Asa Akira talks feminist porn, ‘Rick and Morty’ fetishes, and hosting the Pornhub Awards

For 11 years, Pornhub has been on the forefront of the online porn revolution, making adult entertainment absurdly easy to find. So it makes sense that after billions of views and millions of uploaded videos, Pornhub is holding its first award show. Utilizing streaming data and fan voting, the Pornhub Awards aims to be the first adult film awards decided by the viewers.

At the helm of the show is adult superstar and Pornhub ambassador Asa Akira. One of the most popular porn stars on Earth, a published author, and host of the Pornhub Podcast, Akira was the obvious choice to host the inaugural Pornhub Awards. She was kind enough to sit down with the Daily Dot to talk about the Pornhub Awards, changes in the industry, and what porn trends manage to surprise her.

Daily Dot: What do you feel separates the Pornhub Awards from other industry award shows?

Asa Akira: There are a few things. First and foremost, this is going to be the first award show streaming in VR, in virtual reality. That’s pretty huge. People are going to have the experience of sitting in the audience and really being at the show. Also, the awards themselves are different because they’re based on numbers and data and fan votes rather than a committee of people sitting in a room and voting. That’s definitely different. I don’t think it’s necessarily better than the other, but I think it’s cool to be able to see if the results are going to differ.

DD: What award category are you most excited about?

Akira: You know, I haven’t really been performing much in the last year. So this is the first awards show I’m attending where I don’t have a lot of anxiety going in, aside from my hosting duties. Usually going into an awards show, it’s months and months of like, “Oh, what am I nominated for? What am I going to win? Do I actually have a chance?” There’s a lot of anxiety around it. And I don’t think people like to admit that, because at the end of the day, you know, they’re awards for sucking dicks. But it’s also what you’ve been doing with your whole year. It’s your career. It’s your life, so it’s nice to be recognized.

As for what awards I’m excited about, I obviously want to see all my friends win. I’m also really excited to see who wins big in the male categories. For the female performers, it’s a little bit more clear-cut. You can always tell who’s doing really well in the business that year as a woman. It’s a little bit more vague for the guys. 

DD: What’s something positive that you feel Pornhub has brought to the industry and audiences?

Akira: I think Pornhub is actually bringing in a really feminist way of doing porn, oddly. And a lot of that is just me speaking personally because I haven’t been shooting as much mainstream porn in the last few years. I’m doing a lot of stuff on my own on programs like Modelhub (Pornhub’s partner program for performers), where I’m completely in control of my own content.

I shoot whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want, then upload it, and then I make all the money. And there’s no middleman of a producer. There’s no director. While I completely enjoyed shooting that kind of [mainstream] porn while I did it and that was always the dream for me, I think it’s really cool to see this other way of doing porn: where a woman can be totally in control of her own project and be the sole owner of it. I really appreciate that now.

I also think Pornhub is doing a lot in normalizing porn. Because porn is so easily accessible by everyone now, it’s opening up the conversation about sex and porn in general. It’s bringing a different crowd of people to porn. The stereotypical story you heard from back in the day was like, “Oh, you know this person moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.” And then before you know it, they were shooting software porn, and before you know it, they were shooting hardcore porn, and they just kind of fell into it.

Now, myself included, there’s a whole generation of people who grew up watching porn and aspired to be porn stars. You saw people owning their own sexuality on camera and being celebrated for their sexuality rather than shunned for it. And I think when people like that come into porn, it’s a really fun industry because there’s a camaraderie there. All these people are hyper-sexual and sexually open and really celebrating their sexuality. I think that’s a really positive thing that all the tube sites are doing, not just Pornhub.

DD: I know you said the Pornhub Awards are going to be decided using a mix of online data and fan voting. As the industry works to constantly top itself and figure out what viewers want to see, have any trends in porn really, really surprised you?

Akira: Yeah. Constantly. It’s funny because I think a lot of the more shocking ones I really understand. Like, incest porn is huge right now and that I can understand. I can see why something like incest porn would be huge.

But I think the things that surprise me are more like… like I know Rick and Morty porn was really heavily searched this year. Fidget-spinner porn was really searched this year. People sexualizing these current trends always surprises me. I just don’t get it, I guess. I mean, what is the person who types “fidget spinner” in Pornhub really looking for? I don’t even know. I do know that anytime the search numbers go up on anything, there is a company that’s going to produce it. There are a few companies that are going to produce it. [Laughter]

Are people, like, masturbating when they watch Rick and Morty porn? Or are they watching it as pure entertainment in a non-sexual way? I don’t know.

The Pornhub Awards will stream Thursday, Sept. 6, live in VR and 2D.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.