LMC owner Steve Lightspeed says the first thing that struck him about Thomas was her natural, fiery orange hair, which she now regularly dyes black. "We called her Daphne," he says, comparing the shade to that of the Scooby-Doo character. "She had the most beautiful, bright-red hair."

Thomas was 21 and making about $200 per photo shoot here when she decided to move to L.A. in late 2004 and make the leap to hardcore, where she could make up to $2,000 per scene.

She hired agent Mark Spiegler, who's represented such porn stars as Katsuni, Sasha Grey, and Kylie Ireland. Spiegler says Thomas was a welcome addition to his stable: "She was cute. She did good scenes. She had a nice personality. Everybody liked her."

Thomas, at the party
Jamie Peachey
Thomas, at the party
Taryn Thomas' brother Vince, at the party
Jamie Peachey
Taryn Thomas' brother Vince, at the party

Thomas' first photo shoot in L.A. was for Hustler; her first DVD was titled 12 on 1 #12, for a company called Lethal Hardcore. She moved into one of Spiegler's homes with a few other female performers and quickly ascended to porn stardom. "Over the course of five or six months, she became one of the top girls in the business," Spiegler says. "She could make easily $20,000 a month."

In 2005 and 2006, Thomas worked constantly, appearing in more than 100 films. She became known for her dirty talk during scenes, and for her willingness to go all-out sexually. Her performances got her a "Dirtiest Girl in Porn" award from Fans of Adult Media and Entertainment in 2006, and a nomination for a Best New Starlet award from Adult Video Newsletter that same year. Although that award went to McKenzie Lee, Thomas made quite an impression, says AVN editor Dan Miller. "The intensity of Taryn's sex scenes was probably the biggest factor in her nomination," he says. "She got booked a lot for many different companies, so she was prolific enough for us to take notice."

But back at Spiegler's house, all was not well. Thomas was raking in the cash, but she was blowing through it even faster.

Spiegler, who describes himself as "like a Jewish mother," says drugs were not allowed in his home, and he tried to help Thomas control her spending by setting up a trust fund for her that she couldn't touch. "I told her if a bus ran me over, then she could get the money," Spiegler says. "I put money away for four or five months, and I gave her $1,000 a week, which to a regular person is a lot of money."

It wasn't a lot of money to Thomas. In addition to her occupational expenses — STD tests, manicures, tanning salons, clothes, sex toys — she was putting a lot of money up her nose. Coke had started as a party favor to enjoy with fellow performers, but her use intensified beyond recreational. "My first year at the AVN awards, I was all fucked up and trying to sign stuff," Thomas recalls.

It wasn't long before Thomas' relapse started to affect her career. She started showing up late for jobs, or not showing up at all.

But Spiegler continued booking steady work for Thomas, and she kept pushing her bodily boundaries. Her self-described reputation as "the skinny girl who did anal intercourse" and the nullification of her senses and conscience with drugs eventually led to an injury on a movie set that required surgery.

She subsequently had a massive breakdown and, in March 2006, she abruptly left the adult industry and came home to Phoenix, metaphorical bridges burning behind her.


When Taryn Thomas told Mark Spiegler she was leaving Southern California to go back to the desert, he gave her the $50,000 in her trust fund. He also issued a warning:

"I said, 'Listen, mark this moment, because you've got all this momentum going, and when you stop, if you ever want to come back, it's not going to be the same. You don't get a second chance at being new.' And she said, 'I don't care.'"

Thomas says she regrets that Spiegler felt abandoned. "He was like my dad. But I had to take that break to save myself."

Back in Phoenix, Thomas kicked cocaine but gained 45 pounds. She took gigs dancing at strip clubs around the Valley while desperately trying to lose weight. At 5-foot-4 and 160 pounds, she wouldn't have been able to return to adult films even if she'd wanted to.

And, eventually, she wanted to.

Thomas tried different jobs — she says she worked as a pharmacy technician at Advance PCS (now Caremark) and attended real estate school, but she never got her license. She had no money left from her film career; she'd spent the 50 grand from her trust fund in six weeks. Her return to porn seemed inevitable, but she knew she couldn't go back to Spiegler.

By May 2007, Thomas had lost a few pounds and sent some photos to L.A. Direct Models, a large agency with names like Penny Flame, Brianna Love, and Eva Angelina on its roster. It agreed to sign Thomas to a two-year contract, with some stipulations.

First, Thomas had to get back down to her former weight of 115. The agency hired a personal trainer, and Thomas worked out at a gym three hours a night. It also hired a nutritionist to put her on a diet, gave her a place to live in L.A., and made her submit to regular drug tests, with the agreement that it'd send her home if she failed.

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18 comments
Guest
Guest

The porn industry today is in bad shape, and will likely become worse before it gets better. Porn has become a victim of its own success. When a product has been commoditized to the point it's nearly free, there's far fewer willing to pay for it.

http://www.latimes.com/busines...

Josh Reading
Josh Reading

The Phoenix adult industry has surely came along way in a short period of time. It is truly amazing to see it growing right before my eyes. I am really thrilled Taryn Thomas has started her own company and is making things happen for herself. Way to go Taryn!

Now on to other things. All of you bad mouthing Taryn is absolutely uncalled for. So stop being so childish, and saying things that are not facts.

John Philips
John Philips

I think this is a wonderful story. Taryn sure did a great job with taking control of her life. I have to give the girl credit. Congrats to Taryn and The New Times for such a great story.

Layal
Layal

At the risk of nerding up the drooling frenzy and the smack talking battles, I have a few observations and questions:1)Her dad creeps me out. 2)I wonder if the AIDS mess in the LA porn industry will follow them here, or if they are doing anything to prevent it. 3)What type of health care are they provided in conservative AZ? - Does Taryn require STD tests and provide them to her employees? - Are there organizations or clinics that cater to them here?

Now, back to your regularly scheduled flame war.

Someday, I'd like to read a story about a porn star without a troubled past. But then again, we all have trouble in our past.

sean
sean

Carly, think you made ya point with all ya posts??

Wanted to say that i wish Taryn the best.If anyone deserves a shot at this she does.

Good luck

Carly
Carly

Agree with John..

All you shit talkers need to get laid!

I Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurve this girl!

So what if she put a bit of weight on.. its called "growing" for all you dumb assholes out there..

She looks fucking awesome now as she did back then. And if anyone knows anything about her then you'll know that her movies rock!I love the way she gets right into her movies..I watched porn for a few years now, and there is alot of dumb sluts that fuck good, but I havent seen anyone who really gets into it as much as Taryn.

fuck all ya'll!!

Carly
Carly

Agree with John..

All you shit talkers need to get laid!

I Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurve this girl!

So what if she put a bit of weight on.. its called "growing" for all you dumb assholes out there..

She looks fucking awesome now as she did back then. And if anyone knows anything about her then you'll know that her movies rock!I love the way she gets right into her movies..I watched porn for a few years now, and there is alot of dumb sluts that fuck good, but I havent seen anyone who really gets into it as much as Taryn.

fuck all ya'll!!

Carly
Carly

Agree with John..

All you shit talkers need to get laid!

I Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurve this girl!

So what if she put a bit of weight on.. its called "growing" for all you dumb assholes out there..

She looks fucking awesome now as she did back then. And if anyone knows anything about her then you'll know that her movies rock!I love the way she gets right into her movies..I watched porn for a few years now, and there is alot of dumb sluts that fuck good, but I havent seen anyone who really gets into it as much as Taryn.

fuck all ya'll!!

Johnathan
Johnathan

I read this article and smiled at all the shit talk all you lot have said about Taryn.

I've followed Taryn since the day she stepped foot in the industry and i am aware of all the shit talk that has been said about her too, but i guess that comes with any line of work people do in their lives.

I got a question for all you "none" Taryn fans out there, have you actaully seen any of her movies??

This girl is fucking AWESOME!!

"wannabe mobster"?? how old are you dude..?

AND you think if they was under federal investigation, Would Taryn of even done this article..? Would she still be the number one sort after pornstar in LA?Would there be such a fucking high demand to see her when she feature dances?

Mykal
Mykal

Tarny is a talentless angry drug addict.

Her "boyfriend" is a wanna be mobster who lies and is under federal investigation.

She is fat and her XXX scenes are very week, or phoney.

Her comeback is a joke.

Liar and thief is a they are.

Jon G
Jon G

I have to laugh at how other people have revered Arizona as "the next upcoming porn capital".... This comment was made before when Channel 5 did an expose 5 years ago and it's not any closer now than it was then. When in reality, more adult based businesses are in Florida or even New York. Does our proximity to Cali make us the next big thing?? It's a good article overall, it actually makes Taryn It Up Entertainment great PR too. But nothing is what it seems in this business; other than the fact that people make money in it. And Christian values continue to give free press to it and drive sales... ;0)~

Zac
Zac

I really liked this article. I enjoy this author's writing style and the way she handled the risque topic. The goal of the article was not to be accusatory or inflammatory, or to attack Ms Thomas, least of all with rumors. The author didn't hide Thomas' troubled past, and felt free to mention her problems and slight impropriety. I look forward to reading more of this kind of writing!

Will Donovan
Will Donovan

1. California is the only state where it is explicitly legal to produce pornography. See the case Miller v. California. In any other state, pornography can be considered a form of prostitution.

2. Taryn is not well liked in the XXX community. She burned a ton of bridges when she left, few people would have anything to do with distributing her DVDs. They derisively refer to her as "Chub-Chub) for her frequent weight gyrations.

3. Your writer failed to ask--or reveal--how Taryn got all the money to buy a house in Fountain Hills and start her own business--working on the East Coast for 3+ years as a prostitute.

4. She didn't start spreading her legs for money until 2004.

Will Novak
Will Novak

^Huh? Why would shooting porn be illegal in any state? Maybe its illegal in some backwards place like Utah, but not here we wouldn't do that.

Anyway, good to here the Valley is diversifying its economy, always glad to have an industry thats not tied to the housing industry :D

Steve Langord
Steve Langord

Excuse me but isn't it illegal to shoot porn in Arizona? I thought California was the only state in which porn can be legally shot on video.

 
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