The term "living the American dream" gets bandied about a lot these days, but no one exemplifies this axiom better than Bonnie Rotten. Just three short years ago, no one outside of the Midwest had even heard of Bonnie, but now she sits atop an industry that is so full of talent, it's not hard for most actresses to fade into oblivion before breaking through. With fourteen AVN nominations and two wins, including 2014 Female Performer of the Year, Bonnie's meteoric rise to the top has got to be the envy of adult film stars everywhere.
With To The Core, Bonnie's directorial debut and the inaugural film from her new studio Mental Beauty, being released today, I sat down with Bonnie to discuss her past, her future, and everything in between. So settle in, grab some lotion, and read all about what sets Bonnie in motion!
Tucker Bankshot: When did you first become aware of the adult film industry, and did that coincide with you becoming aware that it might be a viable career option? Or were those two separate moments?
Bonnie Rotten: I had watched my first porn in the third grade, so obviously I became aware of it at a really young age. I always went into Hustler and bought Hustler (ed. Bonnie grew up 20 miles from Hustler Hollywood in Ohio) and I always admired it but I didn't ever expect to become a part of it. I guess I always secretly wanted to be a part of it, but living in Ohio I never thought that it would be a possibility.
TB: LA Weekly ranked you fifth on the list of "10 Porn Stars who could be the next Jenna Jameson." Do you feel that was a fair ranking? You seem to be aiming for a different target audience than Jenna, so how do feel about that comparison?
BR: I think it's a positive thing because she did a lot of really great things back in the day. She had her company, it did really well, she made really awesome movies. The first movie I did was fetish but I am looking more towards doing features and high end things like that, so it actually isn't a bad thing to me.
TB: It might be hard to answer this, but what do you think is the hottest scene that you've done? Maybe top three if you're having trouble narrowing it down.
BR: Oh my gosh, that is so hard. with Ramon (Nomar), that's one of my favorite things ever. My double anal scene that I did for . That was really fucking hot, I love Ramon and Toni (Ribas), so that was insane. And me, Rocco (Reed) and Skin (Diamond) in the new movie that's coming out (), that was insane, that was really, really hot too. It was intense, it was hot.
TB: You appeared in Evil Anal 19 & 21. Were you disheartened when you didn't get the call to appear in part 20, and did that give you any hesitation about coming back for part 21?
BR: No, not at all. I didn't even think about that at all actually (laughs). It kind of goes with casting, and scheduling, Manuel (Ferrara) could have been shooting the movie at a different time. Certain things like that, I don't take stuff like that personally.
TB: You've described your style as ‘a little kink, a little Andrew Blake.' How big of an influence is Andrew on your overall style? His films are obviously much more cinematic and stylish in nature that the average adult film, so what things in particular did you take from him?
BR: A lot of his stuff is very crisp, very pretty, but very twisted, so what I like to do is two styles. I incorporated the really neat lighting, and the very dark elements of what we were doing, and then added some hardcore sex in there.
TB: You to a survey related to condom use in adult films on 4/10. How integral to your career is choice in this area, and do you find this to be the linchpin issue of the day?
BR: Well, we have Wicked which shoots with condoms, a couple companies shoot with condoms, and I don't mind it, but for personal reasons I don't like using condoms all the time. That's why I love the adult industry is because we're tested, we do our thing, we're clean, and we're very careful about who we have sex with. I feel that we should have the choice, that I should be able to walk onto a set and say ‘hey, I would prefer to wear a condom,' or ‘hey, I would prefer not to,' because some girls may not react well to it, if you understand what I mean, vagina-wise. It's not as pleasant of an experience with a giant cock. I just feel that it's taking away our rights in a way that's not exactly fair because they're putting it out there like, ‘the adult industry, they're all AIDS-ridden,' and these people have no true facts. They don't have any facts to back this up because they're just listening to a source that they should trust, and they're believing these people. I understand why people would think that if it's on a bill why someone might say ‘yes, I am for condom usage in the adult industry,' but without knowing, it's not exactly fair. It's not. We test every fourteen days, I'm careful about the partners I have, I literally have sex with ten different dudes in the industry. I just think that if people are careful, and mindful about what they do then they should be able to do what they want to do with their bodies.
TB: It's funny that you say that because the porn industry has had a very tenuous relationship with the government, and they don't feel comfortable going to the government for help, at least as far as piracy is concerned, but it seems that the government wants to insert themselves, no pun intended, into the conversation when they feel it benefits them or makes them look good.
BR: Right, exactly. If you look at, I think it was LA Weekly put out some statistics that showed that people weren't filing for permits. I can't give you the exact number, but it was something like thousands were filed two years ago, and in the past year there have been something like five filed. That is crazy. I have made a pact with this industry to keep my partners safe. I'm not going out and hooking up with random people or going out to bars and having unprotected sex, or do any of these things because I don't want to affect the lives of the people I'm working with, and I don't want anything myself. So I feel that if you're in the industry, you should put that responsibility onto yourself because you have just entered into something that can affect other people greatly. I just wish there was some kind of piece of paper that you signed, a willful pact or something.
TB: You're of Italian descent, as am I, and Italians are incredibly family driven. What does your family think of your chosen profession?
BR: My family is really supportive. I mean, they don't want to hear about me putting things in my butt, or anything like that, but sometimes I'll send them pictures off of box covers that are obviously clothed, and they'll say ‘Oh my gosh you look so beautiful.' They're just very supportive. They'll say ‘this may not have been the exact choice that I had for you, but at least you're succeeding at what you're doing, and you're doing it right.' They miss me. Unfortunately I don't get to go home a lot because I'm always busy, but I need to get back because my family, we're not that close, but they're very supportive of me.
TB: You've got a really deep catalogue. Do you think To The Core is a good place for new fans to start, or do you think that's more of an advanced studies course for you more seasoned fans?
BR: It's definitely a little niche-y, you've got to be into hardcore sex and bondage to get To the Core. I think it will appeal to everyone because there's a mixture, we didn't want to make it too bondage-y, so we put the sex in there to kind of break it up a little bit. So I guess I'll take that back, I guess anybody might be interested in it. I guess we'll find out soon, right? I don't know, I mean, this is my first movie so I'm kind of gauging it upon what people say and what I hear.
TB: How has the reaction been from the people that you've shown it to thus far?
BR: Everyone's really proud of me, my own agent said ‘wow, that was really good,' and that's great because he's really hard to get a compliment out of. It makes me really happy that girls in this industry, you know how girls can be kind of catty, but I've had girls come to me or write to me and say, ‘wow Bonnie, that's really amazing, we're really proud of what you've done,' and that really touches me because from the very beginning I've wanted to direct, and this deal, opening my company and everything has meant a lot to me, and everyone who's been on my team and has helped me along the way, and it means a lot to have this one done and out there.
TB: Do you feel that your partnership with Girlfriend Films was a natural evolution in your relationship with them? What are you hoping to gain from this new collaboration?
BR: I think that we both have a good little team. They have their lesbian audience and they put me in a couple of their movies, and their lesbian audience actually liked me, which, I know that they like softer looking women, but I do like women and I'm passionate about them, I like them a lot (laughs). I think that my brand is going to grow along with them and I think it's going to be a really good partnership because we both have our own styles and different things.
TB: Is there anyone you haven't worked with yet that you'd love to work with?
BR: I haven't worked with Asa (Akira) yet, or Jessica Drake. I want to work with both of them. Jessica's amazing, she's such a sweet woman.
TB: How huge was it for you to go from a relative unknown at 18 to the top of the heap less than three years later? You have your own production studio, countless awards and nominations, how do you keep all that from going to your head?
BR: Well there's no reason to let it go to your head. We're all fucking, we're all having fun. I may be a little more alert to the bullshit than I used to be, if you know what I mean; I don't put up with as much bullshit, I know what I want, but there's really no reason to act rude. There's a few girls that when they talk to you, you know, I see a lot of other girls that I'm friends with that can be very rude to new girls, and I try not to be because I remember I was a new girl once, and they may be annoying sometimes, but you've gotta be nice! (laughs)
TB: Absolutely, being able to pay it back like that is an incredibly mature realization to come to so soon.
BR: Yeah, I grew up as kind of an outcast, and I didn't have many friends growing up, and I hung out with boys, and guys just aren't catty, they don't act like that. So it's never really been in my nature to be that way.
TB: That's great! I'm sure that that has certainly given you a leg up, again no pun intended, in succeeding, that's really great to hear!
BR: Thank you!
TB: What are your plans for longevity in this industry? Adult film stars have a very definite shelf life, so what do you do when that gravy train stops rolling?
BR: (Sigh) What do you do when the gravy train stops rolling? Well, that's why I've started production and I started it at a peak time in my career because as I'm shooting and shooting and being busy and popular, I'm making my foundation to transition into owning my own company. So hopefully whenever that time comes, my movies are doing really well, and I'm shooting more movies, and directing more, and producing more, and dancing and focusing on fan stuff. I just signed myself with so I'm going to be doing events with them four or five times a year as well. So things are only getting busier!
TB: (Both laugh) Well hey, you're young, you gotta get out there and cram it all in before you get tired.
BR: Right, well you know, I went into this whole thing with one of the reviewers, and it upset me because I started watching this show called Girls, and that Lena Dunham girl, I tweeted about it, I was like ‘oh I really like that show,' and this guy goes, ‘I really like it too but it really bothers me her position on the adult industry,' and I'm like, ‘what do you mean, what is it?' And he said ‘well, she actually threw a fit when they did a parody movie,' and I'm like, ‘how?' and he's like, ‘she thinks that the industry is male dominated and that stuff is basically made for the male viewer,' which I can agree for about forty percent of the pieces, but do you not agree that the industry has shifted towards more of a couple and women buyer?
TB: Oh absolutely!
BR: It pisses me off that people always think that. I've been working on a project, and one of my friends was with me, just taking notes of my life. And he went with me to a couple of companies as I was picking out movies, and we finally wrapped up the day and he was like, ‘you know I just want to say to you that there's this pretty big conception that in Hollywood, people think that it's a male dominated industry, but I walked into these buildings and I saw nothing but females. It was so cool and I love seeing that!' And I just wish people could understand that a little bit more.
TB: Definitely, and it's particularly gotta hurt coming from a female, in Lena Dunham, who is struggling with sexism within her own area of entertainment, for her to cast aspersions like that has got to be doubly hard to hear.
BR: It is. On her show, she shows people having sex, she shows boobs all the time, and I think ‘do you even know anything? You're bashing our industry but you're basically showing soft core porn on your show?' It makes no sense.
TB: It's a really interesting point, I had no idea myself that the statistics skewed so heavily female, which is great to hear.
BR: When I go out and dance, I have so many female fans that come in and see me, and a lot of couples, and the females are the ones dragging the guys over to the table and making them feel comfortable in talking to me. It's really funny actually.
TB: That's great, I think we're at a time where we can break down those stigmas and hopefully get rid of them.
BR: Yeah! I think it's happening, it'll just take a couple more years. Like the Raiders getting better! (laughs)
Bonnie's directorial debut hits dvd today, April 15, so be sure to grab a copy and support this awesome and talented lady!