Interview with Kelli Lox
Some people just bounce off the screen with enthusiasm and charm, and Kelli Lox is definitely one of those people. A natural performer, Kelli has collaborated with some of the most influential directors and performers in porn, and has championed a new era of trans content; content that transcends labels and invites a wide audience. We were very excited to ask Kelli questions about her career trajectory and the state of trans issues outside of the industry. Her answers are some of the most thoughtful, poignant, but also hopeful responses that we have had the privilege of printing.
HM: While doing research on you, and revisiting some of my favorite films with you in them, like Real Fucking Girls and Fetish Fvckdolls, it is obvious why you have been nominated for so many prestigious awards. You have been nominated for Best Hardcore Performer at the Transgender Erotica Awards this year, as well as Transsexual Performer of the Year at both AVN and XBIZ. Did you get into the adult business with the intention of being a household name? What were your goals when you started performing?
Kelli Lox: I think mainly I was drawn to a chance at becoming semi-famous. I looked at Domino Presley and said "I want to follow in her footsteps" and I did! When I started, she had almost 50 thousand followers on Twitter, so I set that as my goal. Now I have like 63 thousand, well over that number, and she's got over 100 thousand! But yeah, I looked at it as a way to make money and have fun. Getting paid to have sex with beautiful people is a pretty sweet deal whichever way you slice it (haha). And, the business side, the community side, the network of trans peers we've been building year after year, it's pretty special and it's a special time for us, too, so it feels great to be a part of that. We're like the most visible group of the most visible group of the most visible group. Me for example, woman of color, queer, porn star, trans, etc, that's like 4 or 5 marginalized groups right there. I think the richness of experience for me is being a real life face for that specific experience at this time in our society when we are finally talking about all those things - sex work, race, transgender issues, etc for the first time. It feels like I might be remembered for a minute. You could say that fame is an empty pursuit but, according to my mom, the Aztecs say there's a third and final death that occurs when you're forgotten. Haha- But seriously I'm an artist and if I weren't starring in adult films I'd be in a band, and if I weren't in a band I'd be a painter or a digital artist or something.
You talked about doing nude modeling when you were in college and how that experience made you more comfortable with being nude in public. Had you transitioned at that time? What clicked for you in those classes? What made you think you were ready to explore more of the adult entertainment professions?
You know, it's actually funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. In college, I modeled nude for the drawing classes at the art school. And yes, every time I'm asked "So, how did you get into porn?" which every interview asks (hahaha except you, good job!) any time I'm asked that in an interview, I always mention that. But a few days ago I was thinking about a side gig I also had at that time. The local inhabitants of the town had a drawing class every few weeks as well, and they were booking me to model for those. So I was good at it, and I was getting a lot of work. Now the thing is, I was a boy back then. A boy with long beautiful brown hair. I acted like a normal boy, but anyone who looked could probably tell I had a femme bud inside me that wanted to blossom, hahaha I mean, I danced ballet. But, I was still a few years away from even beginning to transition. So I would ride a male-female edge as a personal narrative, and long story short, I cut my hair one day. Went to my side gig, the community drawing class. It went fine except the main guy who hired me was pissed. He never hired me again after that. It wasn't until later when I had thought about it, that I realized why. He loved my long beautiful brown hair. HAHA Isn't that cute? He never hired me again because he liked me more when I looked like a girl.
Not only your film work, but your personal interests and skills are really unique. You’ve taken ballet, you play musical instruments, you speak different languages, and you are a great performer. Can you elaborate on how your skills and interests off screen have influenced roles or projects you decide to work on?
Wow, you're good! Thanks. Yes, I think it was Asa Akira who said something along the lines of "Porn stars aren't, like, victims. Many of us are intelligent women who choose this as a personal career, not as a result of some desperation or damage. Like, many of us we were raised well and come from nice families." I read that a few years ago and it really clicked for me, because I realized we don't have to fit into any "what kind of person becomes a porn star?" answer. Who becomes a porn star? I can look around and say "We do." So that helped me feel more comfortable sharing things about me that are unique or interesting. The thing is, a lot of industry trans girls are a bit terrified of sharing their interests on twitter. Like, "I want to tell everyone I'm learning a song on the piano - wait - is that...sexy?" or "I want to talk about my miniature train building hobby - wait - will people make fun of me?" So, I like to show that, yes, it's okay to be a multidimensional person with a variety of skills and interests that have nothing whatsoever to do with sex or being transgender. At the end of the day, I think it all just makes me an interesting person who people like to work with. I'm trying to think of a time when I've had to speak another language in a video and I don't think there's been one. But I do play soccer, and once, for Joey Silvera's Rogue Adventures 38, we drove to a park and I dressed up in colorful soccer gear and kicked a ball around. Hahaha. It was cute. Then I "got home from practice" and proceeded to undress on the bed. You know the rest. Then there's also Fetish Fvckdolls, of course, where I wore ballerina gear. I can't actually dance en pointe, but I did dance ballet my whole life up until I transitioned.
Speaking of playing musical instruments, what do you play and what is your musical background? Can we hear your music anywhere?
I have been in a ton of bands of all sorts, from death metal, 80s cover, and folk, to ska funk. I usually played drums and keyboards, and sang. My soundcloud is https://soundcloud.com/kelli_lox and i have a few original songs on there and I also did a few remixes of Suzanne Vega songs. Nowadays I mostly play the keyboard and sing or make music on my computer, but my drumset is at my friend's house and sometimes we jam there, and I'd love to be in a band again someday. I miss the fun of making up parts to each other's songs, creating music together.
You have talked about the type of personality needed in order to be a porn performer. What do you think are important personality traits or characteristics that are needed to be in porn?
Super impressed by your questions by the way =) Yeah, I read that the human brain can overpower disgust in a moment of sexual activity. Suddenly, things that would normally seem gross are super hot. Long story short, muggles aren't ready for butt jelly. Also, civilians make everything about them. As a porn performer you have to be comfortable around sweat, vaginal fluid, cum, lube, buttholes, and saliva, and lots of people watching and feel SEXY and not icky or weird. And the objective is to produce a good scene. I think normal people can't do that. They can't face the non-sanctity of sex and they get grossed out too easily and they can't put their heart and body and mind into their art like that. We're special!
In the last few years there has been a huge upsurge in mainstream media covering porn performers. Several stories look at what a typical day in the industry is, or how feminism and porn are not mutually exclusive. What questions do you think need to be asked of performers that aren’t being asked? What issues get swept under the rug for the sake of sensationalism?
Wow. Well, I think there's a lot of intersectionality that needs to be explored in the social landscape. Like, a black trans woman living in rural America who is in an abusive relationship, but wants to go back to college, or a queer Muslim girl who lives in Seattle and is scared to come out. What are the needs of that particular person that are never met because she's on the erased edge of multiple social control systems? What kind of support networks are needed and how can we build them? I don't know! But we need to ask it. Personally, here in Berkeley, California, I kind of live in a bubble; I forget that vast swaths of this country are full of people who say I either don't exist or shouldn't be allowed to. So yeah, I think trans women of color living in rural America are one of our most vulnerable populations today and there should be more support networks for them. So yeah, a white cis-woman talking about feminism and porn isn't intersectional enough anymore, it's already boring. Those people should give voice to their peers who are of color or trans. Those are the voices that need to be heard right now. And yeah, there may be an article with the headline "27 Trans Women of Color Murdered Already in 2017" and I'm realistic about the fact that all anyone clicks on are articles about white women who show their boobs to prove feminists can have boobs and show them and still be feminists. Nothing against white girls boobs, but yawn, you know what I mean? People are getting murdered over here.
What would you like to see from cis-female activists, or just civilians that would make you feel like we were moving in a more unified direction?
- Hire trans women. Hire the fuck out of us! Specifically seek us out for jobs, scholarships, and professional positions. Mention that you're looking specifically for us in your outreach. Rent us your houses, your apartments, and your rooms. Post notices on your properties and in your businesses that state we are welcome and can expect to feel safe and respected.
- Give your voice to us! Instead of researching trans issues and writing an article about us, hire one of us to write the article. Instead of seeing yourself as an insider to or ambassador for trans women's issues, shut up and pass the microphone to us and let us speak for ourselves. Cast actual trans women actresses in roles of trans women in films. Get actual trans women to participate in panels about transgender issues. On Twitter, instead of reading our tweets and then tweeting your support of us, tell people to follow us and retweet our tweets. We don't need more cis white males saying they support us, we need to replace them and stand where they stood, and be given the voice that they had. Instead of cis white women stating they support us, they should invite us onstage and then sit down while we speak.
What is the role of trans activism in porn for you? Is porn political?
I don't really know. My take on my own activism, personally, has been that I don't need to prepare a statement or promote any viewpoint or position. I have remained visible when others told me to hide, insisted on being included when others attempted to erase me, stood up when others were too scared to, and - just being visible and never letting the big bad world scare me away, that's enough to ask of one person, because that's really hard. It has been really hard. So, I don't put pressure on myself to be "an activist" or "political." My continued existence every day here on this planet is political. I am making a trail breaking and provocative statement just by breathing and not getting murdered. LITERALLY HALF of trans girls have been murdered or attempted suicide. The fact that I am still here is pretty fucking rare, so I don't have to go out of my way to make a statement. The fact that I didn't crawl away in shame long ago is statement enough. For now.
From your experience as a trans performer, how can porn media help to promote trans performers? What issues have you seen within adult industry media that need to be addressed?
The porn industry needs to get a bit farther ahead of the curve on this. First of all, there needs to be more inclusion of trans women on the major labels and by the major studios, and lesbian porn needs to cast more trans women in lesbian porn. As everyone knows, there is a stigma that is attached to working with trans women. I think it's because we're still associated with gay males. and anyone who does gay male scenes is automatically higher risk. Which is complete bullshit, especially for girls like me who mostly shoot with genetic females. I don't have sex with gay men. But what can be done to de-stigmatize us? I think that's what I'm doing, just by talking about it and pushing for elimination of that invisible wall that systematically keeps us out of mainstream porn. Second, the awards shows should shift from the bare minimum they currently do and really showcase diverse trans women in their special features, on stage, and in their staff or project teams. I mean, AVN made a statement that trans women can use the women's bathrooms at their awards show, and there's no way they expect anyone to bake them cookies for that. They should have trans women in their promotional materials, trans women working at the registration tables, trans women presenting awards, and female performers who happen to be trans being profiled for the pay-per-view specials etc. Take the fucking lead already.
If budget, location, and casting were not issues, what would be your dream project to work on?
Kelli Lox Academy for Wayward Tgirls. The Kelli Lox Academy. A boarding house and foundation for college scholarships for trans girls who are attending college.
I’ve read you have a thing for cute toes. What is your favorite color nail polish for toes?
It's true, I love cute girls with cute toes. Probably purple sparkly would be my favorite color.
What do you hope to accomplish in the industry?
I just want to feel like I made a difference. And I have already, I have kind of done something different. I mean, how many other transsexual female performers are there who have natural boobs and primarily shoot with females? I'm prrrrretty sure me and Chelsea Poe are the only ones.
How can your fans best support you?
Buy me gift cards on amazon.com! Or order things off my wishlist: (Kelli's Wish List Link: http://a.co/91gcV12)
Check out Kelli Lox's filmography on HotMovies here!