Former Milwaukee exotic dancer Alia Janine Dailey-Willis took a long time to get into porn, and she didn’t stay long. She entered the business at age 30. Exactly four years and 150 scenes later, she was out. Now, she’s back in Milwaukee, getting ready to move to New York to pursue a mainstream career in makeup and film.
Judge her career decisions if you want, but Dailey-Willis doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. She entered the industry because she liked the money, the exposure and having sex. But now, she says porn is oversaturated and it was time to leave – "the only things free in life are porn and smiles."
We caught up with Dailey-Willis to discuss her career, her old-school Brewers tattoo and her future. Of course, based on the nature of her job, this interview is intended for adults, but won’t get you fired for reading it at work. Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Your story is fascinating. Walk me through how you wound up in your line of work.
Alia Janine Dailey-Willis: I used to be a dancer at Silk. The first strip club I worked at was Art’s Performing Center. I’ve worked at a bunch. The first place I ever auditioned was Rickey’s On State, and that pretty much scared me away from dancing until I was 21. Me, being 18, living in West Bend, thought maybe this wasn’t as cool of a job as I thought it was going to be.
OMC: What part of Milwaukee are you from?
AW: I was born and raised on the East Side until second grade, and then I moved to Port Washington, then back to Milwaukee. I moved to West Bend, then back to Milwaukee, then Texas, then back to Milwaukee, then West Bend for high school. When I turned 18, I moved back to Milwaukee.
I danced for about a year and a half when I was 20. I met this guy who didn’t want me dancing, then I broke up with that guy. I wanted to continue dancing, because I wanted to travel and do feature dancing.
OMC: Did you enjoy being a stripper?
AW: I actually really enjoy dancing, and the money is a super bonus, as well.
OMC: Meantime, you were a security guard?
AW: During that relationship, I went to MATC to be a cop. I got my degree in Police Science. I was a security guard at Summerfest.
OMC: You were a red shirt?
AW: Yeah. I was also an armored car driver.
OMC: How did you decide to enter the world of porn?
AW: It was around my 30th birthday when I moved to Florida to continue my dancing career. One of my friends from Silk in Juneau had done some modeling for Score magazine and told me she got paid all this money and got magazine credits. I thought I could do this. I really contemplated it, because it’s kind of a big thing. I had no problem with nude photos, but this was video. It’s different, you know. I decided I would go there and do the solo videos. I was living in Tampa, drove to Miami, and they booked me for three scenes. When I was there, they were in the middle of trying to cast girls for one of their featured films called "Mamazon."
OMC: Were you nervous?
AW: I was actually terrified. When you’re by yourself there isn’t a makeup artist or camera guy. It took me a year and a half to get comfortable with solo scenes.
OMC: So you decided to do "Mamazon?"
AW: I figured that I’ve done a lot more for less, so I decided to do this movie. I made sure I got paid an obnoxious amount of money.
OMC: How much, if I may ask?
AW: I got paid, for all of the scenes, almost $5,000. That’s a lot for a first movie.
OMC: Is having sex on video different than doing it in real life?
AW: It can be. You have to stop and position the lights or yourself differently. In this particular movie, they had me hanging from a tree. I enjoyed it thoroughly and thought that I could actually do this a couple of times.
OMC: Did your family know?
AW: At the time, I had talked to my uncle about it. He’s a big biker dude and that was a little interesting to try to explain to him what I was doing. He told me that I’d have to call my Uncle Bill to cancel his subscriptions to porn sites. I had to tell my family – I have two step-brothers. They weren’t thrilled about it, but as long as I was happy and safe and making money, they were going to support me. My family has been very supportive.
OMC: Then what?
AW: I had done 150-160 scenes over exactly four years. I started doing other stuff, like makeup and mainstream background work in music videos. I got hooked up with some comedians that I write jokes for.
OMC: Why did you get out so quickly?
AW: The industry has changed a lot; it’s really oversaturated with so many girls. Promoting yourself as a porn star is another full-time job. And my knees were really messed up, from being a cheerleader and in volleyball. I did one show where my knee was really bad. My doctor said that if I wanted to continue walking, I really shouldn’t be dancing anymore.
AW: That was the reason I started (porn), to push my dancing, but I got so involved with my porno career that I couldn’t even dance anymore.
OMC: Did you ever imagine that you’d be the kind of person who would have sex with hundreds of people?
AW: You know what’s funny? I had sex with probably 150 people before I ever even started. I actually worked with a lot of the same 10 guys. We had a wonderful thing called the "no list." So if you weren’t sexually attracted to someone, you don’t have to work with them.
OMC: Were there people on your no list?
AW: Oh yeah. There were a couple people where there was no attraction. You want people to see that you’re into it.
OMC: You were typecast in the "mom" or "cougar" stereotype, but you’re not old. Are you even a mother?
AW: Not that I’m aware of. I’m in my 30s, so I’m older, but it’s the way my body is built, people automatically assume "mom."
OMC: At least you’re doing it with young guys and not old dudes, I suppose.
AW: That did not suck. I’ve worked with Ron Jeremy, though. He’s not the Ron Jeremy of the ‘70s, that’s for sure. It was a little weird, I’m not going to lie.
OMC: Why is porn so formulaic?
AW: Is depends what company you work for. Fans know what they like, but some just let us go at it then edit it together. The more corporate companies are more, um, corporate with positions.
OMC: Do the corporate companies pay better?
AW: For an average boy-girl scene, I always got paid at least $900-$1,000. I worked for Naughty America a lot; I was one of their top 100 models. Because they hired me so much, I lowered my rate to $1,000.
OMC: Did you make enough money in porn to retire and never work again?
AW: Uh, no. I like what I do now, which is why I retired. I’ve been in soft-core movies on Showtime and stuff.
OMC: Would you get back into porn if the right opportunity came up?
AW: No, probably not. It would have to be something pretty frickin’ spectacular. I really enjoyed it and I have no regrets, but once I’m done with something, I’m done with something. I still love to watch it, though.
OMC: Did you watch your own stuff?
AW: You know, I can’t, really. I’ve tried. I kind of did when I first started, but no, it’s awkward. I’ll watch the first part of the "acting." I do tend to be kind of funny, I’ve found out.
OMC: How did you pick your porn name?
AW: It’s actually my real first and middle name. I’m not hiding my real name at all. I think my name is pretty cool, and being a dancer for so many years, I’ve had all sorts of names. Mostly guy names. My favorite was Gauge. I was thinking of Gauge Couture, but it sounded like an MMA fighter. But it’s not like I was going to be able to hide after doing this. So I just went with my real name.
OMC: And you have a Brewers tattoo.
AW: I do, I have Brewers logo on the inside of my left ankle. There are quite a few porn scenes with a Brewers logo. I know that there are a couple of other girls from Wisconsin, but I don’t think they sport a Brewers logo.
OMC: Are drugs a gigantic problem in the industry?
AW: You hear things about certain people. I partied a lot when I was younger, but going to L.A. when I was 30, I had already done that stuff. It’s no different than at a strip club or a regular bar. You hear about girls who really like Xanax, but I didn’t see huge problems. I’ve always been a marijuana fan, but cotton mouth (in porn) and weed don’t go well together.
OMC: You don’t sound like someone who has been exploited. Were you the one doing the exploiting? Are your peers being exploited?
AW: It depends on the common sense of the girl. When they’re younger, they unfortunately don’t have the street smarts. It’s sad, but they do it to themselves by not paying attention. I definitely knew what I was doing, that I wanted to do it. I knew how to do it properly with marketing, so I was the opposite.
OMC: In person, you don’t really look like a porn star. Is that on purpose?
AW: I’d like to think that I don’t, but people recognize me. I had a guy come up to me yesterday and recognize me at McGillicudy’s.
OMC: Well, you’re wearing clothes, for one thing.
AW: That’s a big factor. I’ve always stood out because I’m very tall and thin, but I have hips and really obnoxiously large boobs.
OMC: Are you in a relationship now?
AW: Not technically speaking. I’ve been casually dating someone for over a year and a half now. He’s obviously happy that I retired. I don’t really do relationships all that much, so I like the casual thing. Although he lives in New York, so I only saw him once or twice a month. Now that I’m moving there I don’t know what will happen.
OMC: Did porn sex ruin you for real sex?
AW: No, it has made real sex a lot better because I know a lot more about my body and all these cool little tricks.
OMC: Tell me some non-porn stuff.
AW: There's a new movie coming out from Spike Jonze with Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. I'm in this movie, just doing background work, but I'm in a Spike Jonze movie. When I move to New York, I'll have a manager to help me with that, as well as the soft-core cheesy, sci-fi movies, and my standup comedy. I am also going back to school to be a therapist.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.