This is a transcript of an interview I did with the adult actress and model Regan Starr for a piece I’m writing on the adult industry. I won’t be able to use the vast majority of the material for the article, but I think it’s important to actually listen to people working in this business instead of pitying them as victims, lauding them as sexual pioneers or condemning them as amoral hedonists. Because I think it’s important to hear her voice I have heavily edited this transcript, to remove myself from the conversation and to focus it.
Regan Starr’s experience with Anabolic Video Productions has not received the mainstream attention it deserves. At best it is a case of the crassest imaginable exploitation; at worst it is a case of filmed assault. It is remarkable, though, for its atypicality, and it should not be inferred that the sorts of behavior described in this interview are normal in the adult business. As Ms. Starr points out, blanket condemnations of the entire industry make it all the more difficult for outsiders to understand and identify the real abuses that go on and the real issues they present to us as citizens.
Regan Starr: I was the student body president of my school. I graduated with honors from my high school, I participated as a cheerleader in my high school and was very active in my community. I was a normal girl growing up, and then I was a waitress outside of going to school full time at a junior college, and then decided that I didn’t really like going to college, didn’t like the confinement of having to be in class and paying for being in class.
Well I said, “You know, I’m going to find the highest dollar amount for my education level and make a whole bunch of money. Just sock it away and invest it in a business or something.”
I spent a summer working at a bikini bar, having these big dreams and serving liquor, so at this point I said, “Well, I’m making like four hundred dollars a night doing this in a bikini.” And this guy said to me, “You know, you could do something on the internet. You could make a lot more money. Let’s set up a website.”
So before I even got in the industry at all I had my website, which is reganstarr.com. I had that before I even did one adult film. It took a year before we set up credit sales and all that crap, so I looked in the newspaper for an agent and got into the industry that way, just going out and beating the pavement, getting jobs, networking and building the site.
Now I’m doing my own production, only for my website, and that’s the only thing I do. I’m not doing any movies for the industry. The last thing I did was one movie for one of the big companies in Japan. He must have shot me maybe a month and a half, two months ago, and then before that I hadn’t done a movie for a year and a half.
I do consider myself [part of the industry], I really do, but not so much as I was before where I was commercially part of the industry. Now I’m part of it privately, my income is from my own personal and private stuff. I’m doing my own web design, my own graphic design and my own HTML and Java. I work from my home and I’m making a living, I’m doing fine.
That happens when it happens, when a women plays her cards right, and it takes some planning, some gumption and motivation. You have to be motivated by one thing, and that’s not to adhere to anyone else’s crap, because as you might know and maybe you might not know, when you’re a woman in the porn industry you can only work for a given company so many times for before you’re what they call “shot out.” And at that point, basically your options are to dance and try to make money on the road — and that’s difficult, you have to get your costume and get your act together and you have to travel a lot of the year and spend a lot of time away from home — or you have to say, “Hey, I’m going to open up a website or private video line and start promoting myself.” Because after a while, you can’t work in the industry anymore. Often the girls get kicked down by the wayside, and they feel very used up. They wind up not having any money saved, and they wind up not having any direction or any sort of foundation to work with.
What I love about the industry is that they never beat around the bush; they don’t pretend that you’re somebody special, and so you should probably have a good idea of what you’re up against. They’re nice about it, but it’s a very open industry. Everybody knows, “Oh yeah, I’ve already shot for that company, I can’t work for them.” There’s no sense of camaraderie where you feel, “This guy, he’s got my back no matter what, and he’s my best friend.” When you get into the industry you can see, you can sense, that people are using you for something.
Anabolic is a company that produces multiple lines of adult video. One of the things they wanted to try was a little bit of shock video. They hired on a producer or director, I don’t know which, by the name of Khan Tusion. That was actually a pseudonym for his real name, which is Ron Sullivan. I don’t know if that’s his real name or not, but that’s his regular adult film name that he used for other directing. They went to him and said, “We have this line that we want you to direct and be part of and you can change your name, ‘Ron Sullivan,’ and you can be somebody else because you might not want to be associated with what we’re going to put out.” Basically, they were going have males and females performing, and the women were going to be roughhoused to the point where they might even bruise, they might even have a bloody nose, or an obvious obtrusion. So [Tusion/Sullivan] took the ball and ran.
I think they’d seen some movies I’d done, where I was being roughed up a little bit, but there was always a safe word when you were using rougher sex. They called me up and said, “Hey, because of what you’ve done in the past, we’ve heard you like having rough sex on film and off film. And we want to basically have it — it’s going to be really rough, but you can say stop at any time.”
I said, “Well, what’s the pay?” They were paying about 300 dollars or 400 dollars over the amount for these scenes that other people would pay, and I thought, “If I’m not able to do it, I’ll just say stop.” I said, “Sure, why not give it a try? It’s fake, right?” They said, “Yeah, of course it’s fake, we’re not going to have a snuff video. That would be illegal.”
So I came down the next day. They said, again, “You are OK with this being rough,” and I said, “Well yeah, it’s fake, right,” and they’re all saying, “Well, to a certain degree.” And at that point I should have known something, but I was in costume, this little nude costume, and I was ready to go. There were people on the set that were going to be involved in the scene, a couple of standbys and my male actor — my opponent, as I call it.
There was a cameraman behind the cameraman shooting so they could get the cameraman on film while they were shooting it, kind of cutting in and going out; y ou could tell that it was a reality set. But here’s the key. What they didn’t actually do was give me, as the actress/model, a safe word. They gave me nothing to stop the cameras if I really wanted them to stop.
So what they did was leave the crying and the kicking and the screaming in when I was saying, “Stop the cameras” because this man was hurting me. He tossed me over his shoulder and was using hard fists and slapped me on the ass and grabbed me by the throat and grabbed me by the neck and I was choking and I wanted them to turn off the cameras because I thought that wasn’t really what I wanted to get involved in. I was scared for my life, to be honest with you. And they literally brought so much terror to my forefront, and I was so horrified, and so shocked that their glory was showing on camera that I had no idea that I was going be beaten up. They basically caught that raw emotion and they also caught me sobbing and saying, “Can you stop it? Like for real, for real, for real.”
I saw the one cameraman put down his camera and walk away, like, “OK guys, she’s not joking around,” and then I saw the back one kicking in and shooting as I’m running off the set in tears going, “You fucking assholes.” I was so like emotionally touched, not in a good way but in a very bad way. I felt like I was getting totally violated, how somebody being raped would feel when they’re saying, “Stop it,” and then the guy doesn’t stop and then she feels that she deserved it. I was crying and it’s just… it’s really sad.
At the time I was paid 300 dollars to keep my mouth shut and to get off the set. I was off in a corner and I never thought to press charges, because at this time I think I was only 21 years old, and I hadn’t made that many movies, maybe twenty-five. I know that sounds like a lot to the average Joe, but if you really are not a promiscuous person, as I wasn’t… I was just slowly learning this industry that would pay me for being the person that I thought they wanted me to be. I had no measurement to put on what is too much, and what could be prosecuted in a court of law. I didn’t know what my rights were, and I was off the set and I was crying and just off in a corner by myself and Khan Tusion comes up and says, “Here’s 300 dollars, you don’t have to get up to finish the scene, go take the day off.” And it was really nice at that point because they all walked upstairs and left me alone in the lobby. I walked off the set and I couldn’t wait to just scrub my skin when I got home, and rid my mind of this horrible thing. I was embarrassed, and I was ashamed of the whole situation.
They had one out in the [Rough Sex] line and then the second one, that I was involved in. People saw the kind of terror and pain I was in, because they kept it in there, with a disclaimer saying, “She went off the set because she was really afraid.” So they had this little text disclaimer that they put up right after, or during, actually, my scene when I’m crying and I’m sobbing and this whole thing. The sex didn’t even occur, yet they put it in there for the value, the terror and fear of the crying. It wasn’t even a sexual thing they made it from me just wanting to show that they meant business and people were very turned off by that. They were looked very, very down upon in the industry for having brought that out.
They took Rough Sex right off the shelves after I did an interview about how it was real and it wasn’t just fake. Actually they were banned from being sold on most markets and that I don’t think you can buy them even online. They had to stop even printing them. Honestly I think that the industry or whoever — I don’t know who actually monitors that, but somebody — said, “You can’t sell that anymore or you’re going to jail.” I don’t know if anyone was arrested or not, but Chris Alexander, Khan Tusion, those two in particular, they should have been definitely prosecuted in a court of law.
If Max Hardcore is prosecuted for pretending that his models are younger than they are when he has models that are legally over the age of 18 dressed up in pigtails and everything… to stand up in a court and say, “That’s totally wrong, that’s child pornography, that’s perverted,” and then for these people to have physical abuse on film and have it be absolutely real, these guys are not prosecuted…
Nobody came to me and said, “You can prosecute this with an attorney.” And had somebody said, “You have rights, darling,” I would have basically probably… I don’t know. Maybe I would have prosecuted, but maybe I wouldn’t have. Because I got a lot of shit for actually speaking out against the company from the industry. Other girls in the industry had worked for the same movie line and maybe they were in abusive homes growing up and they were into the whole abusive sex thing of being punched in the mouth and socked in the face and they were actually mad at me for saying that Anabolic was wrong for doing this.
There’s hardcore and there’s perverted stuff. The pornography industry is going for it because they need something more over the edge to shock the public. The thing of it is that the pornography industry as a whole is looked at as immoral. Forget the laws, people don’t go out of their way to get the facts and say, “Well that’s OK, no that’s bad, but this is OK,” because they put it all under one encompassing title or umbrella and just say, “bad, bad, bad.”
So there are a lot of things that are really overlooked, like being used up and spit out. You know the models in the mainstream industry feel the same way as in the porno industry. Your looks are haggard, you’re not good anymore. You feel like you’re shot out.