Sunday, August 27, 2006

An Intimate Conversation with Domonique Simone

by Christopher Whaley

The year was 1993 and I was a high school junior when I first heard of Domonique Simone. I could hear my buddies in the back of the NJROTC classroom talking about how fine she was and the many things she could do to make “you go crazy just looking at her!” It wasn’t until my 18th birthday when I took that adolescent rites of passage and purchased my very first adult magazine and on the front cover was none other than Domonique Simone. In the confines of my bedroom, I marveled at this dark-skinned enchantress with this beautiful body. It would be another year before I would see her in a film and I must say that my buddies were right – this lady was bad!

As I got older, Domonique Simone played a significant role in developing my sexuality. She personified Black adult entertainment in the 1990’s and became our Goddess of Love. Her pictorials were elegant and her films were explosive. Like Vanessa del Rio before her, Domonique could captivate you with her over-the-top performances. Need a reference? Peep 1993’s Black Butt Jungle and see how she leaves Peter North gasping for air and Debi Diamond in a state of shock. The lady was adult entertainment’s first Black superstar, with numerous magazine layouts, top-selling films, and packed club appearances to vouch for her success.

Society at large has a love/hate relationship with adult entertainment. On one hand, Jenna Jameson’s autobiography is a best seller and on the other, many people called for Bill Clinton’s head on a platter after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Since 1971’s Deep Throat, the business has skyrocketed into a multi-billion dollar industry with its own legends and success stories. However, when it comes to life as an adult entertainer on the other side of the color line, the playing field has never been leveled. Of course the pay is nowhere near equal and some venues won’t even book a Black entertainer for reasons that border on the ridiculous. Strides have been made and the walls are slowly but surely falling, but there’s still a long way to go.

At 35- years-old, Domonique Simone is a legend. Her name is mentioned in the same echelon as Jeannie Pepper, Ebony Ayes, Angel Kelly, Heather Hunter, and Janet Jacme. Her body of work is classic and she will have her place in the history of adult entertainment as one of the pioneers. She has persevered and weathered the highs and lows that fame can bring and stood the true test of time.

When the opportunity presented itself to interview Domonique, I seized it. The time has been long overdue to hear about life in “the other Hollywood” from a Black adult entertainer’s perspective. I wanted to know her story and furthermore, I wanted to know her up close and personal. I’ve heard about the rumors and I have read the interviews where she has often been misquoted and what I got was an intimate conversation that took me deep inside the heart of a very wonderful young lady. Many people have seen Domonique Simone in all her naked glory and lucky me – I got to see an amazing human being.

POETICROCKSTAR: So let’s get started, Domonique. I remember at one time there was talk of your singing career. I’m sure a lot of folks have no idea that Domonique Simone is a very gifted vocalist. Tell me a bit about that if you don’t mind.

Domonique Simone: I wanted to sing at one point and the music business is tough.

PRS: I’m aware that the music business is very cutthroat.

DS: Yes, more than the movies. I trained with this guy named Seth Riggs and he trained Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin – he’s an awesome vocal trainer. He wanted people to take me serious as a singer because he only produces chart toppers. In order to work with me, he wanted to develop me where I was gonna be someone that would be on the charts. I met several people who wanted to bring me to different labels and I’ve been all around the music scene. I don’t like the music business and plus the talent is not getting their money with the free downloads like Limewire and it’s just a really tough business right now.

PRS: It’s so funny that we’re starting off this conversation with your singing because I recall an interview you did in 1993 with Black Tail magazine. In the article, it was a picture of you and a gentleman sitting together and you were talking about your desire to sing. You mentioned Seth Riggs and the more you’re talking to me about it, the more everything is coming back to me. However Domonique, let’s fast forward a few years later and a certain adult entertainer contacted me about performing on a track with her and at first, I was excited but then I realized that it would be a novelty act and I wanted to be taken serious as a spoken word artist. At that time, you had several entertainers who were doing their thing in the music business as well. Still, regardless of how great their skills were, they would always be looked at as porn stars making music.

DS: I didn’t wanna do it that way either. We’ll always be seen as porn stars no matter what we’re doing. You have that label and even with Tracy Lords, who’s done better than most of the girls, the only other person that’s doing as good as she did is Jenna Jameson.

PRS: Speaking of Jenna Jameson, how is it that she and Tera Patrick become these huge stars and you have Black talent that’s just as good mind you, scraping the bottom of the barrel?

DS: The reason why Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick do very well is they have big huge companies like Vivid and Wicked backing them. These companies are more apt to put money into their careers than a Black actress because these girls have the Whites, the Blacks, the Asians – you know what I mean, Chris? So their fan base isn’t limited. Whereas someone like me and Heather Hunter – when Heather came out everyone was “Heather Hunter, Heather Hunter!” because she was this light-skinned Black girl and everybody thought she was the hottest thing. When I came out and then had my boobs done, I started getting more work. I had what you call “crossover appeal.” They want you to appeal to a wide spectrum of people because they make more money. And with the Black actresses I don’t know what it is, but they don’t put enough money into us because they don’t make as much. It’s all about the dollar bill. It really is. The business has always been that way. They didn’t start to put Black girls on covers until they saw that the interracial movies were selling off the shelves. I just happened to come into the business during that time when Heather was already out and I guess I appealed to more of the Black audience, along with Janet Jacme.

PRS: So that’s how the business works?

DS: Right. So they said “we’re gonna do something with this.” I was over at Video Team – I love Video Team. They were very good to me. That’s where the My Baby Got Back series got started. I was in a series called In Loving Color and me and Janet Jacme went and auditioned for In Living Color. I told the owner I was going to audition because I’m thinking I’m cute and got big boobs and they’ll put me on TV! You know how we think! And I’m over there and I can’t even dance! I’m dancing for Keenan and Rosie Perez and they are just laughing and I was so embarrassed! And Janet? She can dance! That girl can throw down! So I came home and the owner asked about the audition and I said “baby didn’t have enough back!” And he was like “my baby’s got back” and he said he wanted to do the cover next week. It was me, Janet, and another girl. I had this girl that was living with me from New York who had never done any movies and her name was Lorna Dee and got her on the cover. That’s how that series got started. Right now they’re up to like number thirty-something?

PRS: Yeah, they’re up there!

DS: I know. But that series did really well and I feel like I opened the doors for a lot of Black girls in the business. The reason is they weren’t putting us on covers. I made the cover of Adult Video News, which I don’t think has happened again, another Black girl on the cover. At least I haven’t seen one. I was in magazines like Hustler and they’re beginning to put more Black girls in Hustler. I’ve yet to see one in Penthouse. Guccione – I don’t think he’s into that unless you’re a celebrity and he’s making some big money like with Vanessa Williams.

PRS: And what about Black features at clubs? I hear that some venues will not feature a Black entertainer and that’s so crazy!

DS: The clubs didn’t wanna bring in a Black feature because they didn’t think we would have the draw that one of the White performers would draw. There are a lot of Black girls in the business now; the business has changed so much to where they’re not paying what they used to pay. And the box covers are not as glamorous as they used to be.

PRS: I agree with you wholeheartedly, Domonique! Some of the stuff I see now is like strictly for shock value. There’s nothing that says sensual at all.

DS: Everything is all stock photos and gonzos right now. I think what sells right now is more realism, more of the girl next door.

PRS: It seems the era that produced you, Janet Jacme, Persia, and Anna Amore gave us some very classy entertainment. Nowadays you have some young ladies who will do just anything! Why is that?

DS: Big Booty Hoes and stuff like that! I always said that I don’t wanna do a cover like that. A few companies that shot the covers have tricked me and call it Black This and I don’t like that. I’ve gone to the video store and looked at some of the covers and they are so nasty. I like the more glamorous type flicks. It has changed a lot. Video Team wanted me to come back and do some things for them and if I came back and did a film, I would want to do my own stuff and produce. It’s no money in the business right now and it’s over saturated with actors and actresses that a lot of girls are working for much cheaper that they did when we were around.

PRS: So if you could make changes, what would you suggest?

DS: The thing is to start your own production company. It’s difficult too because you really have to be in to get in. Plus you really have to know the laws and you gotta have some money backing you. If you go in with some money it will be fairly easy because you can afford the attorney fees if you ship a movie over to Texas that’s not supposed to be there or you ship an anal film to Atlanta and anal is illegal in Atlanta. So you have to know all these different laws for these different states to keep from getting in trouble with the distribution part. It’s just really, really difficult.

PRS: When you say the business has changed, would you say that it’s changed in a drastic way?

DS: It’s really changed. The last movie I watched was one of Peter North’s movies, one of his North Pole movies. I thought it was really cool. I never really watched my movies; I just fast forward through them to see how they looked. I could never really watch myself having sex! And I hardly go into the video store because I go in there and guys lose their minds. They’re looking at a box and then they’re looking at me and it’s kinda weird.

PRS: In my opinion, the business changed around 1996. That’s when Jasmin St. Claire did The World’s Biggest Gangbang 2 and all of a sudden, it was like a race to see how extreme they could get with the adult entertainment business. Once that happened, then everyone tried to one-up the next person.

DS: It was like who could do the nastiest movie. I didn’t like the direction it was turning in at that point. I did a gangbang but I did seven guys and when I did The Howard Stern Show, he was like “that was hardly a gangbang!” Now they are doing like 600 guys at once. There was a girl who supposedly 2,000.

PRS: See, that’s ridiculous!

DS: They were doing an interview on the radio and they were talking about Jasmin’s movie and they were saying that it’s self-mutilation.

PRS: Well think about it: you got all these guys humpin’ away at you and you forget that you have to go home and go to bed later that night!

DS: She was miserable. They did some outtakes and she was miserable. Poor girl, I could’ve never done something like that. I don’t care how much money they pay me and I know she didn’t get paid what she deserved for that. She probably got a down payment on a car! Shit, she should’ve gotten enough to put a down payment on a house!

PRS: So Domonique, how did you get started in the business? Tell me that story.

DS: I came out here to LA on a scholarship to attend a school called Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. In fact, I went to school with Alexis Arquette. We were in the same class and used to see each other all the time. I was going to school and took a job as a manager at a clothing store and I was in an apartment with three other girls. Two of the girls, one was from New York and decided she wanted to go to FIT. Another girl was from Dallas and she wanted to go home and the other girl was from Chicago and she ended up staying with me. What happened was when they left, we couldn’t cover their rent and they were gonna evict me and my roommate. I was looking through The LA Weekly and I saw this ad looking for figure models. I went in to see him and it was like make $500 daily, but I didn’t know he was a porn guy. So I went in and he was like “I can get you in Players, Hustler, and others.” I couldn’t do that shit! I’m from Georgia and my grandmother would kill me! And he said “come back when you wanna make some money.” So I get back home and it’s like – they’re getting ready to evict us. I thought well, I’m gonna have to do this photo shoot. My first photo shoot was for Hustler magazine. It’s ironic because the girl I shot with, her name was Domonique Simone as well. She wasn’t an actress; she was a magazine girl, a dancer. There was a girl on the set and she did adult films and she invited me on the set and that’s how I got started.

PRS: Wow!

DS: This happened in like, June. In July they had a big show that they have in Vegas every summer and I was invited to go there. That movie that I worked on, that first production, Angel Kelly’s boyfriend was on that set and he wasn’t an actor – his dad was Henri Pachard. So he liked me, and he wanted to date me! Angel found out about it and she wanted to know this girl that her boyfriend liked. Then I go to the show and Angel is there and she saw me and said “oh, she’s cute” and approached me about her boyfriend! And I didn’t even know him that well! She tells me she’s about to do her last movie which was called Even More Dangerous. She was looking for someone to play her sister and she asked me if I would wanna do that and that’s how I got my first leading role.

PRS: So this is perhaps 1990, 1991?

DS: 1990.

PRS: At the time you came in, thinking back on the 80’s, you had Jeannie Pepper, Angel Kelly, Ebony Ayes, and Nina DePonca. You come along and the new era is ushered in.

DS: Yeah, and then it was Heather Hunter, Domonique Simone, Janet Jacme, Persia, Champagne.

PRS: And you ladies were in a league of your own. You all brought glamour and sophistication and really changed the game. However, I want to ask you a film you did called Black Mariah.

DS: Ohhh… yes… Black Mariah.

PRS: What was the story behind that film?

DS: I went in and shot a cover for a movie. They were really hush-hush about it. They said it was called Black Mariah or something. They didn’t even have the “Black” in front of it. I just went in and shot my scenes – I didn’t know what was going on the set. They did it to where they were very secretive about it the whole movie. I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m so upset and embarrassed about it. I didn’t know the scenes were in that movie.

PRS: It was rather disturbing, Domonique.

DS: It was racist.

PRS: When I watched it, I couldn’t believe someone could do something like this.

DS: Yeah, I understand.

PRS: But you know Domonique, I remember purchasing my first adult magazine when I was 18 years old. It was a Black Tail and you were on the front cover. I also rented my first adult film in which you were the star. A lot of my friends were Domonique Simone fans and to us, it was a rites of passage to be young and watching your films. It’s like in the 70’s, that generation had Vanessa del Rio. We came along and had Domonique Simone. In many ways, you are a legend to us.

DS: Thank you, Chris.

PRS: You can ask just about anybody, especially from the Hip-Hop Generation, and they know who Domonique Simone is. They know you before they know anybody else. How does it feel having that legend status attached to your name? When they say “Queen of Black Adult Entertainment,” they refer to Domonique Simone.

DS: Well the thing is, I never knew the impact the sex industry had on the world. I did the movies and for a long time, I didn’t tour or anything. When I went to New York to do an autograph signing, there were so many guys outside the store and it was like I was a rock singer. I remember the police had to come because the guys were waiting for the store to open and they were leaning up against the doors and about to break the windows. I thought it was crazy because I had never been to New York before. While I was there I danced at a club called Shadow World and they would book us in hotels on 42nd and 8th, which is when it wasn’t cleaned up by Giuliani. So it was a bunch of hookers and sex stores, like every other store. So I’m walking and these guys are going “Domonique Simone, Domonique Simone!” I didn’t realize the effect the adult industry had on the world. I didn’t know all this until I started going to the shows and dancing and all these guys and they what shoes you wore in what movie, your bra size, everything! My fans can tell you more about my movies than I can. It’s really weird how people can remember specifics.

PRS: Are you serious, Domonique?

DS: I remember this one guy in particular. I was at a magazine store and he’s getting one of my magazines. He walks up behind me and says “I recognized who you were by the mole on the top of your lip!” And that started to freak me out!

PRS: So what’s a normal day like for you?

DS: Now or back then?

PRS: How about sharing some of both if you don’t mind.

DS: When I did films, I basically would get up and if I wasn’t working, it was going to get a facial, going to the gym, or doing something to keep up my physical appearance. At that time, I was really good friends with Janet Jacme so I would go and hang with her or go to an event, sometimes visit different clubs. I’m really a private person so I didn’t get out into the party scene that much unless Janet would drag me out or my girlfriend Taylor Wane. I went to exclusive events; I never was really like hanging out a lot. My life was probably pretty boring. Now my whole life has changed because I have two kids. My biggest thing now is getting up and cooking breakfast and getting them to school. Now I’m working as a loan officer and I go to work, and sometimes I work from home. My life is a lot different now because I don’t have the craziness of that lifestyle I led when I was doing the films. Once you have kids, you change your outlook on things and the way you think. I think that’s one of the reasons I stopped doing the films because there are a lot of things you see about the world once you have kids that could be harmful to your children. A lot of the things going on in the industry were very upsetting to me. That’s when I realized I had to put things in perspective about what direction I wanted my life for my kid’s sake. I had some friends in the business with kids and they were acting out and I didn’t want that for mine. As kids get older, they get teased because your mommy does this and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to bring my kids up with me working in the adult industry.

PRS: And that’s when you walked it away from it all, right?

DS: Yes. I wanted to leave the business and have people ask “where did she go?” I wanted to leave some mystery about me. I didn’t want to have to do a gangbang with 1,000 guys so I could keep my name out there. The last film I did was called Booty Talk with Lexington Steele and he talked me into doing that. That was around 2000 and it was a really good scene and that was the last one. I kinda disappeared and decided to move from LA to San Francisco and started doing my real estate. I wanted to continue my education because my family was like “you can’t be doing that forever.” I did it partially for my family and plus, I didn’t want to be 45-years-old and doing my comeback. I felt like I needed to take a different turn in my life.

PRS: A lot of folks don’t know that you were in some music videos as well, right?

DS: I did a Snoop Dogg video. I did one with Brian McKnight. Doing a video is a nightmare when you’re dealing with all those women. It’s something about women and boob jobs. Women tend to laugh at you – because they’re jealous. They wanna make you feel like a freak because you have fake boobs. When I did that Snoop video, I was with a bunch of ghetto girls! I did the video for Brian McKnight and no one knew that I was an adult girl. Brian McKnight was like “I know you from somewhere!” I found out he did a concert and had a question-and-answer and everyone kept asking him “how did you get Domonique Simone in your video?” He said they ask more questions about me than his songs!

PRS: Which video was it?

DS: “Keep It On the Down Low.” Then I did “Something For the Honeys” with Montell Jordan but when you’re used to making a certain amount of money a day and you’re on the set with some catty ass girls for ten hours a day for $200, that’s some shit! I couldn’t do it. Then I tried the music thing and everyone wanted to fuck and I’m like – I can fuck and get paid! That was the end of my music stint.

PRS: So did anything ever get recorded?

DS: I performed in Vegas at one of the awards shows and I have recorded some things as well. The business is so hard to get into. In order for someone in the adult business to make it in the music business, they would have to come with something really unique. Coming out as a Lil’ Kim rap star isn’t unique.

PRS: Here is the $64,000 question, Domonique: are you considering a comeback?

DS: I’m working on a website – – and I am so digging MySpace. My fans can find me at www.myspace/domoniquesimone. It’s very addictive. I’ve been on there a few months and it’s a pretty wild scene on there. Everybody’s on there. I knew I would be coming out with a website and I decided to I was gonna shoot all new photos because everybody and their mama and daddy has my pics. I hadn’t done a website ever before. There’s all those unofficial Domonique Simone websites and I want to do it right. I want to show the new Domonique Simone because people haven’t seen me for awhile.

PRS: No they haven’t, and it’ll be good for everyone to see you again.

DS: Thanks, Chris. I will also be writing a book because I have a lot to talk about. It’ll be a best seller!

PRS: I’m sitting here talking to you and what I like about you is that you’re a real person. You’re not coming with any bullshit.

DS: I’m a Georgia girl, Chris! I’m not a California girl!

PRS: Southern girl! Biscuits and gravy, ham hocks, pork chops, and all that good stuff!

DS: Oh yes – I just can’t cook ‘em!

PRS: Are you religious or spiritual?

DS: Yes, I believe in God. I grew up a Southern Baptist.

PRS: What? Domonique Simone grew up in the church house!

DS: Howard Stern asked me how a girl goes from the church to becoming a porn star! I think about what it was with me and I grew up in a family where I was told that sex is bad and I was in the church all the time and basically, when they let me loose I went wild. I was told boys were bad and boys did bad things to you and when I was like 12, 13, 14 – I wanted to see what these boys did that’s bad to you! I got kinda crazy and wild but I think it was always in me anyway. I could’ve went a different direction with my life but I’m glad that I took the direction I did because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my two kids. I have a beautiful life now. I’m probably not making all the money like when I did the films, but I have peace of mind. If I was out there right now, I wouldn’t feel good about what I was doing. The things the girls are doing now I wouldn’t even do on camera!

PRS: They do some crazy shit nowadays! This gonzo shit is ridiculous! I see stuff and I’m amazed the human body can perform like that!

DS: Chris, I’ve seen some videos from Europe and it’s some really crazy things that people are into. You know, I’ve probably been in every sexual situation at least once where I’ve seen about everything and it’s crazy what folks are into. At one time, I had a substance abuse problem and when you’re doing drugs and sex, you wanna go higher and higher. Not just with your high but what you can do sexually and you become really jaded. You take yourself out of reality and it got really, really bad. Being in the adult business and having a substance abuse problem, I had to take myself out of that. I had to go and get some help and talk to some people about what was going on in my head. There are a lot of girls who go through what I went through and they don’t know how to deal with it.

PRS: I’m glad that you found an outlet, Domonique. I’m glad that you found what they call in the church, salvation.

DS: Yeah, I had to get it together.

PRS: It’s been an honor to talk to you, Domonique, and to get the truth. Finally we get a story from someone who’s been there and done that and from a Black perspective. You are a legend, and always will be. You are a pioneer and I know that you will be appreciated and admired for many years to come. Thank you so much and may you have continued success in everything you do, love.

DS: Thank you, Chris. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you as well.