Ela Darling: The Origin Story of a Librarian Pornstar | Sex Dork

Ela Darling might be the only pornstar with a Ted Talk. She was a real librarian — with a master’s degree — when she went into porn and co-created virtual reality sex camming. Watch our interview, or scroll down for the best bits in our abbreviated edit.

Ela Darling: I have the Dewey Decimal number for Harry Potter on my back.

Origin Story: How She Got Into Porn

Ela Darling: I had some shitty asshole threaten to leak nude photos of me when I was still a librarian. And it’s like, ‘OK, well, how about I just do a nude photo shoot, anyway?’ I’m a librarian. They’re not gonna fucking care. Librarians are freedom fighters who will fight for your right to access and consume information. They’re not going to get mad about this. They can’t. So whatever.

So I did a nude photo shoot that I really loved. And I released that. And you can’t let the fucking cat out of the bag twice, can you?

‘So go ahead and threaten to leak the naked photos of me. Here, want some more? Fuck off.’

How She Fucked The Sex Shame Away

Ela Darling: Right up until I started doing porn, I had a lot of shame about sexuality, and my body. I had been modeling since I was 18, and I hadn’t even done lingerie or swimsuit modeling until I was 21.

I had a lot of shit to get over. And then I decided:

‘I’m going to take this gig that I found on Craigslist. It’s hardcore bondage. It seems like it’s kind of porn, but it’s not naked or anything. And the girls are smiling, so I’m gonna face my fear, and I’m gonna try this.

Because I thought:

‘The porn industry seemed really abusive, and probably all those girls are victims, anyway. But if that’s the case, why do they all seem so happy? So maybe I’m wrong?’

Ela Darling: So I decided to do my first-ever, technically-adult shoot, and challenge all of my expectations.

And I realized, ‘Wow,’ I was real wrong about a whole lot of stuff.

Just facing that fear, I took it step-by-step. Then I started doing some nude stuff, and then I did nude bondage stuff, and then I was like, ‘Well, this is basically porn anyway, so let’s just go all the way and move to Los Angeles and do the porno for real now.’

Yeah, porn was something that challenged a lot of my fears in a lot of ways.

The Sex Dork: You might be the only pornstar with a Ted Talk, right?

Ela Darling: I think I might be. I don’t know.

Several years ago, if you’d asked me, I would tell you, ‘I would much rather fuck someone on stage than have to talk to people.’

Because when you’re doing porn, it’s just between you and another person — or a few people — and there are other people in the room, but they’re doing their best to be invisible. And when you’re talking to a big room full of people, they’re just right there in front of you, and it’s intimidating. If you fuck up, you’ve got a bunch of people who will immediately be aware of it. If you fuck up on a porn set, they cut, and they start over, and they don’t care.

Insights Of A Sex Entrepreneur on Female Power

Ela Darling: We’re seeing so many more cam models now. I think some people actually do it, because they want to feel like they have power over their body. They want to feel like they’re the ones in control.

We see so many more female directors, so many more women who are running their own businesses. You’re not just going to set to shoot, get a check, and leave. You’re a brand manager. You’re a marketer. You’re a director. You do lighting. You do editing. You’re the talent, also, obviously. You do so much, and you have to diversify a lot. And that is very powerful.

Ela Darling: But you mention the female empowerment of porn.

I’ve never in any other job had people sort of insistently ask me, ‘Well, how does this empower you?’ Because people have a lot of shame around porn, and around watching porn. And they have this need to sort of justify it by telling themselves, ‘Oh, this is really empowering for them, it’s fine.’

Nobody ever asks their fucking barista, like: ‘Is this very empowering for you?’ I was never asked as a librarian, like: ‘Do you feel super empowered checking these books out right now?’

It’s something we almost uniquely project onto sex workers, because we need it to be empowering for them, to challenge our ideas that they’re probably just victims anyway.

Yes, it’s empowering. It’s a job. We make money. We support ourselves. That’s fucking power.

It’s something I find very common as a sex worker that people need me to quell their own concerns they have with themselves by reminding them it’s not just work, it’s also some performative feminism. Like, it’s a job.

Sure, you can find feminism in it, you can find empowerment in it, but you can find that in a lot of places. Just let me do my fucking job, you know?

She Has Almost No Time For Friends Anymore

Ela Darling: I’m pretty much always either working, or on camera, or both.

I have a little VR robot camera in my living room that’s on 24 hours a day. I do an hourlong broadcast every night in my studio. I’m working always. So I really don’t see my friends that much. Which is a bummer. I haven’t played ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in like two months.

I don’t see people a lot. Most of my friendships are online at this point.

The Sex Dork: Is that fulfilling?

Ela Darling: It is. It is. When it comes to social interaction, previously, it was primarily based on geographic proximity. You’re friends with the people around you, because they’re the people who are around you, right?

Now, with the Internet and social media, I think a lot of relationships — even if you never meet face-to-face in meet space — you are connected through many more mutual interests, and shared experiences, that you wouldn’t necessarily have with people that are just in proximity to you.

I think that can lead to deeper, more compelling friendships.

Virtual Reality Porn Is Good For People

Ela Darling: My co-founder and I created the first-ever live-VR webcam platform. So I’m the world’s first VR camgirl. And a real driving factor behind that was: Loneliness has serious physiological impacts on someone’s life.

I read a study — take it with a grain of salt — that implied that loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes.

We are increasingly more isolated. I think having an experience where you can feel a human connection, where you can talk to someone, where you can feel a sense of reciprocal interests, is something that can be very positive for people in their lives.

Sex Robots Also Alleviate Loneliness

The Sex Dork: So you know sex robots.

Ela Darling: Yes. So I work for PVR.fun. It’s an adult VR headset. We (were) sharing a booth (at the AVN porn convention) with a company called MissDoll, and they do incredibly realistic replicas of pornstars, and I got to see them. It’s uncanny. It’s so cool.

They offered to make one of me, just a one-off, so I can stick it in the front seat and drive in the HOA lane, I guess? Have this weird humanoid in my house forever that I’m paying rent on?

They serve a really good purpose for the people who desire them.

For a lot of people, something like that can fill a void or a need that is going to bring them a lot of fulfillment, and diminish their loneliness, and give them an outlet that is just right for them.

I don’t think something like that is going to replace human interaction, or sex. We’ve been doing that for a very long time, and we’re not going to stop. But I think it can be supplemental.

Ela Darling: I went to a dinner party once where there were two people who had very deep, passionate relationships with dolls.

And one of the guys showed me photos of his wife, and she was a doll and … she was his wife. And that’s what was right for him.

And it was an unusual experience, but I would never want to diminish someone else’s thing that makes them happy, and gives them joy.

Librarians are fucking punk rock

Ela Darling: Librarians are amazing. They serve a community. For people with master’s degrees, they make on average about 10 to 15 grand less than the average job that requires a master’s degree. These people are doing it because they love it. They believe in what they do. They believe in free access to information. They believe in giving people the right to learn and to consume information. Intellectual freedom is something that’s paramount to librarians.

And librarians have gone to fucking jail for your right to consume information. The FBI even noted that radical militant librarians were making their jobs really hard, when they came into libraries and demanded patron records, and lists of people who checked out certain books.

And librarians were like:

‘Uh, actually, shove it. No. No, we’re not doing that.’

How fucking punk rock is that? That’s amazing.


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Watch previous interviews with:

Ela Darling — ‪https://youtu.be/SvvJ8Ni88VE ‬

Sofia Rose — https://youtube.com/watch?v=mFHdPuhR7_E

Venus Noire — https://youtube.com/watch?v=ONZqBF0pNgM

Whitney Wright — https://youtu.be/mAjW_7wJQYA

Taylor Stevens — ‪https://youtube.com/watch?v=gEZoOdMDNxs‬

Cory Chase — https://youtu.be/O1KYJITKfOc