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Forbes Magazine on Club Jenna

Porn Valley- Jenna Jameson made millions having sex on-camera. Now she aims to make millions more–without ever again having to deliver so much as an on-screen kiss.

Jenna Jameson, the world’s most famous porn star, has done a far better job of exploiting herself than any sleazy peddler could hope to do. Since 1993 the onetime blonde (now brunette)bombshell has starred in 50-odd adult movies, selling millions of copies worldwide. Today thousands of members pay $35 a month for access to her Web site,, where they can linger over nude pictures of her, download her racy movies and read her lurid diary. Her fans can rent her digital moan as the ringer on their cell phones and buy Jenna sex toys, action figures–and even a piece of herself, molded in soft plastic, anatomically accurate and priced to move at $200.

But here’s the weird part:Jenna Jameson hasn’t had sex on-camera with a male partner (other than her husband) in seven years; better yet, she hopes to build her thriving business even bigger without ever again having video sex with anyone–male, female or herself. “Ialways wanted to be a star,” says Jameson, 31. “I’ve always embraced my hard-core roots, but becoming a household name was an important thing to me.”

She has transcended the sex trade to become a bona fide celebrity, hounded by the tabloids and fervid fans. Her memoir, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list last year. She has appeared 30 times on Howard Stern’s radio show, most recently to disclaim a rumor that she was sleeping with Britney Spears, and had a small role in his 1997 film, Private Parts. She shows up on such TV talk shows as The O’Reilly Factor. The A&E network is looking at the just-completed pilot for her hoped-for reality series, and she wants to do a film on her life story.

Her holding company, ClubJenna, will hit revenues of $30 million this year, up 30% in a year; the profits may approach half of that. She owns and operates ClubJenna with her husband, Jay G. Grdina, a producer or director of 900 adult films. “This has developed from an individual star into a porn conglomerate,” he says. “Her brand has been developed with the reputation of being the best, and now we are capitalizing on that and monetizing the name.” They hope to move into Jenna-branded strip clubs, cosmetics, an apparel line and bejeweled sex toys.

Jameson says she has shot enough new hard-core footage with her husband (who performs under the name “Justin Sterling”) to let them release a couple of Jenna flicks each year for a decade. The typical adult release sells 3,000 copies in the first month; a Jenna Jameson sells 50,000 at a retail price of $50 each. Moreover, she has lined up a stable of five new actresses to make films under the ClubJenna label, boosting her production from three films last year to a projected three dozen in 2005. The first release, which debuted late last year and stars Krystal Steal, features Jameson beside her on the cover and includes a tryst between them–and sold 30,000 copies in the first month.

“Not doing my movies doesn’t mean retirement,” Jameson says in an interview at her plush home in Scottsdale, Ariz. “It means more work–and more money.” She pays her new stars a base of $50,000 to $150,000 a year, plus a 3% cut of any sales over the 10,000-copy mark. It is a rare setup in a business that releases 11,500 films a year, racking up $4 billion of a total $15 billion in U.S. sales of sex-related goods. Had Jameson herself gotten a cut of sales of her early films, she now would bring in an extra $750,000 a year, Grdina says.

Jenna Jameson was born Jenna Massoli in Las Vegas in 1974, the daughter of a police detective and a Sin City showgirl. Her mother died of cancer when Jenna was a toddler, leaving her father to raise his daughter and an older son alone. A tough teen, Jameson left home at 16 to live with her boyfriend, a tattoo artist who later adorned her derriere with the “Heart Breaker” tattoo that is one of her trademarks. A year later she walked into the Crazy Horse Too, a local strip joint, to ask for a job, but the owner told her to return when she no longer had braces on her teeth. As she tells it in her autobiography, she went home, looked in the mirror and ripped the metal from her mouth with a pair of pliers. The next day she was onstage flaunting her tattoo and soon becoming the top earner in the club.

By day Jameson posed for nudie magazine covers, and at 19 she quit stripping to act in adult films–mainly to retaliate against her beau, who had been cheating on her, as she tells it. She shot her first scene in 1993 and a year later landed a contract with Wicked Pictures, which paid her $6,000 a month to perform in eight to ten feature films a year, doing three or four scenes in each. Even better money came in from a return to the brass pole: “AfterI became famous, I made sick money stripping,” she says with a laugh. At her peak she got $5,000 a show, typically did four shows a night and made extra cash posing for Polaroids with panting patrons ($40 per), selling her latest movie ($50) and gouging gawkers for tips. She claims she often made $50,000 a week.

By 1998 Jameson had shot some 40 films for Wicked, including hits like Lip Service and Hard Evidence. That year she ran into Jay Grdina at an awards ceremony in Las Vegas; he hails from a wealthy cattle-ranching family and got into the adult business after college. The two fell in love and moved to Scottsdale, and Jameson decided to take a break from making movies. “Wicked launched me into superstardom,” she says, “but I was determined to become my own boss.”

The duo formed ClubJenna as an Internet porn company in 2000; was one of the first adult sites to feature fare beyond explicit picture and video content. Jenna provided diaries, advice on relationships and plastic surgery, even stock tips. They were profitable in their third week, but “Dot-com became dot-bomb pretty quickly,” says Grdina, “so we decided to diversify.” They began running other porn stars’ Web sites and still run them for 16 actors, including all 5 ClubJenna women and Vivid Entertainment starlets Tera Patrick and Briana Banks. Web site management and membership fees make up $12 million, or 40%, of ClubJenna’s annual revenue.

Next they set up a movie production company. Jameson planned to do scenes only with women but decided she needed a man on-screen to keep her male fans happy–so she persuaded Grdina to step in front of the camera. “If I were working with someone else, the audience could tell I wasn’t into it–and stop buying movies,” she says. The two married in June 2003.

Vivid, the world’s largest adult film company, with $100million in sales in 2004, distributes and markets ClubJenna films for a 30% cut of sales. The raunchy movies, which often feature bondage and have Jenna canoodling mightily with myriad women, make up one-third of total revenue and are the most profitable part of the business, earning net margins well above 50%. Briana Loves Jenna, co-produced with Vivid, cost $280,000 to make in 2001. It grossed over $1 million in its first year and still sells more than 3,000 copies a month. This month ClubJenna releases Jenna Loves Pain.

Jameson and Grdina began signing their stable of new stars in mid-2004, when Jenna began trying to get pregnant. (She hasn’t been successful thus far, and it rankles her. While she hopes to forgo filming any new sex scenes, he hedges his bets, saying it will be kept to a minimum.) The actresses–Krystal Steal, Jesse Capelli, McKenzie Lee, Ashton Moore and Sophia Rossi–benefit from a Jenna scene as a kind of introduction. “My scene with the girls introduces them to my fan base,” Jameson says. “That’s my handoff of the football. Don’t drop it, bitches!”

Jameson also is in a six-year contract with sex-toy maker Doc Johnson, getting a flat licensing fee plus a cut of sales. Jameson takes an active role in the design and marketing of all her toys, says Ronald Braverman, Doc Johnson’s chief executive, who dispels any notion that Grdina controls the business and Jenna is simply a pretty face. “Some people might think Jenna is some blonde bimbo because of her films, but they are wrong,” he says. “When we sit down for business meetings, she never leaves the room.”

Now she is taking on the ever-growing cell phone market (see FORBES, May 23). Y-Tell, ClubJenna’s wireless company, sells Jenna “moan tones,” pictures, chat services and games in 50-50 partnerships with 20 carriers around the world. Jenna content is available to 35 million people acrossthe globe, mostly in Europe and South America. Grdina says there have been at least 4 million Jenna-related downloads, though the U.S. market has yet to catch fire.

The couple has high hopes for the reality series they have pitched to A&E. A camera crew will begin following the duo six days a week this summer. “People will see we are a regular, monogamous couple,” Jameson insists. “There aren’t whips lying around our house, and there are no orgy parties on Saturday nights.”

So does Jameson ever get numb to sex? “No, I love it,” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing. Maybe I’m just an insanely sexual person, but to see a woman’s sexuality come to life on film–that’s art.” And, if you are Jenna Jameson, it’s also money, lots of it.


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