This is a blog category for stars I have photographed and/or directed, and also porn directors I have worked for. For each of these people, I will describe my experiences with them in the 70s and 80s, followed by an update.
“That’s my butt!” the new lady announced to the audience admiring her race-horse rump, which filled the projection screen. “How do you like my butt?”
Usually, you don’t put a fresh, new woman in a starring role. If the newcomer freezes up, thousands of dollars in production costs could be lost. Most porn actors—both male and female—start out in support roles, sometimes as “nude extras” who perform no actual sex.
But Juliet Anderson, the (late) sex superstar making her producer/director debut in 1984, felt that Nina Hartley was someone special. At the time, we didn’t know just how special.
I was working as Juliet’s director of photography, fulfilling my part of a trade: In 1982, Juliet had directed my Superior Video, Inc., feature, Physical. In return, I was to do camerawork for her in the future. It wasn’t until two years later that Juliet secured the financing for Educating Nina.
That title was ironic: Nina Hartley turned out to be the educator—the best educator ever to emerge from the sex film industry. Like Annette Haven, the porn Hall-of-Famer whose career started in the early 70s, Nina used porn acting as a platform to express her views on sex and society. Nina felt that American sexuality was sick, burdened with guilt, shame and persecution. She wanted to change that; a Herculean task. Like Haven, she decried the mating of sex with violence. In our culture, the term “sex and violence” sounds almost like one word: sexandviolence. Nina said, “I’d rather have my child watch someone making love, even if it’s a little mechanical, than watching a woman getting decapitated or mutilated.”
Nina had the credentials to teach; she was a registered nurse. She proudly declared that she had both a husband and a wife. (Nina’s husband, Dave, was a great on-set crew member.) She became the porn industry’s best spokesperson, appearing on talk shows and other forums, maintaining her dignity and humor while confronting the most virulent of anti-porn agitators.
Working on movies in which Nina Hartley appeared—including my own feature video E.X.–I found her to be one of the most upbeat and cheerful performers I’d ever seen, bantering easily with cast and crew. She once arrived for her scene in a problem-plagued Anthony Spinelli production, and Spinelli’s wife, Roz, exclaimed—as if Nina were a good-luck charm, “Ah! Here she is! The most wonderful woman on this whole shoot has arrived!”
“I’m not the most wonderful woman here,” Nina replied. “You are. But I’ll take second.”
Nina called herself “a sex industry worker. I’m a feminist. I enjoy my work and I don’t feel exploited. A person who works in a bank and hates it is being exploited. My job isn’t for everybody. I’m a bisexual exhibitionist making a good living.”
Over the years (decades!), Nina Hartley has appeared in hundreds of movies, both porn and non-porn. She has produced her own sex education shows. Her world-wide fan following has only increased as she has grown older.
A year ago, Nina Hartley underwent surgery to remove a seven pound fibroid tumor (non-cancerous) from her uterus. I’m not surprised that she has recovered completely. Nina has always been known to take care of her health. What does surprise me is a plea from “Lesley,” on GiveForward.com, for Nina’s fans to contribute funds to help cover the costs of her recovery. I’m glad that Nina’s fans came through. She deserves only the best. I know she didn’t get into porn with the idea of getting rich, and I hope she is financially comfortable.
The porn industry may not be financially comfortable, especially if the new Los Angeles ordinance requiring porn performers to wear condoms is copied in other parts of the country to which porn production might flee. Nina Hartley has raised her voice against the new law. It has long been a truism in the porn industry that safe sex doesn’t sell. Fans want to live their fantasies vicariously; they don’t want to be reminded of sexually transmitted diseases. It will be interesting to see what will happen next in the world of porn production.