Jessie Andrews and Henrik Purienne work fast. Shooting on lush, twisting canyon roads in Los Angeles, they’re able to knock out a photo shoot in just a few hours. “What took the longest was waiting to make sure that joggers didn’t see her naked!” Purienne says.
By now, Andrews is dressed and sipping green tea. I ask if she’s always been so comfortable with being naked. “I’m not comfortable being naked in public,” she laughs, “but in front of the camera, I don’t mind it.” This is a good thing, of course, because being naked in front of a camera is something she does a lot: Many people will recognize Jessie Andrews as a porn star.
Andrews’ Instagram bio says “Modern Woman,” and it’s apt. At 22, she epitomizes the multitasking, DIY-ethos of her generation; someone whose continent-hopping travel schedule and round-the-clock social media presence lead you to believe that she has more hours in her day than the rest of us. In addition to her turn as an ‘award winning adult film actress,’ Andrews is also a fashion model, photographer, small business owner, jewelry designer, DJ and producer who will soon add songwriter to her credits.
No one could manage her schedule without being ambitious, savvy and hard working, and it’s these obvious characteristics that make Andrews’ appearances in Slut Puppies 7 and Hairy Twatter (among others) somewhat incongruous with the rest of her day jobs. Scrolling through her Tumblr, which is filled with her American Apparel ad campaigns, party flyers and jewelry designs, it’s a jolt to come across a shot of her fingering herself in Penthouse. Suddenly you remember, oh yeah, there’s that…
But while adding porn star to your resume might not be the most normal career choice, but it might not be the weirdest anymore either. Pop culture is more nonchalant about the intersection of porn and sex than ever before—for evidence, see New York Times op-ed author Stoya, or post-sex tape scandal Kim Kardashian in a wedding dress on the cover of Vogue. Concurrently, social media has turned actors and models—previously just pretty faces saying scripted lines, or moaning scripted moans—into three-dimensional people with emotions, bad jokes, food photos, pets and misspelled words. If anyone in this current landscape is poised to make the trek from porn to mainstream stardom, it’s Andrews, a golden girl polymath who takes a damn good selfie.
The house where we’ve met is perched on top of a hill, and the view from the balcony takes in miles of the city sprawling out below the sunset. At this time of day, from this vantage point, Los Angeles can take your breath away and Andrews, it must be said, also has the kind of prettiness that makes it hard to stop staring. In front of the camera, she smolders, but in person, she’s radiant.
With bare feet and wearing short cotton shorts and a striped T-shirt, she currently has the well-scrubbed air of a university student who just got home from class. “I don’t like to wear make up. I don’t like to do weird stuff. I just like to be in my natural element,” she says. “That was why I liked shooting with Purienne, I’m literally just putting clothes on, and taking them off, and walking around and soaking up the sun.” (Later, I will ask Purienne what he thinks makes her sexy. “She has a pretty good tan,” he says, and she does. Asked what makes her unique, he responds “Her sense of detachment,” which is something to think about.)
Initially, Andrews comes across as a mixture of slight reservation and good manners. Though the interview is happening on time and without any rescheduling (a rarity), she is still worried that I might think she’s been flaky—she’s having email problems, and hasn’t been responding as quickly as she usually does. She also admits that she doesn’t like in person interviews, and usually tries to avoid them. “I like email better because I’ve had so many people change the questions, or change my answers.” Still, though, when she says this, it’s not a threat, just a statement of fact.
As a kid, there wasn’t a particular career that Andrews wanted when she grew up. “I know for a minute, I wanted to be a chef, but I cannot cook at all. I’d buy a dinner and pretend I made it before I would ever try to cook anything,” she says. “And I’m sure I wanted to be a firefighter at one point, but nothing realistic where I was like, ‘I want to be that and I’m going to chase it.’” Now, as an adult, she’s still hesitant to label one of her jobs as her main gig, instead saying that she views them all equally, even though music has been taking up the majority of her time lately.
Andrews became interested in DJing as a teenager living in Miami, where she went to underground parties and lived next door to the Electric Pickle, a club with disco and house nights. “I had a lot of friends who would DJ, and I would go to their shows and loved watching them play,” she says. Now, she seems somewhat incredulous that this is what she does, too. “There were three months where I didn’t have a weekend off, I was always DJing. I was like, ‘What is my life right now?’” She means this in a good way. “I never thought I would be DJing every weekend.”
Andrews is ambitious in all of her undertakings, and as happy as she is with her success as a DJ, she also sees it as a sign that it’s time to push her music career even more. As of late, she’s been writing songs, and the day after we meet, she’s heading to Melbourne to spend two weeks recording with producer Nick Thayer. “I’m not really a producer. I can use Ableton and I can make a song if I have to, but I might as well let someone who is good do it,” she says, “But with my music, I want to keep it written by me so that it has some authenticity. A lot of musicians love the sounds in songs, but I love the vocals and the writing. I listen to a lot of music, and the lyrics are always what stand out to me. I felt like maybe I could have that relationship for other people. They can listen to my tunes and think ‘I love what this is about,’ or ‘I love how it’s written.’”
Andrews has played a lot in Australia, where she loves the music scene. She cites Triple J as a big influence, and is close friends with Alison Wonderland, who is actually crashing at her apartment in L.A. while Andrews is in Melbourne. “She’s amazing, she’s huge in Australia—way bigger than female DJs are in the U.S. She showed me videos of her warehouse parties, and it was just insane. I feel like girls couldn’t really do that here,” Andrews says. “People aren’t as open to females taking control—there’s this stigma that you have to be a male to DJ. I’ll play with guys, and it will be so good, and then I’ll go on and people will just stare at me. It’s like, what is going on? Just dance!” She shrugs. “You kind of just have to keep doing your thing until they forget that you’re a girl.”
Though she works in two industries known for their partying ways, Andrews is allergic to alcohol (a missing enzyme means that if she drinks, she turns bright red and gets sick almost immediately) and has never done drugs. “My sister’s always like, ‘Yeeeeaahhhh right,’ and I’m like, ‘I would tell you! You’d be the first person I’d tell if I ever did drugs.’” Andrews also travels alone for DJing, and staying sober is an extra level of self-protection. “People are already thinking ‘Why are you traveling alone? You’re a girl and you’re a, whatever, porn star.’ But I have to watch myself, because no one else is there to babysit me. It’s hard for me at clubs sometimes, because promoters want to know what you want to drink, or what you do. I just say ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ Even when I’m out with my friends, I just kind of watch everyone and make sure they’re ok,” she says. “And with porn, I’ve seen a ton of people fucked up, and I never wanted to be that person.”
Andrews began appearing in porn films while still a teenager in Miami, and her initial motivation was money. “I had a girlfriend who was an extra in a film, and she made $500 for showing her boobs. I thought that was so easy, because I made $500 in two weeks,” she says. “Now, since I don’t have to rely on it and do it as a job, it’s more empowering for me. I do it because I want to work with certain people and want to create. I like the freedom to be sexually free. You can do whatever you want, and it’s acceptable. However weird you are, whatever fetish—if you like feet, if you like choking—it’s all acceptable and no one is judging you.”
Andrews could probably leave porn behind at this point in her career, but in fact, she’s doing the opposite. Though she’s mainly shot girl-on-girl the past year, she recently filmed her first anal scene. “I never thought I would do anal in my whole career. But last year, I was at the awards show in Vegas, and just watching everyone get their awards,” she says, “The year before, I had won a ton of awards [In 2012, she won Best Actress at the AVN Awards] and I was up on stage, and then this time, I was just back with my agent, and I told him, ‘I want to win some awards next year. I want to shoot an anal scene and I want to do stuff people have never done before.’” Porn, Andrews explains, is as political as any other business, and an actress’s ‘firsts’ are usually heavily negotiated—filmed with the biggest companies, well-known actors, the best camera people and for the most money.
In contrast, Andrews shot hers for a feature film called The Gardener, and rather than cashing in by immediately going all anal, all the time, she signed a contract with the director, B. Skow, stating that she wouldn’t shoot another anal scene for an entire year. “It’s kind of a weird thing. People were like ‘Why would you shoot your first anal scene in a feature film where you’re acting and it’s with this guy who you would never think…’” she trails off. “It’s like a stigma that you have to do it with certain people—and you don’t. You really don’t. You can make it the best with whatever company you want. It’s all about you as a performer. So maybe all of these weird things will come together and make one great thing? And hopefully, when people watch it, they enjoy it.”
Andrews’ aforementioned agent is porn industry legend Mark Spiegler, and she lights up when talking about him. “He’s amazing!” she says. “He’s like my second dad. I love him so much. I’ll be friends with him my entire life—like, he’ll be at my wedding. Imagine what a porn agent looks like, and that’s him: he’s a short, gremlin-looking amazing guy. He always wears black t-shirts with like really vulgar sayings on them, like ‘Fuck you you fucking fuck’ or ‘The legend is down there.’” She points to her crotch. “He only wears nice clothes like twice a year, to the AVN Awards and funerals.”
The 25 actresses Spiegler represents are known in the industry as ‘Spiegler Girls,’ and its an agency known for its professionalism: The girls are given drug tests, always on time, and dropped from the roster if they flake on a shoot. “It taught me to stay on track and not get distracted by anything,” she says, “He’s always like ‘You’re in this business for a short amount of time, so make the money that you can, save it, and get out.’”
With her schedule, it’s not surprising that the only sex Andrews is having these days is on set. “I can’t even remember the last time I hooked up with someone, I was peeing this morning and thinking about it, like ‘When was the last time I had sex?’” she says. “I just don’t care, because I’ve had so much of it and I know so much already, that I don’t fiend to have it. Of course, I want to get off, but it’s not as important to me. I don’t rely on sex, where as normal people think about it all the time.”
What Andrews thinks about a lot of the time is jewelry. Two years ago, she started her own company called Bagatiba, which means ‘opulence’ in Latvian. She calls the line her baby, and she makes every piece and manages every aspect of the business herself. “When I’m home in Los Angeles, I’m working on jewelry. I just sat for two days in my apartment. I made this,” she says, touching an iridescent moon necklace that hangs around her neck, and then holds out her arm to show off a gold chain encircling her wrist. “I made this bracelet. It relaxes me, and it keeps my mind moving. I love creating and building new things. Just going to the jewelry district and seeing all of the pieces that you could put together is so fun—it’s like a puzzle. It’s really gratifying when people come to shows and are wearing something that they love, and it’s something I made with my two hands.” She recently decided to relinquish a small amount of control and hired a shipping company. No longer packing and shipping all the orders herself, she’s refocused on the creative side and, as is her wont, thinking about what else she can do with it. “I think I do have a natural knack for business. People are always like, ‘How do you know this?’ but I could start you a company in like an hour and brand it. When my friends have said they want to start a business, I’m already thinking of names and looking online to see if they’re available and telling people to buy this and…”
The mosquitoes are swarming, and they’re not the only bugs out and about. “Oh my god,” Andrews says. “There’s a spider. Oh shit, I don’t even know how to squish it.” For a brief moment it seems like the spider, which is about the size of a poppy seed, might win, until Andrews decides to set her glass on top of it. Victorious, she leans over and says into the recorder, “Just killed a spider!”
The sun has fully gone down now. The balcony is dark except for light spilling out from the house, and Andrews is wistfully talking about the vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that she will eat when we’re done. I ask her one more question—where does she see herself in 10 years, or even just five? She flubs her lips in a sigh, and thinks. “I don’t know? I already own my own business, which is really nice, and I don’t work 9-5,” she says. “So I think as long as I’m still doing fun stuff that I love, and not working a 9-5, I’ll be happy.”