Getting inside Dana Vespoli

Searching for intimacy with the porn star/director through arm pit sniffing and anal sex.

Are you nervous or just cold?

No, I'm just shy.

You're shy when talking about sex, but not about having sex on camera?

It's funny. When it's a scene and there is a certain expectation, then I am okay. But if I am just having a conversation or interacting socially, then I am a little shy.

You entered the world of adult entertainment by stripping in San Francisco clubs. I can't imagine a shy stripper would make much money.

It was a "When in Rome" type of situation. I'm here and people are naked, so I'm fine. Again, there was an expectation. Also, the main club I worked at was very diverse. The place was not just full of fembots with bolt-on tits.

Does San Francisco even have those type of plastic women?

It does. But, San Francisco is a place where, if you are a stripper, you are cool. There, being a stripper is like being a musician or a writer. It's very liberal. At the O'Farrell Theatre, the Mitchell brothers embraced diversity. You would see a lot of different body types. You never felt out of place.

You are the newest director for the hardcore company Evil Angel. Are you the only female director?

No. There's Belladonna and Bobbi Starr.

What is your first Evil Angel film?

It's a gonzo feature called Forsaken.

Evil Angel seems like a director driven studio, in that each director creates a certain style that appeals to a different audience. What do you think your aesthetic is? Your style? Do you shoot only lesbian scenes?

I mostly shoot boy/girl. I shoot lesbian seduction stuff for Mile High Media's Sweetheart Videos. At Evil I go back to my roots, which is mostly hardcore, boy/girl, gonzo vignettes and gonzo features. Here and there I will probably do more lesbian, anal, POV stuff. That's the newest movie I shot. It is just me, a camera and a girl — and her asshole.

I always assumed that the majority of male viewers who watch POV scenes like to imagine themselves behind the camera. How does that work when a woman is behind the camera, fucking the woman in front of the camera?

Dana Vespoi shooting Karlie Montana
  • Dana Vespoi shooting Karlie Montana
With my POV scenes, I think the viewers get off on the kinky idea of a woman holding a camera and fucking another woman. It has been an interesting experiment. I have done a lot of POV intros to scenes, because I do my own camera work, but to carry that POV style through into a full scene was interesting. I ran into a few issues that I've worked through, like finding ways to maneuver the camera. I tried to stay true to the POV style, but I will probably set the camera down and get in there too. It is something I am not going to give up on. I'll just improve with each one I shoot.

It seems like it would be incredibly difficult to simultaneously film and participate in a lesbian sex scene. Even something as simple as holding the camera with both hands would be a challenge.

It's tricky. With POVs I use a much smaller HD camera than what I shoot with for features.

I've read in multiple interviews that you like smelling armpits. Do you just like to get a concentrated whiff of pheromones?

I should clarify that it is not a general thing that I like to do. In scenes when I do it, I just want intimacy. I don't always get intimacy with my partners. I try to find a way in. Sometimes we just automatically have chemistry. Sometimes I get a partner, male or female, and I can sense this sort of dissociation, so I try to find a way in. Smelling them, becoming as familiar as possible, is just a way for me to connect with them on another level.

Do you think smelling a sex partner helps them disconnect from their conscious mind and become more in tune with their carnal desires?

It works for me, though I don't always do it. I also do it a lot when I am really into somebody, where you just want to consume that person, where you just want as much of that person as possible. I am very passionate. When I am with somebody, and I really like them, I want to smell them. I want to suck on their armpits. I want to taste their sweat. I want to lick their eyeballs. I want to go inside them and have them go inside me. I want to get as close as I can without resorting to cannibalism.

I was going to ask where you draw the line.

Dana Vespoi & Dana DeArmond
  • Dana Vespoi and Dana DeArmond
I should clarify. I want to be as close to another person as I can be within the constraints of the law. I actually smelled someone on set the other day. We have this cameraman who is this really awesome guy. He was just standing there. I could see his armpits a little through his shirt. I tried to sneak in there and just get a quick whiff. He was like, "Are you smelling me?" And I was like, "Yeah. Sorry."

Haha. You got caught being creepy. Imagine what he would think if you weren't an attractive woman.

He's so cool though, he probably wouldn't care. It is an impulse I have. It doesn't happen with everybody. It's not this general thing where I just want to smell everybody. I like to smell people I am attracted to. Or again in a scene, where I just want to get as close as I can to a person. So yeah, armpits. Absolutely.

You also seem to do a lot of anal in your own scenes and in the scenes you shoot with other women. What is it about anal sex that turns you on?

I love that. I like looking inside. I like opening a girl up. A little of it is probably a power thing, though I don't know how true that is as I am such a nurturer and a lover. I love anal sex so much. Part of it is just that you are getting her so comfortable that you can get in and look inside of her. I don't know. It just really turns me on. I just think assholes are beautiful. When you are really opening it up and you can see inside and you can see things pulsing and moving and it is pink and really pretty. And, I just like butts. They turn me on. Also, when your asshole is opened like that you have to be really relaxed and calm. It is nice to get a girl to that point where she is feeling docile.

So, in a way, anal sex is just another demonstration of the level of intimacy you have with a partner?

Yes. Probably. It is getting inside ... I hope people don't read this and get ideas that I am a serial killer. I'm saying all these things about getting inside women and consuming them.

We can talk about your serial killing career. How would you do it? You would eat your victims wouldn't you?

Dana Vespoli & Aiden Ashley
  • Courtesy of Sweetheart Video
  • Dana Vespoli and Aiden Ashley
I would totally eat them. I'm not going to say that I would ever get into necrophilia, but I get it. I get it. That doesn't mean I will ever do it, but I kind of get it.

I don't understand the psychology behind necrophilia, but I understand the armpit thing, and assholes. I like asses.

Yeah, butts are cool. [We high-five.]

Were you married to Manuel Ferrara?

We were together for seven years and we have children. We are no longer together, but we are really good friends. We work together quite a bit. Not performing together, but I shoot him in scenes. He has shot me in scenes. I have shot scenes for him when he has to do other things.

In a press release for one of your films, you compliment all of your actors. Then when it came to Manuel, you said something funny like, "and he wasn't that bad either."

I was just kidding. But yeah, we used to be together. We have children we raise together. We're really good friends. A little codependent. I think that happens sometimes by virtue of having been together and raising children together. Old habits.

Is it difficult dating a fellow performer?

I won't do it again. And this is not because of any bitterness toward Manuel. Relationships are difficult in this industry. And I was in a relationship with a man who is considered one of the greatest male performers of all time. It is hard man. It is tough. So I will not. I'm going to say this and then I'm going to end up dating some fucking guy. But I'm not planning on having a relationship in this industry. I am totally single. It would have to be with someone outside the industry. Then that gets tricky because it would have to be with someone who understands it. Eventually I won't perform anymore. I'm going to slow down and probably just work for myself, and Sweetheart, then eventually just step away and just jump in with girls here and there. But, yeah, I would probably also need to have an open relationship in the future. It is hard even though I am not really a sexually jealous person.

That is a really good trait to have.

It is handy in this business. But I am also a voyeur. I like to watch. It would be hot for me to watch my partner with another person. I won't have to be a part of it because I really do just like to watch.

Of all the porn stars I have interviewed, you seem the most in touch and honest about what you want. Has porn helped open you up or did your curiosity about your own sexually lead you into the industry?

I have always been curious. From a very early age I consumed pornography. One thing led to another. In college I was kinky with boyfriends. I was interested in a little bit of gender transgression stuff. I used to have a lot of fem boyfriends. I would dress them up in women's clothes. I was into a little bit of BDSM. Things just sort of moved from there. I was watching porn. I was a huge fan of Radley Metzger. A huge fan of John Stagliano. When I ended up in LA, it just made sense to try. I've never felt ashamed of any of the stuff I’ve done. I’ve always been lucky to be in environments where people are incredibly accepting. Porn is the one place where you can say that you like to get pissed on and no one bats an eye. I have been fortunate to be in places where it was safe to explore these things, so I think that is why I am pretty in touch. I am still discovering stuff that I like. It's awesome. I don't think that ever ends, or it doesn't have to.

In some ways what you can do with porn and sex is infinite. But, in another way, it seems like there is only so far you can push the envelope. Like with Evil Angel's series, Anal Acrobats, there are only so many things you can stick in an asshole.

Yeah and that is not even the appealing part. Sticking things in is just one aspect. There is also the reaction.

Maybe my real question is this. How do you take porn to a place that has never been explored? Where do you get inspiration?

I have gotten inspiration from all kinds of things. Again, it is the discovery. One day I was watching American Horror Story and I found myself incredibly turned on by the man in the latex suit. You don’t see who it is. And also this maid bent over cleaning up blood. I realize sometimes when I am afraid, I am incredibly turned on.

Well fear gives you a shot of testosterone, and most any extreme emotions are often very closely associated with arousal.

Exactly. That's what kind of inspires me. Maybe I'm just creepy. I find inspiration in personal experiences. I'm influenced by David Lynch, Woody Allen, Mary Gaitskill, Susan Songtag. I read a lot. I pay attention to how I feel and my reaction to things. For me it is always mental. It is always psychological. I am not interested in a good-looking girl and a good-looking guy fucking. I am interested in motivation and what is happening. I love it when weird things happen. I love it when a girl is hesitant and the guy is not, or vice versa. I like it when things become awkward. It feels honest.

  • Courtesy of Mile High Media

There is the theory that male arousal is much more visually based, while women are more aroused by the story, the background, the context of the sex. So even though you are really into hardcore sex, it is interesting that you like the story behind those hardcore acts. What those acts signify. In a way, the romance of porn.

I'm not interested in the romance as much as the seduction. Sometimes it is just creating the environment. There doesn't have to be a story so much as an implied story. Like a narrative. I got a lot of that from Radley Metzger and John Leslie's movies. John Leslie really paid attention to the environment, though his scenes didn't always make sense. Like, he had Manuel and two girls in what looked like a gym, and you could hear life happening outside. I didn't understand why they were in the gym. They definitely weren't working out. Maybe it was because he was a fan of natural light and it was the best room in the house to shoot the scene in. I can't explain what exactly it was about that scene. The sound and the lights, it just created a feeling and a mood. So I pay attention to that a lot too. The environment around the sex scene is really important to me.

Follow Dana Vespoli on Twitter @danavespoli and see her explicit body of work with and

See more explicit coverage of the convention and awards show at and

Follow Alfie on Twitter or Facebook and email him here

click to enlarge Getting inside Dana Vespoli - Courtesy of Sweetheart Video
Courtesy of Sweetheart Video
Getting inside Dana Vespoli

click to enlarge Getting inside Dana Vespoli - Courtesy of Sweetheart Video
Courtesy of Sweetheart Video
Getting inside Dana Vespoli
  • Courtesy of Sweetheart Video

At the end of our interview, Dana Vespoli bit my ear and threatened to sneak up behind me when I wasn't looking and smell my armpits. I was flattered. I had interviewed nearly 20 adult entertainers that day at the AEE Expo — an experience that felt like porn star speed dating. All were beautiful, but what stood out about Vespoli was that I never ran out of questions. I wanted to pontificate with her for hours on why horror films are erotic for many people, or watch a David Lynch film and debate why certain scenes carry such an emotional charge. By threatening to violate my armpits, Vespoli was saying that she too wanted to get to know me better — or maybe I just have incredibly sexy armpits.

Vespoli earned a bachelor's degree in comparative literature from Mills College in Oakland, Calif., where she also co-captained the rowing team. In 2003 she started shooting sex scenes, and in 2006 she made the transition to directing. Vespoli is currently a featured director and performer for Evil Angel and for Mile High Media's studio, Sweetheart Video.

When I met Vespoli she did not give off the vibe of an accomplished sex star and director. She sat with her arms folded across her chest, looking as nervous as I always felt when preparing to ask beautiful strangers intimate questions about their sex lives.

Scroll to read more Tampa Bay News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.