It's 2:00 p.m. and Eva Angelina exits the elevator and walks up the cement walkway leading to my table.I've set up camp on a steel pedestal beneath a poster advertising the TV show Bionic Woman (fitting, you'll discover) and directly across from a mammoth King Kong marquee lording over Universal City Walk's pedestrians below.Even at this distance I can tell she's beautiful. Dark-skinned and tight-bodied, she's wearing a torso-hugging, belly- and boob-baring white top, ass-hugging jeans rolled up at the ankles, a pair of electric blue Adidas, a thick white, studded belt, and a pair of her trademark eye glasses.There aren't many people where we're meeting, but of the few that have decided to eat their Panda Express in this out-of-the way second-floor section of City Walk, their heads pivot, the women's following Eva's curvy body, the men's wondering just where they've seen this 5'3 beauty before.
At her side is publicist Alexander "Monstar" Raymond who looks as adept at stiff-arming ogling stalker-types who wander too close to his clients as he is at churning out press releases for the porn stars he represents. He's tall, muscular, and dressed very much like how you would expect a rep for a porn star to dress: pec-revealing black button-up, heavy silver jewelry, and mirrored shades.
On this early Monday afternoon, the Walk is mostly populated by tourists toting expensive Nikons and plastic bags stuffed with cartons of food and souvenirs from Hard Rock Café, B.B. King's, Popcornopolis, and Tommy's.
We're seated now and it's hard not to stare at Eva like, well, those same shifty looking dudes Monstar has to occasionally keep at bay.I have to will myself to focus on her face and not let my eyes wander below her neckline to the breasts that grace the covers of well over a hundred DVD cases and right now appear to want to erupt from her shirt.Her face, I tell my eyes.
It's a battle I'll fight for the next two hours.
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An Adult Film Rarity
Punch Eva Angelina's name into the search engine at Adult DVD Empire and 16 pages of 378 titles will appear, from 2003's College Invasion 4 to the much buzzed-about impending release of Big Wet Asses 12.It's prolific output from a performer who will not turn 23 until next spring.
"I've shot a lot," Eva admits, laughing."I'm a busy girl."
But despite Eva's near round-the-clock and year-long shooting, feature dancing, and promotional schedule, she's proven to be one of the most durable, business-savvy, and consistent performers in the adult film world.In an industry where even top-tier, professionally managed talent sometimes burns out well before they hit their mid-twenties, Eva's ascent from shooting low-budget-even-by-industry-standards films to starring in Upload, one of porn's biggest-budgeted and biggest hits to date, is even more impressive.Her secrets to churning out quality work, remaining healthy, and gradually realizing her dream of becoming "the next Jenna [Jameson]"? For starters, Eva spent the bulk of her career saying "no" to double penetration, anal, and gang bangs.Despite the bigger paydays and a better shot at industry awards, she understood the physical toll these scenes have on new-to-the-scene girls and was loath to be pegged as "just another anal performer." Her mantra: "I want people to value my ass like I value my ass."(Eva's anal holdout was so well known, that when she finally decided that she was ready to get attacked from behind in Elegant Angel's gonzo Big Wet Asses 12, AVN ran a news release announcing it. And the inclusion of her first filmed anal scene is one of Upload's major selling points.)
Eva's dedication to her job is apparent, both in the inventive ways she is marketed by her team (for instance, her Monstar-produced "Fun With Eva Angelina" clips have collectively been viewed over 300,000 times on YouTube), and her impressive work ethic.
"We shot [Upload] for nineteen days, most of them long, hard days in difficult conditions, and Eva worked seventeen of them. Three days encompassed her two big fight scenes and the rehearsal for one of those scenes, and we essentially spent those three days filming Eva getting the crap kicked out of her. She never complained, not once. She never bitched about the hours, she never griped about getting thrown around or shooting in the desert in the middle of summer or having to do a huge pile of dialogue after being up all night.Not a peep.
That kind of dedication is extremely rare in this business.She was as committed to that show as those of us on the production team were. She wanted to do the work and she cared if it was good. She wanted it to count, and when you're on a long shoot like that, it matters."
Eva admits that her hectic schedule and the on-set intensity Cross described do take their toll, both mentally and physically.She works nearly year-round and typically spends her non-shooting days creating content for her site.
So how do you stave off the burnout?
"I think I've just been lucky.I spread everything out, as far as my shooting goes.I shoot a little bit of everything.I'm not just shooting gonzo or just shooting feature.And I do a lot of internet stuff which really doesn't get me burned out. [And] I'm taking three weeks off in December to get back on track with my website. It's freaking me out. I don't think I've ever taken three weeks off."
The effort and consistency are paying off. This past October, Eva won her first major accolade: Best Actress at the annual Nightmoves Adult Entertainment Awards. And according to Cross, this first honor is, well, only the first of more to come. He told me: "I think it's a virtual certainty that Eva will get a nomination for Best Actress [at the AVN Awards in January], one that she absolutely deserves given the quality of her work in Upload. And with the caveat that I haven't seen the final field she's up against, I think she might have a good shot at winning. Hard to say at this point, but I think the nom is a lock."
Eva On...Feature Dancing
This past weekend you danced for the last time at the Rouge in Van Nuys. Is feature dancing something you'll be doing less of in the future then?
"As much as I like the act of getting up on stage, I can't dance and get down on my knees for three hours a night for however many weekends. I don't have 'stripper knees.' I don't have a whole routine down. It beats up my body so much. And the traveling around the U.S. can take its toll. I'd rather shoot, have guaranteed money, and sleep in my bed, y'know, and be in bed by midnight every night. That would be nice."
Refreshingly, she adds, "I'm kind of a homebody in a way."
Eva Angelina, Action Hero
Back to that poster we're sitting under. It's rather fitting that Eva is being interviewed below an advertisement for Bionic Woman, the action-heavy reinvention of the mid-'70s cult favorite that featured Lindsay Wagner as a half-human/half-cyborg spy.
"I want to be an action star," Eva says.
I'm not surprised to hear this after seeing her work in Upload.She throws a deft right hook and high leg kick at a "TeslaBot" in one scene and spends a good chunk of the rest of the film entering rooms with gun drawn, SWAT-style, and retreating from exploding cars.
When asked who her favorite actor is, Eva offers up Bruce Willis, and admits to wanting to play an "ass-kicking" partner to Detective John McClane in future Die Hard installments.She's only half-serious when she says this, but it's really not that difficult to imagine this energetic, athletic, and absurdly sexy girl assuming, say, Justin Long's sidekick role in Live Free or Die Hard, or tossing villains down elevator shafts or dodging machine gun fire in her own action vehicles.
And before you scoff at the prospect of the star of Grudgefuck 4 attaining mainstream success as an action regular, consider this: One of mainstream Hollywood's biggest female action stars at the moment is, incidentally, another Cuban American named Eva.Eva Mendez, recently of Ghost Rider and the upcoming The Spirit, began her career shooting low-budget action fare like Mortal Kombat: Conquest and Exit Wounds.Her debut? The forgettable Children of the Corn V which she shot as an industry rookie in 1998 at 24 years old.
Eva Angelina is 22.Eva Angelina, at 22, is already considered a front-runner for an AVN Award for her work as Cassandra Cray in Upload.Eva Angelina, at 22, has filmed in front of a blue screen, had her ass kicked (and "battered for real" according to Cross) by mixed martial artist and fight choreographer Derrick Pierce, and has already tackled feature-length scripts and lengthy on-location film shoots.
Still don't believe it?
Ask a fan of American action films to list the genre's top female talent.Milla Jovovich, of the Resident Evil series, might earn a quick response. Or Kate Beckinsale for her sexy turn in the Underworld franchise.Maybe Mendez, if you remembered Ghost Rider at all. Perhaps model Devon Aoki, of SinCity and Tokyo Drift if you were really paying attention. And Jessica Alba might warrant mention, but there's not a person alive that would label her an action star.
So why not Eva Angelina? If we are supposed to buy skinny-armed Jessica Biel as DC comics icon Wonder Woman, then why not Eva Angelina mowing down Russian mobsters with submachine gun a-blazin', a vest full of hand grenades, and a trademark catch phrase?
Adult star Courtney Cummz (another Monstar client, incidentally) recently had a brief scene in the hit show, The Unit.When we talk about your success and what you aspire to, is it mainstream success, or are you satisfied with your current growth in the adult world?
"Actually, I started off doing mainstream stuff.I've always been in the performing arts and getting up on stage and ultimately, acting.I enjoy being someone that I'm not; I like to be like a chameleon and change characters.Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to do some mainstream projects. [However], a lot of it is timing.If they're looking for you, they're looking for you.With the mainstream industry, it's what casting directors are looking for at that moment.If they're looking for someone like you, then perfect.It's very competitive.I'm not really aiming for [mainstream work], I'm just really trying to focus on [porn] right now and building up a name for myself and if it goes in that direction then fine.Right now I'm just trying to accomplish what I can in this industry."
Can you accomplish the level of fame that you want by staying in the adult industry? When Janine and Jenna were at their peaks, they were still just adult film stars without much crossover into mainstream stuff. Now with Courtney Cummz getting a scene in The Unit, is that sort of...
"Well, Stormy [Daniels] has done Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin. Tommy Gunn did Sopranos. Jesse [Jane] was on Entourage. To get something like that would be cool, but again, it's about timing. It's about what [casting directors] are looking for. If they're looking for somebody and I happen to be there, then great. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing."
Eva On...Contract Girls
Your Upload co-star, Hillary Scott, famously signed a one million dollar contract with SexZ Pictures. Is a studio contract an ambition of yours as well?
"If the opportunity is right, getting a contract would allow me to do some different projects, and allow me more time to focus on my website, more press, and get my hands in some mainstream stuff--things that I can't do now. Because right now I don't have that freedom. I'm shooting. I breathe for shooting. The contracts [girls] get are mixed. On one hand you have Hillary, but a lot of [contracts] are like sixty to seventy grand. So that's not so appealing. But having one company support you and have your back...that's kind of nice."
Later, Eva adds, "I think it's more difficult for me because I'm not contracted. I have to do far more press with my team. If I could [be successful] doing it in a more freelance kind of way, where I have more control over my life, I would. That's definitely a goal of mine."
Eva says this in response to a question about her experiences working on the sci-f-meets- hard core porn, Upload. At $360,000, it's one of the biggest-budgeted flims in adult film history, and also one of the longest with the "XXXX" Director's Cut running close to five hours (the XXX cut is 13 minutes shorter). But while the film is a milestone for the adult industry as a whole, it's also proven to be a milestone in Eva's career. Much has already been said about Eva finally agreeing to film an anal scene (she had been looking for an excuse to begin shooting anal, she says, and the timing, director, and scale of the project proved perfect for her anal debut), but more profound for her was simply the experience of being on-set for 17 days and seeing for the first time "how a movie is being shot" and the "creation" of the final product. Yes, Eva taking a cock in the ass will sell a few more DVDs, might result in an additional reward or two, and ultimately open a few more doors when pursuing future projects, but the anal sex and DP scenes mean far less to Eva than the opportunity to particpate in a movie of mainstream quality.
"I look at mainstream movies a lot differently now," Eva says. Her appreciation for the work involved in getting a major production off the ground is result of what Eli Cross calls "long and difficult" days, "a lot of physical acting and stunt work, dozens of takes, and the kind of tedium necessary to shoot a visual effects-laden show."
Despite the grueling conditions, however, Eva says, "It was the most fun I've ever had on a set. We were filming 14 hours a day. I had 17 dialogue scenes in one day. We had a huge cast of 40. A huge crew. I was genuinely sad on the last day of production that I wasn't going to see [the cast and crew's] faces anymore. I was so used to seeing them everyday, making jokes, knowing their personalities, and inside jokes. "
But will her success here translate into an AVN Award and bigger future paydays?
"I put a lot of energy into it. Hopefully it pays off."
Alexander: What is your favorite movie? And you can't say Die Hard 4.
Eva Angelina: [laughing] I like Running Scared. Paul Walker is hot!
Alexander: [confused] Wait. Who's in Running Scared?
Eva Angelina: Paul Walker.
Monstar: I thought it was Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.
Alexander: That's exactly what I thought. Is it a re-make?
Eva Angelina: [laughing] I don't know.
Monstar: [laughing, to Eva] Dude, you pulled that out of your ass. You're like, "Yeah, I'm a really big fan of the 1981 Billy Crystal movie."
"I just jumped out of a motherfucking airplane!"
Of the many words that come up in the interview that describe Eva, from "water baby" to "great talker" to "impulsive" to "selfish cock whore" (really), the most fitting is offered by Monstar.
"Interesting," he says.
He doesn't need to elaborate. Between jumping out of airplanes (which she did on "a whim," she says), feasting on veggie omelets at Denny's, steering clear of anal scenes for much of her career, getting pummeled on camera by a mixed martial artist, and sporting now-trademark and wholly sexy eyeglasses, Eva is indeed interesting, and she's one of only a few girls in the business today who seem genuinely as cool off camera as they are on. Despite having her name emblazoned across the top of the Upload poster and being one of the most buzzed-about stars in the industry, Eva Angelina sits relaxed across from me working on her second cigarette and laughing easily about sky diving and contracts and her adult film pet peeves (number one: men getting back doored by strap-on wearing women). She seems...approachable. Genuine. The kind of girl you can sit with in the left field bleacher seats at Dodgers Stadium or pound beers with over a round of pool at the neighborhood dive bar. She's not at all like the porn stars of yesterday whose off-screen personas seemed to match their on-screen ones--beautiful, unattainable, artificial, and ensconced securely on their dance stages, porn sets, rock star tour buses, and private parties. Eva on the other hand...well, see for yourself: "I just jumped out of a motherfucking airplane!"
Action hero, indeed.
"Do you have what you need?" Monstar asks.
I don't, really. Despite a few dozen questions that took random twists and turns, the craned necks of curious passerby, and the incessant blaring of City Walk's rock soundtrack, I could easily remain here with Eva for a couple more hours. Our conversation spanned most corners of her career, from the way her Cuban/Chinese ethnicity is marketed in films like Mexicunts 5 and Whoriental Sex Academy 8, to her weekend proclivities (more on that later), to the upcoming AVN Award nominations. But there's so much more to learn, I've discovered. And despite being quizzed for two hours while seated on a food court-typical steel chair, Eva is relaxed, giggles often, and does not once check her watch or cell phone or look away as if she'd rather be somewhere else. She's focused on this task--this interview--and tackles it with the same aplomb as her dancing, filming, and acting. There's no pretense here. She smiles often, revealing a mesmerizing set of teeth. She's exactly the kind of girl you wouldn't mind hitting Lucky Strike Lanes with on a Friday night, or watching kick the shit out of a horde of B-movie action flick bad guys on the big screen.
We snap some pictures. Say our "thank yous" and "good byes." When we finally part, Eva and Monstar walk slowly down the concrete ramp towards the camera-carrying hordes below, undoubtedly talking about the busy star's next task to tackle.