LOS ANGELESMy very first job in porn was a Hustler centerfold, Cindy Starfall says. Shes not bragging; shes still surprised. Whats more, she got that job out of the blue. The Vietnam-born Starfall, who crafted her nom de porn from Cindy Crawford (all the girls idolized her in Vietnam) and the name of an Orange County street in view of the office building from which she quit her corporate job, stood outside of a 7-Eleven that day in 2013 with a Penthouse and Hustler in her hands, marveling at how confident the women inside those magazines were. That same night, I got invited to a party by one of my girlfriends, she says, and there was a Hustler executive there (we dont ask whoEd.) and he asked if Id like to be in the magazine. My first porn job! As a porn origin story, this is a great one. But now Starfall is sharing a story that is familiar to a lot of porn performers but also deeply personal and particular: it is the story of letting go of family expectations and accepting, without shame, her own potential and success. There is no turning back from this story, Starfall says, but I want other womenother Asian women who might have a similar storynot to be ashamed. Starfall says she grew up in a wealthy family in Vietnam. Her father is a businessman and politician. While she never lacked for food or clothes, she says she had no freedom, and rebelled. If I wanted to leave the house, Id have to ask my father, who would call the driver, who would call security, she says. Eventually I would just start sneaking out to see my friends. One day in 2004, she was handed a plane ticket and driven to the airport. The car dropped her off and she was pointed toward her gate. Her family had arranged for her to live with a family in Portland, OR. I didnt speak any English, Starfall says. I didnt know I was being sent away. She did not know if her rebellious nature was bringing shame on the family or if she was being prepared for school, or both. What she did know was that she wasnt given a choice. She was 14. By 22 she had graduated college in California with a business degree and had started, via her fathers connections, the corporate job she would eventually quit. She also learned that her family had arranged for her to be married to a man from Taiwan that I didnt even know. Starfall reflects on a sister, and on female cousins, who married whom their parents chose, had babies, never worked, and who never wanted for money. And I didnt want everything chosen for me, she says. I wanted to make my own money. And I have. Starfall worked steadily before the pandemic, her bookings managed by OC Modeling, saved her money, and began a vacation rental business in Orange County. There is no shame in anything I am doing for money, she says, but if I were to go back to Vietnamwhich I would really like to do!there would be members of my family who wouldnt want to see me. Like I was going to suck all the cocks at the wedding, she says. Starfall paints a picture of the porn stigma that is recognizable up to a point. The performers whose families are on boardif begrudgingof their relatives adult biz career are rare. Most performers, to protect the feelings of traditional family members, lead a double life. For Starfall and her Vietnamese family, it is even more severe. My father has [business holdings] in Orange County, she says, and the apartment that he got me [before I quit my job] had cameras in it so the family could watch me. Doing porn was literally the first thing I had ever done for myself. But my own sister doesnt want me around her children. Starfall notes with grim humor that she and all her female relatives were expected to sleep with and bear children for men they bore no love for, by the arrangement of other men. But somehow taking control of her own body for fun and profit was shameful. And all my current business success I have because of porn, she says. My degree helped, but it was porn that gave me freedom. Starfall doesnt know who did it, but somebody ratted me out to my mother several years ago, sending her one of her daughters porn stills. It has been painful ever since, because her family simply cant get past what she does for part of her living. But she is beginning to put it in perspective. As much as she misses them, it is their loss, and she is doing nothing wrong. To women looking at her story as an inspiration or as a cautionary tale, Starfall says, If you want freedom to be a slut, then be a smart slut, and be proud of yourself.
written by: Gram Ponante