The Last Porn Star, Tera Patrick--The XCritic Interview
By Rob Perez
Axel Braun says Tera Patrick was the last porn star the industry had and he may be correct. With the business becoming more acceptable in the mainstream and so many girls entering the business in droves, it is becoming difficult for any girl to really standout among the rest. Tera Patrick worked her way to the very top of the porn world before the Internet really took porn to another level and when it did, Tera successfully used it to her advantage to become its greatest star, not just of her era, but of all time. She built the template that all other girls use now but Tera would be the first to tell you it takes more than being a pretty face to succeed in porn. It takes connecting with your fans, having a sound business plan, working with the right people, determination, and knowing when the time is right to leave which, in Tera’s case, was when she was still at the height of her career. Of course, having a pretty face also helps a little bit.
Now happily retired, in a loving relationship and a new baby, Tera is enjoying her time away from porn which she vows she will never return to as either a performer or producer (though she still owns the name Teravision). However, her website TeraPatrick.com, is updated constantly and still remains one of the top websites on the Internet. When girls leave the business the fans generally forget about them and go on to the next girl but Tera’s fans continue to crave more of Tera. That’s the mark of a true legend, when your fans haven’t forgotten about you. Tera Patrick may never do another porn film ever again but her legacy in the adult industry will forever remain intact. The reign of Tera is definitely not over. Tera Patrick is the last porn star!
So you retired from porn because you felt you had already accomplished everything you wanted to do in porn?
Yeah, that was the reason. The main reason why I retired from porn . . . I wanted to start a family, I wanted to have a normal life. I get asked this question a lot and I do touch on it in my memoir and I say, people think that everybody is happy when they’re married in the industry. I don’t want to blow it for anybody because there’s always so much fantasy but in my mind, regardless if this sounds like a contradiction to people, I did not have a normal life while I was in porn. I wanted the anonymity in a way, and I wanted to just step away from the business. For me the business was business, my personal life has been personal. Unfortunately it was a big cause in the demise of my marriage at the time too. It was just not possible. I have very traditional values and I did not want to be in the industry. I wanted a family and I really wanted to separate that. Ten years in the industry I accomplished a lot. There were no worlds to go. I didn’t want at the end of the day, to just keep making porn for the sake of a paycheck. That’s not where my hearts at. I pay the bills other ways now and it’s much more fulfilling. People think I miss the industry. I think what I miss about the industry—because I’m having great sex I’m just having it with one person—I miss the fans. I miss going out and meeting the fans because I have great, great fans. And that’s one thing I want to say to your readers; they’ve been loyal and faithful to me. My fans keep following me and they love me and I love them. They’re loyal and that’s the best part of the industry to me was the fans. Even when I’m on Twitter or on Facebook, or when I’m just out in public my fans are just really cool. They’re like, “Tera, we love you. What are you doing next?” It’s nice. It’s really nice.
You still get recognized everyday?
Yeah. Even with no makeup on, I always do. Charmane Star and I are very close friends and it’s funny, we’ll either get “Tera, Charmane,” or someone will recognize one of us. Also, she’s four feet tall and I’m five nine so it’s kind of hard not to recognize the two of us walking around. My fans are great. I don’t mind people coming up as long as they’re respectful which 99 percent of them are. The funniest fan encounter—I had two of them—I had a guy who recognized me while he was driving down the expressway. This was in New York City and he actually had my DVD in his truck. I didn’t realize it because I was so engrossed in traffic but he was like, “Tera!” and he was waving my DVD and all I could think of was that he had to keep his eye on the road because he was going to rear end someone. This expressway is a nightmare. And the other thing was, “How does he have my DVD in his car? Was he carrying it around? Does he have other DVDs?” It was hilarious. The other fan I remember I was in Germany, and he asked me if he could be my Ottoman. I went, “My Ottoman?” and he crouched down and said, “Yeah. Put your feet on me.” I was like “OK” but then I remembered thinking I would be the worst dominatrix because I’d smack you and then go, “Are you OK?” I felt bad about putting my feet on him as an Ottoman but he goes, “I want to be humiliated.” It took me a second to realize that he was happy doing this.
It was great, it was humbling to me to step off a plane in 1999 when I did my first Hot d’Or Awards in Canne’s France, and I won best new American Starlet. There were French people who knew who I was. That was humbling to me. You don’t think people watch porn on the other side of the world. I was naïve. I had never seen porn. My publicist still laughs at me because I said, “Lisa I never saw porn. I didn’t know that everybody watched it and that I was going to leave Tarzania, California and land in Nice, France and everyone was going to go, “Tera!” How did they know who I was? I thought I could hide it and no one would know. My friends were like, “You’re on the cover of Playboy this month,” and I thought “Oh.” That was interesting, that was humbling in a good way.
Axel Braun has said you were the last true pornstar. There are no more pornstars. Do you feel the industry lacks any real stars today?
Yes and no. I think yes in the sense of the girls have to do so much more to achieve that status. Jenna [Jameson] and I did so little compared to what the girls do now really, in all honesty. Girls are doing 500 to 600 movies; Jenna and I never did that. There are critics out there, and I’ve said it more than anyone, I was not a performer. I never got good reviews. I just wasn’t a performer. If you were a fan of mine it was because you liked me or you liked the way I looked. You were never going to get a Tera Patrick triple anal back flip. I did not do that and I was not known for that. I wasn’t known for being a performer. Girls today like the Sophie Dee’s and Alexis Texas’, they do the work. We did the work too they’re just doing a lot more work. Asa Akira, these girls are doing double and triple anal for movies out the gate. We could hold that back for a year or two. The way the industry is now, because it is all on the Internet, DVDs are becoming obsolete, there’s a lot more platforms right now. Piracy, or all of it. Girls also aren’t in the business for the business. A lot of girls are just making quick money. It’s a very different time. Because there are so many mediums to deliver content today and because there are so many people that want to work as talent, there’s not really going to be one person that stands out because the consumer is so inundated with porn. It’s on your phone, it’s everywhere. Fans don’t identify with one person like they used to. For them they’re getting off literally in two minutes. If they want to watch a two-minute clip they can go to a tube sight and download anything for free. If someone joins your website you have to have a loyal fan base, you have to have to have people that are constantly interested in you to stay a member of your site. Otherwise the average consumer isn’t really concerned with who they’re watching.
You just said something interesting about how the fans don’t identify with one girl anymore. When you started out there were the guys who were into Jenna, you, Janine, etc. If you entered the business today in 2012 do you feel you could have achieve the same type of status today than you did when you entered the business in 1999?
It’s a different time but I say yes because my strategy would be, technically if I were a new girl starting out today, I would not shoot for a bunch of different companies and hope for the best, per se. I tell these girls “It’s called supply and demand,” and that’s in any business. “You need to keep your content exclusive and you need to brand yourself and market yourself.” This works in any business whether its porn, the record industry, perfume or anything. You need to be exclusive. The secret to Jenna and I were branding. We were both backed by companies who at the time were not big companies. The people who say Digital Playground made me and Wicked made her, we made them just as big. It was a mutual relationship. What we went on to achieve after that was even greater, and I’m not disrespecting Wicked or Digital Playground. I’m saying they were small companies starting out and we were the faces of those companies. When she started Club Jenna and I started Teravision we got the piggyback from those companies and it helped us and it gave us legs to become even bigger brands and that’s what we’re known as today. So starting out today, the only difference is I think our strategy would be the same and we would achieve success, but we’re broadcasting to a much more diluted audience. There were 10 of us, me, Jenna, Janine, Jesse Jane wasn’t even around. There were a lot less fish in the pond. I’ll say who I think is successful, Catalina Cruz. She’s a very, very smart businesswoman, financially super successful, stunningly beautiful but she’s a businesswoman. She doesn’t care to be a star but she has a huge fan base, she has 18 websites. She’s a honey badger, she’s rocking, she’s a super smart woman but she’s not famous. She’s not as famous as Asa Akira or Alexis Texas but she has a huge presence on the web. She never went for the fame. That’s what I tell the girls. Fame is not going to secure your bank account. At the end of the day I always tell the girls you want to get the most out of the business. That’s really where the business is at today because it’s not really about name or brand recognition. Even the studios, look at Vivid, they don’t have contract girls anymore. It’s not financially feasible.
Do you feel becoming an adult star was your calling in life.
No. [Laughs] I still don’t even know what my calling is in life. I didn’t think it was to be an adult film star but what I write about in one of the first paragraphs of Sinner Takes All, I always said I knew I wanted to be adored. I always wanted to be in magazines, I wanted men to look at me. I knew that. I talk about how I came across a photo of Marilyn Monroe in a thrift shop and what captivated me about the photo initially was, of course she’s a beautiful woman, but it was a USO photo and I was looking at the way men were looking at her. And I went, “I want men to look at me that way.” So I knew I wanted to be a model, a pinup, I knew I wanted to be in magazines. The funny thing about porn, I had posed for Playboy, that was the very first thing I did. I remember walking in the Santa Monica studios of Playboy West and seeing a poster that said “Women who don’t wear panties never get them in a bunch.” I said, “That’s a good motto in life.” I remember seeing all these Playmates, they did my hair and makeup, and when the time came to do my test shoot and I had to take my robe off and be naked. I was scared because I had never been naked around strangers, and I looked up and I swear to god, they weren’t even looking at me. There were grips texting, someone was on the phone with his wife, someone was asking someone else to pick up their dry cleaning; they didn’t even care. They were just like, “Oh another naked girl.” That gave me the confidence because I knew they weren’t staring at me, to shoot the layout. The first job I went on was on Julie’s Strain’s show on Playboy TV called Sex Court. Alexandria Silk was the bailiff and she smacked my butt, and I remember going, “This is going to be fun. I’m going to do porn.” I was 23, it was 1999, I was going to go for it. I started working with Jim South and I have nothing but good memories. It cracks me up when people think that I don’t want to talk about the business. I completely embrace it. I’m now retired but I really loved all of the work I did with Vivid and Teravision. I worked with some unbelievably talented, great people. And I still have great friends, Lizzie Borden, Charmane Star, I have so many friends still in the industry.
Do you love attention?
Absolutely. I’m a Leo, I’m a lioness. Carmen Elektra said it the best. “Life is not worth living unless there’s a camera around.” I would talk to people and they would say, “Tera, I’m your friend. I’m not interviewing you.” Yeah, it’s true. I love attention.
Being an adult performer with the status you had in the industry, did it strain any other relationships you had besides your marriage.
No. I’m really close to my sister and my mom and for me it was a business. My family has always backed me up. I came, I saw and I conquered. I did what I wanted to do in the business, I got what I wanted out of it, and now I’m living well because of it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what I really do try to emphasize to the girls. It’s not all about money, have a great, great time. The porn business is fun and there’s a lot of great that comes into the business. There’s good and bad in any industry but I’m able to live now and do what I want to do because I worked in the industry and I have no shame about it and I completely embrace it. When my daughter is old enough of course she’s going to know what I did. If I don’t have any shame about it she won’t. That’s the important thing I realized is that your family has to be there for you. You can’t throw stones at someone who lives in a glass house. You can’t do that.
Is being an adult performer and married, are those two things difficult to manage for anyone in the adult industry?
I can’t speak for people I don’t know but I could say this: there’s going to be jealousy, we’re human. I can say just from my observation, there are people that are couples that live the life. They’re swingers, they love it, that’s what they do. Going back to what I had said, I have very traditional values. I knew I wanted to be monogamous and married. My take on it with my ex-husband, it was not conducive to us having a healthy relationship. My life . . . it’s so good now. I’m so happy to be on the other side but at the time I always say, if there are couples or people out there considering working in the adult industry, always just be open and honest. It’s about the honesty and communication. I found that the people I saw having problems in the industry, you have to be there for your partner. Your partner has to come first. If you both, and I emphasize the word both, make a decision to go into the industry together, number one above all is don’t make it about money, don’t make it about anything but respect and be there for each other. That’s just what you want to do in any relationship.
Was watching your ex-husband having sex with other women on film, that wasn’t easy for you?
That actually didn’t bother me. What sealed the deal for me was that he didn’t mind me performing with other guys. I can’t respect a man that’s OK with me having sex with other guys.
So in a way did you want him to tell you to stop performing?
No because it was my choice but that’s what really made me turn around and realize he didn’t care about me. It wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about us as people, and that’s why I had said “Above all if you both mutually agree to be in the business and having this relationship, then so be it,” but it doesn’t always start out that way. It’s the relationship when one person is in the industry and the other who decides to do porn is when there’s going to be problems. It’s like the girl who’s in the industry and the guy comes along and says, “I’m cool with it.” Then all of a sudden they’re in the industry. It gets messy. And I’m not saying that with any type of anger it’s just experience, it’s kind of what you know now. I’m so grateful to have my partner now. His name is Tony, we’ve been together a year and a half. He wants absolutely nothing to do with my business and that’s the beauty of it. He runs his business and I run my business. We come home together and its like, “How do we raise our daughter together.” I love what he does, he loves what I do. We both respect each other. There’s such a huge amount of respect for each other. It wasn’t even so much the physical performing part that broke up my marriage. It’s the dishonesty, it’s all the other emotional . . . it’s hard to work with your partner. It’s hard, not even on the physical side but trying to run a business together and have a life together. It’s like those families you see that own restaurants, they want to kill each other by the end of the night. You have to separate it. It’s hard. It’s hard to work with your partner sometimes. I celebrate, I love seeing couples that do work it out.
Which Teravision Films are you most proud of or the ones you felt were exceptional?
For sure Broken and Sasha Grey’s Anatomy. I love Sasha because we never worked together but I had to shoot her in a pick up scene one day, and I was shooting some photo sets for Ivan Kane. She and I did a little tease clip together where she was flogging me, and we had taken photos. It didn’t turn into a scene because we weren’t really set up for that but I remember she looked at me and said, “Oh you like pain.” And I said I do, and I’ll never forget the look in her eye because she was excited. She wanted to beat me up. [Laughs] I’m sure that’s a lot of people’s fantasy out there. She’s fun, she’s really sweet. My best girl/girl scenes were with Savanna Samson for sure and Brianna Banks. Brianna is just as crazy as I am. We threw each other around and we did everything but hit each other in the face. Brianna is a lot of fun, she’s super energetic and I love Brianna because she’s tall. She’s really tall like I am. I love working with her.
You’re comfortable being a sex symbol?
Absolutely! It’s not my problem if someone has insecurities about what I do. I’m comfortable with who I am. You really do have to embrace. J Lo embraces her big butt. She inspired a huge movement. Every girl embraces her big butt now. And that to me is the beauty of it and that’s what’s empowering. Why as women especially, bring each other down. Even though I was in the porn business, anyone who wants to throw salt in my face, I always say “Empowerment over exploitation.” I say this humbly, I truly feel I successfully left the industry. I feel I left a positive impact and mark. I don’t have any shame about it at all.
In your obituary do you think the first sentence will say porn star?
No because people don’t even say that about me now. So I don’t know. I’m a mom now. I love being a mom, I love being a good friend, I love being a businesswoman. I feel like there’s so many layers to the cake that if some people just want to say porn star I’m fine with that. If they want to say she was a hot mom, I’m fine with that. Everything I do I give 300 percent, hence this interview. Everything. I always say, “Preach on the positivity.” At my funeral I hope you’re not talking, I hope you’re all partying. When I have a bad day or when things get me down, I feel like there’s no reason to be. I really learned to be humbled and embrace things a little differently. I’m happy now and my publicist saw that and it was good to see her. I’m glad she connected me with you guys and a few adult publications because I did disappear for quite a long time. I haven’t done any press, I haven’t spoken to anybody. So I wanted to let everyone know I’m good and I’m OK.
I’m sure you’re aware of the parody craze in porn. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I just want to congratulate Axel Braun. I love Axel. Axel was my editor for years and he’s a good personal friend and I adore Axel and I think the best parodies are Axel’s. I believe the reason why his are the best is because he’s completely OCD. His attention to detail to me is perfect, but also because he’s a fan. He’s a real fan of the comics. He’s a real fan and he wants to really put his soul into it. And he’s also into the sex. He’s not the type of director that passes out when you shoot the scene. He’s really so gifted and making everyone look amazing. I mean Superman, he was beyond devoted to that movie. So I really think Axel is doing good with that.
On a scale of one to 10 where would you rate yourself?
The best and worst thing about being a pornstar?
It’s all good. I think it’s the worst thing when the girls don’t keep their heads together. They have to be emotionally strong and know what you want and go after it.
What would you say is your best physical feature?
My soul. If we’re going to break it down my legs. I’m 5’9 and I have 36’ legs. My boyfriend loves my legs. When you asked me where I rate myself, I always say, “Why be a 10 when you can be a 15?” The reason why I say 15 is because I’m always working on improving myself. I think you should never let yourself go. I think you should always just be the most beautiful you could be?
Are you a dominant or submissive person?
I’m in the middle. I can do both.
Anything at all you’d like to say to your fans in closing?
I love my fans and thank you for the opportunity.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF TERA PATRICK/TERAVISION/VIVID
For more information on Tera Patrick, visit her website TeraPatrick.com and follow Tera on Twitter @TeraPatrickXXX.
Follow me on Twitter @RobGPerez