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The Daily Tar Heel

Porn Star Uses Nursing Skills to Nurture Healthy Sexuality

Nina Hartley, one of the most well- known performers in the adult entertainment industry, made that decision just over 15 years ago and hasn't looked back since.

"I'm as self-fulfilled and actualized as I ever dreamed of, and it's only going to get better," said the confident and articulate 40-year-old star of films such as "One Size Fits All."

Hartley, former host of a call-in sex talk-radio show in Los Angeles, has starred in close to 500 films during the course of her career (including a small role in 1997's "Boogie Nights"). Many have been what are called "features" in the adult film industry, but more and more the star has used her extensive experience in the business and medical background for educational purposes.

"The study of sexuality had always been an interest of mine," said Hartley, who graduated magna cum laude from San Francisco State with a bachelor's of science degree in nursing in 1985. "I realized this was my calling. In our culture sexuality is seen as sick, and sick people need a nurse's care."

Since 1995 Hartley has worked with Adam & Eve, a Hillsborough-based national distributor of adult videos and "sex-positive" products, to provide that care. The company features the Nina Hartley Collection -- "how-to" sex videos written, produced and directed by Hartley -- in its catalog.

"Explicit media can be used for all kinds of purposes, especially educational. I took a combination of explicit activity and combined it with factual information," she said of her Adam & Eve videos like "Nina Hartley's Guide to Better Fellatio" and "Nina Hartley's Making Love to Women."

The videos are among the best selling items in the Adam & Eve catalog. And from the feedback she's received, Hartley says they have been more than just commercially successful.

"I've gotten tremendous feedback," she said. "I've saved marriages. (The videos) are really helping people at home become more comfortable with their sexuality and behavior.

"A lot of people in our culture are sexually ignorant and fearful. The watching of a live-action videotape is very useful in helping with that. Just by giving people a place to start is very helpful."

But while Hartley might be trying to help people with her films, the fact is that many people see what she does as dirty, wrong and degrading to women -- sentiments the star vehemently contests.

Hartley said her medical background gave her a matter-of-fact perspective on sexuality from the beginning.

"For me, in my upbringing Mother Nature is never evil or wrong. Your body doesn't lie, and your body isn't evil."

And instead of degrading herself and other women by making pornographic films, Hartley insists she is a feminist.

"The bottom line of feminism is for women to be in control of their destinies," she said. "I don't care if you don't like (pornography). I'm doing it to become a self-fulfilled and actualized woman.

"I'm not doing pornography because I couldn't have a career in Hollywood," she said. "I'm doing pornography because I want to do pornography."

Hartley loves her work and plans to be involved in the adult film industry as long as possible. While there are roles she can no longer play because of her age, she said there is always a need for older authority figures such as doctors or teachers in adult films.

She'll still be involved in writing, direction and production long after she retires from starring roles, Hartley said.

And there are always the fans.

"I have a huge fan base which will always want to see me until I'm 80," she said.

Nina Hartley will perform at Dockside Dolls in Burlington today through Saturday.

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