Amber van de Bunt is very happy she chose this career for herself, but warns, it’s important to know “how permanent and life changing it is.”

Eleven-year-old Amber van de Bunt instantly knew she “wanted to be like those girls one day,” when she found a Playboy magazine in her grandparents’ cabin. At 18, the Michigan native was researching “best stripper names” when she was supposed to be looking up colleges. Moving to Florida to work as a topless dancer – where she loved that she would “get paid to party” – Amber van de Bunt never felt like the other girls in her “small, extremely conservative, and religious, midwest hometown.” She settled on the stage name: Karma Karmen.

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Photography by Jesus Lopez

“I knew I was sexual, and no one seemed to have the same interests and desires that I had inside,” Karmen Karma said. “I always felt like I didn’t belong. I wanted to explore my sexuality and get into trouble.”

Karma quickly became known as the “Deep Throat Queen” in the adult-film sphere. With accolades from AVN, “the Oscars of porn,” she has been working in the pornography industry for over six years now, with videos from all of the major porn companies, including Brazzers, Blacked, Naughty America, Bang Bros, and Burning Angel.

“I actually knew I wanted to do porn when I first found out it existed. I tried to satisfy my cravings for porn by webcamming and stripping. I even went to college for one year to try to be “normal,” Karma said. “The reason I didn’t dive into porn like I wanted to was because of fear of what my family would think.”

Regret was not an option, so Karmen Karma made the jump to perform in adult videos when she turned 21. As she says, “I knew my desire to do porn would never go away.”

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Identifying as a “fempreneur,” Karmen is “proud to be a woman who creates her own businesses.”

While Karma’s list of off-limit sexual acts on screen includes vaginal creampie scenes, her favorite scene to shoot is when there are multiple partners. Specifically, double penetration. “I absolutely love it,” Karma explains, “I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but it gives me the most euphoric experience I’ve ever had during sex. If I could, I would get DP’ed every scene. The more bodies to play with, the merrier!”

Everything you see Karmen Karma do in her videos, she does in real life. “Off-set I’m a ‘normal’ girl,” she shares. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about my life.”

“My favorite part of being a porn star is how fun the job is,” Karma said. “You get dolled up, get to hang out with cool people, take sexy pictures, and have sex for a living.” Before her retirement Karma was shooting three or four anal scenes a week. This, understandably, was “taking a toll” on her, both on the body and mind.

Although the finished scenes are roughly only forty minutes in length, Karma is on set for twelve hours, using her body to dance, tease, and perform. To highlight the physical cost on the body, she recalls a lesbian gangbang scene from The Destruction of Bonnie Rotten, which was nominated for “Most Outrageous Sex Scene.” “All four of us used drills with dildos attached at the end of them on Bonnie’s holes,” Karma said. “Bonnie is known for her crazy squirting so we were all drenched by the end of the scene.”

While proud of her accomplishments in her field, including getting a feature movie, Karma’s A Bitch – which is a big deal for a performer – her transition to sex work was not well-received by her family members. She says her family was angry and humiliated when they first found out. Her dad disowned her for a year. The lack of support was one of the stressors Karmen Karma had to overcome.

“I understood why they reacted that way. Being from a small town, I was the talk of the town for a long time, and they were the ones who had to deal with that,” she said. “Overall, I wish that people would just look at my job like any other job in this world. It doesn’t make my job any less, just because it is sex work. I just want to be seen as an equal human being, and not judged based on what I do.”

Karma believes the best way to beat the stigmas circling around adult-film performers is to live a healthy lifestyle, and to pay people no mind. Karma adds, “People will always judge sex workers, and I’ve learned to just not care what anyone thinks, as long as I’m happy and healthy.”

While Karma is very happy she chose this career for herself, she thinks it’s important for other people to know “how permanent and life changing it is to start in this business.” Karma says, “If you choose to leave the industry before becoming successful, it can hurt your chances of ever being able to live a ‘normal’ life with a ‘normal’ career.”

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Karma eventually left the cameras and lights to start a family with her husband, who had been her main source of outside support through her journey. On her last day on set, she intended on not telling anyone her retirement plans, until working for one of her favorite female directors, Jacky St. James. She then admitted that shoot would be her last.

“Everyone that I told was happy for me, and it felt nice to have so much support in the industry. It was bittersweet leaving the industry because I was doing so well, but my heart was set on starting a new chapter of my life,” she said. “Everyone understood I was married, and that to have a child with my husband, I would have to quit filming to make it happen.”

Her first day out of porn, she quickly published a blogpost to her website, letting the world know she was retired. Next, she threw away her birth control.

“My husband was at Navy bootcamp at the time, and the only way we could communicate was through written letters,” Karma explained. “So I spent the day writing him a long letter telling him my decision to leave the industry.”

The two accomplished their goal of getting pregnant within a week of being reunited.

Karmen Karma settled into her new life, enjoying not wearing makeup and seven-inch heels every day. “As fun as it is getting dolled up everyday, it becomes exhausting having to look like a fantasy all the time,“ she said.

She admits her pregnancy was taxing, mentally. “I made the selfless decision to get off of my Prozac, that I had been on for over 10 years, because I knew there was a small risk that would be put on my child if I chose to stay on it,” Karma said. “This decision made me incredibly unstable and a rollercoaster of emotions.”

Despite being unable to control her mood swings throughout the pregnancy, Karma was grounded by the hope that all of the turmoil would be more than worth it, once she saw her daughter’s face.

Writing her memoir, Overcome, was a way to cope with the depression that was “at an all time low.”

Overcome is a refreshing take for the porn industry, because many ex-performers trash the adult-film sphere when they leave. Now, as Karmen Karma says, “There will finally be a book about the porn industry that is not making it seem like an awful place.”

“The industry is not evil as a whole, but can be damaging to those who are already in a bad place mentally,” she said. “It is not this toxic, dangerous, scuzzy environment that most people think of. The professional, mainstream porn industry is, for the most part, extremely professional and treated like a real job.”

Karma found a lot of clarity about who she was – and is – as a person, from this book. “Writing down my struggles was the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done for myself. I sat down and put myself back in those situations, to relive the moments and be able to recall details. Sometimes, it was hard to do emotionally, but I knew it would be worth it.” She added, “It showed me how badass I really am. I couldn’t believe I had lived through all that I did. I appreciate my strength so much more than before I started Overcome.”

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Her daughter, Vienna, was born at 7 lb and 11 oz in Pensacola Naval Hospital. Karma added to her tattoo collection with a “mommy and baby mermaid” on her thigh, to symbolize her mother-daughter bond. Something, she said, she had “always longed for.” She says it is her favorite and most meaningful ink.

When Karma’s goal of starting a family with her husband was accomplished, she started to get an itch to come back to porn, going back and forth for almost a year trying to decide if she should officially come back or not. That is, until her husband convinced her to make the leap.

“The longer I was out of porn, the more I missed everything about it. I missed seeing new pictures, seeing new DVD covers and being a public figure,” Karma said. “I missed making money and having a career, I missed my co-workers, and I missed the attention it brought me.”

While her family still won’t talk about work with her, she feels fulfilled, as well as confident in raising and providing for her family. Constantly recording her sex for Premium Snapchat, and now occasionally shooting professionally – primarily for Brazzers – Karma has embraced her return.

On Karmen Karma’s second coming into porn, she says she was worried what people would say about her as a mother.

“At the end of the day, as long as Vienna is happy and my family is happy, what other people think about me doesn’t matter,” Karma said. “I chose to follow my heart and to go back to work, and make money for Vienna’s and my family’s future.”

Karma “intends on being fully open with Vienna” when her daughter is age appropriate.

“I will not hide it from her. I was not allowed to mention anything about sex in my household, which made it seem like a bad thing. I want my daughter to grow up in a sex positive household,” she said. “I want my daughter to be able to learn from my mistakes and to ask help and advice from me if she needs it. I think it’ll help her be able to feel comfortable being honest with me.” 

Photography by Jesus Lopez

Photography by Jesus Lopez