C.J. Asher – This is C.J. Asher here with AVN award winning actress, director and writer Joanna Angel, founder of punk porn website BurningAngel.com. First of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you!
Joanna Angel – Thank you, hello! (laughs)
C.J. Asher – What made you decide to get involved in the adult film industry?
Joanna Angel – When I was a senior in college, me and my roommate decided to start a porn site. There was really not much thought behind it at all; it was kind of one of those ideas you have when you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life. I didn’t actually think we were going to go through with it but we did. The moment I thought of it, it sounded really exciting to me but it was something I knew nothing about. Once I started it I just kept going… that was twelve years ago at this point.
C.J. Asher – Besides simply being in the genre of punk porn, how do you feel Burning Angel is different from other adult entertainment websites?
Joanna Angel – Since day one, we’ve always been ‘community oriented,’ there’s a sense of community at Burning Angel you just don’t get anywhere else. The girls are friends with the members; members are friends with each other. It’s very nice when a girl’s video goes up, a lot of times the other girls will be like “I watched your scene, it’s really cool. I’m having a party this weekend, we should meet up.” There’s always been a very big community on Burning Angel itself that exists offline too. It’s like a lifestyle. As a new company we didn’t know who we were… who I was as a filmmaker, director. As time has gone on, we’ve become known for our humor; it’s a big part of what we do. The horror parodies and stuff, people really like us for. There’s really not a lot of people doing that either. I think the main thing that separates us from other people is the community and the lifestyle that’s associated with the website. It’s not just your typical “I’m gonna watch this and jerk off and move on with my day.” People are more open to talk about it.
C.J. Asher – What has been the most difficult obstacle you’ve faced while growing Burning Angel?
Joanna Angel – For anyone whose ever grown a business, every step is hard. Everything is an obstacle… you put shoots together and you have everything perfect and someone cancels. You think you budget everything correctly and you forget about certain expenses or something breaks. Money is always a really big obstacle, but I’d have to say the biggest wrench in the plans that we weren’t really expecting when we started the company was that, about five or six years ago, porn became free, which was not something that we predicted when we started the company. It definitely slowed our growth but we deal with it and we do what we do. (laughs)
C.J. Asher – As a successful entrepreneur and business woman, what advice would you give to adult entertainment actors and actresses who are interested in taking on management roles in the industry or starting their own adult entertainment business?
Joanna Angel – It’s not easy and it’s not a ton of money right away. I think what most performers get to indulge in that I never got to indulge in is very quick money. A lot of people cater to you… I think that’s something that a lot of performers get and they get very spoiled by it, especially the ones with the big names that have a certain look, that get very big very fast. They get into porn, they get booked all the time, they go to set and everyone’s like “What do you need? What do you want?” Everyone’s very pampering towards them. They’ll go and they’ll travel and things kind of revolve around them. You have to know that, when you’re the boss, nothing’s going to revolve around you. Everyone’s going to hate you, everyone’s working against you. You have to conquer that and you have to be able to put your ego aside. A lot of people say that they want to start companies and I say, “Are you sure you want to do this? You’ve got a great life where you go to set, you get a paycheck, you go home and it doesn’t seem like it’s ending anytime soon. Are you sure you want to go down this road where you have to start dealing with so many different people?” It’s a risk, it’s hard and you have to be sure you know what you’re getting into. Obviously I’m not trying to talk people out of it, but it’s not all fun and games. You think about all the people that you hear every day complain about their bosses; you’re going to be that person. You just have to know that. (laughs)
C.J. Asher – What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing the adult entertainment industry today?
Joanna Angel – Piracy. That’s not just the adult entertainment industry but also music, but the adult industry faces it the most. It’s definitely the hardest part; we’re selling something that’s free… that’s pretty difficult.
C.J. Asher – What is your position on Measure B (The County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In the Adult Film Industry Act), the law requiring the use of condoms in adult film productions in Los Angeles County?
Joanna Angel – Obviously I don’t like outside groups trying to tell me, or the adult entertainment industry in general, how to run our business. I think it’s less of a threat now than it used to be. We’re a condom-optional company. If a girl wants to use a condom she can, if a guy wants to use a condom he can, they’re always on set. I really mean that we’re a condom-optional company, we don’t just say that we are on paper but, when it comes down to it, we don’t try to talk people out of it. I don’t hate condoms; it’s not about that. There’s so many different parts to running a porn company that so many people don’t understand. To have a threatening organization ahead of you saying, “If you don’t listen to what we say, if you don’t pay these fines, if you don’t run your company like this, if you don’t do this you’re going to go out of business.” That’s very hurtful to me; I’ve been trying my hardest to run a very legit operation for the past twelve years. I’m not made of money, a lot of times when (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or (the AIDS Healthcare Foundation) start talking about all these things that you can do that are so easy to change, they thing that everyone in porn is a huge multi-billion dollar corporation. They don’t know what it’s like to be in the moment creating a movie. It’s frustrating, but I feel like every couple of years there’s always someone trying to fuck with us. We always deal with it, it’s just part of being in the industry. You’re always going to have people against you.
C.J. Asher – Looking towards the future, where would you like to see yourself professionally as well as where do you see Burning Angel five, ten years down the line?
Joanna Angel – I want us to become a big of a brand as we possibly can. I really do look up to the old school brands in porn like Vivid, Playboy and Hustler, even though they aren’t exactly porn. It’s really cool that these are brands that are known worldwide. I’d love Burning Angel to have strip clubs, bars, restaurants, clothing stores, whatever. I love making movies and I hope people continue to support us but I hope we can continue to take the brand elsewhere and just do more.
C.J. Asher – Last question, and I need to end with something fun. If you could have any male celebrity star in one of your adult films, who would it be and why?
Joanna Angel – I don’t think we really need male celebrities, but right now I really love Jonah Hill. I think it would be great if he was in one of my movies, it would add a level of comedic value that would go great with what we do. I think he would be incredibly awkward; I would love to put Jonah Hill in a scene with eighteen girls and have them all go crazy on him. I would love to see the look on his face. I think it would be awesome so I guess I’d choose him.
C.J. Asher – That is hilarious, great answer. Joanna Angel, thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate it!
Joanna Angel – Thank you!