Jessica Drake is one of the most successful and popular actresses in adult entertainment. She’s the woman that men want to be with and women want to be … and be with. Smart, funny, kind and sincere, she’s the beautiful girl you envy from afar while at the same time wishing she were your best friend.
Born and raised in Texas, she began her career in adult just over a decade ago. She signed on as a contract actress with Wicked Pictures and quickly became a fan favorite, garnering numerous nominations and awards from AVN. But Drake had her eye on the prize: expanding her credentials beyond acting to include writing, directing and producing.
Jessica Drake has so many irons in the fire that it’s impossible to keep up with the pace of her work schedule. With the release of Sam Hain’s adult science-fiction epic, Horizon, her capabilities as an actress are in the forefront; the movie itself is groundbreaking in the way it was shot, using a Red Epic camera and a multitude of visual effects. Drake was able to explore new avenues in her role, as well. Additionally, she is enjoying great success with her instructional DVD series, jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex. To date, three titles have been released: Basic Positions, Fellatio and Anal. She writes, directs and produces the series. She also maintains a blog, podcast, personal appearances and a radio show.
There’s more. She finds time to give back, traveling the world to bring assistance to those in need and involving herself at home with charity walks and benefits. When she phoned in for her interview, she was tending to her Chihuahua, Big, who was recovering and taking meds for tracheal collapse. She adopted Big — who also has a heart murmur and luxating patellas — as a senior from One Dog (www.onedogrescue.org) and took naturally to her role as a doting pet parent.
In this interview, Jessica Drake speaks candidly about her goals as an actress and sexual educator, what women want and need from their partners, being 37 in our youth-oriented society, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and why it’s important to give back and make a difference.
GT: Everyone I’ve interviewed so far in adult is actively involved in animal rescues and adopting shelter dogs and cats. Coincidence?
JD: Most of us are in California, and in many parts of California and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles, you can’t buy dogs in pet stores. They have made it illegal because we have so many shelters that are full of dogs that are being put down every day. Ninety percent of the animals who are going into shelters here are euthanized. We just don’t have enough places for them. So people in California have figured that out. I think most of California is about the animals now, and I love that.
GT: What was it about Horizon, and your character, Ezra, that most appealed to you?
JD: Horizon is a really interesting acting role for me. When I read it, I thought it was a little bit different than things I had read before. I really liked the way the characters interacted with each other. There was also a lot of interacting with CGI and holograms. Ezra is the commander of the ship, and we are on a mission to try to save the remaining civilians that have been left on Earth after an alien attack. I usually play roles that are closer to me, more on the sweeter side, and this was interesting because I had to be very strong and strong willed. I spent the whole movie in a flight suit, which was also different. I really enjoyed the stretch that it gave my character, and the number of people involved in the making of this movie, and the fact that we shot not just in the studio but also in the desert. It has such a huge look to it.
GT: Lately, the adult medium is seeing an increase in movies with plots, scripts and acting.
JD: That’s something that Wicked specializes in, and it’s part of the reason why doing this project with Wicked and Sam Hain was such a natural fit. In the past five to ten years, the Internet has had such a huge effect on the decline of our industry because of piracy. One of the things that’s happened as a result is we have seen a return to people seeking out high-quality adult entertainment. Because of that, Wicked has definitely carved out their niche and that’s why we continue to do so well. I like movies where not only can I have great sex, but I can also concentrate on acting and making the character. To me, it’s the best of both worlds. The movie is about the sex, but I get to do the cool wardrobe and great location and become that character, so it’s the perfect blend.
GT: Did you have acting experience when you started in adult?
JD: I did some drama classes in high school and I did all the plays that I was offered. Most of it was original stuff, nothing in theaters. I went to performing arts camp a couple of summers when I was in high school and I really enjoyed it, but I never gave it any serious thought. I wasn’t aspiring and I didn’t begin my career in the adult industry thinking that I wanted to be a mainstream Hollywood actress.
GT: How do you choose a role? What is your criteria, and as a contract actress, how much latitude do you have in terms of what you do?
JD: There’s a bunch of different factors. Sometimes our best movies come from a particular girl’s fantasy, and a lot of times it has to do with maybe a specific ability that she has. Brad Armstrong has come up with most of our bigger movies, and he casts for the roles and puts people in what he thinks would be the perfect spot for them. So I haven’t been offered many roles that I turned down or didn’t think were right for me. Some have been more instant for me, some I just heard the basic pitch for the movie and absolutely loved it, and some I had to do a bit more research and read the script. I think Brad really hits the nail on the head with stuff like that. Never once have I been in a Wicked movie where I looked around and thought, This isn’t me, or, This is cheesy, or anything like that. I’ve been very, very satisfied with the movies that I’ve made.
GT: You signed with Wicked in 2004. How has the relationship grown and what were the steps you took to move upward into writing and directing?
JD: I’m very fortunate to be with Wicked. I almost signed a contract with another company. It was very, very close. At the last minute, I went in and I spoke to the people at Wicked and it seemed to be a more natural fit for me because there were a lot of things that I had decided were important in my career. I got into the business with a plan. I wanted to be in the adult industry for as long as I could and to really make as big of an impact as I could. So acting was really important to me. The other thing I wanted was the opportunity for growth, and not just as a performer, not just, “We’re going to sign you to a contract and you’re going to work with these people and do these types of scenes for one year, and the next year you’ll do this.” I wanted to do it at my own pace and develop it when I was ready to do things I was comfortable with. Three or four years ago I started writing, and after I wrote three or four movies, I began to think more seriously about directing. After I had done a few features, I decided that I had seen a market, with all the signings and appearances that I do, to get into instructionals. So being with an amazing company that’s been behind me 100 percent has given me the opportunity to really grow as more than an actress, and I’m really, really grateful for that.
GT: How is your time divided between your radio show, movies, blog, website, instructional DVDs and personal appearances? How do you ensure that each project gets equal attention?
JD: It’s really hard for me. I tend to devote my attention to the thing I’m most happy with at the time. That can sort of backfire, because the things that need my attention most are probably not getting it. I try to be disciplined because there is a lot of stuff going on. It’s like juggling. If I slack off, if balls start to drop, that can be really bad. I was in Africa for a month and I came back so motivated and so ready to work, and I got very sick and fell probably three or four weeks behind.
My day starts early because Big wakes up very early in the morning. I’ll do emails, a couple of times a week I record a new podcast on iTunes called the STFU Show — we’re also at STFU.com, I work on the website that we designed for the instructionals, which is GuideToWickedSex.com. I try to get a lot of my computer work out of the way first thing in the morning because it’s something I can do here at home, sit, have my coffee, try to get my brain to engage, and then I attack the rest of my day. But when you factor travel into all of that, it can be a bit difficult because it interrupts my morning routine, and then doing the appearances and conventions on top of the regular stuff I’m doing. It’s a bit of a challenge, but I really like to be busy. I’ve always been a workaholic and I’m trying to work on the perfectionist part. None of it can be perfect all of the time, so the important thing is that I go over everything and that I’m happy with the finished product.
GT: This is your twelfth year in the adult industry. What has changed, both good and bad, and regarding what’s bad, do you foresee any resolutions?
JD: I have seen a lot of changes in the adult industry. Some of the good is that it seems to be a lot less taboo, but I think that also contributes to the bad. Now that it’s a lot less taboo, you have more people picking up cameras and calling themselves directors. You have more people shooting two or three movies and suddenly becoming stars. And of course Internet piracy has cost the entire industry so much money. Take Down Piracy is a great company that’s working to combat Internet piracy. I was their Girl of the Month, so everything they tweeted, I retweeted to give people an idea of how harmful it really is. I take it very seriously. When I make movies for Wicked, I put my heart and soul into them. I pride myself not in just starring in high-quality movies, but also directing them, so that people will watch these movies for years to come. When I find them ripped off and they’re on the Internet three or four days after we’ve put them out, it really bothers me. It definitely hurts me.
As far as other changes in the industry, I think technology has afforded us a lot of advancements. There’s always a new way to deliver content, a faster way, a better way that’s going to give us higher quality, so I’d say that technology has done us a lot of good as well, and that goes back to Horizon. We shot Horizon on a Red Epic, a camera that not only has never been used to shoot an adult movie, but also this is the first time that a movie has come out on a Red Epic. They’re shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand on the camera, but it will be in editing for a very long time. Technological advances like that are sort of pushing the adult industry to the forefront. We’re a much more visible force than we were before.
GT: How did the Guide To Wicked Sex series happen? You mentioned that you noticed a need for it based on women you meet at your signings. What makes this project interesting for you?
JD: I was doing signings and I had women and couples coming to see me. They were very comfortable seeking out information about sex. So I started doing seminars and workshops specifically for these people. After that, I decided that a DVD line was the natural next step. I started talking to fans, people who were at the seminars, people who call in to the radio show, and I asked them the topics that they want to know the most about. Even in 2011, people are a lot more open when it comes to sexuality, but there are still things they have questions about. And even if they are more open, they are also considering where they’re getting that information.
One of the most requested topics for me is anal sex. I did an interview for an Internet radio show and I was going on and on about how much I love to teach women to have anal sex. The way that came about is a woman came up to me at a signing and she said, “My husband really wants to have anal sex and we’ve tried, but there’s something wrong with me. I just can’t do it like you. It just doesn’t go in like that.” I said, “There’s nothing wrong with you. What you don’t see is the period of time before we’re rolling on that anal scene where we’re doing the prep. There’s also great editing that comes into play.” I took the woman all the way through the process. I said, “Some women like to use butt plugs. Some women do this, some do that, this is what I do.” I like using my life as a reference source for other women to draw from, because I’ve been a sexual inspiration for guys for a long time now and it feels really good for me to be able to give back.
GT: Why do men always replicate bad porn? It’s not real! How do they not know? Do they believe Rambo movies are real too?
JD: I don’t know. I think maybe they perceive Rambo as action movies and they understand that you can’t just go around and blow things up all the time. But as far as sex goes, maybe someone with limited sexual experience considers porn as a great way to pick up hints. And it can be. Honestly, I’ve learned things from being in this industry. I recently posted an article for guys on the website about lessons you can actually learn from porn, things that you can take away. And of course in that article I posted things that you shouldn’t take away as well!
GT: Why is it still OK for men to have numerous partners, yet women remain sluts and whores for exploring and enjoying their sexuality?
JD: I think it’s changed a little bit over the years, but it is the quintessential double standard. If a guy sleeps with a bunch of women, everybody’s like, “Yeah, atta boy, you’re the man!” If the shoe is on the other foot, she’s a slut. I especially like how people that aren’t in the adult industry tend to look down on the women that are in porn, yet they have a certain amount of respect for the guys that are in porn. That’s something we fight on a regular basis. I certainly notice it. I think it’s going to take many, many more years.
GT:Have you considered an instructional DVD for men?
JD: That is definitely something I’m going to make happen, but before I do that I’m going to have to refine the topic. Something that I’ve been asked to do is an instructional for guys on how to go down on a woman. I’ve been doing a lot of research with a lot of different women and all of the answers are different, which I think is also a great point to make and it needs to be explained in the instructional for guys. I’m considering doing a general instructional for guys about how to make love, how to have sex, the things that you should think about. I would not just use male performers to teach these guys; I would also use female talent for their feedback because I think that’s really important. One of the most important things in all of this is it’s really about confidence and communication in bed — the confidence not only of the person who’s performing whatever particular sex act is going on, but also the confidence of the other person to be able to relax and enjoy herself and be open to new sexual experiences. And communication, because nobody is a mind reader in bed. I can want a particular type of sex, but unless I tell my partner, they’re not going to gaze into their magical crystal ball and know exactly what I want. But there are ways that you can read your partner. You can read body language and listen to them — really listen to what their body is telling you. A lot of people would like to see an instructional geared toward men.
GT: We hear so much about STD and HIV rates, yet many people still refuse to use condoms. Is this a topic you have considered addressing? As we know, Wicked is a condoms-only company.
JD: In my Wicked Guide to Anal Sex, I did factor in how important I feel that condom use is, and I try to acknowledge that in my seminars as well. It’s a person’s own choice, but I have made the decision to make my entire career condoms-only because that’s the right thing for me. I would consider doing an instructional on safer sex, but in the meantime I choose to incorporate that into what I do all the time. From the very beginning, these DVDs have been 100 percent me, and that’s something that was very important to me. Wicked is 100 percent condom only and these are jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex, so it’s something that we really agree with.
GT: When you speak with women at signings and conventions, what do they tell you appeals to them about adult films?
JD: When it comes to adult movies, the real attraction for the female audience is consistent quality. The adult industry way back got pretty cheap and cheesy, and some companies continue to do that. I think it’s really important to make high-quality adult movies that don’t insult the intelligence of the viewer, that don’t have the cheesy porn acting — and porn music! — and that stereotype. I have introduced a lot of women to adult movies. They’ve come to a seminar, and after my seminars I always offer to give them movie recommendations. I tell them, “Let me know if there’s something you’re specifically interested in, and I’ll help you pick out something that would be appropriate.” They’re very surprised at times to learn how much of a storyline there can be and how really how romantic sex can be. Wicked has an amazing line of very sensual movies called Wicked Passions, and it has a different focus than regular Wicked movies. Wicked Passions has no extreme close-up hardcore sex. The emphasis is on romantic, kissing, passionate, sensuality, bodies touching, slower moving into the sex. There is no anal, there is no girl-girl, all the sex is very pertinent to the plot and they’re beautiful and they’re gentle. They’re very, very pretty.
GT: The stereotype of the adult film actress is — no offense! — tall, skinny, blonde, large breasts. In fact, and surprisingly, there’s a wide range of female body types, and an audience for each.
JD: You have a very good point here and it’s something I have incorporated into the instructionals. It’s really hard sometimes for me to bring this up because I am tall and skinny and blonde. That was a roll of the dice. It’s very simple. I think it’s much more important to recognize that there really is something for everyone. There are plenty of guys out there that don’t like skinny girls with blonde hair. A lot of guys prefer more curvy women. I think it’s appropriate to represent many different body types and many different ethnicities. There is no poster woman for sensuality and sexuality in sex education. It’s for everybody, literally every body.
GT: You’re 37 in a society that embraces 18 to 25 for women in fashion, in the music industry, in the workplace, everywhere. Have you encountered age discrimination?
JD: I didn’t come into this business when I was 18 years old and I’m really glad I didn’t. When I was 18, I thought a lot of things that weren’t true, as I’m sure everyone does, and I wasn’t at all familiar, nor was I comfortable, with my sexuality — even though if you had asked me back then, I would have told you I was. The longer I’ve been around on the earth and in the adult industry, I learned so much, not just about sex but also particularly about myself. I don’t claim to know everything, but I am very in touch with me. Sexually, I’ve developed a lot. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. I would not trade being 18 or 25 for anything in the world. I feel better about myself than ever before. As far as the adult industry, gravity will take over one day. I don’t know what it is with me; I haven’t gotten into plastic surgery yet, although I am a fan of Botox, but there’s no shame in that statement. Every woman is going to do whatever amount of upkeep she finds necessary, whatever makes her comfortable. I think as long as you don’t take that to the extreme, there’s nothing wrong with that because it’s all about being happy with yourself. If it makes you happy, do the nip, do the tuck. As far as society, the music industry, the modeling industry, it might be harsher, but I really haven’t run into any difficulties due to my age. If anything, I think people take me more seriously than they did before, and that’s nice. I’ve just started coming into this. This is sort of a new thing for me to think about and talk about and maybe plan on how to deal with it in the future.
GT: You’re a nature girl. You scuba dive, you mountain climb … and you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. What the hell were you thinking?
JD: I knew I was going to be in the area. I was in Kenya for three weeks, and after that I decided that I wanted to go to Tanzania. I was involved with a group of people on this build in Kenya and they were putting together a small group of people that wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. I was very interested. I did a lot of research and sort of talked myself into it by reading about it and getting the equipment necessary and thinking, Can I do this? I made the decision, and shortly after that the guy that was leading the group had to cancel for personal reasons. No one else wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass me by. However, originally, I was supposed to climb the route that had us sleeping in concrete huts at night. Nothing comfortable, not like a hotel by any means, more like a tiny concrete box, but hey, at least it had four walls and would sort of break the ice and wind and everything else. By the time I said to the tour company that I was doing it and I was doing it myself, that was not possible anymore because there is a very small number of those huts, so instead I climbed it and slept in tents on the way up. It took six days to climb the mountain — four days up, two days down; it’s 19,321 feet in elevation. It’s the highest point in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. I was like, What was I thinking? Halfway up I thought, This could have been a mistake! But I knew I wasn’t going to turn around and go back because I had already come that far.
GT: You have also done volunteer work in Cambodia, Soweto, Johannesburg and Kenya. Can you tell us more about that?
JD: I don’t do interviews about it because I don’t do it for p.r. I do it because it makes me happy. I also try to fly low under the radar and not draw attention to who I am when I’m on a trip like that, although I’ve been recognized and everyone is very cool about it. I do some charity trips in other countries, and when I’m there I network for my own nonprofit, which I started in January 2011. I’ve been really lucky. I have a great job, I make good money, I have a lot of freedom in my schedule although I am super-busy; I’m not making light of that fact. I have the ability in a lot of ways to be my own boss as far as scheduling goes. If I work my ass off for a couple of months and get all kinds of stuff done, it isn’t as bad when I’m gone three or four weeks, and of course I can work from places that have an Internet connection, which occasionally happens when I’m gone. It’s something I enjoy doing. It’s almost selfish in that I don’t know who’s happier at the end of the day — the people that have been helped, or me. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life and it’s an amazing feeling all the way around.
I started this about four years ago on a work trip. I went somewhere for Wicked, and whenever I travel to other countries, I always make sure I take time to tour around and see things and get a sense of history and culture and really learn something about the places I’m in. Prior to that, I was seeing a lot of airports, strip clubs, hotels, convention centers, the occasional nail salon, a gym now and then and that’s it. Then I would fly back here. So I started taking the time to see things. I was in South Africa when this happened. I was doing a convention and I happened to go to an orphanage. I’d been to other orphanages, of course; I’d done other work before that, but I don’t know, the bottom just fell out of my world when I stood there, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I had always wanted to do it on a bigger scale, but I just hadn’t taken that first step. When I came back from South Africa, I really made a big effort to do more.
I think it’s important to recognize that I’m not better than anybody because I do this. I don’t have any special talent that enables me to do this. Everybody can do this. You just have to take that first step. People can do it on a big level or a small level. Every tiny thing that we do — if everybody on the earth did one small thing, it would change so much. There is so much bad stuff going on in the world. Just do a little bit. Be nicer. Spread love around. Anybody can do it. A lot of people in the adult industry are becoming much more active when it comes to charitable organizations. I notice a lot of people doing AIDS walks now. I do the Avon Breast Cancer Marathon every year. I do a big holiday food drive that originates at Wicked and I open it up to fans. So many people are willing to help and I see a lot of male and female talent really get involved with it. I think it speaks volumes about our industry.
GT: What is the name of your nonprofit?
JD: ALoveForAll.org, and that is a nonprofit I decided to start because I reach out to these other organizations when I’m in different countries and fans have been willing to help me. They send me gift cards and all sorts of things; they really pitch in and help me out, so I wanted to give them a way to know that what they were doing is really helping a legitimate organization. I became a 501c3, and when people donate, it is a tax write-off. I’m very upfront with where the money’s going. I’ll never take a salary from the nonprofit. It’s strictly a way for fans who want to help me help other people. That’s all.
GT: Tough subject: Your father passed away 2005. Losing a parent is something that can only be understood by those of us who have experienced it. How did surviving that loss change your life, your outlook, your goals, and change you as a person?
JD: It does stay with me. Losing my father was very painful. Even though he was sick, it’s still never expected; you’re never ready for it. To make matters worse, in a period of about a year and a half, I lost my dad, my grandma — which were my two favorite family members — and an ex from Texas that I was involved with for four years was killed. They say bad things come in threes and it was one thing after another. My dad was first, then my grandmother, then my ex. It reinforced in me the permanence of death and how incredibly fragile life is. Every time we lose someone, whether it’s a family member or a friend or someone in the adult industry, a void is left and you
always think, I wish I would have done this, or, I would like to have told this person this. What you really have to do is consider that every day could be your last day, but that’s not the extent of it. The key is realizing that every day could be another person’s last day as well and to treat them accordingly.
I have kind of a different reputation in the business. I think a lot of people who don’t know me maybe get the wrong idea about me. They think I’m a little stuck up. I don’t know what it is other people think of me because I don’t get caught up in the “he said/she said,” and the gossip and high school of porn. There are so many things that are so much more important. I don’t have a ton of friends, but the friends that I do have I’m fiercely loyal to. I think that also it’s important to understand that you never know what that other person is going through, what kind of day they’ve had, or what kind of life, for that matter. Once you understand that people are coming from all kinds of different places in their lives, try to treat them accordingly. I’m like a porn guru! I don’t mean to be too heavy. I certainly don’t know the answers of life, but that’s one of the things I love the best about getting older. I think I just get it, I get so much more than I did before. I read about a motivational workshop in Japan that had everyone write their own obituaries. I started composing mine in my head and I couldn’t keep going. I got so worked up about it that I started freaking out, like, Have I done enough? Should I do more stuff? And this was after I climbed Kilimanjaro!
Interviewed by Vonda Dix