HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—We're not overly surprised that the Time-Warner cable listing for Friday night's edition of ABC's 20/20 gave no description at all of the content of the show, since its title, also not revealed, was "The New Sex"—and who knew that Kayden Kross and Manuel Ferrara, both of whom have been hardcore performers for several years, and have been living together for the past two, were "new"?
The couple, who are described as "about to get married," are interviewed in their home by show co-host Elizabeth Vargas, who noted up front that "sex outside their marriage is part of their livelihood," and that they've "made peace with what other couples struggle with."
In voiceover during the interview, Vargas noted that Kayden and Manuel first had sex in her very first video, Kayden's First Time, which according to Kayden, didn't go all that well.
"I was so scared," Kayden admitted. "I was so nervous about 'How am I going to be perceived?' and 'Does my makeup look bad?' and 'Are they gonna really find out that I can't act?' And then there was that little fear that didn't occur to me until I was on set, where I started thinking, 'What if I've been doing sex wrong my entire life, and now I go and try to do it on camera, and everybody knows?'"
Fast-forward four years, and as Vargas tells it, Kayden was now a big star and Manuel was headed for divorce—from wife Dana Vespoli, who's also interviewed later in the segment.
But "sparks flew" when the couple was cast together in the 2010 Digital Playground movie titiled The Smiths, and although the hardcore that the couple plus Vargas watched in the couple's bedroom (!) was computer-masked, the audience did get to see the passionate kiss between Kayden and Manuel, which apparently cemented the fledgling relationship, becoming, in Vargas' words, "porn's golden couple—the Brangelina of the industry."
But jealousy did rear its ugly head, in the form of Manuel getting weirded out by watching Kayden have on-camera sex with other men—so she quit performing, even though, Vargas noted, she was making quite a bit more money than Manuel was, leaving Manuel to continue to fuck for a living while Kayden tends to their newborn.
"It's very difficult to understand how it's okay for me to do it and not for her," Manuel says.
"Why is it?" Vargas legitimately asks.
"I know that when she did scenes with other guys, she would come home to me and love me and I know that," he responded. "I also know she was really good at her job, so it made it a little difficult."
"He just didn't want me there," Kayden added. "And I could see it in his eyes. It wasn't like he went crazy. You could just tell it bothered him, it hurt him."
But it was inevitable that the piece would turn to a comparison between Kayden's and Manuel's life together and how other couples live—and guess what? Seems porn couples can have normal lives too!
"I often hear people say, 'Oh, you could have done anything; why did you do this?'" Kayden asked rhetorically. "And then I sort of want to explode. 'Okay; well, tell me what "anything" is, and how it puts me, at age 29, with the love of my life and a baby, in a nice house with my retirement set up, a good chunk of money in the bank, residual income and all the free time to spend with people I love?'"
Turns out that part of that "spending time" is that when Manuel directs his various projects, Kayden helps with the wardrobe and other behind-the-scenes necessities even as she "size[s] up the women in the makeup chair. Is she sexier than I am? Smarter? Better in bed?"—a statement Kayden readily admits she made.
Then Vargas drops what for mainstream might pass for a bit of a bombshell: The couple live right next door to Manuel's ex-wife Dana Vespoli, who apparently drops by regularly with Manuel's three young sons by her, for a family dinner of pizza.
The kids are too young to know what their parents do for a living, but "These parents know the day is coming when they will have to have a hard conversation about just what kind of movies they make," Vargas intones balefully, apparently not having heard how comfortable all parties are with the current arrangement and their own sexualities.
"The questions, they're not going to be fun questions. It's not like we're looking forward to that day," Kayden admits.
"We all want the same things and we all love our kids and we all work really hard to provide for them, to keep the family strong, and that's all that matters," Dana adds. "And then secondary is like, 'Oh, by the way, we make porn.' 'Oh; I never would have guessed.' That's usually how it goes."
The segment ends with Vargas noting that Manuel is planning to give up performing at some point and focus on his directing—but on the whole, the interview has to be scored as a positive look at adult performers and the industry itself; something rarely seen on mainstream TV.
The episode also includes stories about guys who advertise that they'll have sex with women in order to get them pregnant; about Tinder, the hook-up app that allows people to choose potential sex partners strictly based on their looks; and Sprout Pharmaceuticals' Flibanserin, a female form of Viagra that's not yet government approved, for what's called "hypoactive sexual desire disorder"—the inability to have orgasms, and even to desire sex in the first place—and how one of the participants in the drug's human trials was so happy with the result, she formed a lobbying group that's pushing the FDA to approve it.
Pictured above: Manuel Ferrara and Kayden Kross at the 2014 XRCO Awards; photo by EMMReport.com.