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June 05, 2017

Adult Stars Find Their Rhythm in the DJ Booth

This article originally ran as the cover story of the June 2017 issue of AVN magazine. Pictured from left, Brittany Andrews, Nikki Phoenix, Samantha Bentley and Darcie Dolce. Click here to see the digital edition.   LOS ANGELES—Samantha Bentley knows what many people are thinking when she steps into the DJ booth. “Going from adult into music, people expect you to fuck up and people are waiting for you to fuck up,” Bentley says.  “And with the fact that I do mix live and I do produce my own music, a lot of people are skeptical. They’re like, ‘No, she doesn’t.’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, I do.’” The two-time AVN Award-winning adult film star from London at press time was preparing to play her first music festival—a crowd of 3,000-plus was expected on May 20 for The Zoo Project at the Tropicana Club in Bristol, England—as she takes another leap in her two-year-old DJ career. Bentley is one of several current or former porn performers also making a name for herself in music, parlaying her notoriety in adult into new career opportunities behind the decks. In the first week of March, Uma Jolie, the 2017 AVN Awards Trophy Girl and Penthouse Pet, did opening DJ sets for 21 Savage, Lil Wayne and Travis Scott on separate nights at Story Nightclub in Miami as part of the build-up to the Rolling Loud hip-hop festival. In April in Indio, California, 2012 AVN Best Actress Jessie Andrews DJed Paper magazine’s opening party at Coachella; and 2015 AVN Best New Starlet Carter Cruise DJed the A-Day post-game bash in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, following the Crimson Tide’s annual spring football game.  Meanwhile in May, Penthouse Pet Darcie Dolce, who DJed the official 2017 AVN Awards Show after-party in January, shot her first music video in Sacramento for a new house track she co-produced, while fellow performer Nikki Phoenix released her new EDM single and music video.   Whether they’re mixing live or producing their own tracks, several adult stars are making their presence felt on the national DJ scene when they’re not headlining porn projects. Like her fellow porn performers finding their rhythm in the music industry, Samantha Bentley wants to prove it takes more than a pretty face to build credibility and secure DJ bookings. “I do everything myself,” Bentley says. “I produce. I sing. I write my music and I mix live.  “I was very particular when I started to do it, I didn’t want to be a Paris Hilton, jokey DJ—like a parody of a DJ. I’ve always wanted to do music so I wanted to take it seriously and do it properly.” Bentley, who has appeared on two seasons of Game of Thrones and co-starred in Evil Angel’s epic all-girl feature Hard In Love last year, made her DJ debut in April 2015 and now says she dedicates about “70 percent” of her time to her blossoming music career. “I’m still shooting but I’m shooting a lot less, especially in the U.K. I’ve always been very particular about who I’ve shot for but now even more so,” Bentley tells AVN. “I still shoot for the productions that I love. I shot for Harmony Films last month. “Music is taking a lot of my time because I’ve been producing as well. I started producing last year and I’ve only just gotten to the stage now where the music is good enough to see the light of day.” Bentley began learning to play classical piano when she was 5 years old and started singing when she 6. “I used to do musicals and I did music at university, and then porn happened and it kind of consumed my life and music took a backseat for a while,” she admits. But after Bentley won the AVN Award for Best Sex Scene in a Foreign-Shot Production in 2015 for her performance with Henessy and Rocco Siffredi in Rocco’s Perfect Slaves 2, things changed. “That’s my favorite scene I’ve ever shot and I said to myself if it wins this year I’m going to let porn take a little more of a backseat because I don’t think I’m ever going to do a scene that’s as good as this, and concentrate more on music,” Bentley explains. “I know there’s some girls who were like, ‘fuck porn, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore, I want to just do music.’ But porn has given me a platform to be able to do music so there’s no way that I would ever turn away from it or turn my back on it. If I hadn’t done [porn] I wouldn’t have the tools to actually go on and do music.” Darcie Dolce discovered her passion for mixing beats long before she got into porn. “I DJed almost two-and-a-half years before, when I still lived with my mom and dad in Sacramento,” says Dolce, who started her career in adult in 2015 and has become a sought-after girl/girl performer. “A lot of girls DJ after they model or do a centerfold, or after they do porn. I’ve DJed for porn events and whatnot but I don’t like to refer to myself as a ‘porn star DJ,’ because I did it before.” Dolce actually came up with her stage name for DJing and then carried it into porn with her. “I always try to DJ at least five times a week for a certain amount of time,” says Dolce, who has become a go-to DJ for AVN events in Las Vegas—she has played suite parties at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as well as headlined AVN’s parties at Light at Mandalay Bay, among others.  This summer she is poised to release her first single, titled “Shoulda Neva,” that she co-produced with Oster. At press time Dolce was in post-production on the music video for the track, which she describes as “tropical house.” Her partner, Marc Mojo, who has 20-plus years of experience in the music industry, says they are in talks with two different labels to distribute the song. It features vocals written and performed by Sené, who formerly sang with will.i.am and the Black-Eyed Peas as well as Prototype. “She just started producing six months ago,” Mojo tells AVN. “I have a music background and she gave me a number of tracks and there was one that stood out. The song’s amazing. I’m hyper-critical because of my background so I didn’t want to put something out that was just another song.” Mojo and Dolce wrote a treatment for the music video and went back to Sac-Town to shoot.  “The song is about how she was dating a guy and he had his shit going on and she was struggling but the cards flipped,” Mojo says. “So now she’s doing well and he wants her back. And she’s like, ‘You didn’t want me, remember. You ‘Shoulda Neva’ let me go.’” Mojo says he shared the track with a friend who writes and produces for several platinum recording artists. “You name it, from Chaka Khan to Bieber, Tyga, Drake, his house is covered in plaques,” Mojo says. “He’s a 50-year-old house head that produces. He gave it high praise and made a phone call and that’s where we got the first offer on a single. So it’s only been shared twice and it’s been really well received.” It was Mojo who encouraged Dolce to start DJing. “We were literally at a club in Sacramento and I think I was 20 (because I had a fake ID),” Dolce recalls. “Because I always liked to go out and I liked to dance and I’ve always liked music. And he was like, ‘Have you ever thought of DJing?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ But then the idea kind of stuck.” A couple months later Dolce bought a DJ controller at Guitar Center just to see if she would like it. “And I did and then I got better and got better equipment and started getting booked to DJ,” she says, noting she received a few lessons from an old-school hip-hop DJ but mostly learned on her own. “You kind of need to teach yourself how to do it and everybody has their own style, too,” Dolce says. “I’m a house DJ for sure but I can play hip-hop. I actually like playing hip-hop for the AVN parties.” Miss Brittany Andrews, an AVN Hall of Fame performer who has been immersed in the electronic music scene since the mid-’90s, will be DJing at nightclubs in Thailand and Japan this summer and has been booked to spin at parties around the world for more than six years. Known as DJ BritStar, Andrews in 2016 held down a summer residency at the Go Pool at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, where she now resides. In addition to Asia, she has also DJed in South America, Spain and Australia. She remembers having a DJ setup originally for parties she had at her downtown L.A. studio space, Britco, in the ’90s, “so I could have a live DJ perform.” “We would go to a party and then bring the party back to my studio,” says Andrews, who has more than 320 adult film credits since ’95. “I’ve had my own equipment since I was 22 and I still have the same turntables today now that I’m 43.” Andrews recalls several key moments that defined her DJing experience, such as in 2001 when she hosted a club in Miami, where the owner asked to her “to stand and look pretty” in the DJ booth and “pretend” to spin a few songs. “They thought it was cute and they were really surprised I actually knew what I was doing because I had my own equipment at that time since 1995,” Andrews recalls. For years after that she did spontaneous stints in the DJ booth during her dozens of club hosting appearances, but she did not take DJing seriously until an epiphany in 2011. That year she survived an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, spent time in jail in Dubai and got pulled into a scam in Hong Kong. “It was the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and I thought the sky was falling, and my friends started saying I was part of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” Andrews recalls. “I bought a survival backpack. I said I think I need to find a something to do. I don’t need to fucking travel everywhere. It was actually when I was in the Hong Kong airport when I thought I am just fucking over all of this. I said to myself, I need to make some changes in my life.” It was her Russian girlfriend Gelenna, whom she met at a Winter Music Conference [now the Ultra Music Festival], who urged her to try DJing. “I never listened to her until I listened to her,” Andrews says. “She was just bugging me about it for fucking years and I lived in L.A. and then in N.Y. She kept on bugging me all these freaking years and then finally it was the right time for me to hear it.” Andrews continues, “I would travel all over the world. I would pick up these rare, very unique eclectic mixes. Back then they were CDs, really dope as fuck CDs from all over the world, stuff that wasn’t as popular in the U.S. but was popular in Europe, the U.K. and all over Italy. “I started going to Ibiza when I was 24. I was a presenter at the first International Ibiza DJ Music Awards back then. I was involved in the scene.” Once she decided to commit to becoming professional, she got a loan from an ex-boyfriend to upgrade her equipment “and do this thing seriously.” “I started taking all kinds of music lessons on how to read music. I took piano lessons and I got my master’s certification on Ableton from Dubspot in New York,” Andrews says.  “I learned the history of funk and reggae, the history of electronic music. I really immersed myself in it. I had gotten a couple gigs at the Thompson Hotel in the Sky Room. Those were some of the first gigs that I had. I did a yacht party on the Hudson [River].”  She also reached out to another good friend, Michelle Levy Silverman, who owned an artist management company and is now the executive director of the EDM Division at Skam Artists, which represented Andrews in 2015-16. “They are the No. 1 DJ booking agency in the US and I was with them for a while,” Andrews says.   Now studying for her real estate license and only shooting porn on occasion, Andrews says DJing is “definitely a side hustle.” “It’s not my main thing whatsoever at all. I’m a 43-year-old, so it keeps me young, if you know what I mean,” she jokes. “I’m going to Thailand this summer for a DJ gig and I got another in China and I got another in Tokyo. I’m excited about Thailand. I’ve never been there. “The gig is at a big club called Bone Pattaya and it’s with T Entertainment. I got the gig on July 29, close to my birthday. I’m going to stay there for 10 days and check out Thailand. What’s funny is when I originally started it I said well I don’t want to travel anymore. Now it’s the only thing that gets me traveling, exactly opposite of what I originally had thought.” Now Andrews resides in Vegas, or what she calls “the DJ epicenter of the world.”  “I moved from New York to Vegas a little over three years ago,” she says. She has DJed at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club and Crazy Horse 3 in Sin City.  “The thing about it is I’m pro female empowerment,” Andrews says. “Do you, be you. Be artistic. Be creative, just don’t suck. It was the same thing my agent said to me. A lot of girls who do it because it’s cool and trendy don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. It makes me look a lot better because I’ll come into a club and they’ll say, ‘Oh, you actually know what you’re doing.’ In that aspects it does help me. “My biggest advice would be to actually learn how to do it. Hone your skills and your craft. A lot of them are just jumping on the bandwagon. They’re just pressing play and don’t understand the equipment. They’re posers. That kind of helps me and kind of hurt me as well.” Speaking of Vegas residents, Nikki Phoenix has juggled music interests with her adult industry endeavors since she started her porn career in 2011. “It’s been an incredible and remarkable journey for me which has really snowballed,” Phoenix says. “My song ‘Your Smile’ hit number one on Soundcloud in May of 2015 with 3.3 million plays. We had documented radio play in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and was I nominated for Best Soundtrack.” An aerialist, producer, singer and DJ, she is also part of EDM duo act Jackeld Phoenix, which is signed by AVN Hall of Fame producer Miles Long’s record label, Sights & Sounds. At press time the label had just released Phoenix’s EDM song and music video for “Dreaming of You.” “The most gratifying thing about making music is the idea that you can share yourself, who you are and your ideas with the world,” says Phoenix, whose duo act headlined Las Vegas Hempfest in October 2015. Gracie Glam, the 2011 AVN Best New Starlet, in May signed with Fine Mode, a new record label based in LA founded by the team behind SaturdayNight Sessions, which is known for Monster Massive and TAO (Together As One). “I’m one of their first artists,” says Glam, who this year has decided to pursue DJing in a serious way after doing it casually for the past two years. She played her first ever DJ set in September 2015 at the “FSC After Dark: Capes & Panties” fashion show/fundraiser at Supperclub in Hollywood. “This is the first time I’m really working on some remixes and stuff that’s going to probably come out next month and premiere me as a new artist with their label,” Glam says.  Glam, who has close to 400 adult film credits and is returning to porn performing this summer, says she has been “kind of shy” about talking about her interest in DJing. “I always felt like DJing is very trendy, like that saying ‘everybody is a DJ.’ And I’ve always kind of held back when it came to being out there about DJing and music,” Glam admits.  “I didn’t want to be looked at or labeled as someone who is just being trendy. What my friend Ali the owner of Fine Mode told me is, ‘If you’re good, that’s all that people are going to know. People who are trendy or not really doing it, it’s obvious when they play that it’s either a pre-recorded live set or like an aux DJ. But if you really love what you’re doing and you’re really good at it, then none of that’s going to matter. People are going to see you for your talent and skill. And basically fuck what people think, get over it. Do what you love and what makes you happy.’ “So this year for 2017, I’ve tried to just really break out of my insecurities and focus on just being confident and really exploring things that I’m passionate about. So it’s taken me a year or so. And when he presented that to me I said, ‘You know what, you’re right and I’m ready.’” Glam’s DJ name is also her social media persona—Glam Chowder. “Some people I don’t think they understand the name Glam Chowder. When I ask people what they think of the name they say, ‘That sounds gross.’ But, I feel like Glam Chowder is Glam, which derives from my actual stage name.  “Chowder—as in the soup—is me. Just what I’m into personally and expressing that publicly. If you want to get to know me, whether it’s art and other stuff, that’s what Glam Chowder will fall under.” Uma Jolie only started DJing earlier this year but things have taken off quickly—she says she is already a resident DJ at Heart Nightclub and E11EVEN in Miami.  “I have a lot going on,” Jolie tells AVN. “I’m trying to really stay focused.” Jolie made the most of her chance to open for music superstars at Story during the Rolling Loud pre-festival parties. “That’s kind of how I began getting residencies at nightclubs due to opening for very famous artists,” she says. “I didn’t know anybody in the DJ world, but my ex-fiancee is the CEO and creator of the Rolling Loud festival. I was with him for two years and he started to get me DJ gigs. He had pre-rollout parties for the Rolling Loud festival and he had gotten me those gigs for exposure. That’s how I really popped off.” Currently self-booking, Jolie is doing better than most at this early stage thanks to her well-connected network in Miami. “I know all the GMs of the nightclubs and the promoters and I’ve always loved music. I’ve always wanted to DJ. It’s been something I’ve always dreamed about but never thought I could accomplish until I put my mind to it. I took some classes and just practiced and started getting it, started making sets,” Jolie says. “I was very nervous and I still am very nervous if I ever go on stages, but I just enjoy performing for a live audience. I think that’s very entertaining but very nerve-wracking.  “I’m a confident girl, but walking onto a DJ set and having to mix music and having to play for a crowd is very nerve-wracking, especially performing before big artists. It’s enjoyable, though, and I love it. I love getting the crowd hyped. It’s like a movement. Everybody’s in tune with one beat and that one beat is made by me.”  Samantha Bentley, the August 2015 Penthouse Pet, says her musical style is representative of her Bad Bentley persona as a porn performer. “I am into hard sex and all that sort of thing and in porn that was my character,” she says. “It’s the same with music. I am a bit dark and very London and I wanted that to come across. I didn’t want to do Celebrity Big Brother type shit … I wanted to earn my points in the music industry and do things my way.” Bentley also recently finished her first song, “Again,” that she wrote, produced and sang. The rapper Bandits also performs vocals for the song, which will be released this month. “The is the first thing that I’ve properly finished and been proud of,” Bentley says. “Sometimes you think something that you do is really good and then others are like, ‘Yeah, try harder.’ So I sent it to my partner, who does music as well, and he was like, ‘Holy shit, did you actually do this?’” The British star praised a few fellow current and former performers who are making noise with DJing. “Carter Cruise is absolutely killing it. She’s amazing,” Bentley says. “Jessie [Andrews] killed it, though I know she’s not doing music so much anymore, she’s working on fashion, but she killed it, too. And Sasha [Grey] killed it, obviously,” Bentley says. Indeed, the 2008 AVN Female Performer of the Year and AVN Hall of Fame performer Grey has been an internationally known touring DJ for years. The adult stars who agreed to be interviewed for this story almost all identify most with house music, but have their own distinct sounds. “My DJ style is future bass and trap meets kind of grimy London beats,” Bentley says. “If Flume and Alison Wonderland had a baby, listened to grime and was born in deep, dark London. Basically it’s a bit of a mess. “It kind got to the point where everyone was telling me what I should play and what would sell and my head was exploding. I was thinking this is the music that I like. I don’t really give a shit if it doesn’t sell because at the end of the day if i’m going to do this music thing, I want to be true to myself and make music that I love.”  Darcie Dolce, who also splits time between feature dancing, producing and performing, can also DJ for any kind of party, even if house music is her specialty. “When people ask me what’s her style I say she’s a house DJ but she’s also eclectic and she can fit into any crowd,” says her partner Marc Mojo. Ultimately, it may have been Brittany Andrews who summed up the spirit of DJing best, saying, “it comes from within.” “It’s good for your soul and once you have skills they never go away,” Andrews says.

 
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