Distilling Sarah Vandella

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Porn is temptation. For some viewers, the enticement of erotica prove too great, feeding addictive behaviors. The medium also tempts its makers with the promise of fast money, notoriety, and access to a steady stream of booze and drugs. A few years ago, Sarah Vandella risked losing her career to these forces. Put in similar circumstances, many of us would fair little better. We too would become cliches, cautionary tales of the porn industry. However, what is notable about Sarah is not her fall, but how she rose from the ashes of self-destruction stronger than ever. It's easy to judge someone based on her mistakes, but a truer test of a person's character lies in weighing the temptations she confronts, head-on, and how she overcomes.

When I caught up with Sarah in Vegas at the 2016 Adult Entertainment Expo, she was a transformed woman. Every aspect of her character seemed improved; she was fitter, sharper, and sexier than ever. She even seemed to stand straighter, possessing a commanding confidence. Nothing stood in her way, nor did she shy away from any subject when we discussed the trajectory of her career from porn store clerk to star. 

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Alfie: I met you at the Nightmoves Awards in 2011.

Sarah Vandella: Oh, I’m sorry. I was a fat drunk.

Alfie: You were partying pretty hard with Annie Cruz.

Sarah Vandella: Oh, we were horrible drunks together. She’s a fantastic girl though. She got her shit together like me.

Alfie: You seem completely different now.

Sarah Vandella: Thank you. I am.

Alfie: If you were really shy when it came to sex growing up, how did you start working at a porn shop?

Sarah Vandella: I wouldn’t say I reached my limit with the square world, but I was doing all of these square jobs. Secretarial stuff, retail managerial positions. Super square stuff. I just came to this point where I was ready to put myself out on the line and see how it felt to be around all this exposure, so I went to the porn store. I was shaking like a little nervous girl. I was so funny, but I got the job. It took like three months after that before I started to feel comfortable with my body and to think of myself like that. But yeah, it all just kind of progressed.  

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Alfie: Did working in a porn shop give you any insights into porn, as far as who the consumer base is and what sells?

Sarah Vandella: Most everyone watches porn and had their go-to thing. What they like to watch. Whether it's couples or singles. In a way I had no idea what anything was like because I was looking from the outside in. It’s funny because they didn't really teach me anything about the job. I just had to figure it out through trial and error. The men who came in looking for videos rarely asked me questions. One of my first days there I asked a guy, "Do you need help finding anything?" He got so shy. My boss was like, "You don’t really have to ask them if they need help. They know what they are looking for."  

Alfie: Did you have to develop a porn poker face when you saw the types of things customers brought to the counter?

Sarah Vandella: Totally. I had a bad habit of looking at box covers and getting super turned on. I was newly exposed to all these sensations and arousal points. I never knew how visual I was. That's huge for me.  

Alfie: How did you go from working at a porn store to a peep show?

Sarah Vandella: It was more like I wanted to push myself and take it to the next level.  

Alfie: Was the peep show the same place where you started stripping?

Sarah Vandella: It was the same place. It was all just a progression. I just did it when I felt like I was ready.  

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Alfie: What prompted your move to working in a legal brothel in Nevada?

Sarah Vandella: I wanted to make a legit career out of it. In terms of working in the sex industry, there wasn't much in the way of unions or sex workers' rights or associations in New York, so Las Vegas and LA seemed like the obvious choices. It was a natural progression.

Alfie: Why did you choose working in a legal brothel over porn?

Sarah Vandella: It wasn’t a choice. It just happened. I was actually researching porn and I was very hesitant because they were only testing for a few things.  

Alfie: I read that you were worried they didn’t use condoms in porn.

Sarah Vandella: Yeah, I was a little hesitant. While I was considering doing porn, that's when I went to work in the brothel. I met a girl at the brothel who was also a working adult film performer.

Alfie: Carmela Bing right?

Sarah Vandella: Yep. She invited me to watch her shoot. It wasn’t like that made me do porn. I was already researching porn. I was just waiting for the right time and it seemed like this was the right time. It’s crazy to think of how long ago that was.  

Alfie: Is it over ten years?

Sarah Vandella: Not yet!  

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Alfie: I read that you will do porn for at least ten more years.

Sarah Vandella: Probably. Probably more.  

Alfie: What do you think will make you get out?

Sarah Vandella: It wouldn’t be about anyone else. It would have to either be a) I don’t enjoy it or b) I don’t love it, or something isn't there anymore. I would honor that if that was the truth because I am a very authentic performer. If I’m not feeling it, I wouldn’t do it. And turning 30, I feel like I’ve unraveled and uncovered a whole new layer of my sexuality. Coming into my 30s and being this sexual creature with no apologies and pushing my limits, it’s really empowering. I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.  

Alfie: Is there a ceiling of how far you can push yourself a a performer?

Sarah Vandella: I mean I’m not really one of those girls doing things in cages so I think I’m good. I think I’m OK.  

Alfie: Is it easier dating guys who are into cuckolding?

Sarah Vandella: I don’t date by choice. I have fuck buddies by choice and I keep it that way. That’s how I want it.  

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Alfie: Because a guy always gets in the way of your career?

Sarah Vandella: Not even that. People have feelings. People get jealous. Even if someone has the best intentions to not get jealous or to not take things personal, at the end of the day when your significant other is being paid to pleasure and fuck and give attention to all these other people, it takes a toll. Being a porn star is not what it was. It’s social media, it's Twitter, it's website, it's fan interaction, it's everything and then some. You have to put everything you have into it to keep your fan base, to keep people wanting more, to keep them happy and to keep you in the loop. There is no time to date. Not for me.  

Alfie: It's like you constantly must maintain your porn star persona. Do you ever want to get on Twitter or Instagram and post non sexy stuff?

Sarah Vandella: No, because that’s not what it’s for. I keep my account like yoga pics, porno set pics. I plug contests, studios, myself. I don’t give my opinion. I don’t want to shit where I eat. I don’t want to be that girl.  

Alfie: Have you noticed any weird types of social media posts that get a lot of traffic? Like yoga pics or food porn?

Sarah Vandella: Any oil shots with water droplets are popular—especially if they are ass shots. Yoga pants are always a fucking favorite. Titty shots are huge on Twitter because they don't censor, though Instagram is very strict. Anything with another girl is always a favorite. Creative shots. Anything to keep the fans happy.

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Alfie: Have you ever showed up to a MILF/teen shoot without knowing which role you were playing?

Sarah Vandella: To be honest, I have never cared. I think it’s hysterical. I'm totally cool with the whole MILF thing. I’ll ride it out until my vagina falls off. Fucking lets do it.  

Alfie: Do you think there is anything you could be offended by as far as casting?

Sarah Vandella: When I was a kid they used to call me Roseanne Barr so maybe if I was cast for a Roseanne Barr parody. I had short brown hair and I was chubby as a kid. I think that would be the only thing that would offend me. That’s pretty much it. Who knows. I’m willing to try.  

Alfie: How would you describe your 2015?

Sarah Vandella: One of my best, most productive years in the industry, both on and off camera. I quit drinking shortly after February of 2014. So 2015 was like the year my brain came back to life. It takes awhile to get all that shit out of your body. I was treating my body like garbage. 2015 was a great start to a new Sarah. I feel like I am literally looking on to the best ten years of my career.  

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Alfie: Is it hard being in this industry, being in party spot like Vegas, where you are surrounded by the party lifestyle? Does working in the adult entertainment industry make it more difficult to avoid temptation?

Sarah Vandella: When you know yourself, and you've hit a bottom and when you’ve lived life and you can kind of know that real life is life and this is a job, you can keep the two separate enough so you don’t mince the lines and end up with a warped sense of ego. You have to remain grounded. Part of that is knowing that drugs and alcohol don’t work for me. Do I intentionally put myself around drugs and alcohol? No. Did someone offer me a bump last night? Yes. Did I take it? No. I said, "No thank you." There is always going to be temptations. You just have to be strong and know yourself. That is really it.

See Sarah Vandella's body of work at sarahvandella.com. Follow her on Twitter, @mssarahvandella, and Instagram, @realsarahvandella.

Read more by Alfie and email him directly at shawnalff.com. Follow him on Twitter, @shawnalff and Instagram, @shawnalff

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