“I am motivated by the need to help make our world a better place for our children and grandchildren by keeping alive the knowledge of my ancestors.”—Hyapatia Lee
Known throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s as a goddess of the adult film scene, Hyapatia Lee was widely heralded for her stunning beauty, graceful dance skills, and strong acting ability that she displayed in adult classics such as The Masseuse and I Do. Yet even then, this two-time AVN Award winner with this she was never given proper credit for the extent of her contributions to the industry.
How many people knew that she directed two movies and produced two others? That she wrote the screenplays for 10 films, including an adapted screenplay for The Ribald Tales of Canterbury? That she recorded a song, Fight Back—featured on the Porn to Rock record—that advocated for free speech? That she steadfastly refused to act in a single scene that promoted rape or abuse?Yet the truth and contribution of Hyapatia Lee’s life lingers far beyond the adult industry.
Since leaving adult films, she has claimed her place as an educator, originator of the Native Strength self-help program, a music producer and YouTuber, an activist for Native American rights, women’s rights, the rights of the disabled, etc. Beyond the fantasy is a real, strong woman. Here at Scandalous, we like those. Now it’s time to present the real Hyapatia Lee:
Scandalous: Hyapatia, it is our honor to spotlight you for our official relaunch of Scandalous. I know that you are a busy lady, between your Native Strength program, your music and music video productions, your books and your YouTube channel. What drives you as a philanthropist and creative artist, and how do you choose your projects?
Hyapatia: To begin with, I want to thank you very much for this opportunity! I really appreciate all you do.
I would have to say there are several things that drive me. First and foremost is my absolute need to help others. I know what it’s like to suffer, physically and mentally, and it’s my path to ease pain in any way I can. Secondly, I am driven by my desire to keep the culture alive of those who lived on Turtle Island for tens of thousand of years before Columbus got lost and though he landed in India.
I like to work on projects that encourage people and lift them up. Projects that are fun, enlightening, or on the cutting-edge pique my interest. I am particularly fond of exploring mysteries like Star People and the history of the western hemisphere. My son has a PhD in physics, so I am also fascinated by how the things we are just discovering tie into traditional Native American philosophies and concepts.
Scandalous: I find your Native Strength program to be the perfect self-help program, as you’re not trying to change people, but instead to help them bring out the best in themselves. How would you describe the program, and how can people find out more information?
The Native Strength path is designed to help one discover who they were before the molding and sculpting or our image makers. Many people spend their life trying to please others, to do what they “should” do and not necessarily what sings to their heart. Native Strength helps people to discover what truly makes them happy, so they are living their life for themselves.
Scandalous: These days in the adult entertainment industry, you see a number of women directing and writing their own work—but you were a pioneer in these areas, serving as the creative mastermind behind your movies. During that time, did you seek to make a difference for women in the industry, and how important was it to you to have this creative control?
Hyapatia: Thank you for asking! Yes, I was trying to make a big difference in the business. I wanted to make films that were designed for couples. I was hoping to inspire more women to write and direct movies.
I think women in the past had more control than they appear to have today. I was disheartened by the shallowness and lack of a decent plot that I saw in most movies and I tried to change that.
Scandalous: You and I have discussed as to how—regardless of when you worked in the adult industry —people still judge you—especially on social media, and especially if you’re a woman. What advice would you give to those who deal with this problem?
Hyapatia: I am a big fan of the block feature. I don’t have the time, energy, or cortisol to waste on those who refuse to evolve. I usually start by sending them a link to one of my YouTube videos that either addresses their inquiry or their immaturity. If their response is simply too stressful, I block them. It’s self-preservation. My health requires it. Seriously.
Scandalous: Anyone who saw your films know that you can dance and sing beautifully. And now, you make your own music, produce music, and have started your own music video channel! Tell us more about this, and how people can see and hear your productions!
Hyapatia: Thank you so very much! I got my start in musical theater and I LOVE everything about music of all kinds. I am so grateful to be living the dream right now. I have a studio in my home. It’s easy to collaborate with other musicians online and I’ve been very honored to work with such legends as Robert Fleischmann who wrote Wheel in the Sky for Journey. The music videos I’ve done for him and others can be found on my YouTube channel along with my own compositions. I have eleven playlists on my channel and Music is one of them.
Scandalous: Throughout your film career, you also worked on mainstream films and specials with celebrities. Who were your favorite people to work with?
Hyapatia: My favorite, hands down, was John Savage (who she worked with on the thriller Killing Obsession). Not only is he a brilliant actor and very professional, but a kind and respectful gentleman as well. Of all the celebrities I have worked with, he is the most down-to-earth. Tim Allen (who she worked with on the documentary What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?) is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Scandalous: Aside from your professional and artistic projects, you are an activist—for Native American people and culture, for women, for the disabled. How can people support these efforts, and what do they mean to you?
Hyaptia: Thank you. I think the world would be a better place if people realized several things. The disabled are the only minority any one of us can join at any second through no fault of our own.
Native American culture and religion were illegal until 1978 because the intelligence and advancement it revealed exposed the evil atrocities of Manifest Destiny and the genocide of our people. If we were truly savage and primitive, these actions would seem more understandable, if not forgivable, but that was certainly not the case.
The patriarchy of the Abrahamic religions has had deadly consequences. Having dominion over the earth has emboldened people to pollute, exterminate to extinction, hoard, and enslave. Chief Seattle said “Mankind did not weave the web of life. We are merely a strand on it. What we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” The crusades, the inquisition, and countless wars to control another’s personal relationship with the Creator is despicable to me. Perhaps worst of all is the fact women are not even represented in the trinity. If God created man in his own image, then men and women are both representative of God – equally. The Cherokee have two sacred laws – All Things are Born of Woman and Nothing Should be Done to Harm the Children. If women were seen as equals in the eyes of these religions, I doubt there would have been a “rule of thumb” (how big a stick one can legally use to beat their wife) and scriptures that encourage the beating of one’s children.
The hording of money would be recognized as an immature and greedy act. In my culture, one was looked at with shame if they acquired too many things. Potlatches were for giving away all of one’s items, sometimes including one’s home. Humility was honored. Hunting and fishing rights were often shared with other tribes or won for the season with a challenging game of sport.
On the Navajo reservation today, there is a group that works for free providing food, blankets, and especially firewood for elders, both on and off the reservation, which encompasses 37,412 square miles. Loren Anthony @ChizhForCheii (firewood for elders) works every day from sunup to after sundown with his crew. I follow them on Twitter and they almost never ask for donations. This is the way of our ancestors. (If you are so inclined, please donate to them.)
I see lots of organizations in our predominate culture working for children, but how many are working this hard for our elders?
Scandalous: You have had some health challenges, and have worked through them to continue your efforts to help others. How can we help you?
Hyapatia: I really appreciate your asking. There is no cure for my condition, panhypopituitarism. My pituitary gland doesn’t function at all. It’s quite complicated, rare, and life-threatening. I am motivated by the need to help make our world a better place for our children and grandchildren by keeping alive the knowledge of my ancestors. A good friend has set up a Go Fund Me to help. This is the link Or, if people would prefer, I also have a PayPal account Thank you very much for your thoughtful questions and this opportunity!
Scandalous: Thank you, Hyapatia.