As a child, she wanted to become a dancer, starting dance lessons at the age of three. She was home-schooled and got her high-school diploma before the age of sixteen. Because her father worked in IT, Stoya had access to a lot of electronics and gaming equipment, which she says developed her love for technology.
"I was three when I was using DOS. My mom taught me how to read, and my dad taught me how to navigate DOS", she has said. At a later age, Stoya moved to Delaware, where she spent a semester at Delaware College of Art & Design, but she later dropped out. After relocating to Philadelphia, she attended a summer program at UArts. Some of her jobs in Philadelphia included being a secretary, flier distributor, and a go-go dancer. Stoya appeared in several music videos for bands that, according to her, "no one will ever hear of." In May 2009, Stoya said that she would be moving from Philadelphia and relocating to Los Angeles in the fall of that year.
Stoya began posing for adult pictures for a friend. That eventually led her to modelling and working for alt-erotic websites. One of the websites she had worked for asked if she was willing to do a softcore scene for a DVD they were putting out.
Stoya claims that she discovered pornography through an interest in BDSM and via fetish newsgroups on the Internet. She has stated that few adult films interested her and that she prefers those with artistic and fetish themes.
Stoya was featured in two DVD productions for Razordolls, and she made a non-sex, cameo appearance in two Vivid Alt titles before being contacted by Digital Playground with a proposition to perform in a hardcore lesbian scene with Sophia Santi. The scene in question never happened, but, in August 2007, she met with several Digital Playground representatives and was asked if she would star in a pornographic movie with male talent. After careful consideration, Stoya agreed.
In October 2007, Digital Playground signed her to an exclusive, three-year contract. Stoya is regarded as the company's first alt porn contract girl. The first scene that she shot for them was for Stoya Video Nasty (promoted on the DVD box as the first film featuring her engaging in heterosexual intercourse), but her first movie released by the company was Jack's POV 9.
Stoya has stated that exploring her sexuality on camera has been a fun adventure.
Even though Stoya was under exclusive contract with Digital Playground, Evil Angel director John Stagliano received "special permission" in 2013 to cast her in the sequel for the adult film series Voracious. As of 2014, she left Digital Playground and is now focusing her career on directing. She is financing her first film to be shot in February 2014.
Stoya also writes for Vice, has written for The New York Times, New Statesman, Esquire, and blogged for XCritic. In 2015, Stoya began to write for The Verge as their resident sex columnist.
Stoya enjoys art, and one of her hobbies is creating clothes which she wears in her scenes and during erotic conventions. She likes reading, with sci fi and fantasy being among her favorite genres. Her favorite writers include William Gibson and Anne McCaffrey.
In June 2009, she was reported to be dating Marilyn Manson, but they later broke up due to Manson's touring schedule. Afterwards, she dated pornographic actor James Deen for several years.
In a blog post, Stoya said that she has mild latex allergies and difficulties with hormonal birth control. In the past, she said that she has had three medication induced abortions, and states, "I’ve been pretty successful at avoiding pregnancy."
James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can't nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.
These allegations of rape were denied by Deen, who labelled them "false", "egregious", and "defamatory". In the days following, eight other women went public saying Deen had assaulted them, San Francisco-based Internet pornography studio Kink dropped Deen, and website The Frisky killed his column.
- 2008 Eroticline Award – Best U.S. Newcomer
- 2009 AVN Award – Best New Starlet
- 2009 AVN Award – Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene - Cheerleaders
- 2009 XBIZ Award – New Starlet of the Year
- 2009 XRCO Award – New Starlet
- 2012 AVN Award – Hottest Sex Scene (Fan Award) - Babysitters 2
- 2014 XBIZ Award – Best Scene - Feature Movie - Code of Honor