“I love sex,” she explained, biting into a Burger King special before embarking on her scene for the day at a rented house in the San Fernando Valley . She was wearing a bright pink satin and black chiffon nightie with a matching thong and heavy makeup.
“I decided I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I’d been working behind the scenes, and my friends said: ‘Why not do movies? Have some fun, and get paid for it?’ ”
So she has. Since May, De’Bella (she did not want her real name published) has used days off from her job as an administrative assistant at a sex-related entertainment company, Platinum X, to shoot about 30 scenes, with men mostly 19 and 20 year old.
And while she is sort of a novelty — appearing on “The Howard Stern Show” to talk about her new career — it is no longer unusual (hey, Hollywood, pay attention) to see women, and men, of a certain age performing in sex movies.
“There has been a greater openness to older performers than there once was,” said Mark Kernes, a senior editor at Adult Video News, or AVN, the industry’s main trade paper. “Typically, once you got to 35, your possibilities were pretty much shot.”
Not anymore. The pornography industry, that multibillion-dollar-a-year symbol of airbrushed American carnality, is aging. The advent of Viagra, the maturing of sexually aware baby boomers and overall improved health and beauty are all contributing to the graying of naughty.
The biggest change is in the sexual desirability of women old enough to be the viewer’s mother. It has been fueled in part by pop culture’s embrace of the sexy 40-something women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Stacy’s Mom,” the 2003 hit song about a teenager’s mother who “has got it going on.”
The mature-woman genre represents one of the fastest growing areas of video pornography, say leading distributors and retailers, and next month it will be inaugurated as a category at the AVN Awards, the Oscars of the skin trade.
Most of the movies are like the one De’Bella is shooting on this particular day in the Valley, a gonzo shoot — meaning it is more or less plot-free sex for 40 minutes or so. De’Bella’s dark hair is up in a chignon, pinned with a couple of rhinestone clips. When her performing partner, Rod Fontana, 54, shows up — he’s tall and gangly with a shaved head — she smiles sweetly and shakes his hand. They have never met before.
“What’s the premise on this one?” he asks. “Pizza boy?”
Whatever. Within a few unscripted minutes they’re mostly unclothed, panting and moaning for the camera, engaged in sexual contortions and obviously unbothered by visiting onlookers.
The director, Urbano Martin, points his camera strategically, scarcely disguising his boredom. “I shoot specialty films,” he explains during a break in filming, adding that he has been in the business for 17 years. “Fat women, old women, hairy girls — all kinds. We feed the niche.”
The market for beautiful, airbrushed young women “is oversaturated,” he says. “This is more normal people, more meat on the bone, like what you have at home.”
De’Bella is not one of those otherworldly California creatures untouched by time. She looks like what she is, an attractive 50-year-old, with eyelids and cheeks that have succumbed to gravity and concentric circles of rippled skin on her belly from childbirth, three decades ago, and from dropping 38 pounds this year.
Still married to the same man after 28 years, De’Bella comes from a small town in Colorado and never imagined that she might become involved in pornography. “I was married and had a baby at 19,” she says. “I don’t know if I could have done it then.”
That baby grew up and moved to California to become a sex-film performer under the name Jewel De’Nyle, which started her mother down the same path.
De’Bella’s husband, Larry Schwarz, is fully supportive. “She’s doing it for the right reasons,” he said.
Other mature stars are retired pornography performers who have been lured back into the limelight, like a 40-something former star known as Lisa Ann, and 35-year-old Tiffany Mynx or the performer turned director Devinn Lane , who has started a Web site to recruit women for her hardcore short films.