LAS VEGAS, NV—jessica drake, Wicked Pictures superstar and sex educator, is holding her interviews at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo in an unmarked suite in one of the towers of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. With her in her room is a body guard and a manager; the latter says he is not able to leave the room while we interview her, so to get out of the shot, he shoves himself into a corner.
AEE coincides with the Oscars of the porn industry, the AVN Awards, held Saturday night in that same casino devoted to crusty white rockers. And drake is here promoting two films that are up for awards: An Inconvenient Mistress, a film about insider stock trading she tells me, for which she’s nominated for Best Actress and Best Three-Way Sex Scene, and jessica drake Is Wicked, a showcase film—meaning she’s in every scene—that’s racked up a ton of nominations, including Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene, Best Star Showcase, and Best Art Direction. She’s also nominated for Mainstream Star of the Year.
But even if you haven’t been following Wicked Pictures’ latest releases, you may have heard of her work in sex education—she’s behind jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex, an educational series that aims to teach civilians about sex topics like fellatio and BDSM for beginners, and tours the country holding workshops. Or, you may have become aware of her when she became the 11th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault.
At a press conference in October, standing beside her attorney, Gloria Allred, drake recounted that in July 2006, Trump invited her to his hotel room, where he kissed her and two other women without permission. She also said that later, Trump, or another man on his behalf, called her to offer her $10,000 to return, which she refused. This was the same event where porn performer Stormy Daniels had an alleged affair Trump, jumpstarting public inquiry into what went on to cause Trump’s personal attorney to pay her $130,000 for her silence.
Last Friday, her publicist Josh Ortiz told the Daily Beast that drake was unable to discuss the incident further because of a non-disclosure agreement. “Jessica’s NDA blankets any and every mention of Trump, so she’s legally unable to comment... Jessica signed a non-disclosure agreement after her allegations of misconduct, and she can’t do as much as peep his name publicly.” Ortiz confirmed that she was legally unable to speak about Trump in an email to Jezebel.
Update (4:20 p.m.): After this interview published, a spokesperson for drake denied that such an NDA existed, saying “there are no legal restrictions” to drake speaking about Trump. Additionally, Ortiz has retracted the initial claim, saying in a statement to the Daily Beast: “I made an incorrect assumption due to a grave misunderstanding regarding Jessica Drake’s ability to speak or comment about matters relating to President Trump. I have never been told directly, or indirectly, Jessica Drake signed a Non Disclosure Agreement or reached any settlement in regards to any interactions with President Trump. My misunderstanding resulted in incorrect information being provided to The Daily Beast and undue stress to Jessica Drake, for which I am truly sorry.”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed also reported that drake was not able to discuss Trump, but could not confirm if this was due to an NDA or other legal agreement. Allred said in a statement to BuzzFeed that drake “never signed an NDA with President Trump either before or after he was elected,” though in her interview with Jezebel, drake alluded to topics she “can’t talk about.”
But we could talk about how she’s on a mission to educate her industry about the importance of consent, a certain regressive attitude in the porn industry, and why she’s still so angry.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
JEZEBEL: Will you tell me about your involvement in Wicked Pictures and how it’s evolved?
jessica drake: Oh wow, how much time do you have? I have been with the company for more than a decade and initially I was signed on as just a performer. I think at that point I didn’t really have an understanding of the bigger picture or the way that my career would transition into sex education. I started writing and directing probably eight years ago, when I realized the more creative control I had within a project, the happier I was with its outcome. Doing signings as a Wicked girl at conventions, places like this, places like AEE or international conventions and having really long lines of, it used to be just men, and then it progressed to some uncomfortable women, and then it changed again with couples and women that were more comfortable, and the whole demographic just shifted. We’ve always been known for being a higher quality, bigger budget adult production company that actually has a script, maybe without that cheesy porno acting [laughs]. I take my job super seriously, I’ve always developed acting as a craft. I take it really seriously.
But in these long lines of people, suddenly they began to emerge and ask sex advice questions, and some of it was such basic knowledge that I take for granted, that I felt compelled to do something about it. Two in particular: a woman came to me and said she didn’t think she’d been having orgasms—and she was in her 40s and she had been with her partner for 15 years. And then there was another couple who came to me and said, we can’t do it like you, something’s wrong with us. And what they were referring to is having anal sex on camera. I mean they weren’t trying to have it on camera, but that’s what they were trying to emulate when they were watching me. So I wanted to utilize the brand and the platform that I’ve been fortunate enough to build and I wanted to use to bring people shame-free, non-judgmental, hopefully more inclusive sex education.
I created jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex, in 2012 I think it came out for the first time. It covered basic sexuality topics: fellatio, anal, anal play for men, woman to woman, kama sutra, BDSM for beginners—there are more, there are like 15 now. And I do workshops that go along with them. I’m teaching people better ways, hopefully not just to have sex but to talk about sex and be more consent aware, because it’s something that’s super important to me.
And I also still do really big movies for Wicked—two of which are nominated for a ton of stuff at the awards this year. I did a feature movie which has a lot of acting called An Inconvenient Mistress, it’s about insider stock trading, and I have a showcase movie which means I’m in every single scene—there are 18 people in the movie, all of whom I had sex with, and I’ve never done that before. And I also really, really wanted to do a scene with trans women for probably the past three or four years. I begged Wicked that this was something we could do and I was given the opportunity to fulfill this desire, or make dreams come true in the showcase movie. I did a scene with three trans women, one of whom was a friend of mine—Venus [Lux]—and then Domino [Presley] and Aubrey [Kate] I just really looked at their work and admire what they do and wanted them to be involved in the project. That in itself is a huge thing for me right now to have been able to do that.
I’d love to ask you about that—Wicked is a heteronormative, softer company. Can you talk more about the divisions in the industry and why that was such a big deal? Do you think the industry is changing to make that less of a big deal?
Even though Wicked has been branded as a fairly soft, heteronormative company, I’ve seen a change in that over the past maybe five or six years. I’d like to think I had a part in that. But even saying that we are a more—and I hate to use this term, but—mainstream adult movie company, and we do specialize in those bigger movies, the sex that we shoot is not necessarily super soft sex. There are sex acts within our movies that would, to a viewer, potentially be on the more extreme or rough side. I definitely think there have been some changes within the industry lately that have really brought to light the importance of diversity and inclusivity, but at the same time, I recognize that the industry is super divided between the gay side, the trans side, and the straight side, and there’s a lot of stigma that accompanies that. What I was trying to do by doing this scene with three trans women is not only because it’s something that I really wanted to do for a long time—I identify as pansexual, so I’m attracted to people regardless of gender, more about my mood [laughs]—but not only did I want to fulfill this fantasy, and it wasn’t the first time I had ever done it, it was the first time I did it on camera, but I was trying to make a statement in the mainstream world of porn and say, look, I think we can integrate many different sexualities and we have room to do this here.
Something that was really interesting initially when we were editing the movie, there were several discussions in-house about do we include the trans scene on the DVD, because we are still producing DVDs for retail stores. Or do we take out the trans scene, it’s available not on the DVD but online, so consumers can have that choice? Or, do we include it on the DVD but have a disclaimer? And I fought really hard to include it on the DVD and not have a disclaimer, because how are you going to tell people right before they see the scene that they should feel a certain kind of way, or you might feel a certain kind of way, or maybe you don’t want to see it? I wanted everybody—it was a challenge for me, challenging other people to take a look at it and if they think its sexy, that’s awesome; if you love it, that’s great! We don’t always have to compartmentalize our sexualities. And I’ve gotten so many tweets and emails and comments from fans that are saying wow, I never knew that I would be into this genre, and I watched the showcase and there it was! And I didn’t know what to think of it at first. That’s what I want. And then I really liked it, and it really got me off and then I showed it to my husband, wife, partner, whatever, and now they’re watching a different genre as well, but it’s all within the same movie. So I hope to do more of it in the future.
Do you think there’s a similar stigma racially in the industry?
There still exists huge racism problems in the industry. I’ll be really frank with you here. When I first got into the industry it was a long time ago, porn was in a really different place. And performers were advised to do things in a particular order. You would start with girl-girl, you would do boy-girl, then you might add anal, then you might do multiple partners. And then interracial was a bargaining tool. That’s the business that I came into, and where I did work with black women, I hadn’t shot a scene with a black male actor. And it got to the point the camps were so divided on it fanwise, they’d make such a big deal out of it. If you do it you’re called a race traitor. If you don’t do it you’re a racist. And all of the noise got a little loud for me and I decided that I’m going to do it, but at the same time not promote it as my “first IR.” I wouldn’t allow—I think that contributes to the issue when we continuously fetishize a race, I just don’t think it’s right; it’s not in alignment with who I am anymore as a performer or an educator. So yeah I did a blowbang with four black guys in my showcase movie! And I screencapped some of the comments that I got on social media afterwards and they were brutal. To call me out as being a “race traitor,” to say that oh, you just want to prolong your career because you waited this long to do it. I’m like, what about the black girls that I had sex with, like they don’t count? But no, it’s the people that IR means a black guy having sex with a usually very small white woman, and catering to those people and it’s hard.
Directing my educationals, I try to have a wide representation of people and body types in my educationals because I want them to be more relatable than what people perceive to be the body norm in porn. I want to challenge that and the first few educationals I directed, I noticed a discrepancy in the pay between a black actress and not a black actress, and I was incensed. Outraged. And the same thing happened to me when I shot the plus-size educational—plus-sized performers were being paid less for the same sex acts. And I get very passionate about this is not fair. I pay my performers equally, and I also don’t pay my performers an interracial rate. I do ask them who they want to work with. But it’s just, it’s a complicated situation in our business.
Why do you think it’s slow to confront these issues more aggressively?
I think it’s slow to confront these issues more aggressively because there’s money. Some folks find comfort in labels. Some people want their sexuality in little boxes so that they can check them as needed, as desired, and I think what happens is we have ways to organize scenes that are sometimes using derogatory terms. And I think that further contributes to the fetishization. And it is a problem. But to be fair, we also have sites like for instance Grooby.com, which is a network of trans sites. They’re renaming a lot of their URLs so as not to use a slur, but instead say trans or transgender, and I think when a company that big takes such a big step, I respect that. It’s a reorganizational process. People like to look up the porn that they want to see and use certain words.
You’ve done a lot of speaking and activism and education about consent. What are you currently doing? What do you see in the industry that you want to change?
When I first came into the industry, I didn’t have a recognized knowledge of consent but at the same time back then you had a “yes” list, and a “no” list of who you would perform with. And when you were working with someone you would sit down with them before the scene and go over what’s permissible, and what your boundaries are. I still do that because that’s the way I came into the business. But it became increasingly aware to me on even the sets where I was shooting my educationals, that people really aren’t doing that very much anymore. I call up both partners in the scene, or all partners, or however many partners there are and I’m like hey, I wanna use so-and-so, who do you have chemistry with? And they give me a list and I pair up people accordingly. I would like to see a broader range of that being practiced.
When I shot my showcase movie and I had never worked with a trans woman on camera, and we’re all coming from very different places just as performers in general, with likes, dislikes, hard limits, some people prefer not to kiss, some people don’t want any anal play, some people like rougher sex and some don’t. We all sat down and for me that was one of the greatest parts of doing that scene, is that I went in not knowing what to expect, we had a negotiated conversation about what we were and weren’t comfortable with. It was really like what it used to be like in the business. I think overall I would most like to see communication come back. I would also like for performers to remember that they do have bodily autonomy and it’s something I try to impress on younger performers because I think that the nature of the industry has become a bit greedy, as it does, but I think with all of the new technology and social media and everything’s online so fast, I think that it’s even more. And I think that it’s very competitive with the performers.
So just stop me if you want me to stop, but we’re having a national conversation about sexual assault and harassment. Are you seeing that in the porn industry? And do you think there’s anything being left out of that?
I think that now, the time that we’re in with the second wave of the We Too movement—Me Too, sorry. Pretty much We All, yeah, all of us too. I think we are in a really—it’s a really difficult time in the conversations that we’re having with the second wave of the #MeToo movement and all of the reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment coming out. I think that, I think what I would say that’s missing, first of all, in the conversation, is the people who aren’t as privileged as the people who feel that they can speak up, because I think we really need to recognize the privilege that comes with being able to speak out, and that there are many people who have had many of these things happen, worse things happen to them, and they don’t have any sort of support system, or a platform, or a voice, and it’s been taken away from them for a multitude of reasons—maybe they’re afraid to lose their job. Maybe they are afraid they won’t be believed. Maybe they’re sex workers and that’s why sex worker rights are so important to me. So I think that is what’s missing from the conversation, I think it’s very important for us to constantly look around the room and say who is here and who is not here? Who is missing from this discussion? Who is missing from this table? Who is not being stood up for, protected, or represented? Minority women. I think it’s really important to address that as well.
As far as sexual assault allegations within the industry. I’ve been asked this question a few times within the past few days: have I had anything happen to me since I’ve been in the industry? Yes, I have. It’s been a long time. It was when I was a brand new performer, but I had two isolated incidents, and it has been two, because I’ve done so much thinking about this. I was booked for a scene that I was driving in for from out of town, and the scene was supposed to be a boy-girl scene, and a condom-only scene, because I’m a condom-only performer. Wicked Pictures is the only company on the hetero side of the industry that is condom only. Even before I signed with Wicked I chose to be condom-only performer. And so I drive to this set, and not only has the scene been changed to the director is now in the scene, there is no male talent, it’s the director, and then their girl and it’s a condomless scene as opposed to a condom-only scene. I left. And I think that I try to tell people that story to remind them that they can say no. You can leave. You have that right.
The other thing that happened to me at my third or fourth movie in, I had shot my first feature movie before Wicked, and I was shooting a box cover for the movie so it’s this big photo studio, I’m in glam hair and make-up and beautiful wardrobe and everything, and we’re set up and we’re lighting and the photographer is just on the other side of the lights, you can’t clearly see him or what he’s doing, but I slowly realize that everyone else has left the studio, and he’s masturbating. I was so new and I didn’t know what to do. My initial thought was, oh, this is really how it is in this business? It was bad that I went to the generalization, like the old-school Boogie Nights mentality, like, sweaty guys, with gold chains and, you know, shaky hands holding video recorders in hotel rooms. It was bad that my mind went to that, but I didn’t do anything, he didn’t get any closer to me, I wish I would’ve spoken up but I didn’t feel like I could back then. Again, I’m only speaking from my own personal experience, and I have heard stories from other performers both male and female who feel they’ve had consent violations.
We have APAC [Adult Performer Advocacy Committee], they are a group that represents talent. And then we have the Free Speech Coalition, we have these organizations that are more invested in the rights of talent and are more consent aware than they were before, but I think it’s gonna take awhile, and I think it’s gonna take a lot of outreach and education. When I speak at universities—I was just at, was it University of Santa Barbara was the last place I was at, and before I spoke in a human sexualities class at UCLA—and when I’m talking about consent I think the general consensus about this is that it’s something that’s mechanical, like check box A if I can fill in the blank. And it doesn’t have to be that way. I spend time talking about the three pillars of consent which are knowing what you’re getting into, figuring out if you’re okay with that, and if not, then what are you okay with? And then verbalizing that to the other person that’s involved. And when you explain it to people like that, I think it maybe sinks in a little bit more, but I think consent is definitely an area that we need to improve in in the industry, and I think it really does go back to just feeding the machine. There’s a greed there, and performers have gotten super competitive with one another, though I’m not necessarily laying blame on the performers for that. I think it’s a much bigger picture issue.
I’m just curious, is there a big story or issue in the industry right now that you think isn’t getting enough attention?
I think lately the story about Ron Jeremy [who has been accused numerous times of sexual assault and was banned from appearing at AVN] was finally brought to light. It didn’t seem to last very long, but I heard today or yesterday that he isn’t allowed here. So I think that says a lot for an organization to both know that he could be a draw financially, and still choose the protection of their attendees over the monetization of having someone like that here. I respect that. It seemed to go away pretty fast, it did. I don’t know what the alternative to that would be. Do we still talk about it on a daily basis if it’s not happening anymore?
That’s kind of what we’re seeing with this news cycle right now—like you hear about one instance and then you have to go pay attention to a million other things that are happening.
So much more. I think it just speaks to the state of everything that’s going on right now. Mmmm... I’m very into territory that I’m not supposed to comment on. But it’s a hard time, and just the emotional climate has been so affected by the current administration, and everything that we have going on. I think people are anxious. People are scared. People are uncertain. And I think that people are also mad. And I think that anger hopefully will play a part in bringing about change. Because for me, it’s usually useful. I have a hard time really expressing my anger, but boy, I use it for motivation, you know? I was telling someone the other day I was at the Women’s March; this year I was at the Women’s March in LA, last year I was at the one in Washington, and I was telling them that last year it felt really angry, a little on the scattered side. Whereas this year, it felt urgent, it felt more focused, it felt like there was a serious need—still angry—but definitely like, it’s a pressing need and people know that they have to take action. For me, I was telling the person the other day, that protesting has become a favorite past time of mine. I wish we didn’t have to, but it makes me feel in a small way like I’ve taken an action toward standing up for what I believe in or standing up for somebody that isn’t able to use their voice. I’ve got poster board at the ready in my office all the time, like, I always have the ability to make a sign [laughs]. Like, that’s horrible! But at the same time, cool, I’ll keep doing it.
Yeah, exactly. Have poster board, will travel.
My plans for this year include doing another big acting movie, like the one I did this year. I’ll do another all sex movie. Not deciding on whether it’ll be a showcase with 18 people in it or not, but it’s gonna be something really amazing. And I’m going to continue the Guide to Wicked Sex with a pleasure products or sex toy version. As the series has evolved, I’ve realized the need for more inclusivity and in the beginning I gendered them a little bit too much and I in retrospect really wish I hadn’t done that. In each volume that comes out, I’m a bit more of an informed educator, I know how to facilitate people’s sexual exploration better than when I shot jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex Fellatio, which was the very first one. But this time I’ll be concentrating on sex toys and pleasure products for many genders, and many expressions of sexuality, and it’s just going to be probably the biggest educational I’ve ever shot. I called for submissions for pleasure product manufacturers and they filled up my house with UHaul boxes full of sex toys. So, what was supposed to be a three month pre-production period is more like a six-month pre-production period and instead of shooting it in in two or three days, it’s gonna be three or four days. So many more people are gonna be involved but we are talking about all different kinds of sex toys for all different bodies. And within the project I’m also going to be talking about sex and disability a bit as far as accessible toys go, because I think that that’s a community that’s seriously underserved. And I’m just going to try to get as much information about sex toys out there as possible. So, that’s the next big educational project.
Next week, I’m in Oklahoma teaching workshops and seminars and I’m still feature dancing, so it’s just a really busy upcoming time for us.
It sounds like it!
I’m just super grateful.