Do you think Los Angeles is the epicenter of the adult industry?
Well, you're right.
However, there's plenty of porn that gets shot here in Vegas, here in your own backyard. Well, maybe not your backyard (you'd hopefully already know about it in that case). But quite possibly your neighbors' backyard or -- even more likely -- their bedroom.
While the majority of the industry's talent lives and works in the LA area, Las Vegas has enough of a porn presence -- especially on the Internet -- to claim some right to the Porn Valley moniker, and for more than just its Sin City nickname. A lower cost of living, less traffic and a more laid-back atmosphere, while still being close to LA, make Vegas an attractive location for porn stars to settle.
It's nearly impossible to compile a complete list of adult stars who live in the area, but here's a look at some of the people you might see at the grocery store, gas station or coffee shop without realizing how they earned the money for that bread, fuel or latte.
Who: Kayla Kleevage (Site)
How long in Vegas: Since November 1999
Where was she before Vegas: Houston
How long in porn: About 20 years
Why Vegas over LA: "There's no state taxes, and we had some friends who moved down here and we wanted to be by them. Also, housing was a little more reasonable than California. It had more pros than cons, though I didn't know the heat would be so God-blessed awful."
In one of the most biggest examples of truth in advertising, Kleevage more than lives up to her name thanks to a 50II bustline that has helped her get dancing gigs all over the country and appear in countless magazines. Not that the experience has made her any more comfortable when it comes time for some shoots.
"Believe it or not, I can be very shy sometimes," she said. "If I have someone with me in front of the camera that I'm interacting with, like in a video, that's fine. But if I'm by myself I'm like a scared dear. I need something to go on. I need some fodder to get me going."
Nothing could get her to go to Los Angeles for more than the occasional piece of work, though.
"The traffic is bad, the smog is bad, the taxes are high, and the property is just outrageous," Kleevage said of LA. "I haven't really thought about it, not seriously. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything in LA. Maybe if I wanted to do a lot more films and things, but I can produce my own at any time and shoot them in LA so that's not a problem. I could probably do a little more mainstream film work if I wanted to, but I know I'm not an actress, not a professional one."
As for still going strong in her current profession in her "late 30s" as she describes herself?
"I'd love to be in it forever, but in reality ... I don't know. I'll probably give it five more years. It's hard to say. Maybe I'll just leave that up to my plastic surgeon. If five years from now my body's still looking good and I can get a plastic surgeon to give me another year, of course I'll stay in it. But I'm going to walk (away) before they make me run (away)."
The Married Couple
Who: Raven Black and Jeff (Site)
How long in Vegas: 16 years
Where were they before Vegas: Southern California
How long in porn: Almost 10 years
Would they move back to SoCal: "It's too crowded. I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't. I'm not into drama. We hear about it from other people that we work with, but I don't like drama. I like a very simple, easy life with a lot of fun. That's it." -- Raven Black
Beginning an online porn career back when Web videos were the size of some site's thumbnail images these days, Raven Black and her husband Jeff have progressed along with the rest of the Internet and now have their own online empire with their Trashy Entertainment brand.
Many of the area's stars -- including Katie Kox, Caroline Pierce, Joselyn Pink and Sara Jay -- have worked with the couple and appeared on their sites, keeping some of the industry dollars here in Vegas rather than down I-15 in Los Angeles.
"That is kind of nice, because it's such a small-knit community out here that everybody kind of knows everybody," Raven said. "You're kind of always helping each other. It is pretty nice like that."
Especially when there are people who express interest in filming with Raven, but instead find the Vegas party scene a bit too hard to ignore and end up flaking out. Finding quality, reliable actors and actresses in the area is the couple's biggest problem with being in Vegas rather than LA.
"When we shoot we need talent and most of the talent's out there," Raven said, "so we'll make a trip and do a lot of shooting, and I'll do some paid gigs (for other sites), also. But, for the most part, if I'm not planning on just working, working, working out there, there's no point to move back."
Who: Katie Kox (Site)
How long in Vegas: 21 years
Where was she before Vegas: Hawaii
How long in porn: 6 months
Would she move to LA: "We've definitely talked about it. We have a 5-year plan, so maybe in the future there's an opportunity to see if there's something bigger."
What does a 23-year-old wife say when her husband suggests she start sleeping with other men on the side? If her (stage) name's Katie Kox, she:
1) Says "Yes" after talking it over
2) Learns she loves having sex with different men of her choosing
"I thought that it would be great to be able to make money off something I completely enjoy," Kox said of starting her own Web site specializing in cuckolding. "That was basically my reason. I'm not camera shy, and I like taking pictures. It's an easy way to meet different guys for my personal pleasure."
She's found Vegas to be a surprisingly difficult place to find opportunities for her new line of work, so the thought of Los Angeles is definitely in her mind. However, long-term ties to the area and a Web career in its infancy means Kox is content to stay in Sin City for the time being.
"I'm not willing to take that leap yet until I know it's something that can make me a sufficient amount of money," she said of possibly relocating. "If it works out well and I'm making good money, I would move to LA so that I could fully pursue it and have easier access to other people who can help me out with it. That's my plan. I'll give it a little bit of time before I make that decision."
Who: Sara Jay (Site)
How long in Vegas: 7.5 years (moved to Oregon a year and a half ago)
Where was she before Vegas: Cincinnati
How long in porn: 8.5 years
Why did she leave Vegas: "Vegas just isn't really my type of city, honestly. I'm pretty outdoorsy and very laid back and relaxed. I'm not really the type of person you find in a club or casino or bar, typically. And the rain. I love the rain."
A stripper from Ohio, Jay moved to Vegas at 23 after deciding she wanted to live somewhere that was the complete opposite of her home state. After about a year of dancing in Vegas, it was time for a career change, too, though not one that was such a drastic transition.
"I thought, 'What parts of this job do I like and what parts do I not like.' I like being naked. I like entertaining. And I really hated trying to hustle and sell myself. It was just not fun. I thought, 'What can I do to stay in this industry,' and I picked porn."
It took six to eight months of e-mailing magazines and porn companies trying to get work, but her persistence finally paid off and her career took off. She stayed in Vegas rather than move to LA, and though she still travels to SoCal for about a week every month to work, moving there was never an option.
"I hate LA," Jay said. "Like a lot. The traffic in LA really kills me. It ruins my day. If I can't be having fun and playing, then I want to be getting shit done. And you can't get anything done because you're stuck in traffic all frickin' day. I'm a very productive person. New York's great. You can get like 1,000 things done in an hour. But in LA you can get like 2 things done in a 24-hour period. It's horrible. I would never even consider LA."
Who: Jerry (last name withheld upon request) (Site)
How long in Vegas: About 2 years
Where was he before Vegas: Orlando
How long in porn: About 5 years
Why Vegas over LA: "There's more talent in LA, but there's also things like living closer to earthquakes and pollution."
A fan of "beautiful women, nice restaurants, poker, and rock and roll," Jerry moved to Las Vegas to take care of all those interests in one fell swoop.
"I like the excitement of a town like Las Vegas" he said. "I can do without the traffic and the crowds sometimes, but there's a lot of fun here. It's all about fun, and that's what I want to do. I want to enjoy life, and Las Vegas is definitely a place to do it."
A part-time tattoo artist and poker player, Jerry's main profession is shooting solo girl and girl-girl fetish scenes for his site, which accepts requests from members for what the next scene should be.
"For me, it's cool because I can make people's fantasies come to life," he said. "If someone says, 'Hey, I'd like to see this girl do this, do that,' then I can create a scenario for them, which is cool."
Who: Caroline Pierce (MySpace)
How long in Vegas: Since birth (34 years)
Where was she before Vegas: Father's eye (as a gleam)
How long in industry: First video shoot in 1997
Why Vegas over LA: "This is my home, where my ties are with friends and family. I have had vague thoughts, toying with the idea of moving to LA, but really, there's no need. I can just drive there in 4 hours."
Born in the area, Pierce -- known now for fetish and big-butt themed shoots -- traveled the stereotypical career arc of stripper to magazine model to porn films. After talking with dancers who also worked in other parts of the business, she started moving forward with opportunities that she felt comfortable taking in those arenas. Like many people in the business, she chose the profession for fairly obvious reasons.
"I get paid to do all the sexual experimentation most girls do, but in a safer, STD-tested environment," Pierce said. "Most of the people in the industry are decent to look at, are pretty good at what they do, and I don't have to lie and say I'll call them later."
Personal ties keep her in the Vegas area, but Pierce knows that for others in the industry (or hoping to be), Los Angeles may be a better choice.
"There is adult work to be had here in Vegas," she said, "but obviously the main hub for adult shoots is in LA, in which case having to travel for work can be frustrating and costly. Offhand I can't come up with a benefit to living here for video work. For other areas of adult entertainment, like strippers and escorts, Vegas is an obvious choice. But porn star? I can't see the Vegas appeal other then cheaper cost of living then LA."
The Country Girl
Who: Joselyn Pink (Site)
How long in Vegas: 5 years
Where was she before Vegas: Northern Idaho
How long in porn: 6 years
Why Vegas over LA: "A guy. But it's cheaper here, definitely. And I'm not a city girl"
Bored with her job as an office manager, Pink tried dancing, but enjoyed it no more than her desk work. She then tried a photo shoot and started to find her calling.
"They said, 'You really like this, don't you? You're not shy. You should really go do porn.' That put a little bug in my head," she said. "So, I just woke up one morning and said, 'I want to be a porn star!' I found an agent online and traveled to LA the next week."
Pink passed through Vegas on the trip and filmed a couple scenes in town, tying her career to the area even before she decided where to move when leaving Idaho. Choosing Vegas has meant more effort to make sure she gets enough work, but the trade-off of not being in a big city has been worth it.
"Absolutely not," Pink said when asked if she would consider a move to LA. "In fact, I want to go back to Idaho and work from up there. It would be a lot less (work), but it's growing on me here. Every time I go home, I want to come back here."
Though she travels to LA about once a month for shoots, Vegas gives Pink the chance to do the types of work she's becoming known for.
"Crazy scenes — a lot of fetish, BDSM, feet. I've done TS (transexual) movies, and then I do pegging, which is giving a guy a strap-on. That's a lot of stuff girls won't do in the industry. I've probably done more of those two things here in Vegas than I have in LA."
Who: Morgan Ray (Site)
How long in Vegas: 1 year
Where was she before Vegas: Atlanta
How long in porn: 1.5 years
Why Vegas over LA: "I absolutely do not like LA -- the drive and the affordability. And it's just like a dirty city to me. I grew up in Florida, so I like the beach. Go with the flow, (be) easy and down to Earth, and in Vegas people are like that. I know I'll be here the next 10 years, at least, God willing."
Morgan and her husband, Mike, had been swingers for about 10 years when a director in Atlanta told her, "Honey, if you can do this for free, you might as well go and get paid for it."
So that's just what the leggy, busty blonde did.
"We came out for a shoot and loved it," Ray said, "went back, packed everything up, and quit my job as a therapist at the hospital. We said, 'Why not? Let's live while we still want to live.'"
The family moved to Victorville, CA, but the 80-mile commute was too far and the cost of living too high, so in December 2007 they lived for about a month in a casino where Mike's cousin worked until they found a home in Summerlin.
Now that they've settled in Vegas, things are going well for the couple, with Ray dancing at Spearmint Rhino on the weekends and teaching sex-ed classes (think "how to" not "what is") at the Green Door.
"What's going to be different for me in 2009," she says, "is it's going to be like Lamaze for sex. Instead of preparing for a baby, you're going to be preparing for the big O."
Who: D. Wise
How long in Vegas: 9 months
Where was she before Vegas: Los Angeles
How long in porn: Started in 1995
Why did he move to Vegas from LA: "I just got tired of the bullshit in LA. People who are sissified, who don't want to be told the truth. OK, I'm going to leave you in La La Land and move to Vegas so that way you can pretend to be who you want to be in LA and I'll just be who I am somewhere else."
A former social worker in New York City, the 40-year-old D. Wise moved to LA to enter the adult industry almost a decade and a half ago, but finally got fed up with the back-stabbing, cliquish behavior he encountered from the talent out there.
"When you have porn stars who look at other porn stars and are like 'I don't like him. He took a scene from me. He got paid more than me,' and you've got this high school shit going on... I'm too old for this. I want to do porn because I like it. I love the beautiful women. I love being able to express myself. And I love being able to show the world that we are people, and we do what we do."
And what do D. Wise love to do most?
"I'm good with whatever, but if you ask me what my preference would be, it would be the MILF stuff," he said. "I'm 40, but I look like I'm 20-something. I find that to be real attractive. From the time I was younger, I've always been attracted to older women. Now I'm 40 and I'm with women who are actually my age, but they look older so the fantasy is still there for me. I'm just enjoy myself."
Who: Dia Zerva (Site)
How long in Vegas: About 9 months
How long in porn: 2 years (but has been most active since moving to Vegas)
Why did she move from Monterey, CA to Vegas: "Monterey's gorgeous. We love riding motorcycles, and you can go to fine dining and wine tasting so much, but we wanted to be around places like clubs we could see live and DJs any time we wanted, and not really be limited to a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday kind of city."
The cheaper costs of living and a more open-minded community didn't hurt when Zerva and her photographer boyfriend were looking for somewhere to move to -- somewhere that would give both of them a better chance to move ahead in their careers.
"We came here for my birthday in 2007 and we've been wanting to try to find a place that we both really liked and have never lived," Zerva said. "Came again in February, started checking out different neighborhoods and fell in love with the area, and knew this was the best place to start and get my business started."
Zerva moved to Vegas after starting work doing girl-girl wrestling scenes for Ultimate Surrender and Academy Productions and before adding BDSM shoots for kink.com to her resume. Taking a job dancing at Talk of the Town has only helped her career online.
"It's a friendly, local atmosphere and I didn't want to go into a high-pressure place," she said. "It's such a great cross trainer. It's helped me beat up more people."
The chance to dance is another reason Vegas has worked out well for Zerva, who doesn't mind the commute to Los Angeles for some work and sees no need to move anytime soon.
"The opportunity for shoots is less," she said, "because I think Las Vegas has a stigma of 'Oh, you're too far away. You can't come in to do this shoot. I'll get someone close by.' That's a little annoying, but once I've established myself with a couple companies they'll understand that I'm serious and that it doesn't matter."