She is one of the most popular porn stars in the world—a woman even more famous than many of the superstar athletes she dates.
Lisa Ann said goodbye to the adult entertainment industry several years ago, launching a successful career as the host of a fantasy sports program on SiriusXM. Even after she left, Ann continued to be one of the most-searched porn stars in the world.
Though most famous for her portrayal of former politician Sarah Palin in six XXX films, including the infamous Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, Ann is also well known for the company she keeps—namely, hot young athletes. Known for her tight lips, Ann rarely discusses her athlete hookups, but estimates to have had “hundreds” of professional athletes throughout her illustrious career. She prefers sleeping with NBA players, and isn’t shy about dropping hints—or putting athletes on blast when they won’t stop begging, like Canucks’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
And now, at 45, she’s making her triumphant return to porn.
Most adult stars who succeed outside of the business don’t come back, which makes Lisa Ann’s return to porn all the more intriguing. Reentering an industry known to prey on the young at middle age requires a confidence most 20-somethings lack. But Ann isn’t just returning to porn—she wants to change it. By pushing back against the patriarchy and redefining what it means to be in the adult community, Ann’s determined to help other performers find success.
When I call Lisa Ann, it’s late afternoon. The phone rings and I leave a voicemail. Ten minutes later she calls back, explaining how the cable guy had been running late and just left. Unfortunately, the installation didn’t go as planned and Ann would have to wait to be properly serviced. It sounded just like a classic porn scenario.
“Hey, at least he wasn’t creepy. That’s my biggest fear, is that someone’s going to be in my house and creepy,” says Ann. “I had an air conditioner installer take pictures of the inside of my house and then post them on social media. I was mortified. I stayed in my office while he did his job, I thought I was being trusting, and here he was taking pictures of my pictures with other people.”
If the A/C installer had kept the pics to himself, Ann may have never known, but he blasted them on social media and linked her in his mentions. “He wrote, ‘I was just at the real Lisa Ann’s house, look.’ And there was a selfie of the guy next to my car and I was like, ‘Oh my god, he was in my underground parking with my car!’”
Not that Ann’s complaining too much these days. If anything, she’s surprisingly appreciative for someone who’s achieved the kind of crossover success she has. “We have so much freedom [in the adult industry]—we choose when we work, we choose this unique lifestyle, and we are getting compensated more than other people working a lot harder than us. There’s a lot to be excited about.”
And to the bitter, jaded performers in the industry, Ann offers the following advice: “Get a regular job for ninety days, stick to the schedule you’re given, only taking a lunch break when it’s scheduled. Then see how you feel about porn after ninety days at a regular job.”
Though Ann now has a regular job as well, she doesn’t think of it so much as work due to her passion for sports radio. “I’m an employee and I have a boss but I love what I do,” she says. “I want sports twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I’m never late and I’ve never canceled a show. I love being responsible and I’m so grateful for it because I never knew I’d have a gig like this.”
Returning to porn was as much a practical, financial decision for Ann as it was an opportunity to give back. She’s made it very clear that getting back into the adult entertainment industry will not impact her career in sports radio. “People don’t do sports radio for the money. It’s something you do because you love it. When I considered coming back to porn I realized that being committed to something I love without counting the dollar has made me a better person. I am going to be continuing on with my two shows on Sirius, and that way I don’t get lost in the sauce, in the gossip, and the drama of the business.”
Ann did not initially plan to return to the industry, but began toying with the idea after being approached by several adult companies. “One big company came to me and offered a decent amount of money to do some scenes. I’m smarter now and thought, if someone is offering me this much money then obviously I must be worth more. These are the people that know the numbers. I read a book about making deals, and the first offer is normally a quarter of your worth, so you go up maybe 75 to 100 percent, then it’s negotiated back down and you meet in the middle around 50 percent. I was inspired by the idea but sat on it for 10 months. I wanted to be sure about wanting to come back.”
Even after mulling it over for almost a year, Ann approached her comeback cautiously. Not knowing how she’d feel about doing porn again, she wanted to test it out before going public. And she did. That alone is a powerful accomplishment. Then again, Ann has proven herself to be an expert secret-keeper. “When I shot my first scene in December I told no one. I made everyone keep it off social media, and hired people who I knew could keep a secret. I honestly wanted to shoot it and hold on to it to see if I felt differently about myself afterwards.”
She’s an experienced porn star who isn’t sure how she’ll feel after doing a scene. While this may sound odd to some, when she explains how society essentially congratulated her for getting out of porn it begins to make sense. “People have spoken to me almost like I was a better person because I wasn’t in the adult business anymore,” she says. “They say things I know are meant to be a compliment but it’s an insult because what they’re saying is that they thought less of me at one time. I never felt better or different out of the business, but those conversations made me ask myself, how will I feel when I wake up after doing another scene?”
A true entrepreneur, Ann sees value in today’s porn market. She’s certain there is more money for performers to make in the adult business than ever before, which runs contrary to the popular belief that porn’s going broke. “I’m the first person to understand the reality of it. Sure, you can’t just go to set, shoot scenes, and go home and expect to make the same amount of money you used to. The hustle is different,” she explains. “Now there are all these different avenues to make money. The money’s there and it’s tenfold, you just have to be on your game, you have to use your downtime wisely, get paid to text, get paid to post and do these things every day.”
According to Ann, the money is there for producers and directors too—specially with how easy (and cheap) content is to produce these days. “It’s a no-brainer. It’s so much easier to produce content now, you spend one day on set, come home upload your content, upload your model releases and in one day you have a fully-produced scene. Especially when you know what you need.”
Taking a new approach, Ann wants to educate the new generation of performers, offering counsel and guidance for their careers—including what lies beyond should they one day wish to shed their stage name. “The saddest thing about this business is that all the success stories leave,” she says. “Anyone who gets their head up and feels great decides they no longer belong here, so it’s important that as a woman I bring that success back. I have an open-phone policy for anybody [in the industry]. I’m teaching some of the other women how to use software so they can take one day a week away from social media. I think we should all detach one day a week for mental health.”
Ann also wants to help fellow performers recognize—and capitalize on—their true market value, which is something she believes agents are not incentivized to do. “I want to help these women up their game at marketing, I want to empower them with knowledge and get them to understand they are a capital-building machine right now,” says Ann. “They can produce their own stuff at home on their cell phones and make money all day long. Agents want to to force them to go to set because agents only make money when the girls go to set. These women need to know they aren’t just a product; rather, they are young entrepreneurs, and they are now living in the Silicon Valley-era of porn.”