I'm grateful for the chance to ask you my baker's dozen of questions. As I mentioned in our original email exchange, I tend to avoid the "normal porn questions". It's easy enough for people to google how long you've been in the biz and things of that sort. In your case, I don't think readers and viewers need much introduction to you or your work, as I'm sure it is common knowledge that you basically led the revolution of the porn parodies that are so popular today and you have quite a few awards under your belt.
Now, I know you have a new movie coming out but I really don't want this to be a film spotlight, although I will definitely embed the awesome trailer into the published version of this just in case there's anyone who hasn't seen it yet! So, without further ado, let's find out a little about you. First, I'd like to explore the professional side of things and then we can get into the things you like when you're off the clock.
1. Let's start with the words on "everyone's" lips these days: camgirls and independents. More and more young ladies and gents are creating their own content and selling it directly to the fans. As a long-time, award-winning creator, what are your thoughts on that? Will it cut further into studio budgets like piracy, or does it just offer a new dynamic to the fans that will have them perhaps spending more of their entertainment dollars in the industry?
That's a great question to start off with and the first thing that pops into my mind is I love cam girls and whoever thought up the concept of 'content trade' is brilliant. This makes it perfectly acceptable for a guy to approach a girl and ask her if she wants to suck his dick without getting slapped in the face. I know a bunch of guys that do content trades and don't even have websites or don't even upload their content to a third party. They just wanna bang some cute girls. Cam girls and cam companies are the new royalty in the adult entertainment business pushing aside the traditional porn business even further away from profitability. Piracy has wrecked the adult production business and now fans are paying their hard earned money to be more intimate with their favorite girls and that is fantastic for the girl, the fan but sadly not the producer of movies. Hey, it's progress in some strange way but watching a boring girl be boring on screen is boring. However, there are some very entertaining cam girls and they are quite captivating so I say good for them and go for it.
2. Crews. Many casual viewers are probably under the assumption that porn is two (or three, or four, etc.) people getting it on and there's a camera filming them. Obviously, in some cases that is absolutely accurate but when it comes to the things you are most noted for, how many people are really on-set while these performers are going at each other?
My recent movie Bad Babes Inc., starring Katie Morgan, Adriana Chechik, Kat Dior, Tiffany Watson and Luna Star had a cast of 23 and a crew of 13. It was one of the largest movies of the year and every single person was necessary. Our movies look more like something you would see on Netflix and Adam & Eve really appreciates it when I write, direct and deliver a movie that they have multiple broadcast options on and to achieve that you need a large talented crew. It's true most people don't realize that there are a lot of people on set and a lot of people standing around watching people get fucked but each person has a job to do if my vision is to become a reality. There are plenty of movie sets that just have one person, that being a director/cameraman and that is fine for them but shooting those types of movies is of no interest to me. I like to tell a story and to be able to tell a real story, you usually need a good crew. You also get a better appreciation for the starlets and the studs that are able to perform sexually in front of a small army of guys and gals. Try it one day and invite your neighbors over to watch you have sex and you'll see these performers are truly amazing.
3. Let's get technical because I'm that kind of guy and I know many viewers are too. Dolby sound, or some variation of surround sound. Almost every big production these days is encoded with "Dolby Digital" which to techno geeks means at least 5.1 channels, but it's almost always nothing more than stereo that is wrapped in DD (in the world of porn), ultimately being left to each and every sound system on Earth to separate it into surround channels however it sees fit. With more and more people having surround sound in their viewing areas, wouldn't it make sense to actually encode side and/or rear channels for ambient noises in bigger productions? Or is it just too cost prohibitive, adding yet another layer of complexity to the final product?
Yes, it would be heaven to be able to properly deliver sound but budgets are low in porn and everything we do costs money. We're currently editing my latest movie The Cursed XXX and the audio tracks are immense. There are more audio tracks going on for this movie than all my other movies as we have a shitload of sfx, music, dialogue and strange noises. It would be the perfect movie to spread the sound around and I'm sure we will when we get to the audio sweetening portion of the edit which is coming quick. I have a great editor Hollywood Max who is very good with sound but the sad part is the delivery specs are still somewhat in the dark ages with respect to splitting tracks and delivering for DVD and then later for broadcast. You bring up a very good conversation but some dreams will remain just out of reach. I'm going to discuss this point further with Adam & Eve and my editor to see what we can do.
The Cursed XXX Trailer
4. That brings me right to your upcoming film, The Cursed XXX, which was what started this whole interview process. I viewed the trailer on my desktop computer, which while surround sound capable only has the subwoofer and fronts connected at the moment but even without the rears, it roared to life and my focus narrowed to only being aware of what I was watching, not the everyday occurrences going on around me. Obviously trailers matter. Do you, yourself, think of creating one prior to and during filming, or does it just evolve as you sit down to edit it?
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I give the trailer zero thought when I'm writing and shooting the movie. Usually, our process is Hollywood Max listens to my guidelines for a trailer, then ignores them completely and delivers a 'rough' trailer that either hits me right between the eyes or leaves me wondering what the hell just happened. Once in a while, we have to pretty much start from scratch again but that is rare. The trailer for The Cursed XXX is one where Hollywood Max nailed it on the first try and we only made a few minor fixes to what he created. Obviously, he took everything from the movie but that is part of his talent that he is usually in lock step agreement with me, and I with him, on just about everything we do. That is a rare happening in my 15 years as a director but he is a brilliant editor and I need that as a writer and director. Usually, editors think they are God and the director sucks and believe me that might be the case with some shitty directors but not with me and I think Max appreciates that I have a very strong opinion about everything we create but I actually listen to everything he suggests and lately he's been on fire. We have fantastic chemistry so I don't want to work with anybody but him even though I've had some pretty terrific editors in the past. He's just at another level. It's like finding a girlfriend that is cute, has perfect tits and is an Ivy league grad. Hard to let that one go.
5. Let's move on to video. Obviously, there's a lot of choices on the market today. Due to the diversity of adult cinema, everyone seems to figure out what works for them be it a webcam, a cell phone, a DSLR, a versatile all-in-one, I've even seen RED and ARRI employed for particular purposes. What's in your bag these days?
We've shot the last few movies on the A7s. This movie we used four of them and shot with a big crew. For 15 years I always had a camera in my hand or on my tripod for dialogue and sex and pretty much shot a ton of the movies this way but these past few movies I wanted to be closer to my Hollywood counterparts and actually spend my energy directing the cast and the camera crew. I do still pick up a camera to be one of two sex shooters per scene but being able to concentrate on the story without having to lift a tripod and adjust the height and break my fucking back is a joy and more of what I will be doing in the future. I know what I want the final picture to look like but I'm definitely not a tech-head. I surround myself with talented people that are way more technical than I would even wish to be. That is of no interest to me as the actual story and look of that picture is the only thing that matters to me. How we get to that point is a shared vision. I did work on a mainstream TV pilot that used Black Magic cameras and those were pretty incredible. I want to try a number of them including the Red but cost is definitely a factor.
6. You have had an obviously successful run with light-hearted subject matter that involves sex, parodies in particular. So, what happened that made you decide to do a film like The Cursed XXX? Did you just wake up one day and say "let's shoot a paranormal thriller", or was it something that took a lot of mulling over? How does it differ from what you've shot before?
You're right The Cursed XXX is different than anything we've ever done. It's not a sweet bedtime story. I'll tell you how we got to that point of leaving The Brady Bunch and Bill Cosby style movies in the bullpen. Adam & Eve Pictures had a lunch meeting with me and my business partner and co-producer Scott David and tossed around an idea for a murder mystery. Somehow the movie 'Clue' with Martin Mull entered the conversation so I had to go out and buy the DVD and watch it because I had no clue what they were talking about. Although it was a nice movie, it appealed to me about as much as a naked middle-aged woman so I had to think of another way to create a who-dun-it style movie plus they wanted this feature movie to be virtual reality. We scratched our heads and then created some cool synopsis paragraphs for A&E to consider and they loved one about a movie studio that experiences beautiful actresses getting murdered.
Somewhere along the line the VR got dropped thank God, and I sat in my downtown Los Angeles office attempting to write a murder mystery. Very little poured out of my head and onto the blank page so I was stuck for a while with no precise target or even basic direction. Hey, it either flows or it doesn't and I'm a funny guy, I love comedies and of course and I also created some big porn musicals so that was more my wheelhouse or so I thought. This was definitely not that, so one night at about midnight I stumbled onto the idea of a horror movie and more specifically a paranormal movie. The truth is I'm scared as fuck about anything paranormal and don't even discuss things like that because my house is haunted and I have an agreement with the resident ghost that we don't fuck with each other. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. However, the idea of making an original paranormal porn movie intrigued me so I set off on 2 weeks of watching paranormal movies. Now, you have to understand, I cannot watch them in my house as I don't want to fuck up the peaceful status quo so I was forced to watch them at night in my downtown LA 100 year old office building and if you don't think watching Insidious and Paranormal Activity all alone in a creaky old empty complex would fuck with your manhood, you got another thing coming. A few times I had to literally run outside, get in my car and drive home because I was scared. It was some freaky shit and I would never agree to watch movies alone like that again. I must have watched 20 scary movies to learn as much as I could about the genre before I started to write and plan the movie because the only two I had ever watched years back were The Exorcist and The Ring.
7. Brad Armstrong. I read in a press release (?) that that was a somewhat intimidating phone call followed by nervous first moments on set, followed by a sense of relief when it turned out he could actually show up and do his job without telling you how to do yours. Is that about right? Obviously, the guy has a couple of notches carved into his headboard, figuratively speaking, so I get the trepidation...but I'm interested in how that felt for you. Did you "fanboy out" or did he? Or, did it just become another performer playing his role?
Brad Armstrong is a huge director of great acclaim for Wicked Pictures and although we've attended the same industry events and parties for 15 years I really didn't know him well at all. I have a lot of respect for him both as a director and as an actor so when I started to think about which male talent could play the lead role of the cam house owner, he came to mind as the perfect casting. I made a phone call to him and he was into it so suddenly I had a lead actor to play opposite Riley Reid, Kat Dior, and Misty Stone. The cool part about Brad is that when he's on your set, he asks you to please treat him the same as I would any other actor but truthfully that is impossible for me to do because of his resume'. I know what it takes to create award-winning movies so my respect level for him has always been way up the respect meter plus he lives with Jessica Drake so he must be cool as fuck- and he is. He is spectacular in the movie and he's a director's dream as far as talent is concerned because he knows what you're looking for probably before I did. It reminded me of when I played a non-sex role in my friend Axel Braun's parody Superman a few years back and I could anticipate what Axel needed because I had been in his shoes many times before. Brad was the same way but that didn't stop me from being a little bit intimidated because every error, every mistake on my part would be quite obvious to a guy like Brad so that was always in the back of my mind. The rest of the actors would never notice but once a director, always a director and Brad is the best.
8. In our email exchange, you mentioned your fave restaurants are El Compadre Mexican, PF Chang's, and Denny's. I get that. When Angela White came to Phoenix for a signing, I informed her prior to her arrival that the place she was signing at was right across the street from a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that happens to specialize in great seafood and other Italian specialties. She was so excited to try it but timetables in this industry don't always cater to leisurely eating and after makeup/hair/signing/packing up they all ended up at Denny's across the other street. Is that where Denny's comes in to play for you, or are you just a fan of pancakes and bacon?
I eat at a restaurant every day for just about every single meal except breakfast so I have my favorite spots plus I really enjoy taking a cute porn starlet out to a fun dinner and those are some of my favorite joints plus this old-school Italian restaurant called Barone's. I don't hit Denny's for dinner when I'm with a porn chick but I did the other morning for breakfast and she loved it. That build your own Grand Slam is fantastic and I'm just comfortable there mostly when I'm dining alone.
9. Here at XCritic, one of our new goals is to showcase performers and industry members as actual, real, living people that do normal, everyday stuff besides getting naked and having sex. So, we have rolled out #XCooking which is becoming a place for performers to share their favorite recipes with the world. Do you, or a household member have a recipe you care to share?
I suppose heating up a frozen lasagna in a microwave doesn't count for cooking but I do enjoy making a few things including my Mother's recipe for chili. I know there are a thousand different types of chili so this is a Wisconsin/Michigan type of chili that is more like thick chili soup. It's very easy and quick. Simmer one can of diced tomatoes, one can of tomato soup, one can of chili paste, one can of water, a lot of chili powder, a few big spoonfuls of sugar, one can of chili beans, boil some spaghetti noodles, and brown 1lbs of ground chuck or ground beef with seasoning salt such as Lawry's or similar. Bring it to a soft boil and then let it simmer for ten minutes or so. I like to put it in a soup bowl, eat it with saltine crackers with lots of butter that I dip in the chili and wash it down with an ice cold Coke. A few lucky porn starlets have had the pleasure of enjoying a famous bowl of Midwest chili created by master chef Will Ryder and they've all loved it. It's really tasty.
10. We realize that performers and production people are just that...people. We have also come to realize that like everyone else, many of them view their pets as people too. What's the pet situation at your house like?
I continually purchase mini Milk Bone dog biscuits but have no animals myself. I enjoy giving these canine treats to the various dogs that are walked on my street and I've been doing it so long that many of the dogs pause in front of my place on the weekends waiting for me to come out. If I'm home I usually see them outside and come out but some of the owners tell me when I'm not home they have a hard time pulling their dogs away because they are so used to it. There is one dog named Marla that literally goes insane for these treats and I find myself carrying a few in my pocket should I run into her during the week. They tell me they have the same treats at home but she doesn't go ballistic for theirs. I guess I make a big show of it and ramp my voice up yelling, "Doggy treats" which apparently the dogs love. I love it too so I hope to be doing this until I die or the dogs die.
11. When you aren't producing porn, what do you do? This seems like a standard interview question but I have come to learn that in this industry, some people are into really interesting hobbies like taxidermy, or knife forging, or wooden bowl carving, while others just like to kick back on the beach and/or smoke some weed.
I used to be full time in the music business as a keyboard/piano player for a lot of top music artists so music has always been a big part of my life. I still go into the recording studio to cut tracks for many of my movies and I play the piano in my house whenever I feel like it. I also have been the manager for nearly twenty years of an old school R&B funk group from the '70s and '80s called The Brothers Johnson. They were produced by Quincy Jones back in the day and sadly Louis Johnson passed away a couple of years ago but George Johnson still leads the band and does concerts around the world from time to time. As a matter of fact, I just found out I'll be going on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise this spring to Mexican ports and onto Montego Bay in Jamaica with George and the band along with a bunch of other great music acts including Anita Baker and Babyface to name just a few. I've always loved working in the music biz and this keeps that side of my brain happy and challenged plus there's nothing like seeing a shit-hot band entertain thousands of happy people.
12. I know you are an accomplished pianist/keyboardist. What's in the music room these days, is it a baby grand and a single keyboard or two, or are you still patching in tons of outboard gear? I ask that because in our email exchange you mentioned the fact that technologically you haven't given up the 90's, which surprisingly is actually fairly common for those I've talked to in the industry, including myself and others at XCritic. I come from a sound reinforcement background myself and have worked with everything from orchestras to solo acts that employed hundreds of MIDI modules to rival any orchestra or multi-member band.
Music is wonderful. I have a beautiful Steinway 6' 11' ebony black grand piano that was built in 1893 but what I keep in my living room is a Yamaha CP70 electric grand and it too has hammers, strings, and a damper system so it is an actual piano rather than an electronic keyboard. It can be amplified but I prefer playing the wooden, weighted keys as that is how I learned to play. Back in the day when I studied piano, nobody learned on an electronic keyboard as they didn't exist and it's a lot harder to play an actual piano than it is a keyboard. I still have a small arsenal of keyboards like a Roland D70, JX8P and a few others but I have not taken those out of the cases in a while. In the studio, everything was guitar and keyboards, then everything was modules and now it's just plug-ins so that entire world has changed. Music is still captivating to me but there were other things I wanted to do in my life and that brought me to the porn business. I honestly thought I would try the porn biz for a year and then go back to music full time where all the cute girls were but once I figured out the cute girls were also in porn I stayed and 16 years later I'm still making some movies but only a select few that challenge me.
13: Bonus Question: 3 Days off and travel to/from is not counted. Desert, beach, mountains, other? Expound, please.
I enjoy traveling to anyplace warm and sunny with an ocean where I can take a beautiful starlet du jour and enjoy the simple things away from the city. I would never travel with a group of buddies, been there done that unless I brought a girl for a diversion. I must be with a beautiful lady if I am to feel fantastic on a vacation. I might take a girl with me on the cruise but who to take is the question on my mind.
I'm glad you are into the trailer for The Cursed XXX. During the earlier stages of the movie edit, the trailer was much better than the movie. We have put so much work into the movie that I just told Brad Armstrong, the movie is now better than the trailer. That is hard as fuck to do but we're there. You'll see when Adam & Eve releases The Cursed XXX late spring or early summer and I'll definitely let you know details as they develop. Thanks for being interested in what we're up to it is very flattering and adds more value to what we are trying to accomplish. Thanks to XCritic for always being a big supporter of me and our movies.