Interview: Karen Summer

March 16, 2015
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After a 25-year break, one of my favorite porn stars from the eighties has decided to make a comeback. Immediately upon her official return this past January, she was inducted into both the Legends of Erotica Hall of Fame and the AVN Hall of Fame – an incredible position (no pun intended) for one of the original porn stars to walk the face of the earth.  Just recently, she was informed that she will be the first person in the history of adult entertainment to be inducted to all three of the most important Halls of Fame in a single year as, this spring, she will also receive the XRCO Hall of Fame Award. To say that the industry has welcomed Karen back with open arms is an understatement. 

Ever since I can remember, Karen Summer was always there to humanize and liven up the scenes in which she was cast with a wisecrack or joke, kind of like the Vivian Vance of porn. I’ve always been a fan of heartfelt fellatio and although Karen was never a noisy, sword-swallowing freak in the Bobbi Bliss vein, she gave, solo or in tandem, the most happy-go-lucky BJs you’ll ever see.  And she still has that talent to this day.

I know of at least two scenes she’s in with the old Newfoundland cream dog, Peter North, but she is never phased like the other girls. Flying goo? Most of the other girls grimace or show off shit-eating, second-rate uncomfortable beauty queen grins. Karen Summer enjoys it!  And, well, you know what, if she didn’t, she was really acting! Always very specific about the way she wanted to look—long bright red nails and plenty of make-up—she understands that glamor matters.

There is no substitute for a good blow job—everybody knows that—but, truth be told, every woman I’ve ever had a special gobble from has proven to be vanity-befuddled to the point of being utterly insufferable. After a time, a man learns to settle for less, but I’ve always kept in mind the perfect call and response she had with the cameraman during the shooting of a classic called The Fine Art of Fellatio. “See what I’m saying?” she says, her beautiful mouth full of Mark Wallice’s cock as she discusses the gag reflex with the cameraman, the director or both, clearly pissing the male talent off. Yet, after a few deft moves inside her cheek, Mark is clearly back as hard as a rock. “We are happening!” she says

When I found out she was coming back, I made it my business to find her and talk to her.

Where are you from, Karen? I’m nosey. Tell me what school was like for you. My youngest kid is sixteen now and he feels cheated to have missed the 60s and 70s. Tell me about your youth a bit. Do you think you grew up in the best ever time to be a kid?

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I went to a private school called Egremont. I wanted to go to school with the kids in my neighborhood & my friends. Most of them were going to go to the public school. I was an only child and I finally got my own way and my school was Portola. My father was in the motion picture industry as well. He was a sound engineer nominated for three academy awards.

Really? Do you recall any movies he worked on?

Yeah. The original Rocky; Blade Runner; and Ladyhawke. I am what is known as a ‘Route 66 Baby.’ My father was the sound man for that Route 66 TV show about the adventures of two men crisscrossing the USA. So my father worked on that show and I’m a Route 66 baby in the sense that I traveled with my father while they filmed across the country… Then, once I reached school age and I went to kindergarten, my mom and I stopped traveling with him.

A good life?

Well, during those times my father traveled all the time, so I was generally raised by my mother, although I did see my dad in the summertime, and there was one time I spent a year in Europe while my father worked on the movie Valdez is Coming with Burt Lancaster. So there was travel in Europe and then other times we did summers in Hawaii because my dad worked on Hawaii-5-0. But then my parents got divorced around the time I was fifteen and my whole world switched around and changed. A lot of changes happened for my mother and we ended up moving away from the house in Tarzana where I spent my childhood. She went one way and I went another way and that’s how I got to be on my own. She went off and got into a relationship. My father got married to a woman only six years older than me and I ended up in a girl’s home.

California is well known for having a tough penal system. Nobody got you a lawyer?

It was the mid 70s… much has changed since then besides, I did not need a lawyer

You called it ‘Hamburger House’ when we were exchanging emails, Karen. Doesn’t sound good. How did you survive?

Look, I’m an intelligent girl, right? I’d had a very good education as far as academics went. I played the game and it was not really a lock-down facility, per sé. It actually turned out to be a tremendously valuable, helpful, hopeful part of my life. I moved through the ranks quickly, so I was soon able to more or less come and go as I pleased… All good, more or less, but by the time I’m 16 to 18, it all starts to get a little fuzzy. I was hanging out with another Route 66 baby, Kelly Manners, the son of Sam Manners, the director. We’d all been in Europe together and Kelly was working on Dukes of Hazard as assistant director, and by the time I’m 18 I’ve become a Production Assistant on the show, which was a job I kept till I was 20. At the end of that time I got ‘discovered’ by Jim South at World Modeling, while waiting to pick up my friend who was getting off her waitressing shift at El Torito.  I was sitting in the bar and he approached the two of us and asked if we were interested in becoming nude models.  We both thought, “Hey! Why the heck not!” I did my first nude shoot with Bobby Hollander 4 days before my 20th birthday, in the SUMMER of 1982.

Interview: Karen Summer

So, what’s that like when you’re on camera?

When I had my career in the 80s it was just as professional and technical as shooting a major motion film – within reason.  Back in the day, it was 8mm and 35mm film and you did this pose and that pose. Then three poses and three positions and a cum shot. It wasn’t continuous sex like it is today. They just shoot sex now and they can easily move the camera around.  Back then it was just like the regular movies: Move the lighting. Change everything around. So it was easier and different then, ’cos you got to stop and start a lot and you got used to it. Nowadays, it’s kind of one continual sex act, but back then it was staged, choreographed more thought went into it. Now, they want a circus act. For every scene they may want five different positions before the cum shot. And they want it soft core and then they want it hardcore and they have to get photographs of the whole thing. It’s real difficult and tiring to do that, even though the act of shooting content is way easier…almost foolproof.

So it eats up more of your time more now than it used to on film?

No. It’s not longer, time-wise. It’s only longer if you have to reshoot. Mostly it’s just that they expect more from you while actually shooting… “Continue on with that. That position, but make it R-Rated!” Multiple versions = multiple ways to package and sell it. They’re actually asking a lot more of you as a performer than they did in the old days. It’s not as glamorous.  You’re simultaneously shooting R-Rated and X-Rated. Nowadays they want cowgirl Brazilian-style, then spooning, then missionary and so on and on. Now I don’t know about your sex life, but I don’t need to watch a movie where they pose in twelve different positions. You’ve got to be really fucking good, y’know? It’s about being a circus act. And of course, now it’s harder on me because I’m not as limber as I used to be.

Oh, you’re pretty limber, I’ve seen you…

Well, thank you. For being in my 50s I’m pretty limber, I guess. I may be pretty limber, but some positions just aren’t as comfortable these days.

Have you kept deliberately in shape over the years?

Honey, I’m very much out of shape. I honestly haven’t started working on that seriously yet.

Tell me about Bobby Hollander. They say he was kind of mean and demeaning.

Well, he wasn’t really my first director. He was the person I shot pictures with. He was always bawdy and brash. I’ve always had a figure and I’ve always been approached, even when I was 15 or 16. I knew the score and once I was 18-19, I’d got fake Id’s and I’m already going to nightclubs and I’m used to catty lines and remarks and dealing with men and I’m not anal about that ‘cos I don’t have those kind of hang-ups and I enjoy the attention. Bobby was all that they say.

So, he’s not a mean guy?

A mean guy? No! I’ve been around, you know, a long time and I can honestly say that I never met anybody in the business who is truly mean or hard. It’s never been the case that I’ve felt so bad that I’ve had to leave, cry or make a fuss… Nothing! Ever! I guess I’ve been very fortunate.

Now that I’m coming back, I’m a brand. A concept. I’ve got a line of clothing coming out. I’m a lady and I enjoy being treated like one! But, if I expect to be treated that way, I must act like a lady and, you know, act within certain lines of behavior. I’m hard on myself, too. There are certain people who define themselves by the way they act, and you want to say, “Sweetheart, you’re really crossing the line here. And we need you to stop it and it’s unattractive.” And, speaking for myself, there’s nothing that can’t be talked out or negotiated. See, I’m in a job that I like that puts me around people. And with me enjoying being around people and being an exhibitionist, my job fills my heart with joy.

You’ve really got the right attitude.

Look, I am still shocked and incredibly honored by how many people still remember me.

Why are you so shocked?

Well, I’m 20 years away, 25 really. And I’ve danced all over the country and there are still lots of fans out there… everywhere. I did movies from 82–86, then I was primarily on the road feature dancing for the next 4 years. I did however manage to do other cameo spots in movies during this time as well.  Meanwhile they took my stuff and repackaged it while I was dancing. So, in all, I only have about five actual years’ worth of movies, but they’ve stayed popular. And three years later they repackaged it yet again.

You know I’m noticing more and more of late that the mainstream press is starting to quote adult performers just like they’re regular run-of-the mill celebrities. Do you think there’s less stigma now to being a porn star

Well, many of us are educated human beings with valuable opinions and that’s why APAC comes in. You know, we’re going to Sacramento and being welcomed like human beings. So, moving forward, we should be able to talk about condoms and laws and ways to protect us. We’re being received quite wonderfully now as people. We’re not just carrying raunchiness now. I’m carrying a brand. My own brand! Which leads me back too myself. Karen Summer has merchandise coming out. . My trademark? ‘There is nothing Hotter Than Summer!!!’  That’s good, trademark-wise, right? I’m incorporating Karen Summer Productions. We’re actually branding things. There’s lots of thought that’s been put behind this. We’re new! It’s not like the 80s where we were just making movies, although we knew we were trailblazers. Who knew then that there’d be social media and computers?

Interview: Karen Summer

So what’s coming up in your life now? 

I am happy to say that we have officially launched complete with exclusive content, other entertaining clips and videos of other performers, and the only destination for my fans to live cam with me.  I have a set weekly schedule and am open to scheduling “Dates” with select fans.

Pretty exciting…

As I told you earlier, I’m also into the world of BDSM, which is both a lifestyle and community out here. And with ‘50 Shades of Grey’ having been released, it’s brought a lot of curious people in our direction.

Gonna be that big you think?

Well, you know how everybody is, whenever a particular movie comes out. It can influence a whole nation and in this case I believe it’s going to. I do plan to do instructional videos on BDSM under my own production company so people can be educated and enjoy their own version of Kinky.

You don’t exercise?

I’m naturally limber, like I said. Am I in shape? Depends on the shape you’re looking for. I’m like a fine-bodied wine. I’m full-bodied and aged to perfection. That being said, I do not really need to change my shape. I’m a woman. I’m still extremely active. I’ve always had a very active lifestyle. I have not been on a dance stage in 15-plus years. I do plan to get back on the Burlesque/Feature dance stage going forward and am currently working on 3 numbers. I’m not in shape in the sense that I’m not toned and maybe I do need to get into that going forward, maybe lose a couple of inches off my waist.

Well, please don’t go off and get your tits done.

I’m my age and I smoke cigarettes, too. I refuse to go for facelifts or Botox. When I started the comeback, Botox was suggested, you know, and I tried it and it was really painful and it didn’t help I laugh a lot, so I crinkle my face a lot. I laugh and smile a lot and I get lines along my mouth and forehead. And I lived 20 years in Florida, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the sun. I’m not going all out for that. I am what I am and, umm, I’m not so bad.

No, you’re not.

Thank you. I’m certainly not getting a tummy tuck because I want my waist two inches smaller.

You’re about to be bigger than you realize, I think. GILF Power! Cougar Power!

From your mouth to God’s ears! I’ve got so many fans out there. There are people out there who have been my fans for more than 20 years. Twenty years I’ve been gone from the business and they’re telling me that they’ve been waiting for me to make a comeback. I hear, “I grew up with you. You’re my favorite!” Older people I run into on the street, you know, really, they say, “I look for your shit all the time.” Incredible! I really mean to go forward and traveling and doing meet and greet.

Tell me about your music. What songs do you dance to?

Well, Nina Simone’s ‘Do I Love You?’ That’s my jazzy, bluesy, sultry side. Then I have another side, ‘cos I love Broadway, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy,’ because my partner and co-host of my radio show’s stage name is ‘Big Cat Daddy.’ Then, because I’m a I’ve got a wonderful sense of fun and humor, I’m going to do a song from Blazing Saddles where Madeleine Kahn does Lily Von Shtup as a comedy number.

Last questions. The girls now are not into glamor, per sé, and tats don’t work for me. To me the world needs glamor. Any thoughts on that?

Glamor? Absolutely. You know, although not mainstream, we were stars back then. We wore boas. I loved that shit! On stage I want to make it more glamorous than you’ve ever seen. As my girlfriend said the other day: “You’re somewhere between the sunshine and oh-la-la!” You know, a bit of Doris Day: ‘Oh my God. That girl!’ and a bit of Mae West. I love red nails. I love long red nails. Have you ever seen me without my nails and toes done? NO! I love glitz and glamor, but… Look! It’s a fetish. It sells. For young girls. it’s a different world. I don’t have a tattoo, but I’m a square that way… My mother, she would haunt me for having a tattoo. Just haunt me. You know, later I got close to my mom again and we were roommates for three years but I lost her five years ago. It’s hard. Nowadays, I have no family. I have relatives but we really don’t communicate at all. So my friends are my family and my fans are a genuine extension of that. I’m lucky for that.

That’s so nice, really. It’s moving. I’m shy to ask, but so many women don’t like the taste of sperm or to get it on them. Which is where so many guys like to find their fantasy world out of porn.

I know. I know. Depends on different people. To some people, it can taste awful. Absolutely it can. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, just different. Not all meat tastes the same, sweetheart. It just doesn’t. And I’ve never tasted any that I’ve tried to spit out.

Really? Never?

I like the taste of it. I always have. I like the scent of a woman. I like the taste and scent of a man. I like natural things like that. I always have loved being in the center of things like that. I’m a sniffer. I’m a big hugger. I’m not into smelling people at the neck. Not for their cologne, but for their essence. I like putting my hands on people’s chests, so I can feel their heartbeat. I like getting really close to people. Feeling the human joy. The human essence. The human touch. You know, I crave love and attention and I give it. I so much want to come out and do good.


Well Karen, as far as we here at BaDoink are concerned, you’ve done nothing but good. To a star that’s brought so much joy to so many fans for so long, we salute you, and raise a toast to the next phase of your sparkling career. May the Summer season last forever!

Interview: Karen Summer 2 votes

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