Posted Jul 31st, 2015 02:30 PM by Mark Kernes
PORN VALLEY—Phil Varone, founder of The V Agency, may be relatively new to porn, but it hasn't taken him long to get the skinny on how it works.
"This industry, unfortunately, is a lot harder than people think it is," Varone told AVN recently. "It's certainly not just showing up and having sex. It's a process. It's hard work, it's filmmaking, and I think certain people handle it a certain way, but that doesn't mean the person is malicious or had any intention of ruining a set. I think we've all gone through things in our lives, and I came from the music industry, which is way worse than this industry. I've had my bouts, and for me, it's all about the second chance. When I meet somebody, I don't judge them for their past; I judge them for what I know of them, and a good person will prove they're a good person. As an agent, that's all I'm asking. I want to protect my client but I also want to say, 'Give her a chance.' "
Varone's philosophizing came out as we were interviewing Ashlee Graham, the 26-year-old cutie who recently took a hiatus from performing to get her head together after some unfortunate incidents on movie sets late last year that got her virtually blackballed from performing.
But now Ashlee's back, clean and sober, looking great—and she's a blonde!
"I'm naturally blonde, and people don't realize that being a redhead is really hard to upkeep," the former ruby-tressed star said. "Besides, I'm not fond of washing my hair in cold water, and you have to, because otherwise, all the red just seeps out, so when I started to change everything, I figured I'd just go back to my natural look and stick to that rather than trying to keep the red. I was ruining a lot of sheets. I was starting to feel really bad when I would spend the night at a friend's house and I would be like, 'I'm really sorry but your sheets are like blood-stained-looking.' You can't get red hair dye out of anything."
We caught up with Ashlee at the Cherry Pimps studio, where she was recording content for her website, and scheduled to do a live show later in the day, and she told us what had led to her taking a six-month break from the adult industry.
"I took a little bit of a break because there were a lot of rumors going around and I was going through a really difficult time, and I just came back and started shooting again regularly last month. Before, I was going to set and not being in the proper condition to shoot, and going through a really, really bad breakup," she admitted. "The person I had been dating broke up with me after four years, and I moved out here. I was out of control and—it was more the move to L.A. that got to me more than anything, I think. It's too much of a fun town; that can be a problem."
Though born in San Diego, Ashlee now calls Atlanta her home, and when not working, she heads back there to her dad's farm and chills out.
"It's actually fun, farm life. I come in for two weeks every month, because I shoot for my site here at Cherry Pimps, and then I shoot for whoever else wants to shoot me, and then I go back out," she explained. "I just shot for Naughty America with Shelby Black, and I was also in Women Seeking Women 118 for Girlfriends Films, plus I just signed with The V Agency; they're helping me get back on track."
"When Erika Icon from The Rub PR called me about Ashlee and explained the situation that she was in, I knew her, of course, and knew of her past," Varone added. "The main thing we want to stress is, she understands what she went through, and she wants to own it. I'm all about giving second chances, third chances to people with a heart, to good people. People have given me ten chances and I've learned from it. I think Ashlee is a very good person, but this industry is a small industry and it's like playing the game Telephone: You hear one thing, and ten people later, you get 'She was out of control and she did this.' Now, she did do stuff that was unacceptable on sets; she was not in her right mind for the set, maybe a little disruptive. In this business, time is money, especially in this day and age when shoots aren't as plentiful and they want things done faster and they want reliable talent and consistent talent.
"What we're doing with Ashlee, changing her hair and everything, all I'm asking is for the studios to give her a second chance and let her prove herself," he stated. "I don't think anything she did was malicious or unforgivable, but you are going to find people who do hold a grudge, but I explained to her, it's inevitable that she'll be going onto sets that may be hostile because of her past, so she has to prove herself beyond what the normal person should have to. But I have every bit of confidence that she can, because we know her as the performer and I know her as a person. Shelby took a chance and gave her a second chance with Naughty America, for which we are greatly appreciative because she proved that she can show up and be solid and be the performer that we know."
Ashlee Graham actually has quite a history in adult. A former clerk in a pet store, one of her customers introduced her to Model Mayhem, where she could "get naked on the internet and make money, and that sounded a lot better than working in a pet store," she recalled.
From there, Ashlee spent several months doing fetish scenes for Intersec Studios and some others before taking the plunge into girl/girl hardcore, appearing first in Asa Akira's Massage Fantasies. After another year of BDSM and girl/girl work, Ashlee was tapped by Brazzers in 2013 to do five boy/girl scenes, working with Johnny Sins.
"I ruined the couch," she confessed. "I squirted and the couch got ruined and the poor lady that owned the place walked in, and I'm like, 'Um, there's stuff all over the couch now. I'm gonna have to take it to get dry cleaned,' and everyone kind of walked outside and started snickering. We were like, 'Oops!' "
Since then, Ashlee's worked for such companies as Elegant Angel, Airerose, Exquisite and several more, including several more scenes for Brazzers, plus she hasn't abandoned her bondage work.
"I like working right now," she stated. "I've been staying at the beach a lot, so I wake up and go down to the beach and hang out there—unless I've got a job; then I have to wake up at 7 just to beat the L.A. traffic. I'm not a surfer girl. I should really learn that. I tried once and didn't make it."
But it's those trips back to Atlanta that really keep her grounded.
"You know, when you're around someone and have a certain set schedule and stuff and it goes haywire, you kind of lose yourself, and I got in with the wrong crowd really quickly," she admitted. "And then I got bored with that, and you know, when you get that phone call from your dad and he's just like, 'I'm just letting you know, I think you're really crazy right now,' you kind of reevaluate what you're doing. He likes to call me and tell me what losers my friends are when I'm hanging out with the wrong people, and I kind of value his opinion, so now I'm hanging out with a lot better people; like people I grew up with and stuff."
"She has a wise man as her dad, who actually tells her things," Varone added. "When things are wrong, you can just get caught up in it, and I think for her, she's now involved in more of a cleansing—I call it a douching—of people that are just negative, and that's what she's been doing. It's an ongoing process because these people are in her life, and she's little by little eliminating people, but focusing on the career first. That's the main thing. If somebody's going to get in the way of her career, she knows to get rid of them, and that's what we're doing here. It's a building process, but I would invest anything on her because I believe in her that much.
"Let's face it: this industry is flooded with girls that come in for a while and go; it's almost like a transient business now, in and out, and a solid performer like Ashlee is going to be a top performer for as long as she wants to be in this business," Varone said. "And it's a shame that companies wouldn't utilize her because it's only going to help the companies as well, because she has a great fan base, so I think that the studios, if they give her a second chance and realize what her value is as far as the fans and stuff like that, I think it's going to be a good working environment for her, a good relationship. But she has to prove herself. That's it. I'm asking for them to give her a second chance, but she has to prove herself. If she fucks up, it's her problem, and she understands that and the seriousness of this."
And it definitely appears that Ashlee has learned her lesson.
"I'm going to go back to school, I think," said the woman with a bachelor's degree in English. "I don't know what I'm going to do yet, so I have to figure that out. I think I'd like to do some traveling. I really want to go to Europe this year. I really want to go to Italy and London. It might be fun to see Shakespeare done with real English accents."
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