January 16, 1968 |
Beaufort, South Carolina, U.S.
|Other names||Danielle Ashe|
|Height||5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)|
|Weight||115 lb (52 kg; 8.2 st)|
|No. of adult films||77 (per IAFD)|
Danni Ashe (born January 16, 1968) is the pseudonym of an American nude model and former erotic dancer, who is the founder and former CEO of Danni's Hard Drive, a pioneering adult web site. Ashe started her adult Internet site in 1995. She has been an industry advocate and testified before a government panel. Currently she is retired from modeling and has become an Arizona-based photographer.
Ashe began working as a stripper in Seattle. Never finishing high school, she started stripping at the age of seventeen using a fake ID. In an interview, Ashe once explained her career choice: "I guess I'm an exhibitionist. But that's not quite true. Part of the reason is that I developed huge breasts at an early age and breasts are a very sexualized thing. At an early age I was getting a lot of sexualized attention. Eventually, I just felt that stripping kind of put all that stuff out on the table."
After about five years of working in Seattle clubs, Ashe moved to Los Angeles and began modeling for men's magazines and soft-core pornographic videos. She eventually worked as an exotic dancer in various strip clubs throughout the United States as a featured performer. This resulted in an incident in a technically non-nude club in Jacksonville, Florida. In interviews, Ashe has alleged that the club’s owner and its manager persuaded her to perform a topless dance, and encouraged her to sell softcore videos of herself at the club. Ashe was subsequently arrested. Ashe pled guilty to “prohibited conduct” and was fined $50. Neither the club nor her agent helped her through this incident. This unpleasant experience marked a turning point in her career; Ashe never again performed as a stripper, seeking instead to work in an area where she would have more control.
Her first online activity was confined to Usenet newsgroups during late 1994 and early 1995. In the spring of 1995 she decided to create her own website when her husband – then a senior vice president of the Landmark theater franchise – showed her his company's new website. When she could not find anyone competent to help her design her own site as she had envisioned it, Ashe read The HTML Manual of Style and Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital during a vacation. On her return to the U.S., she created the Danni.com (a.k.a. Danni's Hard Drive) website in two weeks.
The site was launched in July 1995 and contained content exclusive to her. Ashe announced the website to her friends prior to traveling to New York with her husband. News of the site spread rapidly and hours later when she reached the hotel in Manhattan, Ashe had a message from her ISP stating that the volume of traffic her site received had overloaded their servers and caused their system to shut down. Danni.com was moved to its own server, which became famous for having a "site working" light that never went out. Ashe jokingly described her server as a "hot box", and when she started charging a fee for access to the site, she named the members' area "The HotBox".
By 2001, the website had made a profit of $6.5 million the previous year, was projected to make $8 million that year, and was estimated to be worth US$30 million. She is the only woman in the world who appeared on the cover of both the Wall Street Journal and Juggs magazine. Ashe's business grew, allowing her to hire staff and models. By 2003, she had 50 full-time employees, a studio in Los Angeles (16,000 square feet/1,500 m²), and an archive containing hundreds of thousands of photos, and thousands of hours of video. That year, Arena magazine ranked her fourth among the "50 Most Powerful People in Porn" list. Ashe was making a million dollars a year.
Danni's Hard Drive was sold in 2004 to John Morisano. In 2006, Penthouse Media Group Inc bought Danni.com and Video Bliss Inc. (owners of the website) for $3 million.
Since retiring after the sale of her website, she has dropped her pseudonym and pursued other interests. She now owns Manzari Photography located in Sedona, Arizona. The company website has the following bio, "Owner/photographer, Leah Manzari, is a former glamour model with a special understanding of what it's like to stand in front of the camera. With years of modeling experience, Leah really understands how to get your best angles and how to put your mind at ease. Leah is also an experienced Photoshop artist with extensive retouching experience." 
In 1998 in an E! channel special titled Women of the Net it was said, "You may not know who Danni Ashe is, but when the History of the Internet is written she'll have a chapter all to herself...a true Internet innovator." Other women profiled in the documentary are Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Asia Carrera, Ellen DeGeneres, Gloria Estefan, Cindy Margolis, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Markie Post.
Ashe's website and exploits as an internet entrepreneur and a female executive were the subject of a 2000 book titled My Year in Smut: The Internet Escapades Inside Danni's Hard Drive by Taylor Marsh.
In August 2000, Ashe earned the status of "the most downloaded woman on the Internet" by the Guinness Book of World Records overtaking Cindy Margolis who had been given the title the previous year. Later that year the status was further supported with her image being downloaded for the billionth time on her website Danni.com.
Ashe has appearance in several television shows and series as "herself" as well as a variety of minor roles in movies credited as Dannielle Ashe. The list of shows and series includes E!'s Wild On!, Talk Soup, the Howard Stern Show, the Man Show, and Frontline on PBS. Ashe's movie credits include I Can't Believe This Is Happening to Me!, Bondage on Stage, and Superheroine Double Feature.
In her February 2002 appearance on Frontline, Ashe was the subject of a May 2001 interview about the Adult industry and her website. In the interview synopsis, Ashe is described as the "founder and CEO of Danni's Hard Drive, regarded as one of the most popular porn sites on the Internet..." even though "her site offers only softcore pornography and does not feature any female-male sex." In the interview Ashe discusses her audience, what she offers them, and how she is planning for growth in her business.
In March 2000, Ashe testified as a panel member for the COPA Commission regarding "Marketing Adult Materials Online". Ashe's panel members included: Andrew Edmond, CEO, Flying Crocodile Inc.; Dr. Victor Cline, University of Utah; Detective LeeAnn Shirey, Seattle Police Department; FBI Supervisory Special Agent Randy Aden; FBI Special Agent Bruce Applin; Detective Daryk Rowland, Huntington, CA Police Department.
In September 2013 Ashe filed suit against the newspaper and media outlet Daily Mail Online for an August 22, 2013 article posted under the headline "Porn Industry shuts down with immediate effect after 'female performer' tests positive for HIV" that was accompanied by an image of Ashe. In her filing she claimed that the Daily Mail never sought permission to use her image and did not include a disclaimer or otherwise make clear that she was not the HIV-positive performer in question.
Citing millions of views and worldwide syndication of the article, Ashe is seeking US$3 million in damages, the Mail's London-based publisher Associated Newspapers, its parent A&N International Media, and subsidiary DMGT are named as defendants. The online image was later removed and replaced with a blurry image of a different model, according to the 14-page lawsuit, but a requested retraction has not been published.
- "The Brains Behind the Boobs", Wired News, 1999-01-28; Gabriel Spitzer, "Danni Ashe on making it in the web porn biz", Media Life Magazine, 2001-03-16; both retrieved 2008-07-12.
- Bruce Kirland, "Sex does sell at Cannes", Jam!, 2001-05-19, retrieved 2008-07-12.
- Spitzer, "Danni Ashe on making it in the web porn biz".
- AINews, "An InnerView of Danni Ashe", 2000-01-24, retrieved 2008-07-12.
- 2002 interview with Frontline, retrieved 2008-07-12; AINews, "An InnerView of Danni Ashe".
- Kirland, "Sex does sell at Cannes".
- Ehrenfeld, "Just Managing: The Naked Truth About Danni's Hard Drive"; Roger Ebert, "Hard Driving a Hard Bargain", May 1997, retrieved 2008-07-12.
- AINews, "An InnerView of Danni Ashe"; Ebert, "Hard Driving a Hard Bargain".
- Staff. "American Porn". Public Broadcast System. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Elen Lewis (2001-08-06). "Danni Ashe: Danni's drive to Net profits". The Independent. independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
- "The Porn Power 50," Arena Magazine, October 2003.
- John Stuart (2006-11-01). "Penthouse Pays $3M for Danni.com". XBiz. Retrieved 2007-03-28.
- Staff. "Leah Manzari Photography". Retrieved 29 January 2014.
- Staff. "Women of the Net (1998) TV Movie - Documentary - 21 June 1998 (USA)". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Marsh, Taylor (2000). My year in smut : the internet escapades inside Danni's hard drive. [S.l.: 1st Books Library]. ISBN 978-1588208651.
- Staff. "Guinness Book Of World Records Names Most Downloaded Woman In The World". Digital Journal. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Staff. "Danni Ashe - 1 Billion Downloads". billiondownloadwoman.com. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Staff. "Danni Ashe: Actress, Producer". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- Staff. "American Porn". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Staff. "Pornucopia: Going Down in the Valley: Season 1, Episode 2 Women on Top (19 Nov. 2004) TV Episode - 180 min - Documentary". Amazon via IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Staff. "Testimony of Danni Ashe President and Founder, Danni’s Hard Drive COPA Commission Hearing on "Marketing Adult Materials Online" San Jose State University - San Jose, California August 3, 2000" (PDF). Copacommision.org. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Staff. "COPA Commission, Hearing III". Copacommission.org. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- REYNOLDS, MATT. "Nude Model Says Daily Mail Defamed Her". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- Danni Ashe at the Internet Movie Database
- Danni Ashe quoted on p. 232 of E. Ross & A. Holland, 100 Great Businesses and the Minds Behind Them, Sourcebooks 2005.
- Tom Ehrenfeld, "Just Managing: The Naked Truth About Danni's Hard Drive", The Industry Standard, retrieved 2008-07-12.
- Roger Ebert, "Hard Driving a Hard Bargain", May 1997, retrieved 2008-07-09.
- Frontline: "American Porn": Interviews: Danni Ashe, PBS, 2002.
- "An InnerView of Danni Ashe", AINews, 2000-01-24, retrieved 2008-07-07.
- Danni Ashe at the Internet Movie Database
- Danni Ashe at the Internet Adult Film Database
- Danni Ashe at the Adult Film Database
- The Billion Downloaded Woman
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