Kate's Notes

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jenna Jameson

Jenna Jameson

Jenna Jameson (born Jenna Marie Massoli on April 9, 1974) is probably the most famous adult film star of all time. Dubbed "The Queen of Porn," Jameson began her path to infamy by working as a stripper and glamour model in Las Vegas, before starting to act in erotic films in 1993. By 1996, she had won the three top newcomer awards from pornographic film industry organizations. She has since won more than 20 adult film awards, and has been inducted into both the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) and Adult Video News (AVN) Halls of Fame.

Jameson founded pornographic entertainment company Club Jenna in 2000, with Jay Grdina, whom she later married. This business was initially an individual website, which expanded into managing similar websites of other stars and began producing pornographic films in 2001. The first such film, Briana Loves Jenna (with Briana Banks), was named at the 2003 AVN Awards as the best-selling and best-renting pornographic title for 2002. By 2005, Club Jenna had revenues of US$30 million with profits estimated at half that. Advertisements for her site and films, often bearing her picture, towered over New York City's Times Square on a forty-eight-foot-tall billboard. Playboy TV hosts her Jenna's American Sex Star reality show where aspiring porn stars compete for a Club Jenna contract.

Not only has she become the darling of the adult film industry, Jameson has also made a name for herself by crossing over into mainstream celebrity, beginning with a minor role in Howard Stern's 1997 film Private Parts. Her mainstream appearances continued with guest-hosting on E! television, an award-winning voice role in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and a recurring role on the 2003 NBC television series "Mister Sterling," with Josh Brolin as Mr. Sterling. She is also an author, with her 2004 autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, which spent six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Early Life

Born Jenna Marie Massoli in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jameson’s father, Lawrence Massoli, was an Italian-American program director for an NBC affiliate and a police officer, and her mother, Judith Brooke Hunt Massoli, was a Las Vegas showgirl who danced in the Folies-Bergère show at the Tropicana Resort & Casino. Her mother died of skin cancer on February 20, 1976, before Jenna Massoli's second birthday. The cancer treatments bankrupted the family and they moved several times, which included moving into a trailer, and once in with her father's mother. Her father spent most of his time at work at the Las Vegas Sheriff's Department, and Jameson became very close to her brother, Tony Massoli. She was a frequent entrant in beauty pageants as a child, and took ballet classes. In addition, Jameson began taking frequent peeks at her father's adult magazines at a very early age.

Then in October 1990, while the family was living on a cattle ranch in Fromberg, Montana, she was beaten with rocks and gang raped by four boys after a football game. She says she was raped a second time, while still sixteen, by her boyfriend Jack's biker uncle, Preacher. Rather than tell her father, she left home and moved in with Jack in her first serious relationship.

Jack was a tattoo artist, and gave her the first of a series of tattoos, one which would become her trademark tattoo: double hearts on her right buttock. Jameson’s brother Tony, who later owned a tattoo parlor himself, added the inscription "HEART BREAKER.”

Early Career

Jameson attempted to follow in her mother's career as a Las Vegas showgirl, but most shows rejected her for not having the required height of 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm). She was hired at the Vegas World show, but left after two months stating that the schedule was brutal, and the money was terrible.

Jameson's boyfriend Jack encouraged her to apply for jobs as a stripper, and in 1991, though underage, she began dancing in Las Vegas strip clubs using a fake I.D. After she was rejected from the Crazy Horse Too strip club because she had braces on her teeth, she removed them with a pair of needle-nosed pliers and was accepted. After six months, she was earning US$2000 per night, before finishing high school.

Her first stage name as a stripper was "Jennasis," a name she later used for incorporating as "Jennasis Entertainment." She chose the name "Jenna Jameson" to use as a model after scrolling through the phone book for a last name that matched her first name. She then finally decided on Jameson, which she got from a whiskey she regularly drank, Jameson Whiskey.

In addition to dancing at strip clubs, in 1991, she began posing for nude photographs for photographer Suze Randall in Los Angeles, hoping to get into Penthouse magazine. Jameson was paid $300 per day, without rights to the pictures. After her photos had appeared in several men's magazines under various names, Jameson stopped working for Randall, feeling Randall was "a shark," and was taking advantage of her.

While still in high school, Jameson began taking illicit drugs—cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamines— accompanied by her brother (who was addicted to heroin) and at times her father. Her addiction became worse during her four years with her boyfriend. She eventually stopped eating properly and became too thin to model. She weighed only 76 pounds (less than 35 kilograms) when a friend put her in a wheelchair and sent her to her father, who was then living in Redding, California, in order to detox; her father didn't recognize her when she got off the plane.

Adult Film Career

Jameson says that she started acting in pornographic films in revenge for her boyfriend, Jack, cheating on her. She first appeared in an erotic film in 1993, a non-explicit softcore movie by Andrew Blake, with girlfriend Nikki Tyler, whom she had met modeling for Suze Randall. Her first pornographic movie scenes were filmed by Randy West and appeared in 1994's Up and Cummers 10 and Up and Cummers 11. She quickly achieved notice and appeared in several other pornographic films while still living in Las Vegas.

Jameson got her first breast implants on July 28, 1994, to enhance her stripping and movie careers. By 2004, she had had 2 sets of breast implants, and a chin implant.

Jameson's first pornographic film appearances were female only lesbian scenes. She says: "Girl-on-girl was easy and natural. Then they offered me lots of money to do boy-girl." Her first heterosexual scene was in Cherry Pie (1994). At the beginning of her career, she promised herself never to do anal sex or double penetration scenes on film; she has also avoided interracial scenes with men. Instead, her "signature move" was oral sex, lubricated with plenty of saliva.

In 1994, after overcoming her various addictions, most notably crystal methamphetamines, by spending several weeks with her father and grandmother, Jameson relocated to Los Angeles to live with Nikki Tyler. She started modeling again, and in 1995 got her father's blessing to make a career out of pornographic films. Her first movie after that was Silk Stockings. Later in 1995, Wicked Pictures, a then small pornographic film production company, signed her to an exclusive contract. She remembers telling Wicked Pictures founder Steve Orenstein: “The most important thing to me right now is to become the biggest star the industry has ever seen.”

The contract earned Jameson US$6,000 for each of eight movies in her first year. Her first big-budget production was Blue Movie (1995), where she played a reporter investigating a porn set; it won multiple AVN Awards. In 1996, Jameson won top awards from three major industry organizations, the XRCO Best New Starlet award, the AVN Best New Starlet Award, and the Fans of X-Rated Entertainment (FOXE) Video Vixen award. She was the first entertainer to win all three awards. A plethora of other awards followed.

By 2001, Jameson earned $60,000 for a day and a half of filming a single DVD, and $8,000 per night dancing at strip clubs. She tried to restrict herself to five films per year and two weeks of dancing per month. Her husband, Jay Grdina has said that she earned as much as $25,000 per night dancing.

Since November 2005, she has been the host of Playboy TV's "Jenna's American Sex Star," where prospective porn stars compete in sexual performances for a contract with her company, Club Jenna. Winners of the contracts for the first two years were Brea Bennett and Roxy Jezel.

How to Make Love Like A Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale

Jameson's autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale was published August 17, 2004. It was co-written with Neil Strauss, a contributor to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and published by ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins. It was an instant best-seller, spending six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. The autobiography also won the 2004 "Mainstream's Adult Media Favorite" XRCO award in a tie with Seymore Butts's Family Business television series. It was translated into German as Pornostar. Die Autobiographie in November 2005, and Spanish as Como Hacer El Amor Igual Que Una Estrella Del Porno in January 2006.

The almost 600-page book covers her early career from her beginning in show business living with her tattoo artist boyfriend, through receiving the Hot D'Or award at Cannes, and wedding pictures from her second marriage. It does not omit sordid details, telling of her two rapes, drug addictions, an unhappy first marriage, and numerous affairs with men and women. The first-person narrative is broken up by personal photos, childhood diary entries, family interviews, movie scripts, and comic panels.

The autobiography publisher, Judith Regan, also served as executive producer of a tie-in television news special, "Jenna Jameson's Confessions," airing on VH1 on August 16, 2004, one day before the book's launch. But all did not go smoothly for their further relations, as in April 2005, ReganBooks and Jameson filed lawsuits against each other. The point of contention was a proposed reality show about Jameson's everyday life, discussed between her husband, Jay Grdina, and the A&E Network. ReganBooks maintained that any A&E deal was a breach of Jameson's contract, which indicated that ReganBooks had a stake in the profits generated by both the special based on her memoir and a reality-based series, as well as "any similar projects." Jameson's suit claimed that the A&E deal preceded the ReganBooks contract. The reality series had still not materialized, and the lawsuit was still being discussed, when Judith Regan was fired by HarperCollins on December 15, 2006 over an unrelated controversy regarding the tell-all book deal with O.J. Simpson.

In January of 2007, Jameson was reported in talks with producers on turning the autobiography into a movie, with Scarlett Johansson to play Jameson.

Relationships

Jameson has stated that she is bisexual, and that she had slept with 100 women and 30 men off-screen in her life. She has stated the best relationship she ever had was her lesbian love affair with porn actress Nikki Tyler, which she documents in her autobiography. They lived together at the start of her porn career and again before her second marriage. Famous male boyfriends discussed in her autobiography include Marilyn Manson and Tommy Lee.

On December 20, 1996, Jameson married porn star Brad Armstrong (real name Rodney Hopkins). They were together for only ten weeks, informally separating in March 1997, though continuing to act together in pornographic films. They legally separated and divorced in March 2001.

In the summer of 1998, Jameson met former pornographic studio owner Jay Grdina (born John G. Grdina), scion of a wealthy cattle-ranching family, who had entered pornographic film production after college. Since 1998, he has been Jameson's only on-screen male sex partner, acting under the name Justin Sterling. They were engaged in December of 2000 — before her divorce from Hopkins — and married June 22, 2003 in a Roman Catholic-style ceremony. They unsuccessfully tried to have children since mid-2004, and Jameson planned to retire from acting in pornographic movies permanently after having their first child. The couple resided in Scottsdale, Arizona, in a 6,700-square-foot Spanish-style palace, bought for $2 million in 2002.

In August 2006, Star magazine and TMZ.com confirmed with Jameson's publicist that she and Grdina separated, and that Jameson was dating musician Dave Navarro. A more serious relationship seems to be with mixed martial artist and former UFC champion Tito Ortiz. Ortiz cancelled a November 12, 2006 appearance as the guest of honor at the United States Marine Corps birthday ball at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, when the Corps refused to let him bring Jameson as his guest. On November 30, 2006, in an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Ortiz stated that he is in love with Jameson, that she is no longer acting in pornography, and that they are in a monogamous relationship. On December 12, 2006, Jameson filed for divorce from Grdina.

Big Business

Jameson has said, "I try my hardest to push the point that I am a feminist. I really think it's important that people know that the women in this industry are empowered. They run it, man. It's awesome."

Jameson and Grdina formed Club Jenna as an Internet pornography company in 2000. ClubJenna.com was one of the first pornographic sites to provide more than pictures and videos; it provided explicit diaries, relationship advice, and even stock tips to paid members. The site was profitable in its third week. The business later diversified into multi-media pornographic entertainment, first by administering other porn stars' web sites, then, in 2001, by production of pornographic films.

Early Club Jenna films starred Jameson herself, limiting herself to on-screen sex with other women or with Grdina, who appeared as Justin Sterling. The first ClubJenna film, Briana Loves Jenna (2001), co-produced with Vivid, cost US$280,000 to make, and grossed over $1 million in its first year. It was the best selling and best renting pornographic title of its year, winning twin AVN Awards. It was marketed as "Jenna. Her first boy/girl scene in over 2 years." referring to Jameson's abstention from heterosexual on-film intercourse. Grdina has said that Jameson's films averaged sales of 100,000 copies, compared to run-of-the-mill pornographic films, which did well to sell 5,000. On the other hand, he also said that their films took up to twelve days to film, compared to one day for other pornographic films.

In 2004, the Club Jenna films expanded to starring other actresses without Jameson—Krystal Steal, Jesse Capelli, McKenzie Lee, Ashton Moore and Sophia Rossi—as Jameson stepped back from starring roles. In 2005, Jameson directed her first film, The Provocateur, released as Jenna's Provocateur in September of 2006. The films were distributed and marketed by Vivid Entertainment, the world's largest adult film company. They made up a third of Club Jenna's revenues, but over half of the profits.

Club Jenna was run as a family business, with Grdina's sister, Kris, as Vice President in charge of merchandising. In 2005, Club Jenna had estimated revenues of $30 million, with profits of approximately half that.

Merchandising capitalized on Jameson herself. Since May 2003, she has been appearing on a 48 foot tall billboard in New York City's Times Square promoting her web site and movies. The first advertisement displayed her wearing only a thong and read "Who Says They Cleaned Up Times Square?" There is a line of sex toys licensed to Doc Johnson, and an "anatomically correct" Jenna Jameson action figure. She stars in her own sex simulation video game, Virtually Jenna, in which the goal is to bring a 3D model of her to orgasm. Jackson Guitars made a limited series of Rhoads guitars with Jameson's likeness. Y-Tell, ClubJenna's wireless company, sells Jenna Jameson "moan tones" (telephone ringtones), chat services, and games in partnerships with 20 carriers around the world, mostly in Europe and South America. In 2006, New York City-based Wicked Cow Entertainment started to expand her brand to barware, perfume, handbags, lingerie, and footwear, sold through high end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Colette boutiques. Her prominent merchandising and mainstream media coverage has been criticised as "obscene" by Morality in Media.

Club Jenna kept diversifying. In August 2005, Club Jenna launched Club Thrust, an interactive website for Jameson's gay male fans, which includes videos, galleries, sex advice, gossip, and downloads. The director of webmaster relations for Club Jenna said the straight site had always had a lot of gay traffic. By 2006, Club Jenna administered more than 150 official sites for other adult entertainment industry stars.

In August 2005, a partnership that included Jameson purchased Babes Cabaret, a strip club in Scottsdale, Arizona, intending to make it the first foray of Club Jenna into live entertainment. Soon after the purchase attracted attention, the Scottsdale City Council proposed a new ordinance banning nudity at adult-entertainment venues and requiring a four-foot divider restricting contact with dancers. Such a divider would have also effectively banned lap dances, the dancers' main source of revenue. Jameson argued strongly against the ordinance, and helped organize a petition against it. On September 12, 2006, in a referendum on the ordinance, voters struck down the stricter rules, allowing the club to continue to operate as before.

On February 3, 2006, Jameson hosted a "Vivid Club Jenna Super Bowl Party" with several other Club Jenna and Vivid Girls at the Zoo Club in Detroit, Michigan for a $500 to $1,000 ticket price. It featured a lingerie show, but no planned nudity or sex acts. When first announced, the party caused controversy with the National Football League, which did not sanction this as an official Super Bowl event. For 2007, Jameson signed up to play quarterback in the Lingerie Bowl, but retired due to her insurance company's damage concerns. Instead, she acted as a commentator.

On June 22, 2006, Playboy Enterprises Inc. announced the acquisition of Club Jenna Inc., in conjunction with personal service agreements by both Jameson and Grdina. Playboy CEO Christine Hefner said that she expected to rapidly ramp up film production, producing about 30 features in the first year, and will expand the way they are sold, not only as DVDs but through television channels, video-on-demand services and mobile phones. On November 1, 2006, Playboy renamed one of the Spice Network's pay-per-view channels from The Hot Network to ClubJenna.

Mainstream Appearances

Jameson is also known for relative success outside pornography, and even bringing pornography itself closer to the mainstream. She has said: "I've always embraced my hard-core roots, but becoming a household name was an important thing to me”; and this she has acheived.

In 1995, Jameson sent photos of herself to radio host Howard Stern. She became a regular guest on his show, appearing more than 30 times, and played the role of "Mandy", the "First Nude Woman on Radio," in Stern's semi-autobiographical 1997 film Private Parts. This film appearance was the beginning of a series of roles outside pornography. In 1997, Jameson made an appearance for an Extreme Championship Wrestling PPV, Hardcore Heaven '97 as the valet for the Dudley family, another appearance at ECW Living Dangerously on March 1, 1998, followed by a few months where she was the ECW interviewer. In 1998, she filmed a vignette with Val Venis, a character in the WWF. In the late 1990s, Jameson guest hosted several episodes of the E! cable television series travel show "Wild On!," appearing scantily clad in tropical locations.

Jameson voiced an animated version of herself in a July 2001 episode of "Family Guy" entitled "Brian Does Hollywood." Her character wins an award for acting in a porn film directed by Brian Griffin (the dog), and at the close of the episode she is kidnapped and taken home by Peter Griffin. In 2002, Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy played themselves in Comedy Central's first feature television movie Porn 'n Chicken, in the roles of speakers for a pornography viewing club. Also in 2002, she appeared in two video games, most notably voicing Candy Suxxx in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Her character begins as a prostitute, but goes on to success as a pornographic actress and is displayed on several billboards within the game. Her performance won the 2003 G-Phoria "Best Live Action/Voice Performance Award – Female." She also provided both the appearance and the voice for "Daisy", a secret playable character for the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, who performs provocative tricks with her clothing and skateboard. In 2003, Jameson appeared in two episodes of the NBC prime time television show "Mister Sterling" as the girlfriend of a political financier.

Some of her mainstream appearances sparked controversy. An interview with Jenna Jameson contained in the 1999 Abercrombie & Fitch A&F Quarterly was part of the motivation for Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood to speak out against the hybrid magazine-catalog. The campaign was joined by parents and Christian conservative groups, and got the Quarterly removed from shelves and eventually canceled in 2003.

In November 2001, the venerable Oxford Union debating society invited Jameson to come to London to argue against the proposition "The House Believes that Porn is Harmful." She wrote in her diary at the time, "I feel like I am going to be out of my element, but, I could never pass this chance up... it's a once in a lifetime thing." In the end, her side won the debate 204 to 27.

In 2002, five years after her mainstream debut in Private Parts, Jenna Jameson appeared on MTV in the video for Eminem's "Without Me."

In February 2003, Pony International planned to feature her as one of several porn stars in advertisements for athletic shoes. This was attacked by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News in an editorial called "Using Quasi-Prostitutes to Sell Sneakers," calling porn stars inappropriate role models for teens. In response, The Harvard Crimson proposed a boycott of O'Reilly and Fox News. Jameson herself fought back with a sarcastic email to the show, writing, “I hope Bill understands the difference between a porn star and a hooker. I assume he has done some research on the subject because he requested some of my videos after we finished taping my appearance. I imagine he wanted them for professional reasons.”

However, these were minor appearances on the fringes of the mainstream. It was the 2004 success of her autobiography that truly brought her the mass-market fame she wanted. In a few months, she was interviewed on NBC, CNBC, Fox News, and CNN, and the book was reviewed by The New York Times, Reuters, and other respected outlets.

Samhain, a 2002 horror film in which she starred with other pornographic actresses including Ginger Lynn Allen, had sat unreleased until 2005, when it was re-cut and released as Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain, with her featured prominently. She has another horror film role in Sin-Jin Smyth, delayed from release in late 2006.

In February 2006, Comedy Central announced plans to feature Jameson as "P-Whip", in a starring role in its first animated mobile phone series, Samurai Love God. Mediaweek called her the biggest name attached to the project. In April 2006, Jameson was the star of a Video Podcast ad for Adidas (a larger sporting goods company than Pony), advertising Adicolor shoes by playing a provocative game of whack a mole.

In July 2006, Jenna Jameson became the first pornographic actress to have a wax model at Madame Tussauds (in the Las Vegas museum).

In addition, in late 2006, Proposition 401 campaign was announced in Scottsdale, Arizona, which was the apparent brainchild of Pastor Dale Gray, who wanted to assure Jameson and the strippers that God loved them despite all that semi-nude dancing. This consisted of a large white-and-red banner proclaiming “JESUS LOVES JENNA & GIRLS.” The sign went up on the exterior of the Rock Church, an Assemblies of God congregation located in a strip mall across the street from Babe’s Cabaret. Babe’s is partly owned by Jameson.

In January of 2007, TMZ.com reported that Paris Hilton and Jameson were contacted about "participating" in a reality show currently in production called "Virgin Territory," in which a group of the uninitiated will find their way to the promised land. Ironically, it's being brought to television by the purveyor of Paris Hilton’s sex tape, Kevin Blatt, who predicts that even more people will watch "Territory" than "One Night in Paris," Hilton's infamous night-visioned romp. To help stock his television venture, Blatt will be unveiling giant billboards in Times Square and Los Angeles; soliciting actual, live virgins in those cities. However, "Finding virgins in NYC or Los Angeles is no easy task," said Blatt.

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