April 28, 2014 | Posted in Editorial Features by
Aeryn Walker is one of the rising stars in the Australian adult film industry, and even a cursory glance at her website, naughtynerdy.com, makes it easy to see why. Aeryn is about to enter the big time thanks to her appearance on the April 27th episode of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, but she's not about to let that go to her head. Aeryn is one of the most sex positive, empowering women in the industry, boldly giving voice to a subsection of the population that doesn't normally make their voices, needs, or wants known. And if she doesn't win you over with her good looks and sex positivity, she's also got a wickedly delicious sense of humor.
Tucker Bankshot: When did you first become aware of the adult industry and did that coincide with you discovering that it was something you wanted to do for a living, or were those two separate moments?
Aeryn Walker: I actually discovered the adult industry really young. I think a lot of children do, it's such a tech savvy generation, my generation, a lot of new technology. I think I must have discovered it when I was about 12 or 13 and I even remember the website, it was a naughty schoolgirls website, pretty soft core, but I do remember thinking, ‘wow that just looks like so much fun.' It wasn't until I turned 18 that I was in some stuff. I shot for ishotmyself.com and ifeelmyself.com, those guys, and they put me on to abbywinters.com, and I remember finding those guys really inspiring. There were a whole bunch of years where I didn't watch any porn, just because I didn't like a lot of it. I found a lot of it kind of offensive, so those guys showed me that it doesn't have to be, things can be made by women for women if you want to do it that way.
I hope that's where things are going, I couldn't say for sure. I mean, out here in Australia I'm really isolated. There's a lot more keyword branding for feminist porn and ethical porn, queer porn, porn for women, women friendly porn, and so on and so forth. I can see the trends in marketing for that, but just because there's marketing for that doesn't mean that it's going there, it doesn't mean that it's something that's going to happen. Marketers will use whatever they can to try and get more clients, I mean, one in three women have apparently used porn so maybe they're just seeing them as a new market and trying to find a way to market to them.
TB: Has it been difficult for you, as a female, to gain a foothold in this industry, or do you think that self-producing has allowed you the freedom to not worry about that?
AW: Oh no, it is difficult as all hell. I know about three other porn stars at all where I live. I can't go to big events, I can't find other girls or guys to work with, even to pay to work with. There are just so many things I can't do, people don't take me seriously. Trying to get a merchant account as an Australian is impossible. I just worked out that I'm going to have to set up an international company just so I can get a Visa and Mastercard to fund my website. They just don't like Australians or anyone in the Oceania region, for real, they just won't have a bar of it.
Doing webcam shows is impossible, different time zones, to get a rep in various parts of the industry, I feel like, you know, you've got your mainstream performers, okay, you go and do mainstream porn, you try to get into a company to do a film, for whatever company you decide. You try to work with x, y, z star to get some rep, cool. You can join up with a network who's really popular, if you're good enough, they can host your own site, you can use their traffic, their advertising, etc. If you want to be in the alt porn scene, you can do the same thing. If you wanna be in the queer porn scene, again, you do the same thing.
To do that, you have to have contacts, and be on the ground, and I just can't do that. It's really sad, and a lot of people won't take you seriously. My site's been running for a while, I have quite a few members, I speak on the radio here, I do a lot of stuff in Australia, but you know, I can't get an AVN release. I can't get any of the stuff that a lot of performers can, it's really, really isolating being so far away and not doing mainstream porn.
TB: I have to be honest, I go back and forth a lot, and I know what I like, and when I see something that I like I gravitate towards that, and the stuff that you do is great, I really love it. Your personality comes through which is something that I don't see a lot.
AW: Yeah, that's one of the things that I wanted to do with my website. I don't understand why people can't have fun in porn. I want to make something better, and you can't expect to see positive change for women, unless you want to be that change. So I'm just gonna do my thing and if people want to see that then they can (laughs).
TB: You mentioned on tumblr that your dad had a brain tumor when you were a teenager and has believed in some crazy things since that time. Did your healthy sense of humor help you to deal with that, or was it maybe formed by that adversity in your life?
AW: I have always had a very cynical type of humor. I mean, I think I have a good sense of humor but I have always been very cynical, very pessimistic, according to most people. I remember when I was younger, I joked about him going crazy, for completely unrelated reasons, and I think that my humor did help me deal with that a lot. He's actually had a few more tumors since then, unfortunately for him, and yeah, my humor helped me deal with that a lot.
The stuff itself, that he believes in, is very close to my own interests, so you know, I get to have discussions with him and that's all kind of funny. I mean, it's only funny to a degree, but yeah the humor definitely helps me cope with a lot of things.
TB: Do you have a favorite type of porn or cosplay that you prefer over the others? You're so open to suggestions from your fans, but is there one that you'd stick to if you had your druthers?
AW: Budget-wise and performer-wise, I can't do my favorite kinds of scenes which is so disappointing, and I'm hoping at the end of this year, once I've finished my school, and I can afford to travel, I'll be able to go and film more of this stuff. You know, I would like to film fetish porn, you know, like femdom porn. That's my schtick. That's my one love (laughs). I love being the hot worshipped lady, I love worshipping hot, amazing ladies and their fabulous boots. I'm a shoe and boot fetishist, so yeah, I want to fly to Japan, and America, and Canada, and England, and film some of that stuff.
I would love it if I got those requests, I just wouldn't be able to fulfill them in the meantime, so I haven't really gone into the fact that I like those things. I've said that I like shoes and boots and that kind of stuff, but I haven't gone into that in much detail. Apart from that I'm hoping for less character cosplay requests, like, specific people from comic books or TV shows, or whatever, and more fantasy based stuff. Someone requested that I dress up like an Elvish druid, you know, like a high Elf druid, and I was like "Yeah man, that's sick!" (laughs) I have these giant elf ears, and I got to make myself this twig crown and I made a wand, and it was just awesome.
I love larping and fantasy stuff, and it just lets me be a little bit more creative, and I would love to have more of that, and as more and more times goes on, I have more of a budget, I'm gonna have more time on my hands, coming up, yeah, I want it. I want to make some really weird stuff.
TB: Your Meyers-Briggs Personality type is INTP. There is a perception about introverts that they're shut-ins who hate any sort of human contact, but I think you certainly disprove that perception. Are there difficulties, though, that stem from your introversion that you fear may adversely affect your career?
AW: I have social anxiety out the wazoo. I get really, really anxious, especially dealing with lots of people at once. I get anxious with people that I don't know, I get anxious with people that I do know. I worry about going overseas to work and getting stuck with a lot of people, and then having a panic attack. I only recently started working with more companies in Australia, and it's hard to explain, I'm getting hired by people who know me because they know me. They know what I look like, they know what they can expect of me, I don't have to worry that I'm a replacement for somebody else, that I'm going to be the "fat girl," or the "weird foreigner." And I did used to get that, I used to be the "fat, ugly one," and they'd just think ‘oh, we're catering to our niches, hey fat one, come here,' and it's like, yeah, I worry about that happening to me overseas, which would suck, some people are so rude, but I wouldn't work with any companies who I knew were like that.
A lot of people who I know don't see me as an introvert. When I do go out, I'm happy and I'm chatty, maybe not to people that I don't know, but that's just a sign of respect to them. I don't want to be in people's faces and irritate them. So people don't see me as an introvert, but the thing that they don't realize is that, I go outside when I'm not at school, to socialize, once in a blue moon. I'll go to two parties a year. I'll go to three board game parties a year. If I go to a convention, it'll be because somebody dragged me there.
TB: How aggravating is it to see mainstream porn trying to appeal to a geek audience by trying to stick porn stars in glasses or fantasy settings? Does it feel disingenuous to you when they do that since you've spent most of your career trying to cultivate that audience and they're trying to steal it, or do you think people are savvy enough to know the difference?
AW: I am annoyed by it, but at the same time I'm really careful not to get into the "fake geek girl" territory. I don't want to be The Guardian, I can't tell people what they can and can't like, or what audiences they should appeal to, what kind of sex they should be having. But it does annoy me, I often get criticized myself for being a bimbo, airhead trying to cater to a niche that I know nothing about. And people question my nerd cred as it were, especially because I don't play console video games, and that's a big thing now. And I always end up in a fight, I'm like, "No, fuck you I don't play Call of Duty, I play tabletop roleplaying games. Question my nerd cred now!" (laughs)
I think most of my customers, at least, can tell the difference. I don't really understand the whole "slap glasses on it" thing. It's a weird stereotype. What gets me though, is all the mainstream porn parodies that cosplay, you know you've got Wonder Woman, Batman, etc. I get that they're parodies and I like my porn to be funny and fun, but I feel like none of them are true to what they're doing at all. It's just some people in cosplay doing regular shit and laughing at us. I feel like they're parodying us as a community. I feel like they're making fun of us. There was a website a while ago, I don't know if it's still running called World of Whorecraft.
I mean, their stuff was okay, their costumes were okay, I mean, it wasn't Batman XXX or whatever. And I understand using those words for branding and marketing, I really do, it's catchy. I get it, I get the parody porn, I get the marketing titles, I get the usage of keywords, and certain performers, and that kind of stuff but it is irritating. I can't begrudge them for it and I can't begrudge people in general now that geek culture has become mainstream. It's great, but it does make things more difficult for people like me, without a doubt. It really is my thing, and all that happens now is I get my nerd cred questioned and there's fifty million other people doing what I do, some of them better, some of them not better.
Sometimes I wonder whether it's even worth, sometimes I wonder if I'd just make more money doing generic slapdash crap. But if I did, I don't think I'd be happy. I had this conversation with my partner, a while ago we were talking about how statistically impossible it is to win the lottery. But I was like, if I ever won the lottery, I don't think I would change any of the things that I actually do. For real though, I would continue my studies, I would buy a nice house, I would set up a production studio, and I would make some more stuff like I am now, it would just be on insane mode.
TB: You have Steve Buscemi at the top of your list of guys you'd like to have sex with.
AW: I fucking LOVE Steve Buscemi!
TB: He's a really unusual choice. What is it about him that appeals to you?
AW: So many people write their lists of who they'd like to fuck based on what their face looks like; Based on what body type they have; Based on tits and ass, or something like that. And you know, I don't really care about that. Having been a sex worker, I've had sex with some amazing looking people and it was boring as fuck! The only reason I didn't stare at the wall was because they were good looking, and yeah sure, I could check them out and be like ‘yeah, you're really hot and this is really boring' (laughs).
I like fun, I like personality, and Steve Buscemi has both of those things. He's really versatile, he doesn't mind playing different roles, and I've seen a lot of interviews with him, video interviews, text (ed. print) interviews, and I've followed him around the internet, and he just seems like a really nice and funny guy. He's clearly a nice person, he's very talented, I appreciate him, and I don't find him unattractive. He just isn't what we consider conventionally attractive. He looks interesting, you know, I wouldn't mind looking at him if the sex was fun which I'm sure it would be because he seems like a nice funny dude.
TB: I know you've talked about this at length before, but why do you think it's important to present an image such as yours, which is more au natural?
AW: This ties into a specific problem that is Australian. We have a very specific set of censorship laws here and there's a documentary by the ABC Hungry Beast team called Healed to a Single Crease. Here, even in medical diagrams, you can't actually show what a real woman's vagina looks like. I'm not even joking. You cannot show inner labia, you can't show clitoris, you can't show coloration, you can't show hair, you can't show anything to show that a woman's vagina is basically developed past child's stage. It's considered too much genital detail, it's too offensive for the reasonable adult, apparently. And over here, the rise in people getting plastic surgery is crazy, on their genitals, just because they don't think they look real.
So you've got all these people terribly shamed about themselves, it's a huge cultural problem here that nobody talks about. But it is absolutely huge, even compared to countries like South Korea where everybody gets plastic surgery. It's really unique, I think, the problem. So many girls here learn from porn because it's the only place they can learn, and they can't even do it from Australian porn in print because there you still have this weird closed leg thing and medical diagrams that don't look anything like the average person, they really don't.
So people go online and the most common thing is the American "plastic fantastic" model, which is where women are generally really young and that kind of vagina is preferred where it doesn't look as developed, and I don't know, what is a politically correct term for that? You know, they go and they see that, and they go ‘well, I was told that it was different and I've looked at magazines here and I've never really seen any other woman in person and medical diagrams look like this, and magazines look like this, there must be something wrong with me. I'm going to cut off most of my vagina.' And that's just disgusting to me.
For so long, I was that person, I thought that I had this hanging garden cunt that was hairy and weird and had color on it, it was discolored and saggy, and that was just nope, I have a really regular vagina. I don't know if you've seen pictures, but it's just a regular vagina. The first time I was in porn and I got to see someone else really close I was like, ‘cool, yeah, I'm into this.' And we got to chatting about this, and I found out about the Classification Board Laws, and I think some of the people on set, the production people, could tell that I was really nervous and self-conscious about the way I looked. And they coddled me, and comforted me, and told me it was all fine, and so I did all of this research, and then I just got angry. I was like, ‘what the fuck? What the fuck Australia, number one, a woman's vagina in god damned medical diagrams is not obscene. It's a medical diagram!'
TB: That's nutty
AW: Oh, it's totally fruit loops. So yeah, I just really got into this mindset of ‘there's nothing wrong with me. I'm angry that this is the way it is.' If people decide that they want to be that way, I really hope that it's not because they're shamed and feel bad about themselves, but even if it is, that's their choice, and I respect that, but, I'm not going to change to fit something else. I'm tired of that in so many ways. I could make boring "plastic fantastic" porn, I could work a boring nine-to-five, I could dye my hair and style it myself like I used to when I was younger, but I don't want to do those things. I think it's just fine the way it is.
You know, most of my fans would scream bloody murder if I shaved my hair! I've gained some real fans from that, and they really respect my choices. You know, sometimes I do shave it off, sometimes I give myself a really fat Brazilian, and I did used to have some people that would be like, ‘oh, why would you do that? You're ruining it,' and people would complain that I was trying to fit some stereotype, and then I'm like, ‘you're trying to make me fit a stereotype as well.' I'll do damn well what I want with my pubic hair, I have to walk around with it every fucking day (laughs).
Now it's just whatever is comfortable between my legs, but when I was younger it was very much personal and political choice to keep it. And I knew I would never be popular in mainstream porn anyway, I'm short, I'm fatter than most American girls, I don't have a little sweet angelic face. I'm not tattooed or pierced or have funny colored hair so I can't do the alt porn stuff, I've been told that a regular goth isn't welcome in alt porn. So I knew I would never be popular anyway, so I'm just gonna do what I want. Fuck it! (Laughs)
TB: Can you talk a bit about your Game of Thrones experience
AW: The experience itself was wicked. My role is really small. It's really small, it is, but I got to watch a fucking epic monologue. It was epic! For me being there was, you know, people will probably watch the scene and be like, ‘yeah, whatever,' but watching people deliver their lines was… They'd change the set and we would go out and come back in again and everyone's been sitting around having a smoke, or drinking some coffee, or what the fuck ever, and we'd go back into the set and everyone's smiling and having a little chat, and the producer will be like, ‘okay everyone, time to start,' and everyone swaps from this happy, jovial mood directly into getting ready for this guy to start delivering his lines and then, bang, into the most serious fucking scene.
I am a big fan of serialized television media, watching television shows is my hobby. I can watch, and often do watch, a whole season of something in a day if it's a thirteen, fourteen episode series. I just marathon TV like you would not believe, it's my thing. And seeing such a serious actor (ed. Burn Gorman) deliver such serious lines out of nowhere, after we've just been chatting and he's wearing his little asthma face mask, and then two seconds later where I'm really there in this amazing scene with all these really talented actors, and a Broadway actress (ed. Deirdre Monaghan). It was really surreal, and I'm actually glad I didn't get a bigger role because I got to look at everyone, and what they were doing, and it was amazing.
And the Game of Thrones cast was really nice, they put me up in a really nice hotel. The food was really nice, everyone was really, really nice, and I was worried because the guy I filmed the scene with, the hands-on contact guy I was filming with, he made a joke that we were the porn people who were, like, invading all these serious actors' sets. And I think one of the actors was really shitty about it, but he was a background actor, fuck him, whatever (laughs). But everyone else seemed to take it really well, you know, we were being really professional. It was so weird having a set full of porn stars, and then this famous fucking actor, and a Broadway actress, and all these people I'd seen on the show.
I remember the first time one of them popped up in The Night's Watch, I was like ‘oh my God, that guy's so hot,' (giggles) and he was right there, and he's looking at my boobs, and I'm like ‘yeah, I see you looking at me,' (laughs). It was really good, it was really fun.
TB: This is also related to Game of Thrones, but they tend to turn to the adult industry for a lot of there casting, but there is a stigma that porn actors can't act or they're not professional actors., so do you think that HBO's policy on this is helping to break down those stereotypes?
AW: I really do, and the first couple of seasons, Maisie Dee and Sibel Kekilli, people didn't know that they were porn stars until way after the season had aired, I mean, a few people did, but it wasn't a big scandal on the internet. So when it came up that a bunch of people had been cast this season, and it blew up, and everyone was like, ‘ew, porn stars are ruining television. Why don't they just make a porno?' But they have always had sex workers in their shows. Always. It's just not stated, it's not of note because it doesn't need to be of note. They're clearly also actors and actresses.
It shouldn't be of note, and I love making that point, because I got a lot of these hateful messages on tumblr and youtube and twitter and stuff, where people were just commenting and tagging me in stuff thinking that I wouldn't read it. I mean, they were really apologetic when I was like, ‘hey man, that's fucked up, you shouldn't say that stuff,' plus you know, I'd rebut them. I just like making the point that, yeah, they've always been there you just didn't care before you knew.
If you can watch that show and not be able to tell the difference between, whatever this fake fucking difference is, between a porn star and an actress or an actor, then why does it matter? We're doing literally the same jobs, the only difference is we're more comfortable in our roles. We're comfortable with being naked, I think that the choice to cast porn stars is a good idea. Why ask some young actress who might ruin her career to get naked? To do something she's probably not going to be comfortable with? I mean, she might be, but a lot of people aren't.
There were some mainstream actresses on Game of Thrones who said they wouldn't get naked and they wouldn't do those scenes, they didn't want to, and that's fair enough. Why try and pressure those people, I mean there's so much nudity it must be kind of hard to find regular people to do that much stuff. Why try and do that when you can just hire people who have acting ability and like being naked or having sex, or whatever their porn schtick is?
I do think that this has been a great opportunity to make that point, especially if you can't tell the difference without being told someone is a porn star why does it matter? And the answer is that it doesn't matter, it's just people's personal bias which they don't want to look at. They just don't want to deal with it. We're so often made into the other, into these bad evil creatures in the night, and we're not, we're just regular people.
And I hope that HBO continues to use sex workers in appropriate roles, or even that we would get cast, if we applied, to get regular, non-nude roles. I really want to work doing little tiny bits and pieces in science fiction shows, and I would hate to think that I wouldn't get those roles because I was a sex worker. But we'll see, this whole opportunity with HBO and the whole discussion around it has been really helpful.
TB: I certainly hope, particularly with their biggest show, that they're proving that it's a stupid stereotype that just needs to go away.
AW: I worry that it won't though, because a lot of people don't like the nudity. Look at the feedback from last week's episode (ed. Aeryn is referring to the sexual assault that took place in "Breaker of Chains" between Jaime Lannister and his twin sister Cersei) I feel like people are going to attribute the rise in violence of all kinds to sex workers being in the show. As ridiculous as that sounds, I feel like we're going to get blamed. People will say that HBO is going more extreme for the sake of going extreme, and they're doing this and that and the other, and we're just going to get lumped in with that excuse of ‘they're just going extreme.'
Which is dumb. I've read the books, do they not understand what a climax is? Things are only going to get worse, it's Game of Thrones! Things are gonna get bad for everybody. I do worry that we're just going to get blamed.
TB: There really is a double standard as far as violence and sex go, particularly in America, which has this very puritanical view of sex, but violence is okay. I mean, you look at movies like The Passion of the Christ which was downright pornographic in its depiction of violence, and it made close to $400 million in the US. But if you show a guy with an erect penis, your movie is considered pornography. It's ridiculous.
AW: Yeah, we have the same problem here. We still have more restrictions than America. But it's okay to show violence, and it's okay to show, to a level, sexual violence. It can't be graphic, it can't be explicit, it has to be in context and it has to be portrayed negatively in the context. But good God, if you want to show a woman's face enjoying sex in a movie here, forget it! It's okay to show violence against a child as long as it's implied, but you can't imply that a woman enjoys sex.
It's an interesting worldwide thing. It's just silly religious puritanical stuff in my opinion. It's disappointing because it doesn't need to be that way. And I find such a double standard too when it comes to women versus men. You can jokingly show a guy jerking off in film, you know, think of American Pie. You can't do that with a woman in movies. And if you do, it will be known for all time, like, what was that movie where the woman pretends to orgasm in a diner?
TB: When Harry Met Sally
AW: When Harry Met Sally! Now if that had been a scene where she had been naked or it implied that she was naked, you would not see that. No way. Whereas if that were a guy, it would just be a regular comedy thingamajig. Which is sad, it really is. It makes me wonder, do they think that women having good sex is evil? I'm assuming yes. Looking at all of their other control methods it seems like they're afraid of women and sex, women having control over sex or enjoying it just seems fucking abhorrent to these people.
I don't get it, but I don't understand those kind of views at all. Ever since I was young, I mean, I grew up in a semi-religious community, but I just never understood it. I really tried when I was younger, to understand, but I just… nope. It just all seems illogical to me.