XCritic Performer Spotlight: Ryan Conner
Part 1: "The Legend, The Musician, The Artist, The Woman....."
There are some legends in the business that transcend everything in the adult entertainment world. One of the most charismatic performers in the history of adult entertainment was made available to me for an interview a little over a month ago by her publicist and I had to jump at the chance, you must if it is Ryan Conner. There are very few people in the world of adult entertainment who do not know who this superstar is. 2001 was the year she received some of her first award nominations but the way that I see it, that was where Ryan simply became a household name. From Wicked to Vivid in their prime, all the way to modern-day Zero Tolerance and Kink.com, Ryan has been able to keep every fan entertained no matter their taste or desire, even after she left the business to chase her passion for music and not just did it, she even made an album and a catchy one at that. I have had a few opportunities to meet Ryan over the years but almost every time, business took me elsewhere. At the 2018 XRCO Awards, I managed to finally say hello and shake her hand, only to have her tell me to chase my beautiful date across the stage floor for that is what she would do. I returned only to hear that she had to leave to attend to other business so now that I had her in one spot, I simply had to find out what was the magic she possessed that had her the star of over three hundred adult films, that each simply seemed to outdo the others in some way. What I got, is a thrill ride that I think you only get a once in a lifetime chance to enjoy, and my goodness, am I glad that I did. So, get ready for something grand, XCritic fans, this is going to be one read you will never forget.
Don Juan DeMarko: I simply had to start this interview off this way and being in the business for a while has made me appreciate this opportunity so much. I have long been a fan of your work. I mean this from the most professional standpoint. When I got started, was right when Vivid started changing things up and the industry began to change. I had always heard so many amazing stories about you. So, this is truly a treat and an honor. I had been dying to meet you for so long and I was so glad we finally got to at XRCO.
Ryan Conner: Oh no, what stories?!?
Don Juan DeMarko: Well, Miles is a person who I am so proud to call a friend. Everyone who has been in the business as long as you both have simply come hand in hand with amazing stories, amazing personalities.
Ryan Conner: I have had a lot of good experiences within the industry. I have been very blessed.
Don Juan DeMarko: Now that is cool, and I would love to start this interview like any other. The newbie readers always get the benefit of the doubt. Can you tell us the story of how you got started in the business? That is a tale I know everyone will love.
Ryan Conner: Well, I have only told it about a thousand times. …. (She is a charmer, the hardest thing to do with any legend within the field of entertainment and she kindly gives me a little poke of fun and simply captures my attention with her command and humor.) So, we will do a thousand and one. (We both share a laugh.) It all started when I was down in San Diego. The market down there, it was not so good, and I had a three-year-old daughter, I was trying to make “ends meet”, and being a Dad and a Mom will make any person stop and take a big gulp, I do not care what job market you are in. At the time, it was really a depressed market for dancers. I guess you can say, more that I did not know how to do, what I was trying to do. It could have been me. (Ryan’s sharp wit and positive demeanor simply had me speechless which is very rare.) I had a girlfriend at that time and she said, “I am going to buy a six pack and we are going to try something!” I look at her and I say, “huh?” So, she grabs my arm and says, “I know somebody and all I can tell you is that you are just going to come with me.” I kept on asking her what we were going to do, and she would not tell me. So, we get to our destination and she was close enough of a girlfriend that we had already done everything under the sun when it came to sex, so it was no big deal I thought to myself no matter what she could have me doing with her. So, we basically shot for a company in San Diego that primarily shot gay content and we simply had fun, I mean it was a blast. It was no big deal having someone in the room filming us. So, I had shot for this company another time without my girlfriend and then after the third shoot came about and concluded and the directors said, “well, this is not the only thing I can shoot you for.” I got curious and I asked him, “how do I do a shoot like that? How do I do a regular shoot? How do I go about this? Who do I talk to? He was the man who gave me TJ Hart’s number and put me in contact with her. I gave TJ a call right away and she told me who were the top companies in the industry, these are the people that you need to see and while I was there, she told me you might as well get these shots done for yourself and the rest is history. I went up to Los Angeles and I met with all of the top companies and had all of my polaroid pictures taken and shoved in a file and I started working that very week I want to say. It was not long at all before they had me hired to start shooting.
Don Juan DeMarko: Once again, I can not say how much I love the stories of how we all begin in this business. It is so different to hear about how the performers started in those days before digital photography and I do not mean that in any way disrespectful because those are the days that I cherish most in this business. I think in our time it was a lot harder to get in and you had to be able to do more in order to get hired. I think the looks, the styles, everything was so different and in ways I think that only the best of the best could be discovered and thrive, just like you madam. That is why I have always wanted to meet you. I have such a vast respect for the performer who has been there, done that.
Ryan Conner: Thank you. I really mean that, thank you. I have to say this, that a willing attitude and I do not mean just to fuck, the willing attitude it takes you far. I have not been that successful in my career based on my looks as some people might think. My success, it is based on my work ethic. So, whenever someone called me and said, “Hey, a girl no-showed, can you fill in?” … and I said, “Well, I am at a shoot right now, but I will be able to fill in after this shoot is done.” The companies would go out of their way to help me as I would help them, and they would re-arrange their shoot to make things work out. That is how my career success has always seemed to come from, that hard work, you know? That is truly the way that the industry was founded. At least back then you know?
Don Juan DeMarko: Yes, and yes!
Ryan Conner: Even still, there are times that I have had people in Vegas call me like Brazzers and give me that same familiar work call, “the girl no-showed, are you available?” Or that someone, “had canceled on us and we need this scene done for tomorrow. Can you fill in?” It happens all the time. I think that you truly can make a good name for yourself. That is something that is equally as important as anything, your work ethic.
Don Juan DeMarko: I love this. See, the stories I have always heard are along these lines. I have a few friends who that is what they do as well and that is how they made a name for themselves. There is something to be said about the performer who has their shit together and walks the walk and talks the talk no matter the scenario and then can walk that walk for others. That is what is most impressive about the women of this business. I love that you speak of such stories. I have been dying to pick your brain about such things for more than a decade. I have told so many girls, “you have a look just like so and so and you know what, you have a far better work ethic and respect for the business, you can make a living off of filling in for her.” And they truly can.
Ryan Conner: Oh, you better believe that they can. One's success is not always contingent on how beautiful you are. It really isn’t.
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Don Juan DeMarko: Oh, my goodness, you are something, I must ask you this, I simply must. Question two. One of my best friends in the industry, she has made a name also off of filling in for people and created her own brand off of that jump start in the business and she got some of her best roles by doing such things. I am dying to know: is there a film that you were not initially cast to be in and then you basically filled in for a girl who no-showed and it became one of your fondest memories and times in the business?
Ryan Conner: Oh, my goodness, I do not even think I can answer that. Because I have been a fill-in so many times and it led to many wonderful experiences. You know, I look at my AMDB or any of my film listings online and I say to myself, I know that I have worked more than two hundred and fifty films.
I mean, there are so many that I remember, and they are not even listed. You cannot find them, and they are films that I have, that I know the titles. You know, when you have that amount of work under your belt, it is seriously hard to remember them all Don. It really, honestly is to remember which one stood out the most when you are shooting a volume that large.
I would work for Quasar regularly and they would contact me, “somebody no-showed, can you make it?” Of course, this happened a lot more when I lived in Los Angeles but to this day it still happens, and that title list grows as does the films that I truly enjoy being a part of.
So, I think as you can see, I cannot tell you just one specific title. Once I am there, that is the scene and that is the film and we are ready to go. If you were once in the role and I get there, I always made sure to make a point to show that director that there was a reason that they called me to fill in and yes, that was a driving force of mine to make that director forget that the person I took the place of was even hired to begin with. It is now my show! So, there you go!
Don Juan DeMarko: I love it, you once again simply enlighten a hungry mind just starving to see the splendor that is Ryan Conner. You have once again walked into the next question with the amazing people that you speak of in this business. Mr. Quasar. He is an amazing man in this business and I think that the people I speak of who speak so highly of you, it is amazing how time repeats itself with people who work hard like this.
Ryan Conner: Awwww, that is so sweet. I love them both, they are both amazing people.
Don Juan DeMarko: Mike, he is just an amazing man. I love always getting to talk with him. He is always the constant professional. He is a man who no matter who hires him, he is going to be exactly where he needs to be. He gets the job done in such a quick time frame and everything that he produces is quality beyond words. His reputation has always been, how does the man create such magic in four and a half hours. I love that. Respect the man so very much.
Ryan Conner: Yep, yep, yep. That is Mike Quasar. It is always no B.S. It is always fun. Mike has an amazing sense of humor that welcomes people. No matter when it might be, Mike is always a wealth of information. He is a man that will always give you a rock-solid opinion. He is not one of these kooky, “hey, how the fuck did you get into this industry” kind of people and there are those. (By this time my eyes are watering from laughing with this amazing woman every six seconds. Meeting a funny woman is a rare thing in Hollywood. I cannot stress this enough, people.) There have been many times you meet some unsavory characters in this business and you ask yourself, “how did this person get to where they are in this industry.” Yet, there they are.
Don Juan DeMarko: He and I have talked a few times about how he started in the business. He went by a different name when he started and was shooting for a company called Fat Dog I believe. After you get to know a person’s style, I am like, “Mike, we can all tell it is you!” He and I had a chuckle about that and I think he was a little surprised that I could tell it was him. That was a conversation that I will never forget. The thing I would love to ask you and I have seen The Cocks play twice now and I love watching him play. Can you give us some insight with as long as you have known him? Has Mike always been in bands like that?
Ryan Conner: Has he always been in a band? As long as I have known him.
Don Juan DeMarko: That is so cool. I would have loved to have seen him playing sixteen years ago when I was fresh out of college. That had to have been a sight to see.
Ryan Conner: Yeah, you know, I think he gives his all to everything he does, and I think that is why it is so draining on him. He is that kind of guy who just puts as much into the little things as he does the big things in his life and his work and it is with music too and you can see it when he plays.
Don Juan DeMarko: Oh, I know, he is AHHH-MAZING! Last time that I saw him, I was in awe because he is one of the best drummers I have ever seen and I am a guy who compliments people but I do not kiss ass and what I saw was something truly thought out and I love the fact that you shine light even more so on his dedication Ryan.
You know Mike, he is a man that takes no credit, he does what he does out of the passion that is Mike. I think it's his amazing heart and drive, but he does so much that fans never will know. That is what has gained him my respect for eternity. He gives his all to everyone.
Ryan Conner: I genuinely mean this. Some people in this industry are like family. It does not matter how long that I have not seen them.
I still feel as close to them as the first day that I saw them or the last time that I was with them saying goodbye. He has just been a friend like that and someone so close ever since I met him.
Then, my daughter got into the industry and he shot her. (She sweetly laughs, like a person remembering a fond memory that is being relived as if it were the present moment.) He did not know it was my daughter and she surprised them with that and when she told me the story, I had been tinkering with coming back and it was at that moment I said, “I miss my people!” That is it right there. That is what brought me back into this business. It is awesome!
Don Juan DeMarko: That is so amazing. Wow, that is one of the coolest damn stories I may have ever heard about that hidden beauty that no one ever gets to see of this industry but us. You are going to make me cry over here. You said it all to a T there darlin’. They become your family, your blood, your love, and your being. The amazing souls of this business. You know, there is a very special person named Angela White, who when I was getting sober a few years ago, we were starting to become friends and as I was at home on New Year's Eve, trying to figure out what to do for the first time in my adult life on this date, Angela texts me out of the blue to say she was thinking about me, that she hoped that I was doing good and that I was staying safe, all while she was on Greg Lansky’s yacht. I did not even have my blood family members even send me an e-mail on New Years that years and just like you said, it shows the true essence of what family is in this business.
Ryan Conner: I have yet to meet her. I have heard so many wonderful things about her. I will tell you this, I would love to work with her.
Don Juan DeMarko: She won so many things for the rights of sex workers over in Australia. She is a passionate human being, a woman beyond words to me.
Ryan Conner: Oh, I know. I think that is such a great accomplishment and I think that her passion shows so much in her performances.
Don Juan DeMarko: Oh, she is something. She always tells me, “This is my journey.” I tell her, “this industry needs you so, I hope this journey forever keeps you here, well until you are old and grey.
Ryan Conner: That is so hilarious. That is how amazing this industry is. Even the people that you may not get along with and you may not like so much, end up in some weird way, in some kind of ironic twist of fate as your family too and the reason being is, because you share this common denominator, that kind of ostracizes you in the world.
While porn might be looked at as novel and avant-garde. Where you get all these occasions of, “it is so cool, you are a porn star.” Yet, at the same time, there is a lot of divisions and judgment placed upon those people.
I think people still have that line of sight where it is taboo and wrong, so when you are in the industry and then you say, “Joe-Blow” is in the industry too and I do not like him but we have this bond, because we are in an industry that can be looked down upon. So even those people are still, like your family. You know? It is weird.
Don Juan DeMarko: Yes, yes, you said it all right there. I kid you not. I am a person who has worked in mainstream, my day job is in publishing. I have brought in a couple of mainstream photographers, who I have worked every type of convention with.
Every single one of them has been wowed beyond words when they see that we treat each other like a family and how much we will even go to bat for our enemies and competition in this business. They bring it up every time that I see them. These guys have told me after being on set and seeing such things, “this is better than the music industry.”
Ryan Conner: Oh, I agree, I agree. There might be a few cat fights here and there, but we are all good.
Don Juan DeMarko: I think that this is a business where even one’s enemies will give you the shirt off of their back.
Ryan Conner: I think so too.
Don Juan DeMarko: Yes, because not to sound corny or cliché but we all need love, we all need those loving kinds of people and situations in our life.
Ryan Conner: Oh, sweetie. You know on the daily when you go out in the world, it is more like you are in defense mode. So, when you have people who can relate to what you are doing, where you are at, your life style and people treat you accordingly, there is no judgment, there is no this view, there is no that view. There might be “my view” but there still is no judgment. It is something very rare in this life. We are very lucky to have that.
Don Juan DeMarko: I think that is what makes being in the comfort of people so grand in this business. I speak a lot about meeting you at XRCO. Getting to attend them now as a committee member I look forward to something that goes beyond an awards ceremony and party. It is that warmth we all share.
Ryan Conner: Yeah, I feel the same way. It is something that is not just fun, and it is funny that you said that. I had just found out about the awards show because I was looking at Miles' feed. He was at the YNOT Awards show. I had no idea and I would have gone if I would have known about it prior to seeing pictures on a feed of the red carpet. I told him, “I would have regardless of who was putting on the awards show.” I saw that there were a lot of our people going so I was a bit sad that I did not get to attend that show. It would have been a fun night. It would have been nice to get to see everyone again.
Don Juan DeMarko: Yes, from here on out woman, I am going to be your advocate. I will be your informant. I am going to be sending everything that comes to me, Ryan Conner’s way. I love the fact the amount of awards shows is growing. There are so many people looking to make something meaningful and fun within the industry that I think it has created something fresh and new and I hope it continues.
Ryan Conner: I agree. I love them too. I do not see any reason why they would not continue.
Don Juan DeMarko: I think that a lot of people and give or take, a lot of people and no matter the company, Manwin, Mindgeek, whatever. I did not get to go to those awards, my girl did. The thing that I love about it. All of these awards shows, they are making it to where they are true industry events. The girls can come, let their hair down. They can relax, they can see all their friends. That is what it is meant to be. It is not supposed to be just another day, just another evening. Too many times I think that these things turn into work for all you performers and that can change the dynamics of anything in the industry. OK, now to get back to this fun interview. Something I have always wanted to ask you because I believe it was David Christopher who did your first couple of films. What was it like walking onto a set for the first time? Once again, I have heard that you are a very confident woman and that you are one beyond an articulate and intelligent woman. What was it like being on that set?
Ryan Conner: Being on his set? Let me think. It was a lot like Disneyland. I mean it is overwhelming, yet it is full of excitement and afterward you are saying to yourself, “OK, what is next? What comes now?” But you know almost every set is like that.
Don Juan DeMarko: I find the way that you see these film's sets so fascinating. You are a woman of ambition and it shows in the pictures you paint with a story. Now, if I am not mistaken, wasn’t one of your first scenes a threesome?
Ryan Conner: Yes, indeed it was. Well, let's see. If I could say anything, it is that I have led quite the “open” life. Things like this came easily to me because I had already been doing things like this so much in my personal life. So, none of the things I was experiencing on porn sets were new to me. It was just new to have someone filming everything. (We both just laugh and laugh and laugh.)
Don Juan DeMarko: OK, now I must share one of these stories with you. We now live in this day and age, where even in a big production, there are not many cuts. There is not a lot of set-ups and care like there used to be. Or maybe I should say that there is not as much. The stories I have always heard about you is that since day one, you have been the constant professional mixed with loveable vixen who would show up onto a set, get things fucking done and with plenty time to head out for drinks and tacos for dinner.
Ryan Conner: You know, I have been modeling since I was nineteen and dancing almost equally as long. When you have that kind of background and maybe sensuality has something to do with it. Things I think can go smoother if you are sensual and sexual person. I think that the big factor may be that I am a very artistic person. Now, what I mean by that is that I paint, I draw, I sew, I have so many passions when it comes to crafts of all kind. When you have that understanding of presentation and art, you know exactly how to balance everything out. Performing in a film is no different. When you take it upon yourself to balance that picture, you are telling everyone on set that you are taking it upon yourself to see something done and certain way. In today’s world, I do not think that anyone can have that excuse in the industry that they do not know how to pose, with the number of selfies that the world takes of themselves. With the phone, you can set-up a time, run over to what ever backdrop you have and take a stunning picture with just your phone. So, once you know how to do all of that, the rest is just fast and easy. Making sure you look good and knowing where the camera is at all times, that is all there is to it.
Don Juan DeMarko: You are so beautifully humble. You know, when you get paid to review films, over the years you must be able to discover the true depth that lies within adult cinema and production. You must find the artists, you must find the actors. I shit you not, there is something. I remember when I started doing this phase of the job, I had friends tell me, you have the greatest gig in the world and they are not lying. (We booth snicker a little.) But when everything is said and done, you really get to see actors, artists, performers. I really mean this about you darlin’. You are the type of woman, who no matter what type of role it was, whenever you would come onto that screen, you crushed it, you killed it. There was so much depth to what you do.
Ryan Conner: I like what I do Don. That is the truth. You know, I am a people person too. So, whenever I am there with whoever it is that I am shooting with, it is all about him and I. So I make that connection and boom-shaka-laka the rest falls into place.
With that, we come to a close with part one. Stay tuned come AVN and XBIZ award time for part two. If you think that you have heard it all be prepared for one of the most interesting looks into how to become a performer with success from one of the lone starlets who has jumped into multiple forms of entertainment. Some people can say, “been there, done that.” Ryan, she is more so the performer who can say, ‘been there, took what I learned to another level and another medium, did that and then came back to do it all over again.” So very rare in this world that we get to be in presence of what a legend truly is. This interview is one of my favorites and we at XCritic cannot wait to share part two with you. Until then, be sure to indulge in everything Ryan, ……
Photos Courtesy of the amazing Miles Long: @MilesLong4Real