Sunny Leone (born Karenjit Kaur Vohra; May 13, 1981) is a
Canadian actress, businesswoman, model and former pornographic actress. She was
named Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2003 and was a contract star for Vivid
Entertainment. Named by Maxim as one of the 12 top porn stars in 2010, she has
also played roles in independent mainstream films and television shows.
Leone was born in Sarnia, Ontario to Sikh Punjabi
parents. Her father was born in Tibet and raised in Delhi, while her mother
(who died in 2008) was from Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh. As a young girl, she was
very athletic and played street hockey with the boys, and ice skating on a
nearby frozen lake.
Although the family was Sikh, her parents enrolled her in
Catholic school as it was felt to be unsafe for her to go to public school.
There she had her first kiss at 11, lost her virginity to a basketball player
at another school at 16, and discovered her bisexuality at age 18. When she was
13, her family moved to Fort Gratiot, Michigan, then to Lake Forest, California
a year later, fulfilling her grandparents' dream that the family be together in
one place. She graduated from high school in 1999 and enrolled in college.
Before working in the porn industry, she first worked at
a German bakery, a Jiffy Lube, and later a tax and retirement firm.
While studying to be a pediatric nurse in Orange County,
a classmate who was an exotic dancer introduced Leone to John Stevens, an agent
who in turn introduced her to Jay Allen, a photographer for Penthouse magazine.
When picking a name for her adult career, she has said that Sunny is her real
name and Leone was picked by Bob Guccione, former owner of Penthouse magazine.
She posed for Penthouse magazine, and was named Penthouse Pet of the Month for
the March 2001 issue, followed by a feature in the Holiday 2001 edition of
Hustler magazine as a Hustler Honey. She has also appeared in other magazines
including Cheri, Mystique Magazine, High Society, Swank, AVN Online, Leg World,
Club International and Lowrider, while her online credits include ModFX Models,
Suze Randall, Ken Marcus and Mac & Bumble. Her pictorial credits also
include working with stars like Adriana Sage, Jenna Jameson, Jelena Jensen and
In 2003, she was named "Penthouse Pet of the
Year" and starred in the video Penthouse Pets in Paradise alongside Tera
Patrick and Kyla Cole. In 2005 Adam & Eve appointed her as their West Coast
Internet Sales Representative.
That same year, Leone signed a three-year contract with
Vivid Entertainment with which she transitioned into the world of hardcore
pornography, stating that she would only do lesbian scenes. Her first movie
released was titled Sunny and was released in December 2005. Her next movie,
Virtual Vivid Girl Sunny Leone, was the first interactive title for Leone, who
was the first Vivid Girl to make such a movie. Taking only four days to film,
the movie won her her first AVN Award (Best Interactive DVD). She followed this
with Sunny Loves Cher, which featured her first on-screen squirting, and The
Female Gardner co-starring Mikayla Mendez and Daisy Marie.
Leone's last two movies under her contract with Vivid
were It's Sunny in Brazil, which was filmed in Brazil. and The Sunny Experiment
also starring Monique Alexander and Brea Lynn. The movies were released in
October and December 2007 respectively.
In May 2007, upon re-signing her contract with Vivid for
another six films, Leone agreed to perform for the first time with men on
camera, but exclusively with her fiancé, Matt Erikson. That summer she also received
breast augmentation, and shot her first movie under the new contract titled
Sunny Loves Matt. The movie led to her to be nominated for three (out of six)
AVN awards in 2009 in addition to being a choice for Female Performer of the
Year. She followed up her first boy-girl title with The Other Side of Sunny in
October 2008, which would be the last time she would perform with Erikson.
In 2011, she participated in the Indian reality series
Bigg Boss, entering the house on day 49. However she refused to divulge her
porn star status, and replied to fellow house-mate Pooja Bedi that she was a
model and a TV star in America for the last ten years or so. It was reported
that she has caused a stir in the larger populace with her Twitter feed gaining
8,000 new followers in just 2 days and Google saying searches for her
experienced a "breakout". There have also been complaints lodged with
the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting alleging that the Colors TV
channel is promoting pornography by having Leone appear on the show; among
those who have filed are the Indian Artistes and Actors Forum and Anurag
Thakur, member of Lok Sabha and head of the Bharatiya Janata Party's youth
In June 2006, Leone became an American citizen, but plans
to remain a dual citizen of Canada. Although bisexual, she has stated that she
prefers men. In her spare time she enjoys abstract paintings, horse riding,
reading, playing World of Warcraft, watching The Simpsons and the Discovery
Channel. She used to play on a women's soccer league team in California. Her
favourite holiday destination is Hawaii, and her favourite cuisine is Italian.
In separate interviews, she has stated that in ten years'
time she would like to be married and have started a family, and probably
retire from the industry by the time she is 30. Leone was engaged to Matt
Erikson, a vice-president of marketing at Playboy Enterprises. She currently
resides in Hollywood, California with her cat and drives an Audi A5.
A 2008 Eye Weekly article reported that "Leone does
her best to maintain a link to Sikh traditions, even if more in theory than in
practice. But she's unlikely to disavow her career path due to religion"
and that Leone said "Girls will leave the industry claiming that they
found God. Well, the fact is, God has always been with them the entire
time." In a 2010 interview, she said "It's a community-based
religion. You walk into a temple and you're greeted with the utmost respect...
But, just like any religion it doesn't want you to shoot adult material. I
mean, I grew up going to temple every Sunday. When my parents found out they
knew my personality which was very independent. Even if they tried to stop me
or tried to steer me the right way they would have lost their daughter. I'm too
headstrong. And it wasn't a plan. It just happened and my career and everything
just kept getting bigger and bigger."
In an interview to IANS, Sunny Leone's husband
said that he was proud of her entry into Bollywood.