It's an odd thing when your interview subject casually mentions that you can Google her name and watch her get banged out. It's even weirder when it turns out to be true -- because I'm not going to lie: I did.
We're talking about the nuances of porn presentation, and according to Angela Aspen, you've got your feature films and you've got what she calls "gonzo," which is just the sex, minus the plots. "My gonzo clips are available for free," she says. "You can find them all over the Internet." But that, she says, is not what makes her special. What makes Angela Aspen stand out is her distinctly Colorado brand.
"My brand is very Lara Croft, Tomb Raider," she says. "I've filmed a lot in Colorado, which is definitely not this LA, swimming pool kind of imagery. It's backpacking, snowmobiles, guns. My brand is very badass."
It's not just the brand -- Aspen is just a badass. She's not some aspiring actress dabbling in porn for a few extra bucks, nor is she some workaday sex-drone who's just trying to pay the bills; Aspen is a fucking porn star, a hardcore pornstar who does what she does because she is a woman who is clearly, openly enthusiastic about fucking.
But the badass image, she readily acknowledges, is because Aspen (the name is a nod to her roots) hails from these parts, even though she moved to LA last year to seek her fortunes -- and she's found them, it seems. After starring in a number of high-budget flicks (her credits include Jersey Shore XXX and A-Team XXX), Aspen's been nominated For a AVN award (AVN, she says, is kind of like "the Oscars of porn") in the category of Best New Starlet. "A girl just doesn't get into AVN," she notes. "I've built up momentum."
She's been doing that since the age of 23 (she's now 29), when she "got into porn almost immediately after losing my virginity."
Sound strange? Yup, it's pretty strange. Aspen grew up a pastor's daughter -- "My father was head of the Assemblies of God," she notes -- and was indoctrinated early on in the way of the Lord. So much so, in fact, that she was as much the face of abstinence when she was young as she is the face of sex now. Much like GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell, whose youthful condemnation of masturbation has made her a punchline in this election cycle, Aspen was a bona-fide poster girl for the Christian right. "Schools can either choose if they want to do safe-sex education or if they want to promote abstinence-only education," she explains. "So schools that promoted abstinence, my group would go. So we'd show up at these assemblies and I'd tell kids, you know, 'there's so much more to live for than sex.'"
From there, Aspen went on to become a youth minister herself, until what she vaguely refers to as a "spiritual crisis" soured her on the path she was on. "Long story short, I was completely alienated from the church," she says. That's when she decided to give sex the old college try.
She liked it. In fact, she loved it. In fact, she wanted to do it all the time. Within months, she was "renting out B&Bs and doing tons of gang-bangs" -- and filming them. She'd find guys on Craigslist, have them get tested and come on in, if you're catching that drift. "I didn't know you were supposed to start out slow," she jokes.
Or maybe you aren't, because that go-getter attitude seems to have paid off. There's plenty of work in gonzo porn, because guys "just want to get off in two minutes." What's more difficult, she says, is getting women to care.
"You know, people are working porn into their sex lives, and the plots you see in feature films kind of reach out to women," she says. "And it's a lot more work to reach out to females than males -- you have to entice them, the soft lighting, the special effects, it's erotic. Men just want to see penetration and get off. Women want to be seduced." Plus, she adds, there's always the novelty. "It's like, 'yeah, I'd love to see Catwoman get fucked in the ass.'"
And ultimately, what Aspen wants to be is a women's porn star. "I want to be Nina Hartley," she says. "I want to give practical advice."
For example, on masturbation: "If you don't make love to yourself," says Aspen, who notes that she does "a ton" of masturbating herself, "then who's going to make love to you? Look, your pussy is like a Bentley. If you leave it sitting in the garage all the time, it's not going to want to start when you want to take it for a drive."
And like Hartley, a long-time porn-industry fixture who's often called upon by the mainstream media to talk issues, Aspen is outspoken and articulate about her views. One thing that's got her passionate lately is what's going on in the industry with condoms; a porn performer recently coming up positive in an HIV test has reignited debates between industry and the public-at-large around protection, and the deal is, Aspen says, is that condoms are just not practical. "Fucking with condoms is just as dangerous, from our point of view," she asserts. "You're doing 45 minutes of hard fucking. You'll go through 40 condoms in a scene."
And there's also the money issue, she'll admit: People just aren't as excited about porn with condoms. "OSHA wants a risk-free industry, and that's just not going to happen. There's always going to be some risk. But if you're going to force us to wear condoms, you're just going to force us underground, you're going to force us out of the state.
What needs to happen, and what's kept the industry relatively safe so far, is frequent testing, she says. "I say before we even start shooting, we get stuck by a needle -- because there's 20 minutes of paperwork you have to fill out anyway. There's mobile testing units where you can get and HIV test and get your results back in a half hour; you can get your results before the shoot even starts." Right now, the hetero industry already self-regulates in that way, she says, noting that gay porn performers often wear condoms but do not get tested as regularly -- and she suspects the HIV came from the gay side; men in hetero porn often moonlight in gay porn. Either way, she says, STDs are way more likely to come from outside the industry than within it.
"We joke amongst ourselves that the 'civilians' are way dirtier than we are, because we get tested and they don't," she says. "You know, somebody'll get chlamydia or something, and it's like, 'oh, what civilian have you been fucking?"