In January of 2016, the 33rd AVN Awards were held in Paradise. That’s as in Nevada, at the Hard Rock Cafe and Casino. True to the times, the biggest award winners were skin flick versions of Peter Pan and Batman v. Superman. Pity the members of the nominating committee who each year have to slog through thousands of adult films.
Adult Video News is to the adult entertainment industry what Billboard is to the mainstream entertainment industry. And AVN holds its Awards in and around Las Vegas each January. The Awards are based loosely on the Oscars. Some uncharitable souls say there is a suspicious correlation between the magazine’s advertisers and the winners list, but we will put that to one side. And to be inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame, is the highest honor that can be bestowed on the actors and production teams that work in the industry. A track record of at least 10 years working in the industry is required.
From Vanessa de Rio to Ron Jeremy and the infamous Jenna Jameson, here are 13 of the best skin flick stars from the 1980’s and 1990’s, and what they are up to today.
13. Vanessa del Rio
Bored with an office job, del Rio became a go-go dancer (and some say a call girl), before hitting the industry in the Golden Age that was the 1970s. Her career, which spanned some 25 years and included over 100 films, was interrupted for a bit in the 1980’s when she left the industry due to the AIDS scare. This Hall of Famer, dubbed the “Latin from Manhattan”, has retired, but still keeps her hand (and pocketbook) in by selling her kinky memorabilia on eBay (she has 100% positive feedback) and with her website that features webcam footage of girls, girls, and more girls. She also has appeared in a handful of hip hop videos. In 2014 it was announced that actress Zulay Henao (Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club) would play del Rio in a biopic.
12. Veronica Hart
What do you do if you are a retired skin flick star? Well, we bet becoming a s*x educator in China isn’t on the top of your list. But that’s just what Veronica Hart did when she hung up her skin flick spurs. And then there is the film production company she sold to Hustler. And the gig as a tour guide in a s*x museum. Back in the day, this Hall of Famer was a superstar. She moved into directing videos for Playboy and has done a bit of mainstream “acting”. These days, looking a tad bit momsy (well she is nearly 60), she makes appearances at conferences and conventions.
11. Nina Hartley
This openly bisexual, neo-pagan (her own words) member of the Hall of Fame was born Marie Louise Hartman, and chose the name “Nina” because when she worked as a dancer in San Francisco, it was easy for Japanese tourists who flocked to her performances to pronounce. She has said her biggest assets are her baby-blues and a well rounded backside. She started in the industry in 1984, and IMDb lists some 638 films in which she has appeared as an actress. Exhausting just thinking about it. One of her latest appearances was as “grandma” in TV’s Hard Times.
10. Ron Jeremy
Looking at him now, it’s a little hard to imagine the smoldering, dark presence he projected in the 1980’s. Nicknamed “Hedgehog” (something to do with hair), his claim to fame is that he has appeared in The Guinness Book of Records as the record holder for having appeared in the most adult films. IMDb list some 1,418 films from the late 1970’s through to 2016. He is also noted for both the size and “reliability” of his equipment. Back in the 70’s, he was a teacher and intended to make a go of mainstream acting. Then his girlfriend sent in his picture to Playgirl. He started posing for the magazine and the rest, as they say, is history.
9. Ginger Lynn
In 1982, Ginger Lynn was working in a music store and living in a trailer in one of the worst areas of Redlands, California, when she answered an ad for a “figure model”. Read no clothes. A photo spread in Penthouse led pretty quickly to a lucrative career in skin flicks. Ginger appeared in some 69 films from 1983 to 1986, but quit when it stopped being fun. She has appeared in some mainstream films (Vice Academy) and the odd music video. These days, looking pretty good for a fifty-something, she is on the gentleman’s club circuit.
8. Asia Carrera
This Hall of Famer made nearly 300 films and videos in a 10 year career that began in 1993. Reportedly, the Japanese/German Carrera has an IQ of 156 and is a member of Mensa. She is now retired and widowed and living in Utah with her children. An avowed atheist, Carrera ran away from home and, at 17, was homeless. She turned to dancing while studying at Rutgers University. Determined never to live out on the street again, she moved to Los Angeles after hearing stories of the money to be made in skin flicks. And the rest, as they often say, is history.
7. Gail Force
When you think of Gail Force, think of Gonzo. What? It’s a style of skin flick where the scenes are shot in a way that makes the viewer feel part of the scene. Sounds like fun to us. Blonde Gail Force was a Gonzo pioneer, first as an actress and later as a director. A child of the 80’s, she is married adult film director Jim Powers. She started appearing in adult films when she was in her late teens and is now well and truly retired from that type of film making. Her last film was in 1999. It’s hard to believe that she is about to hit the big 5-0.
6. Jenna Jameson
Reports of the forty-something’s recent activities include being accused of cyber bullying by her ex’s girlfriend. She was once one of the golden girls of adult films and one of its richest stars. She began her career in the mid-90’s and “retired” in 2008. Married for a time to UFC champ Tito Ortiz, she went through a nasty divorce and staged a kind of comeback, endorsing s*x toys and starring in a few adult films and horror movies. Believe it or not, she appeared in the 2011 film Horrorween, alongside none other than Donald Trump and William Shatner. Don’t look for her on the campaign trail. She has been plagued by money troubles and rumors of a drinking problem.
5. Samantha Strong
With a near perfect body (36/24/34), it’s not hard to see why Samantha Strong was a star in this particular film world. She was spotted by none other than Ron Jeremy at a video association conference and made over 100 films between 1986 (she was 19) and 1999 when she retired. Bizarrely, she was said to be the favorite actress of Richard Ramirez, a serial killer known as “The Night Stalker”. In addition to being in the Hall of Fame, she was AVN’s Best New Starlet in 1988.
4. Debi Diamond
She was snapped at the 2012 Golden Goddesses book launch looking a little raunchy and a lot sexy. Now 51 years old, Diamond is one of the true pioneers of the adult film industry. She made her first “film” on her 18th birthday. She was friends with top Hollywood producer Robert Evans, and was reportedly his personal assistant for a time. After a meteoric rise in the industry in the 1990’s, she suddenly quit in 1995, but made a comeback of sorts in 2010 working for Playboy Radio (Sirius XM) and forming her own film company.
3. Karen Dior
Karen Dior is the stage name of Geoffrey Gann, a female impersonator extraordinaire, a “film” star, a singer, and a songwriter. Dior also appeared in mainstream films such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Veronica’s Closet. “She” came to Hollywood in 1989 when she was only 21 and worked in a beauty salon and performed in drag shows in West Hollywood. Dior contracted HIV in 1995 and died at the age of 37 in 2004 of hepatitis. In addition to earning a PhD in philosophy, Dior was also an ordained minister. Dior was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
2. Annie Sprinkle
The busty barmaid of adult films, Annie, a self-described “good Jewish girl”, is big and beautiful and smiling. Let’s check out her Resume: s*x educator, former call girl, feminist dancer, skin flick actress, magazine editor, writer and “film” producer. She even has a doctorate in human sexuality. This 1999 inductee into the Hall of Fame is an “Ecosexual”, proclaiming that the earth is our lover. Okay. The veteran of some 76 “films”, she has also worked as a producer and director. She and her long time partner Beth Stephens, married in Canada in 2007.
1. Christy Canyon
It was the early 1980’s. There she was in Hollywood just standing waiting for a ride when adult star Greg Rome, approached her and said she would make a great figure model. He gave her a business card for a “modeling” agency. She began posing for men’s magazines and soon after started making adult films. Her first film appearance was along side Ron “Hedgehog” Jeremy. They went on to become good friends. Her career spanned from the 1980’s and 1990’s. These days, she concentrates on her website and making appearances.