Interview: Nikki Benz on Catching 'Jungle Fever'

Like a two-sport athlete who is seen as a double threat, Nikki Benz has achieved all-star status in two industries: adult and exotic dancing. Few have reached this milestone, and Benz can rightfully be included with other performers who have reached superstardom in both industries: Lisa Ann, Tera Patrick, Gina Lynn, Jesse Jane. These performers have reached a level of popularity that few achieve.

Eleven years ago, when Nikki Benz first set foot on a porn set as Pleasure Productions’ newest contract girl in Strap On Sally 20 (starring fellow performer/feature dancing colleague Gina Lynn), an adult star was born. Since then she has appeared in virtually all of the major men’s magazines of the day, including the distinction of being named the 2011 Pet of the Year in Penthouse magazine. Benz also had stints under contract for Jill Kelly Productions, Teravision and Penthouse, and has performed for almost every major studio in the industry. Her work speaks for itself, and at 32 Benz is still going strong with no plans to call it a career at the moment.

When AVN spoke with Benz, she was once again on the road just outside of Boston preparing for another feature dancing gig. Her latest film project is a collaboration with her longtime friend Jules Jordan titled Nikki Benz Jungle Fever. After 11 years Benz performs in her first interracial scenes, six in total in her showcase feature, including a rare anal scene with Sean Michaels.

She’s also been tapped by Digital Playground to serve as host and lead judge in the studio's search for the next DP contract star. And despite being ineligible to run for mayor of her hometown Toronto earlier this year, Benz, who once seriously considered attending law school, feels citizens should be aware of what’s happening politically since it affects them all. When asked what most affects denizens of the industry, Benz responded, “Piracy is the number-one issue facing the adult industry. When our product gets stolen we all get hurt.”

Was Nikki Benz Jungle Fever a project you approached Jules Jordan with or did he come to you with this idea?

It was definitely sort of both parties wanting to work with each other. I know Jules wanted to make a movie where it showcased me. The idea of it being all interracial wasn’t even in existence at the time, but I really wanted to do an interracial scene. I’ve never done IR. I approached Jules with it. I said, “I want to do an IR scene; I’ve never done it before.” His idea was, “Why don’t we do the whole movie like that?” There hadn’t really been any interracial showcases before of this magnitude, at least not to my knowledge. So when Jules approached me with the idea I said, “Oh my god, this is so great! Yes, let’s do it.” I sort of wanted to do it with a bang and make it into a huge deal, if you will. Just make it like a big movie and I think we achieved that. Since the movie’s release I’ve gotten amazing feedback from the fans and I’m really happy with that.

Why do you suppose it took this long for you to do interracial?

I’ve been in the industry 11 years, going on my 12th year, and if anyone knows anything about my career most of my career I was a contract girl. So the studios I was contracted to, I know some of them never even made interracial movies. You have to remember the industry 11 years ago, 10 years ago, eight years ago it was different. So to have a contract girl and to have her shoot an interracial scene was just something that wasn’t done, at least not with the companies I was with. And then when I went freelance—I did a lot of freelance work in between my contracts—again, no one ever booked me for interracial. I’ve wanted to shoot it for a while but I wanted to make sure it was for an excellent producer, director and studio. I didn’t want it to be a mediocre scene. It took a while but it’s OK. I went in, I made a big splash, I didn’t just do one scene, and that’s it. I made it into a big splash and I wanted people to talk about it, and I wanted my fans to love it. But to answer your question, I don’t think the studios I was contracted with ... it just wasn’t something they were into. That was out of my control. When you’re a contract girl you don’t have a lot of control. Then when I got control as a freelance performer I wanted to shoot it. Believe it or not, I had a difficult time actually finding somebody that would want to shoot me in an interracial scene. I thought I was doing something wrong. Then I approached Jules and we did it with a big splash.

You’ve collaborated with Jules many times over the years. How would you describe your professional relationship with him?

Not only is he an amazing director, he’s also a great performer. I love working with him when he actually does scenes with me. He’s very easy for me to talk to. When we talked about this movie, he let me be creative with my ideas and every idea that he’s come up with I loved. It was just the natural sort of collaboration between the two of us. He has a way to get into a girl’s mind and get her to be herself in front of the camera. I feel very at ease working for him. He’s very professional and he just gets into my head and he lets me be myself.

Do you feel this film contains some of the best work of your career?

A hundred and twenty percent. Again it’s because Jules gave me creative freedom in this movie. We collaborated on outfits and as far as talent he didn’t tell me who to work with. He wanted me to tell him who I want to work with. I know it sounds funny but sometimes the girls don’t have a choice. Jules definitely left this all up to me and I loved that. The fact that he’s giving me so much freedom as a performer I was able to give my very, very best.

Do you have any other major projects coming up?

There’s a new film coming out that’s appropriate for Halloween called Prey for the Dying from Digital Playground. I have a scene in it with Keiran Lee and I love anything horror-related. It’s a great film and we shot it in a haunted house. I’ve done a lot of scenes with Keiran and we shot this scene at midnight and you just feel different at that hour of the night. The house was haunted and I don’t know what got into me but that was some of the craziest sex I ever shot and he made me squirt. I don’t usually squirt but he made me squirt a lot in that scene. I’m actually very proud of it. [Laughs.]

Your featuring dancing career is equally as strong as your performing career. At this point in your professional life do you consider yourself a feature dancer first, performer second or the other way around?

They’ve always co-existed together since day one. I’ve always featured danced a lot while I was a contract girl or when I was a freelancer. But I’m definitely a porn star first, and then a feature dancer. But I have to do both. I love getting out there and dancing for a live crowd then having the fans come up to me and validate what I’m doing. To me that means a lot. To be honest without the fans I wouldn’t have a feature dancing career nor would I ever be booked. This is for me a way to give back to the fans and to put on an amazing show for them to enjoy and to take pictures with them and to sign autographs. I don’t think I could have a successful long career without dancing or without the movies to be honest. But to answer your question I’m a performer first, always.

How long do you feel you can continue doing both? Do you feel you still have a lot of years left to give to both?

Yes and I will say this: I’m inspired by Lisa Ann. She’s 10 years older than me and she has one of the best bodies in the industry. Her career is amazing; she packs the house every time she feature dances. So she’s an inspiration to performers like me. I look at Lisa and I say, “I can do this for 10 more years.” Whether I want to or not that’s a whole different topic. I don’t know if I have 10 years left in me. I just feel there’s some more that I could do even within the film world. I mean I’ve been in the industry 11 years and there are things I haven’t done that perhaps I want to do. Time will tell but I’m not ready to hang up my hat.

Are you under contract right now?

I’m not under contract right now but I just signed up to be a part of this amazing idea that Digital Playground came up with; to be the main judge and host of the next DP star. We’re going on the road and I’m going to be interviewing girls and asking them questions as to why they want to be the next DP star. It’s basically a live talent search and then we’re going to have a live taping and I get to be the main judge and of course the host. I love the concept of it. I love going out there and meeting the girls and talking to them. Being in the industry 11 years I’m going to have advice for them and they’re going to have questions for me. I’m just happy to be a part of this project and to be involved in such a personal way with the girls.

Having been a contract girl for Pleasure Productions, Teravision, Jill Kelly, and Penthouse, what traits do you feel are most important for a girl to have in order to be considered as a contract girl?

To be a contract girl I think one of the things that companies look for is for you to look good, to be well put together, well-spoken, and have that “It” factor. Some girls you just look at and you talk to them, and you say to yourself, “That girl has that ‘It’; that girl has something that everybody is going to want.” The way they present themselves is important because you’re representing as a contract girl a brand. So you want to be well put together. That includes your looks, the way you talk, the way you walk.

This contest is for newcomers and girls that have never been in the industry. Basically, Digital Playground is looking for the next DP star; it doesn’t matter if they’ve done scenes before. There are a lot of newcomers that are hot and are well put together, absolutely.