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The Internet Turned Porn Star Jelena Jensen into an Entrepreneur

The 21st century is a grim time to screw on camera for money. To stay profitable, porn star Jelena Jensen has taken control of her professional digital presence.

Sophie Saint Thomas

Sophie Saint Thomas


Photos courtesy of Jelenajensen.com

The 21st century is a grim time to fuck on camera for money. Tube sites and piracy have diminished the demand for adult performers’ work, and thanks to webcams, anyone with a WiFi connection can become a porn performer. To stay profitable, porn star Jelena Jensen has taken control of her professional digital presence.

A film school graduate, Jensen runs her own website, manages other performers’ sites, shoots videos, and hosts The J Spot, a radio show on Vivid Radio. Working at home most days in front of a computer, she resembles your average one-person web entrepreneur—albeit one who works with titties and dicks.

Wanting to learn more about ways Jensen has combated piracy and stayed solvent, I called her to discuss the porn industry’s struggles, entrepreneurship, and why she calls herself a “webmistress.”

VICE: How did you start working in the adult entertainment industry?
Jelena Jensen: I was going to film school at Chapman University in Orange County, California. I was looking for a part-time job that would be flexible during the school year, and I came across this job and put in my application. When they called me for the interview, I asked, “So what exactly do you guys do?” They just said “internet fulfillment,” and I didn't want to ask what that was because I didn't want them to think I wasn't smart enough to work there. At the very end of the interview, they said, “Oh, by the way, it's adult, so if you have any problems with that, let us know,” and I was like, “No.” So I ended up working with them. I was their project manager, and then I became their marketing manager, and then eventually I worked for them full-time while I was in school. It wasn't until the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in January of 2003 that an employer said, “Well why don't you just do nude modeling, and you don't have to have sex with anyone?” Within a month I started shooting, and it became my only gig, just myself, solo for magazines.

Do you manage your own website? 
I'm one of the few who actually 100 percent runs her own website. The end of this month will be the ten-year anniversary of my site. When I first started my site, I started it with a webmaster, a friend of mine, and in less than six months, he started working for a big company. He pretty much said he didn't have time to run my site, but if I signed a contract with this company he could run it from there. I talked to them. They all offered me contracts to run my site, but no one would compromise—they pretty much wanted me to just hand everything over. As much as adult is more widely accepted now than it used to be, it still follows you everywhere you go, so if I was going to have this as a mark on my record, then I was going to make a career and I was going to make it worth it.

What’s your average workday like?
I spend most of my time in front of the computer. I don't really perform very much. I run two other websites: Maggie Green’s website MaximumMaggie.com and Aria Giovanni’s website, which is AriaGiovanni.com. So I spend the majority of my time working out, cooking, and sitting at my computer. Whenever I write on Twitter that I'm going to spend the day working, fans will crack jokes because they don't realize I'm talking about sitting at my computer and legitimately working.

Has piracy affected your business?
It affects me a lot. The only place that I release my content is online, and then people steal it and put it up elsewhere—obviously the tube sites. It has affected me, because people think, Why should I join your site when I can get it for free? I pay for a service to send out legal notices to take my stuff down—very rarely will stuff of mine that's put up on a tube site stay there very long—but there's still torrents and other stuff that are a big problem. I would say I probably only make a third of what I used to running my site.

Does camming help you combat the financial blow?
Yeah. When I first started camming, there was no audio and they could only see me, and now we have audio on both ends and video on both ends, and it's definitely made camming a bigger industry. Camming and also custom videos—that's where everything in the business is leaning towards. I come and go with camming. I don't do it all the time, but there will be times—like for instance I am saving for a house—so if I want to save up for a down payment, I have to work more, which means more camming because obviously my site's not going to bring in that money like it used to.

What do you consider your main job title?
I'm a performer still, because obviously the camming and stuff like that. I'm also a webmaster—that's one thing that I spend most of my time doing. On my Twitter profile, it says Webmistress. I have my own photography equipment. I also work as a photographer, and I shoot video. Recently Brazzers had their ten-year anniversary, and they did a big shoot day and hired me to shoot all the BTS [behind the scenes] video. It was funny. It was like ten of the top female stars, and I'm still someone in the business in front of the camera but that day I wasn't. It's just strange sometimes because they get confused, like, “Oh you're here to shoot?” Or the makeup artist will see me and say, “I thought we only had this many girls.” It's like, “Yeah, I'm not in front of the camera today. You're not doing my makeup.”

For more information about Jelena Jensen's radio show, visit Vivid Radio

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