How she became Sunny Leone
31 January 2015, Nirapad News:
Karenjit Kaur Vohra (born May 13, 1981), better known by her stage name Sunny Leone, is an Indo-Canadian and American actress, businesswoman, model. She was named Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2003 and was a contract star for Vivid Entertainment. Named by Maxim as one of the 12 top pornstars in 2010, she has also played roles in independent mainstream films and television shows. She later made her successful Bollywood debut in Pooja Bhatt’s erotic thriller Jism 2 (2012) followed by Jackpot (2013) and Ragini MMS 2 (2014).
Leone was born in Sarnia, Ontario to Sikh Punjabi parents. Her father was born in Tibet and raised in Delhi, while her mother (who died in 2008) was from Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh. As a young girl, she was very athletic and played street hockey with the boys. Although the family was Sikh, her parents enrolled her in Catholic school as it was felt to be unsafe for her to go to public school. She lost her virginity to a basketball player at another school at 16, and discovered her bisexuality at age 18. When she was 13, her family moved to Fort Gratiot, Michigan, then to Lake Forest, California a year later, fulfilling her grandparents’ dream that the family be together in one place.
Before working in the Porn industry, she first worked at a German bakery, a Jiffy Lube, and later a tax and retirement firm. A black-haired woman wearing a yellow top and jeans sitting behind a table looking up at the camera. Leone at the 2002 Adult Entertainment Expo, one of her earliest promotional appearances. While studying to be a pediatric nurse in Orange County, a classmate who was an exotic dancer introduced Leone to John Stevens, an agent who in turn introduced her to Jay Allen, a photographer for Penthouse magazine. When picking a name for her adult career, she has said that Sunny is her real name and Leone was picked by Bob Guccione, former owner of Penthouse magazine. She posed for Penthouse magazine, and was named Penthouse Pet of the Month for the March 2001 issue, followed by a feature in the Holiday 2001 edition of Hustler magazine as a Hustler Honey. She has also appeared in other magazines including Cheri, Mystique Magazine, High Society, Swank, AVN Online, Leg World, Club International and Lowrider, while her online credits include ModFX Models, Suze Randall, Ken Marcus and Mac & Bumble. Her pictorial credits also include working with stars like Adriana Sage, Jenna Jameson, Jelena Jensen and Aria Giovanni.
In 2003, she was named “Penthouse Pet of the Year” and starred in the video Penthouse Pets in Paradise alongside Tera Patrick and Kyla Cole. In 2005 Adam & Eve appointed her as their West Coast Internet Sales Representative. That same year, Leone signed a three-year contract with Vivid Entertainment with which she transitioned into the world of hardcore Pornography, stating that she would only do lesbian scenes. Her first movie released was titled Sunny and was released in December 2005. Her next movie, Virtual Vivid Girl Sunny Leone, was the first interactive title for Leone, who was the first Vivid Girl to make such a movie. Taking only four days to film, the movie won her her first AVN Award (Best Interactive DVD). She followed this with Sunny Loves Cher, which featured her first on-screen squirting, and The Female Gardner co-starring Mikayla Mendez and Daisy Marie.
Leone’s last two movies under her contract with Vivid were It’s Sunny in Brazil, which was filmed in Brazil and The Sunny Experiment also starring Monique Alexander and Brea Lyn. The movies were released in October and December 2007 respectively. In May 2007, upon re-signing her contract with Vivid for another six films, Leone agreed to perform for the first time with men on camera, but exclusively with her fiancé, Matt Erikson. That summer she also received breast augmentation, and shot her first movie under the new contract titled Sunny Loves Matt. The movie led to her to be nominated for three (out of six) AVN awards in 2009 in addition to being a choice for Female Performer of the Year. She followed up her first boy-girl title with The Other Side of Sunny in October 2008, which would be the last time she would perform with Erikson.
A woman shown in three-quarter length, wearing a yellow mini-dress Leone at Vivid booth during the 2008 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. In January 2008, Leone revealed that she was no longer exclusive to Erikson, and had done scenes with other actors, most notably Tommy Gunn, Charles Dera, James Deen and Voodoo. In 2009, Vivid released her only movie performing with other male actors titled “Sunny B/G Adventure”. Her final release under contract with Vivid – “Undress Me”, once again made her exclusive to performing with just one male actor-Daniel Webber.
In August 2009, she announced the launch of her own studio, Sunlust Pictures, with Daniel Weber as her partner. With her new venture Leone plans to write, direct and create her own brand of adult movies with Vivid Entertainment as her distributor. Her first independent production, The Dark Side of the Sun, was released in March 2009, and was debuted at the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. In June 2009, she held a casting call in Las Vegas for her second independent production titled Sunny Slumber Party (released September 2009).She followed up with three other self produced features Gia Portrait of a Porn Star (2010) which was nominated for multiple AVN awards, Roleplay (2011) and Goddess (2012) which featured her first anal sex scene.
No longer exclusive to Vivid, Leone has started working with other studios and performers since 2009. She has managed to leverage her online popularity by striking deals with firms like PPPcard, AdultPokerParty.com, Brickhouse, Flirt4Free, Totemcash and Imlive to sell and distribute her content over the internet and other media. She won the “Web Babe of the Year” at the 2008 Xbiz Awards. Her websites and business interests are run under her banner company Leone L.L.C. She indicated in an April 2012 interview that 80 per cent of the traffic on her website, and 60 per cent of her revenue comes from India.
In addition to her film career, Leone has been part of the Vivid Comedy Tour, and has modelled for the Vivid Footwear collection. Leone has also participated in events like the Vivid/ClubJenna Lingerie Bowl and Vivid’s Hot Rod Night. Doc Johnson launched a pocket pal in 2006 moulded to her vagina, and in 2008 released the Sunny Leone Exciter vibrator. Control MFG currently uses Leone’s image along with other Vivid girls to market their line of skateboards. She is paired with Gab Ekoe, one of the Team Control riders. She also indicated that she plans to launch her own line of lingerie and other Sunny-branded products including a diamond jewellery line.
In September 2009, an iPhone application consisting of a collection of non-nude photos, some videos and a porn star-penned blog was approved by Apple for sale in the iTunes store, making it the first officially sanctioned application featuring a porn star. By February 2010, the app had been removed by Apple from the store.
Leone was voted number 13 (up from number 41 in 2007) on Genesis magazine’s “Top 100 Porn stars” list, number 34 on Desiclubs.com’s Top 50 Coolest Desis of
2004, and one of the “40 under 40” ranking on AVN Online magazine. In 2010, she was named by Maxim as one of the 12 top female stars in porn. She was voted No. 82 in the Top 99 Women for 2012 in AskMen.com’s list.
Leone’s first mainstream appearance was in 2005, when she was a red carpet reporter for the MTV Awards on MTV India. She has also had a cameo in the film The Girl Next Door, performed in Ja Rule’s video Livin’ It Up and a video for Kidd Skilly. Other credits include E!’s “Wild On!” and the Sundance Film Festival’s ‘After Dark’. Leone was a contestant in the second season of the Fox reality show My Bare Lady 2: Open for Business, in which a group of adult actresses were given classes and training on how to pitch investment ideas and competed for success in the business world. In addition to filming her scene for Debbie Does Dallas in 2007, Leone was also part of a Showtime documentary of the same name detailing the production of the movie and the personal lives of its stars.
She has indicated that for the right price she would seriously consider a career in Bollywood. She has been courted by Indian directors in the past but has felt uncomfortable with the roles that she would have played. Director Mohit Suri reportedly asked Leone to play the lead role in his film Kalyug, but instead cast Deepal Shaw as he could not afford Leone’s $1 million acting fee. She has mentioned that Aamir Khan is her favorite Bollywood actor, and that over 60% of her fans are from South Asia.
In 2008, Leone announced that she would be starring in a mainstream action adventure movie titled Pirates Blood, which was shot in Oman. The shooting was completed in two weeks and was to be released in winter 2008. Leone also landed a role in Middle Men, producer Chris Mallick’s indie feature about the birth of the online porn industry set for wide theatrical release in 2009.
She appeared in the film The Virginity Hit playing a version of herself, where she is hired to take the virginity of the lead character. Leone has made appearances at events such as the 2002 SEMA International Auto Salon, the 2002 Extreme Autofest Pomona and the 2006 World Series of Pokerin Las Vegas. Sunny has also been the hostess at events in clubs like the Mansion in Miami and the Highlands in Hollywood.
In 2005, she was mentioned in Forbes magazine for a story on Vivid Entertainment. Leone has also been featured in mainstream publications like FHM, Front and Jane magazine. In 2007, along with the other Vivid Girls, she was seen in a 48′ high holiday Billboard in Times Square at W. 48th Street and Seventh Avenue. Leone is also one of the Penthouse Pets who appears in the PlayStation Portable game Pocket Pool. She was also featured in a coffee table book titled Naked Ambition: An R Rated Look at an X Rated Industry by Michael Grecco.
In 2004, she was part of “No More Bush Girls”, in which she and several other popular adult actresses shaved off their pubic hair in protest of the Bush presidency. In May 2008, she shot a promotional video for Declare Yourself, a nonprofit, nonpartisan voter registration campaign targeting 18-to-29-year-olds. She indicated that Barack Obama would be her choice in the 2008 U.S. election, primarily because she felt he was more business friendly to the adult industry than his opponent John McCain. She also released a public service announcement on behalf of the ASACP, reminding adult webmasters to protect their sites from children by having an RTA label on it.
Leone has a strong interest in health and fitness, and has been featured in several mainstream fitness publications. Leone has modeled fitness clothing for the sports brand Fantasy Fitness and shared that she keeps her body in shape by working out as much as she can despite her busy schedule and as quoted in Men’s magazine,”I try to eat very healthy – lots of vegetables, drinking my milk every day.”
In 2013, Leone posed for a PETA ad campaign, encouraging dog and cat owners to have their pets spayed and neutered.
Leone with show host Sanjay Dutt after her eviction from the Bigg Boss house In 2011, she participated in the Indian reality series Bigg Boss, entering the house on day 49. However she refused to divulge her porn star status, and replied to fellow house-mate Pooja Bedi that she was a model and a TV star in America for the last ten years or so. It was reported that she has caused a stir in the larger populace with her Twitter feed gaining 8,000 new followers in just 2 days and Google saying searches for her experienced a “breakout”. There have also been complaints lodged with the complaints lodged with the alleging that the Colors TV channel is promoting P’graphy by having Leone appear on the show; among those who have filed are the Indian Artistes and Actors Forum and Anurag Thakur, member of Lok Sabha and head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing.
During her stay in the Bigg Boss house, Sunny was approached by Bollywood film-maker Mahesh Bhatt who entered the house briefly to offer her the lead role in Jism 2 (the sequel to the 2003 film Jism). She accepted it, which resulted in Pooja Bhatt’s production house, Fish Eye Network and Leone’s agent discussing the movie further.
The first look of the film Jism 2 was released anticipating her entry in Bollywood. Jism 2 was released on August 3, 2012, to weak critical reception but was successful collecting almost US$5.7 million. Sunny Leone signed her second Bollywood film which is Ekta Kapoor’s Ragini MMS sequel, “Ragini MMS 2”. Ragini MMS, a horror movie was one of the most talked about sleeper hits of 2011. Sunny Leone featured in an item number in the Sanjay Gupta and Ekta Kapoor’s 2013 film Shootout at Wadala. She further started filming for Kaizad Gustad’s Jackpot in which she plays a femme fatale. Jackpot released on 13 December 2013 and was panned by critics but Leone was praised for her performance. A review from Bollywood Life compared her to Katrina Kaif and opined, “Sunny Leone reminds us of Katrina Kaif only a decade ago, but an aged version. Ms Leone would fare better than the superstar as far as the expressions and dialogue delivery departments are concerned even today”. She found additional support in Bollywood from actor Abhay Deol who stated in an interview that “I hope more porn stars come in to our industry as it fits in very well”. Her first release of 2014 was the much anticipated horror film Ragini MMS 2, which proved to be a major box-office hit.
Leone’s performance received all round praise with critic Mohar Basu calling her work a “revelation”. Critic Taran Adarsh also noted that Leone,” carries off her character with supreme confidence” In November 2013, she had confirmed that she would make her Tamil film debut in Vadacurry which released in May 2014 and featured her in a special appearance. She next appeared in the item number Pink Lips for the film Hate Story 2, which became a hit. After giving a hit number Pink Lips, she appeared once again in a catchy tune Shake That Booty opposite Mika Singh from his film Balwinder Singh Famous Ho Gaya. It was well appreciated by the critics. She made her acting debut in the Telugu film industry by appearing in a cameo in Current Theega opposite Manchu Manoj and Rakul Preet Singhw where she played a school teacher and appeared in a song.
As of 2014, she has several projects in development. Leone has completed filming for the action thriller Tina and Lolo in which she is playing lead along with Karishma Tanna, to be produced by PEN India. She has also wrapped up Milap Zaveri’s sex comedy Mastizaade alongside Tushar Kapoor and Vir Das, which will be releasing on May 1, 2015. Leone will also appear in item song Seshamma Bagilu Tegiyamma in Kannada film DK, which will mark her debut in Kannada film industry. She has also completed filming for Bobby Khan’s musical Ek Paheli Leela, where she plays a prin- cess alongside Jay Bhanushali. She is currently filming for two projects, the Kuch Kuch Locha Hai “Dramedy” earlier titled as Patel Rap co-starring Ram Kapoor and Evelyn Sharma and Jasmine D’souza’s One Night tand opposite Tanuj Virwani. As of Feb, 2015 she will kickstart filming for her next entitled Tera Beimaan Love alongside Rajneesh Duggal which will be helmed by Rajeev Chaudhry. She has also given her nod to appear in a special song in Mahesh Babu’s upcoming Telugu film Srimanthudu releasing in summer 2015.
In June 2006, Leone became an American citizen, but plans to remain a dual citizen of Canada. On 14 April 2012, Leone announced that she was now a resident of India explaining in an interview to The New Indian Express that she was an Overseas Citizen of India and that she was eligible for overseas citizenship because her parents
lived in India. She applied for it prior to filming Jism 2. Sunny Leone and husband husband Daniel Weber arriving in India to promote Jism 2 Although bisexual, she has stated that she prefers men. Leone was engaged to Matt Erikson, a vice-president of marketing at Playboy Enterprises but they broke up in 2008. Sunny Leone had dated stand-up comedian Russell Peters for a brief period in 2008. She mentioned in an interview at the start of 2011 that she was married to Daniel Weber. During her stay in the Bigg Boss house later that same year, Leone indicated that she had married; Leone said she ‘purposely arrived late’ to their first date as she was not impressed with him, but he changed her mind by sending 24 roses to her hotel room. She currently resides in Hollywood, California with her cat and drives an Audi A5.
In 2010, Leone’s father died of cancer, which he had been first diagnosed with in 1999. In 2011, Leone along with Monique Alexander and Keni Styles ran in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
A 2008 Eye Weekly article reported that “Leone does her best to maintain a link to Sikh traditions, even if more in theory than in practice. But she’s unlikely todisavow her career path due to religion” and that Leone said “Girls will leave the industry claiming that they found God. Well, the fact is, God has always been withthem the entire time.” In a 2010 interview, she said “It’s a community-based religion. You walk into a temple and you’re greeted with the utmost respect… But, just likeany religion it doesn’t want you to shoot adult material. I mean, I grew up going to temple every Sunday. When my parents found out they knew my personality which was very independent. Even if they tried to stop me or tried to steer me the right way they would have lost their daughter. I’m too headstrong. And it wasn’t a plan. It just happened and my career and everything just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
In her spare time she enjoys abstract paintings, horse riding, reading, playing World of Warcraft, watching The Simpsons and the Discovery Channel. She used to play on a women’s soccer league team in California. Her favourite holiday destination is Hawaii and her favourite cuisine is Italian.