which question do you feel people should be asking more often but don't?Most asked:
"What's the biggest one you ever had?"
"How do I get my GF/BF to _______________?"
"How can I get into the movies?"
"How can I be with you?"
"Ever been with Ron Jeremy?"
"How can I face my fears and insecurity instead of projecting them onto my partner?"
"How can I take adult responsibility for my feelings about sex and sexuality so I can have a better experience with my partner?"
"How can I learn more about my body, and my partner's body, to have a better time?"
"How can I get past my negative conditioning/experiences and learn to enjoy sex more fully?"
"How can I be a positive voice for sexuality in my community?"
The Beautiful Kind (host): "This answer sparkles. Please take note, everyone!"
What's your favorite animal?The Great Apes
Cats, wild or domestic
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Reading "Sex at Dawn" by Christopher Ryan is making me appreciate the great apes more than ever before! Nina, I think you are of the bonobo tribe! xoxo"
Do you have any pets? What are their names?I used to have cats, but when I left my first marriage I left them behind. My husband and I would have cats now, if he were not allergic.
So, I don't have any pets at present.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "This is one of the reasons I don't live with my primary partner - I have three cats and he is allergic."
I know this question is a bit of a cliche but if you could met one person living or dead. Who would it be?Sigmund Freud
It's hard to pick just one! I had to stop or the list would have kept going on and on . . . .
Do you have any children? If so, what are their names?I don't have children. I kept waiting to want them and it never happened. I wanted to be a midwife and help other women have their children.
I want to get a porn film for me and my boyfriend to watch together, but all the ones I've found so far have looked too fake and we ended up just laughing. I'm not very well versed in this area; are there any titles you would suggest?Well, at a certain level all porn is "fake," in that the circumstances of the sex you're watching are artificially created.
If you want "realism," check out amateur porn. Homegrown Video has at least 800 titles available. I'm sure EdenFantasys has an amateur section. The people won't be as attractive as in mainstream porn, nor will the lighting or the camera angels, but the people, and action, will be more "real" than San Fernando Valley Porn.
If you prefer plots, etc., you can't go wrong with Candida Royalle's Femme Productions. She wrote, directed and produced all of her titles with an eye for what women prefer to see. Well developed characters and plots. Most of the scenes are straight boy/girl, with little or no anal, very little girl/girl and, to my understanding, no orgies.
Digital Playground does big movies (the Pirates movies are pretty amazing), but the women are Porn Chicks, if that matters to you.
a good friend of mine is trying to get into the industry. i'm trying to find a safe way for her to do that and not get burned. any pointers on where to send her?Tell her to stay away and find something else to do. Porn as I've always known it is shifting so rapidly that I have no good advice to give any more.
Shooting is down. Competition is up. Wages are stagnating. Testing protocols are under attack by our enemies. It's a permanent record of sexual "transgression," and can't be taken back. It leaves a big hole in one's resume.
She can be a sexy woman in private, as wild as she wants to be, and have a straight job.
If she has a high tolerance for BS, she can try stripping, which is a way to try out sexual entertainment at low risk.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Super sound advice. This community interview should be turned into an ebook!"
Does your husband ever get jealous that you have sex with people other than him? Would you be supportive of your children entering the porn business when grown?No, I'm blessed with being married to the only man I know who is not, and never has been, jealous. So, no, he's never been jealous. We understand, being naturally non-monogamous ourselves, that no one person can be everything to another. Sometimes he needs a partner who is more naturally kinky than I am and sometimes I need a partner who's more vanilla than he is (which is not at all).
If I had kids, I like to think I'd have raised them well enough to make intelligent choices for their lives. I'd likely try to steer them away from porn, though, as it's so hard to do anything afterwards. It's a permanent record of behavior some people don't like, and it really doesn't develop any useful skills, unless one moves behind the camera into production.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "Have you noticed a recurring theme in Nina's answers: CONSIDER YOUR FUTURE. Learn from this wise woman!"
First, I just want to say I admire your intelligence and honesty. I think your just down right amazing!
So many films I've seen seem to focus mainly on Male satisfaction. The foreplay for the Woman seems to last all of two minutes and then it's all about the man's pleasure. Do you think this is an industry standard to cater to the male demographic audience? And how do you feel about this as a female performer in the industry?In a word, yes. Porn is mainly aimed at men, who are still the majority of the audience (about 60%, depending on what poll you look at). Most of the directors are men, and most of them don't have a private sex life from which to draw inspiration.
For more female-friendly fare, check out:
I take it in stride, as it's too much for me to get angry about, or I'd have had to have left years ago.
HIV-Positive ‘Patient Zeta’ from the recent porn industry quarantine has recently spoken out, advocating mandatory condom use in the adult film industry. Do you agree or disagree with mandating condom use in porn?Mandatory condoms would be a wholesale disaster in my business. We have a testing system in place that all performers use and it keeps HIV+ people out of the performer pool. Most porn sex is not that risky for HIV transmission; all of the on-set infections have come from women doing the most high-risk activity: anal cream pies (internal ejaculation). The site for our clinic states that it recommends that performers just say "no" to any cream pie scenes. We can't make them say "no," and we can't make the directors/producers stop asking performers to do them. We can only encourage women to just say no to them.
On the gay side (where Patient Zeta also worked), there is no testing and they use condoms. Patient Zeta ran smack into what's wrong with those who want to substitute condoms for universal testing: they don't work under industrial conditions. In real life, intercourse lasts for, on average, less than ten minutes, plenty long enough for one condom to work just fine.
In porn the sex goes on for a minimum of 30, and up to 60, minutes. Even with frequent condom changes, the risk goes up. Plus, since most men in porn are much bigger than average, there is the serious question of "condom burn," where the tissues of a vagina or anus are abraded by too much friction with the rubber. Yes, we use lube, but that's not enough when you have a very thick body part rubbing for 30-60 minutes on a tender body part. MIcro-tears in the vagina or anus make me MORE susceptible to infection, not less.
As well, the Powers That Be are not listening to the people they SAY they want to protect: performers. We do NOT want an outside agency, with NO understanding of the particulars of our situation, to tell us what to do to be "safe."
If there's a law (which there likely won't be, as what law maker will put his or her name to it? Who will police the sets? Where will money for a Condom Inspector come from? California is broke), then it's back to girl/girl only for me, as I won't work with a partner who's not tested.
Those who want condom-only laws are doing so for political gain, they don't care a rat's ass about us at all.
If a performer wants to use a condom, no problem. They shouldn't be penalized for it. But it shouldn't be mandatory. It's not porn's fault that we do a piss-poor job of sex education in this country, that we allow the religious nut-jobs to highjack our educational system and our legislative system. Porn's job is to entertain, not educate (unless it's a specifically educational tape, like the kind I make for Adam&Eve).
Each person is responsible for his or her own behavior in private, for his or her own safety, and for his or her own choices.
The Beautiful Kind (host): "This answer burns bright with all kinds of huge take-away messages and implications. I intend to re-read this answer a few times in order to fully process it. Consider it a message from the front line."
Thank you for all of your wonderful and very informative answers!
I see you've mentioned 'Guest Date Nights', will you tell us a little more about the boundaries you have set to keep these interactions safe and healthy? This is something my guy and I are batting back and forth at the moment and I have to admit sometimes it makes me a little insecure. Have you ever vetoed a play partner outright?This is a good question and too complex for me to go completely into detail here. For a bigger conversation I suggest you get a copy of my book, "Nina Hartley's Guide to Total Sex," I believe EdenFantasys sells it. The chapters on Swinging, Two-Guy/One Girl, and Two GIrl/One Guy Threesomes are excellent, if I do say so, myself.
First, BOTH people must want a threesome. My husband and I bonded together early on through our love of group sex. I first met him while I was fooling around with his female, platonic roommate, as it happens. I offered him a blowjob and he, being no fool, said, "sure!" We've been friends ever since.
To keep things healthy and safe, you and your BF must already be a good, strong, loving team, with a happy, satisfying sex life. Threesomes are there to ADD to something already good. They suck at keeping a floundering relationship afloat.
One must be open about what one wants out of such an encounter as well as what one fears most. Worst case/best case scenarios are good to talk about. Until and unless one can have this series of conversations without acrimony, tears, fights, sulks, attacks, retreats, pouting, punishing, pleading, stonewalling, capitulating, etc., then the couple is not ready.
I've never vetoed a potential partner outright, though each of us has the right/power to do so. Don't forget, we also see people on our own, which most couples don't do.
We've had plenty of dud dates, that didn't go as planned. We don't let those stop us from trying again, since the fun we have as a TEAM playing with another is important to us.
What do you want out of the date? To watch him with someone? For him to watch you? For both of you to "do" the other person? Will it be a woman or a man? Are you bisexual? Is he? What are the sexual boundaries to be? In our case we have no "special" behavior that we can ONLY do with each other. Some couples want to reserve intercourse/kissing/anal for just the primary partner. Since we know it's the heart of the person that's important, we don't worry about the behavior. We're each fine if the other person kisses the playmate, has intercourse or anal sex, but we're very odd that way. Most couples have, and agree to, behavioral boundaries as a way to foster trust and to make people feel safe.
Many, many conversations must happen between, "Gee, we'd like to try this," and actually getting it to happen. Go to a couple of swing parties and mingle, ask questions, watch the action (you're not required to do, or not do, anything at a swing party, btw). Take it slowly and keep yourself emotionally safe. When/if it becomes right, you'll know.
You are known as a person who gives GREAT sex and relationship advice, but what advice have you been given that you cherish the most?The best advice I ever got was from my husband, "Forgive yourself everything, but not in advance." Easier said than done, of course.
In general, the advice I give is: no one be mean, and no one threaten to leave. Feelings are what they are, but behavior is a choice, and being mean is behavior we can all get a grip on. And never use the threat of abandonment to make a point in an argument, as then it's out there as a possibility, when the other person may never have thought of that, ever.
Kindness and generosity, to self and other, go a long way in keeping relationships healthy.
Do you think your instructional/educational videos need to be updated? Have you noticed anything in then that you would want to leave out or correct?
If you were Asked to do a remake of the series, would you be upto it? Which stars would you like to work with on the project?Yes, the earlier ones need updating, as they look, well, dated! The information in the Oral Sex tapes is as good as ever, but the look is very dated, especially what I'm wearing!
I'd be delighted to re-make some of them, especially the earlier ones, but Adam&Eve is not interested in doing so and no other producer has stepped forward with an offer.
I'd likely remake the oral sex videos, the masturbation video and the anal sex one. Overall, I'm happy with them, though some of my casting choices I regret now.
I have no one particular in mind whom I'd use in another one. I would wait till we'd actually be on board to re-shoot and then do my casting based on who was available.
What do you say to some of the critics of porn performers that they are vapid, shallow and unintelligent? Personally, I've met and talked to some of the smartest and most self-aware people ever among people who are involved in any kind of sex work, whether performing, writing, blogging, reviewing, etc.
PS. Stereotypes aren't worth two dimes, but they are out there sadly.Well, the porn industry is pretty big, though it's shrinking these days. In our business we run the gamut of personality types, from sweet, smart and funny to crazy, stupid and mean, with clueless, bumbling and malleable in between.
If people assume that ALL performers are vapid or shallow or stupid, then it's a function of projection and puts on display the speaker's prejudices toward either the entertainment business in general, or the sex entertainment business in particular.
So I say to them, "It depends on with whom you speak, just like the rest of life."
Stereotypes are often based, however thinly, in real life. I just hope that when people meet me they see a person and not a cartoon. Some are able, and others aren't.
What is you're favorite accessory (sex toy, lingerie, swing, ect) and why?Besides my partner of choice, my most-vital sex toy is my Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator. I/we never have to worry about how I"ll get off, which takes off a lot of pressure for anyone to perform.
Other, high-on-the-list items:
Favorite butt plug
Well-fitting latex/nitrile gloves (think of them as "hand condoms")
Good quality baby wipes (great invention for adult sex!)
Well-fitting leather dildo harness
Quality silicone dildos
And, because I'm also kinky:
Good quality leather whips/crops
Fetish pumps (6" heels)
Pardon my enthusiasm and plethora of questions, I have never been able to freely ask questions and the industry and the people in it are so fascinating to me.
Did your parents conversion to Buddhism affect or influence your attitudes towards sex and freedom of sexual expression? Do you currently hold any faith-based beliefs and did you ever experience inner conflict between a specific belief and your work? If so, how did you resolve it?I've never been a religious person. I identify as Atheist and am comfortable with that. I don't believe in an afterlife, or an immortal soul, or heaven or hell as actual, physical places. I believe that this life is all that there is, though I also believe that there are things we don't know yet, or can't know now or ever. I'm also comfortable with that.
The inner conflict I felt about my job choices had to do with my identification with Feminism as a philosophy. I grappled a long time with "Can I be a "good" feminist and still want to take my clothes off for men's entertainment?" I decided that I could.
My parent's Buddhism was very influential, though, in that it teaches compassion and personal responsibility. Also, seeing them work out the problems of their lives let me know that I could, as well, create the life that's best for me. It happens that it's sexually related but it would have been just as helpful if I had continued on my initial choice of midwifery.
I use Buddhist philosophy as I understand it all the time, in that I try always to extend compassion for those who are suffering sexually. I never laugh at them, or think of them as "losers," the way many people do. We laugh at other's pain as a way of not paying attention to our own suffering. I see most people's sexual suffering as the result of their life experiences, be it bad/no useful sexual information, religious indoctrination about the body, sex and pleasure, a history of abuse or bad experiences with others, etc.
In our bodies is the history of all that has happened to us, good, bad or indifferent. In our bodies is also the source of our healing from these wounds. Conscious pleasure, experienced within the boundaries of our values and comfort, is the way to this healing, IMHO.
You have unlimited funding from an anonymous donor. The only condition is that you can't spend it on yourself or your loved ones. What cause or causes do you direct the funds to?Guttmacher Institute
Habitat conservation for the Great Apes (Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans)
Libraries/library funding/training for future librarians
Saving the Redwoods
Parenting classes for pregnant couples
Pre-marital counseling for all couples
Funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education for all school children
Promotion of midwifery and breast feeding for the first year of life
Music/Årts education for all school children
Bringing back recess and P.E.
Reforming the foster care system. Too many young people "age out" with no skills and no support and no access to their paper work/IDs/case history
Water conservation/public education as to water waste
Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care
Support for America's small towns, which are dying
Habitat for Humanity
I"m sure there's a lot more, but that's a start. Yes, I'm a Liberal, and proud of it.
I visited Belgium a while ago and was surprised by the amount of sexual openness I saw there. It was exciting to see chocolate breasts and BDSM toys publicly displayed. I was actually even called a prude by a local (and trust me I am not). My question for you:
You have traveled to many different countries, (professionally I assume) have you noticed a huge difference in sex attitudes? Which country did you enjoy most?I prefer Europe to most any other place, as the Continent has the most mature attitude toward sex and sexuality of any other region on earth, IMHO.
I liked Holland, with the Red Light District in Amsterdam.
What makes me sad nowadays is that the Radical Feminists have taken over the Green and SD parties in Europe and have promoted their anti-sex work/er agenda. Now, laws are on the books in many Northern European countries severely restricting, or limiting, prostitution and consensual sex work. All in the name of "protecting trafficked women."
There is a big difference between consensual sex work and non-consensual sex work, and the Rad Fems have conflated the two, with complete indifference to the lived experience of consensual sex workers. The Rad Fems don't care if they make it more dangerous or difficult for a consensual sex worker to make a living. No, they want to punish the clients and shame them into no longer using the services of sex workers, even going so far as to criminalize the customers instead of the providers. This leaves only those men who don't care about being criminals to patronize the women. These men are more dangerous, and ask for more dangerous activity (bare back sex, for instance), than earlier clients.
It's just another case where sex workers are demonized and marginalized and patronized, by those who claim to know "better for them" than they know themselves.
It's almost ruined Europe for me. Until recently I could fantasize about leaving the US and moving to a place where people understood better about the nature of human sexuality. But the anti-sex gang has got there first. Ugh.
How do you choose your dates for playtime together with hubby and a date just for yourself? Is there a distinction between the two? Does being Nina Hartley make it easier or more difficult to find playmates?
The pool of women who like to play with us are usually other women in our business. Since we are/can be so casual about intercourse, it's very hard to find "civilians" who can, or want to, be that casual about sex.
As well, such a woman has to be interested in kink sex, as that's the only kind we have, either alone or with others. When I'm alone, I'm more flexible, since kink is not my only sexual orientation, the way it is for my husband. And she's got to want to play from the submissive/receptive position, as we're a Dominant couple when we play with others.
So it's easiest to simply play with our co-workers in the porn business.
I find being "Nina" is rather neutral in getting playmates. They either like the kind of experience we offer, or they don't. We don't hold it against anyone if they're not into kink sex, as it's not for everyone.
It's then a matter of scheduling and negotiation of boundaries and behaviors.
Thank you for all of your informative answers. I have really loved everything that I have seen you in. You are extremely sexy, so thank you for that as well.
I am thinking about getting a cock ring, they seem very exciting. Do you enjoy having sex with a man wearing a cock ring, or is it kinda weird?If my partner is excited, I'll be excited. If wearing a cock ring makes him feel, or be, "sexier," then I'm all for it.
I like a person who takes an interest in his or her genitals, be it grooming/manscaping, or adornment with jewelry.
Keep in mind that I find very few sexual proclivities "weird," as I'm a fan of any consensual activity/behavior/desire.
Great interview! I hope you're having fun!
If you could go back in time to give advise to your past self, what period would you go back to and what would you tell yourself?LOL, easy:
Do not let the person who became my first husband, and his girlfriend, move in with me. In other words, I should have broken up with him/them in the first two years, instead of staying twenty.
Stay single in my twenties.
Get therapy to deal with co-dependence, and learn to communicate my own desires, feelings, needs and anger.
Take a class or ten in money-management and business skills, since I was in business for myself (I had always thought I'd work for others) and had no clue how to do so, to my everlasting harm.
Take a bigger interest in the politics of my business, so I could have more power and independence.
To break up with my exes as soon as I met Ernest, to have given us more time together.
What one event in your life changed how you viewed the act of sex and your own sexuality ?Golly, just one?
I guess the first time I dance on stage. I really loved it, just as I thought I would, and the audience loved me. It was a great validation.
Learning how to give a blow job.
Learning how to successfully perform oral sex on a woman.
Learning to relax enough to enjoy intercourse,
I have already taken some of your advice from this interview and added it into my life. I think my husband and I are becoming even closer because of your detail here in answering questions; we really appreciate you taking the time to do this.
My question is about names in the industry. Say someone new wants to enter the game and has a unique legal name that happens to already be in use by another star, what happens then?So glad to hear that I've been helpful! It makes it all worth it, IMHO.
Only two or three performers in my experience have used their real names on camera, even those with a GREAT "porn name" from birth. If a newbie's real name matches up with a porn name, they'd just have to pick a different name, is all.
I don't think it's ever happened, though.
You've mentioned that your husband never gets jealous (what a blessing he has!). How about yourself? Do you get jealous of your husband? If so, what was the situation and how did you resolve or process the jealousy?I healed the bulk of my jealousy when I was 20, when I realized that it was an expression of my insecurity. As a bisexual, polyamorous person, jealousy would have made it impossible for me to live the life I wanted: open and free. Even within monogamy, jealousy serves no good purpose and kills a lot of relationships.
My husband and I have never been sexually exclusive, having many threesomes together, and being happy when the other person has solo dates.
He did meet someone about 8 months ago with whom he had such a strong connection, at such a primal sexual level, that it sparked a deep jealousy and insecurity in me that I had not experienced in 30 years. It was very upsetting to us both, and surprising. How did I handle it? The way anyone with a "dark night of the soul" handles a spiritual challenge: by adhering to my philosophy of taking 100% responsibility for my experience and behavior 100% of the time, and extending my love and compassion to both him and to myself. He was upset that I was upset and was willing to not see her any more, but I couldn't ask him to do so.
They connect on a sexual level that he and I can never do, as the two of them are 100% kinky. I'm only partly kinky, an a big part of his sexuality wasn't getting to come out and play, and that's not fair, to my way of seeing things. No one's wrong here. Our sexuality is what it is and she speaks to a part of it with which I cannot communicate, despite my wanting to. If I could do so, we'd not be married, as I'd not be who I am. Painful, but there you have it.
It was very challenging to see them speak a common love language, one that I had learned as a second language in order to be with him. I felt inadequate, though I know I'm not, and less-than desirable, though I know I'm not to him. But a part of him that had been dormant for nearly 20 years (since no one had come along to spark it) came roaring out of the gate and took over for a while. This was hard to watch, though I enabled it fully. I made sure she visited him when I was out of town; we had threesomes (lots of fun, btw); I supported it even though it was hard for me to do so.
My previous experience with jealousy has been that, in my case, it's usually a front for grief. In this case, grief that my partner and I don't/can't connect at such a primal level. It simply can't be helped. We are the way we are and no one's at fault. It's just a sadness sometimes. Also, I welcome strong emotions for the way in which they help me go back to my childhood and resolve strong feelings from that time. For as much as I may have been hurting over seeing my husband's connection to this other person, the actual pain was connected to my childhood issues, and the jealousy simply allowed me to open the door to feelings I normally am not prompted to examine.
It's a case of the "proximal (close-at-hand) issue," in this case discomfort at seeing their connection, versus the "distal (far-in-the-past) issue, " which has to do with my life well before I ever met my husband. I got to do a lot of important personal work because of this, for which I'm very grateful.
My philosophy, and his, is that on one person can be "everything" to another, even if we WANT to be, It's just not possible for most people. So, we accept that other partners can "fill in" the blank spots. Hot sex and a good, stable relationship are not the same. He picked me because we have what it takes to make a life and marriage together work, and work well. The women who excite him at the hind-brain level have never, in 40 years of dating, been relationship material. This woman isn't, either, though the sexual connection is as powerful as I've ever witnessed. To quote Cole Porter, "It's too hot not to cool down."
So, time and patience and lots of love. This fling is cooling down and will likely be over in 2-4 months. He and I are closer and more bonded than ever, which makes it worth while, I think.
Years before your entrance into the industry, would you have ever thought that this would be a route your life would take? Would it have even been something you would say you'd have thought about?I actually wanted to get into porn for eight years before I actually made my first video.
I had started reading porn in my late teens, and especially enjoyed Victorian porn, specifically, "The Pearl," a classic of the genre, and "Autobiography of a Flea,' which is as silly and fulsome as it sounds. It was the 1970s and sex was breaking out all over.
I snuck into my first porn movie because I wanted to see the movie version of "Flea," and I was not disappointed. I came away thinking that porn/sex performance was what I wanted to do, even though I was still a virgin.
So, I thought about it for many years. I got into nursing school with the intention of becoming a midwife and started stripping in my sophomore year, with the support of my boyfriend (who would become my first husband). I was as happy and surprised that I could make a living off of it as the next person.
Over all, I've not been unhappy with my choice, just some aspects of it.
What do you like best about trade shows and other "meet & greet" situations? What do you like the least?What I like best about trade shows is meeting my fans and friends in person and being able to give them hugs and take pictures with them.
The thing I like least about them is how my feet hurt at the end of the day!
What do you feel is the difference between sex industry when you started working in it and now a days?The biggest differences between 1984 and now are these: how much bigger the industry has become; the number of women who are now consumers of adult products separately from a male partner, and the Internet.
It was a much smaller, family-oriented business for years, and it was possible to pretty much know everyone. About 300 titles per year, plus loops.
Now, 8,000-10,000 titles per year, and the market is saturated with inferior products, and people are, frankly, bored with it. It's no longer rare or special, or even taboo, which takes the appeal down a notch or three.
What's not changed is that the stigma of having been in it has not lessened, making it very hard for someone to leave porn and do anything else.
The social and political issues surrounding porn have shifted some, but not enough, IMHO.
Is there anyone that you helped to get their start, or who later told you that you were their inspiration to getting involved in the porn industry? Is there anyone who you thought would do very well in the biz, but they weren't interested?Several young women have sought my advice, and the ones who took it to heart felt it helped them a lot.
I learned a long time ago that I can give advice but it's up to the other person to take it, or not. I have to have no ego about it, as I can't save anyone. Only the person can save/help themselves.
About four women have told me I was an inspiration for their getting into porn. More women, none of whom are entertainers, have told me that I've helped them in their private lives, for which I'm very, very happy.
There have been some women who, if they had been exhibitionistic enough to want to make a job of it, would have done well, but show business wasn't for them, so they never bothered.
How has your career effected your relationship with your family, especially your husband?I started porn in 1984, but didn't come out to my family till 1986l. It was very, very hard for them to wrap their minds around it. One brother, who lives a religious life, didn't speak to me for nearly 20 years. We're friendlier now, but will never be what you'd call "close." He doesn't think porn should be illegal, or that anyone should go to jail for it. It's just not right for "his sister" to do it.
We don't talk about my work at family gatherings, which is fine with me, as I have minor nieces and nephews, and it wouldn't be appropriate. My older nieces and nephews do know, but they don't ask me about it, though they know they're permitted.
Among many other issues between us, porn did have negative effect on my first marriage, but it was doomed before porn ever entered the picture, so it was a symptom and not a cause.
I met Ernest when he was the Assistant Director (AD) on "Stairway to Paradise," from VCA Pictures, shot in 1989. He was both roommates with the director (Sharon Kane), as well as her friend and AD. I liked him right away.
I had an affair with Ernest from '91-92, but broke it off out of guilt. Bad move, I should have broken up with my ex, instead. But, eight years later, in '00, I left my marriage and called Ernest up. We've been together since. Porn is something we both do, and love. He, behind the camera/keyboard, and me in front of it. We swing and have very similar attitudes and philosophy regarding sex, love and relationships. I would NEVER have married again if I had not found a man who is truly, really, not possessive or jealous, which I had had quiet enough of, thankyouverymuch, from my first marriage.
So, when people ask, "What does your husband say about your work," I can reply, "Usually he says, 'Action,' and 'Cut.'" That makes them scratch their heads sometimes!
But it's good for us, if not for others.
What is the Woodhull Foundations? What is your role in it/them? What are the Foundations' goals?The Woodhull Freedom Foundation's mission statement is "Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human RIght." That's a sentiment I can get fully behind. It networks with other organizations with similar goals and missions, and tries to keep abreast of policies in the Capital that will affect sex, sexuality and sexual expression.
It's non-partisan, though few Conservatives would be likely to support us, for obvious reasons.
The goal of the foundation is to further sexual freedom for all consenting adults, and to educate the public as to the truth about sex, sexuality and sexual expression.
What made you decide to go into the business of acting in porn?1. I had an idea/vision about sex and porn was a great way to get it out there, and be paid for it.
2. It's where the naked women were.
3. It allowed me to have a lot of sex w/o having to date anyone, or be in a "relationship," or be "in love." I was most interested in the mechanics/physiology of sex. For me, the emotional side was too messy and I wasn't down for it.
4. It allowed me to have a lot of sex without my partners getting all upset that I was 'slut" or "whore" labels some men in the civilian world use to shame women whose sexuality frightens them.
5.It allowed me to have a lot of sex during regular daylight hours, instead of late at night, with drunk/high/stoned people I had just met in at a bar or party.
6. It as all the fun of dating with none of the hassle.
7. I didn't have to try to talk to people. By showing up on the set they had already said, "yes," to sex with me, which took all of the worry out of it.
What would you say are the qualities that makes someone cut out for the porn industry? I myself am not personally looking into it, but I have a friend who is and I want to be supportive of her for the right reasons.1. Being very exhibitionistic.
2. Having a high sex drive, and a high level of interest in sex for its own sake (as opposed to "for love," or any other reason).
3. Being fit, and pretty enough. The prettier a woman is by dominant cultural standards, the more she can charge for her time/labor.
4. Having good self esteem and good boundaries, and be able to state them and make them stick. The entertainment business is cutthroat, porn included, and it's not for the faint of heart or for the weak.
5. Know WHY she wants to do this, and own it. She won't get famous. She won't get rich. She won't learn many life skills she can take elsewhere.
6. Have a good support system, be it friends, family or romantic partner.
7. Good communication skills.
8. Strong backbone.
I can't recommend the business any more, as it's changing so much I don't know what's in store for anyone. It used to be a pretty steady gig, but it's not any more. The industry is contracting, due to both economic, as well as political, pressures. Work is drying up.
I'd recommend to your friend that she find a way to exercise her sexuality in a different environment. Maybe she'd be better in the swing world, or the alt-sex crowd, or the polyamorous tribe.
She can be sexy and adventuresome and avant guard without having to make a permanent recored of her activities.
Can you tell us a bit about the "Porn Wars" and how you were involved during that time?That's quite a question, and it will take more time and energy than I have now to go into if fully here.
Some books that you may want to check out:
"Defending Pornography," by Nadine Strossen (President of the ACLU)
"A Woman's Right to Pornography," by Wendy McElroy
"Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex," by Judith Levine
Any writings by:
Dr. Joycelyn Elders
In the 1980's, the so-called "Meese Commission," was empaneled by President Regan to revisit the supposed "harmful effects" of pornography on the culture. Richard Nixon had done the same thing in the 1970s and it had found no harm from porn (porn became legal in 1972). There was a period in the '70s of "porn chic," where big-name people went to theaters to see shot-on-film porn movies. The biggest name movies of this era were "Deepthroat," and "The Devil in MIss Jones," both of which played, non-stop, for nearly ten years from the time they were released.
The Meese Commission was stacked/packed with people who had, already, for religious or political reasons, made up their minds about the harms of porn. It was SO far from being "balanced" or intellectually honest, that many people rejected in advance whatever "findings" were to be discovered. Hearing were held, testimony from both sides recorded.
The final Report was over 1,000 pages and was full of porn, in the form of descriptions of scenes and behaviors. It was SO biased that two of the original women who were on the panel resigned and refused to sign their names to it, and they were anti-porn to start with!
To go along with the political pressure from the newly-ascendent Religious Right, was the growing sentiment, within the feminist community, that porn WAS, in fact "bad for women," and should be made illegal. This led to a massive split among women who identified as "feminist," a split which remains today, between those who were anti-censorship (whether or not they liked, or approved of, porn) and those who would trash the First Amendment to get rid of images they found distasteful.
Even when it was pointed out that it was ALWAYS women's issues (health, reproduction, domestic violence) that are the first to be silenced under a pro-censorship atmosphere. the anti-porn women would have none of it. They made common cause (and still do, to this day) with the Religious RIght on this issue, even though the RR is completely against reproductive choice, comprehensive sex education, etc. They made a deal with the devil, since "dirty pictures" are, for them THE most pressing issue confronting women. Not equal pay for equal work, or educating the public on domestic violence (DV) issues, or single-payer health care, or child-care at work, or flex time, etc. No, dirty pictures, and how these women feel about them (not to mention the men who consume them) are more important than any of that.
I don't agree.
The women who are enemies of women (they feel the same about me, no doubt about it) include, but are not limited to:
Katherine MacKinnon (still active today, and very single-minded)
Andrea Dworkin (deceased, but one of the original anti-porn thinkers, and a colleague of Ms. MacKinnon's)
There are more, of course, but I can't think of them now. The above are all dangerous as they're either published authors, tenured professors, or opinion makers, or any combination of the three.
The biggest problem I have, and there are many, is that these women is how anti-woman they really are. Despite claiming to care about women, they won't/don't/haven't listened to US, the actual women WORKING IN PORN, or respected our stories. They constantly disrespect us, our stories and our analysis.
They enrage me and I hate them, as much as they hate me. They see me as a danger to women, a "shill," "lapdog," "house n*****," and more, for my speaking out for sexual freedom for women. The antis see sexual freedom as a danger to women, as an excuse for men to "use us for their lustful purposes," only to discard us. How Victorian!
They don't like it when women have a different idea/view/vision of sex, sexuality, sexual expression and intimate relationships stand up and speak back.
There's lots to know about this subject, and I hope you take a look at the books I mentioned. They're great reads.
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