Let's talk numbers. The adult entertainment biz is reportedly worth $15 billion annually. In an industry where the equivalent to a mainstream actor's "scale" (minimum pay) for appearance in a "standard" sex scene can sometimes be counted in the hundreds of dollars, most adult entertainment actors and actresses don't make a lot of money. Like mainstream entertainment, the true adult entertainment stars are few and far between.
How do they make money? Well, there is, of course, the fees for acting. Or at least appearing in films. If you are Tera Patrick or Lexington Steele and in your prime, you can expect to take home in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Nice beginning. Then stars set up their own adult-only, x-rated websites that the curious pay to access. Before she sold it to Playboy, Jenna Jameson's Club Jenna was said to make millions a dollars per year. Then there are the "endorsements". Endorsements? Sasha Grey and Jenna have lent their names (and purportedly their anatomies) to sex toys. Some establish sexy clothing lines and do quasi-mainstream media like Playboy TV. Round this off with maybe a few mainstream or schlock horror films, and established stars can rake in millions a year. Here are 15 of the richest adult entertainment stars.
15 Belladonna - $1.8 million
If there is a grunge element to adult entertainment movies, Belladonna (born Michelle Anne Sinclair) was part of it. In an outrageous industry, she did scenes and performed acts no one else wanted to take on. Don't ask, cause we can't tell. The Mississippi native has more or less left performing behind, for the production side of the business. But she did appear in over 300 adult films and has nearly 90 directorial credits to her name. Her money has come via her production company, Belladona Entertainment (the people who brought you Hell's Belles), as well as revenues from her website, and sex toy deals with the likes of sex toy leader, Doc Johnson.
14 Sasha Grey - $2.5 million
Since going mainstream with her performance in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, Sasha Grey has left the adult film business behind. Don't ask her to take off her clothes in mainstream films because she certainly won't. With over 300 adult films to her credit, she started her career when she was just 18 (and legal). In 2008, she was the youngest actress ever to win the Adult Video News Award for Best Female Performer and in 2011, she was named by CNBC as one of the most popular adult entertainment stars. And this from a career that spanned all of 5 years or so.
13 Gianna Michaels - $4 million
What can we say about Gianna (aka Mistress Gianna)? For starters, she's reportedly a "natural" 38F and stands a statuesque 5 foot 11 inches. She went from nude modeling to making adult entertainment movies, nearly 500 of them. And her money? Well, she has had a strong presence on a number of adult websites, sold her bits for sex toys, and has even a high traffic website. You can check out her "compilation", The Best of Gianna Michaels for her best . . .
12 Evan Seinfeld - $5 million
Mainstream has Brangelina. Adult entertainment films have TeraSen (we made that up). Formerly married to adult super-star Tera Patrick, Evan Seinfeld is a musician (and a founding member of Biohazard), actor (adult and mainstream), and a big fan of tattoos. In adult films, he appeared as "Spyder Jones". His website says it all. Some of his mainstream appearances include a 40 episode stint on HBO's Oz, but it doesn't stop there for Evan. He and Tera even did their thing in E! True Hollywood Story episode "Rockstar Wives".
11 Jenna Haze - $6 million
With nearly 600 (count 'em, 600) adult films as an "actress" and some 15 as a director, Jenna Haze was the Adult Video News Award for Best New Starlet in 2003 and has her very own production company, Jennaration X Studios. One report says that for a time, she only "performed" with women out of loyalty (or some such) to a boyfriend, who was an adult film cameraman. Maybe she moved on, because she went back to working with men in 2006, when she made Jenna Haze Darkside. And she made history of sorts when one of her films was the first adult film released on Blu-ray.
10 Lexington Steele - $6 million
In an industry where most of the big bucks are made mostly by white women, our Number 10 breaks the mold in every sense of the word. Let's put it this way: Lex is known for his "ample" equipment, nearly a foot of it. He has won the Adult Video News Award for Best Male Performer three times. And he works both in front of and behind the camera, often for his own Mercenary Motion Pictures and Black Viking Pictures. Believe it or not, before adult films, he worked as a stockbroker in New York City. His money? These days, it comes mostly from his film companies and licensing of his "body" of work.
9 Katie Morgan - $6 million
One report says that Katie got into adult entertainment to pay off her bail after an arrest in 2000 for transporting more than 100 pounds of marijuana from Mexico into the USA. Kind of a ditsy bad girl type, she was in the spoofy Seth Rogen film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. She has said she watched adult films to pass the time while awaiting her trial on the marijuana rap and decided to give it a go. Hundreds of films later, she retired, but stays "active" touring with her own burlesque (aka. strip) show.
8 Bree Olson - $7 million
A veteran of nearly 300 adult films, Bree Olson describes herself as an atheist and bisexual. Olson lived with and was one of Charlie Sheen's "goddesses". Sheen has claimed she retired from the adult entertainment industry, due to their so-called relationship. He was a good influence? That was in 2011. Since then, she has gushed on her website about her acting career, mostly in B-feature comedy/horror forgettables. Oh, the Bree Olson sex toys are still selling, even if she has retired. As sex toy website Adam & Eve put it, she is "the girl next door with the sex drive of a pro."
7 Traci Lords - $7 million
6 Ron Jeremy - $7.5 million
Our Number 6, Ron "Hedgehog" Jeremy, is a legend. His famous and reliable equipment is quite legendary. He has passed into the realms of cultural icon. Not the classic male adult entertainment star, he reportedly holds the Guinness Record for appearing in the most adult films (over 2,000 since 1979). A former teacher, he is, as far as we can tell, the only adult star to have appeared on Wheel of Fortune -- under his real name Ron Hyatt, before he began his stellar career. His popular website's home page looks more mainstream than adult entertainment, but then there is the "viewing" area to explore.
5 Maria Takagi - $8 million
The petite Japanese actress has jumped to mainstream film and TV in her native country Japan, after a stellar run as an adult actress. In 2003, she reportedly was the highest paid adult entertainment actress in Japan. She finally retired from the industry in 2004, and has gone on to become an established women and has a busy and respectable career in Japanese movies and television. Much of her wealth is due to her mainstream efforts, but she still remains one of the greats of Japanese adult films.
4 Jesse Jane - $9 million
Former dancer, cheerleader and veteran of over 100 adult films, Jesse Jane is a petite bombshell that took the adult video world by storm (and we're talking about a big storm). We can certainly see why. Reportedly, she simply cold called film production company Digital Playground, presented her assets, and was signed on the spot. Then there were the sex toys, appearances on Playboy TV and gigs hosting award ceremonies. But what we are still trying to figure out is the story that she had her breast enhancement surgery redone for high-definition movies.
3 Jenna Jameson - $10 million
The star of I Dream of Jenna, Jenna Jameson had a successful website, Club Jenna, that was sold to Playboy in 2006, and wrote a bestselling autobiography. She dramatically quit the business in 2008, vowing never to return. Her estimated net worth is $10 million. Unfortunately, it apparently went all wrong. She had a tumultuous relationship (and twin boys) with Ultimate Fight Champ, Tito Ortiz. Reportedly, her LA mansion was auctioned off just in advance of foreclosure in 2013, causing Jenna to go back to adult films and ink a deal with boy sex toy makers Fleshlight, to lend her name and body parts to their toy. With that being said, her net worth may not be as high as $10 million anymore.
2 Peter North - $11 million
It blows our mind that boy-next-door hunk, Peter North is closing in on 60. Some uncharitable reports have pegged his IQ at 71. But, do his fans really care? The Canadian adult actor has, according to some sources, been in some 2,500 adult films, beating out the "official" title holder, aforementioned Ron Jeremy. He still directs, produces and "acts". Check his website for his North Pole series, currently at over 100 and still counting. And his stage name? Peter for, well, "Peter" and North for pointing the way. You know.
1 Tera Patrick - $15 million
Our Number 1 star, was a Valium addicted, sexually active, underage model in Japan before her father pulled the plug and she was sent back to the States. Beginning her adult career in 1999, Tera Patrick embodies sultry Asian (part Thai) and classic dark haired beauty. The star is a veteran of over 100 adult films. Her money comes from revenue from her website, an adult film production company, and licensing of her films. She has even run an eBay store, established a clothing line (Mistress Couture), and put out her own herbal supplements. We have no idea what is in the stuff, and probably don't want to know.