Granted, an appearance in Zack and Miri Make a Porno does not necessarily a legit career make -- but it just might if you're Katie Morgan, whose winning performance as a bubbly stripper enlisted to co-star in said porno proved she had serious comic chops. This came on the heels of being featured in several HBO documentaries, as well as an appearance on Entourage. She also has a pretty great backstory: Morgan entered the porn biz in an effort to raise money to pay a plea bargain after getting arrested for transporting more than 100 pounds of marijuana from Mexico to the U.S. Maybe Soderbergh can direct her biopic.
Amid some fanfare in the Asian press, this popular Japanese AV idol recently took on a part in the Taiwanese slasher film Invitation Only. Along with her part in the popular TV drama Mission Section Chief Hitoshi Tadano and a host of appearances in music videos, she may be on the verge of establishing a non-porn career.
She's on this list because she doesn't really deserve to be on this list. Let us explain: Jameson has managed an amazing feat of self-promotion by somehow becoming a household name over the past few years. Adult Video News even named its Crossover Star of the Year award in honor of her -- impressive, considering the fact that Jameson never actually crossed over. True, she had a bit part in Howard Stern's Private Parts (who didn't?), but other than that, most of what she's done has been radio appearances, a bizarre detour into the wrestling world, and a stint as a writer of self-help books -- all of it directly tied to her porn celebrity.
Before 1 Night in Paris, the bratty hotel heiress hadn't done anything noteworthy with her life. But once her infamous sex tape with ex-beau Rick Salomon leaked in 2003 (and became 2004's No. 1-selling and -renting adult video), she became an immediate star -- and instantly crossed over. Her reality series The Simple Life debuted a week after the sex tape leaked (how conveeenient) and, sure enough, became a hit. She followed it up with a series of books, albums, a clothing line, and a 24/7 stranglehold on the celebrity-news circuit. And she owes it all to porn.
Signor Siffredi is known in the biz for all sorts of extreme stuff (he has a popular series called Rocco: Animal Trainer), but thanks to the controversial French director Catherine Breillat, he's also become a familiar face to the Film Forum set, through major roles in her films Romance and Anatomy of Hell. Of course, both films required plenty of sex and nudity, which may explain why Siffredi got the part -- but his unusually charismatic presence made as much of an impression as his other assets.
We're not sure whether Sasha Grey's presence in The Girlfriend Experience
counts as stunt casting or not -- a glance at the film's come-hither poster
suggests that it may very well be -- but it's hard to deny the fact that she's awfully good in the film, expertly blending ice-queen grace with a quiet vulnerability. Let's hope this is the beginning of a beautiful legit career and not just a momentary dalliance.
As the obituaries around her recent untimely death noted, Ms. Chambers didn't stick with legit acting parts after her starring role in David Cronenberg's nightmarish 1976 horror flick Rabid
. But perhaps she didn't continue because she didn't need to: Her breakout film, 1972's Behind the Green Door
, had already crossed over into mainstream success, and Marilyn Chambers was a household name by 1976. As a recent Slate piece
put it: "The ultimate madonna/whore of her era, she represented a dichotomy that perplexes, intrigues and infuriates still ... She transcended boundaries, genres and even eras, with an unbridled enthusiasm that made being dirty look like so much good clean fun."
Over the past three decades, "Cicciolina," as she's come to be known, has been a porn star, an icon in the international art world, and an Italian politician -- whether that says more about those particular worlds than it does about her, we'll let you decide. She was only in the Italian Parliament for about five years, but it made her an international sensation. Her marriage to American artist Jeff Koons was even shorter, but their relationship was immortalized in Koons's notorious sculptures and paintings of the two of them having sex, titled "Made in Heaven." Her film career, with titles like Replikator, doesn't count for much -- but who cares?
It's hard to beat Traci Lords at this game. Having started as an adult-industry cautionary tale (after an abusive childhood, she faked her age to start in porn at 15, then wound up getting arrested), she found herself working for the twin paladins of B-movie legitimacy: Roger Corman (Not of This Earth) and John Waters (Cry Baby). But something strange happened along the way; it turned out Lords could actually act. She has since carved out a respectable career for herself as a reliable supporting player in both film (Blade, Underworld, Chump Change, Zack and Miri) and TV (Profiler, Roseanne). Even her obligatory music career was a success; she scored a hit dance single in 1995.
When Turkish-German director Fatih Akin's intense romantic melodrama Head-On
won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival, it appeared a star had been born: its 23-year-old female lead, Kekilli, who also won the German Film Prize for Best Actress. But a German tabloid soon revealed that Kekilli had had a prior career as a porn actress
, going under the name Dilara. While the film's producers had been aware of this, it came as a shock to the public at large -- not to mention her father and the entire nation of Turkey, which had been wildly celebrating the film's triumph. The Turks got over it -- she would later win more accolades for future film roles -- but we're not sure if her father did. Either way, Kekilli's astonishing performance in Head-On
makes us hope we see more of her.