There is no doubt that it is going to take visionary people to lead the adult industry into it's ever-changing future. Nica Noelle is the perfect person to be one of them. She discusses the future of porn, her career, and her love for mathematics in my in-depth and insightful exclusive interview. I admire that Nica knows who she is and how she uses it to influence her personal and professional goals.
Hi Nica, I want to congratulate you on your multiple XBIZ award nominations. Could you tell us what all of this much deserved recognition means to you?
I have to be honest and say it doesn't really register. I'm always surprised when I hear a title did well. I'm like, "You mean, people watched it?" I know it sounds weird, but it's always a bit of a surprise, even now. But, of course, I'm very honored and excited that people are watching, and I'm honored that I'm ever nominated for anything. It just hasn't quite hit me yet: the idea of success.
Just recently, you have ventured into a collaboration with AEBN to create a new all girl studio and a boy-girl feature one named Girl Candy Films and Hard Candy Films respectively. Could you tell us your vision for these two newly formed studios?
My vision for my new studios is to venture with even more confidence into the areas fans want to see. I think my sex scenes can still be improved upon. I think I can bring more emotional content to the storylines. My goal is to increase what the fans love about the movies, give them more of that, and pare down the aspects they enjoy less. Trust me when I say I think about these things constantly. I never approach a movie with the attitude that it's good enough, or the fans don't really care, or it doesn't matter. I obsess and analyze and experiment constantly.
Why did you decide to leave Mile High Media and the successful record that you had with them?
I left at the height of my success with Mile High, this is true. Because I was burnt out. Not in terms of workload, but just psychologically. I was working very hard to make someone else's company a success. I didn't own an interest in any of my movies, and I had been told that ownership would never be an option. Yet, I didn't have the time or freedom to explore creative opportunities outside of Mile High. I was at the point where I wanted to do certain things I couldn't do with the deal I had in place. But I'm very grateful to Mile High for the opportunities they gave me and for allowing me the creative freedom to build something we're both very proud of. Jon Blitt has been a major figure in my life and the effect he's had on me is profound. I think he is one of the best people in the business and I will miss working with him greatly. But, AEBN is the right place for me at this point in my career because Jerry Anders wants to help me grow, and he offered me ownership, which changes everything for me. I'm really excited about the future and about Jerry's belief in me, and I think AEBN is going to be even more of a powerhouse than they already are. They're the future.
How long have you been in the industry? What have been your most pleasurable moments? What has been your least pleasurable ones?
I have been performing and/or shooting porn since 2006, so I guess it's going on 6 years now. My most pleasurable moments have been directing wonderful performers like Evan Stone, Xander Corvus, Veronica Hart, and Lily Carter. My least pleasurable moments have been trying to navigate the rocky terrain known as success. My movies are selling at a time when many well known directors and established studios are struggling, and that's brought a lot of resentment my way. You get a little taste of what celebrities go through, and the weird way people start to treat you when you've been singled out for doing well. No matter how humble you may be, you get a certain amount of "Who does she think she is?" The love/hate polarity is real and it's extreme and it's been difficult for me to deal with.
How did you get into the adult industry?
I worked as a stripper throughout my 20's, but I got into porn through writing an article for Spread magazine about the making of a fetish video. In order to write it, I went "on assignment" to star in a video. I performed in a spanking video for Kelly Payne of Tantrum Trainers and it was an incredible experience. So I wrote the article and went back to my regular life at the law office, but then I started getting other offers to perform.
An agent introduced me to the owner of Girlfriends Films, which was just a very small company at the time. They only cast unknowns, there were no scripts, and they just operated out of the owner's house. So I started performing for them, and within a month or two, the owner asked me if I would start writing the scripts and directing, because the company needed "a shot in the arm" and he wanted a female to be the face of the company. He made me an offer to take over the creative development. So I left my job as a paralegal and took over the direction of Girlfriends Films. I brought in big name stars and dressed them down and made them perform like real people having real sex. I wrote storylines and soap operas and tried to create more emotional intensity. And once I brought stars like Kylie Ireland, Stephanie Swift and Nina Hartley on board, the company immediately started creating buzz as the "new thing." These major porn stars were blogging and doing radio interviews talking about their experience doing this new type of porn, even though it was just girl/girl. And that gave us major exposure to their fans, and to the mainstream porn world, and brought a lot of attention our way.
But it also made people think I owned the company, and that created tension between the real owner and me. I think he realized he didn't want to give up control of his studio after all. So I ended up leaving and starting my own studios. It all happened relatively quickly. All of my successes in porn have been super fast.
You are amazing both in front and behind the camera. What is it about directing films and writing screenplays that is so riveting that acting and performing on screen lacks?
Well, I've never considered myself a performer. By nature I'm not someone who wants the spotlight on my physical person or does very well with that. I'm shy, and introverted. I am by nature and by temperament a writer -- a nonfiction writer, at that. But, now I get to tell stories not only with words, but by directing the performers how to feel, what expression should play on their faces, how their body language should be. And when I get it right I feel like I've apprehended these little truths about the way we feel and relate to each other. So, it's very satisfying to do that and it really does feel more like nonfiction writing, if that makes any sense.
Hall of Famer and legendary performer Evan Stone has referred to you as "The Desi Arnaz of Porn." Could you please elaborate on why he would describe you that way?
I shoot with three cameras, and apparently Desi Arnaz developed the multiple-camera set up that became standard in sitcoms. And other porn directors are now shooting with multiple cameras. I assume partially due to the success of my movies.
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I shoot with three cameras because I shoot hardcore and softcore at the same time. When I first started shooting, I was told "You have to shoot softcore separately," so I shot the softcore separately and then we'd go back and shoot the hardcore. But, I noticed that something was lost from the scene when we did it that way. Getting dressed and undressed and dressed again, going through the motions and then starting all over again to "really" do it made the energy level of the performers drop. We lost the sense of urgency. So, I decided I needed to shoot both hardcore and softcore at the same time and I needed a third camera to "jump" to, to tie it all together.
It took me a while to figure out how to do it, and which shots I needed and how I planned to get them. But, I did it and it worked. Then, the director James Avalon began editing for me and when he saw the three camera results he liked it. So, he began shooting his New Sensations movies with three cameras, too. Now, of course, he's taken over for me at Sweet Sinner, and he's shooting with three cameras to continue with the style of movie I created, but he's using 5D cameras.
A huge stereotype about adult performers is that they are dumb and airheads. I have found through my many interviews that a significant percentage of these lovely ladies are quite smart and educated. As a matter of fact, you are one of the most intelligent people in adult film today. How did you become so interested in mathematics and the sciences?
First of all, I have no formal education. I was a gifted student who dropped out of school at age 12. I only returned briefly at 15 to attend Quintanos School for Young Professions in NYC (here's a bit of trivia -- Diane Lane was one of my classmates. She was in a higher grade, though, and I only saw her once.) I was there sporadically for about five or six months.
But despite not going to school, I was never a kid who got into trouble, I never did drugs or hung out with the wrong crowd or any crowd. I studied a lot on my own. I went to the library all the time. I was very interested in Czarist Russia and Constitutional law and algebra. I discovered I had a real love of math. Not in like "whee this is fun!" but when I was doing math, I'd feel in a good place psychologically. It's like writing or drawing. You lose track of time and there's a deep sense of well-being and accomplishment. I was very analytical and facile with ideas from a very young age, so not having access to formal education didn't stop me from learning and studying. But, now I'm pursuing a formal degree in mathematics, though I've had to take a semester off to get these new ventures going. I plan to return as soon as I can.
Since you are an avid writer, could you tell us about your non-adult background?
I have been hypergraphic from a young age, and was constantly writing on everything. Walls, paper, napkins, anything I could get my hands on. By the time I was a teenager, I was typing 80 wpm on those old typewriters. That was all I had was my Dad's old typewriter. I kind of miss those. So, I developed a lot of writing skill just by virtue of doing it constantly. It wasn't until I was nearly 30 that I even tried to submit my work anywhere. I thought you had to go to journalism school to be "qualified" to write for magazines and things like that, and it never occurred to me to try. But, I had recently written a fan letter to my favorite writer Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post to ask him if he had any new books coming out because I loved his "Why Things Are" books. And he told me he had a new book coming out. So, we emailed back and forth about that, and he said "You know, I can tell by your emails that you're a natural writer. It's like hearing a singer who has perfect pitch. Why don't you try to publish something?" Suddenly my favorite writer was telling me I should be a writer, and that just blew my mind. So I started submitting pitches and stories to magazines and newspapers.
I had developed an avid interest in science and physics over the years, so I began pitching articles to science and nature magazines. I published a pretty exhaustive article on Jerusalem Crickets, and it was the first extensive article written on them since the 1950s. I had to track down the one guy in the world really studying them, and it took me about six months to find him. After it was published the California Forestry Department quoted from it in their pamphlets and literature which to me was pretty incredible. I have a penchant for writing about misunderstood creatures that affect humans in an odd way. Ones we have trouble coming to terms with or anthropomorphize. And there was no public information on the Jerusalem Cricket before my article -- just folklore and weird superstitions, because they have these weird, human looking heads. They look like fetuses. And that scares the hell out of people and I wanted to analyze why. So I did this whole analytic piece on them and what their taxonomy and true behaviors are. And I hope that article saved a few Jerusalem Crickets' lives.
So anyway, I have to thank Mr. Achenbach for encouraging me to believe in myself as a writer. I don't think I would have, otherwise.
Aside from that, I worked as a paralegal and legal research assistant. I loved the law, and working in law firms gave me a really strong work ethic. You have to be on the ball and focused and meet deadlines and be very assertive. I would never want to be a lawyer, but I'm extremely grateful for that career because it really helped me to develop discipline in a variety of areas that have served me very well in my present career.
What are some of the most striking changes that you have noticed in the adult industry since you have entered it years ago?
The changes are that a new type of person is coming to porn - people who are here by choice. Who have other career options, but they want to be here to create something beautiful. Older people, older women in particular, are coming to porn with a sense of artistry and a need for erotic empowerment. Some are starting their careers at age 50, like Magdalene St. Michaels who's one of the best performers in the industry. She has a completely devoted fan base. "Renaissance people" are starting to take over - multi-faceted, intellectual types who approach pornography as art.
The other thing is the death of gonzo and the sudden emergence of what I do - storylines and real sex scenes. And I think the queer movement in porn really deserves credit for setting that ball in motion. San Francisco deserves credit for it. They innovated the "real sex" approach that some of us took the opportunity to analyze and develop for straight audiences. So shout out to the queer community, whom I respect immensely.
You are breathtaking in Boy/Girl and Girl/Girl scenes. What traits of a woman do you admire most? What makes a woman sexy? What traits of a man do you admire most? What makes a man sexy?
Thank you George! Wow, that's so sweet. In both women and men I think vulnerability and authenticity is the sexiest and most important thing. Every woman is gorgeous and every man is incredible if they bring soul and passion to their scenes. Those things are invaluable, anything else is secondary. When I perform, I try to completely lose myself and I focus intensely on my partner. Nowadays, I mostly perform just to keep in touch with what the performers are experiencing on the other side of the camera. Some things don't occur to me until I'm performing myself. It's things that I need to be aware of as a director.
On a similar matter, in your personal life, have you had intimate and romantic relationships with both sexes? Are you currently dating someone special?
Yes, I've dated both men and women in the past, and had relationships with both. I am currently involved with a male artist I've been very close to for the last six years. He's younger than I am, so when we met, I viewed him as a little brother, but that has changed over time, obviously. His work is featured in some of my movies, like "6 1/2 Weeks," for Sweet Sinema. We used his paintings in that movie. One painting in particular plays a pretty big role in the story.
I find that it's important to me at this stage in my life to be with someone who understands my goals as an artist, and shares them. And he works as a classical painter and portrait artist at a time when most young artists are trying to be cutting edge and avante garde. Or doing the insipid, boring crap you see hanging in doctor's waiting rooms. He approaches painting like the great masters did, with tremendous integrity and respect for the medium. So, he's very inspiring to me as an artist and a woman, and I'm hoping to collaborate with him on some film projects eventually. Because while we work in different mediums, our philosophies are the same. We're both a bit out of step with modern life and prefer classic values. Nothing is "quick and easy."
What has been the biggest surprise for you about the adult industry?
That a certain number of people are here to slum. They're here because they don't want to work as hard as they might be called upon to in the "mainstream world." They don't want to have standards, and they don't want you to impose your standards or rules upon them. I'm not just talking about performers, I'm talking about directors, porn "journalists" -- these people are in every area of porn. They act like you're crashing their party if you expect them to work or conduct themselves in an ethical way. It's frustrating and it's infuriating.
Also the lack of diplomacy. There's very little code of professional conduct. People say and do just about anything and cross all kinds of lines. Women, even in my position, are attacked and called "cunt' and "bitch" and "whore" at the drop of a hat by our coworkers. People say and do things nobody in the mainstream business world would ever dream of and, if they did, there'd be huge repercussions. But, here it's considered no big deal. There's a lot of self-loathing and lashing out. It's why I keep to myself and work with a relatively small number of people. I don't have time for anyone who behaves badly and I get them out of my circle very quickly.
Are there any industry people (actors, actresses, directors, etc.) who you have not had the opportunity to work with yet and want to very badly and why? What would be your dream scene?
I think I've worked with all the legends I wanted to work with with the exception of Seka. But, I don't think she's performing anymore. Other than that, I'm looking forward to developing new talent and working with new people. I'm looking forward to the "old school porn" sensibility dying out as new people come in. Some old schoolers won't give up the ghost in terms of holding on to outdated ideologies and it's just a hassle to deal with.
In general, I think there's a bifurcation happening in porn where there are two camps of ideologies. And the two camps don't dig each other all that much, let's put it that way. But, I want to make clear that plenty of legendary performers and well known performers very much embody the "new" mentality and are among my best performers. So it's a mentality, a state of mind, and an approach. It's not about how long you've been in the business or when you started.
Could you tell us about your childhood and upbringing?
My mom is Irish and Welsh and was raised in an orphanage in Tipperary, Ireland. She didn't know her parents. My dad is Danish and Italian - first generation - both his parents were from Europe. My Italian ancestors were bootleggers during prohibition, apparently. So roguish behavior runs in the family. So does mental illness and high IQ's. Schizophrenia runs in my family. High functioning autism runs in my family. None of those things were talked about and understood when I was growing up - not the way they are now. There was a huge stigma to having any kind of social or psychological issues. As a result, my childhood was very chaotic and very violent. My father was a very violent man, but luckily he never hit me. There was just a lot of property damage, and my older brother was beaten a lot. My parents divorced when I was 10, and when my mother remarried a man from California, I became bi coastal. I developed a lot of independence because I was always getting on and off planes by myself and hailing taxis and whatnot.
My father, despite his mental illness, had periods where he was very functional and he was intensely intelligent and charismatic and a very published writer. He was casual friends with people like Truman Capote, Greta Garbo, Don Imus, and Julie Newmar. I remember these people from my childhood. I have a signed copy of In Cold Blood from Truman Capote, given to my dad. Greta Garbo told my mom she was lucky to be married to my father, which is a favorite story of my mom's. Don Imus used to talk about my dad on his radio show almost every day. I was very aware of my father's weird star power, but he was very different behind closed doors. It's made me fear people somewhat. You never truly know who anyone is, because we all have so many sides.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Math, science, writing, kickboxing, and Russian literature. Ragtime and Old Soul music. My favorite thing to do is to spend an afternoon with my lover listening to old jazz 78's on his gramophone while we share a bottle of wine and he paints.
What is your favorite thing about being an adult performer?
The privilege of expressing myself in ways most people never get to experience. The liberation and freedom of embracing something most people are afraid of, or hide from. The chance to make something beautiful. There's a quote "Love has built its palace in a place of excrement," and I think the opposite is true in porn. Capturing lovemaking on film is this magical, beautiful idea that people have built a lot of shit on and destroyed. And it's time to reclaim that idea and build our palace.
Are there any web sites or future projects that you would like to promote? What are you currently working on film wise?
Girl Candy is my all girl studio and Hard Candy is my boy/girl feature studio. My first releases from Girl Candy will be Lesbians Love Strap Ons and Lesbian Slumber Party - the Kissing Game, which is a kissing-themed movie like my old Sweetheart series Girls Kissing Girls. My first release from Hard Candy is "A Mother's Love," starring Vanilla Deville, Xander Corvus, Chastity Lynn, Evan Stone and Dane Cross. So I'll be starting promotions for those movies soon. I'm also finally building my own website, but it won't be just porn. It will include my non-industry writings and my sound sculpture videos.
And in 2012 I'm hoping you will start to see Nica Noelle's first gay and/or bi male films. Gay and bisexual porn is the next genre I feel a need to explore, and I can't wait to get started. I'll be sure to keep you posted!