Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Interview with Becca Benz


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Becca Benz, an American model, writer, blogger, adult movie actress, Army veteran, trans advocate, and columnist for Transformation Magazine and her weekly column Through The Benz on Grooby.com, and formally for TransGlobal Magazine. Becca also has her own blog at BeccaBenz.com Hello Becca! You look fantastic!
Becca: Hello Monika, and thank you! I was fortunate to be born with good genes and a fast metabolism! Healthy living has also helped, along with working out at the gym six days a week to keep this old body in decent shape!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Becca: People know me mainly for my modeling and writing under the name Becca Benz, but my real name is Rebecca Pell. The past several years have been full of amazing experiences, but I also led an interesting life before I ventured into modeling. I served in the United States Army, worked at a university managing a research center, managed environmental remediation projects for the federal government, worked as a seasonal wildland firefighter during summer breaks while in college, and worked several summers for the National Park Service on a backcountry trail crew.
Along the way I got married, we had two sons, got divorced and I was a single parent raising my sons for most of their lives. Throughout my life I have struggled with gender dysphoria, trying to figure out who and what I was and where I fit into the world, along with severe depression. It’s been quite a journey but I have survived and am happy and feel more alive than ever!

2017 Transgender Erotica Awards, TEA Con, holding
Transformation Magazines - taken by Daily Celeb.

Monika: You are a lady of many talents. Which vocation do you regard as your main profession? Modeling, photographing, or acting in adult movies?
Becca: I would have to say writing is my main profession now and for the foreseeable future. I’ve always loved to write and feel very privileged to be able to do it for a living and to have a voice within the trans community and adult entertainment industry through my writing.
Photography has always been a hobby I enjoyed, and I generally prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. I still do occasional modeling when it’s something that interests me, such as being a model in a recent bridal show and getting to walk the runway in a bridal gown, which was a special moment and a dream come true. I’d say my modeling career in the adult entertainment industry has run its course, although I might consider doing another shoot for Grooby if the opportunity arose. 
Monika: How did you come into the adult movies industry? Are you satisfied with your career?
Becca: I got into the adult entertainment industry as a model in a roundabout way. I had intended to contact porn companies in hopes of finding a job on the business/administrative side of things; it was only by accident that I happened to see a post on Steven Grooby’s blog about how to apply to be a model for Grooby Productions, and after seeing pictures of some of the models I thought maybe I’m pretty enough to be a model. But then reality kicked in and I thought there was no way they would ever want someone my age, which was 52 at the time, and that I didn’t have what it takes to be a model.

Photoshoot with Dave Naz, 2016.

So, I sent a cover letter along with my resume to Grooby Productions to inquire about jobs, and at the last minute decided to go ahead and apply to be a model, thinking if nothing else it would be a fun story to tell! I never would have dreamed that they would actually want to do a shoot with me, but then I received an email from Steven Grooby telling me they would like to do a shoot and that a photographer would be getting in touch with me.
I did the shoot in September of 2014 and the rest is history! lol, That turned out to be the only porn shoot I ever did, but it opened a lot of doors that gave me the opportunity to work in various other positions within the industry, and eventually led to writing my weekly column “Through The Benz” on Grooby.com.
I had offers to do other shoots at various times but held off, waiting to see how things went in other areas of my life. I would have liked to have done another shoot with Grooby but it never worked out. And to be honest I enjoyed the bikini and lingerie shoots a lot more than the porn shoots.
So, to answer your question, yes, I’m very satisfied with my porn career, as brief as it was, because it was a means to an end, and I ended up doing something I’m passionate about -  writing.
Monika: You were not afraid of some ramifications of your decision to be a porn actress? Some ladies that I interviewed indicated that once you get involved in the porn industry, you cross the line and you close forever other options that you can have in life … 
Becca: This was something which I spent a great deal of time thinking about because I also felt once I did porn there would be no going back and I’d lose any chance of ever getting a “normal” job in mainstream society. I was also very concerned that the stigma from doing porn would take away any credibility I had in the trans community. I spent a long time thinking about this and considering the long-term implications not only to my life but also to my family. But I eventually decided to do it because I saw it as an opportunity that could lead to bigger and better things.
I never had any desire to be a pornstar, it was simply one step in a larger plan to get my life moving forward so I could find a job and feel productive again. And my plan actually worked! And the interesting thing is that all my fears about doing porn turned out to be completely unfounded. If anything, it allowed me to have a bigger voice in the trans community, and I finally gained the confidence to find my own way and to realize I no longer had to limit myself to trying to find the same type of work I did prior to transitioning. So for me, porn didn’t close off options, it gave me more because I started believing in myself and realized I could do anything I set my mind to.

Photoshoot with Misty Mae DeChant
of Pink Bridge Photography, 2014.

Monika: You were the 2016 Transgender Erotica Awards Best Internet Personality nominee. Is it possible to make both ends meet with being a transgender adult actress?
Becca: I was nominated in 2016 and 2017 and actually won the 2016 Transgender Erotica Award for Best Internet Personality, which is something I’m tremendously proud of. As a model and writer being active on social media is an important part of my job; it’s crucial to interact with followers and get feedback and generate more interest in my writing to increase readership.
So, to answer the question, yes, being active on social media is a vital part of being a model and a vital part of ensuring success. Plus, I love interacting with my friends and fans on social media! Ironically, I don’t actually post much about porn anymore, I mostly post about food or baseball, or current events. My social media accounts started off as a way to promote my porn career, but have evolved over time and moved away from porn and expanded to other interests, which is why it surprises me that I continue to gain followers at the rate I have.
Monika: Some transgender activists say that transgender adult movies create a negative image of the whole transgender community. What would be your answer in this respect?
Becca: As I mentioned earlier I had similar thoughts about the stigma of being a porn model, but now that I’ve had the opportunity to work in the industry in a variety of capacities my views on that have changed.
There is still such a stigma attached to working in the porn industry, especially for trans women, because society still clings to the outdated stereotypes that anyone who works in the adult entertainment industry must be a bad person, which seems silly because as the name implies, it’s entertainment; we are simply providing a product for the entertainment of our customers. We are not corrupting society. If people choose to think porn is immoral then fine, that’s their prerogative, but what is not okay is to impose your views on others and to shame them because you don’t agree with their views or actions.

Photoshoot with Al Tom of Altomic Visuals, 2015.

And shame is something we cannot ignore or pretend doesn’t exist because unfortunately shame is all too prevalent in today’s society and is used as a means of taking away people’s dignity and sense of worth. And that must stop. Shame is something that many transgender people, including me, have struggled with; I felt ashamed and embarrassed about myself for most of my life because of being transgender, and have also been shamed for working in the porn industry and my association with people in the industry, which made me question everything about myself and who I was, and I let that bring me back down to the dark place I worked so hard to escape from. I let them make me feel ashamed, and that’s not okay. Shame kills. Shame eats away at the core of who we are and makes us question everything. It leads to depression. It leads to suicide. It leads to hate, especially the worst kind of hate; hating ourselves. I am still the same person I have always been, and I'd even say I’m a better person now because I’m happy.
In fact, I would say I’m a better person now because I’m happy. I’m still kind and caring, I still have the same morals and values, and I still treat people with respect. None of that has changed because I did porn. What has changed is that I’ve gained a ton of self-confidence, I learned how to love myself, I found happiness, and I found my passion in life; to be a strong voice for my community and my industry. None of those changes would have been possible if I hadn’t been welcomed into an industry that accepted me for who I am and shown me nothing but respect and support, and most of all, love.
So, to answer your question, no, I don’t feel working in porn creates a negative image of the trans community. Porn in all its forms has been around forever and is not going away anytime soon, and let’s not forget that it’s not just trans people who work in the porn industry. 
In fact, I would venture to say the porn industry actually benefits many people within the trans community in a variety of ways. It provides a means of employment for many of us who have struggled to find work after coming out and often leads to opportunities outside of the porn industry. And just as importantly, it allows us to gain self-confidence and to feel good about ourselves.

2017 Transgender Erotica Awards
Pre-party, taken by Daily Celeb.

Now, I’m sure many of you are thinking I must be very shallow if I let compliments about my looks or my body mean anything. But for most of my life, I hated my body and how I looked, and doing porn was a major reason I was able to gain self-confidence and feel better about myself, which literally changed my life in so many ways. So, if the porn industry can help trans people to feel better about themselves and provide work, then I’d say that’s a win-win situation.
And one final thought; it’s been my experience that those who are the most critical and vocal about the evils of porn usually have very little actual knowledge of the industry and haven’t spent time with people who work in the industry, so their claims are usually baseless. And really, aren’t there more pressing issues to worry about than porn?

END OF PART 1

 
All the photos: courtesy of Becca Benz.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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