For some, the idea of talking about porn is problematic; it’s a double-edged sword. Almost everyone indulges in it, but most see it as an unspeakable subject. It’s a topic that’s brought up by a group of friends, most likely half-jokingly. It’s something that makes or breaks a relationship. But for a select few, porn is just another day at the office. Donna Dolore, best known under her working name Princess Donna, is a pornographic actress, director and BDSM educator and without a doubt fits that last demographic.
Kink.com, which has received a lot of mainstream attention thanks to James Franco’s Sundance documentary Kink, is the site Donna has called home over the past couple of years directing scenes for some of their most notorious sites. “It’s been my entire life for the past eight years, basically. I’ve grown a lot as a director and as a performer,” Donna told me over the phone. “I’ve fought many battles there and won; I think I’m finally being recognized as an integral part of the company and that feels nice. It’s changed my life in that it’s been my life.”
“It’s funny, because you don’t know about the grand scheme of things when you’re younger. You just think that everybody’s life is generally the same and you don’t think there’s anything different. That’s sort of how it is for me. I don’t recognize that my job is different from anyone else’s until they mention it and then I think, oh yeah, I guess I can see what you’re talking about.”
At a young age Donna was curious about her sexuality, interested in photography and the politics of sex and gender as a young teen; she eventually studied at NYU and Tisch School of the Arts. The thing that set Donna apart is that she acted on those curiosities and, in time, made a career out of it. “I saw some bondage porn when I was younger, so that was my first time ever seeing it. When I moved to New York I started going to these play parties that were all female-bodied people play parties. I would go to those and just watch because I was shy and young but I was still really intrigued. I saw fisting [the act of inserting a hand into a vagina or rectum] there for the first time and I saw a takedown scene [when a dom physically overpowers a sub and throws them to the ground] for the first time there and I really loved both of those things. I remember really vividly watching the fisting and I was like, I wanna do that! But my first time ever being tied up or doing any actual BDSM was for a company called Insex that was in New York. So yeah, my first time being tied up is on camera. Basically my whole evolution as a [dom] is on camera through my shoots. At that time BDSM, bondage, and porn, meaning penetration with penis and vagina, were separate things. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that they merged. So I definitely started in the BDSM field.”
After graduating in 2004, Donna was hired on as the webmaster/director at a division of Kink.com and moved her life to San Francisco to direct and perform in Kink’s site Wired Pussy, where she held the title of the main dominatrix (though she notes on her website that she does not consider herself “a dominatrix” but a princess) and eventually created and directed scenes for other BDSM websites owned by the company most notably Public Disgrace and Hardcore Gangbang. “People don’t understand that the main ingredient to everything is consent. I don’t believe that there is any fantasy too extreme or too out there to enact between two consenting adults in a safe environment. I actually think that it helps people grow and become comfortable with who they are. And that little step to admit what you like in the bedroom will bleed over to the rest of your life and allow you to be more open with yourself and with others about what you need and who you are.”
While she admits that her on-screen persona Princess Donna pulls a lot from her personality, there are things that differ. “I just like it all. I like whatever is hot. I like being submissive and dommed. I think I have the classic businessman situation; when you’re in control all of the time you want to be able to let go when you’re not working. I’m more submissive in my personal life than I am on camera.”
With submissiveness comes humility. Although Donna has a tough-girl
exterior, that’s not to say she can’t be poked and prodded. Recently a harmless
friendly photo of her and James Franco surfaced and was plastered on gossip
“James Franco and the Tight-Fisted Porn Star” reads the TMZ
headline. James Franco Plans Next Project with Porn Director & 'Fisting'
Fetishist!” reads Perez Hilton. “The photo of James Franco and I took me out of my bubble. I saw my
entire identity boiled down to the word porn star or porn director, as if that
was all I was. For a minute it made me feel really bad, actually, the gossip
magazines and stuff, because I’ve always felt that I was doing really important
service to society and that what I do was doing more than just making jerk-off
material. It’s about making a stage space for people to explore fantasies and
feel more comfortable with who they are. It felt really bad. So for a minute I
questioned myself. Am I just doing something that’s worthless? I cried about it
for a while, but then I realized that this was actually an amazing opportunity
to tell the world on a wider scale about what my real mission is. That’s what
makes me feel happy. Getting to make fantasies come to life is what I’m here
But there are still those that don’t understand the sub culture and view it as degrading, abusive and even illegal. “BDSM, in my mind, is all about being. It really creates this world that it’s not only okay but it’s encouraged to talk about what you want and be able to get it. And about being able to push yourself in ways that some people read as painful but to others read as pleasurable. When I get smacked it doesn’t read as pain to me in a scene or in my personal life when it’s consensual. When someone hits me when I don’t ask for it, obviously that’s a different thing. So I think that’s one thing that people don’t understand. It’s not abuse if it’s consensual.”
Nowadays you’ll find Princess Donna in L.A., where she’s been living since late last year, and of course you can catch her as one of the stars of James Franco’s documentary Kink. “I’m also in a documentary Simone Jude has coming out called Public Sex, Private Lives. It’s not released yet, but I’m really excited to see it. Simone and I have been working together for years, and it followed me and Lorelei Lee and Isis Love…I think it will give an even deeper look into who we are and our family lives and all of that stuff.” Follow her life through her Blog or on Twitter at (NSFW) @princessdonna.