Porn Star April O’Neil Just Really Wants to Win a Pinball Trophy

April O’Neil is just a fangirl at heart.
April O’Neil is just a fangirl at heart.
Photo by Danny Liao


“I’ve never posted something like ‘Getting fucked on set today!’ or ‘Taking two dicks!’” April O’Neil, 28, says of her social media habits.
“That’s just not how I talk.”

If you hadn’t guessed, O’Neil is a porn star. Originally from Phoenix, she got into the industry in 2008 after moving to L.A. and meeting another actress at a party downtown. O’Neil is bisexual, which is typical in porn. “I kinda saw it as a loophole to explore the same sex while paying rent,” she says. “But from the start, I knew I wanted to be something different. I knew I had to come up with a cool name.”

So, no, April O’Neil isn’t her real name, which is obvious, especially if you’re a nerd. “Sometimes people think this is my real name. They’re also surprised I don’t look Irish,” says O’Neil, who has long, dark hair and a tawny complexion. She took her name from the yellow jumpsuit–wearing reporter who tags along with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “I knew I didn’t want a Vegas stripper name,” she says.

The cheeky branding gave fanboys a reason to bookmark O’Neil’s clips, and in L.A. it made her the “hipster porn star,” a byproduct of cultural evolution that dates as far back as the seductive librarian in 1946’s The Big Sleep. Today there are hipster erotica novels, and porn stars are more likely to have Star Wars tattoos than barbed-wire tramp stamps. O’Neil thinks the trend in porn is a reflection of the times: “Disney bought Star Wars, man, so being a nerd is mainstream now.”

But O’Neil is not riding a trend. When she takes to Tumblr to post her high score on Medieval Madness (she’s a top scorer on this particular pinball machine) or iPhone pics of her underboob in cosplay costumes, she’s just being a fangirl. “I was just posting Doctor Who stuff,” she says, referring to her favorite TV show. “That’s how I got started on Tumblr.”

But Tumblr — where anonymous porn is an anchor — isn’t her only fetish. O’Neil competes weekly in the L.A. Pinball League at EightyTwo, her favorite arcade bar near her home downtown. She won’t admit it, but she’s the league’s unofficial promoter. She’s also an ambassador of sorts for L.A.’s monthly emo rave Taking Back Tuesday. She grew up going to Warped Tour and nerds out on pop-punk factoids. “Wanna hear a fun fact?” she asks. “Davey Havok of AFI is so good at pinball.”

O’Neil met Havok at EightyTwo, which she walks to because she doesn’t own a car. She Ubers to porn sets in the San Fernando Valley, where she says she almost never hangs out when she’s not working. By her own admission, she doesn’t feel completely comfortable at industry functions or hanging out with plastic porn queens who don’t know the difference between an RPG and an FP shooter. “My best friend is a video game environment designer,” she says. “He’s a super nerd.”

April O'Neil really just wants to win a Pinball League trophy.
April O'Neil really just wants to win a Pinball League trophy.
Photo by Danny Liao

Unlike other former or current hipster porn stars like Sasha Grey, O’Neil isn’t trying to be an indie-rock star or an activist. Instead, she’s just a gamer who’s picky about her pinball. “I’ve found that my favorite themes or fandoms are actually my least favorite machines to play,” she says.

In 2012, she was crowned “Twitter Queen” at the AVN Awards, but right now O’Neil really just wants to win her first Pinball League trophy — a bigger prize than all the AVN Awards in the world. 


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