So, for those that have a copy of issue #3, they know that the most popular interview in that issue was with adult star Tia Ling. I say popular based on the feedback I got on the issue.
What many don't know is that I had three interviews lined up with adult stars and, of those, Tia Ling happened to come through with her interview first. Approximately 6-9 months later the second interview was completed: former adult star Tia Tanaka. The third interview never materialized (I'll leave it to your imagination who that interview was with - all I'll say is that I had already sent preliminary questions and then got a lame excuse back as to why she couldn't answer them just now - and would it be alright if she did them about 9 months later - yeah 9 months later - wtf?). But I digress.
Tia Tanaka's interview took a long time to complete. After many unsuccessful tries to contact her, I finally got a "yes" to do the interview. Then she disappeared for many months. One day, on a whim, I tried contacting her again and, much to my surprise, she replied back.
The following interview was conducted between December 2011 and February 2012. So, yes, it is dated BUT it is also probably the only "recent" interview she's done for print/web in a long time. I left everything as is (dates etc were not updated or altered).
Much thanks to Ms. Tanaka for taking the time to do this interview!
*Warning - some of the content is graphic in nature - adults only*
EA: What's keeping you busy these days, Tia?
TT: Well I’ve been going to school, working a regular job, and a few photo shoots here and there.
EA: Do you plan on keeping your stage name alive via photo shoots and such then? Or do you just want to live a normal life and let your old "Tia Tanaka" persona fade into obscurity?
TT: It’s weird because I’m not sure what I want to do. I’ve always been a very indecisive person and I base my decisions on my day to day feelings. Which I guess isn’t really a good thing.
EA: What kind of work are you doing now (retail, education, hospitality, business)? Is it something you're happy with?
TT: Education wise I’ve been in school finishing up my associates and I will continue to go for my bachelors. Yes it makes me very happy to be back in school because I was always saying that I was and I kept procrastinating and I’m just so glad I finally got the courage to make my education a priority. It’s really hard it’s not easy going to school and working full time. There are days when I’m happy and days when I’m not. School is a big challenge for me.
EA: It's good to hear that you're continuing your education. It's important in my opinion to make it in this world. Has school always been a challenge for you (i.e. your public school years)?
TT: No school has always been fairly easy for me and I was always a good student. I always got A’s in English or History but I did poorly in Science and Math. I think it was because I just didn’t like it.
EA: What type of work do you do (not specifics but in general)? Is it a job you like or is it just a job?
TT: It’s just a job…I don’t really like it. *laughs*
EA: Where were you born? Raised? What was life like for you growing up?
TT: I was born in Indonesia but my mother left very shortly after I was born so I have no recollection of Indonesia nor I consider it my home. We first came to New York when arriving to the US and moved to California when I was around 4. I would have to say my home is Los Angeles because we’ve moved all around the area. My life was pretty confusing growing up without a father and living among only white people or Hispanics. I didn’t know many people like me and was teased a lot for being the only Asian girl in the complex I lived in. Most of my friends were either white or hispanic.
EA: Do you know why your mom moved to the States? Do you have siblings that came with you and/or other family?
TT: My mom came to the states to be with a man that got her pregnant and he ended up being married to another woman and had several children of his own. My mother came to the states alone with me when I was less than a year old.
EA: How would you describe your childhood then? Confusing? Happy? Bad?
TT: Confusing I guess. My mom always had a new boyfriend. They always came and went. All my friends didn’t have fathers either. I was always teased for looking different but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t understand so confusing would be right. *laughs*
EA: I read in another interview that you had a fear of dating Asian men due to your dad's reputation of being a "player". Is this true?
TT: Yes, I did say that and I got so much hate mail for it so I just wanted to clear that up that I don’t think Asian men are gross or undesirable. I’ve had many of my friends say that they wouldn’t date their own race because it’s like dating a brother or sister.
EA: You received hate mail for saying that? Really?
TT: Yes it got, I guess, many “asian men” upset. But obviously it was taken the wrong way. Thank you for seeing what I meant!
EA: Do you feel your dad's behavior indirectly influenced your decision to go into porn - the stereotype about not having a father figure, acceptance, etc, leading a girl into the porn world?
TT: I don’t know. I always ask myself that. I think growing up without a father has definitely given me some issues but I don’t think that applies to all girls who have entered the industry.
EA: How long have you been out of the adult industry now? When you look back on it now - what comes to mind? Glad you did it? Regrets? Hindsight is always 20/20 they say.
TT: Most people don’t know but I was only in the industry for about a year and a half. I left the business very early and I read up online that I was active in the industry for 4 years but that’s not true. I started in 2005 and quit late 2006 or perhaps early 2007. I think that a lot of these porn companies put my old content as new for sales or they counted compilations as new content. So I’d like to clear that up. I’ve been out of the adult industry video wise for about 4 years.
When I look back at it I see a girl that just stopped caring about what people thought of her. A girl that just was giving everyone she knew a big “FUCK YOU.” Am I glad I did it? Yes and no. Yes because in the industry I learned so much about people and myself and it was one hell of an adventure. It was really, really fun. No, because I am too sensitive. And to be in that business you can’t be. I think those porn veterans and porno super stars are actually some of the strongest people in the world. You kind of have to be meant for it. I don’t know if I was.
EA: That's interesting - about the amount of time you spent in the industry. You're right - every site I went to to do research for this interview stated something along the lines that you had been active for about 4 years. If you had to ballpark it, how many scenes would you say you shot, total?
TT: I’d say around 150 scenes? I think if I was in the industry for 4 years I would have a lot more money right now, hemorrhoids, and fans. *laughs* Just kidding.
EA: So it sounds like when you entered the industry, you were rebellious, yeah? Just doing what you wanted, didn't give a shit what others thought, and went for it. Would that be accurate?
TT: Pretty much. Sometimes I wish I still had that mindset.
EA: The average person has this misconception that every porn star is a star - making big money, living large, etc. What was it really like working in the porn industry for you?
TT: In the beginning yes. I was this 18 year old with everything I ever wanted materially.
EA: And the longer you stayed in the industry, then things changed?
TT: You can say that.
EA: Did you have a manager that handled your business - like which companies you'd be shooting for, what kind of scenes, etc?
TT: Yes, I had an agent at the time. He got me work with a lot of companies. I worked for almost everyone you name it. I did b/g scenes, g/g scenes.
EA: How do the contracts work? Is it X amount of money for a particular scene - what you do in the scene, etc?
TT: Yes you get a certain amount for what you do. There are always contracts that you sign to make sure you know what you’re there for and how much you’re getting paid.
EA: Did you ever work with any talent (male or female) that you were like, ewww, I really don't want to work with them but you didn't have any choice?
TT: Not really. I mean if they were ugly and you got to talk to them and they seemed super cool then you’d forget about it and most of them were pretty cool.
EA: Were you ever high or drunk when filming a scene?
TT: High but never drunk.
EA: Drug of choice? Do you still get high these days?
TT: I smoked a lot of weed. When it becomes legal I can’t wait to see the commercials!
EA: What were some of the memories you have - good or bad - from your time in porn?
TT: Good memories let’s see. I liked the money and sometimes making cool friends. Bad memories yes. Maybe at the time they didn’t seem bad but when I think about them now they do.
EA: What variables influenced your decision to leave the business?
TT: I’m just an indecisive person and I didn’t know what I wanted any more. But at the time being a regular person sounded better.
EA: Do you have any plans to return?
EA: You're tattoo collection has grown. I remember reading you got the dragon on your back early on when others were getting small tattoos - so you went for something big. But, also, that you don't like it. True?
TT: Yes I hate it and it’s in the process of being removed. And yes it is painful!
EA: How many sessions have you had to remove it so far? I've heard not only how painful it is to get one removed, but the price, too!
TT: I’m on my fourth session and yes it’s ridiculously expensive. It really makes you think out your next tattoos and to not get something you won’t like later.
EA: And now you have: The animal print on your outer thigh….and a piece on your shoulder, yeah? Others? Is there any special meaning to each piece? Where did you get your work done?
TT: A friend of mine does it and when I’ve traveled I added little things here and there. The leopard print on my thigh was to cover a scar I had made on myself. I was really upset one day and did something really stupid. Now the tattoos I have are just things that I like or when I look at make me smile.
EA: I'm sorry but I have to ask - what did you do to your thigh to make a scar? Cut yourself?
TT: It was an accident in the kitchen.
EA: I remember seeing a few things on Twitter that were like Now Playing things - the music you were listening to. Do you have any music background (instruments you play)? Who are some of your favorite bands?
TT: I played piano when I was younger but I’m sure I forgot most of everything. I’m a huge Nirvana fan. I love the XX, Korn, The Smiths. I love dubstep, house, rap, everything.
EA: Nirvana - cool! I'm based in Seattle. The EMP museum up here had a whole exhibit dedicated to the band in the Fall. I checked it out - had Kurt's guitars and other assorted items. Have you ever been up this way?
TT: No but I’d love to visit one day.
EA: Any music that you don't like? Classical? Jazz?
TT: I love classical especially when I’m studying. Love jazz too! I love all music I think it’s hard to say what I don’t like.
EA: I saw a photo recently of you at a convention with a fan (probably over a year ago now) - not sure which kind - maybe anime? Are you involved in the convention circuit?
TT: Yes I was hired to be a spokes model at an anime convention which was a family event by the way!
EA: That's cool. Do you have an interest in anime? We have a large convention up here called Sakura Con every year.
TT: I don’t know much about anime but I’d love to look like one! *laughs*
EA: You've done some glamour type photo shoots since you left the adult business. Have these been for websites or print or both? Have you ever thought about putting a book together of your favorite images?
TT: Yes I’ve done print work and for websites. I’d love to put a book together someday.
EA: You were also doing club work at times yeah? Like making appearances at night clubs, etc? Are you still doing this? How did you like it when you did make appearances?
TT: Yes I was doing many club appearances and club hosting gigs. No I don’t do it anymore because I’m too busy with school to be traveling so often.
EA: Have you ever had someone give you a hard time because of your porn background? Like - they see you at a club and are like "hey that's Tia Tanaka - the porn star - she thinks she's all that, blah blah blah"
TT: Nothing I’ve heard to my face. But I have heard that a lot of people think I’m a bitch but you can’t make everyone like you.
EA: What would you say is one of the biggest misconceptions about you?
TT: That I’m mean? Or snobby? I think I’m just misunderstood because I’m really shy and socially awkward so people can mistake that for something else.
EA: Are you looking to brand your name - as you have quite a following - especially considering how many years you've been out of the business. Your own website, etc that could keep fans current with what you're doing - more as a celebrity site than anything else?
TT: I was thinking about making a website but I’ve been saying that ever since I started.
EA: It can be a pain in the ass for sure. Either doing it yourself or finding a webmaster that you trust (big thing), that can keep up with the content, news, emails, etc.
EA: Set The Record Straight:
*You left porn because you got married? (Are you in a relationship or single now?)
TT: No I was never married! I left for many reasons. Currently, I am dating someone.
*After you left porn, you started working for a pay webcam company?
TT: Well I did this pre-recorded webcam thing and I think they just sell it like it’s live when it’s not.
*After you left porn, you were working as a high end escort?
TT: No. I know there are a lot of escort companies using my photos.
EA: Can I ask you about the film Teen Line (from Original)? Did you know ahead of time that the scene would be that rough?
TT: Yes I knew. I didn’t care at the time.
EA: Not to get too personal, but do you think you were struggling with self esteem issues during your time in the adult industry?
TT: Well, yes, I think most girls at a young age have self-esteem issues at some point. But, if your question to why I did such rough scenes has something to do with it, then, no. I probably did a lot of things I wouldn’t normally do because of bad friends.
EA: Switching gears again…..What kind of things do you like to do for fun?
TT: I love reading, watching movies. Currently obsessed with “The Sookie Stackhouse Novels” which the show True Blood is based on. My favorite show by the way.
EA: Have you ever been offered a part in a mainstream film? Even a small part? Is that something you would be interested in doing if the offer(s) came?
TT: I get inquiries for reality shows but never a mainstream film. I would love to work in a mainstream film. I’d be so happy!
EA: What goals or dreams do you have for yourself? What do you want from life before the show's over?
TT: My goals and dreams are to just be happy. Excel in everything I put my mind to.
EA: Happiness is always a good call. Plans for a family down the line?
TT: Not anytime soon.
EA: Anything coming up that you'd like to promote?
TT: Not at the moment. A lot of things are in talks this year and I hope they all fall through.
EA: You hope they all fall through? Is that because you like where your life is right now and want to keep it that way?
TT: Like, I just hope I succeed in everything that I do.
EA: Thanks so much, Tia!
All photos provided by: Tia Tanaka (copyrights to the respective photographers).