ATLANTA — Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake’s photo essay on CNN.com was declared “most popular photo blog of 2013” by the prominent news outlet.
The profile, co-created by photographer Chris McPherson and journalist Abbey Goodman, follows the adult performer, filmmaker and modern sex educator over three days in Los Angeles.
On Dec. 31, CNN tweeted, “And our most popular photo blog from 2013: A day with porn star @thejessicadrake, by @almostrad: http://cnn.it/1gjVLqz #CNNTop10.”
See the full photo blog below!
“I always like to feel the character,” says Jessica Drake, dressed in combat boots and camouflage pants.
We’re in a cavernous warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, next to a parking lot full of fruit vendors and the American Apparel headquarters. This is where porn gets made.
Drake is a contract girl for one of the foremost adult companies, Wicked Pictures, and has appeared in roughly 300 X-rated films over the past 10 years. She says she’s normally dressed girlier than this, but she wants to stay in character while shooting.
“Some people may think I take the acting part of my job a little too seriously,” she says, “but I think it really ties in, especially when we are creating a fantasy.”
Today’s fantasy is “Tuff Love,” a mixed martial arts-themed action porn. Three flights down, a different company is using an elaborate hospital set for a medical fetish film.
Over the next three days, 35 cast and crew members will spend at least 12 hours a day creating the seedy, sweaty and – for this movie’s purposes – Sapphic world of female cage fighting.
Mixed-martial arts enthusiast Derrick Pierce wrote, directed and performs in “Tuff Love” alongside Drake as Becca “Badass” Benson and Adriana Luna (Adriana “The Assassin” Lopez). Porn veteran Steven St. Croix plays the unscrupulous fight promoter, rigging fights in exchange for sex.
CNN visited the set of “Tuff Love” with photographer Chris McPherson to capture a day in the life of a porn star after the County of Los Angeles Safe Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act (a.k.a. Measure B) passed in November in California with nearly 57% of the vote.
The measure requires mandatory condom use on all adult films. Major funding for it came from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Major opposition came from the porn industry, especially Drake and fellow actor James Deen.
It’s worth noting Drake only performs for Wicked, and Wicked has adopted a condoms-only policy since 2004. To this day, they are the only heterosexual company to do so.
Still, she strongly disagrees with the legislation.
“As a woman, I don’t like someone telling me what to do with my body, and as a performer, I feel very much the same way,” she says.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sees Measure B as a workplace safety issue, saying it will protect performers from spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to one another.
Drake is quick to point out that condoms aren’t 100% effective, and the self-policing adult industry – where every performer is tested every 14 to 28 days – hasn’t had a case of HIV in nearly 10 years.
Because of the rigorous and transparent screening practices, opponents of Measure B maintain you’re safer going home with a porn star than someone from your neighborhood bar.
“If you want to get into the adult business, you have to get all these tests first,” Drake explains. “You don’t come in and just go to work. No one will book you. No producer will have you. The first thing anybody wants to see – generally before they even see you naked – is are you tested and safe to work?”
In January, Vivid Entertainment brought a lawsuit to challenge Measure B, but was struck down by the court. On Friday, July 5, they reinstated their motion.
Drake grew up in San Antonio.
“I was nerdish. I had no boobs. I wore glasses. I got picked on. I just didn’t know how to carry myself or be comfortable,” she recalls.
She became a psychology major in college, and got her start in the adult industry by stripping her way through school. “It’s kind of cliche, but it really happens,” she says.
As offers came her way, Drake said she weighed the consequences and permanence of what she would do. She made slow, deliberate choices to progress from dancing to Playboy to porn.
“It was a real decision,” she says. “And the day I decided that I was going to be in the industry, I decided I was going to do it to the best of my ability.”
Indeed, she takes her work seriously.
While preparing for the adult film “Man Hunters,” Drake went on several stakeouts and became a certified fugitive recovery agent. For the X-Rated “Speed,” she got her motorcycle license and did her own stunt riding. For “Tuff Love,” the cast members boxed and grappled at a gym together 15 times before the cameras ever started rolling.
In addition to seven performing roles a year, Drake works as a “sexpert” and sex educator. She writes and directs a line of instructional videos for women and couples. She hosts a call-in show on Sirius XM and does volunteer work to help families in need.
When she’s not working, a day in the life of Jessica Drake is actually pretty conventional.
She lives with her partner, Wicked director and performer Brad Armstrong, whom she’s been with since 2009. The other man in her life is a three-pound Chihuahua named Big.
Sushi and Starbucks are her “staples,” though she can cook a mean rack of lamb with rosemary garlic potatoes. She does laundry, gets manicures and picks up her mail.
“There’s so many things I love about this job,” Drake says.
On camera, it offers her the chance to become a character and live out fantasies she might not otherwise explore in her private life. Off camera, she has a platform to educate others and help them lead more fulfilling sex lives.
“But the worst thing about it really has to be that there’s such a stigma, and there’s such a stereotype. It doesn’t matter what I do as a person, there will always be people that look down on me because of my job, people who will pass judgment on me just based on the fact that I have opted to have sex on camera for a living,” she says.
“There’s no shame in what I do. My family knows what I do for a living. Every day that I’ve been in the industry, I’ve tried to represent myself, the industry and especially Wicked well. I want to help people understand that the business is full of people like me.”
Check Out Jessica Drake’s Signature Fleshlight!