True superstardom in the adult entertainment industry is a tough thing to achieve. And this year's Dirty Dozen certainly underscores that.
Just five of the actresses we listed among the industry's most popular last year make return appearances in 2012, as new faces have come along — and some veteran performers made a comeback.
With the industry's annual expo under way in Las Vegas Jan. 18-21, we've once again assembled a list of the most popular porn stars. This year, instead of basing the list on past and present award nominations, we've polled industry insiders — ranging from studio presidents to publicists to stars — to get a unique view of who's queen of the mountain. Their answers were based on several criteria, including which performers have the biggest fan bases, whose face on a DVD cover boosts sales and which stars have seen the biggest popularity increases in the past year.
That drawing power is more important than ever to the $14 billion porn industry. DVD sales have been in freefall the past five years due to piracy and competition from online content. Vivid Entertainment founder and co-chairman Steven Hirsch estimates income from DVDs has fallen 70 percent since 2007. (He said only 20 percent of the company's revenues come from DVDs today.)
Click ahead for a peek at this year’s most popular porn stars.
Editor's Note: Covering a Taboo Industry
By Chris Morris
Posted 18 January 2012
Now entering her fifth year in the porn industry, Texas' star continues to rise. She's nominated for 13 AVN awards this year, including female performer of the year. And, like many performers on this list, she owns her own business, giving her a bigger cut of the revenues from her performances and website.
Born to Sikh Punjabi parents, Leone is an unlikely porn star, especially given that religion's conservative culture. She has not only thrived in the U.S. as an adult performer, she has also been embraced by India, which cast her in this season's "Big Boss" (that country's version of the CBS show "Big Brother"). She has since accepted a lead role in an upcoming major Bollywood film.
Jane is one of the most popular adult performers for fans and insiders. She's once again the host of the red carpet ceremonies at the AVN Awards, porn's equivalent of the Oscars, and has 10 nominations this year. She's also the most bankable star, working for Digital Playground.
She recently extended her exclusivity contract with the company for three years, after which she has vowed to retire. And she has already set up her exit strategy; she launched a line of tequilas in 2011.
Haze was signed as a contract performer for Vivid Entertainment in 2011 — a notable feat, given CEO Steven Hirsch's previously stated aversion to contract stars. She also signed a nine-film deal to play the French soft-core sex icon Emmanuelle (which will likely make her more familiar to Cinemax viewers).
This Japanese-American porn star has become one of the most sought-after performers in the industry this year. She has earned critical acclaim in the industry, too. She's nominated for 20 AVN awards, and her films regularly top the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network's most-watched list.
Black started as a Penthouse Pet, but has gone on to star in hundreds of adult films. What's noteworthy about her inclusion this year was her relatively low profile and the birth of a son in October. Still, her appeal, which has won her AVN performer of the year award for two years running, remains strong among fans.
Preston has been porn's "it" girl for a while now, and in 2010, finally broke through to true stardom. At last year's AVN awards, she was one of the trophy girls, which basically consisted of bringing trophies on stage for winners. The role, a stepping stone in the industry, garnered her exposure to attendees and viewers on Showtime. This year, she has been in several parody films, including knockoffs of "Avatar" and "Wonder Woman." In 2012, she'll step into — and out of — the short shorts of Lara Croft for a "Tomb Raider" parody that has already piqued the interest of the video game world.
This 39-year old performer/agent was the most commonly mentioned star among industry insiders — and she has had a busy year, signing a deal with novelty company Fleshlight, appearing in GQ, and leading the charge for performers who aren't in their early 20s.
She's best known to the outside world for her 2008 portrayal of Sarah Palin in a porn parody. And for two years running, she has been the performer of the year for the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network.
A 10-year veteran of the industry, Haze is still a fan favorite and has won numerous awards throughout her career. For the first time in four years, she's not nominated for performer of the year at the AVN awards, but has still secured eight other nods, including one for the industry's hall of fame.
At 42, she's the oldest porn star on the list, but this AVN hall of famer remains a fan favorite. She's a regular presence on AEBN's charts, and her face on a DVD cover automatically boosts sales. In her 19 years as a performer, she has worked as a contract star for most of the major porn studios.
Stoya in some ways is the anti-porn star. She's taller and leaner than most. She has strong nerd-like tendencies, including a love of science fiction and gadgets. She's also a voracious reader and talented writer. And she designs her own clothes. She's also well respected in the industry, with four AVN nominations this year.
Angel is the owner of her own studio, making her not only one of the most popular women in porn, but also one of the most powerful. In addition to writing, producing, directing and starring in her films, she appeared in a mainstream cameo on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program "Children's Hospital," where she played herself.
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Pornstars Who Went Mainstream
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