Confident, versatile and always looking for new and brighter horizons, Shauna O’Brien spoke to us about her career, her thoughts on the industry and her ever-developing plans for the future.
Interview by Anthony Kennerson
I guess we should start by asking how you came to be involved in acting and how you got your start in the erotic film genre?
I had actually done a number of Player videos for a director named Edward Holzman. One day he called me up and said that he had a small role in a movie that he was doing called “Elke”. I told him that I was not an actress and that I wouldn’t be comfortable auditioning because I had never acted before. He and I were on friendly terms by this point of working together so he proceeded to tell me that I had nothing to worry about, that it would all be fine. Well, we went back and forth for a while and I finally agreed to come in and read.
When I got there (to the audition) I was so nervous that I could hardly hold a conversation with Eddie and the producers. I finally got it together enough to do somewhat of a reading for them and they asked me how I would actually feel about playing the lead. I looked at them as if they were insane. They went on to tell me that the girl that they had booked to play “Elke” had cancelled at the last minute (who, by the way was Brandy Sanders, my former best friend). They needed to fill the spot and they wanted me.
Well I was basically talked into it and now that I look back, I thank Eddie for pushing the issue because that film ended up being called Friend of the Family, which has been a favorite of many.
Speaking of that movie, what was it like playing the character of Elke Taylor and did it help you in preparing for later roles (such as Lady Chatterly)?
To tell you the truth, Friend Of the Family helped to prepare me for many roles because it was my first movie. I had to learn so much on the job experience on that movie alone that I could see where it would have completely prepped me for so much.
We all know the sex in softcore films is fake, but from a performer’s point of view how difficult is it to convey passion with a full crew standing around and a director telling you what to do?
I’m glad that you asked this question! Because there have been so many times that people think that because we are doing simulated love scenes we are not really acting. Sometimes I want to (and often times have) tell those people to piss off! The simulated sex is the very reason why we should be considered AMAZING actresses!! Well, maybe “amazing” is too strong. Perhaps astounding, remarkable, sensational, oh and don’t forget wonderful actresses.
Let’s face it, it is a challenge every single time to be on a set, completely naked, sometimes with a complete stranger (and let me tell you sometimes those complete strangers have some nasty body odor going on) under mad hot lights, in front of a crew of people who are so sick of making these kind of movies it’s written all over their faces.
Then to have to get into one position and do it until the director finally thinks it’s time for a climax and then have him tell you “Ok I’m going to start a countdown from ten and I want you to start breathing slowly and increasingly bring it up until you reach one and a full blown orgasm”. And of course the breathing can never be normal sex breathing and the climax can never be more towards reality climax (which don’t get me wrong, reality climax is splendid) it always has to be a way blown out of proportion fantasy climax.
Well let me tell you a thing or two about a thing or two. That climax breathing take after take, can literally make you come close to passing out. No joke!!! I’ve gotten very light headed and dizzy after some scenes. The whole time we are doing all of this we have to be acting like this is the best sex we’ve ever had in our whole lives. I am put to the test every time I do one of those scenes.
You also stirred up some controversy amongst fans when you decided to get your breasts enhanced. Can you give us any details as to why you got them done and how much they’ve affected your life and/or career?
I decided to have a baby; I decided to not go back to the business; I had my beautiful little girl; I decided that I still wanted to work; I looked in the mirror…my perfect little perky boobs had now fallen to my knees; was not comfortable being nude in front of camera; got new boobs. Why the big controversy? Do not know. For anyone who ever had harsh words about it…fuck you!! For anyone who stayed loyal fans regardless of boob size, I LOVE YOU!!!! My body…my choice. END OF STORY!!!
Before you became a professional erotic actress/centerfold/performer, you had a bit of a career doing mainstream bit roles, both in TV/film (“Another 48 Hours”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Flatliners”) and as a “Rock Video Girl” (e.g., Motley Crue’s “Silent Scream” video). Was there anything that you learned there that you could put to use later on in your erotic career?
I learned patience.
Do you think that performing in these types of movies stigmatizes actresses in the eyes of the mainstream? What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about you (or softcore performers in general)?
You know, I really go back and forth on this subject. I think that it depends on the talent of the actress. How far she’s willing to pound the pavement. It’s a mystery.
Sometimes, I think that when a primetime sitcom is casting for a role they aren’t going to want to use someone from the erotic genre because they have to make sure they don’t offend their more conservative viewers. Well, this I can’t get a grip on though because if one of those conservative viewers recognized an erotic star in the first place wouldn’t that make you think they are not so conservative after all if they recognized you?
On the other hand, you see people like Jenna Jameson in a mainstream role and it becomes confusing as to what the mainstream producers want. All I know is that I quit worrying about how doing erotica would affect my chance at mainstream work when I decided that erotica was what I wanted to do. Easier than worrying about it.
Have you had any roles that you felt challenged you and helped you to grow as an actress? Of all your movies is there a particular character you’ve most identified with?
I think that Lady Chatterly challenged me most because it was a role that I really wanted. I also had enough time to really get comfortable in my character. It got to the point that I would sit down in the make-up chair in the morning and I didn’t feel like myself, I felt like Constance. The character that I most identified with was “Elke” in Friend of the Family . Because even though I can be a ball buster there is definitely a side to me that is a lot like her.
One of our favorite movies at Softcore Reviews is Over the Wire, which was directed by Fred Olan Ray and featured you and Landon Hall in some pretty hot scenes, including several with Tim Abell’s “package” in plain view. Why do the men usually get off so easily (no pun intended) with the nudity while the women are still expected to put everything out there? Is there a double-standard in softcore that you can comment on?
That’s always kinda irked me as well. I don’t know-maybe people like tits and ass better than the big salami. Who knows! (laughs)
Can you tell us a bit about how a softcore sex scene comes together? What kind of preparation goes on behind the scenes? How much say do performers have in how a scene will come together?
Most of what I do to prepare for a love scene is mostly about respect for the other actor. I spray some pretty perfume on, put some smelly lotion on my body, do a little flowery smelling body spray number, pop some extra strong breath mints and hit the set.
If the director isn’t opposed to it or if it makes it easier for him I’ll usually get with the other actor to work out a number of positions, example where we’ll start and what the ending position will be . This allows us to already have it laid out before blocking and then when we shoot we know exactly what we are going to be doing. Because the last thing we want to worry about during a love scene is “What position should we get into next?” I like it to kind of flow.
Do you have any personal favorites or scenes you found memorable to do?
In Bare Naked Survivor I played a character called Babette. I had to put on this fake French accent. At first I was nervous about it but once I started my dialog in the accent it ended up being a lot of fun. I was really able to get into it.
On the subject of Lady Chatterly (which happens to be my own personal favorite of your roles) what was it like to play a role with such history and depth, and did you have to do any special preparation for that role?
No, I didn’t have to do any special preparation for it not because I didn’t want to but because they had already shot 2 or 3 episodes before I came on board. Another actress had gotten the role so I had written it off to a no go. Then I got a call from the producers saying that there has been a problem, we need you to come play Lady Chatterly. Of course I was thrilled, but they wanted me right away. So there was really no time I just had to jump in head first. It was cool!
How do you feel about the recent trend in softcore to show more and more explicit nudity and sexuality? Are the lines between hardcore and softcore being blurred or crossed?
Yes, absolutely the lines are being blurred. It’s just like when Penthouse magazine started adding fist fucking to their lovely array of features. I, for one, had no more interest being a part of that magazine.
Now when I talk to anyone, I feel I have to say “I was a Penthouse centerfold back when it wasn’t quite as racy as it is today.” That sucks because there was a time when I was honored to be a centerfold for that magazine.
So to answer your question, I don’t like the way the business has turned. I find myself basically saying no to roles because I have respect for myself and the only way I’ve kept that respect is by not crossing my own personal boundries . I think by the “business” bringing adult actresses in, it has also changed the mentality of the fans.
It used to be that you could make a sensual, erotic film and the fans would appreciate that for what it was. Now it seems the fans want more and more . And if you do a love scene in a soft sensual sort of way, now it’s perceived as “not being into it”, when before it was simply “a pretty scene”. The fans that I listen to are the ones whose satisfactions lie within my boundries. And that is alright; just because the business has changed does not mean that I have to.
Although you have never done hardcore erotica/porn yourself, you have frequently worked with, and even had close relationships with, many hardcore performers. What is your opinion on those who, for whatever reason, fail to recognize the difference between hardcore and softcore erotica; and do you have a particular bias towards or against the more explicit medium in general?
The term ‘pornography’ is a term that constantly makes me weary. In the dictionary ”pornography’ is defined as such: obscene literature, art, or photography, esp. that having little or no merit. Writing or writer about harlots.
‘Obscene’ is defined in the dictionary as such: 1. Offensive to modesty or decency; indecent; lewd: 2. causing or intending to cause, sexual excitement or lust. 3. abominable; disgusting; repulsive.
Now read what the dictionary defines erotic, erotica, and eroticism as: Erotic – 1. pertaining to or treating of sexual love; armatory. 2. arousing or satisfying sexual desire. 3. Subject to or marked by strong sexual desires. 4. An erotic poem. 5. An erotic person. Erotica – Literature or art dealing with sexual love. Eroticism – 1. The sexual or erotic quality or character of something. 2. the use of sexually arousing or suggestive symbolism, settings, allusions, situations,etc., in art literature , drama, or the like. 3. the condition of being sexually aroused or excited. 4. Sexual drive or tendency. 5. an abnormally persistent sexual drive.
Now, if you will see difference as defined in the dictionary: the degree in which one person or thing differs from another. Differentiate – to perceive the difference in or between. Ok, now I’ve stated the correct definitions of pornography and erotica as defined in good old Websters dictionary. I have defined difference . Now I go to the definition of opinion: a belief or judgement that rests on grounds insufficient to produce certainty.
My whole point in this is that when someone says that what I do is pornography, I still have a problem with accepting this. There is a clear difference between the two by definition and by actual product being displayed. Now as far as my opinion of the hardcore porn industry goes, kudos to them all! I have known and had many friends in that business. Some of those friends were some of the smartest business women that I have met. And they were not only smart but they also had balls, which I think has a lot to do with being a good business woman.
The B-genre, in my personal opinion, has just gotten really mixed up and messed up. Let me make it clear though, I believe that both pornography and erotica have their place. But there are substantial differences between the two.
For example, let’s say that you are a singer and throughout your career you are constantly being faced with the opinion that your music is country. But you constantly have to try and make people see that what you sing is Rock and Roll. How frustrating would it be if in return these people replied “But there is no difference, it’s still music.” That is the way I feel when people say to me “there is no difference, it’s all pornography.”
In addition to acting and modeling you are also a web designer who has developed her own personal website, as well as her own production company (Zentopia Productions). Can you tell us a bit about your site and your company? And do you find it hard to balance so many careers?
Yes, at times it is hard to balance. But I am a business woman and I think by making the decision long ago to add different extensions from my career, it has allowed me to accept a little more gracefully that the erotic movie genre has changed.
I don’t worry about that because I am in control of what I do within my website and in my production company. I did so many movies throughout my career that I don’t worry about adding any more to my resume. If I want to make a movie, I will go out and seek it or I’ll just produce my own. If I never make another movie again I think that I would be ok with that.
Times are a changin’ and I just don’t have the energy or need to mold to those changes. I will always be giving the fans something, just not the “Balls to the Wall” pace I have had up until now.
What would softcore fans be most surprised to know about you?
That I am hugely domestic. And that I am big into fishing and I am now formulating a plan that will allow me to be able to do it for a living.
Do you have any favorite costars, directors or studios you’ve worked with?
No, I have enjoyed everyone that I have worked with. Even the few that I didn’t particularly care for because that allowed me to keep on learning about different people. That is healthy.
Are there any recent or upcoming projects you would like to tell us about? What are Shauna O’Brien’s plans for the future?
I am working on a company that I am opening up that has nothing to do with the entertainment business. I will keep everyone posted on how that progresses but at this time I’d like to make some headway before I discuss it further. Fish on!!!
Final question: What would you say to a young woman (or man) seeking your assistance and/or advice in entering the erotic medium?
Do it!! It will enrich your life in many ways as long as you stay smart. But you probably won’t get rich doing it. But then again I have a different opinion of what rich is and it has little to do with financial position. I have divulged some things in this interview that may have been held back before. In other interviews my honesty could have been perceived as bitterness towards the business. Please do not make that mistake in reading this interview.
Sometimes we are so busy trying to keep the fantasy alive that we tend to not be honest about the realities of the business that we are in. I am but a human being living life day to day as most. I chose to take something that I knew I could do and use it to my benefit. But outside of that I am a pretty grounded person.
When I said I have a different opinion of what rich means I meant that the simple things in life are what matters. Does your child look at you with adoration when you read that special book to them before they go to sleep at night? Does your husband or wife appreciate you more when you give them that back rub they so need after a hard day of work?
When you try to accomplish something that you have never done before like lay a a new tile floor entirely by yourself, does it make you feel like you can accomplish anything? When you bake a fresh peach pie for someone you love and you see the look of pure delight when they eat it, does it make you feel good inside? Well it should because these are the kind of simple little things in life that make you rich. But that is just my opinion!