Note: Some of these photos of Stoya are topless, so don't scroll down if you don't want to see that.
Though it's been a couple years since Stoya has written for VICE, that doesn't mean she hasn't been busy. On top of winning an XBIZ award for Best Scene in a feature adult film last year and doing a regular advice column for Refinery29, the increasingly popular actress is getting into the start-up game. On March 4, she launched a new model for buying porn with TRENCHCOATx.
Created by Stoya and adult film star Kayden Kross, the site is a "curated platform for a collection of episodic, pornographic videos." Similar to iTunes or Vimeo Premium, the TRENCHCOATx offers an à la carte porn experience through a pay-per scene model. There will be original series such as one called Fluid ("Spit flies everywhere, people fuck underwater, and everybody gets off… except the gimp") and another called Graphic Depictions, featuring "genderqueer hero" Jiz Lee. There will even be product placement in an upcoming video called Screwing Wall Street: the ArrangementFinders IPO—possibly a game-changer for monetizing pornography. I got the chance to meet with Stoya and catch up about what she's been working on, as well as take some charming photos of her in the bath (because fuck it, it's Stoya). We discussed her newfound love for directing porn and creating new platforms to share that porn with eager masturbators like you and me.
VICE: Do you think we're starting to live in a world where porn stars can be considered artists and branch off into different areas of art?
Stoya: I would like to hope that we're getting to a point where a porn star can also do other things and have that be kind of normal. Like James Franco does everything. So I'd like to think that we might be at the point where the fill-in-the-blank porn star won't be the token professionally naked person. But if you look at the history of modern pornography, the media's only choosing one star at a time, and they're like, "Here's this special creature who is a porn star and… or a porn star but…" You can't fight what headline gets slapped in the article, and you can't fight what gets quoted and republished and then further circulated. I think it just has too much mass. And so it would be nice—but maybe I'm just old and tired.
So I know you don't claim to do feminist porn, but you're totally a feminist figure—and terms like "genderqueer hero" are appearing on your new site. Why do think people view you like that?
I'm really wary of ever allowing myself to be framed as feminist or ethical because the second you say that, you're waving a big red flag that says, Everybody on Tumblr tear me apart! Feminism has all of these different strains, and in no way is the work that I did for Digital Playground an act of feminism. But the first thing that I directed, I showed it to one of my friends, and she had this comment which was like, "You realize that at the end of every scene, we see the woman, and she's very happy, and the men have faded into the background. Like you basically made a very sexy statement about the limited usefulness of men." So that in some ways might actually be feminist porn, but there wasn't much body diversity. So, feminism… very complicated.
What's your favorite thing about directing porn for TRENCHCOATx?
I'm sure it'll change with time and more experience, but right now my favorite thing about directing is the entitlement to experiment. If my instinct is to do something, I can try it. If it goes awry, the only person I have to answer to other than myself is Kayden. Since we're peers more than bosses of each other, I can get her input on stuff beforehand in a workshopping kind of way—as opposed to the typical, permission-based relationship with an employer.
Can you tell me about what sets apart TRENCHCOATx from other adult film websites?
The consumer experience is meant to be very à la carte: pay a single—we think fair—price for exactly the video you want, no automatic rebilling. One of the upsides of the pay-per-scene model is that it allows us to pursue any single series for as long as it needs to be, and no longer. If a story only needs four episodes, we aren't under any pressure to stretch it. If a concept is still fun after 79 episodes, we can do an 80th. This gives us more room to play around and try different things compared to a membership site supported by members who would— because they're paying a monthly fee—reasonably expect regular updates with similar formulas, activities, and aesthetics. I'm excited to find out what parts of the business model work and figure out where it can be improved.
Who's your audience?
I'm not entirely sure. I don't believe in "porn for women" or "porn for men," and we're operating more broadly than the successful but very niche categories of, say, "people who are really into POV with lots of eye contact into the camera," or "people who love feet a lot, specifically feet that probably have a strong smell as evidenced by the fresh sweat stains on the socks they are encased in." So we'll be finding our audience and figuring out who they are as we go.
Is this website the future of porn?
Ha! Maybe. The cool thing about the future is once we get to it there's an entirely new set of possible futures. Historically, one of the biggest strengths of adult entertainment has been its ability to adapt quickly to changing tastes, trends, and technologies. Either we'll be part of the future of porn or we'll crash and burn and someone will pick the good ideas from our carcass and do something nifty with them.
What do you hope to achieve with this website?
Right now, the site is super new and the focus is on the immediate goal of getting our legs under us, recouping the initial investment in content and programming, and starting to break even. We basically just like our jobs as pornographers and want to be able to keep doing that professionally. What with capitalism and all, owning the production and distribution seems like the best way to keep doing adult stuff.
You seem to be taking the porn industry by the balls.
I don't want the balls of the adult industry. I want part of its heart.
I was looking through your website, and I feel like I can watch the videos simply for the cinematic experience, and like not have to masturbate to them. Although they do seem sexy.
I don't know how to respond to this other than to say thank you.
TRENCHCOATx.com is officially live and can be browsed here.