July 2016 Explicit Pioneer Showcase: Nina Hartley
What better way to celebrate the nations bicentennial than with a look into the adult industries trail blazer of all trail blazers, the wonderful, the amazing, the glamorous Nina Hartley. A veteran of mainstream film and adult cinema, Nina has long since her career boomed like a wrecking ball, been the epitome of a leader, an innovator and a sexual pioneer for people all over the world. I like to think of Nina as one of the beautiful woman who gave me my passion for the adult industry. It was indeed Nina Hartley on the television screen in front of my eyes that gave me my curiosity, passion and desire for all things female not just in terms of sexuality but also in terms of the strength of women period. Over the years Nina Hartley has been a commanding force on a film set, showing talent and crew alike the true definition of a leader. I had the opportunity to talk to many different people in the industry who have worked with Nina Hartley and every single one of them had to first speak on her leadership as a performer and how much she lets the entire cast know that she has a vision of were things should progress to, that simply instills a sense of confidence in her fellow performer. Many of her peers have said Nina takes control of a film set but not in terms most would think. Nina always has a picture in her head as to how the action should unfold, or how certain aspects and venues will bring out another performers beauty even more so than the director and camera crew could see. Nina has indeed possessed this since her career began. I think the performances that are not only captured within her scenes but also the entire movie no matter the production, are simply accredited to having Nina Hartley in the same room, leading the charge in making something or someone better.
Nina is a woman who all serious porn fans know created this fast movement for sexual acceptance and embracing. Nina is also a feminist in the terms of what the modern times do not know and the true basis for the movement was founded upon. I have had the opportunity to meet Nina just a few times and just ever so briefly. She is indeed a woman who has you mesmerized upon first glance by not just her beauty but her knowledge of everything. The first time I saw Nina Hartley was at a convention years ago. When I was in my college days and road trips, drug and alcohol fueled endurance tests, ran my life and my friends as well and the most important thing was chasing a beautiful woman. My college mates and I decided to take the long road trip from our now alma mater and take a road trip to AVN. To me, the only woman I have ever had a true crush on in this business was Nina Hartley. Being as she was going to be there, I could not say no to this thirty six hour, twenty five hundred mile trip. Now that I am in this industry, I find reliving these memories to be only something the legendary performers can spark within a person. I remember back then through out all the back roads, all the dark forests and unlit roads of the “bible belt” that I could not believe that I was going this length to see one performer but now that I have been in this industry for some time, I truly see that is what made AVN, X-BIZ, EXXOTICA and every other convention not mentioned, so appealing to fans and dreamers alike. It is the Nina Hartley’s of the world that draw people into amazing adventures on their own part, show them to a certain extent, what living is all about. Years after I first met her, I found it so ironic that the first films she was really getting to put out for herself and make with the Nina Hartley touch were these films on how couples could make love better, the proper ways for a guy to lick pussy and the best way to make your partner scream in pleasure, with just a finger and a kiss. Nina’s explanatory films as I like to call them, gave this cool insight to fans that I think guys especially, were missing in their life. As I watched some of them, I could see Nina caring that the viewer was able to enjoy sex as much as she does and get to relish in all the bonuses that come with making love and exploring ones sexuality. It is with all this great insight that I will begin this article, for I think we have to get a look back through time, to another era, to fully understand why I took my trip across the country to meet Nina Hartley, as well as being able to show the fans what it took to build the modern world of porn as we know it today.
Nina, as with all legendary performers both past and present, was a woman who had a supreme education and amazing work ethic before she got into films. Nina told me that her passion for sex was something that is a big part of her drive and passions during those days as well. Things had to have been so amazing to see back then before the invention of the internet and even before the amazing thing like going into your local adult book store and purchasing a DVD or even VHS in the 1980’s and 90’s. Nina told me that her passion was going into these stores that featured books upon books, about so many different aspects or erotica, lust and passion. Picture if you will not a selection of DVDs like we are spoiled to have today but a wall filled with many different types of books that featured subjects like couples sex, romantic adventure and down right raunchy and scrumptious sex stories. Nina told me she would just love to spend time reading about all this “nasty” things and picture these stories in her mind while getting a little hot under the collar. This was something that really gave me an insight into her latest performances, because could you even imagine the degree of imagination it takes to be as good as she is on film, how good she was on stage during her feature dancing days in San Francisco. This light turned on in my head that this is exactly were Nina got her sense of letting the viewers imagination take control in certain aspects of her films. Nina has told me before that she really wants her fans to be able to have some things left to the imagination. I think it is because Nina knows that is one of the ultimate places of pleasure, is ones mind and the fantasies that it can create on it’s own with a little assistance. Nina began making films when she was a junior in college perusing her nursing degree. All the while she became a feature dancer that simply wowed a crowd and put on a show few would ever forget in the City by the Bay. In the 1980’s the things a feature dancer could do in San Francisco were simply beyond belief. Some of the most amazing shows performers have described to me were girl/girl sex shows were the woman pretty much showed off every beautiful aspect of themselves to the drooling audience, while literally having sex on stage. Were, if you had the performance aspect of being a dancer down cold, you could not only make money to pay for school and other things, you get get off on stage and simply had your sex drive satisfied while you were at work. Talk about a bonus while working a 9 to 5! It was during this time that Ronald Reagan was digging up some of the most ancient transcripts and old school legislature from the time of Lydon Johnson in the 1960’s. These reports, these transcripts if you will, were a battle that Johnson created to banish adult entertainment off the shores of the US from every direction, north, south, east and west. He created a belief in his constituency that pornography was the “devils” work and that a clean Christian society had no place for adult entertainment. When Ronald Reagan was elected president, he began a few years into his first term, looking to resurrect this out dated believe in people. He wanted to continue to grow off the vibes of the people that got him elected. He wanted to bring back some of the old thinking that in my opinion created the amazing revolutions of the 1960’s. He wanted to show the porn world who was boss and began this campaign to draw out people’s anger for the industry. To have American’s speak out to their neighbors about why sex was wrong, about why sex was evil and something we should not admit to doing without saying those words exactly. He tried to create a hypocrisy that would of coarse get him more votes for re-election, what he did in my opinion was open up the doors for strong woman like Nina Hartley to begin a long needed campaign in this country to be accepting of one’s sexuality.
Although she did not begin this outright campaign then, I myself believe the ground work was laid for her fight to come. It was with this resurrection of hate that Reagan started to push upon the industry that had producers and talent being treated like common criminals. There were many stories I have heard from not just Nina Hartley but other legends of the business that talked about police riot squads busting onto an adult film set as if they were invading the most deadly criminal compounds. Police officers would far too commonly issue warrants and tickets to porn producers, telling them that they were being charged with the equivalency of pimping and pandering, also citing the performers with prostitution charges. To me, this was not the lowest blow. Police officers would routinely take down these beautiful young woman and set them into a room and intimidate them into giving up their passion for performance and nudity by threatening them with exposure. It is no secret that most performers face scrutiny from their families when it comes to performing in this industry, not because what they do is wrong but because the basis for calling sex a “dirty” thing was being pushed at every corner and outlet in the media. These woman in the 80’s were being interrogated and told to give up every person they knew in the industry, interrogated to give up the locations of the companies shoots that were being scheduled for the future and being interrogated to give up every ounce of their soul to demean them into giving up acting in adult films. It is hard to believe that this was less that 30 years ago when all of this “stone age” way of thinking was simply trying to bully the general public into giving up on pornography because you would be punished in every which way, no matter if you performed in a film, directed one, or even worse went to a theater to watch one. That is the world not too many fans and performers of the industry knew existed but this is indeed the era that Nina Hartley came onto the scene. For most of the women she looked up to, this was an everyday thing, especially in Los Angeles and New York. Nina being in San Francisco got to be apart of a society and city that was beginning it’s revolution is so many ways. With college students beginning to focus on sexual freedoms and the beginning of amazing things like acceptance of the gay and lesbian community. Nina told me in San Francisco, that she was so thankful that she never had to experience the brutality others were facing in Los Angeles but would hear horror story upon horror story as to what performers were enduring. It is with these words that Nina shows why she is a pioneer. For the ladies of her era, when she entered this business, had to simply strive on past the biggest obstacles ever laid before the industry, in order to make or fantasies come alive. I myself find that the ultimate sacrifice, no matter what the performers intentions were in the adult industry.
With the worlds of religion and politics taking on the adult industry, Nina was finishing up her nursing degree and figuring out what to do with her life. The one thing I have always known about her even before she told me herself, was that she had a flair for performance. She was involved in theater in her younger years and she was also a woman who knew at a very young age that she was bi-sexual and loved sex, nudity, exhibitionism and the aspect of being a voyeur very, very much. I think it is easy to say, Nina knew what she wanted to do in life not just in terms of a career but in terms of the path she walks in the crazy rodeo we call life and survival. After school, Nina decided to go head first into the industry a decision that could not have been easy, even though she was born of parents who were Buddhists and were a little bit more open minded and liberal than other parents at that time. Nina told me that her parents allowed her to embrace who she was, that was simply the way their Buddhist teaching dictated a parent should be with a child. Nina was able to face many of the things we all did growing up but also had that positive influence to be herself above all else. Nina has told me, that to be a performer in this industry takes someone who is a little “off.” I don’t think she meant that in the terms that we are crazy or vulgar. As a matter of fact, I believe as people, that it is our “weird” ways that truly define us at the core. I myself being the helpless romantic, believe that the moment you have found the one, you will know it by the simple fact that you allow that person into your own, “weird” little world. I think when it comes to the title of “Pioneer” it has to be someone who has changed things in ways we do not think about in our present time. I think the greatest thing Nina Hartley has done for the world not just the fans and people of the adult industry, is showing everyone that sex is something that needs to be excepted and I am talking even if you are a person who is A-Sexual. With Nina’s background in nursing, she gives such validity that understanding sexuality is truly a key to unlock the things that simply make us human beings and the more we except that, the happier life will be. I think that is one of her greatest messages and accomplishments and that in itself is what earns her that title of pioneer.
I like to think sometimes now as I watch her scenes from both today and the past, that Nina has lasted so long in this industry, because since day one, she has had such a deep understanding of sex, pleasure, lust, passion and personality, that make every single one of her scenes shine. No matter who she has starred with, I dare any fan to find me a scene or film where she simply did not put on the performance of a life time. I think you can credit a lot of our smiles as fans to Nina’s compassion and intelligence for sex and sexuality. I think back to some of my favorite scenes with her and one that tops my list is a girl/girl scene with Ruby, one of the sexiest big breasted women to ever be in this industry. They both were in bikinis and doing the norm when it comes to their lines and scene set up but it was Nina’s intuitive personality that stole the show. She makes Ruby take her lipstick off with kisses to her forearm and she has each position and expression seem fresh and new, despite the fact I had seen her do a similar scenario many times. Her sexuality makes everything look fresh because she enjoys it. She would be the first to tell you that a film is a Hollywood production, because it is but the thing that separates her, is that she enjoys making these films. With all I have researched about her and after getting to talk with her at length, I would never see her as the person that does this for the money or the fame. I asked Nina what her favorite film was and she said proudly “My sex education tapes.” I think truly deep down because she made those films to add enjoyment to others lives. I see the nurse in her smiling every time a fan tells her that she improved their sex life, because their is a power to lust, passion and the drive that mother nature gives us to fulfill those wants and desires. I think Nina is simply one of the women who will go down as someone who brought a bit of a harmony and understanding in her time with the devotion she has to others all over the world simply by understanding themselves and what sexuality and love means to them, not what the world tells them to believe about both subjects. Nina is a woman who I see teaching people to think for themselves, to discover something within themselves that they never knew existed, even in the face of an never ending war on porn by both the conservative and liberal side of politics and society in general.
Nina Hartley has certainly been there and done that when it comes to Hollywood. I think no other star has done so much to make sexuality such a part of society in the ways that she has. For all of the scenes that she has done and all the excitement and pleasure she has brought to households across the world, she has also brought in a sense of a strength to women that few ever have. Nina was a product of the 60’s and 70’s. Some of the most turbulent times in this nations short history. Nina has long studied the aspect of feminism as a whole and was truly there at it’s rise and place in culture as we know it today. In today’s porn world and even in the real world, the idea of feminism has been changed so many ways, sometimes to the authors or speakers will, forgetting what is at the core of feminism. Nina told me about times that were the biggest part and beginning of the movement, was by women being told to pull out a mirror, look at their vulva and truly, truly look at it. That metaphor is truly powerful when understood for what it is. Anyone who treats a woman for what they truly are, human beings, knows that a woman has this sense of reserve to them, that has been beaten into them by years and years of being told that they can not engage in the same things men do. That they can not have all the same things that men have and that men are the only ones that should have “casual sex” and have a sex drive that is off the charts. I myself have a few friends in the industry that I love to discuss this aspect of society with because it is such an important thing to discuss but it is always put on the back burner it seems by my friends who are not in the industry. Nina has begun a campaign that I think gives women that sexual freedom to in all honesty, have what men have had for years, the ability to enjoy sex in a way that is satisfying for themselves, no matter how off the wall their tastes are when it comes to sex. For those of you who do not know. Nina Hartley also tours the nation speaking about sexuality and positive sex at some of the biggest universities. Helping to shape the minds of the next generation with things my generation were never privileged enough to get to discuss in the open simply as people. Nina Hartley at her core I think is a sex education teacher and nurse who sees a great value in teaching people that sex is something you need to learn, just as much so as you need to know how to save money, how you learn and study how to become good at a job or vocation. In all honesty, with the things Nina Hartley holds dear to her own heart, the most impressive to me is the fact that even if she were not a porn star, she would still be active in helping women to make good decisions in life, helping babies to be birthed, helping women to have that right to choose and have an equal playing field at the the basis of so many things. Having read transcripts of some of her lectures, I see a world were Nina Hartley helps to not end but educate the world on things like teen pregnancy and domestic violence, because at the the root of those two problems is a negligence we have as a society towards sex and love. I see her psychologically dissecting what it is that inhibits us as human beings when it comes to our sex drive and our need to fulfill it. Nina fills this world with knowledge in so many languages. she speaks to so many in their native tongue no matter what that may be. I think that in itself is one of her greatest accomplishments, the fact that she is able to reach both sides of the fence with an understanding of sexuality whether you are a porn fan or you are not.
That is something very few people in this world can do and in all honesty, there are very few people brave enough to venture into those waters for fear of ridicule and persecution. Nina has faced and been through so many battles and changes within the adult industry and she has faced them head on without fear or regret. It is with a person’s leadership that others learn a better way and every person that I have met that encountered Nina Hartley on set or off, they simply see a leader. Someone who was given these gifts for a good reason. I think that will forever be Nina Hartley’s legacy. For she has seen so much in this industry, seen so many people come and go, yet she still remains optimistic and true to all the things that got her here. I think fans would indeed be happy to know that Nina told me that she will be in this industry for life. I don’t think that statement comes in terms of the way we think we know it. Most people who say that at some point in their life, say that because they know nothing else in life but what they have been doing for a job the previous 25 years or however long they have been doing what they do in life. See with Nina Hartley, she was a nurse before she was a porn star. She was a curious, inquisitive intelligent young student before she was a nurse, eager to learn about things she did not know and I think that is what is at the core of Nina Hartley. Most of like to say she is defined by her porn but that simply is not true in my opinion. I don’t think she will ever leave this business because she loves it so much and that she is consistently always looking at things with an open mind and a fearless heart. That is what has lead her to the places she has reached. The proof that all I say is true, is that is you are to ask the typical American, do you think a woman who has engaged in orgy, after orgy after orgy on film could have done lectures within the halls of Ohio University most would probably say no. If you were to ask “normal” Americans, if they would they have ever thought the most memorable, sweet, compassionate person a film crew member said was, on the set of a major Hollywood production was a porn star, most would say, get out of here and would never believe it. Most important, if you were to ask most American’s, would they believe that a poor, single mother, who is struggling to raise a child and is debating on whether or not to keep her unborn baby would find inspiration, guidance and words that guide her in life from a porn star, most would simply say you were full of it. I think that says so much about how we as a society misunderstand the people within this industry and in all honesty the beauty of this industry. I think that if people took the time to see all of us, not just Nina Hartley in the industry for what we are, human beings, the country would be a better place and that is not a pipe dream, that is a truth. Because Nina would be the first to tell you that is exactly what she is and that is exactly what you are and the more we learn about ourselves and the more we learn about each other, the better the world does become as a whole and that ladies and gentleman is not just why Nina Hartley is one of the greatest pioneers in the adult industry but why she is one of the greatest human beings to ever be apart of this worlds great history and it’s growth period.