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IESB Interviews Sunny Leone

from – Stunning adult superstar Sunny Leone is much more than just one of the hottest women in the adult entertainment industry.

As Penthouse Pet of the Year, she is one of the most sought-after models in the world. As a Vivid Girl, she is one of the biggest and most popular adult film stars. As president of her own production company, SunLust Pictures, she is a highly successful businesswoman. And, as a mainstream star, she has been featured on Fox Reality’s My Bare Lady 2, starred in a Bollywood film and scored a top-secret role in a recently wrapped Will Farrell feature film, due in theaters in 2010. A woman of many talents, Sunny Leone has even branched out with her own iPhone application.

In this exclusive interview, the 28-year-old born to conservative Indian parents talked to IESB about conquering both the adult and mainstream worlds.

IESB: What made you decide to get into the adult industry?

Sunny: It just happened. I met an agent through a girl that I was going to school with, and I had no idea that it was an adult agency. And, that was it. He showed me some photos and we just shot some solo photos. We moved very, very slowly and he was really respectful. I liked it. It was fun.

IESB: Did you get comfortable on set pretty easily?

Sunny: The first time, I was very nervous and very scared. I remember one shot where the photographer wanted me to turn over and I kept saying, “No!” Finally, I did. There were about 25 people on set and there were six other girls shooting, and they were so comfortable with themselves, so I just took it in and it became natural, after that first day.

IESB: Had you ever considered mainstream modeling or acting before that?

Sunny: I tried seeing a couple of mainstream agents and people just didn’t respond well to me, in the mainstream industry. It just wasn’t the right time. I did a couple of mainstream things, but nothing major. And, Penthouse just came along and swooped me up.

IESB: Was there a point that you realized this could be a career that you could have your own company in?

Sunny: No, I had no idea. Each year changed so dramatically. Every year had new accomplishments and new surprises, for where my career went. Everything that was happening was all completely new, each year, and it still is.

IESB: What originally made you want to sign a contract with Vivid?

Sunny: I always wanted to shoot girl/girl and I felt like, if I was going to do it, I might as well go to the largest companies and see if they’d want to sign me as a contract girl. It wasn’t something that was completely out of left-field for me to ask, but it hadn’t been done in a really long time. The last girl/girl contract star with Vivid was Janine [Lindemulder]. So, I walked in and told Steve Hirsch what I wanted to do and, by the end of our conversation, he offered me a contract. It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I know it’s not easy. It was great.

IESB: What made you decide to start working with men on film?

Sunny: One of the last girl/girl movies that I made was called The Sunny Experiment and one of the scenes in there was so hot that I was like, “I think I could do that, if it was like that.” I told Vivid that, if they could accept the fact that I wanted to do it with my boyfriend, then it would be okay. I hadn’t done anything like that, so Vivid was getting me doing boy/girl, but on my own terms, and they were thrilled.

IESB: How much of who you are on film is just a persona, and how much is who you really are?

Sunny: It’s all real, it’s just a heightened me. The camera turns on and we have a secret love affair.

IESB: Having been in the industry for a few years now, what have you learned about yourself that has surprised you?

Sunny: I was really shy, growing up. This industry has made me a lot more outgoing, outspoken and witty, and enabled me to be myself, which is really nice.

IESB: Do you find it difficult to maintain a relationship while working in the adult industry?

Sunny: No, not at all. I enjoy being in a relationship. If you can work together as a couple, then it’s better for everybody. A lot of men who date girls in this industry, who aren’t a part of it, don’t understand that we do see this as a business and there’s not a lot of weird hanky panky going on. It is a business and we enjoy what we do, and the person that we’re with should accept that.

IESB: Did someone talk to you and educate you about sex, growing up, or was that something you had to learn on your own?

Sunny: I had to learn all about sex on my own. I come from a very conservative culture and family, and they definitely were not open in talking about sex, other than saying, “You’re not allowed to have sex.”

IESB: Was it difficult to tell them what you were doing for a living?

Sunny: I told them about what I was doing when I won Penthouse Pet of the Year. I knew that was something that would be impossible to hide or keep from them. So, when I won, I sat them down right before dinner, which was probably a bad time because nobody wanted to eat after, and I said, “I won Penthouse Pet of the Year, and I won $100,000.” My dad understand right away, but it took my mother a couple of minutes to figure it out and then there were tears.

IESB: Were you surprised that your dad was so understanding?

Sunny: What he said to me was, “Well, you obviously have made your own decision without consulting us first, so make sure you make something good of yourself, do well and don’t get sick.” That was his reaction. And, like with a typical Indian family, my mother was devastated. But, after a certain amount of time, they realized that I’m still the same person and I’m still their daughter, and we still talk about things other than work. I’m their daughter and they love me, and they grew to respect that. It took time, though.

IESB: Having done countless magazine layouts now, what do you enjoy most about doing them?

Sunny: Photos are my favorite, out of everything that I’ve ever done. Shooting with great photographers and creating awesome photos is my favorite thing to do.

IESB: Aside from the fact that your body is your living, why is fitness so important to you?

Sunny: It’s a battle. It’s a war with your body, at all times. It’s more mental than physical, but you have to try to eat good. I’m not one of those girls that it comes fairly easy for. I have to watch what I eat. I have to try to make time to exercise, which doesn’t always happen because I’m on the road, or I’m just tired or lazy. You have to make an effort. Your body is your product. The only the only reason that you’re in the industry is your body, your face and your personality, so you have to keep everything healthy and make sure that you’re taking care of it, from the inside out.

IESB: Have you ever had instances of people recognizing you that have really surprised you?

Sunny: A couple of times, walking down the street. It’s not even that they stop me to say hello. They’re like, “Hey, what’s up Sunny?,” and then they just keep walking. For me, I’m like, “Someone just recognized me? This is really weird.” In my normal life, I dress a lot more conservatively than when I’m at conventions and photo shoots.

I was brought up by the Penthouse era with an amazing publicist that always taught us class before trash. I always believe, as a woman in the adult industry, you’re already sexy and beautiful. If you’re in this industry, doing well and making lots of money, there’s no reason to then take it to a level that it really doesn’t need to go. You’re already such a huge sex symbol in the industry that you don’t need to have half your booty hanging out to get people’s attention.

IESB: What made you decide to start your own company? Do you have any specific goals for what you want to do with it?

Sunny: It was about a year and a half ago that I started my own company. I had a lot of people around me saying, “You should do your own thing. I’ll help you invest,” but I was like, “Okay, whatever.” I had gone through a big break-up and was on my own, and everybody around me was like, “You can do this.” It just stayed in the back of my head. And then, I met my current business partner and we sat down and met with somebody in our industry who said, “Look, you can do this. It’s not as hard as you think it is. You can do your distribution with Vivid.” And, it just put this thing in our head where we thought, “Maybe we can do it. Maybe it is possible.”

So, we started doing some research and figuring out what kind of capital we’d need to start everything. We did it all on our own, which was really nice, and that’s how we created our first movie. Obviously, we talked to Vivid about them doing all of the distribution and us working with them, and still maintaining my Vivid girl status with them, but not being under contract.

Now, it’s just been a whirlwind. Every year changes, and we’re doing new things. We just launched the first ever Apple application for the iPhone, so we’re super-excited about the Sunny Leone iPhone application.

IESB: How did you come up with that idea, and what does the application include?

Sunny: The company that runs my website,, purchased Grindhouse, which is a mobile company. They wanted to do this mobile application for the iPhone, and they worked so hard with getting all the specs right. At the time, I didn’t quite understand how huge this was going to be, when we finally got it together. But, once they started showing us the application and how it worked, and told us that we were going to be the first, it’s been amazing. It’s an interactive application, where they get to see my blog, which is always changed. There’s a new version coming out, in the next few weeks. It’s always changing, and that’s what’s nice about it. Things are always being added.

IESB: With adult film stars having more success than ever, in crossing over into the mainstream, do you think it’s a natural progression that that stigma is lessening?

Sunny: I think it’s just a natural progression for the adult industry to make it more into the mainstream industry. It’s just a natural thing that’s happening. All of our entertainment — our television shows, radio, magazines on the shelves — becomes racier and racier and, of course, the adult industry is where it all starts. Everybody wants to know what’s going on with sex, and sex sells. Pretty girls in magazines and on TV sell. It helps their brand as much as it does ours.

IESB: Do you feel like all of the hours that you’ve spent in front of the camera doing adult films has helped you feel more confident in doing mainstream work?

Sunny: I don’t know. I always feel like mainstream is its own world, as far as actually doing the work. People in the mainstream industry, when they really want you, are really nice and very comforting. But, when you go to an audition, it’s that same old, weird mainstream thing of, “Oh, we love you. We think you’re great. We’ll give you a call later,” but it never happens. I’d rather have them tell me, “You were horrible. You should work on this. See you later.” It’s always such a weird atmosphere.
IESB: Having recently completed a role in a Will Ferrell movie for 2010, can you talk about what that experience was like?

Sunny: I’m contracted not to talk about it yet because I don’t want to fuck anything up. But, I can say it was fun. It was amazing. It was a great experience that I’ll carry with me, for the rest of my life.

IESB: In regard to doing mainstream work, do you want to play characters that are different from you, or are you looking for roles that are more versions of yourself?

Sunny: For me, if I can do it, I will. It’s one of these hunger situations where I really want to do it and, if the opportunity is given to me, then I would transport myself into anything that they would want me to. I shot a Bollywood movie, Pirate’s Blood, where it was a completely different characters. It wasn’t hard to do that, once I was on set and in the situations. It was a lot of fun.

I’ve also done different parts where I am myself. Of course, being in the adult industry, there’s the stigma of being super-sexy and wearing slutty clothing for TV shows, so you can’t really get away from that. It’s just a different atmosphere. When you’re on an adult set, it’s completely different from being on a mainstream set. Whether you’re wearing little clothing or you have to be topless, it’s just a totally different vibe. It makes me uncomfortable, and then I get totally turned off by doing mainstream stuff. Then, I look at how much they pay, which is not even close to what adult stuff pays. So, I’d rather get naked doing adult stuff and be treated with respect, then do it for mainstream, for my 2.5 seconds on camera, and have these weird dudes staring at me.

IESB: Have you had any acting training at all?

Sunny: I studied with an acting coach for a little bit, but nothing too serious. My whole world is involved in the adult industry, and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to now start at the bottom of the barrel with an acting coach, to maybe get a part saying, “Hey, how are you?” I’m 28-year-old, and that almost seems like I’d be moving backwards. I’d rather invest more of my time, money and energy into the adult industry, where I know there’s a return and I’m going to be respected, then in the mainstream industry. It’s been a weird love/hate relationship.

IESB: What do you enjoy most about what you do, and what have been the biggest challenges?

Sunny: The stuff I love the most is probably the stuff I hate as well. I love to travel, meet new people and work. And then, there is the other side that says, “I hate traveling, right now. All I want to do is hang out with my dog and go to the dog park, get my nails done, hang out, go to the spa and do nothing.” It’s a bit of both.

IESB: Have you had to make adjustments for the affect of the economy and piracy on the Internet?

Sunny: As far as the affect of the economy on my business, starting my own production and website, I’m doing better now than I’ve ever done, in my entire life. That’s due to my partner and I being extremely creative and really going after all the assets possible, where we can still make money and continue in the adult industry.

As far as piracy goes, that’s always a challenge because you cannot monitor the Internet, 24 hours a day. If we see things, or we get emails, or we’re looking here and there, we’ll send people cease and desist letters and, most of the time, they take it down because it’s illegal for them to do that. It’s just really hard to monitor who’s stealing what and where people are getting it. All you can do is take it one step at a time. If you can get one person to take it down today, you can get another person to take it down tomorrow and, hopefully, you can slowly make an impact on these companies. You make a list of it and, every time you release something, you go back and say, “Don’t you dare put this up!”

IESB: With all the success and accomplishments that you’ve had now, what’s been the most meaningful thing that you’ve gotten to do?

Sunny: This last year, I signed with a company to run my site, which has been one of the best web deals that any girl could ever get. I’m working with such a great company that’s letting me expand and build new sites. They launched my iPhone application. It’s truly one of the best deals that I’ve ever worked, in my entire career. So, it was all a process to get everything going, but they were always my first choice. I couldn’t be any happier with such a great web deal, and they’re happy with me, which is good for everybody.

IESB: Have you given any thought about where you’d like to see your career go, what you’d like to do next and how long you’d like to stay in front of the camera?

Sunny: I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay in front of the camera. I’ve done interviews and said, “I would never, ever do this, and I would never, ever do that,” but that’s changed. So, I’m not sure how long I’ll be in front of the camera. I’ll probably do it until my body says I’m done, or my mind is not capable of doing it anymore. I want to have children, in the future. Once that happens, I don’t think it would be right for me to be in front of the camera.

But, between my partner and I, we are developing tons of other movies where I’m not in the movies. If I am, it’s little bits and pieces, but it’s not me performing in them. That’s what’s in the works right now. Over the next year, you’re going to see SunLust Pictures send out so many new movies and, hopefully, everybody loves them.


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