With a fan-given title as the "Queen of Alt Porn," no one would expect Joanna Angel to be your typical porn star. Not only does her punk look and multiple tattoos set her apart from the Bambis, Barbies, and Trixies that lounge at the beach after a shoot, but her productivity will prove that her work ethic does as well.

As one of the most prolific stars of the industry, the 30-year-old actress has been busy managing her website, BurningAngel, which has achieved such unprecedented success that it has developed a cult following and has fans calling it a "movement," and steadily making porn films with actual production value that have been winning her AVN awards. 

Although she's quick to refuse the credit, Angel's continued achievements in her industry speak for themselves. Complex spoke with the porn star on her downtime to get her thoughts on the rocky landscape of the industry, the subculture she leads, why she wants her blow-up doll to be more than just for sex, and why she wants to get in bed with Sarah Silverman, literally.

Complex: What made you want to be a porn star?
Joanna Angel: Well, I didn't really start off as a porn star. My whole career started off as me and my roommate in college just decided to start a porn site. We thought it would be fun so I wasn't sure what real job I wanted to have. I wanted to do something interesting. It was kind of an idea we came up with one day and I had no idea it was going to wind up being my career.

Had it not happened that way, I don't think I would've ever been a porn star. I don't think I ever would've never moved to L.A. and got naked and gotten into porn that way. We thought of starting a website and I didn't even have the idea for myself to be on the website until months later. We were having trouble finding talent to do it. So I was like, "Why don't I just do it? That might make it easier," because I felt weird asking girls to do something that I wouldn't do myself.

But this was a long time ago, this was eight years ago. It was a very different time. But I guess that I wanted a clear job and I wanted to start my own company and that just wound up being porn. [Laughs.]

That site is BurningAngel?
Yes.

"We put so much of our heart into this and people don't really think of that when they think of two people that own a porn company. They think of two scumbags trying to make some quick money. It was never like that." What was the inspiration behind the site?
I guess we are known as an "alt" porn site; that was a name given to us, we did not give that name to ourselves.  From the beginning, I did start this company with my roommate and we were two punk chicks, two younger people with tattoos that threw shows in our basement. That was just the community we were in.

When we started the website, it was a reflection of ourselves. It still is to this day. There's band interviews on the website, the style of girl that we use is not your average typical porn star and the personality on the website is a little bit different. All the members interact with each other, all of the girls have blogs and profiles, and people become friends with each other. It's more of a community and a reflection of a subculture rather than just being a website with content to jerk-off to and never think about again.

When you say "alt" porn, is that the official name of that subculture? How would you describe it?
It's kind of a silly name. It's just supposed to mean porn that is different. [Laughs.] It's like, what is alternative music really? It's just music that's different from pop music, you know? But I think what makes alt porn is the community and the culture behind it in addition to the content. It's going to work hand in hand.

How do you feel when people refer to Burning Angel as a movement?
Well, I think that's giving us a little too much credit, but I'm flattered. [Laughs.]

Did you ever think that it would turn into this thing that has cult following and that people even refer to as a movement?
Well, I'm very glad we have a cult following. We put a lot of time and energy into our movies and just the personality behind the site as it is. We put so much of our heart into this and people don't really think of that when they think of two people that own a porn company. They think of two scumbags trying to make some quick money. It was never like that.

What would you say to people who denounce pornography as a legitimate career?
I don't really care what other people think. Also, pornography is not one thing. I think a lot of people forget that. Porn is an industry. That's like saying music is not a legitimate career. You could be an artist, you could be a producer, you could hand out flyers on the street for a record label, you could own a record label, you could own a division of a record label, you could be some company that sells apps for you to listen to music on your phone. Just the way that music has all these different people that do so many different things, porn has that too. I think when people think of porn, they just think of sex on camera. It just magically winds up everywhere and nobody ends up working behind it.

Porn is an industry and if people don't think it's a legitimate industry then I don't really care what people think. I know a lot of people whom I stay in touch with from college say that I'm the hardest working person they know. I bust my ass. I definitely don't just show up to set, have sex with a few people, go home and sit on the beach for the rest of the day. I am constantly working. I never have a break. So, if somebody thinks I'm not living my life legitimately, I don't really give a shit and obviously they're just closed minded and they don't really understand what goes into making porn if they think it's just this simple thing that requires a lot of illegal activity to go down. That's not how it's done.

Definitely. Speaking of illegal activity, last year you were in a PSA for the Free Speech Coalition on the topic of internet piracy of adult content. How do you feel about the abundance on internet porn sites and their accessibility? Does it detract from your work in creating legitimate films?
It sucks. It really sucks. It's really hard 'cause I understand things on a consumer level you know? Of course I get it. If somebody has something for free, why would they not take it? I can't yell at people because they watched one of my movies for free. If the movie is sitting there and it's in your face and it's free, why would you go and pay for it? It's not really the consumer's fault, it's the people who are uploading things on the internet illegally.

It's tough. It's definitely made business a lot harder. I'm scared every day that my business is going to go away. Fortunately, people are still signing up to the site. I try to say positive. The only positive thing I think has come out of it is that we really have been forced to challenge ourselves and work really hard to try to make sure that our site is worth paying for.

I definitely think in the beginning with just having porn, you know somebody out there who would want to pay for it. Now you have to make sure your stuff has amazing quality. You want to make sure there's a bunch of stuff surrounding it so people, when they buy a membership, really feel like they're part of something. You want to make sure you're giving these real collectible items and not something that you just put in your DVD player and throw out when you're done.

The only positive thing about piracy is that it's really forced us to make our product pretty amazing, I think. But unfortunately making your product amazing costs more money, so we're spending more money and making less money, which really sucks. I hate it and we have lawyers that go after our stuff and we work on the internet every day and try to take down as much of our stuff as we can but unfortunately, this is just how it's going to be. Piracy is not going to end. There is not going to be a president that comes in a makes this shit illegal, so I think I'm kinda over the stage where I'm crying about it. So I'm just trying to see how our business can survive with all this going on.
 

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