The story of Briana Banks tells the history of porn in the 21st Century.
In 1999, Briana was struggling to provide for herself - and her sister - when she answered a classified ad for an adult modeling gig that paid “$1,000 a day.” Banks had done some modeling in her younger years, even gracing the cover of a few teen magazines. But, when it came to sex, she was beyond inexperienced; she had only slept with one man. She drove past the shoot house three times before she finally got the courage to park and step inside.
While Banks’ slender, 5’9” figure was too short for runway modeling, she was an instant success in the adult industry. Under the name Mirage, Banks shot hundreds of hardcore gonzo scenes. Yet, it wasn’t until she enhanced her chest to 34DD and changed her stage name, that the star we know as Briana Banks, emerged. VIVID signed her to an exclusive contract in 2001. In June of that same year, she became both AVN's cover model and the Penthouse Pet of the month. Alongside Jenna Jameson, Banks is the most published adult magazine model ever. She is also the longest VIVID contract star, staying with the company for eight years and starring in some of their best-selling titles: “Briana Loves Jenna,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Briana Loves Rocco.”
In January of 2016, after a five-year hiatus, Banks returned to filming. She landed the box cover of her first comeback scene, “True MILF 3,” before going on to be cast in films like, “Prime MILF 3,” Seduced by a MILF,” and “Anal Craving MILFs 2.” She was honored for her work with a MILF Performer of the Year nomination at every major awards show in 2017. After exactly a year since her comeback, I caught up with Banks at the 2017 AVN Awards to reflect on her career and the evolution of the industry.
You only had sex with one person before getting in the industry. Do you think porn exposed you to the type of sex you like, or do you think shooting hardcore scenes shaped the kind of sex you prefer?
A little of both. I didn’t know anything really about sex. I became more curious and enjoyed myself the more scenes I shot. If I hadn’t done porn, I might not have tried that stuff. I didn’t even know what reverse cowgirl was or 69ing. Porn opened the doors to my sexuality, and from there I took over. It’s so cool because all of those scenes captured my first experiences for everyone to see.
The first time you had sex with a woman was in a scene with Lida Chase. It was also the first time you ever felt fake tits. A month later you flew out to where she lived, got your boobs done and changed your name to Briana Banks. What drove that decision to get breast implants and to change your stage name? Was it purely a business decision?
I was infatuated with Lida’s breasts. That was when I first realized I liked girls. I never thought I’d be into sex with a female. I got the boobs done, then she said, ‘You need to change your name.’ I was like, ‘But I’ve done hundreds of movies under the name Mirage, and I’m going to lose all those credits.’ We’d come up with the name Briana Banks, because my real name is Briana and I had wanted to be a runway model like Tyra Banks but I was too short. Lida said if I didn’t use it, she was going to tell someone else to. In the end, everyone re-released all my Mirage scenes as Briana Banks.
So in a way, Mirage was a Mirage?
Mirage was never a Mirage. She haunts me to this day.
So all of the Mirage scenes were scenes of you before your boob job?
Correct. Every single one.
Shortly thereafter you signed the contract with VIVID. How much of that deal do you think had to do with changing your look and your name?
I don’t know. I am the only girl that VIVID every contracted who had already done a scene. I was like the gonzo queen. When they wanted to sign me, I was shocked. I signed with them in June 2001. I was also on the cover of AVN that month and the Penthouse Pet. It was crazy that they signed me. At the same time, I had such a huge fan base because of all those gonzo scenes.
What did you like about being a contract star versus a free agent?
I loved being under contract. I knew exactly how many movies I was doing a year. I started off with VIVID with twelve. Then every year, when I renegotiated my rate, I shot fewer. I raised my scene rate each year, so they didn’t want to keep paying me more and more. That worked for me because I was feature dancing three weeks out of the month. Toward the end, I would shoot six scenes a year. I loved knowing when I was working. I had a schedule and could plan my life around that. Now, it’s like, ‘Okay, you have a scene in two days.’ Since I’ve been back, I haven’t had a scene scheduled more than two weeks in advance. You just got to be ready.
For women getting into the adult industry now, do you think porn presents the same opportunity it gave you in 1999?
No. I say that with hesitation because I don’t want to put anyone down. I got in with the last generation of big contract stars. Right when I got out was kind of when everything…I wouldn’t say fell. It’s just a different industry now. You make more money off web-camming and different online channels. It’s not all about glamour and making pretty movies. It’s about how rough the scenes are. It’s just a different industry. I’m lucky I got in when I did and got to experience it.
Being a contract star, you said one of the things that annoyed you was that the scenes couldn’t be as rough as you preferred. Are a lot of your fans now excited to see you shoot more hardcore scenes like you did in the first year of your career? Do you miss the softer sex you were having as a contract star?
I would always get yelled at: “Briana, you can’t say that,” or, “Briana, you can’t do that.” When I’m in the middle of a scene, don’t stop me. Just edit out what you don’t want. I was the only VIVID girl doing DP and anal. None of them did anal. Then all those girls brought it up a notch because they were competing with me. Now that I’m back, my fans want to see the crazy shit again. I just did my second double-anal three days ago for Elegant Angel and I shot, “The Destruction of Briana Banks” the day before and it was a destruction. An all-girl, five-on-one gangbang. I’m not scared of doing rough scenes, but I won't do something I’m not comfortable with. It’s my body and I choose what I do with it.
How have your fans coped with you being labeled a MILF?
My fans don’t like that I’m categorized as a MILF. When I tell them to vote for me as ‘Hottest MILF,’ they are like, you’re not a MILF. I'm 37. I haven’t had a child but I raised one. Officially I'm in that category, but at least I can be a really hot MILF. Some of them prefer to call me a ‘Model I’d Like to Fuck.’ They refuse to call me a MILF, which is awesome.
I know you prefer dominant men in your personal life, but it seems directors always want to pair MILFs with younger partners and for MILFs to play the dominant role.
So far I haven’t been paired with too many younger guys because I just refuse to work with new guys. I'm not teaching someone how to do a scene. I have been in it too long. I’ve done a lot of scenes with younger girls, which is fine, but now with 4D cameras…when I was 20, I wouldn’t have cared about anything on my body either. But when you get older, you notice that one ingrown hair, or any cellulite, or any dimple. Everything is magnified and people can zoom in. It’s a whole new game. When you are paired with an 18-year-old, you are like, this could be my daughter. This is creepy. Especially when she is playing your stepdaughter. That’s not sexy to me. I don’t understand how people get off on it. I’d rather see two people around the same age having sex.
Are you still hitting all of those insane positions?
I did a boy-girl-girl anal last week, and we did a reverse pile driver, butt-to-butt thing. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I haven’t done a pile driver in like seven years.’ I got into it but afterwards, I was like, ‘Can someone flip my legs back over? I’m stuck with my legs behind my ears and it’s pretty uncomfortable.’
I saw you at AVN last year right before you started shooting again. Everyone was excited that one of the big names of porn had returned--
No one really knew I was going to be there so it was kind of weird. From then until now, I’ve got a grasp on everyone’s shooting style. I’ve just gotten used to all the changes and everything. I am more confident than I was. I was kind of petrified at AVN last year.
That’s funny, because I think everyone was intimidated by you.
I wasn’t used to everyone clamoring around me. Last year I was supposed to go up and present at the XRCO awards and I didn’t want to do it. I was like, I haven’t been in front of a huge crowd in a long time. Then my publicist, Tanya Tate, was like, ‘Congratulations, you're not presenting.’ I was like, ‘Oh, thank God.’ Then she said, ‘They're inducting you into the Hall of Fame, so prepare a speech.’ Thankfully, I’ve kind of gotten over the nervousness, now.