Big Ideas: An Interview with Mona Wales
By: P. Weasels
Mona: Hi, it's Mona here!
NT: Hi, Mona - how are you? What are you up to today?
Mona: Im super good!! Busy - gonna have some people over soon to shoot trade, do cam shows and stuff.
NT: I don't know if you remember me, but we've met a few times.
Mona: I remember you. You wrote my favorite review of my porn ever!
NT: I did? Which one?
Mona: About "Aiden Starr's Bisexual Pick-Ups" where you said something like “Mona Wales could pass pretty much anywhere as a normal girl, until she opens her mouth,” and I laughed so hard. Because in a way it's totally true but the truth is I am anything but.
NT: Well, you can! from a distance, you look so...wholesome.
Mona: And then I start talking and acting like a total freak weirdo
NT: But a well-organized one. You seem like you've got your shit together, which is why it's always a pleasure to talk to you.
Mona: Yeah, that's been the real thrust of my 20s - I spent it as a crazy bitch just trying to keep her shit together. Now that I'm 30 I think I've found the balance between organization and insanity, at least for the moment.
NT: Did you find there was a definite point where that happened, or was it a long process?
Mona: I think that finding the right partner had a lot to do with it. I have also committed my life to minimalism and having as few distractions and possessions as possible. Also, abandoning any hope of ever being employed again, I'm my own boss, so I have to keep myself in line or all of this butthole-on-the-internet thing is for nothing.
NT: When you say "hope of being employed" it sounds like you had some kind of goal at one point, but that it was dashed. Did you want to be a particular thing that you can't be now?
Mona: I really tried to make it in academia but things got in the way. I don’t think that pornography and academia are completely opposed, but the reality is that after you have chosen to do pornography, certain employment options are off the table.
NT: Well, San Francisco is probably the best place in the world to try to fuse porn and academia, but it seems like you're doing fine in porn. Maybe once you've got solid footing and some stability, you can take another crack at it.
Mona: You are right. I applied and was accepted to a local college but I'm going to defer because right now I am really happy with pornography.
NT: You seem like you have some big ideas, and every time I see one of your movies, I think "well, there's something you don't see every day."
Mona: I try. Pornography is an amazing tool for expressing novel ideas, because it's a mass media that is relatively easy to break into, and you can test out new ideas because there is really no way to fail at making porn. As long as you have some hot sex, you can say anything you want about it. And someone is going to buy it and some people will understand the deeper significance, but that isn’t a requirement for enjoyment
NT: It helps if you're as distinctive a personality as Mona Wales, though.
Mona: I don’t know how distinctive my “Mona Wales” personality is; I think it's something like “basic bitch tries some weird shit.” That should be my website's tagline.
NT: I think that, while it's not totally inaccurate, that's probably the least flattering way to describe it.
Mona: what would you say?
NT: You're like an elementary particle that sheds ideas instead of gamma rays.
Mona: I definitely like yours better.
NT: Every time we've talked, you've just been this whirligig of potential, and every time I see a Mona Wales movie, you're doing something completely different to the last one I saw, which is so unusual in porn. You've been doing some directing, right?
Mona: Some, I would like to do more. "Real Fucking Girls" was my first big production and first DVD. I think porn direction is 90% production, getting the right people in the right place and letting these highly skilled individuals do what they do best. This is where organization is key. I cast the movie first, and built characters, and the story on who they actually are. Getting the word out about "Real Fucking Girls" is my biggest priority right now, because it's far and away the thing I am most proud of. It's a pornified version of the models' real life lesbian hookups, so every girl in the film got to tell a story or write the script for her scene, pulled from real life experience. It was shot by Aja Porn, an amazingly talented local videographer, and edited by Lilith Lux, who also shot a documentary about the making of our movie. Siouxsie Q edited and advised on the scripts.
NT: it has great music, too!
Mona: Super great music! Jane Starr and I actually recorded a punkish theme song that we ended up not using because the music Lilith selected was so great. It was a deeply personal project, and I cast many of my real-life friends in it, so Natassia Dreams’s scene is based on some of our shared experiences at award shows; the scene with Aubrey Kate and Daisy Ducati is based on the time that Daisy and I bought our first Louboutins together. There is a lot of Mona in the movie, and I even make a cameo in it briefly to snort faux cocaine off of Lilith Lux’s tits. But the intention of this film isn't for it to be about me, but to allow the performers to speak for themselves, which is why Lilith's documentary is so important.
NT: The style and colors and the feel of it reminds me a little, just the way it looks, of some of Kimberly Kane's directing work.
Mona: What a compliment. I love her work! Thank you. Aja is super-talented at lighting, so some of the scenes are just incredibly vivid. My set designer Echo November did a crazy amazing job with the sets too. I feel like female directors - Kimberly Kane, Dana Vespoli, Maitresse Madeline, and Belladonna all bring an amazing attention to detail, and I hope to carry on in there tradition. Vibrant, jewel toned, hyper reality, dreamscape - that's all Aja; I can't take credit for that. "Real Fucking Girls" is a lesbian movie; it's definitely a female friendly piece of porn - it was made entirely by women, but we're trying on one level to expand the audience and consumer base for Transsexual - straight dudes love it, but why not chicks also?
NT: Do you think TS content is more taboo for women than it is for straight guys?
Mona: I don’t know the answer to that question.
NT: Me either, but I think being any kind of woman involves more difficult politics than being most kinds of men.
Mona: You are so right. But within the lesbian scene I have run into some pushback, so thats kind of another reason I made this film. I am really motivated by ideas, so if I have a good one I will stop at nothing to see it play itself out. After three years, I don’t even feel like I am working when I make porn, because I always have this new idea I am chasing down.
NT: What else are you chasing down now?
Mona: A couple of ideas. I've gotten amazing access to some bitchin' film equipment, so I just wrapped on a series of drone porn shoots. It's like watching people fuck from god's point of view, and its really spectacular. Finding applications for new technology is always awesome.
NT: Porn is good for that
Mona: Porn is also good for breaking down social norms and problems - sex negativity, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia - because porn can reach people in very intimate situations when their guard is down and their pants are off. In my opinion, porn is morally neutral - it's neither inherently good or bad; it's about how you use it. That's true both in the consumption and the production of pornography.
NT: Do you have other things you want to direct, things that you want to tackle when you're more experienced?
Mona: I do. I have an idea for a historical/literary epic. I really want to re-create Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" as a work of pornography. Also I want to merge gonzo journalism with gonzo pornography and travel the country ala Hunter S. Thompson, and follow the election cycle.
NT: That would be perfect for porn; I'd love to see some good gonzo with a social backbone. Like "Borat," only important.
Mona: I know right? I have some ideas... I just need a little skrill and skill. I already shot a little bit of it, while I was down in LA for the California Democratic convention, and it's pretty spectacular, like a woman getting her ass eaten while discussing why she won’t vote for Hillary.
NT: We talked once about 60's cinema, I think - stuff like Faster Pussycat, Russ Meyer - and then I just saw you in "Honey Loving Hustlers," which sounds like what we were talking about.
Mona: We did. I was able to get into that stuff while shooting for the Cruel Romance series.
NT: how much did you have to do with the concept and execution of that?
Mona: Not very much; the director has a very clear vision and script, which is great. If someone is doing an idea you can really get behind, it's so much easier to just show up and perform.
NT: did you just luck into someone who was doing what you wanted to do, or were you behind it in any way?
Mona: Luck and putting it out there, talking to people, researching companies and porn producers. Malcolm, who directs Cruel Romance, understands the history and legacy of exploitation film so much more than I do. I have been lucky to be surrounded by super talented filmmakers that have given me this amazing education.
NT: Is Cruel Romance a project you're involved in on an ongoing basis, or were you just in the one?
Mona: I was in two. But pre-production for the third coincided with the production of “Real Fucking Girls” so I had to back out.
NT: you seem like you're interested in every part of the business; is that true?
Mona: That's very true. I have learned so much from this industry - how to use a camera, edit, light, market, website design, SEO, how to lobby politicians - it's quite an education. It's all interesting.
NT: Why did you have to lobby politicians?
Mona: It has to do with the upcoming OSHA hearings and fighting Prop 60, the condom mandate.
NT: Are you an activist regarding other forms of sex work, or mostly for porn?
Mona: I would like to say I am an activist but I am more of a slacktivist. I feel more passionate about sex worker rights than I do about protecting the porn industry, but sometimes our interests are aligned like Prop 60 and Cal OSHA. People like Siouxsie Q and Lorelei Lee are definitely my heroes.
NT: So there's "Cruel Romance," and "Real Fucking Girls." What else do we look for with Mona in it, or what has just come out that we should run out and buy?
Mona: There's a new Grooby DVD directed by Buddy Wood called "Tranny Vice," I believe. and I have been doing tons of Whipped Ass and Electrosluts; I believe Kink.com is releasing a DVD collection of scenes from my European Public Disgrace shoots. That's another thing… i learned how to speak Spanish from Public Disgrace.
NT: I was about to mention the Public Disgrace stuff.
Mona: Yeah, Let's talk about that!
NT: You've done a lot of work for Kink - both sub and dom, right?
Mona: Many, many scenes. I started shooting for Kink and I will continue to shoot for them as long as they'll have me. Yes, I'm a switch and I love being on both sides.
NT: Do you have to get into different moods for that, or is it a matter of going in and seeing how the land lies?
Mona: Well, you get booked a month in advance and assigned your sexual role in the scene, so I try to get into the headspace in the days leading up to the shoot. Especially for me to bottom - my default sexual setting is more toppy.
NT: Have you ever found yourself in the completely wrong mood?
Mona: Yeah, but it's professional BDSM, not lifestyle, so you grow up and take it and put on a good show. But it's funny - for comparison, if you want to watch the Sadistic Rope shoot I did after being called in without time to mentally prepare. I am a snarky little cunt the whole time, but if you watch my most recent Device Bondage shoot, I had time to talk myself into the headspace, and I am totally into it and not resistant and I take tons of punishment.
NT: What else do we want to know about Mona and what Mona's up to?
Mona: Let's see - today I am shooting for my website, monawalesxxx.com, which has everything from me fucking Ingrid Mouth dressed as a panda in a public laundromat, to lots of femdom content to a lesbian orgy in slime, and I update at least once a week but frequently more, just because I am a content monster. I love shooting porn. But I also continue to session as a pro domme because I believe in-person work is the heart and soul of sex work.
NT: Oh, I didn't know you did that.
Mona: Oh, yeah, that's how I started down this rabbit hole of depravity.
NT: Can people arrange that through your site?
Mona: Not my porn site, but my personal website - monawales.com - has a slave application, or folks can just email me. I do have a lot of personal interaction on my member site, monthly cam shows and many ways that my fans can commission custom pornography.
NT: You have an affiliate site with us, right? And the member site and personal site are different ones?
Mona: monawales.com is the affiliate site, so all of my recent shoots, blog entries, and photos are listed there along with my Gamelink store, and my member site is monawalesxxx.com and that’s weekly homemade smut and cam shows. I do all of the things.
NT: Awesome! Anything else you want to talk about?
Mona: I think I'm good! It's time for me to go make the porns.
NT: Thanks for your time, and best of luck!
Mona: Have a great day.