XCritic Interview: 2018 Inked Awards Trophy Girl Tana Lea
Stunning redhead Tana Lea has captured the attention of fans and producers alike since her entry into XXX entertainment. Now nearing her first anniversary performing in adult films, the inked starlet continues to grow her following since transitioning from social media darling to bona fide erotic industry sensation.
Tana kindly spoke with XCritic on the afternoon of March 28 to discuss her burgeoning career as an adult actress, being selected as Trophy Girl for this year’s Inked Awards ceremony and some of her personal struggles.
You can visit Tana Lea online at TheTanaLea.com and follow her on Twitter under the handle @TheTanaLea. Tana’s FreeOnes page is available for viewing here.
To book Tana Lea for film or photo shoots, please contact OC Modeling. Media inquiries may be directed to Star Factory PR.
(Interview conducted by Cass Ashlen. Special thanks to Tanya Tate at Star Factory PR)
Thanks for taking some time out to chat with me today, I appreciate it.
I’ll start at the beginning: Can you tell us how you initially became interested - and now involved - in the adult business?
Well, I came from a very conservative background growing up. The town I was from, it was kind of frowned upon being anything but what that town and everyone in that town was, so I was always very prude and conservative. I did all the things you were supposed to do in a small town: I got married, had a house, worked at the prison, did all that stuff. Then, I got a divorce and realized … I don’t know, I just felt that I wasn’t able to fully be myself.
After I got a divorce, I was like, “I need to work somewhere where I can work smarter instead of harder,” and just kind of use my looks to my advantage this time around. My whole life, I never really did that. I just worked office jobs. I was always pretty, but I wasn’t confident.
I moved to Austin, Texas and I started bartending. From there, I started modeling and getting super popular on social media, and people started asking me if I would sell topless photos and then nudes. Then they would ask for a solo video, and then sex tapes. When there was such a demand for it, I finally got my own website.
From there, I met a few people in the adult industry. I worked alongside Fleshlight and went with them to Europe to the YNOT Awards, and did their social media. Then, they invited me to AVN not this past year, but the year prior to do their social media - just kind of hang out at the Fleshlight booth and be the social media person. So, I did and I met Tanya Tate and Nicole Aniston, and they were the most normal porn chicks I had ever met that had money in the bank and had real jobs in the past. They were just super normal women who had lives and they were just really inspiring. From there, I met with a few agents and everything just kind of fell into place.
And you have been in the industry for just under a year - April of 2017, I believe?
Yeah, the end of April was my first scene last year.
In that time, who have been some of your favorite performers and studios to work with?
I really like working with PornFidelity - they had a really good set. Tommy Pistol, James Deen - he did my first scene for Elegant Angel, but we did a lot of stuff on our own. I really like working with him. Brazzers - I’m shooting my first anal tomorrow for Brazzers, that’s why I had to get a spray tan. That’s what I’m doing today - I’m running all my errands to get ready for that. I really like Girlfriends Films a lot, too. I’ve been shooting more lesbian stuff, which is always fun.
Something you have become known for are your tattoos and you will be serving as Trophy Girl at the 2018 Inked Awards this coming November. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah. I didn’t think they even really knew who I was yet. It’s really cool because a lot of people know me mostly from Twitter, so it’s cool just coming into this new audience from where I was prior - a social media following to now having a porn following as well. Inked is really cool because it’s kind of a crossover company.
Can you tell us about some of your tattoos and their meaning to you?
Well, I got my first tattoo when I was 15. Most of my tattoos before moving to Austin were just kind of plain black and white - stuff I would see on Pinterest, or quotes or love things, just small town tattoos is what I like to call them. Then I moved to Austin and I started getting traditional tattoos. Most of my stuff is done by the same guy, Jay Dee. I kind of had a theme going - man-eating bitches in history. I have a harpee, I have a Madusa and I have a Cleopatra. I kind of wanted to do maybe a succubus or a Siren - just like, women who use their sexuality and power to overcome men. They probably all died - I’m pretty sure they all did - but just women who use their sexuality to run shit.
Having been in the business now for a little while, is there maybe one misconception about it from people outside the adult industry that you wish you could dispel?
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I would say that we all have STDs, because obviously that’s not true. We get tested probably more than any normal person would ever get tested. A lot of girls that hate are like, “Ew, you fucked her. That’s gross.” I have probably the cleanest vagina that anyone will ever see. Also, they like to say a lot of porn stars (have) daddy issues and the mental health stigma.
In researching for this interview, I was looking at some of the videos you have posted on your YouTube channel. Two things that stood out to me are when you alluded to dealing with a stalker some time ago and also your past struggles with depression and mental illness. Is it alright if I ask about those subjects? Obviously, I understand if you would prefer not to discuss it.
Yeah, of course. I like to use my platform to educate people who don’t know about it.
Right. First, I’ll address the stalker issue. I wrote about true crime for a couple of years and one of the subjects I focused on was the issue of stalking and how it is often downplayed and even joked about by many people who don’t understand the seriousness of the matter. I would like to ask, was your situation a long-running issue and has it since been resolved?
I didn’t know at the time that it was long-running when it surfaced. I was hosting at a club in Hollywood and one of my guy friends who is just a friend of mine messaged me and was like, “Hey, this crazy girl is going to show up to the event.” I said, “What do you mean?” He’s like, “She’s a big stalker of yours. She thinks we’ve hooked up.” I’m like, “I’ve never even seen your dick, dude. Why does this girl know my name?” He said that apparently years ago, I was on something (online) of his and this girl’s been stalking me.
So, I started going through my messages. This bitch had been commenting on my YouTube, Tumblr and Reddit since, I think, 2015. I wasn’t aware of it until that night. And then she showed up at the club and told them that she was my assistant so that they would let her in.
Yeah. And luckily, they didn’t let her in - the guy at the front door knew. I hadn’t even seen the girl, I didn’t know what she looked like. She wasn’t a girl, she was an old lady - she was like, fifty-something. A Rastafarian, skateboarding lady from Venice. But she had been sending me photos of her children and shit on my Facebook fan page telling me that someone told her she needed to talk to me. Just really weird, crazy shit.
I was scared. The lady showed up to the fucking club saying she was my assistant. Had I not mentioned anything beforehand that there might be a crazy woman there, she might have actually went in and who knows what she would have done? When I left the club, she was still waiting for me outside. I had never seen her and I remember that moment so clear: I was standing there waiting for my car because they told me she was still there; I wasn’t allowed to leave. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this woman and she started saying, “Tana! Tana!” I knew immediately it was her because she didn’t know how to say my name, Number One. Her face was like, so helpless. I don’t know. It was really weird. She was just like, “Please talk to me!” “Please talk to me!”
From there, I filed some stuff on her, but she hasn’t really messed with me since then. But after that happened, we started looking into my social media and she had been commenting on my shit for years. But she hadn’t ever done anything until that night. But still, it’s really freakin’ scary.
Oh, absolutely. It’s something that can throw someone’s life into disarray.
In regard to mental illness and depression, is that something you are an advocate for: Speaking out and spreading awareness of those issues?
Yeah. I wasn’t diagnosed until 2015 or ‘16 with borderline personality disorder. It stems from my childhood trauma and repeated molestation from when I was a little girl. Once I got my diagnosis, it was like a door opened for me. I realized what was wrong with me my entire life, that it wasn’t anything that was my fault, and that it was something that could be dealt with and managed, and something that could possibly help other people.
Once I was diagnosed, that sort of put everything into perspective and I understood what I was supposed to do. There’s a reason why these things happened to me and I think it’s helped a lot of these young girls, honestly. I enjoy my job and I love having sex, but I can still be like the big sister. I feel like a lot of these girls are confused. A lot of victims - not just porn girls, but girls in general - are scared to say stuff. So, I feel like it’s my responsibility as an adult who acknowledges what happened and is able to cope with it daily, I think I should try to help other people.
Sure. Do you feel that entering the industry at a later age than many other performers worked to your advantage?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve already lived my life. That’s the funny thing when kids 22 years old try to tell you stuff - you just laugh because you’re like, “You haven’t even lived life yet.” I feel like I’ve done everything that I wanted to accomplish and now I just live my life for me and I do the things that I want to do for fun. Being in the adult industry now, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it back then for sure - just like, the popularity and everything that comes with it. It would be a lot for someone young to handle. So, I feel like this is just how it was supposed to fall into place. Now, I’m confident and strong, and I’m able to do it how it’s supposed to be done.
Right. That definitely makes a lot of sense. I understand you have a website in the works that’s going to be launching soon under the Puba Network, is that right?
Yeah. I have my site now - it’s still going to be the same domain, we’re just doing content now. I filmed a bunch - I think I have two scenes left that I have to film before we launch it. But, yeah, Puba is the man. He is my Russian counterpart. He thinks of some really crazy shit. So, we’re going to be doing a lot of crazy, fun shit.
I’m also working with Xander Porn. He films for Babes and MindGeek, I think exclusively, but in his spare time he likes to create like fucked up movie shit. So, we’ve been doing some fucked up movie porn. And I just dropped my first one that I wrote and directed with him yesterday on my Pornhub channel. So, it’s like my baby right now. I’m really excited about it. It’s really good.
That’s terrific. May I ask a few questions about yourself as a person?
Great. You did touch on this a little earlier, but can you tell us where you were raised and how you would describe yourself growing up?
I’m from Caldwell, Texas, which is a very small town in the middle of nowhere. I grew up super country raising animals in the fair, I ran for Fair Queen, my grandparents owned the bingo hall in town. It was one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody.
I was super prude. I wasn’t exposed to the outside world. In my small town, there’s like a Walmart and a grocery store, and that’s it. I was very insecure, I think, so that’s part of where the stuff with my ex-husband, my marriage and all that stuff fell into place. I was like this sweet country girl and then got married, and my husband beat my ass, and I decided that’s not the Lifetime movie I wanted to live. So then, that’s when I was like, “Alright, I’m going to move to Austin, take care of my shit and do stuff for myself this time.” Finally start living my own life.
What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I smoke a lot of weed. I like to watch conspiracy theories on YouTube. I like to go junk shopping - Goodwill, garage sales. I like old shit. I actually used to redo furniture when I was married and lived in my hometown, and I had a cupcake business as well. (Laughs)
I’m a really good speller. (Laughs) I’m naturally blonde. I think that’s about it. That’s about as interesting as I get.
How about favorites - favorite movies, T.V. shows, etc.?
Favorite movies - Clueless is a good one. Blood In, Blood Out is one of my favorite movies - it’s really long, but it’s good.
T.V. shows, I really like to watch a lot of shitty reality television. Teen Mom is probably one of my favorites that I watch. And I just got started watching Toddlers & Tiaras. It’s really intense. (Laughs) Just a lot of shitty reality T.V., just because it’s really intense. I smoke a lot of weed. I smoke throughout the day, and at night I kind of wind down and do some of my stuff on the computer, editing and stuff, so I always turn on television shows. And when you’re stoned, those shows are like super, super intense. (Laughs) Moms fighting over beauty queen crowns for two-year-old kids. They don’t even know what’s going on. They have no idea what any of that means.
I know - I’ve seen the commercials. It looks like a pretty crazy program. (Laughs)
It’s so crazy.
Is there something about yourself that you feel would surprise a lot of people?
I think I surprise people just in general, so I don’t know what it would be. A lot people think when they look at me that I’m this badass, tattooed, hardass bitch, but I’m not, really. I’m very sweet, I’m very motherly, really caring. I would say that if you ask any of my friends who the mother of the group is, it’s always me. And I know it’s probably because I’m older.
I’m just really sweet. I can be mean or whatever, but I think people would be surprised that I’m really sweet because I don’t think I look sweet. And that I’m a really good speller because I’m sure people think I’m a dumbass. And I worked in biomedical engineering at Texas A & M, so that’s cool, too.
In closing, is there anything else you’d like to say to readers?
To be kind to others. I’ve been trying to say that to others a lot lately, just because one act of kindness can literally change someone’s entire day. To think before speaking and if something pisses you off, move along. That kind of relates to the online bullying shit. If someone says something you don’t like, just move along. If it doesn’t affect your life, keep doing what you’re doing.
And thanks for reading. This year, I’m going to be doing a lot of cool shit, a lot of stuff of my own. A lot of porn stuff, but just a lot of Tana stuff - not just porn. So, stay tuned.
Excellent. Thanks again for interviewing with me today and discussing all of these topics.
I wish you the best moving forward, both personally and professionally. As I mentioned earlier, I watched some of the videos you posted from some time ago and I hope you are in a better place now because you certainly appear to be doing well for yourself.
Thank you, I appreciate that so much. You have a good week.