In the summer of 2015, 24-year-old Carter Cruise summoned me to Los Angeles’s Line Hotel.
Sitting on an oval-shaped café couch, Carter was beaming. She had just won AVN’s Award for Best New Starlet and Best Actress — a feat accomplished only by Jenna Jameson — and she’d recently hired a publicist.
In the hip, gentrified Koreatown neighborhood, Cruise’s hoodie and dirty blonde hair contrasted with the straight bangs and acid-washed jeans of the girls around us — born-and-raised suburbanites who had sought refuge in L.A. Carter, too, was a migrant (in her case, from suburban North Carolina), but she had fled the South for sunny California to shoot porn, not to record acoustic ballads about cigarettes and coffee.
Carter, though, believed she fit in with the hotel hipsters. “I’m gonna slowly transition out of porn and become an EDM DJ,” she said between sips of late-night coffee, using the acronym for electronic dance music. “You should write about it!”
I wavered, telling her I had heard this tale before: Girls who were going to transition from porn star to stand-up comedian, YouTuber, and/or feminist blogger. Porn, they all claimed, was “a stepping stone to launching a brand.”
Within a few months, though, they were always back in front of their laptop’s webcam, masturbating for cash. Carter assured me she was different — after all, she had revived the coed look while filming porn in college before Duke porn star Belle Knox went viral. I told Carter she was wrong.
But this time I was wrong, because three years later, I’m standing in the foyer of Carter’s new home in southwest L.A., watching her prepare for her latest sold-out DJ tour — a first for the girl who starred in the porn series Teens Love Huge Cocks.
Wearing her hair in a bun, dressed in a rainbow shirt which reads KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD, Carter lugs in part of a huge delivery of water bottles. (Ravers need to keep hydrated.) “I nearly missed my delivery!” Carter says in a raspy voice reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan. As she picks up more bottles, her tucked-up hair reveals a “Call Me Daddy” tattoo on her neck. “It’s not an issue unless I’m in line at Starbucks, hungover, and a family sees it,” she says. “I get self-conscious. They must think, Who is this ratchet girl in front of us?” Then she giggles.