August 23, 2010 at 6:00 am by Shawn Alff
Sunny Leone is the kind of sexy that makes you completely forget about the parade of naked women dancing on stage behind her, the $40 steak waiting to be eaten in front of you, or her heavily tattooed partner sitting beside you. The non-nude pictures of Sunny you’ll find online don’t do her justice — they make her look like a grown version of Winnie from The Wonder Years. But naked, her features become electric and she looks like an X-rated Kardashian sister who actually knows what she’s doing when it comes to making sex tapes. Since becoming the 2003 Penthouse Pet of the Year, Sunny Leone has fucked her way to the top of the adult industry and never looked back. In 2005 Leone signed a three-year contract with Vivid Entertainment, appearing primarily in lesbian scenes that earned her several AVN awards. In 2009, she started her own studio, Sunlust Pictures, with her partner Daniel Weber. She has also appeared in mainstream work including The Girl Next Door, The Middle Men, E!’s “Wild On!,” the Sundance Film Festival’s “After Dark,” and the soon to be released Will Ferrell project, The Virginity Hit. I caught up with Sunny at The Penthouse Club of Tampa before one of her featured performances.
Shawn Alff: Having just started Sunlust Pictures, how do you think adult production companies can stay viable competing against pirate tube sites? Will movies always be at the heart of the adult industry?
Sunny Leone: The adult world is like the wild, wild west. I think everyone is still in a state of shock and don’t know what to do because these tube sites are stealing our customer base. But, we’re the new generation of studios and it’s our job to be on top of our product. We’re always trying new things — new technology and new ways of promoting. It’s all about being creative. People are always going to want to watch movies. Obviously the sales are going to go down, but it’s all about how you release it. You can’t spend thousands of thousands of dollars on a huge budget movie. You have to take your cost and cut it by a third. You’re going to sell fewer pieces but you’re still going to make up for it with VOD (videos on demand), or packaging two or three movies together, or releasing the scenes on your site before they come out on DVD. So It’s just about being really creative.
SA: How do you deal with crazy fans?
SL: Most of the fans I meet are really respectful, plus they’re already a little nervous. I believe it’s just in the way I carry myself. The amount of respect you give is what you get back. That’s the only problem that happens, just a lack of respect. I did a featuring job once, and I went to collect my dollar and the guy slaps my ass. Well, I’m not mean at first so I say, “Hey, you can’t do that.” Then I turn to walk away and he does it again. I just figured he needed to cool down so I poured his beer on his head. Well he gets up to go for me and Daniel is there holding me like a football as a giant security guard flies over the stage to grab this guy. (laughing) I think he learned not to do that again. I’m not a violent person, but when you tell someone no, that should be it.
SA: What was it like growing up Sikh in a small Canadian town?
SL: I went to Catholic school because the town I grew up in was really small and predominantly white. It was unsafe for little brown kids, or any ethnicity that wasn’t white, to go to public school. That’s just the way it was. My parents lied for our safety.
SA: How does Sikhism jive with your profession?
SL: It’s a community-based religion. You walk into a temple and you’re greeted with the utmost respect. You’re completely equal to your peers. Everyone helps everybody. You do community work; you help your neighbor. But, just like any religion it doesn’t want you to shoot adult material. I mean, I grew up going to temple every Sunday. When my parents found out they knew my personality which was very independent. Even if they tried to stop me or tried to steer me the right way they would have lost their daughter. I’m too headstrong. And it wasn’t a plan. It just happened and my career and everything just kept getting bigger and bigger.
SA: It seems to be a natural progression for many premier adult entertainers to transition into directing and producing. How did this shift happen for you and what professional role do you like best?
SL: Before I started my production company, everything revolved around my site. We started the production company based on someone saying, “Hey, you can do this. It’s not that hard.” When I signed my contract with Vivid, I re-signed to shoot my own movies. Daniel and I, we fund our movies from start to finish. Vivid still does U.S. distribution only for the DVDs. I’ll always be a Vivid girl; now I just make all the money. There would have been no way I would have done it by myself because it’s just too hard. But starting it has been the most fun I’ve ever had, especially with our latest movie, Gia: Portrait of a Porn Star — an acting-centered movie based on the cinematography of the film Gia with Angelina Jolie. We took the basic story and follow the life of a girl who gets into adult. We have 20 different interviews with big players in our industry from Marci Hirsch, Jim Powers, we got an interview with Janine Lindemulder right before she went to jail, Randy West, Ron Jeremy, Ana Loria — all sorts of different people. Tori Black plays my girlfriend. Through the process of making this movie I fell in love with directing and being part of the creative process.
SA: How did you like playing Jaclyn Smith’s character in Not Charlie’s Angels XXX? Do you plan to steal any ideas from Will Ryder’s parody porn team for your movies?
SL: Will Ryder was really nice. I had a great time working with their company. It was very stimulating to watch how everything worked because I’ve never been on a set like that. All the movies I’ve shot with Vivid were pretty easy going. I would never want to shoot a parody. It’s not what I’m into, but just watching the process of how their brains work, how they function throughout the whole day — I mean they got everything they needed every day. They were really long days, but in the end I know I’ll be able to appreciate all the work and effort that went into it. Charlie’s Angels and Gia are the most I’ve ever acted in adult films. The only thing I don’t like about that movie is that it’s not mine. They own it, I don’t. But it costs a lot of money to shoot those movies. They have investors, I don’t. It’s just me. Everything I make tonight and tomorrow dancing will go back into my business.
SA: You’ve had cameos in mainstream movies like The Girl Next Door and The Middle Men. What’s difficult about acting in a mainstream film as opposed to porn?
SL: Mainstream stuff is very constricting because you’re a very small puzzle piece in the big picture. I’m at the top of my game in the adult industry, but I’m at the bottom in the mainstream world. They’re like, “Here’s a hundred dollars for the day,” and I’m like, “Holy smokes, I make that in 20 minutes on stage.”
SA: Are the rumors true that you’ll be appearing in a Will Ferrell movie?
SL: Yes, Will Ferrell is producing it and it’s called The Virginity Hit. It’s about a bunch of kids trying to lose their virginity.
SA: So you play one of the kids trying to get laid for the first time?
SL: No, so they go through all these episodes of trying to get this kid laid and at the very end, I come in with Daniel and our fuck bus, and we’ve arranged for the kid to lose his virginity to his favorite porn star, who happens to be me.
SA: Considering you specifically were written into the script, it sounds like you may receive some serious mainstream attention from this project. Are you nervous or excited about being recognized by mainstream audiences?
SL: You know, I don’t see an individual project as defining. If good things happen, then they happen, but I never set high expectations for my mainstream stuff. I know what I do in adult. The more you work, the more you make money. It’s an easy formula to figure out. The mainstream world is completely different. You don’t know how things are going to look, if they’re going to cut you out. You never know what they’re going to do. So we’ll just have to wait and see.
Check out much, much more of Sunny at Sunnyleone.com.
THE 2010 F.A.M.E AWARDS
At last, adult film fans have their say!
The F.A.M.E. Awards (Fans of Adult Media & Entertainment) made XXX history in 2006 as the first truly interactive adult award event ever decided by fans. This year, EXXXOTICA Los Angeles will host the fifth annual F.A.M.E. Awards Show on Saturday, July 10th at the LA Convention Center.