I had the pleasure of meeting Rachael Madori at a talk that Chor Boogie and I offered about the iboga medicine with the Aware Project in Los Angeles. At the time, this polymath was exploring her expression as an adult film star, in addition to other gifts such as writing, activism, culinary arts, and fitness education. I would come to know Rachael as a multifaceted and compassionate being; she shared her inner world and raw struggles on her blog and social media platforms as much as she did her physical form and fire. It's a paradox: in the world of mainstream professional erotica, it is supposed to be about "revealing," but it generally only goes skin deep. Personally, I find the holistic, honest view of an artist far more compelling than any marketing mirage. (And yes, erotica can be art.) Through Rachael's journey and authentic unveiling, she has helped educate and inspire many people about mental health, mental illness, suicide awareness, psychedelic medicine, creative freedom, and what it means to be a real, whole person...
Rachael Madori resides in Hollywood, California. She is pursuing opening a restaurant on the east coast. Both her and her fiancé, a chef in Beverly Hills, plan on combining their love of food and service to own their own establishment. Currently she’s learning skills at a fine dining restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and taking classes with Ashworth College.
Rachael is a mental health advocate and social activist. She is a suicide survivor and has been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder; she helps to educate people about these issues. She volunteers with and fundraises for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Rachael advocates for alternative psychedelic medicine. She supports the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. She also attends events put on by the Aware Project in Los Angeles. Their mission is to “balance the public conversation about psychedelics, spread accurate information and give a new face to psychedelia”. A self proclaimed psychonaut, Rachael tries to teach the world through her understanding and years of experience using psychedelics as healing medicines, not only for her mental health but her overall well being.
A passionate writer, Rachael has published articles at sites such as SimplySxy and AVN. She is also a contributing author at Consumer Health Digest. She has accomplished her first written piece of fiction which will be published by Cleis Press in a book curated and edited by Asa Akira. Rachael continues to blog as an outlet for her advocacy and creativity.
A former adult film performer, Rachael holds multiple awards including 2015 Inked Awards Starlet of the Year and 2016 Inked Awards Best Scene of the Year. Her proud and unadulterated voice as a pervious sex worker sheds light and dismantles the stigma associated with the sex industry.
Her blogs pertain to many different subjects but the main objective here is voice. The point of a voice is to be heard, she writes not only to be heard but for anyone out there to find comfort knowing that someone is listening.
Do you feel that living with transparency helps us, as a collective, to heal?
Absolutely. I look at humans as this one large organism and we all, whether we recognize it or not, affect and feed off each other. Not always in a bad way. Truth, transparency and honesty will feed truth, transparency and honesty. Facades will feed facades. Negative will feed negative. It’s all about whether we choose to heal or poison. I want to be on the end of the spectrum that is helping society find what it means to be real again.
What do you feel are some of the gifts of being bi-polar?
Being bi-polar creates this completely altered reality that I live in and because of this I’m creative, different and expressive beyond words. I feel hard, I feel deeply. Sure it’s all over the place but there’s some kind of beauty in the constant chaos inside my mind. Honestly all I’m trying to do is focus on manifesting that chaos into beauty. I feel like we’re all trying to do that in one way or another.
How can people be sensitive and supportive for loved ones who are dealing with mental illness?
It's not easy loving someone who has a mental illness but patience is key. I think the best way to be supportive is to be open and frank about it. It's not something anyone should be embarrassed or ashamed to struggle with so their loved ones shouldn't feel that way either. I can't tell you what a difference it made to finally have an open dialogue between my family and friends about my diagnoses. Sometimes when I was having an episode they could tell when I couldn't. I need that. I don't want to be treated any differently, I just want to know someone will be there when my mind fails me.
What drew you to the adult film world, initially?
I was always fascinated with pornography. I used to envy the women I would watch in videos because I found it so amazing that they had the confidence to show to the world an intimate action that most people shy away from even talking frankly about. I wanted to know what that position of empowerment was truly about.
What did you like about it?
I loved that I had a safe environment to practice and learn about myself and other people sexually. I enjoyed how much emphasis is put on safety and consent. It honestly helped me appreciate how we are all sexual creatures with our own likes, dislikes and boundaries. It let me develop a confidence and sense of self worth I didn’t know before.
What didn’t you like about it?
I didn’t like how political it can all be. Whether it be award shows or the aspect of “Who you kiss up to”. I think all the arbitrary ideas and cliques take away from the industry what it should be about which is creating amazing content.
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
I would like to see performers act more like a family of coworkers and less like competitors. Pursue being the best, win awards, become a top tier performer but leave your ego at the door. We all face enough stigma from the outside world, to create drama within your own industry due to ego is unjustified.
Why did you limit it to three years?
I always heard this saying that three years is the best time frame for a female performer. I didn’t go into sex work for the money, I did it because I felt drawn to it and ended up falling in love with performing. I knew it was a side step off my path so I figured giving myself a time frame would keep me headed towards all my other life goals.
What did the adult film world teach you about human beings?
The good things it taught me about humans was both physical and mental. I learned ways to please and be pleased that I think would take a lifetime of experimenting with different partners and I’m proud of that. I learned about having pride in yourself as a sexual creature and holding steadfast to that. We’re all organic, developing beings and the adult film world taught me never to be ashamed of that.
I also learned that ego can destroy people without them even knowing it. I found out very quickly that to some people - how popular they are, how many followers they have on social media, how many trophies they hold and what they see in the mirror is all that defines them. And it’s sad.
Have you ever encountered judgment and/or discrimination from people in reaction to your work in adult film? How so?
I’ve experienced people who were caught off guard by how frankly I talk about adult films and sex in general. I’ve gotten hate mail from religious people, I’ve gotten called countless slurs because I did publicly what people do behind closed doors. It even took a long time for my family to see me as credible because they feared this industry, clouded in mistruths and taboo, had destroyed a part of me. My love and life partner has been harassed online by people who cannot see sex work as work. I’ve been misjudged as unintelligent and have been discriminated against far enough that I’ve been told my choice to be a performer was due to my mental illness. At first I ignored it but to be honest it started to hurt me. Not my confidence or sense of self worth, but I hurt for all of the people who have developed such a distorted view because that kind of tunnel vision leaves zero room for growth of your inner self.
Most porn stars I’ve seen tend to create a very slick, one dimensional, “adult fairy-tale” image for marketing purposes that appears to have few real world human challenges. Yet, while in the adult film industry and beyond, you have been so open about your full-spectrum human self, sharing about your experiences navigating mental illness, psychedelic medicine, personal relationship, dreams, and multi-faceted creativity. You started this intimate expression on social media, then it expanded onto your blog. What made you want to break that mold?
For a while I marketed myself the way everyone else did. I only posted what I was told to, I never kept my presence online too serious and conveying a brand like that and separating it from your true self is successful for some people. I just don’t happen to be one of those people. People have been trying to fit me into boxes my whole life and I wasn’t aware that there were boxes for pornstars too. I have this innate and deep conviction to bare my true self to the point were upholding a manufactured image of myself online wasn’t even possible. I am sexual and filthy and heated, all the things a sex performer should be, but that’s not even half of me. So I decided I wasn’t okay with only being seen as that. It’s just not in my personality and I had this deep feeling to throw my entire self out to the world. Whether I lost or gained fans because of that didn’t concern me. This became a movement to show the world something much more intimate that me having sex.
What kinds of feedback (positive & negative) have you received from your adult film fans after revealing more about yourself?
I received some negativity. I was told to stick to the basic frame work of a pornstars internet presence because I had no business being anything else. I was told that people weren’t there for me they were there for my body. Which I’m all well and good with. My career was of the human body. However, that doesn’t negate my right to express every other aspect of myself.
I got a lot of positive feedback too. There were people struggling inside and outside of the industry who reached out to me because they knew I wouldn’t judge them or they knew that what they saw is what they got. I have lifelong fans that started watching me because they loved my videos but now they follow me on my life journey because at some point sharing my humanity became just as entertaining.
When did you start your public blog?
I started it two years ago. My website has always had my blog section because I love to write. I’ve been writing ever since I could spell. I used to have links and such to my adult films but once my fan base started growing from outside of porn I made the decision to make my site completely PG about a year ago. Not because I wanted to hide my career, I embrace it fully. I did that so now my words could reach a wider range of people who may need to hear something that touches them.
What kinds of people follow your blog?
All ages, genders, interests. A lot of young women and men. Fitness and wellness is one focus on my website so a lot of people looking for tips or motivation tend to follow along. I also converse with a lot of people who struggle with mental health or live with someone who is struggling and I’ve been told I help them by putting into words that they otherwise cannot to describe what’s happening to them or their loved one. There are still fans of my adult films that continue to follow my life and my blog which I think is great. I broke this barrier where you can enjoy my sex work but also the rest of me as well.
What kinds of feedback have you received about your blog from your readers that are not necessarily your adult film fans?
Some people call me brave. I’m not sure how I feel about that word because I just feel like I’m doing what I have to do to help. There’s a few particular fans of mine who live with wives struggling with Bipolar Disorder and they’ve let me know how much my blog has helped their understanding and their marriage. I feel like some people are taken aback that I went from a one layer pornstar to such an open advocate for many things personal to me but the feedback has been mostly positive. If I can make one person feel even a little better, I think I’m doing my job as a human.
Now that you’ve retired from adult film, you are onto other projects and visions. What is next for you? What are you excited about?
I’m focusing on my position in the restaurant industry and opening one of my own. I’m working in a great company at a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles until I move back home to New York City to pursue a second degree in Culinary Management. Another creative endeavor I’m working on is a streetwear line called Feel Hard where I’ll be donating a percentage of the proceeds to non-profit mental health organizations. I’m also trying to dedicate whatever free time I can find to compiling my first book.
*Check out the DONATE section on the website with links to the organizations that Rachael fundraises for including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.
Support Rachael's Fundraiser:
Streetwear Line for Mental Health Awareness
We don't make art for the applause. We make art because we MUST—or our soul will starve to death. You know.
And on a deeper level, my ego can't take personal credit for the art that I make. My job is to get out of the way, more than it is to "accomplish" anything.
The act of writing my book about our healing journey with the sacred iboga medicine was a practice of surrender, letting spirit weave the story that wanted to birth itself through the etched vessel that is me.
I had no idea if anyone would even "like" the book that came through me because it was so... radical. With ruthless honesty, I revealed our most intimate struggles. It wasn't a flattering work, but I knew I had to do it, even to help one person by sharing our story.
But when applause happens, it's nice. It is. This means that someone found the creation to be useful, and it is good to feel useful within the human hive. It's just a human thing.
So thank you! I am honored and grateful that Heart Medicine recently won the National Indie Excellence Award for the Spiritual category, and it was the top finalist for the Addiction Recovery category. It was also a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for the New Age category, and received an honorable mention in the San Francisco Book Festival. Yay!
And I gotta add, it was truly a tribal process to birth the book. I couldn't have done it without the blessing of Moughenda Mikala, the generous and skilled shaman we worked with, and my beloved husband, Chor Boogie aka Joaquin Lamar Hailey, for his courage to be so transparent, steady support for this project, and beautiful ART, the multifaceted maestra Anandha Ray for the book cover design, author photo, and love, Mark Weiman of Regent Press for his wonderful production skill, and all the magical ones who contributed quotes!
Mr. Boogie created a mind-boggling, capricious, utterly delightful new mural in Brooklyn thanks to the Bushwick Collective, and he put on the final touches during their Annual Block Party. The mural looked to me like someone ate a large amount of friendly psychedelics, then raided a candy store, and we are left with with the experience of psychic candy. I love it! Sometimes you just gotta have fun and stick our your tongue and get weird.
The gorgeous NY crowd flooded through the streets, celebrating life in their full-throttle way. Plenty of families and kids rolled by, taking fun pics in front of the mural and carefully studying Chor's techniques. A few kids even got their hands on some paint and tested out the medium. We had a visit from the young spray paint artist, Lola the Illustrator, and Chor happily shared some tips. The music rocked. It was a beautiful day of community and creativity. Much love & thanks to the awesome Bushwick Collective for making it happen!
Photo by Roman Akkerman