I’m shopping for thongs with Chanel Preston. She likes the g-strings that dip down in the back while I can't help but want to grab anything shinny; I never realized how similar stripper-gear is to fishing lures.
“I’m also looking for a dress,” she says. “This place wants me to look classy. Well, classy for a strip club.”
In heels, the 5’8’’ performer is taller than you would expect. Even in a sex shop like Priscilla's it’s difficult to find "clothes" that fit her 32D-26-32 figure and her style. Preston is searching for quality over quantity, and simplicity over sequins. I follow her around the racks of neon dresses and four inch platform boots like a gay friend—-albeit a gay friend lacking fashion sense.
Although it may just be her statuesque figure, or the fact that in heels she's taller than me, Preston has an air of polished professionalism that is rare for a pornstar. It’s not that she's eager to discuss foreign policy or the best way to balance the federal budget. It's just that she's shopping like a business woman might hunt for a suit as opposed to a stripper blowing $100 on heels that she doesn't bother trying on. She's meticulous—-calculated as her publicist puts it—-and only leaves the shop with two items. Undoubtedly this focus was what her publicist noticed about Preston, as she's the only adult performer on his roster of clients, which includes many top x-rated production companies.
Preston is gearing up for a dancing engagement in South Dakota at a bar that will be converted into a strip club to accommodate the rush of men during hunting season. I'm just as skeptical as she was the first time she was booked for pheasant season.
“It’s the crappiest club ever but I love it," she says. "All the guys are loaded and they come out there for the weekend to hunt pheasant, spend money, and have a good time.”
Preston's willingness to try most anything, so long as the price is right, may define her business strategy. Preston got into adult entertainment by stripping in Oahu, Hawaii, where she still lives. From there she joined a touring dance company, the owner of which asked Preston if she was interested in doing adult films. She was. In January of 2010 she shot her first scene. Despite being in the industry for less than a year, Preston has already filmed for the top production studios: Hustler, Digital Playground, Vivid, and Wicked. Just like her shopping strategy, when it comes to shooting porn, she's more about quality over quantity.
“Obviously I want to make as much money as I can,” she says, “but that isn’t necessarily by making as many movies as I can. It’s just being smart about what you do and building your brand. I don’t work for every company. I’m a bit choosier. I don’t want to shoot constantly.”
Preston describes her brand as “a glamour girl who can do nasty stuff.” She's very conscious of presenting the image of a woman who's beautiful, in control, and who really enjoys sex.
“I want women to see that yes, a smart, beautiful girl can like doing sexual stuff. A lot of times when women watch porn and they see a girl who’s not looking so great doing something kind of nasty, they think, well of course she’s doing that. But if they see a normal girl they can relate to, then they might feel more open to trying new things or just being more comfortable with their sexuality.”
When I asked what Preston would be doing for a career if she wasn’t so physically stunning, she just laughed.
“I have no idea, to be honest,” she says. “I've never gotten that question before. I probably wouldn’t be in porn.”
While many women who work in the adult world can be described as impulsive or reckless, Preston's personality comes across more as fearless yet responsible. At the NightMoves Awards Show pre-party the night before at 2001 Odyssey, Chanel sat talking to fans away from the larger group of pornstars, many of who were having a bit more fun than the club’s no alcohol policy would entail. While she does bare the tattoos of an impulsive youth, most noticeably—at least while watching her films—-an organic design on her pubic region she describes as distracting, Preston has plans to get these removed.
While nothing has really surprised her about the industry, Preston has developed a more liberal stance on what she's willing to do on film.
“Probably the thing that I didn’t think I would initially do when I got into porn was ass-to-mouth," she says as we drive back to her hotel and I try to keep from swerving off the road. "But you just get comfortable with it, and you’re there, and it’s not a big deal. The first time I did it, I was like, oh, that’s not even bad. Plus, sometimes it just happens. As far as mainstream porn goes, there’s really nothing right now that is beyond what I’ll do. To tell you the truth, you could probably talk me into doing anything. I don’t like saying no, unless it’s just an obvious no. And I like being open. I get excited about doing something new and different.”
* * *
I’m in Chanel Preston’s hotel room as she changes into one of her new outfits. Of course her boyfriend and publicist are also here, but they don't seem to notice that Preston has fallen madly in love with me.
“Do you want me to wear the pink one?” Preston asks, peeking out of the bathroom with a broadening grin. “It’s kind of slutty.”
"Isn't that the point," her boyfriend Mark says, smiling.
Mark has the muscled build and deep tan of a male stripper, which he used to be. Mark now lives on Oahu where he helps Preston stay in shape. While many women are coaxed into the adult industry by boyfriends who just want to leech off of their success, Mark was more cautious when Preston came to him about wanting to strip, then about doing porn. For many men, simply a girlfriend's desire to do porn would be enough to drive them insane with jealousy. But, Mark didn't freak out or try to stop Preston from pursuing her interests.
“I was thinking well, she might want to dabble in it," Mark says. "She might do a few videos and that might be it. But she met the right people, they liked her, she got the right videos out and it just took off. I didn’t expect this but like she says, either you’re going to go all the way or you’re not going to do it at all. And since this is what she wants to do, I’m backing her up on it.”
The NightMoves Awards Show Weekend was Mark's first time accompanying Preston to a large adult gathering.
“At first I was a bit nervous but I’ve met a lot of the people that she’s been working with, a lot of the people that are helping her, and I feel really good about it. They’re good people. They’re honest,” Marks says, pausing. “I just want to see her do well in her field.”
Preston prances out in a black “dress” with tall brown boots and begins posing for me in front of the hotel curtains. Like many models, you can see a touch of the once awkward high school girl—-the goofy gestures between shots that make her both more real and more endearing.
When I ask if she wants to see the pictures, she waves me off. She's not a micromanaging diva obsessed with her image.
"Whatever works for you," she says.
"I wish the maid would have come so you could have used the bed," Mark says, then grins. "I just realized how strange that sounds. Used it for the pictures I mean."
Maybe Mark has sensed that Preston is falling in love with me, that or he's the most supportive boyfriend in the world.
Check out Chanel Preston in X-Play’s Not MASH XXX, Jules Jordan’s Fashion Fucks, and 3rd Degree’s Bikini Land. She's also featured in Hustler’s, This Ain’t Avatar XXX and Wicked Pictures’ Speed. Check out more hardcore content and webcam sessions with Preston on her website, chanelprestonblog.com, and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/chanelpreston.