by C. Mellides
SexHerald:I know that you’ve made California your home, but where are you from originally?
Tia Tanaka: Well, I wasn’t born here. I was born in Indonesia. I lived there for a few months, after my mom gave birth to me. Then we lived in New York for about four or five years. That was the first place my mother and I lived in when we first came to America and then we went to California after.
SH: When did you get your start in the adult business and what made you want to get involved in it?
Tanaka: I started in, I think it was 2005 or 2006. I just graduated high school and I had a friend that was in the business. I kind of found myself needing money, so she offered me some work and I just did some of it. I ended up liking it and just doing a lot more of it after that.
SH: And this friend was Kitty, right?
Tanaka: Yes. This was Kitty.
SH: And was Jasmine Mai also involved in your decision making? I think you went to school with both of them, right?
Tanaka: Yes! Yeah, we went to school together; we all knew each other. Jasmine wasn’t in the business, but I knew she was kind of involved in it in a little way. We’re just friends. We’re all friends.
SH: Are you still friends to this day?
Tanaka: Yes, we are. I talk to Kitty almost every day, she’s one of my good friends and Jasmine and I talk every now and then. So, yeah.
SH: If I remember correctly, your first scene was shot for Anabolic. You took on three guys at once. What was that experience like?
Tanaka: It was actually really scary and a bit overwhelming for me, but I was young and I could’ve said yes to anything. It could’ve been five guys and I probably would have said yes.
SH: After shooting that scene for Anabolic, did you go right back to work or did you have doubts at first as to whether this was what you really wanted to do?
Tanaka: I stopped and just thought about it and thought if this was something that I really wanted to do. At first, I was very hesitant because I thought everyone I knew was going to see this. I didn’t know what they would think of it, especially my family. So, I took a little time to think and I don’t know what I was thinking at the time, but I just said that I’d do it again and then the funny thing is, it just kept happening. Even though there were times that I didn’t like it and times that I did, I just kept going.
SH: Being in porn, have you received any harsh criticism from people in your personal life?
Tanaka: Oh yeah, of course. I actually feel like I’ve lost some friends. Parents of my friends found out and the parents told them not to hang out with me anymore. Yeah, that was one of the negative aspects of it.
SH: Did this sort of criticism come within the first couple of months of being filmed? Or did they catch on after a certain scene?
Tanaka: Surprisingly, people found out within a couple of months, when something of me came out on the Internet. I guess the video started circulating around and everyone that I knew eventually saw it.
SH: In 2006, you attended college where you studied psychology. Did you find adjusting to campus life challenging? Considering that you were a student who also happened to be in the adult film industry.
Tanaka: Yes. It was really hard. It got to the point where I feared for my own safety because I’d walk around campus alone and I didn’t have many friends that had the same schedule as me. So, it was really scary and so that’s what made me drop out of college.
SH: Did you ever go back?
Tanaka: Yes. I went back and I’m currently in school. I’m picking up where I left off and I started recently, actually.
SH: When you were new to college, were there people in certain circles that found out that you were involved in pornography? Did you face some sort of a stigma from that?
Tanaka: Yes. The things that I did in the business, I don’t like talking to people who don’t really know about it. I feel that they’re passing judgment on me or they might feel sorry for me. I don’t know, I just didn’t want any of that. And, I found a lot of people seemed fascinated with what I was doing and I started avoiding people in general. I didn’t want to know what they thought of me.
SH: Do you still have that sort of attitude or has it changed over the years?
Tanaka: It’s changed a lot. I think that since I stopped doing work it’s not as bad as it used to be, or maybe people just aren’t saying anything to me.
SH: You starred in quite a few interracial movies including Red Light District’s Black Dicks in Asian Chicks 3, Candy Shop’s Afro Invasion 3 and 6, and Vouyer Media’s Frosty Finish where you were involved in a blowbang. With that said, do you prefer working with an all-black cast and what is it like starring in these movies?
Tanaka: When I first got in the business, a lot of people told me not to do interracial and that it was just bad for my image and that a lot of negative things will happen and I thought that this was really stupid. I’ve done quite a number of interracial stuff, but I’ve also done a lot of scenes that weren’t interracial and I think I’ve done more non-interracial scenes than interracial, actually. I don’t prefer to work with an all-interracial cast. I like working with guys that I'm comfortable with and that at the time I could build a friendship with.
SH: Are there any of those older performers you’d like to work with again in the future?
Tanaka: Well, I don’t know if I can say that right now. I haven’t done a scene in about a year and a half, maybe a little bit more than that. I’m just at this point in my life where I don’t feel like I need to do that anymore and if I was to do it, it wouldn't be now.
SH: So, you don’t want to dive back into the porn industry?
Tanaka: Yeah. Not right now.
SH: What are some of the reasons for that?
Tanaka: Mainly, my family and I think I’ve got everything that I needed from porn. I made money and I made friends and some of these people I still talk to and I’m still friends with. And with the money I made, I’m taking care of myself and my family and I have a good job and I don’t see myself getting into porn. But, I did do something with Katsuni recently for her website. It was with her and her boyfriend and we did a scene together and I guess if I was to do a future scene it would be very selective and with people that I’m very comfortable. That (scene) was probably the last thing that I did. I don’t think I need to do scenes as much anymore because I feel that I have done so much and I’ve really paid my dues. A lot of other non-porn related work has been coming actually and it’s been good. I just recently did work for Spike TV’s “Guy's TV Choice Awards” and it was a porn-ish type of skit, but it was really fun.
SH: What was that whole thing about?
Tanaka: It was just a funny skit for Spike TV. It was based on the government giving porn a bailout. They had Eric Roberts in it and Bree Olsen was in it as well.
SH: While you were still in the industry, were you nominated for anything? Did you win any awards?
Tanaka: I remember when I was in the business, my agent was always trying to get me to the AVN Awards, but I just really wasn’t involved with it at the time. I know I was nominated for a couple of things for AVN. Some sort of group scene or something and I heard that I was also best Asian starlet for the Adam Film World Awards.
SH: That was in 2007?
Tanaka: Yeah. I was also a favorite Rookie Nominee for the FAME Awards. So, I know those are there. [laughs]
SH: Is there anything that we haven’t discussed that you would like to talk about?
Tanaka: I don’t think so. I can’t think of anything right now at the moment. [laughs]
SH: Earlier you mentioned that you’re going on an indefinite hiatus from the porn industry. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Tanaka: I want to be a writer. I changed my major. [laughs] I changed it to English literature.
SH: So, you went from Psychology to English literature?
Tanaka: Yeah, I changed. Psychology was getting a little too hard. I want to write and hopefully I’ll write a book one day. BehindtheSceneswithTiaTanaka