We wanted to interview Joanna Storm since we started The Rialto Report. She was a small California blonde who became an A-list star in New York in the early 1980s – both as an adult film performer and a featured dancer. Behind Joanna’s happy-go-lucky exterior was a wild and crazy party girl. For a short while, she was everywhere – from magazine spreads to roles in films like The Devil in Miss Jones Part II (1982), Puss ‘n Boots (1982), All American Girls (1982), Maneaters (1983), Every Man’s Fantasy (1983), Babylon Blue (1983), Aphrodesia’s Diary (1983), Sexcapades (1983), Alexandra (1983), Firestorm (1984), Great Sexpectations (1984), and Throat… 12 Years After (1984).
But within five years, she returned to California and disappeared into every day life, just like so many adult film stars who reach the end of their career. Then something unusual happened – in the late 2000s, Joanna Storm made a comeback. In her 50s, she appeared in new magazine layouts and adult films.
So who was Joanna Storm, where did she come from, where did she go, and why did she come back?
This was meant to be a podcast, but nowadays Joanna lives in a rural area without Wi-Fi or a computer. We recorded a lengthy interview with her but felt the audio quality wasn’t quite good enough. Instead we’ve transcribed the interview and have inserted a selection of articles and photographs from her career.
Joanna Storm – Beginnings
I want to start at the beginning and find out about your upbringing. You were born in San Diego, right?
Yes. I was born and raised in San Diego, California. My mom and dad adopted me when I was four days old because they couldn’t have any children. My adoptive mom died when I was five years old.
After that it was just me and my dad. Although to be honest it was mostly other people who looked after me over the years, as my dad wasn’t often around.
Did you ever meet your birth parents?
I met my birth father for lunch one day on my 21st birthday. That was the only time I saw him.
So you didn’t stay in touch with him after?
He didn’t want that, no. He had his own life, and he didn’t want his wife or his family to know about me. But he wanted to have lunch with me just once – to meet me and have a chance to explain. I guess he’d been living with that weighing on him for a long time. I don’t know what the hell he got out of having lunch. I was fucked up and hung over because it was my 21st birthday, so I wasn’t in any shape to have a proper conversation. I was like, “Who are you, and what do you want?”
What did he say?
He said, “I don’t ever want you to call me or talk to me again. But I’m your real father and I just wanted to explain that I didn’t want to marry the person that I impregnated.”
I do remember his last name, and I’m still curious about him. I mean, I don’t know if I’m German… or Jewish?
What are some of your earliest memories?
The strangest thing is that one of my first memories from when I was very young, around the age of five, was being in this apartment with lots of girls, little girls who looked like me. The adults were fixing them all up and making them look pretty. And I wonder to this day if this was some kind of underground market for little kids for people to adopt. It was weird.
How old were you when you knew that you were adopted? Did your adoptive father tell you early on?
Yes, he told me very early. He had a difficult life. He was a bootlegger at a young age because his father had killed his mother in Tennessee, so he and his brother became outcasts.
My father went into the military when he was fifteen, and he was in the navy for twenty years. After that, he did a bit of everything. He really had a crazy life. He worked as a detective, a bodyguard for the mafia and the Beatles when they came over here. He was also involved with the KKK, and he was a mason and he was just…
Wait, what? This is getting crazy. Hold on! We’ve got to slow down. First of all, what was your father’s personality like?
I don’t know if I never really got to know him that well. He was never around for long enough.
So who took care of you when you were growing up?
My father married a number of times. He married a Mexican woman that he then divorced. She was a sheriff who had four kids, and she used to beat me up all the time. Over the years, my dad sent me to live with every nationality of family. A black family, a Japanese family, a Catholic family with eight kids. When I was in sixth grade, he met somebody about 25 years younger than him, and so he sent me off to Arizona to stay with some people there for while. When I came back, he’d decided to marry that young woman.
Are any of these people still around?
No one is alive any longer. I have no blood relations left apart from my three daughters.
So all these people that he was sending you off to stay with, how did he know them?
He just dropped me off with whoever, you know? It was just his way of doing things.
Sounds like a pretty volatile upbringing…
That’s right. I never knew what a mother or a father or a regular family upbringing was all about. I never knew until I had my three daughters.
Did you have many half-brothers or sisters?
When I was around 30 years old, I get this letter in the mail stating, “You have a blood half-sister, who just died of a rare breast cancer.” Apparently, she had been diagnosed and died very shortly afterwards. So that’s how I found out I had a half-sister. Apart from her, who knows?
Who wrote you that letter?
The government, I think. The only reason it was sent to me was because I could be carrying the same gene for this rare cancer. But what a way to find out, huh?
Yeah, really. So what were you like as a little girl?
I was a little brat. I was a tomboy. I was just in my own world and did my own thing. I was very athletic. I used to ride horses. I liked roller-skating, bicycling, dare-devil stuff. And beating up little kids, especially other little girls!
You were a bit of a bully…
Yeah, if you didn’t want to play what I wanted to play, I’d throw you in the rose bushes and tell you that you couldn’t play with me anymore. I would do things that I wasn’t supposed to. Nobody could tell me what to do. I didn’t care. I just didn’t care.
I’m guessing you got no support out of the school system. Did you just fall through the cracks?
No one ever really paid attention to me. I’d often hide out and not go home. At first, my stepmother would hit the streets and look for me. She’d get my German shepherd, and that damn dog would find me every time, no matter where I went!
Did you have friends or people you felt close to when you were a child?
No one. Eventually I left home when my adoptive dad married his last wife – the one that was much younger. They moved to a new town outside of San Diego. I left home when I was 13 and started growing up on the streets. I went and gave myself at transfer out of high school, and I just hit the road.
That sounds tough. Did you feel like a woman already? Had you already started to develop physically?
Oh, quite well. By sixth grade, I had large boobs, probably a size C. And I wasn’t even sexual or anything at that time.
Did you feel attractive?
No, no. Not really. I remember the first time trying to have sex and it was awkward. It didn’t happen.
The first time it did happen was at one of my dad’s girlfriends’ house. I walked out one night naked with a big coat on, and went to this high school guy’s house and snuck in through his window. When I lost my virginity that night, I screamed so loud that his mother came in and kicked me out!
Was this a boy you knew from school, or from the streets?
Just from the streets. I thought he was cute. Then I was raped at age 13 by one of my dad’s wives relatives.
I’m so sorry. That’s terrible… Did drugs or alcohol play a part in your life?
I’ve always done drugs and alcohol. I started when I was 13. I was making angel dust, and selling weed to the sailors on the pier. And transporting machine guns…
Wait, wait. Transporting machine guns?
Yes, across the border. My father set that up. He was behind these situations that I kept falling into. Many times it was like a life or death situation… I ran into mobsters, banditos… some really bad situations.
With no one looking out for you?
I got together with this one guy, and we got married. I was 15, he was 17. My dad was totally fine with it because everything else I was doing was terrible and against the law.
Even though you were so young to get married?
Yes, in fact my father took us to get married.
Once you got married, where did you live?
My husband and I lived together for a short while, and then we had some pretty big busts. My dad set up a drug bust and my guy got arrested. He ended up in prison with Charles Manson.
Was this somebody you were in love with?
No, we were just surviving together on the streets.
Joanna Storm – On The Road
And so when your husband goes to prison, did you split up?
I don’t even know what happened to him. I just left town. For some reason, I started off in Cody, Wyoming. It was 15 miles outside of Yellowstone National Park. It was a cute little town. And you only had to be 18 to drink there. I went there and I started bar-tending. I just was fooling around with every guy. Just sex, sex, sex, sex.
You enjoyed the sex.
Yes, but I got a lot of STDs. The funny thing was that when I went into the porn industry, I never really caught anything. But when I was traveling around… I really did.
How long did you stay in Wyoming?
Not too long. I made some friends, and they told me about all these oil drilling areas down in Texas. So we all went there. There was my girlfriend and her brother and all these guys and me. When we got there we worked at a bar called The Water Hole where we just sold the set-ups. Basically ice, cups of soda, non-alcoholic beer, stuff like that – and the customers would bring the alcohol. We had the time of our lives there. Money was plentiful. You just go ding – and the cash register opened up…
So who were the customers?
It was all the men working in the oil fields. It was men galore.
And you were having fun…
Oh my God, yeah. That’s putting it mildly. We were having a hell of a time. Money was not a problem. The guys were working so hard, and coming home covered in oil. And we’d run and jump on their beds and throw their money in the air. There was tons of it because there were no other women in the town. It was just us!
Where did you live?
In a little trailer or something. It was like the hippie days.
Eventually everybody went their own way. I got in my car and drove to Houston, Texas. I saw an ad in the newspaper for a new bar that was opening, and I applied for a job there as a waitress. The owner liked me, and he said, “I’ll hire you as a waitress but, you know, how would you feel about showing your breasts? You could make much more money.”
My reaction was… damn, really? No problem! So that’s where I first started dancing. After that I just traveled around on the dance circuit. I danced in Texas, Washington state, Alaska. I couldn’t believe how much money they gave you if you just took off your clothes. I was having a great time.
Then I started helping this guy open up new clubs. On place in particular, I remember, was in San Ysidro. It was like a discotheque, a real fancy place. Very close to the Tijuana boarder.
How old were you when you started stripping?
Eventually I went back home and danced in San Diego, and of course you had to be 21 there, so somebody busted me. To be honest, I was always getting 86’d out of clubs. The cops would come in and put me in handcuffs and escort me out of the place for doing something I shouldn’t be doing.
Didn’t you work in a nude magic act in Las Vegas around this time?
Yes! When I was dancing underage in San Diego, right next door there was a poker house. The mafia owned it. They wanted to get into Vegas. They would launder their money by opening up restaurants. They offered me a job in Vegas so I went with them, and started working in a little place with a nude magician. To be honest I didn’t really care for it, but we worked our way up to some of the more elite hotels.
I also read that you were in a CBS documentary called Perfect 11 – about a beauty contest in Vegas?
Yes, that was a take-off on the Bo Derek film at the time. I didn’t win the contest. I’m a tiny person, just five feet tall, so I didn’t stand out at all, but I had a lot of fun behind the scenes.
So you lived in Vegas for a while?
Yes, I moved there but not for very long. When I realized it was a mafia town and they owned me after they set me up in a place, I wanted to get the hell out of there. So I packed up and went back to San Diego for a while to get myself together before taking off all over again.
And how do you go from stripping to the adult film business?
This club owner in San Diego told me he wanted to take me to an audition for a movie in Los Angeles. He said he thought I’d be perfect for it. He offered to drive me there – but he asked for one thing in return: He said. “You’re probably going to forget about me, but if you become famous, I want your last name to be Storm. She was one of the first and most famous strippers.”
So I said okay.
We went out there and they asked me to read these lines… and I just read them. I didn’t know what the heck was going on.
How did it feel to be reading lines and performing?
I didn’t get it at first. But I’ve always been a working girl and it was very easy and fun. I got a kick out of it. I usually had more fun behind the scenes than on set because I was just a pretty wild and crazy girl. Plus I’m an exhibitionist, I loved it. It was even more exciting than being on stage.
Did you know it was going to be a pornographic film?
Yeah, yeah. It didn’t bother me. I figured it would be a piece of cake after doing the dancing. Plus the dancing had started to get old, so I was looking to do something different. I moved to L.A.
How did you get on after you moved there?
Great. I did so many magazine layouts. I had so many different looks that I used. Plus I was young, I was new, and I just hit that world at the right time.
Do you remember what the first film was that you made?
I’m not sure. I think it was with Ron Jeremy. I was in an apartment and it was called The Casting Couch, I think. I’m sure if you look at it today, you could so tell it was my first one. I had no idea what I was doing…
Is it true that you decided to continue to make movies because you were thinking about raising money for a clothing business?
Yes, that’s true. Theatrical clothing. Costumes for movies and that type of thing. I wanted to start a place that would supply props or wardrobe for a historic picture, or for a western. The strange thing is that it’s almost come full circle… recently I started falling right back into that type of business. I purchased a sewing machine, and I’m buying all kinds of neat, pretty things from China. I hope to start doing simple patterns and clothing that make women feel feminine.
At the time, did you set a goal for yourself to say, “I’ll earn this much money through film and then I’ll stop doing films and I’ll start this business?”
Oh no, no. Life was just a party every day. It was just too much. No, I abandoned that idea quickly. I didn’t care about money. I just lived free, wild and crazy.
Joanna Storm – In New York
Pretty soon you showed up in New York…
Yes, and by the time I went to New York, I had really got back into dancing again. I put together an act with costumes and songs that I’d pick. I had a name by this stage so I was a feature dancer on 42nd Street.
Was the dancing in New York different from the other places you’d worked?
You bet. For a start, I quickly realized the audience got to give pussy licks for $1!
Was that at the Melody Burlesk?
Yes. I was so excited! I said, “You gotta be kidding me?!”
As a featured dancer, I wasn’t expected to do this – but I wanted to try it so I went and disguised myself. I lay on the stage, and sure enough, one lick! When a guy tried for more, I kicked the motherfucker back!
When they realized who I was, I had a line that went outside the goddamn building. It was crazy. Those days were some of my best times, I have to say. And then, I started doing live sex shows, and live masturbation on stage.
Yeah, I stayed with them. My nickname was ‘Baby’, because I was the baby in the industry there. Tiffany was my best friend, or least my best girlfriend. I slept many a night with Tiffany and Fred, they were wonderful people.
They were active on the swinging scene do. Did you ever go along with them?
Yes! We used to go to Plato’s Retreat often, and Hellfire too. I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t believe what was going on at these places… I mean somewhere you go in the middle of the night, which has a large swimming pool, a dance floor you can dance naked on, and orgy rooms. I’m both an exhibitionist and a voyeur, and I really loved watching people so I looked through these peep holes at what was going on. I was trying out all these roles. Like… what can I do next?!
I liked to go on Monday nights. That was the only night that single men could get in, so you’d get these inexperienced guys. It was hilarious watching them. They were so desperate to get laid. Once I saw this pretty girl take a young guy into a little room. She was beautiful. When she took off her clothes, she had a cock. The guy came running out in a blind panic. And I watched it all through the peepholes.
And they had this buffet of food of anything you want to eat!
You mentioned Hellfire club too, but that was at the other end of scale… For a start, there was no buffet!
I know, but I loved it. It was so dirty and sleazy. For a start it was in a dangerous area of town and you felt in danger just getting to it. It was underground and dark too – which made it even scarier.
What sort of thing would you do there?
You could do anything and everything. Golden showers, people who wanted to be slaves, live shows, whipping, tying up, fisting. Anything. But all with willing partners. All consensual.
One thing I loved doing was putting a leash on a collar around a guy’s neck. Then I’d walk him around, and get him to lick the heel of my shoe. I’d like people to watch me. You took part in other people’s fantasies and they’d take part in yours.
So after years on the road, you seemed to find your groove when you moved to New York…
Oh yeah, once I got to New York, that’s when I really started living. This was in about 1982. The west coast was all very boring. You can’t even compare the two. I loved New York. It was full of places you shouldn’t go, and streets you shouldn’t walk down. The amazing night life. I did a magazine layout with Motorhead covered in motor oil, and I was tied up to an engine hoist against a brick wall in an empty building. Then I was taken to the premiere of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’. And Studio 54 had just opened up, so I went there a lot. It was phenomenal.
Later on, I ended up at a recording studio. This band, called ‘The Sporting Bachelors’, dedicated a whole album to me. I was on the cover and the back.
It was great although I don’t even remember a lot of what happened, to be honest. That’s how fucked up I was.
And when you say fucked up, is it because you were doing a lot of drugs at the time?
Oh yeah. Cocaine. Smoking crack. I just lived life on the edge. I wasn’t struggling emotionally, I was just having a ball.
Did you have any boyfriends at the time?
Oh no, honey. I wouldn’t have known what to do with a boyfriend.
What was the New York adult film scene like – especially compared to California?
Well, everybody knew everybody. If you did one thing wrong, they’d mark you out of the whole industry. They were very close knit.
On the west coast, everything was spread out, so to get work you had to go through an agent. In New York, I was my own agent. I would just put on my pumps and walk the streets. I even went out for straight stuff, and regular magazine shoots. And I always got work. One job after the other. It was easy.
Did you think, “This is my career now. I’ll throw myself into it”?
When I do something, I go all the way. There’s no holding back on anything.
What was the first New York film you remember making?
I think that would be All American Girls. That had a big budget. We went to the Singer sewing machine mansion to shoot it. The house was extraordinary. It was a huge mansion.
You were in some pretty big budget and popular films.
Yes – and what stands out most was the tour through Europe when we filmed … In the Pink. I had to plead for that one. I was at the director’s studio as I was staying there for a while. Eventually they gave me the part, and I was able to go. They started off in Egypt and I met them in Europe. That was fun.
Was that your first time overseas?
Yeah, it sure was. It was unreal. We went on the gondolas in Venice. We went to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Then we stayed in these castles in Germany and Austria.
I actually got really ill during the trip. I had pneumonia and bronchitis because we were constantly traveling, but it didn’t stop me enjoying it. I mean who goes to different countries in Europe to make a porno today?
How much of the shooting was done when you were in Europe compared to in studios back in New York?
That’s a good question. We weren’t allowed to come back into the U.S. with any sex scenes, so we didn’t shoot the actual sex when we were touring Europe. That was all shot back in New York – but not all of it was shot in studios… for example we did a sex scene in Central Park in New York in the middle of the day.
What was that like?
It was exciting because it’s such a forbidden thing to do. And I like that. Whatever I’m not supposed to be doing, that’s what I would be doing.
How different did you find Europe to the U.S.?
Sex is a whole other thing in Europe. They look at nudity as art, rather than being dirty or nasty or in the closet. It’s totally different. When I took my top off there, people applauded.
Did that concern you back in the U.S.? Did you ever feel ‘dirty’ as a dancer or porn actress?
No. I never felt dirty. I liked it. In fact, when I walked down Broadway and saw my name in lights at three different theaters, it was like being a movie star. The only difference was that I took my clothes off and I actually had intercourse on film. And the premieres were fun too. I walked the red carpet and I was always in limousines. So no, I didn’t feel dirty.
My view of sex has always been that it’s a very natural part of life. That’s what humans do. That’s what animals do. Why be ashamed of it? I also believe that it’s important for men to have a sexual release. Men have to have a way to release because if they don’t ejaculate they get blue balls. It’s a process that has to happen for the male. If they don’t have that, then you know, that’s when children get abused.
What were you doing when you weren’t making films?
I danced. I was on some talk shows. I did magazine layouts. Plenty of interviews too. And then I was hired to ‘talk to a porn star on the phone.’ Basically I somehow became involved in every aspect of anything to do with sexuality. It seemed to be day and night, 24 hours a day. Plus at night I was going to discos and dancing. I loved it. I wasn’t ashamed of anything.
Did you see your films at the time?
No, I never did. I’ve never watched any porn. I never saw any before I made my first and I never watched one of my films.
Did you make a point of avoiding them?
Yes! In fact, I was scared to see them. I was worried about how stupid I’d look. Or maybe I’d see how fucked up I was. But when I watched them recently, I thought they were pretty good! I was actually impressed. Of course I skipped through the sex scenes because that doesn’t really do anything for me. But the acting part… I was like, “Damn girl, you did alright!”
Were you ever busted by the cops for the adult film work you did?
Yes, I remember being busted on a set in San Francisco.
Which film was that?
I don’t remember the name of it. We had to go to court, and the production company thought that I’d ratted on them – so they reported me to the IRS. I kept going for a while, but then the police came and picked me up. They took me aside and asked me if I’d be interested in helping them bust the adult film productions. It was a time when video was replacing film, and everybody was getting into the industry. I wasn’t interested in helping them.
Who were the directors that you liked working with more than others?
Oh, Ron Sullivan, for sure.
When I spoke to Ron a few years ago, he said you were one of his favorite actresses to work with.
Oh my God, did we have fun… He came up with these crazy ideas. He was always just so much fun to shoot with.
However, I have to say that, I had even more fun off set while I was waiting for my scenes to start. Like how many guys can I do real quick in the bathroom? After a while they got to know me, and they kept me away from other guys before I had a scene. They would say, “Joanna, don’t move from this room, you’re going to behave yourself.” They knew that if I could get away with murder… then I would.
But with Ron, he would get us involved with the character development. I can just see him sitting at home thinking up crazy ideas for his films. And he always got excited about them.
Do you remember working with Chuck Vincent?
Yeah, unfortunately I do. He never cared for me. Kelly Nichols was his thing, not me. She was so good, so straight, and more sophisticated that I was. She and I never really clicked. Maybe because I’m the crazy, wild party girl who drank and did drugs. That was not Kelly Nichols. She seemed serious about her work.
She was basically my competition. She always starred in everything that Chuck did. I never thought she really had it going on as far as being very sensual, or anything like that. But Chuck liked her, so he just gave me very small, simple parts. He didn’t care for me.
You were certainly versatile in the variety 0f roles you played.
Yes… I was ‘Baby’! So peoples’ attitudes were, “Do whatever you want with her because she’s more than willing to give it a try.” And I was.
I was also a very hard worker. I guess I got that from my military father. Life was like a tactical military maneuver. Keep moving, keep moving, otherwise you die.
You talked about Fred and Tiffany – were there other people you considered friends?
Joey Silvera. I lived with him, and he was my boyfriend for a while. He got me pregnant.
What happened there?
I went to Ron Sullivan and he helped me have an abortion.
Did you ever think about having the child at the time?
Oh God, no. I was living too fast to take care of a kid then. I had a few abortions.
What was your relationship like with Joey?
He loved to gamble, and I loved to do drugs. So many times, we’d lose each other along the way.
Joanna, with Joey Silvera
Why do you think you got on better with the men? Was it because of competition with other women?
I don’t think it was that. It’s just that women don’t really care for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a little too far out there.
I remember being with Jean Silver, and it was very different, not so much because she is a woman, because I’ve been with many women, but she was an amputee. I liked her.
Were there any performers that you looked up to and wanted to be like?
Not really. But boy, that Vanessa Del Rio… she was pretty fucking hot. Damn girl… where’d you get those lips and those boobs?!
One of the guys I made the most films with was Alan Adrian. That was strange… I don’t know what it was about him but we had some kind of chemistry I guess. I wasn’t in love with him but I just loved working with him. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’m a sadist and a masochist. I can go either way and maybe that worked for him. It was always a pleasure to work with him.
What was your relationship like with your fans? Did you have much interaction with them?
Oh my God, I used to get so much mail. I don’t how they found me… but I had bags of mail. I signed autographed 8×10 pictures and sent them back.
Did your adoptive father ever find out about your role in the business?
Oh, of course he did. I was on billboards on the highway and in magazines – even back in San Diego. He was always going to find out.
How did he react?
I had to tell him that it was nothing to be ashamed of. But he’d say to me, “You can’t be doing this all the time. There’s going to come a time when you’re not going to look that good, and you’re going to have to quit.”
But he wasn’t upset?
It would make him mad because he’d hear other people’s conversations about me. I was well known in San Diego by this time. He’d get mad and want to kick their asses but he came to terms with it. To be honest, he was very ashamed of the shit that he put me through.
You were living life at a breakneck pace. Did you get ever get tired?
Sure… I was in L.A. Then I’d fly to New York. And then I’d fly to San Francisco, back to L.A., and sometimes go home to San Diego. It was constant. Then I just made the move to the east coast and I worked in Europe. All this within a five year period. Sure, it drained me. It took me down, boy.
Also I felt pressure from the film business. It’s just like when you become a famous star, there’s always going to be another new star coming up. Whether it’s in the music industry, the acting industry, Wall Street, whatever. It happens so quickly, and suddenly you’re done overnight.
I was always thinking that if I took a week off, or got some rest, someone else was already jumping in. Everyone wants to see something new and different. The same person all the time – who wants that?!
By that stage, I was also involved with the underworld. Once I was held by them against my will. It was pretty serious.
What happened there?
I got owned. That’s all there was to it. I’d go and get my drugs from this dark basement. It’s where everyone got their drugs. You paid them and nobody knew, and you got your high for a couple of days, and then you’d go back to work.
And someone kept you there?
I was put in a place, and yeah, I tried to leave but they wouldn’t let me. They eventually let me out. Shortly after that I was taken in by the FBI, and they sent me back to the west coast.
Was that when you decided to get out of the industry?
Yeah. If I wanted to keep going, I could’ve stayed in the business like Sharon Mitchell, Ron Jeremy, Paul Thomas and all those people. But I just knew that it was time to move on. I was burnt out.
Do you remember actually getting out?
What happened was, I was contacted about being a centerfold in Penthouse. I was due to fly to California to shoot it. But I didn’t make it. I was a no-show. And that’s when I disappeared from the business. I just thought, “That’s it, I’m done.”
It was just too much?
Yeah. I didn’t show up for work, I was so fucked up on drugs and worn out. I just couldn’t go anymore. That wasn’t so much to do with the industry, but it was my private life. I had some amazing times, but it took a toll on me. I was exhausted. I just went home, and that was it. That was it.
Joanna Storm – Retirement… and Comeback
Once you got out of New York and went back to California, what did you do then?
I took off to a new place for a whole new start. I went to New Mexico. I just wanted to start somewhere all over again.
Why did you choose New Mexico?
I met a guy that I really liked. I thought he was so hot. He had Sylvester Stallone eyes. Rode a Harley Davidson. Gorgeous hair. He was every girl’s dream. He was from New Mexico so I went with him to Albuquerque to visit his mom.
He was a drug dealer as well. My dad got mad with him and tried to run over him on his motorcycle. So I just decided to leave.
Wait, your dad tried to run him over… why?
Because of the drugs he was doing. So I moved out, and lived in a hotel room for a while.
How were you making money?
I was dancing again, working in a club in Albuquerque. But, lo and behold, at 30 years old I got pregnant. I didn’t think I could have any children, but suddenly it happened.
So who was the father? Was he somebody you were in a relationship with?
No, he was just someone with a huge bed in his bedroom! What happened was, I couldn’t afford to get my own place, so I had moved in with a former roommate of a friend, and I was living on his couch. Eventually I said, “Dude, you want to share your bed with me? I’ll do anything. I’ll show you a really, really good time if you let me sleep on that bed.”
So when he’d come home for lunch, I’d jump into bed, and there you go… he was in fucking hog heaven! And then I got pregnant. 30 years old and I’m pregnant… So anyways, I ended up marrying him, and I had another one, and then another one.
This time when you got pregnant, was it different from previous pregnancies?
Yes, I knew I had to have it. It didn’t slow me down though. I was still wild. I was dancing right up to when I was almost six months pregnant. Having a drink here and there, and running and jumping and partying a little bit, you know?
How did you feel being a mom?
When I had kids, I didn’t even know what a family was like. But I’m naturally a nurturer and caregiver. I like to make everybody feel good. But there’s a lot more to it than just having a child and loving it. And I had never experienced family. It was a whole new world. Eventually I split with the father and raised three girls on my own.
Do they know about your work in the sex industry?
At first, they never did. When I married their father, I went to a dumpster and we threw all the adult film memorabilia away. And I had a lot of it. There was a whole car load. So many pictures… you would not believe.
When did you tell them about your early life?
I waited to tell them until they became close to 18.
What was their reaction?
They didn’t have a strong reaction. They didn’t say, “Oh you’re disgusting” or anything like that. I don’t think they could fathom the magnitude of my profession at that time. I guess that would be the best way to put it.
With the internet, they could find out about you if they really wanted.
Yeah, but that’s kind of gross to them I suppose, because I’m Mom.
So how old are they now?
My oldest just turned 30 and the next one is about to turn 29. The youngest will be 27 next year.
My oldest and youngest became dancers. My oldest, she’s an exhibitionist. She loves looking at herself and showing off on stage. She is so into it. She’s also a very, very good dancer.
My middle daughter is in the medical field, and I have a grandson. As for my youngest daughter, she parties a little too much. I’ve been trying to get her focused but there’s always a stray in the herd I guess. I’ve tried my best to be a good mother but it’s been difficult.
What have you done in recent years?
I worked as a substitute teacher in a public school. Everyone loved me to death there. I have lots of kids that I didn’t even give birth to! I started there when my kids were in school.
Then I got into selling mobile homes. And then life insurance. Then I worked at nights, the graveyard shift, loading trucks with bundles of newspapers.
You’ve really been hardworking your whole life.
I have. And now I’m 60 and I’m getting tired, girl. I put on high heels yesterday to go shopping, and I was tired when I got home!
In the late 2000s, you made a brief comeback in the industry. How did that come about?
Yes. In 2006, I decided to get out of the newspaper business and being a substitute teacher part-time. I had $20,000 saved up to purchase a home. Well, 2005 was going good, so I got my boobs done and got some cosmetic surgery. I spent a lot of money.
Then the recession hit and I went back to dancing. I was getting $400 at this club. I took my first daughter dancing, and worked with her. It was killing me a little bit. I only went a couple days a week and by this time the clubs were empty. And I couldn’t even get $40,000 for my home that I paid $100,000 for. My kids were already grown up and out of the house, and so I was stuck in this situation. I thought… well, maybe I should check out the adult film business again.
I made a few phone calls. Most people tried to put me off. They said, “You don’t want to do that, Joanna. The business is nothing like it used to be when you were in it.”
But I wanted to see what I could do with it, so I set a goal. I wanted to make $10,000 in a single month. Little did I know that I would have to pay for my own airfare to get to L.A., my own hotel and everything.
And the people who had warned me were right: The business had changed. For a start you have to go and get tested every frickin’ day. You are only allowed to do one sex scene per day. And everybody wants anal! I’d never done anal before. I thought, “I might have to get used to it if I’m gonna make it.”
You were determined…
Yes, I thought, “I’m going to do it.”
Was Bill Margold involved at all in getting you back into the business?
Yeah – I was with this guy at the time, and he contacted Bill Margold. When I first got to L.A., I did a few photo shoots. It was just sad. A guy with a stupid little camera taking pictures. I felt like they just used me for their own websites, to sell products with my name.
Then Jim South set me up with this guy who showed me around. That was a disaster. I stayed in this guy’s apartment, and he came onto me and… it wasn’t good.
Did Jim South find you work?
Yes. First I went to the clinic to get my test done. In fact while was there, I started fooling around with the guys in the testing room. I had more fun there than on the set. That almost made my trip worthwhile. After that, Jim got me one booking. And guess what? Fucking anal sex.
I achieved the goal of making $10,000 in one month. But it nearly cost me $10,000 to fly to L.A., then to Florida to get the work. So I was like, really? Really? I said to myself, “You’re going to go with this? This is really sad. This is really low class.”
To be honest, I am embarrassed by the work I did in 2010. I wish it could be scratched the fuck off my career. Excuse my language, but yeah. That’s the truth. And I don’t ever want to see it.
So does that mean you’re definitely done now? No way of going back?
Oh yeah. I’ve left the business, and I’ll never return.
I also went to the adult film convention in Las Vegas with two of my girls. Bill was there and it was like the old times with him…especially compared to everybody else. But even that was uncomfortable. I didn’t like it all. And my girls didn’t either. So we went downtown and we partied and got fucked up and we had a good old time. We just ditched the whole adult thing.
What was it that made it uncomfortable?
It was no fun. There was no feeling. It was very robotic. The industry was about who had the most money or who made the biggest scene. It wasn’t special. There was none of the glamor that existed when I was making films. No one seemed pretty, appreciated, or even educated.
The internet seems to be where the industry is today. There’s just sex, sex, sex everywhere, and it’s not done in a nice or in a good way. I mean does it really turn people on?
What was it about your films that made you feel they had something a little special to them?
They were real films. Real scripts. Real acting that people really studied and prepared for. You had make-up artists and wardrobe people – and you had meals! A layout of food for the whole cast and the production team. It was done just like a feature film.
So when you look back on those days, do you have fond memories?
Oh hell, yeah. I was scared when I watched one of my films for the first time recently. What would I look like, how bad would I be…? But I was good! I’m so glad.
And no regrets? Would you do it all again?
No regrets, no sorrows baby. My life was so extreme… It’s very hard for a normal family person to even relate to. Some of it was very rough. Lies and death and rape, and all that crazy shit. But I’m still alive.
What about now? What do you look forward too now?
You know girl, I really don’t know. I’m 60 years old, and I’m getting tired.
I have a handful of boyfriends. They’re driving me nuts. I’m tired of sex. I want to experience sex in a different way now, without money being involved.
Do you tell a new boyfriend about your adult films?
Oh sure. They usually just say, “Oh, okay, whatever.” Some of them have heard of me because they’re in their 60s or 70s and they know who Joanna Storm is. So that’s cool.
What sort of world do you live in now?
I live in an artistic community and I want to get more into that. Jewelry and clothes designing, or painting. I wanted time for myself to go for a walk, to ride a bicycle, to take a painting class. To learn how to use the computer. And not work too much.
I’m kind of fascinated now with death. And not in a weird or bad way.
My new fetish, if you want even call it that, is that I’m a nurturer. I like to care for everybody. People are suffering, all around us, especially right now. So I’m thinking about how I can help. Maybe by being an advisor, a speaker, or a counselor. Everybody wants to be loved.
Yeah, it’s my time. I’d better be able to do this.
Joanna, with photographer Suze Randall