Q&A With Harriet Sugarcookie: Porn's New Breed of Star?
LOS ANGELES — The Internet has not only given rise to every kind of porn related fetish and genre producers and performers can dream up to satisfy bored consumers, but it’s also spawning a new type of atypical porn star who doesn’t fit the traditional mold.
Enter U.K.-native Harriet Sugarcookie, a fresh-faced Asian performer, unlikely aspiring porn star, self-proclaimed geek and high school ugly duckling that blossomed into a web star who now boasts a solid following of more than 20,000 fan boy (and girl) members of her free and VIP membership site.
Sugarcookie’s site is anything but typically porn. It appears more like a mash up of anime and popular Japanese culture than anything sexual. Fans send her crazy sex toys and she blogs about her international adventures and comic books. And although she’s never appeared in a DVD, the sex is there in all of its hardcore glory, supporting the idea that there’s always room for something unique, different and in this case compelling because of its fresh innocence.
XBIZ asked Sugarcookie to explain her career path and her appeal in the ever-changing adult landscape. And even if it’s not her real name — props to her as Sugarcookie is one name that’s hard to forget.
XBIZ: You’re not the typical porn star or cam girl, how did you get into adult?
Sugarcookie: This story is a little embarrassing. Back in high school I was really ugly, fat and unpopular. I didn’t have that many friends and honestly, I wasn’t very much liked. Certainly not by boys anyway. And then in the summer break between high school and university I suddenly got slimmer, lost my braces — and for the first time — started to get a little attention from boys (and girls).
My best friend at the time used a website called Reddit. It’s like a forum with sub-forums dedicated to pretty much every topic you could think ever of. One was called "Next Door Asians" so he posted a picture of me to it.
The response was kind of mixed, but honestly, it was the first time I really got complimented on my looks and I got a huge rush out of it. I started posting more pictures of myself and I got more and more attention as time went on. Eventually someone suggested live-camming, and I thought why not give it a go?
I watched lots of girls on MyFreeCams but even after all that watching I had no idea what was going on or what to do. So I just jumped right in and started making friends with people watching my cam.
As my cam room’s popularity grew, people were always asking for videos. I was already sharing a lot of pictures on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr; so making videos just seemed like the next step. It took some time to work out how to make my own site, but eventually I cobbled together a working site and started convincing my friends to make videos with me.
XBIZ: You describe yourself as loving everything “geeky” — what does that mean?
Sugarcookie: I’m a huge fan of manga. I spent all my time after school sitting in my local comic book shop. I was there so much the staff sort of just accepted me as a non-official worker. I could help people who were looking for certain things and tell them where to find it.
Instead of being paid, I was allowed to read anything in the comic book shop, which for me was mostly manga. I also got into "Green Lantern" and the "X-MEN" from there. Since then I’ve developed an obsession with all things sci-fi and fantasy whether it’s on TV, cinema, books, comics, etc.
I’m currently reading the "Civil War" series by Marvel and I’m trying out "Injustice" D.C. Saga — which is amazing — and "Sex Criminals" are current favorites.
I also have a fascination with Japan. I’m obsessed with Japanese culture. I love Japanese food; I’d say sushi is probably my favorite thing in the world. But I want to go to Japan and go to the anime shops and cosplay in the streets. I want to go to a maid cafe, where everyone is dressed as a maid and they draw hearts on your omelet from tomato ketchup. It all just sounds so quirky and very "Sugarcookie."
XBIZ: Do you think your represent a new kind of porn star?
Sugarcookie: This is a tough question. I feel I am in the right place at the right time. Porn tube sites and social media mean that literally anyone with a smartphone can become a porn star and carve out a career for themselves and have a much more personal relationship with fans than any studio could manage. A studio doesn’t have a personality; a porn star does. There’s no need for anyone to enter porn via the traditional route of working for someone else in my opinion.
I know I’m not the first, but I do feel part of a select group of porn stars that are not just performing in the industry but literally own the industry from the day they enter. Everything I do is on my terms. It might be controversial to say, but I think porn studios will become a thing of the past, very quickly if more and more people entering the industry cut out the middleman and launch their own websites. Live cam sites, tube sites, social media and knowledge sharing between established porn stars and cam-girls are helping that to happen.
I know it’s a controversial thing to predict the death of the porn studio — and I don’t want to sound like I’m anti-studio either because there are lots of great studios out there — but if you don’t believe that’s happening already look at the value of Playboy stock compared to its peak and look how many more searches for porn there are on Google. The industry is becoming more distributed and I believe the biggest winners are performer-owners that have personal relationship with their fans. The whole point of the Internet is that personal connections can be made over ever-greater distances. A faceless company can’t do that — a living, breathing porn star can.
Some people might say that independent porn stars like me can’t compete with the production values of more mainstream, studio-backed porn. But since when was sex about production values? If you think of the hottest sex you ever had, production values were probably the last thing on your mind! You were probably thinking of the raw emotion, the intensity, and the connection; not how good the lighting was. Plus, who’s to say that as sites like mine grow that independents like me won’t collaborate and start publishing our own independent features?
So to summarize, the main difference between girls like me and traditional porn stars is that I work for myself. And that gives me the freedom to make the porn I enjoy making. I just do my thing, have fun, experiment and just try to capture and share my real sex life.
Sometimes sex is funny, sometimes it goes wrong, and sometimes it’s amazing. I’m pretty sure you will find all these varieties and more on my site. It definitely isn’t the perfect, glossy, fantasy sex most people are used to I think.
XBIZ: Are your fans geeks, nerds, fan boys, anime, cosplay and comic lovers, etc.? Is this part of your appeal/fantasy?
Sugarcookie: I’d say large portions of my fans are, yes. I think this is because I write a lot about those things on my blog. So people interested in those things come and read my blog, I don’t think I target them specifically it’s just like dating I think; you attract people like you.
At the moment I’m trying to encourage fans to get more involved with my site. I want fans to be friends with each other. I want them to come to debate the geeky things we’re into with each other and with me. So I’m trying to encourage them to submit their own articles and things like that. My dream is for my site to be a sort of Playboy for geeks so people come to my site for the articles as well as the sex.
XBIZ: What kind of sex do you perform in your videos?
Sugarcookie: I basically just do anything on video that I like to do at home. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do with any of my partners off camera that I would do on camera. For me, the website and my videos, it’s all about sharing myself and my experience with sexuality. I’m young and exploring my sexuality. I’m still learning a lot and it’s just that I’ve chosen to explore it on film for the world to see. Currently I have gone as far as regular sex and I have done some anal play but haven’t gone all the way with that yet. And I’m really enjoying experimenting with girls. When I’m with a girl my entire personality changes. I become more dominant. But who’s to say how far I will go or what will interest me in future videos? We’ll just have to see what happens.
XBIZ: How many current members belong to your site?
Sugarcookie: I’ve been going just over a year now and have more than 20,000 members of my site. Which is just mind-blowing to me personally. It feels impossible to me that so many people would join a site I made. That said, it’s totally free to join my site and free members can watch quite a few videos too.
XBIZ: Is there a lot of fan interaction on the site. Is this a big part of your work?
Sugarcookie: Fan interaction is very important to me, because I see fans as friends and I love talking with them; I’m closer to some of my online fans than I am with real life friends. I’m always really happy if people comment on my blogs, if they have something to say or ask. I try to reply to everyone. The same goes for emails I receive, I get quite a few and I try to answer as many as I can because I’m just so stoked people want to say hi to me. What’s really amazing is that a lot of people ask for my help, with sex and relationships particularly. It feels really good to be there for someone when they’re in need or to point someone in the right direction when they need someone to talk to.
On Christmas day I even replied to everyone that wanted some company for the day — because not everyone has someone to spend it with.
And of course the place I get to know people most is on my live cam, which is totally free, spending money is totally optional. It’s more like we all just hang out with each other and laugh a lot, share silly stories, good and bad experiences — just the normal self depreciating things people talk about with their mates really.
XBIZ: Where’s your biggest appeal — the U.S. U.K., Asia, other region?
Sugarcookie: I try to appeal to everyone. I think I appeal a lot to the English-speaking countries because I speak English, but then I also have people who like me from Asian countries because I’m Asian myself. I don’t try to think in terms of region, I just try and be friendly as positive to everyone. I went to America for AEE and that was amazing, and most people who see me on cam are American as well.
If you want absolute numbers then most my fans are in the U.S. but per capita, then I’m most popular in the U.K. Fans are always talking to me when they see me out and about in London. It really makes my day when they stop me for a chat and to pose for a selfie, especially when I see how pleased they are to see me. There’s a certain look fans give when they spot me, it starts as surprise and curiosity then turns into delight when they realize it’s me — and that’s exactly why I do this and what keeps me going.
XBIZ: Tell us about your blogs.
Sugarcookie: My blogs are basically things I’m interested in. My day-to-day life and a way for me to share myself with the world. Unlike a lot of porn stars and those who have their own website, I try blog about everything that happens in my life warts and all. This is because there’s always something on my mind and something I want to share with everyone. I want my fans to really get to know me.
I’ve started doing a video blog, too. That’s fun because it’s a little bit more personal. I like to write reviews of other cam girls, because I spend a lot of time watching other cam girls, I really admire them, I’m as into porn and cam-girls as much as my fans. I swear I’m the only cam girl that pays to see other cam girls!
I write about porn stars, some whom I’ve met. I’m very interested in porn. It sounds silly, but I’m always asking “Why?” because I’m curious about how the things work. Why do people like anal? Is more really the merrier? That sort of stuff.
Then of course I share my sex life with text blogs as well as videos. You see, I really want things to be intimate and personal. For me that means sharing my real life sexual experiences as well as the things I do on camera. But sadly I can’t film all my experiences, as the person I’m seeing has to agree to be filmed. I can’t use hidden cameras or anything like that despite what some other porn sites would lead you to believe.
But anything I can’t film, I can write about. It’s a fantastic way to share my experiences with everyone. Of course, there’s also the really geeky side of me, I’ve reviewed films, comics, manga, TV shows, I’ve given relationship advice, sex advice and I’ve even shared extremely personal moments of my life, for example, when my father passed away.
Basically my blog is all about me, my life and the things I care about.
XBIZ: Do you appear in DVDs or re you talking to any studios?
Sugarcookie: I’ve never been in a DVD and being in the U.K. there’s not as many studios. I’ve not really been contacted by any, and to be honest, I’m not looking at it in the future. Whilst I admire what studios and other porn stars do, it’s just not for me. I feel like I’d lose that personal connection with fans I have if I performed for other people to a script.
I can pursue everything I want to via my own site. My sex isn’t scripted, and one position is filmed over and over again if that’s what interests me. I just do it how I like it and how it feels good. I have real orgasms on camera. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. And who’s to say I won’t launch my own DVDs in future? The only thing stopping me is like who watches DVDs or even has a DVD player?
XBIZ: Do you direct your own videos?
Sugarcookie: All my videos are made by just me and real-life lovers that have agreed to be filmed. Direct is probably the wrong word. I get that people are joining my site to see me mostly — so it’s more a case of giving the camera to my lover and saying shoot what you think is hot, show my fans what you see and feel when we have sex.
XBIZ: What do you think is the future of online porn?
Sugarcookie: I’d like to write a porn manifesto. There’s an election coming up in the U.K. so it seems appropriate. So if you voted for me to be in charge of all of porn I would promise to: only record real, authentic sex. No more acting, fake sex noises or perfection, let porn stars keep at least half of all profits or own the company they work for. Let performers and fans run the industry, and make sure every porn star answers every tweet, email, and chat, whatever. The fans are the lifeblood of the industry.