CHATSWORTH, Calif.—RayVeness maintains a unique perspective on her job as an adult performer, which she started on her 18th birthday.
“I can’t believe I’ve been at the same job for 20 years,” says the native of Jamestown, N.C., who turned 38 on June 19.
“If you take the word adult out of everything that I do, my job title is publicity and marketing and sales and I’ve been at the same job for 20 years. Because, technically, I am the product. I have to constantly reinvent the product. I have to improve the product. I have to market the product, give publicity to the product. And the product has to be good, over and over and over, something that people always want to see.”
Indeed, RayVeness has enjoyed a rare longevity. In recent years she has become known for her acting chops, spending the past year as a Girlfriends Films contract girl—she was the company’s first ever—because of her ability to play a character.
She realized she had a flair for drama as a teenager.
“I really wanted to sing, or be a nurse,” says RayVeness, whose stage name is of Indian origin and means “of the spirit.”
“Those were two things I wanted to do. And I wanted to get my degree [as a certified nurse] because I care about people. I’ve always been like a people pleaser. But I was too emotional. I was too young and too unstable emotionally to handle the job. I did get the certificate. I did finish it, but I couldn’t get a job right away after that as a nurse, so I ended up doing that movie.”
RayVeness’s first movie was a homemade amateur tape with her then-husband, which she sent in to Homegrown Video.
“It sounded like a great idea, something I did with my husband every night anyway,” she recalls.
But she didn’t jump right into porn after that. Instead, she sold flowers in nightclubs and then moved on to strip clubs.
“And then somewhere in there I did six or seven videos for Pearl Necklace Videos,” says RayVeness, who lived near Orlando, Fla., after high school. “And I just did scenes with my husband, like five or six scenes with my husband. And then I went to being the waitress and then into being a stripper.
“And then two years later when we moved back to North Carolina, a girl was drunk and she needed a ride home and we were giving her a ride home and she was like, ‘I saw you and your husband in a porn movie.’ And it was like two years [before that]. It doesn’t register that somebody’s actually going to see it one day. … You don’t really realize that it’s going to follow you for the rest of your life, so that’s why I decided at that point I might as well make a career out of this. This is not something I can just erase from my diary. This is something I really did, and I might as well make the best of it.”
Nearly two decades and some 400-plus movies later, she has definitely made the best of it. RayVeness took a couple breaks along the way—the first was from 2000 to 2003, when she was pursuing mainstream roles.
“And I didn’t want to take a chance of someone recognizing me. So I quit. I dyed my hair red and I wore brown contacts to all my auditions,” she says. “And I ended up landing a role on NYPD Blue with speaking lines. I ended up doing John Frankenheimer’s Path to War, which was a $21 million HBO film. And I was LBJ’s eldest daughter, so I had quite a few speaking lines. I worked on that for 45 days. I also was pursuing my music.
“I only went back into the business because after John Frankenheimer had passed away it seemed like all my connections were gone, you know.”
RayVeness took a second break—from June ’06 to Aug. ’07—to have her child through in vitro fertilization. Now she wants to keep going until it’s time to stop.
“I still love my job, and a lot of people said, ‘Will you ever retire?’” RayVeness says. “And I said, ‘When my body looks bad enough to where nobody wants to shoot me any more.’ When the fans are like, ‘She needs to quit.’ You know when that point is. So as long as my body holds up, I’m still going to shoot.”