“Did something happen to her?” a male acquaintance of mine asked, after getting over the initial jealousy that I would be interviewing Asa Akira about her upcoming book Insatiable. “What do you mean?” I replied, although I knew exactly what he was hinting at. I wanted to force him to explain because his ignorance of sex work annoyed me.”I mean,” he continued, “why is she in porn?”
As I learned through reading Insatiable and further discussed over coffee with her, Asa Akira is in porn because she loves it. She’s become an award-winning porn star because she’s good at it. Yes, though sober now, when she was younger she used drugs (her favorite was Oxy and as a high schooler was a fan of snorting Ketamine). At one point in Insatiable she references a suspicion that she may have been molested by a male babysitter, a story she recounts in her book as when she shared it–high and in a hot tub–to a couple she was living with as their joint girlfriend in Florida at the time.
Akira has always been drawn to the sex industry. She grew up in New York City, attending the United Nations International School in Manhattan. From working as a professional dominatrix in the fittingly-named Nutcracker Suite in New York City, she shot her first porn scene in an Amish town in Pennsylvania at fellow porn star Gina Lynne’s house. After a move to Los Angeles and building momentum, she was eventually signed to the competitive agency run by Mark Spiegler, becoming a “Spiegler Girl” and starring in hundreds of gonzo films. (“Gonzo porn” is close-up, straight-to-the-point, filthy sex, while “feature porn” is more or less scripted, full-length films that involve typically less kinky sex scenes.)
“There are definitely girls hooked on drugs, girls who have been abused by family members, girls who got into the business because their boyfriend–aka ‘suitcase pimps”–wanted them to. But that’s only about half of them. There are also girls with college degrees, girls who are feminists, and girls who come from completely normal backgrounds. My agent told me the former group won’t last long; the latter is the kind that will be around in a few years,” Asa writes in a letter to her mother featured in the book.
It is important that porn stars, sex workers of whatever trade, write about the business themselves to offer insight to help crumble stereotypes demonstrated by my male friend that everyone in sex work is mentally ill or damaged. Yes, as Asa speaks of, that broken kind certainly exists, but those who have been sexually abused, suffered from addiction, or fight mental health issues exist in any industry. They’re everywhere.
Not only does Asa love working in pornography, she writes of falling in love while filming. “At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, almost every time I shoot a sex scene, I fall in a little bit in love,” Asa writes. “Not necessarily with my partner, but just in general. With the situation. I love being watched. In love with being on display,” she continues. Eventually she did fall in love with a coworker, Spanish porn star and director Tony Ribas, who she married in Vegas by an Elvis officiant like a scene straight out of True Romance. Though their relationship developed gradually from paid, on-camera double penetration to husband and wife, it all started with an unplanned anal scene that eventually won an AVN award. (Asa has a reputation for getting carried away during filming and engaging in sex acts that aren’t planned, but just happen naturally out of arousal.) I imagine it can create a more understanding relationship being married to another porn star than a “civilian,” but issues still arise that an average couple never have to deal with– you know, things like understanding your spouse is banging multiple other people in one day.
I was nervous to meet Asa for our interview. Not for her profession, but because she speaks in her book of herself being at times afraid of other women, a fear I share. Yet, perhaps two sexually open women bonded in this shared fear, we got along famously. One subject she speaks of in Insatiable I was rather curious about was when did she went from feeling shameful about her extremely sexual nature and desire to work in the sex industry to, as she puts it, “embracing being a slut.”
“It was definitely when I was shooting porn,” Asa told me, “I feel good about this. I think that is really what did it for me.”
Insatiable is not written in language that a literary college course would embrace, nor does it pretend to, but is rather an endearing, humorous, and honest look into the pornography industry and one of its biggest stars. As her Twitter bio states, she does indeed have an “award-winning asshole.” You learn of coffee enemas, which, as a coffee addict myself, I admit I am a bit curious to try as the caffeine high sounds pretty great. You learn that one should not eat a beet salad the night before an anal scene (this story is too funny to share here, so you’ll read it in the book yourself). You learn that while squirting can organically happen (some women in the industry can command it it, though it happens for Asa unpredictably), all those squirting films that look overtly fake often are simply the result of a vagina being filled with a douche and released when the time is right. The more you know…
Between the scattered chapters filled with captivating tales, ranging from detailed boner-inducing sex scenes to sad memories of old friends OD’ing, she writes delightful NSFW haikus, a nod to her Japanese heritage, such as my favorite:
Shaving the butt-hole
Only thing more im-por-tant
Than shaving the vag.
There’s a poem that’s easy to remember and recite.
Insatiable is out May 6th through Grove Press.