Credit: Saverio Truglia

Askani, 23, is a contract girl with the alt-porn company Burning Angel.

I’ve been in the adult industry since about June 2009. I was 20 when I started. Probably in February 2009, I went up on this website—I don’t think it even exists anymore. It was run by this indie guy in France, called, and it was just, like, self-submitted pictures of girls in their underwear, and me and my boyfriend would take them. It was just fun. Nothing nude.

Burning Angel pretty much opened the door for me to porn, ’cause I’m not exactly the most porny-looking girl. You know, the girls with huge boobs and huge butts and they’re tan and they’re blond and I’m just sort of, like, normal-looking. And I have some tattoos and some piercings and whatnot. Burning Angel, that’s pretty much their tag, you know, everything’s real. I did it because I wanted to and I could. This door was open to me, and then after that the doors just kept opening.

The first scene I did was for one of Burning Angel’s other sites, It’s the POV scene, where the performer is also the director. James Deen, who often works for Burning Angel, does that site. He’s the stunt cock, so he’s shooting it. And he warned me, like, this is going to be really strenuous on your body, because for a point of view, you sort of have to do everything. The girl has to perform in such a way as to create the action because, for the viewer, it’s supposed to look like, you know, this girl could actually be having sex with them. It’s to create that experience. So you have to really put your all into it. There was one part where he was shooting me doing reverse cowgirl, and he was lying on the ground, shooting up at me, so he could see me coming off, and this was all on hardwood floor. My legs were completely dead.

Porn is like a little workout sometimes. If you shoot a lot it feels that way. It’s very stop and go. It’s not really normal sex. You know, you don’t get to pick ’em. But sometimes it’s definitely awesome. Sometimes I’ve gotten booked with guys that I wouldn’t talk to in public. I’d be like, “Oh, he’s hot,” and continue on with my day. It takes that and creates real-life fantasy situations out of it. And that’s what porn’s supposed to be. It’s creating a fantasy.

I named myself Phoenix Askani because my favorite comic book character, X-Men character, is Jean Grey. I love her powers. I always joke about that; I’m such a nerd. I took the Phoenix part from the phoenix force that embodies both Jean Grey and her future daughter, Rachel Summers, who starts a clan called the Askani clan, and “askani” means “outsider” in Latin.

So if you want to get really deep about it, the actual meanings of the names, a phoenix that rises from its ashes and an outsider, comes from me being a complete outcast in high school and now I do porn. I couldn’t have picked a better name for myself. I love it.

When I was younger, like before I lost my virginity and in mid-adolescence, I was afraid of sex and things that were sexual. As things progressed, I became more curious. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 18. Pretty much age 19, I was just completely off the wall. And I realized it wasn’t about just being promiscuous. I was a very sex-positive, open-minded person, and I liked feeling free-spirited, so to speak.

I know a lot of really intelligent, really strong women in porn who are emotionally stable, they’re mentally stable, they do it because they like to have sex. To loosely quote my friend Jenna Haze, “You know, I like to fuck. And if I can do it safely and make a little money while doing it, why the fuck not?” Stormy Daniels has even gone so far as to say, “What’s more empowering than the only industry in the world where women make twice as much as men?”

I don’t think that every girl in porn is fucked-up in the head, by any means. Yeah, a lot of them are freaks sexually, I mean, absolutely. But some of them are just very normal. They’re just girls that enjoy sex and enjoy being watched and it’s fun for them. —As told to Miles Raymer