Game Changers: 30 Women Power Players in the Adult Industry

This article originally ran in the September 2013 issue of AVN magazine, which can be read online here.

Throughout 2013, as AVN has celebrated its 30th anniversary, the staffers of AVN magazine have used the occasion to look back on the industry’s history. This month, however, we’re peering at the present. We gave ourselves the task of selecting 30 women who, each in very different ways, are changing the adult industry in all its facets.

The whittling-down process turned out to be tougher than we thought—but also very inspiring. At virtually every major adult studio, there are female directors making movies informed by aesthetics that may not always be feminist, but are certainly feminine. And there are the superstars who are such natural entrepreneurs that they’ve made themselves into brand names, creating their own lucrative deals. Add to that the dozens of women who were “founding mothers” but have since gone on to other endeavors, and you end up—as we did—with a list of some 100 talented, ambitious and tenacious businesswomen.

But whittle we did, coming up with 30 individuals who span the sectors of the sprawling adult world. Deal makers, porn makers and toy makers—to a woman, they wield influence over the entertainment and pleasure products that are created in today’s adult marketplace.

Joanna Angel | Founder, BurningAngel
Embodying virtually every imaginable aspect of a power player in this business, Joanna Angel has forged a brand name for herself like few other women to enter its proverbial doors. In many ways porn’s female counterpart to Mark Zuckerberg, Joanna took the experimental website she started on a lark with fellow Rutgers University student Mitch Fontaine and turned it into an all-out empire. Aside from its full-fledged network of sites and consistent output of wildly acclaimed movies, BurningAngel has branched out into toys, magazines, its own coffee table book and more. Most impressively, the company stands as one of the very few pioneers of the alt porn movement still going strong. And its queen bee has not only become a veritable industry icon, but helped to change the very concept of the porn star prototype.

Lisa Ann | One-woman show
Lisa Ann is the Rick Ross of porn—she’s a boss. Now two decades since she began her performing career, the buxom brunette is more popular than ever, in no small part to her portrayal of Sarah Palin in Hustler Video’s Who’s Nailin’ Paylin? The AVN Hall of Famer truly has achieved legendary status during her career in front of the camera, but she also has played a significant role behind the scenes as well. In 2006 she became one of the only female talent agents to own her own agency and did so successfully for four years before closing it in order to focus on her own career. The ever-busy Lisa Ann continues to be one of the most in-demand performers and feature dancers in the industry, crisscrossing the country for events, signing appearances and hosting gigs. Late last month she revealed exclusively to AVN that she’s now directing for Jules Jordan Video. Her first release, MILF Revolution, is in stores now.

Metis Black | Founder and president, Tantus Inc.
Since founding Tantus Inc. in 1998, Metis Black has been recognized as a leader in sexual education and safe, high-quality sex toys. Black and partner Kris Victor originally planned to create arthouse sexual products. At the time, there were fewer than 10 manufacturers of silicone sex toys worldwide. Tantus created a process, one that has barely changed in the ensuing years, to use quality silicone to create quality products. Black and Tantus set a goal of spreading the word about the benefits of silicone sex toys and have never looked back. She has been a pioneer in education about sex toys and their materials and helping the public ask questions about ingredients and how they affect the body.

Susan Colvin | President/CEO, California Exotic Novelties and Jopen
Widely recognized as the first woman to head up an adult novelty company and to offer pleasure products to women that were designed by women, Colvin already had a history in the adult industry before the formation of CalExotics. During her time as the general manager for CPLC, a distribution company, she noticed that toys were often relegated to the back of adult stores; areas visited by men, but with products intended for women. In addition, the items tended to be poorly designed. With CalExoics, it was her intention to not only create toys women would want to look at—with pink, purple and blue hues—but also want to use.

Wendy Crawford | President and co-founder, Adult Source Media
This powerful industry player has worn many hats during a career in adult entertainment that began in 1998 as the production manager for director Jane Waters after coming from a mainstream entertainment career. Crawford currently serves as the president and co-founder of Adult Source Media, an importer of anime since 2004. Outside of Japan, the company is the largest supplier of anime in the world. ASM's videos have a big retail imprint outside of adult stores too—their product is carried in music stores, comic book shops and electronics stores.

In 2011, ASM started a romance line, Intimate Encounters, which she co-directs with husband Jim Crawford. The two also own SoCal Licensing, a supplier of content for worldwide broadcast and satellite distribution. Wendy also does all the accounting and contracts for SoCal. On top of all this, SoCal also serves as the exclusive provider of all content for the soon-to-launch iPorn.

Sunrise Media completes the trifecta of companies with which Wendy fills executive roles. Sunrise, founded by Jim along with director Lee Roy Myers, is an exclusive content supplier to Canadian broadcasters. As CFO, Wendy manages the accounting for the company that represents Devil's Film and Elegant Angel in Canada. Wendy's success comes organically, building companies from the ground up.

Stormy Daniels | Contract star/director
Stormy Daniels has come a long way from her initial desire to make more money as a feature dancer by getting into adult movies, as gal-pal Devon Michaels had. But when she showed up on Wicked’s Makin’ It set in 2002, she immediately caught the eye of director Brad Armstrong, and before she knew it, she was in Steve Orenstein’s office talking about a contract.

“I did my first movie for Wicked, which was Heat,” she recalled, “but we had to wait for Steve to watch it and see how I did because I was brand new; I’d never done a boy/girl scene, and I’d never acted before.”

One thing led to another, and Stormy’s innate talent for writing soon had her selling scripts to Wicked’s contract directors, and eventually, after she realized that no director could fulfill her vision of her scripts like she herself could, she took over the director’s chair for One Night in Vegas ... and the rest is history.

“I can honestly tell you that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than directing movies,” she said. “From concept to finished editing, it’s in my possession. The one thing that pisses me off more than anything else is when somebody says I didn’t actually do it, that Wicked just puts my name on the movies and I don’t actually do the work, and it makes me crazy that I don’t get the credit.”

And by the way, she’d love an AVN Best Director honor to go with her Best New Starlet and Best Screenplay awards.

Jessica Drake | Contract star/director/educator
Eight-time AVN Award winner and Hall of Famer, including a record three-time recipient of the Best Actress trophy, Jessica Drake is so much more than an outstanding thespian. A Wicked Girl for the past decade, Drake is a glowing ambassador for the adult industry. Poised, polite and smart as a whip, Drake is frequently the mainstream media’s go-to adult star for issues affecting the adult industry.

A Texas native, Drake, already an accomplished adult screenwriter, branched out to directing her own line of educational DVDs for Wicked Pictures. The series, Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex, has earned critical acclaim across the board for its comprehensive, intelligent breakdown of sexual experimentation. Drake hosts a Playboy Radio show, and has taught sexual education seminars and workshops around the world. Her TV credits include appearances on The Money Shot, Skin, Pornucopia: Going Down in the Valley and The Tyra Banks Show. In 2010, Drake appeared in the music video for Lady Gaga’s single “Telephone.” And her role as ambassador extends beyond the borders of the industry, and even the United States. A student of the world seeking to make it a better place, Drake has embarked on humanitarian missions to Thailand, Haiti and Kenya.

Diane Duke | CEO, Free Speech Coalition
People in the adult industry who know Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke are often astonished at how hard she works. It’s not unusual to receive emails from her at 2 o’clock in the morning.

“Clearly, this industry was the next step for me,” Duke said, “and when I left Planned Parenthood after about a dozen years, about half the people I worked with really got it, were very excited and understood the next step. And then, about half of the folks really saw me as betraying everything I had worked for before, but for me, it’s a natural step, because this is people owning their sexuality and not being afraid to stand up and say it. Women in this industry are some of the most incredible women I’ve met. The performers really do have a sense of who they are.”

In fact, it’s that self-awareness among performers that’s aided Duke in lobbying on industry issues, making the transition from AIM to APHSS, helping to fight content piracy, mounting a court challenge to 2257, enlisting local businesses to help fight Measure B—and fundraising for all of it, plus dealing with the myriad problems that people want FSC to deal with in the course of a day.

“I feel very blessed to be part of this industry, to be able to represent this industry,” she summarized. “It’s just been an incredible experience for me.”

Suki Dunham | Founder, OhMiBod
Some might think it was fate that Suki Dunham got the idea for OhMiBod after one Christmas morning. Her husband and company co-founder, Brian, got her two significant gifts that year: An iPod and a vibrator. Dunham knew that music impacts so many areas of people lives, so why not their sex lives? A former Apple employee, Dunham not only revolutionized the technological aspect of sex toys—OhMiBod has created products that vibrate when hooked up to MP3 players, as well as respond to ambient sound, such as music in clubs—but also the look. OhMiBod was a company that dared to break away from the traditional pink and purple color scheme and offer items in bright greens, blues and even white.

Theresa Flynt | Executive vice president, LFP
Make no mistake: Theresa Flynt is not another example of the boss’s daughter getting her way. Flynt has worked hard to establish her own identity at LFP, including creating and overseeing the Hustler Hollywood retail stores. Hustler Hollywood uses the brand recognition of the Hustler name to attract male customers, but the products, layout and design are female-friendly.

It was not always a clear-cut decision, however, to work in the family business. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was growing up,” she told AVN in a previous interview. “I knew I liked business, ideas, and marketing. I have a lot of respect for people who have good marketing skills. It’s a very competitive world out there, and good marketing is what it takes to succeed. I graduated from college with a degree in marketing, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work or what my professional direction would be until [my father] wanted to open the stores. After the success of the Hustler stores, I was motivated to work for our brand.”

Zsófia Hajdú | Managing director, Duodecad IT Services Luxembourg
As industry regulars know, a webmaster gathering is generally a sausage fest. But there are a few exceptions. Zsófia Hajdú started her career at live webcam giant in 2007 as an online support representative. Within a couple of months, Hajdú had moved from support to the finance department, where she managed the payout system for five years.

In 2012 Hajdú took on a much bigger role when she became the managing director of Duodecad IT Services, a Luxembourg entity which she helped set up. Duodecad owns and operates both and

“I love that this industry is so colorful and vivid,” Hajdú said. “I also find it extremely interesting to set up something from nothing—to be there from the start and not only follow how it grows, but also be an active part of it.”

Acknowledging the lack of women in her industry, she said it is difficult for women to reach “leading positions,” as she put it, “not only because we have to keep balance with work and private life (and being available 24/7 does not make it easy), but because I feel, as a woman, I still have to work harder to get accepted and appreciated. Though I believe this applies to leader positions in all fields.”

“Zsófia is an amazing colleague carrying out a key role for the company, often working all hours of the day and night to accommodate the 24-hour international operations of the business,” said Douglas Richter, senior authorized consultant for “Zsófia has strong business acumen and her incredible attention to detail has impressed me since I first began working with her six years ago.”

Nina Hartley | Performer/Industry advocate
Some would describe adult actress/director/ producer/spokesperson Nina Hartley as a force of nature—and they wouldn’t be wrong. While still in nursing school in San Francisco, she began stripping at the O’Farrell Theater, and starred in her first movie, Educating Nina, two years later.

Now a veteran of over 700 movies and the director of about 20, including several volumes of the popular Nina Hartley’s Guide... series for Adam & Eve, not to mention author of Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex, she continues to perform in front of both video and web cameras, giving weekly cam shows that often feature her co-workers in XXX.

Having appeared in several Hollywood movies, Hartley has also been a guest on many mainstream talk and news programs, and she continues to lecture about the adult industry, and sex-positivism in general, to college students across the country. Hartley is well-known as someone who’s willing to fight for her rights—she got Nina’s Shoes to back down after the company tried to seize her domain name,—and has been involved in fundraisers for the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture and many others. She’s also performed in The Vagina Monologues at Antioch College. In short, when it comes to XXX, there’s practically nothing Hartley hasn’t done.

Rondee Kamins | CEO, AdultMart and GVA-TWN
Rondee Kamins grew up with family in the adult industry, even working for her father—industry luminary Mel Kamins—before she eventually purchased General Video of America-Trans World News from him. Kamins started working for GVA-TWN (the distribution, warehouse, internet fulfillment and stores portion of the company) and AdultMart (the retail arm) when she was 18. Kamins was responsible for computerizing much of GVA’s functions when she came on board, but also served as a buffer between the old school men of the industry—many of whom were used to doing business a certain way—and a new breed of pornographers and retailers who came in after the internet. She has almost single-handedly helped one of the first adult distributors in the U.S. survive in the modern day of adult.

Marci Hirsch | Vice president, Vivid Entertainment
When one adds up everything that Vivid’s Marci Hirsch does, the job title we suggested for her, “Vice President of Everything,” seems a pretty good fit—but it didn’t start out that way.

Thanks to her degree from UNLV, Hirsch started out as a hotel manager, but a couple of kids and a couple of moves across the country left her job-hunting in 1992, when brother Steven offered her a job servicing Adam & Eve’s account with the company.

“Creating new product, talking to them to see what they needed—that was my original job, and it took off from there,” Hirsch said.

Fast-forward two decades, and Hirsch is now the overseer for all Vivid productions, which means she works with all the directors, schedules Vivid’s contract girls as to which movies they’ll be doing in which months, makes sure all footage is delivered on time and goes into editing on time, schedules the movies’ release dates to make sure everything is released on time, coordinates with the art director to make sure he’s got all the artwork and got the approval on the box art—everything was spelled correctly and color-corrected—and whenever there’s a new project, she usually has something to do with it.

What can we say but, “Whew!”

Kelly Holland | President, Penthouse Studios
Documentarian Kelly Holland got into XXX the usual way: Luck. After shooting miles of footage in Central America, she needed a way to raise money for future projects, so she started a post-production facility in Hollywood—and wouldn’t’cha know it, X-rated directors started beating a path to her door, which led to conversations with Steve Hirsch, which led to Holland signing on with Vivid to direct more than 80 movies for the company.

But Holland soon found herself trying to explain to her feminist friends why she was okay with adult, and how “the women that I met in the business at that time—for example, Nina Hartley, Christy Canyon Tori Welles—were so smart, so sharp, so business-savvy, so self-empowered, so in charge of their bodies, that I really look to them as being pioneers and in the vanguard of what I considered neo-feminism.”

So Holland promptly gave up her “Toni English” pseudonym and launched herself full force into adult production—a path that led her to totally revamp the Playgirl brand, and then, thanks to a recommendation from galpal Stacey Valentine, a job as head of production to totally revamp the “battle-scarred” Penthouse brand, where she now oversees not only video production but also the company’s 10 satellite channels in 100 countries, as well as product licensing, international publications, the Penthouse clubs, and just about everything else the company does.

Kelly Madison | Kelly Madison Productions,
The statuesque Kelly Madison has quite literally made a career based on her prodigious assets. Yes, we’re referring to her all-natural 34FF breasts. By now, you should know the story: Madison met her decade-younger husband, Ryan, working at a computer graphics company. At Ryan’s suggestion, and despite her initial concerns about beginning an adult career in her 30s, Madison launched a website that put her bountiful breasts front-and-center.

From there the pair created, bringing other girls into their bedroom. (The hugely successful site recently debuted its 500th scene.) Madison releases DVD lines through Juicy Entertainment, including Get My Belt, a two-disc DVD set that has the couple pushing boundaries into captivity, water BDSM and even slavery. In 2011, Madison won the AVN Award for Best Web Star, a testament to her domination on the web. Madison’s online portfolio also includes and, a customizable model directory.

Conventional wisdom dictates that relationships in porn don’t last. The counterweight to that argument is Kelly and Ryan sustaining marriage and business intertwined for so long.

Mason | Director, OpenLife Entertainment
For the past seven years during her reign at Elegant Angel, Mason was one of the industry’s best all-sex directors; her body of work was second to none. Possessing the rare talent of of putting her subjects at ease to get a great scene while maintaining their trust, Mason has gotten the industry’s biggest stars to do what’s arguably their best work for her. To wit—Dani Daniels: Dare, Asa Akira is Instatiable 1-3, Alexis Texas is Buttwoman and Celeste, among many others. Mason’s signature no-holes-barred glamorous debauchery can now exclusively be found at OpenLife Entertainment after she parted ways with Elegant Angel last month. As Mason describes it, she will direct high-end erotica with an emphasis on aesthetics, romance, and eroticism. Also continuing in a different form are her star showcases centering on a single female performer and a gangbang series. For more on this press shy director, see her extended interview in this issue.

Sandra McCarthy | Co-owner, OC Modeling
Sometimes you wouldn’t even recognize some of the biggest players in the industry. These behind-the-scenes movers and shakers don’t call attention to themselves or seek the spotlight as they are content to let their work speak for itself. One such person is OC Modeling’s Sandra McCarthy. With Shy Love’s recent sale of Adult Talent Managers, McCarthy is the sole female that managers day-to-day operations of a large adult talent agency. After nearly 20 years in the mainstream film business, McCarthy joined OC Modeling when it launched in 2009. Prior to that she was a production manager for Brazzers and worked on several college-themed series.

At press time, OC Modeling represented about 80 female models including A-listers Angelina Valentine, Anikka Albrite, Lily Carter, Dani Daniels, Kendra Lust, Presley Hart and Joslyn James. The agency also represents close to 20 male performers. Under her management, many OC Modeling clients have been nominated for, and won, AVN Awards. You’d be hard pressed to find a production company that hasn’t used an OC Modeling-repped performer for one of its productions, and that’s just one of the reasons McCarthy found her way onto this list.

Nica Noelle | Director, AEBN
In an industry that’s filled with eccentrics of all sexual orientations, Nica Noelle stands out as a true iconoclast. She got her start as a journalist, and then segued into adult by writing for adult publications, including Hustler.
Noelle made a name for herself first with emotionally engaging girl/girl erotica at Girlfriends Films. By 2008 she had launched the all-girl studio Sweetheart Films under the Mile High Media umbrella.

By the end of her stay with Mile High she had two other studios up and running: Sweet Sinner, the banner under which she released couples movies, and Sweet Sinema, which focused on features inspired by mainstream movies.

In 2011 she was on the move again, leaving Mile High for the wide-open territory at AEBN, where she’s branched out even further. Starting out with Hard Candy Films and Girl Candy Films—producing, respectively, straight and lesbian erotica—the ambitious auteur launched Rock Candy Films, for gay erotica, and Transromantic Films, for transsexual adult content. Both endeavors have seen success, with Transromantic’s first release, Forbidden Lovers, picking up honors at the Tranny Awards and the Feminist Porn Awards.

Carol Queen | Staff sexologist, Good Vibrations
If Carol Queen had never done anything except help train staff members of adult retailer Good Vibrations on sex toys, how to use them and how to find what works best for each individual or couple, that would have been enough. Thankfully, she has stretched her boundaries—and those of everyone she comes in contact with—through her teachings, performances, education and more. In addition to being an author, editor, sociologist and sexologist, Queen also helped to start GAYouth, one of the first organizations in the U.S. for young gays and lesbians.

With partner Robert Morgan Lawrence, she founded the nonprofit Center for Sex and Culture. The CSC was formed in order to establish a large nonprofit research library and archive a collection of sexually related materials for research and public resource, in order to provide a place for sex educators to work.

Tammy Sands | Photographer/director/producer
One of the most respected photogs in adult, Tammy Sands has been a purveyor of glamorous erotic imagery since 1995, when she co-founded pioneering website with its namesake model Danni Ashe. She went on to develop some of the very first websites for Playboy models, as well as her own showcase site for her more explicit photography, Sands’ photos have frequently graced the covers of such enduring men’s mags as Club, Cheri, High Society and Genesis, and she’s also had her work featured regularly on leading glam-core site In 2011, after having shot stills for some Girlfriends Films productions, Sands signed a three-year deal with the powerhouse company to distribute her own series of video titles, starting off with collections of solo scenes and eventually moving into girl-on-girl fare. The partnership has borne consecutive AVN Award victories the past two years in the Best Solo Release category, for Sands’ All Natural Glamour Solos 1 & 2.

Holly Randall | Photographer
You could say Holly Randall was destined for a career in the adult entertainment industry. As the daughter of acclaimed erotic glamor photographer Suze Randall, the first female staff photographer for both Playboy and Hustler, Holly joined her mother in the family business at 20 years old. She’ll be the first to tell you that she grew up in the business—she’s proud to show the photo of her as a toddler being coddled by John Holmes. Holly’s gone on to make her own indelible mark, cutting her teeth at first and then launching in 2008. Her website is now a part of the Met-Art network. Holly’s work has appeared in virtually all the major adult publications (Penthouse, Hustler, Club, High Society, etc.) in addition to online glamor sites Twistys, and among many others. In August, Holly was selected to host a new show on Playboy TV called Adult Film School in which she directs and teaches amateur couples how to make their own sex tape. Frequently cited by female models as their favorite photographer, Holly continues to be at the top of her game and shows no signs of slowing down.

Angie Rowntree | Publisher,
When Angie Rowntree founded in 1999, she probably never imagined that 14 years later a site made by and for women would still be a relative rarity. But that fact only underscores how truly forward-thinking and acting she is. Back then, the shortage of erotic material catering to women was so obvious and so unacceptable to Rowntree that she decided to do something about it by assembling a crew of talented female writers, sex educators and filmmakers to contribute to an evolving, female-centric space where they would always feel at home. That evolution continues to this day even as Rowntree keeps a close finger on the pulse of her membership, a focus that has also been there from the start.

Rather than assume she could speak for the tastes of women everywhere, Rowntree chose to adopt an approach that put control and influence in the hands of her members; rather than tell women what they wanted, she decided to ask them what they wanted and then delivered on their requests. These core principals have helped remain not only a popular destination for women over the years, but also a singular achievement for Angie Rowntree.

Jacky St. James | Director/screenwriter, New Sensations
For Jacky St. James, writing and directing adult movies is a dream come true.

“I used to watch a ton of porn in my spare time, and then a lot of my guy friends and I would exchange links to clips and one of them sent me a link to The Wedding Day, which is a New Sensations Romance series movie, and I was blown away,” she said. “At the same time, AVN had an article saying that New Sensations was doing a contest for screenwriters, and I was like, ‘Oh, what have I got to lose? It might be fun. Who cares? Like, chances are it won’t happen, but I want to try it,’ and I did, and I ended up getting selected.”

That first screenplay was for Dear Abby, which netted her AVN’s Best Screenplay award for that year, and she’s never looked back.

“My goal has always been to reach those people that are still intimidated by their own sexuality, and if I can create things that those people can watch and be like, ‘Wow! This excites me and interests me,’ then I will have succeeded ultimately.”

Tristan Taormino | Feminist author and sex educator
Tristan Taormino has been quite prolific in the world of adult in a relatively short amount of time. In addition to being an author, columnist, sex educator and radio host (for the wildly popular show Sex Out Loud), she is also a director of adult films. But she really kicked off a trend when she started producing educational porn films, first for Evil Angel, then for Vivid Entertainment Group, and now for Adam & Eve Pictures.

Her sex-positive feminist beliefs and teachings have served her well in all areas of her career, both as a producer of adult entertainment and an expert on all things sexual, including pleasure products. In her educational videos Taormino covered many “taboo” subjects, including pegging and threesomes, and in her Rough Sex series she showed that feminist sex doesn’t have to be soft.

And speaking of feminist sex, this year Taormino collaborated on a tome titled The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure—co-edited with Constance Penley, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Mireille Miller-Young—that’s put the phrase “feminist porn” on many mainstream lips.

Courtney Trouble | Founder,,, TROUBLEfilms
San Francisco is to feminist erotica what the San Fernando Valley has been to mainstream porn. Trailblazers like Nan Kinney, Shar Rednour, Jackie Strano and Madison Young made feminist porn long before the term came into vogue.

One who proudly wears the mantle of West Coast queer porn is director Courtney Trouble, who’s been having a great year. Her Lesbian Curves was named Hottest Dyke Film at the Feminist Porn Awards and she was named Director of the Year at the BBW FanFest Awards.

Trouble began her porn career as an alt model and website owner in 2002. She is the founder of TROUBLEfilms as well as the websites and “Running my own company and releasing my own adult films has been more empowering and rewarding than I ever imagined,” she said.

As far as the Trouble that lies ahead, next up is Trans Grrrls: Revolution Porn Style Now and the site, which is “a new alternative take on trans women in porn.” Trouble also has Girl Pile in the fall: “an hour-long unscripted orgy starring the hottest girl crazy babes in porn: Sinn Sage, Nikki Hearts, Arabelle Raphael, and Tori Lux.”

Dana Vespoli | Director/producer/performer
When we first interviewed Dana Vespoli way back in 2004 for what was then known as our “Fresh Off the Bus” feature, she told us with staunch resolution that she eventually wanted to direct, and we vividly remember thinking this was a woman who, unlike the hordes of other eager beaver starlets who’ve uttered the same, we were not only sure would see the goal to fruition, but would be really good at it.

Sure enough, after getting her beak wet at companies including New Sensations and later Combat Zone/Filly Films and Mile High Media, she this year became one of the few female directors ever to join the lofty Evil Angel roster. So far, she’s released about half a dozen titles through EA under her nascent DV Productions banner, and they’ve been received smashingly, with three of them having already garnered AVN Editor’s Choice reviews. Seems our instincts were right about this one.

Vicky Vette | Performer/entrepreneur, Vette Nation Army
With more than half-a-million Twitter followers, Vicky Vette’s more than what her profile alleges: “Just a big boobed Norwegian MILF hacking away a living on the internet.” A businesswoman turned porn star, rather than the other way around, Vette has excelled at the art of working the crowd since her entrée into porn: winning the fan-voted Hustler Beaver Hunt in 2003 at the not-so-tender age of 37.

By the end of 2003 she had already shot 50 movies, just the beginning of a career that’s touched on all aspects of the online biz: webcam shows, membership site, online store, affiliate program, and success in early social media (she was dubbed Miss MySpace in March 2008).

Vette is more than a self-promoter; she’s also a solid geek who handles the technical side of running the Vette Nation Army, a network of membership sites for 15 “VNA Girls,” from perennial MILF Performer of the Year Julia Ann to nubile Siri (the newest recruit). Buoyed by Vette’s infectious high spirits, the network seems like a fun clubhouse for busty, bawdy babes.

Allison Vivas | President, Pink Visual Entertainment
Allison Vivas is unique in the industry for having ascended the management ladder of the adult internet company she joined in 2001 right out of college to become its president at the tender age of 26. Her youth notwithstanding, however, Vivas exuded maturity, confidence and public poise from the beginning, and ran Topbucks/Pink Visual like a seasoned veteran the moment she took charge in 2006.  Under her leadership, the Pink Visual brand has become synonymous with innovation and creativity both within and outside the industry, and is often quoted in the mainstream press.

Some of the company’s ground-breaking accomplishments include being one of the first adult companies to launch an iPhone-dedicated website, production of 3D content for mobile devices, creation of mobile games and web applications, being an early adopter of high definition video production, being the first company to use the iPhone 3GS video camera for content production, and the use of SMS and podcasts as mediums for communication with its customers. Pink Visual remains one of the online industry’s success stories, not least because of Vivas’ guidance as one of the adult industry’s most visible and accomplished female executives.

E.L. James | Mainstream juggernaut
For the final slot in this roundup of influential forces, we felt we couldn’t ignore the Fifty Shades of Grey Effect. Though last year was when E.L. James and her BDSM-tinged trilogy began to boost sales in the adult industry, the aftereffects continue as women who never considered walking into an adult store take the plunge and dart in, searching for Kegel balls and cuffs.

Therefore, it seems we must give Ms. James her due, as the literary world has had to do. Despite a widespread critical trouncing, sales of the three volumes have soared through the roof. In December 2012, it won both “Popular Fiction” and "Book of the Year" categories in the UK National Book Awards and Publishers Weekly named her “Publishing Person of the Year”—provoking this headline in the New York Daily News: “Civilization ends: E.L. James named Publishers Weekly's ‘Person of the Year.’”

Though her inclusion on this list won’t create the same level of outcry, we can imagine a few heads shaking out there. But remember that Ms. James was responsible for a very welcome sound in the air at many an adult boutique: the musical tones of credit card transactions and other sales … and isn’t that one of the most important things of all?