VANNIALL

Updated: Oct 24

Is The New American Sex Symbol

INTERVIEW BY MOLLY SIMMONS




For years Vanniall has been winning the hearts and pockets of many, and this summer, Petit Mort had the pleasure of collaborating with your friendly internet sweetheart! This award winning performer is as cheeky as she is sexy, and it shows that she’s studied her craft from the classics.

Behind the scenes, we talk about how she stays inspired and the value of independence as a content creator.


PETIT MORT (MOLLY SIMMONS)

Why don’t you start by telling me a little bit more about how long you’ve been in the industry, your trajectory, and how you started and how you’ve grown.


VANNIALL

I guess my trajectory is quite weird. Funnily enough, I started on Tumblr, back in the good old days, where I was just shitposting mostly.I would post a little nude here and there, and people seemed to like them. When I realized that it could be actual money, I started to get into it, selling pictures and little two second clips. Then eventually, when I was making clips, I genuinely didn’t feel like I saw a community of flat chested trans women in mainstream media or in mainstream porn. Maybe selfishly, I felt like that was a niche into which I fit perfectly. So I just started thinking about it from a business perspective and ran with it. From there, I did a little bit of camming which was really fun. Then I gradually moved on towards bigger productions and bigger ideas. My partner Ashley, who’s a photographer, was a huge part of that, because I didn’t even know what a lightning stand was. I don’t know anything about any of that. And that was a humongous help.


PM

Can you tell us a little bit about how you chose to work under the name Vanniall?


VANNIALL

When I made my Tumblr blog, back in the early 2000s – I had two blogs. One of them was a good grunge blog, and one of them was just a throwaway blog. The grunge blog was my main blog, and the throwaway blog was turned into a One Direction fan account. Named Vanniall. That’s where that name comes from. After I decided I wanted to do porn, I just used that other account. I just was posting on it, and it got popular, and I didn’t want to change the name because I felt like people wouldn’t recognize me—that brand recognition. Even if it was only a little bit, I felt like people wouldn’t be able to find me. But yeah it kind of sounded weird enough andI liked it, so I’ve just kept it.


PM

Wow, and now you’ve won Best Trans Clip artists in 2020 from XBix and you were nominated for best self producer this year. You’ve grown so much now you are winning awards and getting recognized in the industry! You brought up that you didn’t see a lot of people who reflected you in the media that you were consuming. What were some of your beauty and style references growing up, who were the icons that you looked up to?


V

That’s a tough one. Back in God-knows-where South Carolina, we had TCM on one of the public broadcast channels. Turner Classic Movies just shows old movies all the time. And of course they would show a lot of Marylin Monroe, so I was highly influenced by her because it was what was available to watch. She’s an easy one to draw from because she oozed sexuality and cleverness. I watched a lot of classic movies and I get a lot of inspiration from that, not only style-wise, but i also love the queerness of the queer characters – the one time that you would see someone that was slightly off in an old movie. I found relatability in that intersection between being considered beautiful and mainstream but also somewhat odd. They still want to make it beautiful to be on the screen, but they want it to still be weird. To me it was beautiful – classic movies have this way about them—they sort of create beauty accidentally just by trying to skirt around societal norms of the time. So I drew a lot from that. Barbra Streisand was another icron for me, which is sort of an obvious one but she’s one that comes to mind. People like Barbra Streisand who sort of bulldoze their way and ensure that people saw them and saw what they could do, no matter what other people were saying, especially about their looks. The last thing anyone’s gonna comment on is someone’s looks when they can belt that loud. And it’s funny – I do equate that a lot to porn. If I can get my butthole to gape the way I want to, then I have achieved a talent which I feel is marketable, and no one can really take that away from me in the way that no one can take that away from Barbara Streisand.


I GENUINELY DIDN'T FEEL LIKE I SAW A COMMUNITY OF FLAT CHESTED TRANS WOMEN IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA OR IN MAINSTREAM PORN. MAYBE SELFISHLY, I FELT LIKE THAT WAS A NICHE INTO

WHICH I FIT PERFECTLY.


PM

Do you feel like in the United States of America that we’ve expanded our conception of what beauty is? Obviously some change has been made, but do you feel like it’s very different, or do you think we’re still working from the same antiquated idea of beauty standards from old movies?


V

It’s really hard to say, because I do think that the mainstream perception of beauty does change. Do I think that it changes much? No. I think that the archetype stays relatively within the same parameters. I think it does shift and it does change a little bit, but I don’t think it moves a lot. With that being said, I think that underneath the iceberg of that, is that maybe the mainstream hasn’t necessarily changed it’s archetype but I think that the archetypes down below are changing. I think that people not only see gender as fluid anymore (because first seeing gender as fluid was crazy) but it’s beyond that now. Being fluid within the parameters that we have is all that we have—I can’t really change who I am very much at all. But within those parameters there can be gold, or you can catch some lightning in a bottle. Regardless of that though, I wish the archetypes would change. I think that they’re so old, traditional, and silly.


PM

It's almost like once it becomes mainstream, it loses power. Even alternative beauty and things that we think of as different or strange or subversive—Once it gets accepted into the mainstream—it loses its power to be subversive.


V

Right, because it’s no longer subversive.


PM

I love it. Are there ways in which you also like to subvert beauty standards and ideals and expectations of the porn industry? Do you see yourself as someone who is trying to go against the grain?


V

I guess I do, but it sounds pretentious coming out of my mouth. Before, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt like a lot of the girls simply were not me. Obviously they’re not me. And I realized I could squeeze my way in there. I knew I was not like any of these girls. And that’s fine. My butthole still works. And I don’t have DD breasts. And I think that’s absolutely fine. Once I started realizing that it’s perfectly okay to not look like the stereotypical bombshell, a lot of confidence came along with it. And people start coming along with it too, because people are attracted to confidence. They love the idea that you look a certain way and you fucking own it. People can sense when you’re unsure or if you feel off about how you look or whatever. It’s weird, but the first step is always making sure that you’re okay and you feel okay.

PM

So you work independently, correct? You don’t have any type of agency that you work through?


V

Correct.


I FOUND RELATABILITY IN THAT INTERSECTION BETWEEN BEING CONSIDERED BEAUTIFUL AND

MAINSTREAM BUT ALSO SOMEWHAT ODD.


PM

Do you find that’s really served you? Have you ever wanted to work with an agency? Or do you really value working independently?


V

There’s always been a little itch to work with an agency or something like that. But a lot of what pulls me back is that I genuinely hate explaining myself to people. And even though it’s like a 10 minute clip, in my videos I’ll be running around and then doing 10 million things that probably make no sense. But, I don’t want to change that, I have no desire to really fix that, even if it is kind of broken. I think it’s also a little bit of an excuse but I do have a really big fear of rejection. If I were to really pour my heart out to these people, and if they were to reject me, or if somehow my career went nowhere after that. I think it would destroy me more than if I were to do this on my own and could just drop it whenever I felt like it. I have absolutely no plans of dropping anything. Except for videos!


PM

I get that it’s hard, because agencies are looking for mainstream content, and you don’t always get the freedom to do the funky or weird stuff that you want to.


V

You definitely have less freedom.

PM

How do you keep coming up with good, creative ideas to keep yourself interested and also keep your audience engaged?


V

I will say that I am a little selfish in that regard. I don’t really care what my audience wants. Maybe this sounds stupid but I just genuinely I want to make porn for me. I think that I’m my first audience. It has to come from within, it has to be good and it has to feel good. I want to make it for myself first. That’s how I keep myself from burning out. I make sure that if there’s an idea that I really want to try, i go for it. And I can go from there and feel good about it, as opposed to being forced to work regardless of being uncertain about something, I really can’t work under that kind of pressure. So I need to be a little more meticulous, a little bit more patient with myself and my plans, not just throwing them up like idea soup.

PM

So what has been your favorite type of thing to create? I was looking at your Twitter feed, and I saw you dressed up as a scarecrow, which I thought was so creative.


V

I really liked the Scarecrow because I had an accompanying video in which I had a brain mold. Do you know what a pocket pussy is? I had one that looked like a brain, and I thought that was funny!


PM

OMG, A mindfuck!


V

Yeah, exactly! Because he wanted a brain in the Wizard of Oz. My favorite ever has got to be a little series called The Mostly Pigs House, which had about five people. So I was in Vegas…five people came by and we filmed this pseudo reality show. We just ran around doing little skits like we were in the sixth grade. It was really fun to make—just going around and doing fun stupid things with a bunch of people and then having sex after. That was an all around good time to be quite honest.


PM

You have a huge following now. Was it hard to build up that platform for yourself?


V

It was like pulling teeth in the beginning especially after Tumblr shut down. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was pretty meticulous on Twitter for a while there but I genuinely wanted to engage and wanted to let the audience know that I was a real person—not just a random Twitter account that’s posting pics or whenever. So I really tried to put blood, sweat, and tears into growing my Twitter platform. Then I finally got Instagram over 9k, which was way harder. But eventually I got it to a point that I’m really happy with.


PM

I feel like as sex workers we find ways to subvert or exist outside of normative capitalist systems. But also there is maybe a little irony in that we also embody the American dream of being able to build yourself out of nothing, and work really hard and create success for yourself when maybe nobody thought it was possible.


V

We are the American dream. We are.






PM

One thing coming up this season astrologically is the United States’ Pluto return. Astrologers are talking about the beginning of the end of the American Empire. In your opinion, how are beauty standards indicative of the health of a country as a whole? Do we see the fall of the American beauty standards happening in parallel with the fall of these institutions?


V

That’s a good question. I think that beauty, in many different forms, has existed for a while. With them being here for a long time, the standard has been here for a long time. It’s like - government, church, and beauty. They’ve grown with one another. The propaganda machines that you could use to turn one you could use to turn the other. It’s a wonder to think about what would happen with the fall of the United States. What would happen to

beauty in that sense? That’s something you have to worry about, this idea of a new standard.


PM

Or would there be no standard?


V

Exactly. That’s what the hope would be. But I think people have this innate need to replace and title things. So there is that and I would hope that with the fall of a standard there would not arise another standard. I would just hope that that would mean we could all just genuinely exist without categorization.


PM

What do you want - I don’t want to say your country, it sounds so patriotic - but what do you want to see reflected back to you in the porn industry or in the media in general?


V

I would say real honest and true diversity. I don’t just want you to hire three people of color, I want you to look at your writer’s desk and ask how many people of color you have in there, I want you to look at who hires the people of color and ask how many people of color you have in there. It’s not true diversity if the only thing is that there’s some variation of color. Which, by the way, just variation of color is not that diverse. There’s so many people whose experiences have never been represented. Or maybe they have but in pretty darn negative ways. They haven’t really been able to see themselves as the hero. Or as the beautiful girl that guys want to speak to. And I really wish they had something to connect to, you know?


PM

Absolutely. What advice would you give to someone in an underrepresented group or who’s underrepresented in porn and in the media? What advice would you give them entering the industry? Or, if they’re already in the industry, how to maintain their identity and be successful?


V

First and foremost, what people say genuinely does not matter. All you need to do is take your phone, look at the Twitter app, and stare at it until it looks like a video game, and these are all just numbers on a fucking screen. These people, whatever they’re going to say to you, whatever they’re going to call you, it literally doesn’t matter. You have to think about yourself, your situation and what it means to pay the next bill. Love is great and I’m not saying you should just discount the love that people give you. I’m saying that along with the love is there is going to come negativity. And it would just be better overall if you looked at it from the third person perspective when it comes to comments and things that are going to make you burn out very quickly. Whatever your body fucking looks like. It’s totally fucking hot. I’m telling you. If you add a tiny little sprinkle of confidence, just a tiny, tiny, tiny little sprinkle of confidence, I am sure that you will get some money. As it goes on, it becomes a lot more paperwork and the IRS comes in. But that’s fine. You know, that comes later. All you have to worry about is being your sexiest, hottest self for yourself when you look in the mirror. And then take your pictures and do a little dance!


PM

What is on the horizon for you? Do you have any fun things coming up? Any projects that you’re working on? Any more awards that you’re like going after?


V

I hate to announce ideas, but right now I’m thinking about doing a web series, a sort of comedy of errors. I’m still in the idea process. But I’ve become quite obsessed with slapstick comedy and comedy in general. I wanted to see if I can harness that into a miniseries—porn included I think. So that’s what most of my brain power is going towards at the moment, conjuring up little ideas for that.


VANNIALL INTERVIEWED BY MOLLY SIMMONS

PHOTOS BY ASHLEY LAKE

ART DIRECTION BY PENELOPE DARIO

PROPS AND WARDROBE STYLING BY KOLT REAGLE

GLAM BY VALENTINA FOX