March 3, 2017
Becca Benz was one of my very first interview back in 2015. In 2016, Becca won Best Internet Personality at the TEA (Transgender Erotica Awards) and has once again nominated at this year’s awards.
PornOCD: Well, it has been exactly 631 days since our interview you have been busy. Looking back now, what five words can you find to describe how your life has been since our first interview?
Becca: Roller-coaster, Surreal, Happiness, Loss, Pain.
PornOCD: So let’s go all the way back to the start of 2016. How did the year start for you and what were your ambitions, plans for the new year ahead?
Becca: When 2016 began, I was living in Los Angeles working for Venus Lux. I was living the dream and having a blast enjoying the social life there and being part of such an amazing community. I’d been hesitant about moving to Los Angeles because I’d never cared for big cities, but once I was there, I quickly fell in love with the city and the atmosphere. And of course I loved the weather! The job had its challenges, but it allowed me to live where I wanted to be. It had been a struggle to reach the point in life where I was happy and felt productive, but I was finally there and felt like everything had finally fallen into place and that the worst was behind me. Life was good. But unfortunately 2016 soon went from being a dream to a nightmare.
PornOCD: You did some shoots with Grooby Productions. Was the plan to do more scenes. Porn, etc?
Becca: After my initial shoot with Grooby in September of 2014, I took a wait and see approach to see how things unfolded. I had never planned to do a ton of shoots and become a famous porn star; I looked at getting into porn as a means to an end, as a way to open more doors. And it worked; it led to some really amazing opportunities to work for Venus Lux and to write for Grooby. And more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to have a voice in the trans community and the porn industry, which has become really important to me. Advocacy is where my heart is. So, the short answer is that I was more focused on writing and advocacy work than shooting porn, although I still enjoyed doing bikini and lingerie shoots, which are more my style. After winning the TEA for Best Internet Personality earlier this year, I did approach a couple of people at Grooby about doing another shoot, but there wasn’t much interest, which kind of hurt. But I realize this is a business, and besides, everyone at Grooby has been so good to me so I couldn’t be too mad about it. lol
PornOCD; I was so proud of you when you won the award at the TEA awards Best Internet Personality. What feelings did you have when you heard you name announced. Did you expect to win?
Becca: Thank you, that means a lot coming from you since you’re a friend and I have a great deal of respect for you and the work you do. That whole night was like a fairy tale come true. I’ll admit I was hoping I’d win, just like everyone else, but the list of nominees was pretty impressive and I tried to keep my expectations realistic. I was just honored to have been nominated, and anything beyond that was icing on the cake! I remember when my picture went up on the screen when they were announcing the nominees and thinking how cool that was, and then when my name was announced as the winner, it was like a bolt of lightning went through my body and all I remember was saying Oh My God! I was so stunned that I ended up forgetting to hug several of the people at our table, which I still feel bad about. After that everything is pretty much a blur. lol I just wanted to make it to the stage and up the stairs without tripping over my gown. lol I don’t remember much about being on stage, and it wasn’t until I got backstage and had my picture taken with the award that it started to sink it. And then I sat down with Michelle Austin to do an interview and that got me back to reality. Michelle was great and she guided me through the interview, which oddly enough I’ve still never actually seen. lol I went back to my table and I remember getting lots of hugs and congratulations, and smiling non-stop. And then it was over and I took an Uber home and got changed and was sitting in bed thinking about all that had happened and wondering if it was all just a dream. But I only had to look at the cool award with my name on it to realize it really did happen. That was a magical night I’ll never forget.
PornOCD: How much fun did you have at the TEA awards, or is what happens at the party stays at the party?
Becca: TEA is an amazing experience in so many ways. The award is cool, but what really matters to me is getting to be around friends and the people I care about. We’re there to celebrate our industry and recognize people for their achievements, but it’s also like a family reunion. The porn industry for me is way more than just a business. It’s a group of people I love and who are like family to me, and to win the award and get to share that with so many of the people I care about made it all the more special. The TEA is very surreal for me, because never could I have imagined that I would be attending something like that, let alone becoming the social butterfly that I’ve become. lol It’s so much fun getting to socialize and talk to all these wonderful people, and getting the chance to make new friends. And then you have all the photographers taking your picture and it makes for a very surreal experience! I mean, you get to dress up in a gown and go to a bunch of cool parties and events with porn stars and drink and have fun. What more could you ask for?
The other moment that really stands out for me was when a friend I knew from Facebook, David Rogers, brought me a bouquet of flowers, and the special effort his friend made to make sure he was able to find me and give me the flowers. It’s always nice to get flowers, but to have someone as sweet as David go out of his way to give me such beautiful flowers really meant a lot to me.
PornOCD: You are now well known and very well respected across the genre. How does that feel to you.
Becca: Every time I look at the number of Twitter followers @missbeccabenz I have it blows me away! I remember when I first created the profile and worrying if I’d ever get any followers, and now look where I am. It’s been a crazy ride! I feel like I have a wide variety of people who follow me, and that it’s not just because of my porn career. I have friends on there who I chat with about baseball, or cooking, writing, reading, photography, history, and a whole bunch of other interests. Social media is also important for advocacy and support and sharing information and being a voice in my community. And of course there are the hashtag games which I’ve recently discovered and become addicted to! It’s difficult to express how much that respect means to me. To have been welcomed into this industry and to not only be accepted but to have earned the respect of the people I work with and the many friends I’ve made on social media is very humbling. At first it made me uncomfortable when people would tell they look up to me or would call me a role model, but now I’ve learned to embrace it, and that motivates me to do even better. The industry and fans have given me so much, and I feel honored to be able to give back to them any way I can.
I feel a sense of responsibility to live up to people’s expectations of me, and that can be tough at times. I’m like anyone else in that there are things I struggle with or times when I want to rant, which I’ve probably done a little too often lately. And it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with depression and I feel like I have to be strong so I don’t let anyone down. I’ve always tried to be open and honest about myself and my life, but I wonder sometimes if I share too much about my personal life.
PornOCD: What keeps you motivated to keep working hard and keep pushing your goals?
Becca: I think it’s human nature to want to prove yourself and to be successful at what you do. And I think there is an added pressure for trans people because so often we struggle with self-confidence and feel like we have to fight to be accepted. I’ve always felt like I had to prove my worth in order to make the people in my life proud of me. And I’ve always felt the need to be productive and to be a contributing member of society. Before I transitioned I was a parent and working full-time and I did okay. But losing my job shortly after I transitioned led to depression from the extended unemployment, and that was a difficult time in my life. So when I’d finally found another job and felt like I was being productive again and contributing something positive, it meant a lot, which made it all the more painful to once again be in the position of not having a full-time job and not feeling productive.
I’ve never wanted to be rich or famous, I just wanted to make enough to pay the bills and to be in a position where I could enjoy life and contribute something positive and to be a good friend to the people in my life. 2016 has been a tough year and it’s been a struggle at times to find the motivation to keep moving forward. I’ve lost a lot this year and sometimes I feel like I don’t have much reason to keep pushing through this.
PornOCD: I have to say I love sitting down over a coffee and reading your interviews. How did it all come about you interviewing for Grooby?
Becca: Thank you, I’m very flattered because I look to you and Caramel as the benchmark to which I aspire, so that means a lot. After Venus Lux fired me, everyone at Grooby really supported me through what was a very difficult time. Steven and Kristel reached out to me and asked if I’d like to write a column for Grooby, and I jumped at the opportunity. The people at Grooby are like family to me, and I feel very honored to be part of the Grooby team. They gave me the opportunity to shoot with them which led to so many good things in my life, and I feel a strong sense of loyalty to them, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather work for.
PornOCD: The world has had some very big events, changes in the time since we last interviewed. If you had to pick out three that you think were earth moving events, tell us how they have affected you?
Becca: I think the 2016 Presidential Election has had a very negative impact on our country, and having Donald Trump as President will have far-reaching consequences across the globe. The election was extremely ugly and divisive and left Americans feeling angry and questioning whether this was an example of our political system working or showing how broken it is. The LGBTQ community is especially fearful of what a Trump presidency will mean for us given that Trump and the people he has appointed to his administration have made it clear they intend to take away any and all of the rights and protections that we’ve gained during the Obama Administration.
HB2 in North Carolina was an extremely controversial bill that polarized the nation. It was a horrible, bigoted piece of legislation that should never have passed, but it served a purpose by showing the entire nation exactly the type of hate and discrimination that we in the trans community face. And it succeeded in mobilizing the trans community and its allies, along with bringing in a lot of new and powerful allies to stand up and fight for us. Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, among others, canceled their performances in North Carolina to protest the law. PayPal and Deutsche Bank canceled their plans to expand in the state. Lionsgate Entertainment, the A&E Network, and Director Rob Reiner say they won’t film TV shows and movies in North Carolina if HB2 isn’t repealed. And the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, costing the city upward of $100 million. It’s estimated that HB2 has cost North Carolina close to $400 million and thousands of lost jobs. The people spoke very loudly, and then it was the government’s turn to speak. On May 9th Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that The Department of Justice has sued the state of North Carolina to block implementation of HB2. In a speech that will forever be hailed as a turning point for transgender rights, Attorney General Lynch blasted the law as “state-sponsored discrimination,” comparing the law to segregation laws of the past. Speaking directly to the transgender community, she went on to say “This action is about a great deal more than bathrooms. This is about the dignity and the respect that we accord our fellow citizens,” she said. “It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country, haltingly but inexorably, in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans.” And with those words she became one of the leading advocates for transgender rights and a hero to many of us. So even though the bill passed it ended up doing a lot of positive things for the trans community and opened people’s eyes to the discrimination we face.
Brexit, the June 23, 2016 referendum where British citizens voted to exit the European Union, was a huge news story and was a glaring example of how unstable the world is. Add to that continuing tension with North Korea, the ongoing Middle-East situation, China’s economic downturn, global terrorism, the threat from ISIS, the debt crisis in Greece, and the list goes on and on. The other big event which I’ll remember was when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in June of 2015 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. The fight for marriage equality had been a long and difficult path and to finally win was a huge moment in this country.
PornOCD: As 2016 comes to a close, how is it living in the USA in the LGBTQ community? Has the country become more accepting?
Becca: I think going into 2016 the trans community felt really good about the progress we’d made towards being accepted by society, along with the amount of legislation which had been passed to protect our rights and prevent discrimination. And with SCOTUS ruling in favor of marriage equality and the military ending the ban on trans people serving openly, thing were progressing in the right direction. But 2016 has proven to be a challenging year for the LGBTQ community and in particular trans people, with a lot of legislation being proposed and passed such as “bathroom bills” which make it illegal for trans people to use the bathroom that matches our gender, and “religious freedom” legislation which enables open discrimination based on religious beliefs. And of course HB2 in North Carolina is still on the books and continues to be a subject of controversy. But in spite of these challenges the community continues to move forward. But with Donald Trump winning the presidential election all our progress is now jeopardized. The LGBTQ community is fearful about what may lie ahead of us; we’re hoping for the best we’re preparing for the worst.
PornOCD: You have served in the Military. Will the Military ever truly accept TS men and women 100%?
Becca: The Pentagon finally got rid of the ban earlier this year that prevented trans people from openly serving, which was a huge step forward, but who knows if that will change once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. And Mike Pence is on record for supporting the return of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which didn’t allow gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces until it was repealed in 2010. So as far as policies allowing the LGBT community to serve openly, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now about what the future holds.
The bigger question is how military personal are going to accept trans people in the military; just because there is a policy in place which allows us to serve doesn’t mean it will be easy. The military has always been a very “macho” culture, partly out of necessity, and it will take time to change that attitude. But there are a lot of good people working hard to make that happen, and I feel that trans people will eventually be accepted. While gender and sexuality can certainly be issues for some people in the military I think the bottom line will always be whether someone, regardless if they are LGBTQ or not, can do their job and keep their buddies alive on the battlefield. A true soldier will put the mission and their teammates first and not let anything else affect that.
PornOCD: Looking from across the pond from the UK we see Caitlyn Jenner is a lot of people’s idea of a role model / ambassador for the TS community. Lots of people have positive and negative opinions. What are your thoughts?
Becca: Caitlyn Jenner has been a lightening-rod of controversy since she came out as trans. I tried to write a column about her but found it was difficult to do without coming across as being overly critical, so I ended up not writing it. But regardless of whether or not we agree with her views and some of the things she’s said, I think everyone agrees that she played a huge role in bringing trans issues to the forefront of mainstream society, and the resulting attention she got from the national media helped to get society to see us and to realize that we as a community could no longer be pushed aside and ignored. So all things considered, I feel we in the trans community owe her a debt of gratitude for all she’s done to help our community.
PornOCD: You have interviewed a number of TS pornstars right at the top of the industry. What is your process for doing a good interview?
Becca: Up to this point I’ve mainly been interviewing people who I find interesting and have wanted to interview, but I have to get better at finding people to interview who might not necessarily be on my radar, which is why I pick your brain so often and try to learn from you! My goal in an interview is to show a different side of the person that people may not know about. I want my interview subjects to be seen as people and for who they are, and not just as porn stars. I do a lot of research to learn as much about the person as I can and then try to write questions based on individual life stories and circumstances. I try to avoid the generic questions that routinely get asked on a lot of interviews, but its unavoidable having to ask some basic things just to get background information. I send them the interview questions and then they answer them and send them back to me, and I’ll usually have a few follow-up questions. And then it’s just editing and formatting and finding pictures.
My biggest challenge has been planning ahead and managing my time so I get the interviews done on schedule. I have a bad tendency to procrastinate at times lol It’s also been a learning experience in how to deal with people who don’t get the questions answered in a reasonable amount of time, which messes up my schedule. I’ve had to learn how to gently nudge people without being too pushy or obnoxious lol But 99% of the people I’ve interviewed have been great to work with and we haven’t had any issues.
PornOCD: Do you now classify a lot of the girls in the industry you once saw on the TV and Internet as your friends?
Becca: I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know a lot of people in the industry and some really meaningful friendships have developed. When I first got into the industry I was kind of overwhelmed and in awe of everyone, especially at my first TEA in 2015, but everyone was so welcoming and friendly which made it easy to get to know people. It’s funny because so many people have these perceptions about what they think people in the porn industry are like, but I’ve found most everyone in the industry to be very genuine and down to earth. I’ve made so many friends over the past two years who mean the world to me. Several have taken me under their wing and helped me learn various aspects of the industry or social media, and I would be lost without them. And some have become friends that I chat with on a regular basis and whose love and support means more than I can express. So many wonderful things have happened during my two years in the industry, but the thing I treasure the most is the friendships which have developed. And doing the interviews for Through The Benz has also helped me to get to know people even better, which is something I’ve really enjoyed.
You can meet Becca at Teacon on March 4, 2017 between 1 and 5pm at The Avalon in Hollywood at 1735 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Becca will also be attending the TEA Transgender Erotica Awards theteashow.com at The Avalon on Saturday, March 5, 2017. Visit The Personal Site of Becca Benz: My Life in Words and Pictures at beccabenz.com and follow her on Twitter at @missbeccabenz and on Facebook at MissBeccaBenz. For my original interview with Becca, click here. I’m Scott and you can find me on Twitter at @PornOCD. Special thanks to www.altomicvisuals.com for images and thank you so much for reading.