10 Questions: Queer porn producer and performer Nikki Hearts

Nikki Hearts‘ gift to herself for her 21st birthday was a one-way ride from Columbus to LA. Since her move Nikki’s been developing a porn career that has blossomed to include her very own queer porn production company. Set to launch early next year, the company will be a membership-based site of erotic androgynous art films/ porn. (FYI: Queer porn is not the same as gay or lesbian porn. Curious? Read on…)

Nikki Hearts is a pseudonym, by the way. She won’t reveal her real name to anyone except her family and closest friends. Nikki comes from Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue (her favorite) and Hearts was inspired by her girlfriend’s pseudo-last name (Lindsay Hearts, fashion designer and wardrobe stylist).

“I chose the name when I was on my first casting call,” Nikki said. “I hadn’t been able to come up with one, and it was the first question they asked.”

In the LA porn world, careers develop as rapidly as her name did in that interview. Nikki has already built a reputation in the industry, writing for Autostraddle.com and directing, as of last month, for lesbian film company Filly Films. Also, she’s hot.

Nikki Hearts
Nikki Hearts

Nikki answered some questions about being in the jiz biz, and her answers about how she wants to promote sex positivity and how she refuses to work outside of her boundaries are worth a read. Not listed in my roundup of questions but helpful to straight ladies who find searching porn to watch a veritable minefield of ice cold showers (holla!), she recommended searching this website for recommendations on what to watch. Feminist porn: It DOES exist.

How did you get into performing porn?

I had wanted to try it for several years. I first started talking about it with my ex, and we just never made it happen. My current girlfriend introduced me to another Columbus lesbian who was taking a hiatus from her porn career and she recommended me to the first company I worked with.

What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had performing porn? Good or bad.

This question makes me laugh, and I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll go ahead and mention a really positive experience- I recently started my own company, and one of the first scenes we shot was myself with Jiz Lee. Jiz really inspired me to start doing porn and is probably the most idolized queer porn performer. Being able to work with them (they use gender neutral pronouns, because they identify as gender neutral) and write a scene that exemplifies everything I love about queer porn was a really awesome and humbling experience.

What is the difference between queer porn and gay porn?

The queer porn genre has been around for a little over 10 years. The movement began in San Francisco with a company called No Fauxxx (now Indie Porn Revolution). The modern day use of the word Queer basically boils down to a term that includes all walks of sexuality, gender expression, and self identification. Queer porn is just the pornographic display of queers pretty much! It includes trans people, gay, bisexual, whatever kind of people, fucking the way that they want, without being judged and sharing that with the world proudly. Queer porn pays little and stars people that want to make the films mostly to promote what they stand up for sexually, because they love it. Queer porn to this day is still based out of San Francisco; my company is currently the only queer porn coming out of Los Angeles.

Mainstream lesbian porn has been around since the beginning of porn. When I talk about “the bigger companies” and “girl/girl” porn, I’m talking about the big name porn companies that everyone and their mother have heard of. These are the companies that hand out big paychecks to the “porn stars” who are not always, but often, in it for money or fame, who have agents who get them work; the sex is usually just as directed with little personal preference. I don’t mean this explanation to sound like I’m speaking down on mainstream porn, that is how I make most of my living as well as most of my friends. I have more qualms with things that go on on this side of the industry, for sure, but there is definitely a way to work within my own set of boundaries.

 

Why produce porn?

When I first started I never imagined that I would be producing and directing but I’ve learned over the past two years that, 1) as a girl/girl-only performer who is tattooed and “alt” looking, it’s really hard to be booked enough to make a living. It’s hard to make a living no matter who you are these days. Sadly, porn stars just don’t make that much money anymore; there is not enough money and work to go around, thanks to tube sites (“free porn”) and piracy. And 2) I started making porn not for money or fame, but because I want to put my messages and ideas about sex out there. So making my own porn all together is far more effective than just performing for other people.

What are those messages and ideas?

I do my best to promote legitimate lesbian sex in my work. Whether there is a ton of “chemistry” between performers or not I try and at least do what feels good physically, to show what women actually enjoy, rather than just what a male director or viewer think they want to see. This is not always the easiest task in mainstream lesbian porn because some directors tell you exactly what positions and movements they want in the scene; that is my least favorite kind of day at work, where I have no creative freedom.

When possible I love to show verbal consent and talk through what we’re doing on camera. This not only shows consent, but that healthy communication during sex can be sexy. I love bringing things like that to non-queer porn sets because directors and performers who only work for big companies are so surprised by it, but they usually get into it.

As a performer who came into the industry specifically to make “feminist porn,” I’ve definitely always believed in these values, at least since I was old enough to understand them. Starting off with mainly queer and feminist porn companies, then moving on to work for bigger companies, I’ve really seen a wide array of values, or lack thereof. Sticking to my guns and never doing anything I don’t want to do is super important to the integrity of my work.

Do you ever feel like porn can cause negative ideas about sexuality? 

Of course!! There are plenty of reasons people have negative feelings towards porn and pornographers. Some I agree with, and some I don’t. The fact that there is so much crap out there that displays really negative images and expressions of sexuality definitely does not help; I don’t blame people for feeling negatively about it. However, people who automatically judge anyone involved in porn bum me out. My entire goal is to promote consensual and empowering sex positivity, and people who look down on that are just closed minded.

Is Nikki Hearts who you are when you’re not on camera? How do you distinguish between the performer and the person?

When I first started I had no experience in marketing, or branding or anything. It was really difficult for me at first to differentiate between me and creating this whole bigger more interesting persona and brand that would become Nikki Hearts. I felt silly talking about myself and putting myself and image out there. Now that I am working in porn full time it is much easier than when I was in Ohio and just coming out to “Pornoland” once a month or so. I have definitely become Nikki Hearts… it kind of freaks me out when I think about it… I guess the only difference is that I am more family- and relationship-oriented outside of porn.

What is the biggest misunderstanding the straight community has about queer porn?

Whew… Hmm, unfortunately most of the straight community doesn’t know queer porn exists! They know gay porn, they know the awful girl/girl porn (aka long fake nailed mostly-straight girls getting their work day over with to collect their large paycheck), but queer porn is not as widely available. It is made independently, so it’s not as easy to find as the big budget companies with widespread marketing. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t hear straight people even mention queer porn very often at all, so I’m not sure about misunderstandings!

So many queer people don’t even know queer porn exists. I can’t tell you how many queers I have met, who know I am in porn, and assume I only do the above mentioned girl/girl stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I do that too, but I am always so happy to introduce them to real authentic queer sex films, as I was once shown. Luckily there is a great queer porn following in Columbus. One misconception existing queer porn fans do have is that queer porn performers make a lot of money, or are fully employed by the genre… Not at all. Pretty much all queer porn performers have other jobs, sex work related or not. It is a niche genre.

Has doing porn changed the way you have sex with your girlfriend? If so, how?

Yikes. We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. She’s been with me from the beginning and has always been very supportive. I will say, no, doing porn has not changed the way I have sex with her; however; the longer I am in the business and the more involved I become (directing and producing, etc.) it seems the more sexually open I am, so I’m sure I have changed sexually. I know she has noticed it more recently, which isn’t all bad, but sometimes can bother her or bring on insecure feelings. We just have to communicate a lot… A lot…

Has doing porn changed the way you see yourself?

For sure. Like I mentioned in previous questions, I am way more sexually open, I have become a much more outgoing and confident person. I am much more happy in general, it’s the only job I’ve ever not hated! I see myself now as someone with a passion for my work, goals and motivation… Not so much before.

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