Joanna Angel is the self described “Punk Rock Queen of Porn.” She is also a successful business woman and one of the leading figures in the industry. Our interview concentrates on her company Burning Angel. It’s a fascinating read.
Let’s start off with your student days at Rutgers University.
Was your major in Journalism? English? Film?
Ha! I graduated from college 15 years ago so it feels strange to think that far back. But I majored in English Literature and I minored in Cinema Studies.
And you were supporting yourself as a waitress?
I was a waitress for a few years, I also worked at the dining hall on the line as a lunch lady for a year (seriously I wore a hear net!!) and I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon that also doubled as a piercing place for a while too. I had a bunch of random part time jobs much like any other college student!
What got you interested in porn?
Thinking back to where my brain was in 2001 is a stretch- but honestly I didn’t want a “normal” 9 – 5 job, I didn’t want to wear a suit every day, and I liked the idea of doing something that was frowned upon by society. I knew nothing about porn, or the porn industry and truthfully I had never even watched a porn. I was intrigued, and I wanted to start my own thing… whatever it was. (I am sitting at a disk right now as I type this interview and I wore a suit in the porn I did the other day so I am not sure how much I succeeded in the not wear a suit not sit at a desk goal! )
The Suicide Girls and Burning Angel came along at about the same time. Your website was launched in 2002. What was your motivation and inspiration? What was on the first versions of your web?
The day my website launched I remember a friend emailing me and saying, “Hey- did you know there’s another website like yours have you seen this?” and it was a link to Suicide Girls. I think it had been live for a month or two at that point. No one believes me when I say that; people to this day think I copied them but that is the truth. Apparently there were two perverts on two opposing coasts who thought putting tattooed punk girls naked on the internet was a good idea! But Suicide Girls was a much more polished and professional version of BurningAngel, and some of the technology on there was pretty advanced for the time. The design and the functionality of BurningAngel in it’s very early stages was nothing to brag about, but what it did have was a lot of personality.
In a nutshell, I had many different motivations for starting BurningAngel but I would say the main one was that I really wanted to start something myself- not have to answer to anyone else…. and to create comfortable place for girls like me to express themselves.
The very first version of BurningAngel launched on April 20, 2002 and had 5 different photosets of girls- yes, photos. There was no video, literally just a set of about 50 – 60 photos of myself and 5 other girls. One of those girls was Dana Dearmond! I actually remember that I left my thong on because I was uncomfortable showing my vagina. That was really a different lifetime ago. There was also a band interview, and I also put up some “erotic story” I wrote in one of my writing classes. My thinking was like- it’s like Playboy magazine! But it’s Punk! There’s stuff to read and then boobs to look at.
There was nothing like Burning Angel. It was a family of what came to be know as “Alt” as in “Alt-Rock” in music and because of you “Alt-Porn.” I don’t recall seeing tattooed models who looked like real people in porn before Burning Angel, am I correct?
I am not sure what was in porn before BurningAngel because I didn’t keep up with the industry or watch porn. I don’t need to take credit for being the first… I would rather take credit for being the best! Haha.
At that time Vivid and Wicked Video with the “beautiful” people dominated the upper end of porn. Burning Angel was sophisticated porn for the rest of us… Could we call your first films “punk?”
Well beauty is not just one thing!!! But yes definitely. The punk scene encompassed my entire life. It was where I grew up, where I was raised and where all my ideals and thoughts came from. The entire way I ran my “business” (I put that in quotes because it was barely a business at that time) the girls in the early films, and all the creative energy I had came from something or someone “punk.”
Who were the original Angels?
Kylee Kross was definitely the first original “Angel”. Her presence was incredibly important to BurningAngel, it’s growth and its personality.
When I saw the video Joanna’s Angels I was hooked. I actually went back and watched it over and over for the story! Did you write the script, dialogue? Do the casting?
Thank you very much- I think that will always be one of my favorite movies. I did write the script and do the casting. I feel like — just about everyone in New York City helped me make that movie. It was a real collaborative effort of everyone I knew pitching in and helping me create something. You’re making me so nostalgic by bringing it up!
For the readers that never saw the video or the sequels, could you give us a synopsis of the plots.
Oh my god. They were very loose parodies of Charlie’s Angels… I guess. The overriding “plot” was that me and my angels got hired to solve really ridiculous problems. I had so much pride in living in New York at the time when I made Joanna’s Angels 1, I always told myself I would never move to Los Angeles and be part of the porn machine out there- so the “plot” of that movie is that everyone in New York wanted to move to LA and me and my angels had to stop them. And then we don’t actually do anything to solve the problem- we make our friend Tommy Pistol do all the work and then we take all the credit. And then there’s a bunch of other bizarre shit that happens in between. It was a lot of fun– and it was also Tommy Pistols first big role.
Any chance of another sequel to Joanna’s Angels?
Now that I am doing this interview you’re getting me to think that would be a good idea! hahaha. You got the gears turning in my head.
That was your second DVD though, The first was Burningangel.com the movie. Could you tell us about that one?
Yes! You are correct. Actually I can’t remember if Re-Penetrator was my second or third DVD.. but yes, those were my first few movies. BurningAngel.com… the website, became pretty well known for having band interviews… and porn. It was our thing, we always had one foot in the porn industry and one for in the music industry. I really tried to be… or pretended to be … a legit music journalist. I spent a lot of time organizing interviews with bands at various festivals, concerts, shows, etc.
So in our very first DVD we had interviews with bands, and sex scenes that kind of sort of looked like music videos in the beginning. I thought I was being very clever with the title “BurningAngel.com– The Movie” — like it was a website that just became a movie… with the sex and the band interviews. I don’t know. It made sense in my brain!
There’s some pretty big time interviews in that DVD when I think back on it. Like – My Chemical Romance was in it, and Lamb of God was in it… and Dillinger Escape Plan. My Chemical Romance and Dillinger were both bands from New Jersey I saw so many time when I was younger… in very small venues and VFW halls. I think at the time they were like “sure Joanna we will help you out and be in this little silly DVD thing you’re making.” haha. I don’t think anyone thought I could actually get this thing off the ground- including myself! It took me about an entire year to make that movie! Between trying to find talent… filming band interviews with the sound off, filming amateur guys that couldn’t get their dicks hard, etc. I didn’t know that out in Los Angeles, porn agencies existed, I laugh when I think of how clueless I was! I honestly didn’t even know there was a whole world of male talent. I just assumed every girl in porn brought some guy to set they liked having sex with. I didn’t know anything- I lived in my own unique bubble in NYC… and there was no twitter, or Instagram at the time that gave you the ability to reach out to anyone and find out anything. My accidental ignorance was bliss because it forced me to put out a product that was unique- and it led me to discover Tommy Pistol! Me and him both did out first scenes – together- in BurningAngel.com the movie. He was introduced to me through a friend of a friend when I was looking for my perfect scene partner. In most instances a first time girl is put with an experienced guy in their first scenes. Me and Tommy both did our first scene together. We will always be porn brother and sister and have a unique bond because of it.
Joanna’s Angels was released in 2005 by VCA. At that time VCA was on the third volume of Kill Girl Kill which would have made a natural fit for your brand. Did you approach VCA or did they contact you? How did it come about?
So I have to clarify here Kill Girl Kill was made by Eon Mckai. I always identified myself and my brand as “punk porn”- Eon was the one to really start embracing/ exploiting the term “alt porn”. It only made sense for me to go along with it because I didn’t really have a category I fit into. I had reached out to Eon on Myspace at some point, I was still living in New York – he eventually introduced me to the people at VCA when they were actively looking for more “Alt” directors.
After VCA, what came next?
I have really just been building and focusing on BurningAngel! That’s it!
Cum on My Tattoo is a long running series. How many volumes are you up to? The concept been imitated by many studios but I believe you were the original?
I don’t know if anyone is foolish enough to want to copy my concept of jizzing on like, an elbow or a shoulder. Ha! But yes every studio seems to have their own “Inked” line …. somebody please throw me down the stairs or bury me alive if I ever use the word “Ink” referring to anything but a pen.
Imitation to me is the highest form of flattery and it keeps me on my toes. Once I see someone copy me I’m like… ok… I just have to get better what I do so I can stay on top. I spent a long time in the industry getting spoiled with absolutely no competition at all …. when all the studios starting making their own “alt” or “tattoo” things it was a bit intimidating at first. I am after all a very small studio and I was nervous I wouldn’t afford to keep up. But I’m still here today so clearly I did something kind of right?
I know that at this point having tattooed girls isn’t enough to be a brand. There’s tattooed girls on almost every website now- so I hope that now BurningAngel has it’s own fans not just because of the style of girl, but because of our style of filming, our personality, the intensity of our sex scenes and our sense of humor. The tattoos and the alternative culture is still there but it’s secondary at this point.
Rock and Roll In My Butthole, love the title! Your brand in known for hot anal scenes…
Thank you. I had no idea how much I loved anal sex until I got into porn. I did anal in my very first sex scene- I dunno… girls look hot with things in their butts! Hahaha…. seriously, they do. I think tattoos and anal sex kind of just go hand in hand. Like peanut butter and jelly! But there’s lots of scenes on BurningAngel without any anal sex in them…. that are also wonderful. Don’t ignore the vaginas! We need them to.
One of your best known titles is The Walking Dead, A Hard Core Parody…
That was a really fun and challenging movie to make! But I think it’s the best known title because it’s a parody of the most popular TV show. I can’t take much credit for the success of that because it was parodying something already incredibly successful. Tommy Pistol was the one who pressured me to do that movie- at first I thought it would be impossible…. between all the effects and the stunts and massive amount of zombies that needed to be involved, I thought we were way over our heads. But Tommy is so creative and ambitious he really made it happen.
Most recently Jew’s Love Black Cock. What’s the story line?
I LOVE this movie- I grew up as a very religious Jew, and my entire family is … well they are really Jewish. Jews Love Black Cock is a very loose parody of Fiddler on the Roof, a movie/play my parents made me watch about 10 thousand times growing up. In the movie I play a very well known matchmaker, and a Rabbi hired me to marry off his oldest three daughters to rich Jewish men… however… they disobey me and fall in love with black cock instead. Then of course by the end of the movie I decide to indulge in some black cock myself. All the girls in the movie are 100% Jewish, and it was truly an honor to get to work with the legendary Mandingo.
Who were some of the most memorable Angels?
Well every Angel is memorable to me but-if I had to write about about the history of BurningAngel, Kylee Kross and Jessie Lee – their images, their bodies and their look, really made a big difference in the company. They really set the tone and the brand for what BurningAngel is – even more than my own image did.
And the guys?
Tommy Pistol of course will always and forever be the most important Angel- male or female! And Brian Street Team! Even though he doesn’t do porn anymore the movies we made together will always be remembered and he really was just a fun punk guy hanging out in porn. He wan’t at all by any stretch of the imagination a typical porn guy. And now Small Hands and Xander Corvus are the popular punk cocks on BurningAngel- and even though he doesn’t exactly make much sense with what most people think our brand is all about but I would like to also give Steve Holmes an honorable mention here because he’s just amazing!
Burning Angel has won lots of awards. What were the most meaningful?
They are all meaningful! But My very first award was probably the most meaningful. For more outrageous sex scene – me and Tommy Pistol won it together…. for the movie Re-Penetrator. It was such a shock to win an award my first year at AVN, from a movie I produced myself with just a few thousand dollars and it beat so many other incredibly large scale productions. Lots of people say the AVN awards are rigged or fixed- I always bring up the fact that I won an award when I was a nobody- my first year of putting out DVDs, I never bought any ads or kissed any ass, I lived in New York and didn’t know whose ass I was supposed to kiss. I will always be forever thankful for that honor and it was a milestone in the companies history.
Are all you films are available at the burningangel.com store?
Yes! They are!
Is a next release in the works?
Yes- I’m always working on new things. I put out two movies every single month! But now I think I should stop everything I am doing and write the next Joanna’s Angels.
What’s on the website today? Membership? Benefits to joining?
All of my content is on BurningAngel. There’s so many beautiful girls on there- from very well known porn stars to girls you have never heard of before. It’s updated regularly, the quality is great…. and well… if people stop joining I can’t keep making porn. So if that’s not enough of a benefit then I just don’t know what to tell you! hahaha
How does a woman become one of your angels?
Tweet me sexy full body photos bikini photos. @JoannaAngel. Oh yeah… and be awesome. That’s it! Hahaha Thank you so so much! This is a great interview!
Punk Rock Porno Princess!