Kristel Penn


Kristel Penn

Kristel Penn.JPG

Occupation: Marketing and Editorial Director at Grooby

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Sex in My Business: Grooby is a production company that owns and operates over thirty trans membership websites. Positioned as a lifestyle company, we have many endeavors beyond the traditional adult industry framework as well. We created a non-profit organization called TAIF (Trans Adult Industry Foundation) and also host the annual Transgender Erotica Awards here in Los Angeles. In addition to all of this, I also do educational workshops around the country to help destigmatize porn and its consumption.

A Typical Day: My typical workday starts at around 6am. Grooby’s owner, Steven, is located in the UK, so the time difference suits our schedule very well. We usually spend my mornings checking in on the various projects we’re working on or sometimes just shooting the shit. The rest of my day varies depending on what project I am focused on at the moment. Right now, my main mission is to get our newest website up and running, which is a body-positive platform that will feature performers not traditionally seen in mainstream porn called On a day-to-day basis this means I am often looking for potential performers, interviewing potential producers, and now working on all of the paperwork (code of conduct, pre-shoot checklist, etc.) we’ll need to begin shooting for the site. I also run my own company, Ikigai Marketing, which offers PR and purpose-driven coaching, so in the late afternoon, I’ll switch gears and work on projects for those clients, which may include writing press releases, coordinating interviews, or doing big-picture brand building for them. At some point I’ll break to eat dinner and then do schoolwork until I pass out. I’m currently pursuing an M.A. in Psychology (Counseling), so any free chunk of time goes to that. 

The Best Part: Doing this work, I have met some really amazing people, and that will always be my favorite aspect of my job. Through random strokes of luck, I have met my partner, my best friends, and some of the most talented and creative people I have ever known, all thanks to the adult industry.

The Worst Part: Because of the nature of my job and sometimes our industry, it can be very high-stress. I am also a natural worrier, so that can make for quite the combination. The adult industry also faces stigma and discrimination (both as an institution and for the people in it), so we hit walls all the time and sometimes there are no apparent solutions for it. The lack of solutions is a source of stress for me because I believe I have a responsibility to the community I work in and serve, so I’m always trying to find ways to support those around me.

How I Got Here: My path into this job has been pure randomness. After college, I had moved back to Hawaii and was taking photos for the local newspaper while dragging my ass through a quarter-life crisis. One day I had lunch with someone I knew in the nightlife scene and her partner. Her partner asked if I could do photoshop and asked if I needed a job.

“It’s porn,” she told me.

“That’s fine.”

“It’s trans porn.”

“That’s fine,” I replied, although it caught me off guard so I think I laughed. I started my first day on the job digitally removing pieces of toilet paper from the model’s butthole. It was a long day. The next day, my boss was training me on something and realized that my forte was actually in writing, so switched my job responsibilities immediately. I started doing affiliate blogging and content management for us, then worked my way up to the position I have now.

What Society Thinks: Social attitudes toward my job really vary. Some people don’t understand what I do or they reduce it to a fun cocktail party story. Others have been very rude, while still others have been supportive. I don’t think my work holds the same level of stigma as some other jobs in the adult industry, but I have certainly been the target of harassment and discrimination. However, I try not to take any of it personally. When people are rude about my job, I try to turn it into a positive experience and use it as fuel to continue the educational work I do to destigmatize the adult industry. And of course, when someone is supportive, it helps me walk a little taller out in the world because it makes me feel like it’s okay to be an authentic version of myself.

When I’m not at Work: I enjoy playing music. I started a project two years ago called #PennPlays where I sing/play dorky covers of cheesy songs. It is a way for me to clear my head and just do something for the sake of making myself happy. There’s no money in it for me, but people seem excited when I sing (or screw up!) songs they know, and at the same time, I also enjoy playing songs people love.


For more about Kristel, please visit her website or follow her on her personal and professional Twitter accounts, Instagram and YouTube