Interview

Danni Daniels

by Alex Fury .

Photo by Nick Knight

My favourite sentence is when someone starts by saying 'he,' then refers to me as 'she,' and at the end refers to me as 'he' again. And they don't realise it. I love that.

Born in New York, Danni Daniels is a performance artist, model and adult film star who has appeared in a number of successful and innovative adult features. Preferring to step... [Read More]


Alex Fury: Your work seems a contrast between high fashion and hardcore porn. But more: it's actually looking at them both on the same level, as performance.

Danni Daniels: We're now bringing the two together, there are two companies that have started to create art pornography. Actually in two days a pornographic film I made in San Francisco is being released called Alien Abduction - it's done in green screen, floating-in-space sex! It was really hard to pull off: hanging upside down and trying to penetrate someone, it isn't the easiest.

Alex Fury: Taking it to another level?

Danni Daniels: But I'm excited for it to come out it was done really well and I'm just really excited to see a lot of the special effects and things that they have used for it.

Alex Fury: It's in direct opposition to the stripped-back 'Gonzo' porn of the past ten or fifteen years.

Danni Daniels: They're pumping so much money into the pornographic industry right now. And transsexual porn - unfortunately, only male to female transsexual porn - is the leader in the industry, by far. It actually outsells lesbian porn, which is the second highest demographic, two to one. It's also at the forefront of being exciting and original, and in being exciting and original they want to make the production value exciting and original…

I want to say that there has been a fight or a struggle to make things unique, but it seems like everything just unfolds. I never stand down, I never back down from who I am. I don't gender identify at all, and I'm never offended by anyone calling me any name in the book: she-male, tranny, sir, m'am. It never has been an issue of me trying to adapt. It's always been 'Danni is Danni, Danni does what Danni does'. Just stand back and let it happen.

It's so interesting because, when I began, I had heard the horror stories. Luckily, I knew my family was okay with anything that I wanted to do in my life. And I've never changed dramatically. I've had very little plastic surgery.  I've only had the breasts done, slightly.

Alex Fury: Is it mainly hormones?

Danni Daniels: Mainly hormones, and then I got implants. I've had my nose done and my Adam's Apple shaved. But I haven't had any injections or anything to pump my face. I do have a bit of a stance against it actually.

Alex Fury: Which is quite rare. I know lots of transsexuals have a great deal of work, even having their faces 'Feminised'?

Danni Daniels: Pour into a mould, let it harden for a couple of weeks then you pull it out and you're a different person. It's scary to me. It's scary to me that a lot of transsexuals have these role models that they feel they have to emulate, and so many of them are so over the top. Its blatantly obvious to me - but not to the young generations of transsexuals - that misery needs company. The topic of conversation goes to plastic surgery immediately, or goes to escorting. You know 90 percent - in fact, I would say 99 percent of transexuals - working in the pornographic industry also work professionally either as an escort or a dominatrix. Thats how they make their money. The pornographic industry can only pay so much and you really have to be on it with affiliates and things to break even.

Alex Fury: So you have to focus - it has to really be what you want to do as a career?

Danni Daniels: Yes. And a lot of people don't put that kind of energy into it. They take a pay check and they walk away. But its a passion for me. I've been writing scripts to start episodic porns, art films. Its going to be very similar to [the television series] Spartacus, but with sexual punishment.

Alex Fury: That kind of fits quite well with a reference I read to your body being like a Greek statue.

Danni Daniels: I hope I wasn't the one who made that quote. I hope I wasn't the one who described myself as a Greek statue!

Alex Fury: But looking at your body it's definitely Amazonian: its like a Supermodel's body. That fits in with the idea of gender blurring. The idea that when something is hyper-feminine, there's always something masculine about it.

Danni Daniels: Yes, but there's never a point in time where I feel that I'm too masculine or feel that I'm too feminine. The only times that I do feel uncomfortable is when people try to portray me as something, as a single gender. That tends to make me uncomfortable. If I'm in a gown I feel like I'm a total drag queen, it doesn't feel appropriate at all. But on the other side of the spectrum I feel so much more comfortable in a hoodie and jeans and a tank top.

Alex Fury: I suppose because that could be worn by men and women -  where as, in a dress, you're either a woman, or a man in drag.

Danni Daniels: So many of these transsexual girls will spend two hours on make-up before they will leave the house. There are so many things that they are uncomfortable with that they won't let anyone see them before they've completely done up their face to be a woman.

But its one of my really big passions is that I really want to do a male underwear ad. A topless, male underwear ad: David Beckham-style black and white, sweaty, bulge, that's it. I think it would be really exciting, I think it would just blow people's minds if it was just on billboards. That's one of my really big passions now, and it has been for a while.

Alex Fury: I was going to ask if you see yourself part of the way through transforming yourself, as if your gender identity is half-complete - but that is evidently not the case.

Danni Daniels: It's my goal to kind of start a revolution. The role models for transsexuals nowadays are so fake, and it's so easy to become overwhelmed. I fell into it as well: when you first start there are hormone injections, body therapy, there's electrolysis, just tons and tons. And I was like 'Oh fuck all that, screw it! I'll get around to that if I feel like it but I'm just going to go about it that way!'

I'm a bit offended by transexuals who will stop you mid sentence and say something like 'No he. Identified by "he".' I get referred to as female, and I get to referred to as male, all the time. Actually my favourite sentence is when someone starts by saying 'he,' then refers to me as 'she,' and at the end refers to me as 'he' again. And they don't realise it. I love that.

Alex Fury: Do you identify with the whole idea of 'gender fuck'? This idea of really mixing up concepts of gender?

Danni Daniels: I don't want to confuse people and I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable. I have, pretty much straight down the middle, attraction to females and to males. Thats really exciting to me, the fact that I'm appealing to both sexes. Even a really hetero-straight male will never be edgy around me - but also because I have that very relaxed attitude about who I am. A lot of transsexuals have this rod up their ass, the way they hold themselves, the way they alter their voice. Thats another big thing is that I refuse to alter: my voice. Lots of transsexuals raise their voice really high and really breathy and sound like a twelve year old girl. I think thats creepy: they take the physical up and beyond, and then alter every other element.

Alex Fury: It's the idea of a construct, I suppose - that you're playing a role or a part.

Danni Daniels: It irritates me just as bad - if not worse - when a heterosexual male uses a voice way below their regular octave. Really? That must hurt by the end of the night! Its social stereotypes that hurt me: right now, I want to keep all social stereotypes as far away as possible.