Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Debbie Duz Dishes and Boogie Nights
Currently Known For:
Film Director, Feminist Author
1987 - 2009
March 11, 1959
Debbie Duz Dishes and Boogie Nights
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“Sex is my practice. It's where I always strive to be my best self.” Getting her start as a registered nurse before making her debut as a stripper, Nina Hartley ventured into the **** industry in the early 1980s where her baby blue eyes and round derriere quickly became her trademark. Appearing in over 1,000 adult films throughout the course of her career, she’s directed 18 adult films and has established herself as a rarity in the industry after taking a stand as a sex feminist fighting for freedoms in the industry and beyond. Often invited to appear in mainstream television and even on the silver screen, Hartley is best recognized outside the **** industry for her work opposite William H. Macy in 1997’s Boogie Nights. Still working today to promote the healing power of touch and sex education, let’s take a look at the 58-year-old’s journey from Marie Louise Hartman to Nina Hartley, **** star extraordinaire!
The youngest of four children raised in a Buddhist household, Marie Louise Hartman was born on March 11, 1959 in Berkeley, California. Raised primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hartley’s childhood seemed normal as she graduated from Berkeley High School in 1977 and, like most kids her age, was still unsure about her future. Taking on a series of odd jobs around Berkeley, she finally decided to study nursing and enrolled at San Francisco State University in 1981. A year later, she was struggling to pay her tuition and her living expenses when she took on a job as a stripper with Sutter Cinema to pay the bills.
“I got started in San Francisco in 1982 as a house dancer first at the Sutter Cinema, which is now defunct, and later on at the Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre,” Hartley recalled. “I was dancing one day a week and going to nursing school five days a week. Dancing was the culmination of a longtime history of public exhibitionism. I’m a ‘70s feminist, and I was told I had the right to live my life sexually on my terms and the responsibility to do it in a safe manner. For me, stripping was that way. That was the place for women to go to be looked at naked while remaining safe. For two years, I struggled with thinking, ‘Could I be a feminist and want to take off my clothes?’ I came down that path that, yes, I could… because doing that was my choice.”
Making her debut in her first *********** film—Educating Nina—as a junior in nursing school, Hartley adopted her stage name as “Nina Hartley” because “Nina” was easy for Japanese tourists to pronounce and “Hartley” was close to her real last name. She continued to star in films while finishing up nursing school in 1985, graduating magna cum laude and passing the California Board of Registered Nursing on her first try. “I went to nursing school so that I could become a nurse midwife because my feminism was really tweaked in about 1972 when I read Spiritual Midwifery,” Hartley said. “My feminism started with wanting to help women reclaim the birth experience as a positive and empowering choice for themselves. If the sex thing in my life had not been turned up so high, I would have been a nurse midwife with a very active social life. I never did work as a nurse though. I wasn’t ready for someone to die if I had a bad day.”
Ultimately claiming that she entered the **** industry to “heal others through the power of touch,” Hartley quickly found fame thanks to her baby-blue eyes and her round buttocks that made her a fan favorite. By the end of the 1980s, she was a well-known name in the industry and took home numerous Adult Video News Awards including Best Actress in 1987 for Debbie Duz Dishes, Best Supporting Actress in 1989 for Portrait of an Affair, and Best Couples Sex Scene in 1989 for Sensual Escape. Yet, while her professional life was blossoming, her personal life was taking a new turn when she legally married a man in 1986 and began a triad marriage. Ultimately regretting the marriage and divorcing in 2003, Hartley attributes the **** industry for giving her an outlet. “If I had not had the outlet of being Nina Hartley, we would have broken up much sooner, but I’m good at compartmentalizing,” she admitted. “When I was on set, onstage or being Nina, they didn't bother me. My personal life was quite a struggle.”
Hartley went on to appear in over one thousand adult films and defied the industry’s longstanding ageism as she attracted a new generation of fans thanks to her efforts to heal through touch, not to mention being a more realistic and experienced **** star for older men. “A lot of decent, middle-age, middle-class married guys are parents, and it creeps them out to watch women who are their daughters’ ages,” Hartley said. Making her moves intentional in every film and foray between the sheets, Hartley became an outspoken supporter of sexual feminism and sex education as Jenna Jameson joined in her efforts to show that sex can and should be enjoyable for everyone.
Amid her growing feminism, Hartley made her foray into acting and snagged a bit part as William H. Macy’s cheating wife in the 1997 flick Boogie Nights starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds. She also had credits in the Canadian film Bubbles Galore and in the 2016 documentary, Sticky: A (Self) Love Story, the latter of which featured Hartley’s pro-sex opinions on loving yourself. Still singing the same tune today, the 58-year-old remains active in the industry with appearances in more mature films as well as in her own line of instructional videos known as Nina Hartley’s Guide. Beyond that, there’s no stopping Hartley who says, “I will always be interested in being on camera having sex with other people. I’ll always be into teaching, writing, coaching and lecturing. I see myself as a mix between Dr. Ruth and sex educator Betty Dodson. I love the idea of helping other people have sex.”