‘Wall Street porn star’ Veronica Vain on her plan to disrupt the porn industry

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Veronica Vain in Bed Covered with Sheet

We talked to Veronica Vain about money the adult industry, and why she thinks she’s the Michael Jordan of sex.

This article contains sexually explicit material. 

Last month, 22-year-old Paige Jennings was working as an entry-level data analyst at Lazard Asset Management, a high-end financial advisory firm on Wall Street. Her finance career came to a halt, however, when she was busted for tweeting lascivious selfies in the Lazard office bathroom as part of her audition for The Sex Factor, an upcoming porn reality TV show.

These days, Jennings is best known as Veronica Vain, a.k.a. the “Wall Street porn star” and one of the most in-demand adult performers in the industry. (In fact, when I was at the Adult Entertainment Expo last month, I spoke with multiple producers, directors, and management reps who, apropos of nothing, brought up the fact that they were desperately trying to get Vain on board.) Eventually, Vain signed a six-figure deal with the dating website ArrangementFinders.com, which she says is the first time a porn performer will endorse a non-porn company in a pornographic film.

Last week, Vain shot that film, Screwing Wall Street, an XXX parody of the 1985 film Wall Street where she plays Charlie Sheen’s role, and her first scene with male porn star Manuel Ferrara is slated for release on Pornhub this Valentine’s Day. She also just made her first feature dancing appearance as Veronica Vain at the New York City gentlemen’s club HeadQuarters NYC.

Like Duke porn star Belle Knox and Arab porn star Mia Khalifa before her, Vain owes her notoriety to the media hubbub surrounding her background as a high-powered Wall Street intern. (Her Twitter bio: “I just left a job on Wall Street for a porn career because I can’t stop masturbating at work and love cumshots. Is that cool with you?”)

But she wants everyone in the porn world to know that she doesn’t plan on being a XXX flavor of the week. As she told the Daily Dot, Vain wants to apply her business and marketing skills to jump-start the flagging porn economy.

“There are so many opportunities in the industry right now for disruption and innovation,” she says. “I think that’s the most important part of my story right now.”

The Daily Dot spoke to Vain about Wall Street, porn, the convergence between the two, her year-long relationship with her Wharton-educated management-consultant boyfriend, and why she thinks she’s the “Michael Jordan of sex.”

So tell us what you’ve been up to for the past month or so, after your story blew up.

I went to the AVNs and spoke with major production companies. They were all interested and offering me some deals. But I went with the Arrangement Finders deal because I really liked that disruptive approach to the industry that they offered and the opportunities that could open down the line for other companies to come into the industry and use it as a marketing channel.

As you know, I did all of this [tweeted the NSFW selfies] to apply to Sex Factor. But once the media attention happened, I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t do Sex Factor, because I’m not exactly an unknown anymore.” Then when I was in Vegas, the producer cornered me and asked me to do the show, and I thought I didn’t have anything to lose by doing it. On the off-chance that it does air, it would give me more exposure. So I stayed in Vegas and shot the show.

Are you still shooting it?

I can’t disclose any of that honestly.

When did you shoot your first scene?

Sunday. I flew to L.A., met up with Kayden [Kross] and Manuel [Ferrara], and then we shot the scene on Sunday. It’ll be a hit. It was very good.

How did you prep for it?

How did I prep for it? (Pause, laughs) As far as physically, I had a professional makeup artist. I cleaned myself thoroughly. But I just kinda showed up. We were on set all day shooting multiple takes. The sex was actually the shortest part of filming. It takes a long time to get the setup and the filming and the lights and the photo shoot beforehand.

Were you a fan of Manuel’s prior to that?

Yeah, I was a fan. (laughs) But honestly, I’m a very sexual creature. It was all kind of a blur to me. I didn’t even notice the camera crew. And if I did, I was excited by it. I liked that they were all watching me. I wasn’t nervous at all.

How is it different than having sex without a camera in the room?

Manuel shoots films straight through. We stopped to switch positions, but it was very fluid. It was just him positioning me. So he and I were just having sex straight through. I guess it was just different ‘cause there’s a crew there, so you’re in front of people. But it’s not like I’ve never done that before, because I’ve gone to sex clubs before.

When you were at the AVNs, what did you learn about the porn industry that surprised you?

I think the world has this perception of porn that there’s all this money in it, and it’s so glamorous, and there’s sex all the time. But it’s more akin to magazine publishing or something. It’s kinda stagnant, there’s not a lot of innovation or growth. Business is still being done the way it was a decade or two ago, yet technology has fast-forwarded. There’s only been one company that’s been able to capitalize on it, and has hurt the industry doing so.

Are you referring to Mindgeek [the conglomerate that owns the free porn tube sites Pornhub and Redtube, among others]?

Yeah, I don’t have anything against Mindgeek, but they’re the only ones who have kept up with technology. They did it through piracy and stuff, but the same thing happened to music and Hollywood. But music and Hollywood have evolved. Porn hasn’t. So the one thing I’ve learned is there are so many opportunities in the industry right now for disruption and innovation and for people with know-how to come in and make some money.

So how do you plan on disrupting it?

The biggest asset porn has is viewership. Everyone is watching porn. Regardless of whether they’re watching it for free or on subscription sites, everyone is watching porn. And that makes it a marketing channel more than anything. Facebook and Twitter are seen as valuable because of their user base. With porn, it’s the same exact thing, so why are we not using it as a marketing channel to advertisers?

Sex sells, literally. If you have like a Red Bull in a commercial and “Red Bull gives you wings,” you can have Manuel Ferrara drink Red Bull before banging Lisa Ann and Joe Schmo is more likely to go to the gas station and be more likely to buy Red Bull than Monster, ‘cause he saw Lisa Ann’s ass next to it. So there are tons of products that can benefit from this, especially novelty products like e-cigarettes, condoms, lube, lingerie, vibrators, supplements. The kind of stuff that normal marketing isn’t super crazy about, but porn doesn’t give a shit. We’re already screwing on-camera, right?

How does the Arrangement Finders deal fit into this?

Arrangement Finders is owned by Ashley Madison, which is a $140 million company. It’s an atypical product, because it’s a website for sugar daddies to meet young girls. But it’s not prostitution, it’s two consenting adults doing their thing, but there’s still a stigma to it. So it’s hard to advertise that on ABC. You can definitely make a porn around it, and all those guys who watch it can be like, “Oh, I can go on Arrangement Finders and meet a girl like Veronica Vain.”

You mentioned in an email to me a few weeks ago, after you’d signed the Arrangement Finders deal, that you have personal experience with these May/December type relationships. Can you tell me about that?

Sure, I’ve been very successful with these quote-unquote “sugar” relationships, with successful men who I learned a lot from. With those types of relationships, the sex was a very small percent of it, if at all. I’ve had relationships where there was no sex whatsoever, where I was with a gentleman who just wanted a girl with brains and ambition and hope.

There are two different types: The older guy who wants to be with a young girl to feel useful again, and the young guys, like the vice-president bankers, who’s making $300K a year and he’s really busy, but he can’t commit to a girlfriend ‘cause she’ll be nagging him all the time, so he can be like, “OK, baby, I can’t see you all the time, but I can make you feel good and provide for you financially.”

And that goes back to biology. Men like being providers, like they can spoil women. It does a lot for their masculinity. And you can’t discount the networking. I’ve definitely met people I’ve never would have met if it weren’t for the connections from my previous career.

Is that how you got your first job on Wall Street?

I didn’t get my job that way. I found my job by emailing my boss on LinkedIn and being like, “Give me an interview.” I never let it influence my job, per se, but I did let it influence the people I met and the information I gleaned from them. While I was at Lazard thinking about my next career path—because I was trying to transition to being a hard analyst and not in marketing—I was using my connections to take the next step. I just didn’t want to do [finance] anymore. (laughs)

Are your former colleagues at Lazard creeping on you now that you do porn?

The only thing I’ve heard from Lazard is guys on Twitter who are like, “Oh, we miss you here on 57th.” But other than that, no one’s creeping me out. I mean, I changed my phone number.

Why did you change your phone number?

Because every guy I’d ever dated was texting me all of a sudden. Even if we’d only been on one date and we’d never had sex, they were texting me. They’re like, “Oh, I knew that chick, maybe I have a chance.”

Do your family and friends know about the scene? How do they feel about the career shift?

I don’t have a super-extensive circle of people. I’m not like [Lebanese-born porn star] Mia Khalifa, in that sense, who has a big family to answer to. My mom knows me, so she wasn’t like, “Oh my God, you’re gonna do porn, yay,” but she’s being more supportive and she sees that I’m really happy all of a sudden. So that’s what’s most important to Mom, right? I don’t think she’ll watch the whole scene. But she might watch the opener and the acting and stuff.

You said that she saw you were really happy all of a sudden. Were you happy prior to leaving Lazard and doing porn?

No, I wasn’t. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I wasn’t doing what I thought I was meant to be doing. I wasn’t looking forward to the grind that comes with that industry, where you’re spending your youthful funnest years sitting at a desk being ordered around by people. I’m more entrepreneurial in that sense. I’m too likely to tell people to go screw themselves, so I don’t really fit into any bureaucratic world. I didn’t feel I was in an industry where that would be fully realized, or seen as an asset.

Do you feel like that’s a function of your gender at all? Do you feel like it’s harder for a woman to climb the ladder on Wall Street than it is for a woman in porn?

You know, I honestly don’t think I can speak to that. In Wall Street, I was starting from the bottom. Before Lazard, I had this investment banking internship at this teeny-tiny little boutique, because that’s the only thing I could get. I was able to leverage that experience to Lazard.

In porn—if you look up [porn performer] Nicole Aniston, her first scene was on a website called AmateurCreampies.com, where it’s one guy with a camera and he’s just filming her. Most girls in porn have to start like that, with this random-ass guy with a camera in a hotel room. So I don’t know how hard they have to work compared to how hard I had to work to break into porn, which is not at all.

Well, aside from the media exposure, I do think you have a leg up compared to other girls in the industry, because you have a background in marketing, and that’s the most important part of making it in porn these days.

I agree. When I posted the selfies from the bathroom at Lazard, I knew what I was doing. I was purposefully not taking selfies at my gym, or at my desk at home, and purposefully taking ten minutes away from my desk, so I could get it at the Lazard bathroom. I wanted to play up the fact that I was in an office and that I was going to do porn, because I knew that would sell. I didn’t know it would sell to the point where I’d be on CBS in the same week, but I knew it would sell.

What else have you learned about marketing yourself in porn?

Playing up my business acumen has helped. And generally being responsive and witty on social media. I think that’s helpful. Too many girls in the porn industry when they’re coming up have this mentality on Twitter where they have to seem like total sluts who are horny all the time and they just want dick. But guys want something that’s more unattainable. That’s more exciting to men. Thats something stripping has taught me, and it’s why I talk openly about my boyfriend, because men can be like, “Oh, she has a boyfriend. I wish I had a chance at that. I wish I was him.”

Is he in the finance industry?

Sort of. Hold on one second. He’s, like, right here. [pause, she consults with boyfriend] He’s an Ivy League educated [man] with an office job. I don’t want to pinpoint it exactly, but it’s in New York and it’s peripheral to finance.

Is he concerned that being publicly linked to you will threaten his job?

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s something that’s a fireable offense. They might question his judgment or something. I don’t know why. It’s not like every guy in finance doesn’t try to date a model or a porn star if they can. It’s more just precautionary.

How long have you guys been together?

Almost a year.

How does he feel about your new porn career?

It’s definitely not a walk in the park. But he is very strong and secure and sexually open, like I am. We have all that down, so we can handle the non-traditional aspects of this. The only thing that’s challenging is the traveling and me being away and not being as responsive as I once was. It has nothing to do with me having sex with other men.

You mentioned you went to sex clubs. Were you non-traditional prior to doing porn?

We were. We agreed that sexual monogamy in a relationship is hard to maintain. You can’t have sex with one person in a long period of time and still be excited, no matter how attracted you are to them and how much you love them. This is not to say we have a totally open relationship and we’re just screwing around all the time. But we open ourselves to new experiences if they arise, and we’ve gone to sex clubs, and we’ve experimented with others. And he was very excited about the scene when I came back from LA. We were so happy to be together again that we had some of the best sex we’ve ever had.

Would he consider doing porn?

He’s very good-looking and well-endowed. I don’t think he’d be opposed to having sex with some of those girls. (laughs) But he makes a lot more money than your average porn guy. If he ever ventured there, it’d have to be in conjunction with something making a lot of money, like a business venture with me or something like that.

So how are you planning on making a lot of money in porn? What’s your five-year plan?

Yes, and my first contract out the gate is considerably more than what the top girls in porn get for the scenes they do. So I’m on that path…here’s the thing with porn. The actual scenes you do is not where your main revenue stream is coming. A lot of girls don’t understand that, and they don’t understand how to build a product line based on their brand. They let their agencies book them for 50 or 60 shoots, and there’s so much content out there that the market is oversaturated and it lowers demand.

And a lot of these girls don’t have economics degrees, and the agencies don’t know how long the girls will last, because there’s such a high turnover. There’s a lot of misalignment of incentives going on, and avoiding that alone, I’ll increase my revenue stream. I’m not going to be doing that many scenes, but I’ll be making deals with toy companies, and feature appearances in strip clubs. I was a stripper for four years in college, so I’m really good at pole-dancing.

So if you were doing sex work in some form during school and you enjoyed it, why’d you go the Wall Street route to begin with?

I really liked business, and I never considered having sex to be a career path. It’s not something you wake up and say, “Oh, I like having sex, why don’t I do that for a living?” At least, not if yo’’re an educated person. I don’t come from a high socioeconomic background, so when I got to college I knew I had to make money. First I started as an anthropology major, then I switched to law, then that led me to take finance as an elective out of curiosity, and I liked it because you could bring street smarts to it and there’s a lot of money to be made compared to other things…so once I got a job with it, I was like, “Oh, this is not as interesting as the books led me to believe. Like, what can I do with this now?” (Laughs) And that’s what led me to porn.

Was there ever a hope in your mind when you tweeted that photo that Lazard wouldn’t see it, and that you’d be able to keep your job and satisfy this part of yourself? Do you regret leaving Lazard at all?

Nope. No. I was never going to be working on Wall Street and doing porn. I knew as soon as the first meeting closed that the conservative business world was over me. But that’s who I am, you know? I’m a risk-taker. I’m disruptive. I’m ballsy, maybe to the point of irrationality sometimes. But when I posted that first picture, I was like, “OK, if this is what I’m doing, then I’m gonna do it right, and I’m gonna do it big.”

You mentioned a few weeks ago in an interview that you felt like doing porn was what you were best at. Now that you’ve done it, do you still feel that way?

Yeah (laughs) I have good business sense and strategy. But I’m not like the CEO of MacKenzie. I think my true Michael Jordan talent is sex, honestly.

A previous version of this article stated that Veronica Vain’s first scene is premiering on Porntube. It is actually Pornhub.

Photo via Veronica Vain/Twitter

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.

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