Life After Porn: What Happens To Porn Stars After Retiring?

Ever wondered what happens to retired porn stars?

Life after porn is a key consideration for anybody who enters the adult industry.

As a career, the appeal of working in porn is pretty obvious; the money, the notoriety, the sex and the flexible working hours to name just a few.

However, what happens when you want to leave the industry and pursue a 9-5 job?

Does the ‘vanilla’ world of business, retail, government, health and education welcome former porn stars with open arms?

Or does shooting an adult skin flick follow you around for the rest of your life?

In this guide to life after porn, we take a look at the most popular career options for former adult stars.

The Stigma of Working in Porn

Despite living in more enlightened times compared to those of even a generation ago, there is still a stigma attached to sex workers that is proving difficult to shake.

If you’re looking to get into porn, there are a lot of social dilemmas to consider.

Not to mention the ongoing headache of the coronavirus pandemic!

Whilst porn consumption is on the rise and the views about watching adult content becoming more progressive, the perceptions of those who work in the industry are still (widely) negative.

life after porn ends leaving the industry
What happens to stars when they’ve had enough of making porn?

Working in porn, even just the once, can be a life-altering decision that affects the rest of your career.

See: What Is It Like to Work In Porn?

The industry is inextricably linked to the permanency of the internet which means that the scenes performers shoot are publicly available….forever.

Even those movies that are copyright protected can end up in the hands of porn pirates and are distributed to millions of people.

All fine and well whilst you are working in the adult industry but what happens when you try to swap a life in porn for a regular day job?

Unpalatable as it sounds, future employers can and do discriminate against sex workers.

As a result, many adult film performers choose to leave their CV blank rather than ‘fess up. These ‘black holes’ can be difficult to explain.

In a series of interviews given to the British newspaper, Independent, several former porn stars explained how finding work was tough:

“A friend once hooked me up with a job at a small advertising company. Told me the boss didn’t care about my past work. Mentioned it to a few co-workers. Eventually found out the boss hated porn. She fired me”

“I have heard stories from other girls who are try to move on from porn – like going to school and trying to become a nurse – and then everyone at the hospital finds out that she did porn and then she ends up getting fired.”

Even for the folk behind the camera can find it hard to put their past behind them:

It’s even tricky for regular off-camera employees to get work elsewhere. We have to use vague company names to mask where we’ve worked before. One of my co-workers could not put his child in a private school because they did a background search on him and found out where he works.”

life after porn ends and leaving the industry
Does the end of a porn career mean the end of ANY career?

The Pros and Cons of Life After Porn

So with this level of stigmatization, why do people leave the porn industry at all?

Everyone is different and though there are many adult performers who enjoy their line of work – and there is certainly good money to be made – many get tired of the stigmatization and negativity.

Others have a clear plan when they start their careers to make enough money to fund their overall goals.

Some just grow tired of the lifestyle whilst others are fearful of their health.

Then there are those porn stars who work right up until the ‘normal’ retirement age.

With mature porn being so popular, there is always film work to be found for the big names no matter how old they get.

In fact, there are quite a lot of former porn stars who have happily retired and return to the industry later in life.

One of the main reasons for this, it seems, is the money.

It’s why plenty of people get into the adult movie industry in the first place.

And one of the problems with life after porn is the drop in income.

From earning several hundred bucks for one day’s work to putting in 40-50 hours a week for the same wage is a big eye-opener for many former porn stars.

Other ‘retired’ adult actors return to the set for the thrills or to get a taste of their former lives.

But what about those who are adamant about getting out and want to build a fresh start for themselves?

See: How Much Money Does A Porn Movie Make?

what comes after a porn career
Can retired porn stars truly leave their former careers behind?

Rebranding After Leaving the Porn Industry

Leaving the porn industry for good can be easy for some performers depending on how successful their adult movie careers have been.

Major household names who have shot hundreds of movies with the big studios may find it harder to ‘blend’ in than those debutantes who merely starred in a few scenes.

However, even some of the most successful porn stars have managed to forge a new life for themselves after porn including Sunny Leone, Lisa Ann and Asia Carrera.

Of course, they will always be known for their adult film careers but all three of these megastars have managed to put their XXX roles behind them.

Changing Name

Fortunately, most porn stars don’t actually use their real names when they start off in the industry but the internet has made it much easier to put two and two together.

With the likes of the IAFD, Wikipedia and other databases, if you want to put some distance between yourself and your former career then you have to look at changing your name.

In recent years, huge search engines like Google have been forced to comply with European laws like the Right to be Forgotten which makes it easier for ex-porn stars to retake control of their lives.

Currently this law isn’t in the statute of countries like United States where courts have reasoned that there is social value in the published facts.

Detractors of the law in the US also maintain that recognition of this law contravenes freedom of speech.

For those ex-porn stars who cannot insist that internet giants remove details of their former lives, there are companies who specialize in Online Reputation Defense.

Changing Appearances

For most people, blending in after a porn career can be pretty easy but for those performers who reached some degree of fame, there is always the chance that your face (and other assets) will give you away.

A lot of ex-porn stars who want to distance themselves from their history, embrace a change in appearance.

From gaining some extra pounds to changing their hair color and wearing glasses, they never really escape the possibility of being ‘recognized’; particularly those that have tattoos.

what happens after porn ends
Tattoos are common for porn stars and it can be these that give them away after their porn careers are over.

What Next After Leaving Porn?

As we’ve already mentioned, some porn stars find it difficult to make their way in the ‘real’ world after a career in adult movies and many do return to the industry.

Vivid contract performer, Raylene (real name Stacey Bernstein) has retired several times from her porn career, each time to pursue different careers.

In 2001, she tried her hand as a real estate agent before coming back to the adult film industry and then in 2004 she became a dancer. By 2014, she announced via Twitter that she had left porn for good.

Amber Lynn is another star of adult movies who has turned to real estate for a taste of ‘normal life’; however, she still manages to juggle the demands of working as a live cam model as well as occasionally returning to porn.

Bernstein is just one example of how quitting porn for good can be difficult but how have other porn stars tried to carve a new career in the real world?

Sex Work

It makes sense to see so many former adult stars quitting the porn industry to pursue careers in a similar fashion.

From escorting and prostitution to live cam modeling and stripping, there are a lot of performers who prefer to work on their own terms, away from the limelight of the cameras.

Many choose to stay in porn and switch from being stars to being producers, directors and even running their own adult websites.

Some, like Jenna Jameson, have built their own sex industry empires around their brand. Jameson, one of the richest porn stars ever, famously ran the highly profitable Club Jenna studio, had her own line of Doc Johnson sex toys and even sold ‘Jenna’ action figures.

She is one of the top earning adult stars on Cameo, a brand new platform for personalised videos.

Though Jameson retired from the screen herself, she returned to the adult industry in 2013 when she started working as a webcam model.

life after porn ends jenna jameson
Former porn star, now businesswoman, TV personality and media star, Jenna Jameson cannot escape her tag of Queen of Porn.

Chasey Lain, worked in porn between 1993 and 2014 before switching to a job at the world-famous Bunny Ranch in Nevada.

Working as an escort, she was reportedly hoping to put her porn and sex career behind her and start her life afresh.

Mainstream Media

Porn stars are used to the limelight so it should come as no surprise that many an adult film performer finds themselves the center of attention in other media careers.

Whilst some start out with cameo roles in film and TV, others swap the glare of the cameras for music, public speaking, activism or writing.

The most successful of these has got to be Marilyn Chambers.

Star of the 1972 hardcore film Behind The Green Door, Chambers is known as porn’s most famous crossover. As well as working in the theater and having a singing career she has also made many appearances in mainstream TV and film roles. 

She also ran for public office in 2004 and 2008, latterly as the running mate for Charles Jay with  the Boston Tea Party.

Film & Television

Star of the 1980s adult movie scene, Ginger Lynn was an iconic porn star who worked the industry to her advantage.

Lynn reportedly negotiated herself one of the best salaries in the game and was able to transition from porn to mainstream when she landed film roles in movies like Vice Academy (1989), Young Guns II (1990), The Stranger (1995), American Pie: Band Camp (2005) and Devil’s Rejects (2005).

She also has plenty of other non-adult TV and film appearances to her name. Like many other former porn stars, she also briefly returned to the industry in 1999 when she filmed three new titles and again in 2007.

life after porn ends ginger lynn
Ginger Lynn (L) and Christy Canyon (R) on air at Sirius XM.

Tabitha Stevens was a popular adult star of the 1990s starring in plenty of porn scenes yet she successfully made the transition to mainstream when she landed a regular role in Doctor 90210.

A reality TV role about plastic surgery, it wasn’t a million miles away from her adult film career but it did enable her to bag a Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) card which opened doors for Stevens with other TV work.

Another star who came back to the fold, she briefly returned to porn in 2009 but now (reportedly) runs a fine-art gallery with her husband in Utah.

Bree Olson appeared in over 280 adult scenes during her career before quitting the porn industry in 2010.

Since leaving the adult film scene she has gone on to have a career in mainstream film and TV with appearances in the Purgatory Comics (2009), Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) (2015) as well as starring with Will Ferrell for Adam McKay’s website Funny or Die.

She has been outspoken about her time in porn, criticizing the industry for not paying royalties for performers and acknowledging that society has a negative view of ex-porn stars.

One of the most successful crossover stars remains Sunny Leone (real name Karenjit Kaur Vohra).

Canadian born but Indian by descent, Leone retired from a highly successful porn career in 2013 and went on to have a mainstream career in Bollywood.

She has also hosted, presented or appeared on several Indian reality TV series including Big Boss (a Hindi language Big Brother style show).

In addition, she has also been a high-profile fundraiser for PETA and the American Cancer Society. Leone has also dabbled with writing as a profession, publishing a collection of 12 short stories; Sweet Dreams. She now lives in Mumbai with her husband and her children.

life after porn ends sunny leone
Sunny Leone (pictured at AVN Expo 2008) has gone on to successfully carve out a new career for herself in India.

Music

The celebrated black porn star, Johnnie Keyes successfully launched a career for himself after his time in porn came to an end.

An iconic star of the classic 1970 adult movie Behind The Green Door (1972), Keyes enjoyed a spell as a boxer and starred in many stage musicals before finding a new window of fame as a jazz singer.

Winner of the 2012 Urban X Female Performer of the Year award, Raylin Joy (known as ‘Skin Diamond’) has swapped her career in porn for music. A singer-songwriter with several singles to her name, she has also been pursuing acting roles in mainstream media.

Writing

Sasha Grey, the youngest winner of the AVN Female Performer of the Year award in 2008, has turned her talents to many areas since she retired from porn in 2011.

From modeling and mainstream acting to forming an industrial music band, she is best known nowadays for being a successful author. Self-described as a multimedia artist, Grey writes for film but has published a popular trilogy of ‘satirical, erotic’ novels, The Juliette Trilogy.

life after porn ends sasha grey
Promoting her novel The Jouliette Society, Sasha Grey signs books at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Plenty of porn stars use their experiences of the adult industry to turn to writing in later life and releasing an autobiography seems like a go-to fallback for many former XXX movies stars.

See our list: The 21 Best Porn Star Autobiographies and Memoirs

From Asa Akira to Zak Smith, some of these are pretty revealing about life in (and after) porn.

Sport

With the release of the 2008 parody porn movie, Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?

Lisa Ann became one of the hottest names in the adult industry. Eventually starring in more than 300 scenes and reportedly accumulating a net worth of more than $4 million, she has repeatedly retired from the business.

Her first stint between 1994-1997 came before her big break before she returned between 2006 and 2014.

After this second spell, she focused on a career in fantasy football, fantasy baseball and with a sports podcast for Sirius XM before coming back to porn between 2018-2020. She also turned her hand to writing as well as running a boot camp for aspiring porn models.

Though she retired from the industry in 2015, Mia Khalifa remains one of the most viewed porn stars on sites like Pornhub. Like Lisa Ann, Khalifa has an interest in sports and has also been a host of several radio shows.

Education, Politics & Public Speaking

The 1990s porn star Janine Lindemulder made her debut in 1992 and was prominent on the adult film scene until 1999 when she announced she was retiring.

By now a mother, her plan was to become a kindergarten teacher. There are no details as to whether she managed to achieve her goal but we guess not as she returned to porn in 2004.

This second spell resulted in her winning two AVN awards but was not to be a successful return. In 2008, due to non-payment of taxes, Lindemulder was sent to federal prison.

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Lindemulder pictured at the 2006 AVN Expo during her second stint in porn.

Star of almost 400 porn films between 1997 and 2005, Darren James gained notoriety after it emerged he had contracted HIV and had inadvertently infected three other performers.

In his life after porn, he initially continued working in the industry (as a director) until 2006 the scandal and aftermath left him seeking an out. James has since found employment as a security guard but also speaks publicly and advocates for those living with HIV.

Filipino porn star Mimi Mayagi (real name Melody Damayo) filed as a Republican candidate in 2006 in the state of Nevada. She was defeated by a wide margin, after which she joined the Libertarian Party. She retired fully from the porn business in 2007 and later became a fashion reporter for an online magazine.

Someone who had more success in official office was the Hungarian-Italian former porn star, Cicciolina (real name Ilona Staller).

Elected to the Italian parliament in 1987, she served out a term of four years during which she famously offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein in return for an end to war in the Middle East.

Though she was not re-elected in 1991, she continued to be involved in politics running in local elections and setting up her own political party in 2012.

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Ilona Staller pictured at the anti-prohibitionist demonstration in Rome, 1989.

Crissy Moran wasn’t a huge star but she did build a relatively large online following before she quite the business in 2006.

A born-again Christian, Moran turned to mainstream film before making a career out of her experiences in the porn industry.

Working for an outreach program to help women in the sex industry deal with ‘sexual brokenness’, Moran is outspoken about the harms of pornography and associates the business with exploitation and human trafficking.

Another anti-pornography advocate and born-again Christian, Shelley Lubben (known as Roxy) went one step further and became a staunch activist.

Launching the Pink Cross Foundation in 2008, she lobbied against the industry. The foundation was closed down in 2016 whereupon Lubben was ordained as a minister after obtaining her degree in Theological Studies.

‘Normal’ Life

Georgina Spelvin, the infamous star of the 1970s classic The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) was one of the biggest names in the industry for a time.

She retired from porn to take a desk-job with the Los Angeles Times in the early 80s and enjoyed a pretty normal life. Spelvin (real name Shelly Bob-Graham) retired from the staff in 2004 at the age of 68 and wrote her autobiography in 2008.

A former professional wrestler as well as porn star, Tyffany Million (real name Sandra Margot-Escott) appeared in more than 120 XXX rated movies.

After becoming a born-again Christian, she ran a successful private investigation and bounty hunter business from 2006-2018 in her life after porn.

During this time, she also worked as a political radio host before moving on to become a school bus driver in Arizona. She even starred in a reality show called Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter showing her successful transition after porn ended for her.

life after porn ends tyffany millions
Former porn star, ‘Tyffany Million’ asks the question of her LinkedIn followers….”What next…?” Image via LinkedIn.

Star of one of the legendary adult movies of all-time and once holder of the gangbang record (having sex 620 times in 8 hours), we have Houston.

Just a year after The World’s Biggest Gangbang 3: The Houston 620 (1999) was released, she attempted to make the crossover to a mainstream music and acting career before gradually fading away from the business.

In 2012 she released her autobiography and took part in the documentary series After Porn Ends. Turns out that she was able to leave her porn career behind and is now a church-going mom with a nursing career.

One of America’s hottest properties in the early noughties, Tera Patrick (winner of the Hot d’Or, Nightmoves, AVN and XRCO Best New Starlet awards) retired from shooting any new material in 2008 but continued to operate her own websites.

She enjoyed some film and TV work including presenting the School of Sex educational show on Playboy TV.

Although she licenses her own movies and earns royalties from these performances, she moved to Italy a few years ago where she and her new husband (a defense attorney) live in (relative) obscurity.

life after porn ends tera patrick
Another former porn star with tell-tale tattoos, Tera Patrick has moved to Italy to start afresh.

The ‘human piledriver’, Randy West, graciously retired from porn in 2005 at the age of 58.

After notching up over 1300 scenes in the business and becoming tired of living in Southern California, West now lives in Las Vegas and spends his retirement on the golf course making appearances at charity tournaments.

There are few porn fans from the 1990s who won’t know Asia Carrera. The first half-Asian porn superstar, she starred in almost 400 adult movies and won the AVN Female Performer of the Year in 1995.

She retired from the industry after a decade in the business in 2003 after which time she became a stay-at-home mom in Utah. In 2017 (at the age of 44), she went back to school at Dixie State University to further her education.

After Porn Ends

To find out more about what happens to some of the most infamous porn stars after they quit the business you can catch up with Bryce Wagoner’s documentary series, After Porn Ends (2012), After Porn Ends 2 (2017) and After Porn Ends 3 (2018).

Available to stream on services like Netflix, these feature length films address some of the issues we’ve featured here and show a very different side to adult stars.

after porn ends on netflix
You can stream After Porn Ends on services like Netflix.

We’ll leave you with a quote from the first documentary in which Asia Carrera reflects on her time in the porn industry, and then life after porn:

“The other girls leave with a bad taste in their mouth and they… and I just… I have nothing but good memories when I look back.”