Tera Patrick Profiled

By Jesse Hicks

Tera Patrick has a cold. She's had it for weeks, she explains as she changes out of her pasties and into a black top and jeans. It's slowed her down: Last month, during filming for her interactive sex video, she was just too worn out to finish the day's shoot. She flew home to New York and missed four feature shows that weekend. She coughs dryly. Moving from the faux-marble dresser, talking, she heads to the bathroom and keeps talking. She's a storyteller; she admits it. Finally she sits on the edge of the bed, atop a pink comforter, and even though she's stopped moving, it's as though all her kinetic energy is poised, just waiting to be released.

If her cold robs Tera Patrick of that uninsurable jewel, her aura of sexuality, it doesn't show. Ask the men downstairs, who pay ten dollars a head to be near her, to cocoon themselves in wood-paneling and smoke, under dim, forgiving lights, and watch her dance - they come to gaze at woman who admits, "For a long time, I couldn't dance. I thought I had to be in a chorus line. Now I entertain myself up there. I'll go out and do cartwheels, maybe do a split." Ask those who stay for autographs, who smilingly give over $50 to have a Polaroid taken with her and watch it develop in their hands. Ask her husband and manager, Evan Seinfeld, who dumps a pile of bills - her haul from tonight's show - on the table and begins to count it.

By any measure, Tera is doing ok, moneywise. She's under thirty and bi-coastal, with homes in both Los Angeles and New York . She drives a new Corvette and a customized Hummer. She travels the world, though still wants to visit Easter Island . She's chatted with Paris Hilton and is good friends with a Baldwin ; party organizers pay her thousands of dollars to simply show up and have fun.

Porn's been good to the woman who once thought she might never work in the industry again, after a bad contract left her with virtually no income. It took a year-and-a-half of legal wrangling and over $50,000 in lawyer's fees to get out of it, but she did. She formed a company, Teravision, which produces all her movies. She has a personalized line of erotic toys and pitching a reality-tv series. Now she controls her own destiny; the British-Thai girl who grew up in Montana is now that newest of American Dreams: the superstar entrepreneur, whose product is herself. The "tangible celebrity" - the very-real yet indefinable quality she exudes - translates into millions of dollars, and, as her husband puts it, "This is America . You can buy your own freedom."

"We're weird to people. People still think, 'Oh my God, what's she like? She must be so weird because she has sex on camera..They think I must be some kind of alien or something, because of what I do." When she talks her eyes go wide with emphasis, those brown eyes a little glassy, dimmed by her cold and last night's long flight from LA. She talks about the business of porn, of appealing to her fans and her "couples demographic," and of how many experts are consulted in order to turn her into every man's fantasy. She loves her fans - "They pay my bills. They throw money at me, so what can I say?" I listen for over an hour to this methodical dissection of the mechanics behind porn, the calculus of sex and desire, and the only thing I really wonder is: is this really you, Tera? What is it you really want, now that you've bought your freedom?

"I have a little dog, and I'd like to knit clothes for little dogs and open a little dog store. I'd call it Dog One."

Tera Patrick's "Tera, Tera, Tera" is out now; a preview of her next video is available at www.reignoftera.com. Her official webpage is www.clubtera.com.

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