While plenty of adult stars dream of making the transition to traditional acting, their dreams rarely become reality. Hollywood — and mainstream culture, in general — tend to segregate the men and women of porn, keeping them at arm's length.
But there are some performers whose drive, persistence and fan base lets them break through. Some make it onto the big screen. Others take a different path. But by the time they're done, their names are known by a much wider audience than they started with. Here are 10 who have managed to make the transition to 'civilian' celebrity.
Editor's Note: Covering a Taboo Industry
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 20 January 2012
While Grey only spent three years in the porn industry, she quickly became such a force that her fans followed her every move. But when director Steven Soderbergh cast her in the lead role of his experimental drama "The Girlfriend Experience," her fame really spread. She followed that up with a recurring role in the HBO show "Entourage", playing a fictionalized version of herself. Most recently, she starred with Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane in "I Melt with You," which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Morgan's high-pitched voice and ditzy personality set her apart from the traditional sultry porn star. And that distinction has caught the eye of others in Hollywood. Kevin Smith cast her in 2008's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and she has hosted several sex-themed shows on HBO. She has also been the subject of a documentary film for the network.
More people know Carey for her non-porn activities than her work in adult films. While she has appeared in over 80 adult films, her run for the California governor's office in 2003 (albeit a publicity stunt) earned her plenty of media attention. (She ultimately placed 10th among 135 candidates — earning about 6,000 fewer votes than "Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt — but double the number earned by comedian Gallagher.)
Jameson's ascent to the mainstream world was a miracle of timing. She was the industry's biggest star just as porn was becoming more mainstream beacuse of the internet in the 1990s. Her autobiography spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and appearances on Howard Stern's radio program further propelled her fame. She has gone on to voice an animated version of herself on "The Family Guy," voiced a character in a "Grand Theft Auto" game, and is a favorite of paparazzi, ensuring she stays in the public eye.
Lords' achieved notice for her appearances in porn films in the 1980s when she was under 18, but held onto the spotlight by appearing in films by Roger Corman and John Waters. She has gone on to appear in more than two dozen TV shows and most recently in Kevin Smith's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." Unlike many adult stars, Lords refuses to appear nude in her mainstream roles. She also has written a New York Times best-selling autobiography and done voice-over work for several video games.
The man known as the Hedgehog has made almost as many mainstream appearances as he has porn films. He was in VH1's "The Surreal Life," where he became close friends with Tammy Faye Baker. He appears semi-regularly on ESPN. He's in plenty of viral online videos. He even has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in "Ghostbusters." His fame has reached a point where he was the subject of a feature-length biographical documentary.
Hartley is a legend in the adult world, and at 52 is still actively making films. That alone has made her notable to the non-porn audience. She has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to openly discuss the industry and played William H. Macy's wife in the 1997 film "Boogie Nights."
Jane is one of today's top adult stars. While she has said she doesn't intend to leave the industry behind for Hollywood, she has made several mainstream appearances, which have widened her fan base. She was featured in the 2009 Luke Wilson film "Middle Men" and has launched her own line of tequila, called Diosa.
Lynn was one of the biggest porn stars of the 1980s and successfully leveraged that fame to break into Hollywood, appearing in films like "Young Guns II" and television shows like "NYPD Blue." Now in her late 40s, she still makes occasional mainstream appearances, but has returned to the adult industry.
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