Nikki Benz On Hard Work, Longevity, Success

This article is the cover story of the July issue of AVN magazine. Click here for the full digital edition.

LOS ANGELESNikki Benz remembers the grind. It’s what makes the lifestyle she enjoys now that much more satisfying.

“I worked hard for what I have,” Benz says. “I worked my ass off.”

Even though she landed an exclusive performance contract almost from the get-go in 2002, the Canadian star never stopped hustling, flying from coast to coast and going from the porn set to the main stage of your favorite gentlemen’s club—only to do it again the following week—as she climbed up the ranks.

“There were many times where I had to feature dance all weekend and fly a red-eye back to LA and go straight to set,” she says. “I hope the fans—when they read this interview—appreciate how hard that adult stars work. Because it is work; it’s fun, too, but we put in a lot of work.”

Now the 2016 AVN Hall of Fame inductee from Toronto finds herself in the enviable position of being able to choose to do projects on her own terms. It’s a luxury that comes with a track record of 17 years of operating at the elite level of adult entertainment. 

Benz loves being able to engage with her enormous fanbase—the notorious #BenzMafia, which became one of the first porn star fan followings to earn its own moniker in 2005, based on Benz’s affinity for Mafia-inspired movies. She shares her daily life on do-it-yourself platforms such as FanCentro’s premium Snapchat feed and OnlyFans—not to mention her free-to-view social media accounts, where at press time in early May she had more than 3.5 million followers on Instagram and another 884,000-plus on Twitter. 

Her massive social media presence is about to get bigger this month, when Benz plans to officially launch her account on the new AVN Stars platform. Without question as she approaches her 17-year anniversary in adult, Benz has emerged as one of the top porn stars in the world and by far the most successful performer ever to come out of Canada.

“I’m definitely taken aback…I’m really humbled by that. I’m blushing about it. If I am the biggest adult star to ever come out of Canada, I think that’s amazing,” Benz tells AVN. “When I first started I never really set out to be. I didn’t know how far I was going to go. So it’s an honor. I’m flattered and I’m legit blushing. I’m humbled.”

She continues, “I love to represent Canada; I love to represent the US. I’m a dual citizen—the US has presented me with a lot of amazing opportunities. I love the fact that I grew up in Toronto. I’m very grateful.”

Benz makes that feeling of gratitude a theme as she navigates the next phase of her career—she’s come a long way since her first scene, a girl/girl liaison with fellow Hall of Famer Gina Lynn in Florida that appeared in director Jim Gunn’s Strap-On Sally 20 for Pleasure Productions.

The 26-plus-year industry veteran Gunn tells AVN he has fond memories of Benz’s beginnings in porn.

“My recollection of recruiting Nikki Benz—at that time working as a stripper in downtown Toronto—is that she initially saw one of the ‘Models Wanted’ advertisements I used to run in a local adult entertainment publication in Ontario and contacted me about making adult movies,” Gunn says.

“This was not unusual because I used to visit Canada a lot in the mid/late 1990s and had made a lot of pro-am adult movies there; and I filmed a lot of Canadian models both there and in the States. So a lot of people were aware of my work as an adult movie director and producer in both countries. 

“The timing worked out well since I had one of my big Strap-On Sally sequel shoots scheduled soon thereafter in South Florida, where I was based. So I made arrangements to have her fly down to make her industry debut on the strength of having a featured role with multiple scenes in Strap-On Sally 20 and Strap-On Sally 21—the other movie we shot that week—and a box cover as well on the former title.”

Gunn continues, “I thought Nikki Benz and Gina Lynn looked and worked great together in the first scene Nikki filmed and that it made sense to feature her in a scene with the strap-on wielding main character in Gina—as well as in some other lesbian scenes over the three-day shoot. Nikki certainly had the look, but of course one can never predict how long a particular model will stick around the adult entertainment business.”

Impressed by Benz’s performances on those Strap-On Sally shoots, Gunn soon connected her with Frank Kay, who owned the New Jersey-based Pleasure Productions along with one of the largest one-stop distributors in adult, IVD.

“Pleasure Productions quickly contracted her for a time to do some more feature movies soon thereafter, including some that I filmed,” adds Gunn, who to this day remains one of the busiest producer/director’s in the Sunshine State with clients such as Karups, VR 3000 and Hustler’s Barely Legal magazine.

“Other than me giving her a start in what was a high-profile production and popular series like Strap-On SallyNikki of course has to be given credit herself for sustaining her own career and popularity since then.”

Just ask AVN Hall of Fame porn mogul Jules Jordan, who has personally shot Benz more than a dozen times, including for some of his classic series such as Flesh Hunter—she was in the 12th volume in 2013—Breast Worship 2 (2009), Deep Anal Drilling 5 (2013), the interracial showcase Nikki Benz: Jungle Fever (2014) and Dream Fucks (2017), among other titles.

Nikki Benz has been able to stay relevant and remain a huge star in the industry for over 15 years, while also marketing herself as a social media star, feature entertainer and legendary porn star,” Jordan tells AVN. “We’ve known each other for almost her entire career and she’s been one of my all-time favorites that I’ve ever shot.”



When Benz got to L.A. in the Fall of 2002 she performed her first boy/girl sex scene with now retired performer Ben English—aka LA Direct Models owner Derek Hay—under the direction of fellow Hall of Fame shot-caller Andre Madness that appeared in The Sweetest Thing for Pleasure.

Madness, who is now co-owner of Nexxxt Level Talent Agency, says “Nikki had the ‘it’ factor.”

“She was a young woman with incredible drive, poise and beauty,” Madness tells AVN. “Today Nikki Benz is an incredible brand name that genuinely benefits every company that aligns with her.

“It’s been a real treat to know—and to witness—this woman’s amazing career that is nearing its 20-year mark. And I hope to be witness to another 20 years of Nikki Benz in whatever goals she’s sets out to conquer next.

Nikki Benz, like a fine wine, looks fantastic in red.”

Benz—who worked at Starbucks before becoming a stripper and bikini model—places her July 2019 AVN cover near the top of her list of greatest achievements. That’s right along with her AVN Hall of Fame trophy and her title of 2011 Penthouse Pet of the Year—which marked the beginning of another one-year exclusive contract in which she traveled the world—from Germany to Australia—representing the iconic brand.

An example of how far a porn star can take their career, Benz has always focused on quality, not quantity—at press time she had about 520 titles on her résumé. 

A prolific feature dancer and perennial contract girl—after Pleasure she later had exclusive deals with Jill Kelly Productions and Teravision before her Penthouse pact—Benz also achieved her share of mainstream notoriety. She turned up on the show Cubed in 2010, when she played a quick-witted maid who knew more about balls—and strikes—than the average cleaning lady.

Benz’s likeness made the video game, Saints Row: The Third - Penthouse Pack (2012), which is part of one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. She appeared briefly in the film feature film Pain and Gain a year later.

She even grabbed headlines during an unexpected run for Mayor of Toronto in 2014.

Benz notes it’s unusual for her to encounter a new “first” in adult these days—but she managed to do it this month.

“You guys somehow some way gave me another ‘first ever’ in the industry, which is hard. My AVN cover is the first ever for me and for that fact I’m very grateful,” she says. “It was such a great shoot.”

Benz took a skinny-dip in the pool during a couple of the photosets, which even included her swimming underwater with a GoPro camera for the video portion of the shoot, “and I’ve never done that for anyone.”

“I was just really honored,” Benz says. “It was an amazing opportunity for me. I have a big smile when I talk about it.”

For the record, she says the water was cold—after all, it was late April when she was prancing around naked at the Hollywood Hills estate.

“The water was definitely chilly. But listen, I’m a pro. If I need to shoot in cold water, I’m going to do that. After a couple laps it was fine. It was so much fun doing that!” she adds. 


The July cover comes on the heels of Benz appearing front and center in the group photo of the 2019 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo ad campaign—not to mention being one of three girls featured on life-size posters on the bathroom mirrors in the lobby of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

“You saw me everywhere at Hard Rock,” she says. 

A year ago at the AVN Show Benz presided over Greg Lansky’s red-carpet clad Vixen Media Group booth inside Muse Hall, where she was his “Director of Vibes” for the weekend. Benz and the three-time AVN Director of the Year Lansky have been close for many years.

Nikki is first and foremost a great friend,” Lansky tells AVN. “She’s one of most charismatic women I’ve ever met! When she walks into a room she captivates the attention of everyone! Not because she’s a stunningly beautiful woman but because her charisma and personality are truly unique. She’s the definition of a female pack leader! 

“I’m grateful every time I spend time with her because her energy is amazing. I think her career is truly remarkable. She’s an outstanding businesswoman and one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. And most of all she’s a caring and loving person with a passion for life.”

An early riser who loves her Starbucks coffee, it’s not unusual for Benz to crawl into bed by 10.

“I do go to bed earlier and I’m freaking loving it. I’m not exhausted,” she confesses.

Benz, who pulled up to our interview in a new Range Rover, manages to get around LA without too many interruptions—“I feel like in my area people just—everyone is too cool for school,” she jokes.

“But when I go to the East Coast I get stopped at the airport and recognized. People make an effort to approach. Porn stars living in LA—we’re not a novelty.

“If anything—I’ll be honest—I get stopped all the time when I’m with my dog. I need to become a dog manager—because his treats are not cheap!”

Benz is referring to her Pomeranian named Ollie, whom she got in November.

“He’s still a baby,” she says. “The last time I was traveling, I did a count and five different people asked to take a photo of him… They just love him… I also have another one who is 14 years old.”

Benz surprises her “Mafia” a couple times a month, when she logs onto CamSoda for a live-cam session.

“And then I feature dance here and there; I shoot here and there and the rest of the time I just do content for OnlyFans and Snapchat. I love Snapchat to begin with. Even before you could make money off it. It doesn’t even feel like work, it’s just fun,” she says.

Now when Benz does shoot, it’s damn near a porno event. She reconnected with one of her personal favorite studs Isiah Maxwell in April for BangBros.

Nikki and I have shot together about four to six times,” Maxwell tells AVN. “When I see her name on the call sheet, I know it's going to be a good day. She is on a platform of performers that I look up to because when we work together, I can pull from our experience and that will help me with future shoots and business ventures. You get more than just a scene working with Nikki.”

BangBros Executive Producer Colin Rae tells AVN, “Nikki is an absolute pleasure to work with and one of the most professional ladies in the industry. We can’t wait for her to shoot with us again soon!”

Benz says it was only earlier this year that she began to take time to savor her success.

“I think because the biggest thing is I specifically made sure I had more time for myself. I don’t go on the road as often. I enjoy being home. I felt like I was tourist in my own city. I’ve lived here full time since 2004 and I’ve traveled every week; I’ve shot every week… My home wasn’t my home and I made a promise to myself. When you’re sitting at home and not going 100 mph you have more time to think. I’m just very grateful and thankful,” she says.

“What we do with our platforms like FanCentro and OnlyFans requires me to stay home and shoot the content and that gives me more free time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.”

But aside from the necessary travel for work obligations, she has always had wanderlust; every year she tries to visit a new country.

“Traveling for yourself is a whole different ballgame,” Benz says. “I would say Mykonos, Greece, was definitely one of the most memorable vacations. And I’ve been to Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand. I love Thai food; I love the culture; and then last year I went to Kyoto, Japan, and Tokyo—and Kyoto stole my heart.

“It still had the old-school Japan charm without the skyscrapers. Tokyo is basically like New York City in Japan.

“I did my research and I just sort of looked up what is the closest to Tokyo. I didn’t have much time; I was there for seven days and six nights. But after two days in Tokyo I said I want to go somewhere else. I took the Shinkansen—the bullet train—and it was a 2 hour, 20 minute ride to go to Kyoto. I definitely need to go back to Japan. There’s so much more to see.

“And another country I really want to visit is Iceland. I really want go to the Blue Lagoon. I love to scuba dive. That’s on the bucket list… It’s hard to do—to take that much time off from life, but sometimes you just have to do it and be spontaneous.”



Photography by Keith Ryan