Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images News/ Getty Images
By Chris Vespoli

During my college years and into the early days of my career, I became an expert at finding and removing embarrassing drunk photos of myself from Facebook. I had an uncanny ability for untagging pics of me double fisting cans of Natty Ice in a dorm bathroom just as quickly as they popped up on my feed. It was like playing a game of virtual Whac-A-Mole, with the prize being no one would know just how young and stupid I was. The opportunity for online mortification still lingers in adulthood. Some people get embarrassed because Spotify tells all their friends that they listened to Miley three times in one day, or that all of their Foursquare check-ins are at Magnolia, but I have something far more damaging with which to contend. For a time, when you Googled my name, this would come up:

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Let me start by saying I’ve never starred in a bondage video. I have nothing against people who have, but it’s just not for me. (Truth is, I can’t think of a good safe word.) That Google search result (as most of the others in this article) is about a year old, from when I first realized Google thought I was in a porn…But why did Google think I was in a porn? After numerous late-night hours of research, I happened upon the answer on an adult website. A porn actress named Dana Vespoli and actor named Chris Charming had starred in a bunch of dirty movies together — the Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio of fucking, if you will. Apparently a search for my name, “Chris Vespoli,” yielded their full, sticky film catalogue. By the way, if you haven’t checked out Ass Masterpiece, please do treat yourself. Masterpiece, indeed.

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But who is this Dana Vespoli? My father learned of Dana’s existence a few years ago. No, not while doing “research.” He was innocently Googling his wife — my stepmother — just to see what would come up. Her name is Diana Vespoli, and when he put her name into the search bar, he got this:

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I thought I had it bad. Google thought I had starred in a movie with a porn actress, but Google thought my stepmom was a porn actress. And so, the mystery of Dana Vespoli was born. We were fairly confident she wasn’t related to us. After all, we didn’t have anyone in our family named Dana, nor had anyone in the family married someone by that name. Oh, and Dana Vespoli is Asian. That alone probably should have given away that she wasn’t related to us, because Vespoli is a decidedly Italian name and I’ve never seen a Chinese restaurant called “Happy Vespoli Garden.”

After more digging, it became clear that this woman randomly stole my family’s name and began using it as her porn name, which is absolutely ludicrous. Out of all the wonderfully trashy, alliterative name combinations — Dana Devine, Dana Dame, Dana Dashing — she went with Dana Vespoli. I’ve had Vespoli for a last name for nearly 30 years, and I can tell you right now, it’s anything but sexy. Vespoli doesn’t suggest passion or lust or “no condom” scenes; it sounds like a dessert a guido orders at Ferrara’s Bakery. I’ve come close to having an orgasm while eating a pastry from there, but not that close.

Dana Vespoli might not be related to me, but the reason as to why she stole my name actually did have to do with a member of my family. A distant relative of mine, Mike Vespoli, owns a company called Vespoli USA, a popular manufacturer of racing shells used by professional rowers. Here’s one:

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Image via Vespoli USA

It seems as though Dana rowed on her college crew team and became so enamored with the name of her boat that she decided to take it as her own. Full disclosure, I got that information from an interview posted on her Wikiporno page, a website that makes even Wikipedia look credible. It may not be true, but this tweet seems to confirm Ms. Vespoli indeed rowed at some point:

I can only assume she’s talking about a guy named Charles Regatta. Apparently he’s got a 1,000-meter head, which is impressive even by porn standards. At any rate, this pretty much confirmed what I had suspected of Dana: she literally got her name off the side of the boat. Apparently she didn’t know your porn name is supposed to be the name of your first pet plus the name of the street you grew up on. In case you’re wondering, mine is “Spike Lewis.” You’re welcome, America.

This whole thing has resulted in a lot of embarrassment for me. I’m not embarrassed because a porn star stole my name; I’m embarrassed because she’s managed to achieve more success with my name than I probably ever will. According to IMDB (which lists her real name as Christa N. Walker), Dana has starred in 195 movies to date. I haven’t starred in anything. The only audition I’ve ever had in the entertainment industry was to play a grumpy rain cloud in a NY1 Weather commercial, and I didn’t even get the fucking part. My achievements live in the shadow of hers, poetically illustrated by the fact that the interview I did about my writing with International Business Times was sandwiched between two of her porn links on Google.

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For a while it looked like there was nothing that could be done about my problem and that, much like being violated while wearing a ball gag, I was just going to have to grin and bear it. I have nothing against porn, and nothing against Dana and her career, but mine could potentially suffer if a prospective employer saw my name on the Internet awash in a sea of asses and bondage. However, within the past year, Google has slowly learned that I am a freelance writer and producer of TV and online media content and not in any way affiliated with an Asian, anal-centric porn star. Thanks to articles like this very one, I’ve managed to populate my search results with enough content to knock Dana’s tattooed, well-lubricated body of work largely out of sight for the time being. Every person who clicks on an article of mine is helping the cause. But let’s not get cocky (ha!), because we still have more work to do…

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