One porn star whose star is definitely on the rise is Kenna James. Having only been in the porn business for two years, Kenna finds herself more and more busy with bookings and porn shoots to the point she has moved to Los Angeles just to keep up. Quite rare for a porn star who has yet to shoot any Boy/Girl scenes and is content with performing in only All Girl adult films. A simple Midwestern girl with high expectations for herself and her career, Kenna James joined XRentDVD's Big D in this exclusive interview to discuss her choice to stick to girl/girl porn, her love of animals and aspiration for one day becoming a veterinarian, her reaction to being nominated and appearing at the AVN show and Awards ceremony and dishes on the most off the wall question she has ever been asked.
Big D: It sounds like you are recovering from the AVN Awards and the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) that was held this past weekend in Las Vegas. Have you fully recovered and have you finally gotten some sleep?
Kenna James: (laughs) Actually I had to get off of social media because I think I caught a severe upper respiratory infection or possibly pneumonia. So I have been recovering from that. It's slowly getting better but it is taking it's time. Sorry if there is coughing going on while we do this.
Big D: Was this your first or second AVN and AEE Show? How many times have you been out to Las Vegas for this show since getting into the business as a performer? Also, take us through what a typical day is like for you out there in Las Vegas for the show.
Kenna James: It was actually my third year and each one is totally different. I will give you an example of this past show. You wake up around eight o'clock in the morning. You go eat and get yourself ready and you are on the floor by noon. This is my busiest day. You take pictures and sign autographs. By 4 pm you get an hour break for lunch. Then you go back to it until 8 pm where you are signing and taking pictures and you are meeting fans. Then you go and you have dinner and that's your day. Then you go to bed and do it all over again the next day.
Big D: The exhausting part is the working the floor and taking pictures and meeting the fans and it is not going out and staying out late and going to clubs and hitting the studio parties? It's all business all the time?
Kenna James: Personally, I don't like to party. I'll go if it is required of me or if it is a good idea for me to make an appearance, then I will go. The most exhausting part for me is the actual work.
Big D: What makes it so tiring? Is it just being up, keeping your energy and enthusiasm up for meeting fans and taking pictures for four hour blocks at a time?
Kenna James: Oh, definitely. And it is not just the four hour blocks. Your energy has to be up constantly. You never know who you will run into. You have fans outside of the convention hall. So you are constantly smiling and you are bubbly. You act like you are on top of the world. It can be exhausting.
Big D: Since this was your third show and you said each one is different. What made this past show different than the 2016 and even the 2015 show?
Kenna James: Whichever company you sign for definitely makes a difference. Not necessarily easier or harder, it is just a different experience with each company. Also your experience in the business and your fan base starts growing. You get a lot more busy each year.
Big D: How so?
Kenna James: You have more fans coming which means you have less time for breaks. I remember my first year I had only been in [porn] for three months, so I really hadn't had anything released yet. I remember I was able to take five minute breaks all the time. If I wanted to walk away from the booth, I could. Last year was a little crazier. This year was absolutely insane. I'm excited to see what next year brings.
Big D: You were signing for Penthouse and in their booth this year. Who did you sign for in the previous two years?
Kenna James: In 2015, I was signing for Penthouse. It was my first time with them. In 2016 I was with X-Art.
Big D: With each year, your recognition and popularity has grown with the fans. That's natural to happen because you have had more time for content to come out either online or on DVD. I know making a prediction for what will happen with the future will be difficult, but given your two years in the business and your trajectory, what do you expect from 2017? Kenna James: (laughs) That's a hard prediction. I'm just hoping to achieve new heights that I have not done. Just keep making new things. That's hard to do but it is what I am hoping to do.
Kenna James: It was such a high honor. I was so glad to just be nominated. Whether we won or not, a nomination is a big enough honor. I was actually nominated last year for several scenes. I can't remember exactly which ones off the top of my head. I was nominated for Girl/Girl Performer of the year as I was nominated for the same award this year as well. Jenna Sativa won it this year and she deserved it. I love just being nominated. For me, that is just as big - it's not just as big as winning but it is pretty up there.
Big D: You were nominated last year and again this year. In seeing your stuff on DVD, I am thinking it is just a matter of time before you break through from the nominations and actually start coming away with awards. What would winning an AVN Award mean to you?
Kenna James: It would mean the absolute world to me. It's something I have been looking forward to for the past couple of years. I can't describe what it would mean to me. I don't know what I would do if I won one. (laughs)
Big D: You mentioned you don't go out and party within the industry unless it is required as a part of the job. I'm assuming you have made friends in the industry especially being an All Girl performer. Have you had a chance to talk to any of the award winners in the business that have either won for a particular scene or a performance of the year award? Have you been able to pick their brain as to what winning an AVN Award does for their career?
Kenna James: I actually have. A good friend of mine, Shyla Jennings, has won All Girl Performer of the year twice. She has said it has been nothing but an amazing pleasure. It also helps you along in the industry by getting you more work and it comes with a prestigious title. It definitely helps put your name out there a little bit more.
Big D: As of right now, all the DVD scenes on the market that include you are All Girl DVDs. What is your sexual orientation? Are you lesbian? Are you Bi? Are you straight but prefer performing in All Girl scenes?
Kenna James: I am bisexual.
Big D: Why choose to only perform in Girl/Girl porn?
Kenna James: I feel like I can make more beautiful scenes my way with a girl than I can with a guy. I feel like it is a lot more sensual. Everything is softer. Skin is softer. Softer kisses. It's this magical, amazing thing. I'm really bad at putting things into words today, so I apologize.
Big D: I don't want to use the term "pressured" but have you been approached by studios/producers/directors asking when will you start doing boy/girl porn?
Kenna James: Not really. I've been asked but I have never felt pressured. I've never had anyone come up to me and ask, "Hey, when are you going to shoot that with me?". They leave it up to the girl which is really awesome.
Big D: Do you think that you will ever transition to that? Doing boy/girl scenes?
Kenna James: I'm sticking with the All Girl thing for now. I won't say never but why mess up a good thing if you have it right now.
Big D: I was looking over your Instagram and the thing that struck me the most was that you look a lot like Aurora Snow when she was your age and she first got into the business. Has anyone ever made that comparison? The good news is that Aurora Snow was recently inducted into the 2017 AVN Hall of Fame. Has anyone ever mentioned that you look like a younger Aurora Snow?
Kenna James: I've never heard that one. I often get Drew Barrymore or Brittney Spears. Occasionally Taylor Swift. I've never heard that one.
Big D: It might be that I know porn stars better than I do mainstream celebrities. I would suggest checking out some of Aurora Snow's earlier stuff she did when she was first breaking into porn and you might see it. Not all of your photos looked like her but quite a few. And I would consider that to be quite a compliment and I am sure other consumers of adult entertainment would agree because Aurora Snow is a fantastic performer and a gorgeous girl.
Kenna James: I'll have to check her out.
Big D: You've been a Hustler Honey, Playboy Cyber Girl, Penthouse Pet of the Month (February 2015) and Pet of the Year 2016. Take us through the progression of how you got into nude modeling and eventually doing porn.
Kenna James: It all started when I was 18. I started dancing at a local club where I went to school. I eventually moved back towards home and I started web camming because dancing wasn't so great in that area. So I started web camming and an agent found me. They told me that Penthouse was interested in making me a Penthouse Pet if I was interested in doing the modeling. I said, "sure" and I jumped on it. Honestly, when do you get an opportunity like that? I jumped on it and flew out to Los Angeles and here I am now. (laughs)
Big D: When you were originally approached by the agent and offered the Penthouse shoot, did you know or have a feeling it would transition into doing porn?
Kenna James: He was very upfront with what it really was. I told him I was fine with that and we set the limits to solo and Girl/Girl. My first shoot was a Solo. So I just got to do all me. Then after that it started transitioning into more. I've loved it ever since.
Big D: You mentioned when you turned 18 you started dancing and web camming. What drew you towards that rather than the "normal route" of an 18 year old going to college or working a regular job?
Kenna James: I was actually working on going to college. I had an incident where I had to move when I was 18 back to another area. That caused going to college to slip from my hands for a bit. Honestly, when I was 18 I needed money. I was still in high school but I lived on my own. So I went and became a dancer. When I got into camming, I thought I would go back to college the next year. I'm actually getting ready to go back to school here within the next six months to a year. I definitely do want to go to school. I want to become a veterinarian. I am slowly working my way there.
Big D: So is that your path you envision of either whenever you get out of porn going back to school to become a vet or even pulling back and toning it down and working towards becoming a vet?
Kenna James: Exactly. I think I will just tone it down. I don't think I will ever just quit. I love it too much. (laughs)
Big D: I saw that you recently had a birthday. Happy birthday. You're now 22 and you have been in porn for about two to three years now. What's the plan or path you have set for yourself in porn seeing how did mention do you love it so much? Do you have a schedule for when you think you will be eventually going back to school to work towards becoming a veterinarian?
Kenna James: My plan is I am hoping within the next year to at least start my studies again regardless of how my path is going. But if I am still sitting as high as I am now, which I hope I am, I'll probably take on fewer classes so I can still focus on work but at the same time, I am starting the education process. I'm starting to go back and at least set that in motion. It will take me at least eight to 10 years to finish what I need to do.
Big D: What appeals to you about working with animals that you want to become a vet?
Kenna James: I've known from a very young age that I wanted to work with animals. I think it was middle school that I figured it out and I have stuck with it ever since. I love animals and I have forever wanted to do was to help them. I actually have more cats than I am willing to say all because they were rescues. They are my little babies and I don't know how I would live without them. I volunteered at an animal shelter before I could actually work. I help them everyday. When I was in high school, I worked at a vet clinic. It was the absolute joy of my life. Even though I just cleaned up after them... That love has just propelled me into being a veterinarian.
Big D: So you're not quite "Crazy Cat Lady" yet because you are 22 years old but still single I am assuming?
Kenna James: (laughs) Yes.
Big D: But if you cross that threshold of 40 and are still unmarried and have double digit cats in the house, we may need to do an intervention on you.
Kenna James: (laughs) You know what, if I didn't have somebody I would definitely be that type of person that would have 40 cats and 26 dogs and an obscene number of animals. Just because nobody is there to tell me no. And I see every pair of sad little eyes and I just say, "oh come on. We have room for just one more."
Big D: It's just another bag of cat food. No big deal.
Kenna James: (laughs) That's bad because that is my rational thinking. I don't even have to get another bag of cat food. It's just one more cat.
Big D: Sure. You're just buying cat food more frequently. When we originally contacted you to set up this interview, you were going to be taking a break to rest up after AVN and you were going to be at your grandparents' house. Unless you are an expert on hiding things, I am assuming your grandparents and other family members know what you do and that you are in porn? What was it like getting into the business yet balancing acceptance issues or were there no problems from your family getting into porn?
Kenna James: I didn't talk to my parents for three years. We weren't on really good terms. So when I got in [into porn] we weren't really talking much so I didn't worry about my parents' acceptance. My grandparents however – my grandfather still really doesn't know. He kind of knows but kind of doesn't. My grandmother knows. She accepts it. She is not extremely happy with it but she understands. She is accepting. So we really don't talk about it much. My parents and I are now talking and they know. They are very supportive as is my little brother. Everyone in my life is very supportive of it and very understanding of why I do it. They are just happy that I am happy.
Big D: In reconnecting with your parents, were you a little nervous about telling them you were now in porn? Or did you have the attitude that since you have had a strained relationship that if they don't accept it, it is not a big deal and you just move on? How did you approach that since you had a strained relationship and it was on the way to being repaired?
Kenna James: It was more along the lines of, "we haven't talked for three years so if you don't accept it, oh well." Their opinion didn't really matter to me, at all. I think I moved out when I was 17. I just didn't really care. I had proven that I didn't need them and that I could move on just fine without them. My grandmother is probably one of the most important people to me. She accepted me for who I was and what I did. And that's what really mattered to me. Big D: Going back to AVN since it just happened last weekend, obviously being out there surrounded by this tremendous talent, not just talent in front of the camera but behind it, is there anyone you haven't worked with either on camera or as a producer/director, that you want to make sure you work with in the future?
Kenna James: Absolutely. Shyla Jennings. She is a very good friend of mine but we have never managed to work together. For the past two years we have been pushing and pushing and it is almost like we can't line up our schedules. Or when we can, the studios can't. So we will continue pushing and really hope that it happens soon.
Big D: You have been pushing to work together but you are also very good friends off camera. When you finally do get the chance to work together, do you think there will be any awkwardness in doing that scene when you finally do get in front of the camera the both of you?
Kenna James: I don't think it would be weird at all. I have done it with most of my friends on camera because most of my friends are in the business. It's never been awkward. It's never been weird. We are always excited about it. Mia Malkova for instance. She is one of my best friends and it has never been weird. It's never been awkward. It's always been amazing. I see her name on the call sheet and I am really looking forward to that day.
Big D: Who have you worked with in the past, much like Mia Malkova, when you see their name on the call sheet you are excited that you will be paired with her on an upcoming scene?
Kenna James: Honestly, there are so many girls that I get so excited over because there are so many great ones out there. Even if it is a new girl, I will look her up and I can not wait to go to set and meet her and actually work with her. I don't think I can narrow it down to just a few. (laughs)
Big D: What about working with new girls? I know this business is driven by who is the fresh, new face and which girl is fresh off the bus. It's all about new, new, new. What is it like working with a girl who is brand new and it might be her first week working porn? Do you have to remember back a few years ago when you were brand new to help her along?
Kenna James: All I can do is if they ask me questions, which I love when people ask me questions, I give them my advice and what I did. I let them know that that is not what they have to do because it is not right for everybody. I do what I would normally do, regardless of if it is new girl or a girl that has been in for 10 years. I do remember my first week and my first couple of scenes and how nerve wracking it can be. I just try to put them at ease.
Big D: Have you ever had anyone come to you later on and thank you for your advice you gave them?
Kenna James: Oh yeah. I have had a few girls come and talk to me afterward. Even a month or two down the road when we happen to run into each other.
Big D: You are originally from the Midwest but you work in the adult industry. Do you primarily live back there and come to LA to work or have you moved?
Kenna James: I primarily live in LA now. Actually, soon to be Las Vegas. I am getting ready to move out there. I think I will like it better. Primarily out there [west coast] and I will take trips when I can.
Big D: Do you find yourself shooting in other places like in Florida or other places?
Kenna James: Not really. Honestly I never have really shot anywhere else other than Los Angeles. Most of the time when I am traveling, it is due to feature dancing. That takes me all over the country. Whether it is Pennsylvania, which is where I normally end up. Or I will go to Florida or Georgia or wherever it may be.
Big D: How is being a feature dancer different than being a porn star? Is it just as exhausting as shooting scenes or is it different? What is the typical day in the life of a feature dancer.
Kenna James: Well, I will give you a typical Friday or Saturday night. When you go to bed it is probably three or four o'clock in the morning. So you go to bed and you wake up around noon or 1 pm. You go out and get some food. Usually the club managers like you to be in the club by about eight or nine o'clock. Sometimes they will push it to 10 pm if your first shift is not until midnight. So you go in and mingle with the crowd a little bit if you like. Everyone is different. I like to go out and meet the people and I will tip the girls. I just go and try to have fun. You go back and start getting ready for your first show. I always get a little nervous no matter what club I am at, especially if it's my first time [there]. Every time I will get nervous. You go out there and you see everyone looking at you. Once you see that everyone there wants to see you, you get excited and you rock your stage that trip. You go back and get yourself changed and get set up for autographs and pictures. After that, you go mingle some more and you do that two or three times a night until you go back to your hotel and crash.
Big D: It has to be draining both physically and emotionally to be up and energetic for that extended period of time. The person that comes in to see you at the end of the night isn't interested in hearing how you have been up and on your feet dancing and mingling with the crowd for hours before they came in. They want to see you with as much enthusiasm at the end of the night as you did in the beginning of it. Is that difficult for you to maintain that same level of enthusiasm at the end of the night as you do in the beginning of the night?
Kenna James: It very well can be. Usually you start feeling it around the third night. If I am at a place for three days – two days isn't so bad but you hit day three and you can start feeling it wearing you down more and more. By the last show you feel like you just want to go to sleep. I just might go to sleep on stage. (laughs) It's a lot of fun. I love what I do. I absolutely enjoy the hell out of what I do.
Big D: You've been interviewed a lot from being a nude model in Hustler and Penthouse What's the strangest question someone has asked you?
Kenna James: By a fan or by an interviewer?
Big D: How about both?
Kenna James: (laughs) Usually the weirder questions from my fans involve a bottle and a butthole. I'm sure I have had much weirder but that one comes to mind because it is the most frequently requested thing.
Big D: They ask you if you would insert a bottle... I'm not sure I am following you.
Kenna James: Yeah. More along the lines of asking me to put a bottle up my butt.
Big D: Alright. I never really knew that that was a thing or a fetish.
Kenna James: Oh yeah. That's a thing. It's a big one. I usually get it when I [web] cam. I get a lot of people that ask and it is an odd one. But whatever floats your boat. Not my thing, but hey.
Big D: Weirdest question from an interview?
Kenna James: I've been asked if I ever put a balloon inside me and blew it up. Or had anyone else blown it up. I always thought that to be a really weird question.
Big D: That sounds like a fan got a press pass.
Kenna James: I half wonder if that is what happened. (laughs) I really don't know and I have to question what happened. It was a really odd question.
Big D: I've been doing this [interviewing porn stars] for over a decade and have done over 100 interviews. It has never occurred to ask any porn star that question. Or the bottle question.
Kenna James: (laughing)
Big D: Not saying I am better than anyone else. It just never occurred to me to ask.
Kenna James: (laughs) I have only been in this business for two and a half years and that is a very odd question. And I have done a lot of interviews. And that is a new one.
Big D: I better step up my game and start asking some pretty crazy, off the wall questions so I can just be memorable.
Kenna James: (laughing) You'll definitely stand out. I will never forget that guy.
Big D: First job?
Kenna James: Waitress and hostess at a Chinese restaurant and a deli.
Big D: First concert?
Kenna James: Carrie Underwood
Big D: First car?
Kenna James: 2005 Chrysler Crossfire
Big D: What music are you listening to right now?
Kenna James: My music is all over the place. They say you can know a person by the music they listen to. If someone tried to get to know me by my music, they would think I'm schizo by my tastes in music. I listen to anything from country to pop to metal to you name it, I will listen to it. Except bluegrass. I don't listen to bluegrass.
Big D: Favorite food?
Kenna James: Tacos. I love them.
Big D: Favorite position?
Kenna James: Missionary. Only because it is more intimate. I feel I can connect on a more deeper level with the person because I am actually looking at them. I am all about the romance.
Kenna James: Depends. If the Cardinals are playing, I'll go and see the Cardinals. If not, movies.
Big D: Favorite mainstream movie?
Kenna James: Star Wars. But only because they have redone them. Rogue One was amazing.
Big D: Modern convenience you can't live without?
Kenna James: Does indoor plumbing count as a modern convenience? It's super important. You need to use the bathroom. You need to shower otherwise you would stink. I can live without my phone as long as I have plumbing.
Big D: Favorite vacation spot?
Kenna James: Because I haven't taken a lot of vacations and most of my trips are work related, I would have to say my grandparents' house. It is the place I can be me and just relax.
Big D: Who is a person, living or dead, that you would like to meet but have not had the chance to meet them yet?
Kenna James: Steve Jobs. He is my hero. He is missed greatly. He is my hero. He did great things with his life and it is very much underrated.
Big D: Where is a place you like to visit but have not yet had the chance to go.