Q&A: Aiden Starr Unleashes Fetishist Mastery
LOS ANGELES — Aiden Starr is feral.
Beneath those Victorian era corsets and cordial pleasantries lurks a werewolf scarcely chained.
And once she flips that switch, with all the manic glee of Dr. Jekyll imbibing a mutagenic elixir, the evilest Evil Angel director unleashes her inner sexual Hyde.
At first glance, this petite blonde is rosy and affable. Nary a thorn in sight, she offers an inviting smile — of the sort Vampirella dons to seduce unsuspecting mortals. Cross the threshold into her deviant underworld, however, and she begins to cast an eldritch shadow, shaped curiously like a strap-on tentacle dildo.
That she draws inspiration from literary greats like surrealist Leonara Carrington and cosmic horror godfather H.P. Lovecraft is quite evident. Bridging the divide between pain and pleasure, Starr taps into the darkest meridian of our reptilian brains.
An iron maiden forged by the BDSM dungeons of New York, she long ago immersed herself in a lifestyle that fit her as snugly as latex. When she branched out like a cat o’ nine tails into kinky adult filmmaking, Starr manhandled ladies and subjected menfolk to dominatrix brutality with giddy aplomb. Bodily fluids ensued.
XBIZ descended into the hellish depths of Starr’s inferno for a pornographic version of Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy.” She marooned us in the second circle… lust.
XBIZ: Tell us about your early days in the kink scene, managing dungeons, and what ultimately led you to pursue a career in porn.
Aiden Starr: I’m from New York and in the 90s, when I was going to college, there was literally a dungeon on every corner in Chelsea, which is just below Midtown in New York. I went to parties in dungeons, my ex-girlfriend worked in one and eventually she asked me to come do phones for her, to help get sessions. I used to think dungeons and brothels were basically the same thing, because who the fuck is going to pay 300 dollars an hour to get whipped and punished, and you don’t have to take your clothes off at all? You don’t kiss them. They don’t lick you at all. You don’t fuck them, you don’t suck their dick. Literally, what you do is "beat people up" and maybe if you really like them, you fuck them in the ass. And I didn’t believe that’s what would happen. So I started to work there thinking “you’re full of shit, people are sucking dick here” and I was proven wrong. I really liked it! I found a community of women who were into BDSM and willing to train me in things I wanted to learn.
Also, the dungeon was transitioning from a magazine format to digital, so when I first started there — besides managing — I put their magazine together. It was like a rag mag, with bigger format like XBIZ has, except the covers were three colors. And guys would go to the sex shop on the corner, pick up the paper and see stories about dominatrixes — fantasy stories with pictures we used to put together in ads in the back. I ran all of that. I’d find picture stock for their website, because I was developing it as another revenue stream. And I got into the BDSM movies because when I was working in the office, Rick Savage was shooting for Noose/Legend at the time, and he would rent the space from us. He was a very nice guy and kept asking, “Hey, you want to try and be in a movie? Huh, do you want to be in a movie?” and finally I said yes. Did one with him initially and then the bulk of the movies that I did the first year were with girls that I already had a sexual relationship with, because I couldn’t conceptualize fucking strangers on film — it was outside of my teenage spectrum, because I was 19.
XBIZ: How has the BDSM genre evolved over the past two decades, both within the adult industry and beyond, where it has gained mainstream acceptance?
Starr: My impression of BDSM started in 1999 when I was working in a dungeon. At that time, BDSM was super cool because Marilyn Manson got on a stage and was like wearing a fucking corset and he took the Mötley Crüe cross-dressing all the way to the end of that possibility. And people were into movies that had spankings and things like that, and then “Secretary” came out, as well as “The Matrix” — which was really fetish fashion-inspired, a lot of latex clothing — this was way before “Fifty Shades of Grey.” So, BDSM really transferred to the mainstream in style, but not in substance. Because people were very superficially aware of how you dressed when you were a dominatrix, but not very aware of what you actually did or slave training or the practicality of running a scene, or being lifestyle or even being pro-dom. And then, the accessibility of the internet and social media just blew it up all over the place, because more information and clients were available. Women who had fantasized about doing BDSM stuff professionally were now able to do so, sometimes just online and not even in-person.
So, the dungeon that I worked at was all in-person when I first started and now a lot of my interaction is online. And that’s the commercial version of it. Now, as far as the lifestyle version, people have this perception that BDSM is about abuse and being mean to your bottom — and humiliation is always in everyone’s version of BDSM in the mainstream. But, that’s not entirely true. I have an educational series through a company, Extreme Restraints, called XRUniversity.com, where another pro-top and I explain how to do a BDSM scene for people who are not professionals, people who are lifestyle. It’s for couples at home who want to try that stuff — if they look at Kink.com and say “I want to have this experience.”
Before I started shooting BDSM full-time though, I did bondage modeling. See, there was not a lot of nudity associated with bondage modeling, because at the time a lot of the rev stream was DVD-derived and they were very concerned about a wide net of distribution for DVD — which precluded some areas that had obscenity laws, like the South, where it was hard for them to pick up a movie if it had sex and bondage. You had to pick one. You either put out a bondage movie with no penetration in it, or you put out a porn movie that had penetration in it — and that typified the pool of models you had as well. It was two different genres because of the sales. So, there were bondage girls who just did bondage and spanking, and there were porn girls who just did porn. But there wasn’t a safe environment for them to meld those two things.
Enter Kink.com, where girls and guys can do and experience both sex and bondage, because it’s an internet-based distribution network as opposed to a DVD-based distribution network, which traditionally there was problems with. Now, could there be problems with the way it’s distributed legally? Technically, yes. I hope there never will be, because those obscenity laws are misplaced — they don’t really serve the public in a good way. I think a lot of them are very homophobic because a lot of the focus is on bondage sex and fisting. Being anti-fisting is being homophobic because fisting is a way that homosexuals — male or female — and me especially, choose to express their sexuality. So, I don’t like the obscenity laws.
XBIZ: How do you navigate the complex issues of consent before, after and during a shoot?
Starr: Consent is a really important issue for me. I am a consensualist 24/7 in my life — from “is it okay with you if I borrow your pen?” to “is it okay with you if I face-fuck you until you vomit on yourself.” I don’t have an “on” and “off” for consensual, because for me, being consensual is being polite. It’s extending myself as being a human being to another human being… well, not even, because I have consent issues with animals as well! But, there’s no stop and no start for me with consent issues. Is this cool with you? Is that cool with you? I like to check in with people. I like to create a safe space for people to be able to communicate with me and feel like I will be receptive to their opinions. When it comes to a shoot, or a BDSM scene, being a lifestyler or a professional, it’s the same for me. If I do it for money, I would do it for free. I love that I can do it for money, because it gives me the freedom to enjoy my life the way I want to and not have to take a job that doesn’t feed me creatively. Being in BDSM porn feeds me creatively.
So, the process of consent starts with the peer-to-peer conversation and that means that we sit across from each other and no one is lower and no one is higher, and we look each other in the face and there’s no eye restriction roleplay, which is a part of BDSM, we don’t use that during the negotiation portion of establishing where we’re going in this scene. And then, we will explicitly talk about everything that’s going to happen. I will explain to the person what’s going to happen to them and what’s not going to happen to them. Then, I ask what their interests are, what their hard limits are and what their soft limits are. I explain to them how to communicate in-character and it’s a lengthy process — I do it every single time I play with somebody, though, regardless of how soft or how heavy we’re gonna be. During a scene, while I’m fucking with somebody, I will constantly check in with them, and I have lots of different ways that I do that.
I shot for XRUniversity.com yesterday and we were doing an educational on corporal, and part of the way that I establish consent with corporal is that if I’m going to hit someone, I’ll pick up the implement and say “oh, this looks like it’s really going to hurt you, look at it” and I show it to them and it gives them a chance to look at it, and use their safe word before I touch them with it — so that they can be involved in the process. And, you can keep it inside of roleplaying and work at really establishing not just comfort, but sexual excitement with consent, so that it’s not just a sterile environment. I have a really good story about consent that you’re going to like. So, a billion years ago, I rode my dinosaur to a set and I did a gag factor and I had shot a ton of vomit videos before — I specialized in them, there was a ton on my site. I love vomit videos, okay? So, I get to the set and the guy’s like “oh, I’m gonna face-fuck you” and I’m like “well okay, I might throw up.” And the director’s like “oh yeah, yeah that’s great!” So I say “okay, excuse me,” I pull the male talent aside and say “is it okay with you if I throw up on you, because if it’s not okay with you, I’ll tell this guy right now that I’m not doing this.”
I told him “don’t let anybody push you into doing anything you want to do” and they didn’t understanding what the fuck was going on and why I was so excited about throwing up on somebody. Because I didn’t come from regular porn and I’m not a regular girl. Which is why I think it’s consent at all times — from borrowing pens to vomit porn. I also like to check in with somebody after shoots, because obviously during the shoot they’re in an altered state — being full of endorphins and adrenaline — and they’re more likely to feel like everything’s fine. They’re less likely to express “this was not okay with me,” so I really try to watch before we get to the end of the shoot to prevent any issues with non-consensuality. Because submissives are not always able to express themselves the way they’d like to in altered states.
XBIZ: Any mainstream sources of inspiration for your craft, be they literary or cinematic? How do you come up with new ideas for your projects?
Starr: My favorite author is a woman named Leonora Carrington, she’s a surrealist author who was Max Ernst’s lover, so that gives you an idea of her. The school that she hung out with, right? And she wrote a book called “The Seventh Horse” and that’s about women who are feral. Angela Carter also writes books about women who are feral — she wrote the screenplay for a movie directed by Neil Jordan called “The Company of Wolves.” And it’s actually the greatest werewolf transformations in my opinion, ever. Two of them are in that movie. You’ll like it. It’s really fucking weird too and it’s also a little like “what the shit am I looking at right now?” Those are two very big influences on me, mainstream media influences, just in terms of how I feel about my sexual identity as a female. I’m feral. And that’s why I like porn. Because you can’t go around acting like an animal all the time, but during porn, I can be the wildest nastiest fucking werewolf that I want and it’s very therapeutic for me, because I can let go, explore my darkness.
So, the fact that those were two women willing to admit to everybody in the world that they had this wildly aggressive, nasty darkness about their sexuality, gave me permission to express myself as well. I was really young when I read those books. And, as for how I come up with new ideas for my projects, this is going to sound bad but I’m typically attracted to a girl — get really into her — and I think about all the stuff I wanna do to her, or watch her do. Sometimes, men do that to me as well — less frequently than women. Mickey Mod does that to me, because he and I have had sex with girls together before, so I feel inspired sexually by him. He and I will be hanging out or having drinks or just being on-set or off the set, a lot of the times in San Francisco at The Armory bar, talking about what girls we think are hot and what we think would be hot to do to them. And the conversations get really graphic.
I just think about how I feel about a girl — it’s typically very ass-centric, very anal. I’m really into fucking girls in the ass in my personal life. I’m into anal all the time. One of my friends said if I had a watch, it would have one time on it — it’d point to anal and it would always be time for anal. Because, I really like fucking people in the ass — men and women, fucking everybody. I’m inspired sexually by what I want to do, and that’s what ends up in my movies. And my movies are kind of the vehicle for expressing myself sexually, which may be bad, but seems to be working so far! And I like girls with curvy butts. I like watching their assholes open and close. I really like what happens when girls choke on dicks, like what their assholes do when they choke on dicks, I’m a fetishist, so that’s how all these things kind of go down.
XBIZ: Tell us about your partnership with Evil Angel and what led you to join their illustrious roster of directors?
Starr: Glenn and I had the Evil Angel show where directors would come on and it was like a showcase for them. John was our director one week and he came up to me after the radio show in the parking lot of the Vivid building. He asked me if I wanted to submit a movie for him to look at and I’d never considered working for Evil Angel before. David Aaron Clark directed for Evil Angel’s feature division and I’d worked on that stuff — I’ve been in a ton of Evil Angel movies, in front of a ton of the directors, for years and years. And, it seemed like it would be a good idea, but I said “alright, are you sure you want my stuff?” Because it’s very fetish and it’s not very straight and he said that he really wanted a chance to look at it. So I made a movie and I turned it in, and the first movie was “Pussy Whipped,” which I think you guys nominated. People loved the fucking movie. I tentacle face-fucked my friends until they spewed thick, viscous saliva all over the place. H.P. Lovecraft would be proud. I have a tentacle strap-on dildo, with balls — I don’t know why it has balls because no semen is going to come out of a tentacle. But that’s how I ended up on the “illustrious” directing roster with, in my opinion, and if I could be so bold as to say, the best directors that work in porn.
I mean Adriano is a fucking genius — I love watching his porn. It’s so beautiful and the composition’s fucking amazing. The forced perspective with asses and faces is just so good. Or Manuel, the way he gets these young girls and his energy interaction with them just sends fucking shivers down my spine —how turned on he is by the girls. You can see the force of how excited he is. Then Joey is just such a freak, fucking Jason is such a freak, Kevin Moore is a fucking artist, his stuff all looks like a moving picture — like, it’s such a wide range of beautiful passionate people, who really show up to set and fucking give everything into all their gonzo movies. A lot of people just show up on sets and they’re just trying to get through the scene to turn in the content to make the fucking money, and they all bitch about how good it used to be and how it sucks now. There’s not one Evil Angel director that’s like that. Everybody is excited to fucking be there. They’re nice to everybody. They’re passionate about their projects and I like being on a team like that. It makes me happy. It’s a really good company culture.
XBIZ: What distinguishes an Aiden Starr title from other BDSM offerings, in terms of visuals, themes, casting and stagecraft?
Starr: Well, I throw these dungeon parties at the Ivy Manor with Isabella Sinclair and Eden Winter. Ivy Manor is just a breathtaking dungeon downtown that looks like a motherfucking art gallery. And before we destroy all the guys we have conversations with them and cocktails first, because you know, polite society — and I like that juxtaposition. Civility followed by the animal within. And one of them came up to me and he mentioned that stylistically as a dominatrix I’m “disgusting.” And he didn’t mean it in an insulting way. I’m raunchy. I like bodily fluids, a lot. I do a lot of what is called “ground work,” which means that instead of standing and doing things to people, I get down and I wrestle them to the ground. So, that actually distinguishes primal play, if you wanted to be technical about BDSM terms, I’m really into that — mixing fashion and raunchy porn, so you’ll see girls dressed in latex getting caned, doing forced orgasm, getting fucked and face-fucked all together. It’s a pretty wide gamut of different activities that I like to do.
My BDSM porn palette is extremely raunchy, yet it’s also really glamorous. Like, everybody starts out in beautiful costuming and the tease is so pretty, and I shoot with DSLR and there’s just… the light glinting out of their eyes, the saturation of colors… and then they just get fucking destroyed. Like, they’re just ripped apart and they’re shredded and they’re covered in their own fucking bodily fluids by the end of it and they’re like a nasty heaving fucking mess. And I really like that descent. So that’s going to be different in my movies versus other people’s movies. Dante’s Inferno meets BDSM. In terms of casting, I have to know everybody that’s in the production. While I have shot girls that I’ve never met before and been really pleasantly surprised, I really like to know people first, to make sure they wanna do the kind of heavy porn that I do. And I make gonzo porn, but it’s more aggressive than a lot of gonzo porn that gets shot. Especially nowadays.
When I was first shooting gonzo porn, 10-15 years ago, everything was more aggressive. But now, a lot of gonzo is lighter and I don’t want people to get the impression that’s what they’re going to get. They’re going to get fucking mauled. I’m going to maul you with my vagina. In a nice way you’re going to like, but you’ll get fucking destroyed. I’m not a kitten, I’m a werewolf. I tap into the reptilian part of the brain. I like to turn off my frontal cortex and use the back of my brain.
In terms of stagecraft, I am obsessed with color tones and lighting and background. I shoot in a studio that’s all white but has brick background, because I like the juxtaposition of that super clear white with like a dark earthy tone in the background. I like to shoot in a natural color tone, which is a little cooler — right at the edge of the blue spectrum. As opposed to the tungsten look, which is like really warm. I like it a little bit cooler, closer to daylight. And I like for a really raw open environment, like a true gonzo environment, where the girl talks to me and looks at me and calls me Aiden, if I’m shooting it. And like, she can say something about that one time I fucked her in the past and bring it up in the scene. I want it to be as real as possible. Like, as though you’re at my house watching me fuck with people, seeing something you’re not supposed to be seeing, you opened my bedroom door and peeked in, entering that almost voyeuristic realm.
XBIZ: During the past year, are there any current or upcoming titles you’re especially proud of?
Starr: This is like asking me which of my children is my favorite. Because, I give birth to these fucking things, sometimes literally. Well, here goes. When I first signed an Evil Angel contract, I think I was 33 or 34 and I was like you know what I really want to fucking do? You know what would validate my fucking existence? To do a movie when I’m 36 called “She’s Half My Age.” So, I had been really gearing up for this shit, and then I thought about the title and was like that’s not what I make. That’s like a romantic comedy. My movie’s gotta be fucking disgusting and my movie’s about fucking teenagers, so it’s called “Fucking Teens” and it’s four threeways. It’s just me being really fucking obsessed with having sex with younger girls who look up to me — and I know that they do, because I handpicked everybody in this movie, had worked with them before. And these girls look to me to expand their sexual horizons, to do shit to them they’ve never done before — that they want to do in a safe environment where they get really fucking nuts. Girls who look at me and go well, when I’m like her, with twice my experience now, maybe it’ll look like this. So, it’s really personal. And I just fucking cut loose on these girls.
Like, the scene with Joseline Kelly, I put a fucking pillowcase over her head and twisted it off and dragged her across the bed with it. And she let me because she trusts me and she likes me and she knows me, so that movie was the culmination of really handpicking a cast that would let me take them a step further, not on a BDSM set but on a gonzo set. A nasty, primal hands-on kind of fucking way, and just some of the verbal stuff that we were saying was amazing. Never before — at least not in recent memory — had I fucked a girl with a strap-on and been fucked in the pussy at the same time. So, that was a pansexual train. We did that in the movie with Tommy Pistol, it was really really good. So, “Fucking Teens” is really up there. The other thing that I really feel like I fucking nailed to the wall was “Hot For Transsexuals 2.” I’m trans amorous, and I really like directing trans movies, but the bi movies do really well, like “Bisexual Pickups 2.”
XBIZ: What is your career gameplan for the next 5 years?
Starr: The five-year plan? I am going to move my dungeon space that I currently have on the Westside to a bigger space, it’s in the works. Also, I’m contracted for one movie a month right now for Evil Angel and I’d like to do two movies a month. I mean, they’ve been trying to push me into it for a year, but I can’t yet, because I’ve been performing so much for other companies. I’m a short woman. I only have so much! Only so many fucking hours in the day, okay? And, at some point I am going to be completely exclusive to Evil Angel, where you will only see me there at all — because it’ll be more streamlined and easier for me to do so. That being said, I really love working for Kink.com and I probably will always in at least some capacity work there. At least a little, because I just love them so much — they have some of the most creative directors in the best environments and the sets are fucking beautiful and it’s one of my homes. I actually stay in the Armory at San Francisco when I’m there and feel really welcome.
I’d also like to do more heavy anal titles, plus an alternative genre. Switch things up by releasing some anal sex slaves movies or more “Fucking Teens,” and then release a trans movie or a cuckold movie like “Cuckold Bitches.” That’s like my version of “mainstream,” which is tentacles and fucking people’s assholes. So I’d like to get those things really nailed down, produce more and go all the way at Evil Angel. I love it there. I just like trying to take my product to be really exclusive — it elevates it and increases the branding value of me, that I’m only available on one website. I’ll always at least dip my toe a little bit but my main content is going to be at Evil Angel. That’s my five-year plan! It’s not very grandiose. Oh! And I’m going to make a horror movie feature that’s going to have outdoor sex and there’ll be kill sequences, the whole nine yards — I have a special effects guy that’s onboard for the project.