Stoya does not look like a stripper. The artist Molly Crabapple, a friend, describes her as “a cat-eyed Snow White beauty” who is “mathematically perfect.” Stoya declined Digital Playground’s offer of free breast implants, twice. When the company later seated her next to a plastic surgeon at an awards show, she told him, “I’ve seen your work, and I am not impressed.” When she books a sex scene, she stuffs herself with ice cream for a week in an attempt to exhibit, she says, “something resembling a bosom.” In Los Angeles, she carries a frilly black parasol with UV coating to protect her porcelain skin. Once, at a signing, porno fans mistook Stoya for Jesse Jane’s assistant. She was OK with that. She mocks the plots of porn films and constructs morbid fantasies about her least-favorite co-star (“Peel strips of her skin off and douse her in lemon juice and just let me watch!”).
But Stoya loves her job, and it shows: She giggles so exuberantly throughout her sex scenes that an early partner, Mick Blue, initially thought she was mocking him. “Her performances are ones of genuine pleasure,” says Jiz Lee, a genderqueer performer who once posed as Jack the Ripper while Stoya dressed the part of a Victorian prostitute. “It’s hard not to fall in love with Stoya,” says Lee. “I cannot help but be aroused by the joy she expresses while she’s fucking.” Internet fans have isolated those facial expressions into 1,000 constantly repeating GIFs, and launched Tumblrs like “Fuck Yeah, Stoya!” devoted to her. “But when Hollywood asks for a porn star,” Stoya says, “they don’t like it when I show up.”