Even five years removed from her life in adult entertainment, there are few people in the world of pornography more iconic than Asia Carrera. That’s partly because she acted as a trailblazer, allowing other Asian porn stars to make their way out of the sex fetish ghetto and into the mainstream. She’s also famously intelligent, having grown up as a piano prodigy before becoming a member of Mensa and a self-proclaimed computer geek.
It was the early days of the internet when Asia created and maintained one of the first celebrity blogs, giving her fans a chance to interact with her and see the…ahem…ins and outs of her day-to-day life. But even as she played the object of our desires, she also helped put an upbeat face on an industry badly in need of positive PR. It’s a role Asia dutifully filled until she married nutritionist Don Lemmon, retired, and moved to Utah to live a quiet family life.
In the world of pornography, hers is an uncommon and amazing tale, and if her story had ended there, Asia would still be an adult film legend.
Unfortunately, it did not.
In June of 2006, while driving home from Las Vegas, her husband Don was tragically killed in an accident leaving Asia alone and pregnant with their second child. In the desperate spiral that followed, Asia found herself financially unstable and emotionally drained. Through the support of her fans and online donations, she was able to stay afloat until questions about Don’s life insurance could be answered. And now, finally on her feet, she is no less a trailblazer, fighting each day as a single mother with a smile on her face.
Asia still maintains her blog, though now it’s less about nudity and more a scrapbook of her challenges and triumphs as a nerd, gamer, and mother. Feel free to hit her up on her site for a quick chat. But be forewarned: she will correct your grammar.
You have a pretty well-established internet presence through your personal blog and numerous gaming and media outlets. It seems that even though you’ve retreated from the pornography spotlight to Utah, you still want some part of your old persona to stay connected to the outside world. Do you find there’s a conflict between your desire for anonymity and attention? How do you bridge the gap?
Blogging is an addictive habit. It’s therapeutic for me. It’s like writing in a diary that actually answers you! (laughter) I don’t have a desire for attention so much as a desire to keep in contact with the world, but from a distance. I like being able to walk away from my computer whenever I want to — something that would be quite rude if I actually had company over. I’m probably an undiagnosed Asperger’s, as is my father and my son. It makes me eccentric, to say the least.
Is there a reason that you never segued your wit and notoriety into something more formalized, like a gig writing a column or some kind of regularly updated blog? After all, you seem to enjoy writing about your life and you have a talent for it.
No. I want to write only when I have something to say. If I had to write on demand or on a set schedule, it would be work, and no longer enjoyable for me. I have a very short attention span. I like to do a million different things at once, all the time. I read when I eat, read when I work out, surf 10 tabs on my browser at once, am always multitasking. Just call me Captain ADD.
You came of age as a public figure as the internet blossomed into a social media marketplace, where mainstream celebrities have sex tapes and everyone knows everything about everyone all the time. Now that you have some distance from porn, what’s your geek girl perspective on the new exhibitionist-friendly media landscape?
I guess I was one of the first celebs to let people know what I was up to all the time. I would come home from the set, update my website, visit my chat room, share pics with everyone, do some online gaming, catch a little sleep, and go back to the set in the morning. My blog was around long before the word “blog” even existed. But I also had the luxury of controlling everything I put out there because I rarely left the house except to go to work or a computer store. So I never had to deal with fans in person or get hounded by paparazzi. All my exposure was through media I could control. I would not survive as a celebrity who gets followed everywhere by paps. Some people enjoy that — some people are publicity hounds and can’t get enough of it. I am not one of them. Although I was sad to leave the business when I retired, it was a huge relief to leave celebrity behind and become just a normal person again.
What compelled you to report on your own unassisted home birth on iVillage?
Why not? I share everything else! Why would I leave out one of the most inspiring moments of my life? Besides, I owed that story to all the people who were kind enough to give me love and support after my husband died. My son was born only a month after my husband died. I had nobody to share things with except the people I knew online. I was all alone in a state we had just moved to — I had no support system in real life.
Why do you think rumors still persist about you returning to porn? What did you bring to the industry at that time that people are still hungry for five years after your retirement?
There are rumors about me returning to porn? I didn’t know that. Wishful thinking! I said when I first started at 19 that I would retire when I turned 30, and I did just that. I also said I didn’t want to grow old in front of the cameras, and to please shoot me –not with a camera — if I ever tried to make a comeback 10 or 20 years later. Good grief, I made like 300 movies. You could watch a new one every week for years and not run out. There’s no reason for me to ever come back. I don’t think I brought anything particularly special to the industry, except maybe that I helped pave the way for Asian girls to become A-listers in porn. But there’s Tera Patrick now. They don’t need me!
You took personal offense after an article said that your life as a runaway and porn actress was the result of very strict “Tiger Mom” Chinese-style parenting. I know that you’re actually half Japanese, but do you have a unique perspective on that “Tiger Mom” philosophy given your upbringing and now that you are actually a parent?
Took offense? No, I thought it was funny, and absolutely accurate. My mom was 100 percent a “tiger mom,” and exactly why I ran away from home. You can only push a kid so far before they’ll break under the pressure. I’m still a workaholic and perfectionist to this day because it was beaten into me so hard as a child. I’m trying hard to lead my children to have successful and fulfilling lives without ever becoming a Tiger Mom. My daughter has skipped two grades and makes straight A’s and A-pluses, but she thrives on praise and is extremely self-motivated. I don’t have to push her at all. I have my fingers crossed that my son will be as easy!
What’s next for Asia Carrera?
Well, as the only parent my children have left alive, I dedicate myself to them 100 percent, of course. But this fall, both kids will be in school full-time for the first time, and I will have some time to myself. I plan to do volunteer work. Probably helping out at the local animal shelter, and a part-time job at the dinosaur museum, working with the paleontologists and learning more about what they do and how they do it. I’m still a learning junkie after all these years!