Tag Archives: Dana DeArmond

Dan O’Connell: A Gentle, Loving Approach

by Rich Moreland, November 2018

Recently my photographer Kevin and I were on set with Dan O’Connell. Out of that experience, came this post.

What you will find here are testimonials and observations about a porn legacy.

First, a few of shots of Dan’s set to put you in the mood.

Outside . . . .

And inside . . . . First the equipment . . .

Then the room where the action is recorded!

[All photos are Kevin’s unless otherwise noted.]

*           *          *

I wrote my first article on the adult industry in the winter of 2011. Previous to that, I’d visited the AVN trade show and networked in the business as part of a book I was writing on adult film.

All in all, I’m now a ten-year veteran of adult scribing.

During my industry tenure, performers have come and gone while behind the camera personnel–company owners/producers/directors–have remained remarkably constant.

Of everyone I’ve met and written about, no one stands out like Dan O’Connell, founder of Girlfriends Films and its leading director.

Dan’s warmth and understanding of performers’ desires and needs is well-respected industry wide. Likewise, his easy-going attitude on set is appreciated by every performer I’ve talked with.

But that just scratches the surface. Dan and the good folks at Girlfriends take things a step further. They care about the performers they hire.

From my perspective, Girlfriends is top-of-the-line friendly and always accommodating. Just a few weeks ago, I took my new photographer to GFFs’ facility in Valencia. There we met with company president Moose who assured me (as is his habit) that whatever I needed, just ask.

Like Dan, Moose is friendly and always available for conversation and a fresh outlook on the business of porn.

Photo by Bill Knight, 2013

Hall of Famer

In this post, I want to take a moment to celebrate Dan whose kindness, positivity, and political wisdom is well-known within the business. To put an exclamation point to that remark, let me say that in my industry travels over the last ten years, I have not once heard a negative comment about him.

And for good reason.

Photo by Morgan, 2015

The native Montanan is an industry award winner. Two of the most notable accolades occurred in 2015: Nightmove’s Lifetime Achievement Award and enshrinement in AVN’s Hall of Fame, the highest honor in porn. In 2012, he was tapped for XBIZ’s “Man of the Year.”

Of course, Dan’s greatest accomplishment is the creation of Girlfriends Films, a company known for charity sponsorship and combating piracy, the bane of porn today.

I decided to go back through my interviews to look at what performers have said about Dan. What follows in a brief catalogue of their remarks about a man they regard as a top-notch director and a friend.

*          *          *

From 2013 interviews at the AVN trade show

Dana DeArmond at AVN 2013. Photo by Bill Knight

Dana DeArmond

On Girlfriends Film and Dan:

“They give you the freedom to do the scene the way you want to. They’re cool people. They advocate for the industry probably more than any other company. They’re very involved with the Free Speech Coalition (the industry’s political voice).

“I am in the Girlfriend Films family. They take really good care of me. They treat me awesome. I was sick this morning and Moose came up to my room with bottles of water and Pepto. I was like I am going to go down there and do press for this fucking company because they take care about me. I am not going to sit in my room and be sick all day. I am going to get my shit together because I love them.

“[By the way] Dan is fucking cool.”

Daisy Layne at AVN 2013. Photo by Bill Knight

Daisy Layne

On Shooting for Dan:

“I used to do some midwifing. Dan contacted me because one of the girls [he was shooting] was pregnant and she wanted to do a scene. I met up with her and she was like you used to midwife? And I said, ‘If you go into labor, I’ve got you.’ She was just so enthralled. We had a blast. Dan said he loved it. He wanted ‘real’ and we had chemistry.

On money:

“Several times Dan and I have worked out deals, I was expecting less and I got more and I even reminded him. ‘Dan, we agreed I was going to get this rate’ and he says, ‘Oh no. The scene was so beautiful I had to pay you full-rate.’ That was just above and beyond. He takes care of the girls.

“He wants acting. He has a script so you have lines to memorize while he’s doing the blocking. Then he shoots the scene. Generally, there is a little shooting after that. He’s doing your day rate, acting rate, scene rate. He gets quality work because the people who work for him know what to expect and he pays for it, so he should get it.”

[It’s worth noting that Dan gave me a space in the Girlfriends booth to interview Dana and Daisy, an accommodation not to be minimized because the trade show is a cacophony of club music and chatter that makes interviewing difficult.]

From 2015 interviews done in LA:

Dani Daniels, 2015. Photo by Morgan

Dani Daniels

On Dan:

“Dan’s like a big papa bear. I love it. His brain is awesome, he can come up with stories that I couldn’t come up with in a year. I love working for him. His sets are comfortable. You always get to work with a girl you wanna work with. He treats his girls great. He’s got a great attitude. He’s calm and always about connection. He’s all about the girls—this real sex, real chemistry.

“If he needs something, he’ll let you know. If you’re blocking a shot or if you’re in the wrong room or whatever, he’ll voice it. But for the most part, he just lets you do your thing.”

On Girlfriends:

“There’s very few companies that will turn a camera on and say, ‘Ok, have sex. Do whatever you want.’ I feel like my best scenes are from Girlfriends films. I love it.”

Aidra Fox, 2015. Photo by Morgan

Aidra Fox

“With Dan it’s real the moment you walk on set. The crew gets along with everyone. It’s super nice. ‘What do you need? What do you want? What’s going to make your day?’

“When it comes down to the actual scene, it’s easy. He’s always puts me with good girls, someone that is very into their job, very into me and having sex. It’s just real sex, Dan lets you do the positions that you want to do for however long you want. He doesn’t really tell you how to have sex, just lets you do whatever feels good, whatever feels right and natural.”

Dan getting Dani Daniels (foreground) and Vanessa Veracruz ready for their scene. Photo by Morgan

Vanessa Veracruz

On Girlfriends Films:

“I recently started shooting for Girlfriends back in November. They are one of my favorite sites. I’m bisexual, I got into the business because I had an attraction towards women. Since I am a girl/girl only performer, there’s not a lot of companies to work for.

I love the way Girlfriends directs [their scenes]. It’s very different from what a lot of people shoot. It has its own style and it’s definitely more about sensuality, connecting instead of just being a sexual act.

On Shooting for Dan:

“Dan loves to talk about your character and he gives you a breakdown of what he thinks your character is supposed to be like. He’ll include other things to put the idea in your mind about the kind of person you are going to playing. Today, he gave me a little bit about my character’s background I can remember and convey during the shoot.

“Dan usually tells us he wants a lot of eye contact, a lot of touch, a lot of feeling. In my honest opinion, we don’t have enough of that in a scene. It’s more of the foreplay leading to the sex act which for me is exactly what I like to do.

“It’s a lot easier to enjoy the sex when you have an actual connection, when you’re looking into somebody’s eyes and really touching them and feeling their energy.”

“It’s awesome shooting for them and really connect with the girl that you are working with.”

Getting Jorden Kennedy (on the left) and Aidra Fox ready for their scene.  Photo by Morgan

Jorden Kennedy

“Dan actually cares about the scene looking beautiful and passionate because he cares about the viewers as well as us. To make sure that we’re having a good time, he wants us to be enjoying ourselves. Doing the scenes involving sex. He doesn’t cut. He doesn’t switch positions or do this or say that. He lets us have sex which, I think, makes it really nice to watch because it’s just natural.

“He might stop us once or twice to say ‘Can you position yourself more to the camera’ or ‘Can you push your hair back so we can see your face.’ But otherwise, he’s very open to ideas, especially with the dialogue.

“Dan is more flexible than most. I’ve never had him say ‘No we’re not going to do that.’ He encourages your input. He’s outside the norm as for as taking suggestions.”

From 2018 interviews done in LA:

Vanna Bardot

“I love Dan’s whole demeanor. He’s very easygoing. He’s never too serious. That makes working with him really pleasant. Lots of laughing.

“He says it’s all about real lesbian experiences. He likes the soft affectionate kind of sex. A lot of guys really like that. They don’t just want to see a girl getting pounded or slapped in the face. They want more softer touches. It’s really nice.”

Sarah Vandella

“This is actually my second time on set with Dan and what I have noticed is that he is extremely hands on in a way that will walk you through the scenario from start to finish.

“What makes Dan different is that he has this real gentle loving approach. When we go to roll, I know what is expected, I know where my mark is, I know the tone and the contents of the dialogue and it just makes for a great shooting experience.”

 *          *          *

So, there you have it. A handful of remarks about a director and overall nice guy whose has left his stamp on lesbian sex in adult film.

From my personal perspective, Dan, Moose, and the good people at GFFs are more than professional colleagues, they are among my most treasured industry friends.

*          *          *

Some boxcover shots Kevin snapped during our visit with Dan and the girls on set that day:

Reagan Foxx and Vanna Bardot, Elsa Jean and Sarah Vandella

 

Reagan Foxx and Vanna Bardot

*          *          *

Never seen a Girlfriends Film DVD?  Go here and here for a look at the company and the product.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“You of All People”

by Rich Moreland, October 2014

 

GFFs These_Things_We__52dffded17b6bIn an industry where brilliant story telling is often overlooked, B Skow’s dark and brooding These Things We Do (distributed by Girlfriends Films and written by David Stanley) is among this year’s best adult offerings.

Water is running from a bathtub tap as the opening credits roll. The grouting around the tub and tile has a worn, tired, and discouraged look. As the credits conclude, the camera moves beneath the water line, focusing upward toward the distant shower head. Still water moves ever so perceptively.

An over voice says, “It’s all your fault . . . You were supposed to be helping me, you of all people.

Three Candles

These Things We Do is a sordid tale. Dr. Tom Berkin (Alan Stafford) cannot escape his personal demons to clear a path for his patients. A “voyeur” of the worst order, he masturbates while his female patients describe their sexual dysfunctions.

Today it is Mandy (Kimber Day) on the couch. In Freudian psychotherapy mode, Tom sits behind her. She can’t see him, but she knows . . .

“I can hear it. I can hear it right now!” the incensed girl shouts. Without warning, an aroused Tom pours water in Mandy’s mouth, gagging (drowning?) her, shutting out her story and minimizing her reality. Water is a major motif in the film. Soon Mandy will fill her own mouth with the deadliest water, her final vision that of a shower head, bent downward toward her.

Kimber Day.  Photo courtesy of Digital Desire

Kimber Day.
Photo courtesy of Digital Desire

Mandy is sassy and a tease (a cover for a tortured soul?), just the right ingredient for the self-destructive chemistry she has with her doctor. He pushes at her, she pushes right back. Despite her emotional turmoil, Mandy is in charge of the pulsating sex that ensues in his office, a feminist attitude that permeates adult film today. By the way, AVN film reviewers should nominate Kimber Day’s performance in this scene for a 2014 award.

The settings for the sex in These Things are stark. In the consultation room, the wall is blue, the couch a dirty beige, a reflection of Tom’s perversions and his seedy affairs.

A small bookshelf sits to the right of the couch, empty except for three small candles, the film’s central image.

A frustrated and angry Mandy storms out of the room, slamming the door. Skow’s camera follows her, capturing the door’s reflection in the full length mirror beside it. Naked, Tom studies himself in the glass. His debilitating self-absorption is illustrated with a single drop of fluid dangling out of his semi-erect penis. Mandy will see this image pointing down at her as she breathes her torments away below the water line.

Incidentally, keep in mind that Skow uses rapid camera shots to explore the neurotically driven sexuality that is the film. There will be sudden flashbacks and off center angles, techniques reminiscent of Orson Welles’ classic, Citizen Kane.

Back in the office the doctor’s secretary, Roberta (Dana DeArmond), takes a call from the police. No words needed, just an image. An overhead shot of a submerged and nude Mandy, staring straight ahead, legs splayed, water gentle rippling over her and into her, an invitation in death.

The cast on set, left to right. Siri, Steven, Dahlia, Alan, Dana, and Marie. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films.

The cast on set, left to right. Siri, Steven, Dahlia, Alan, Dana, and Marie.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films.

Not for Real, Just for Fun

The narrative moves to Tom’s bedroom. Staring at her cellphone, his wife Abby (Marie McCray) utters, “My little sister is dead.” Flashbacks of Tom choking Abby and forcing himself on her are Mandy reminders. Is he trying to silence his internal demons? The camera quickly reverts to Tom and Abby reflected in an oval mirror above her dressing table. A bouquet of roses, mixed reds and whites in full bloom is to the right. The roses are Freudian orgasms, the colors an entanglement of the two sisters Doctor Tom covets, one illicitly, the other nominally.

Tom and Abby. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films.

Tom and Abby.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films.

Another flashback to Mandy on the couch once again. She begins a thought that is sharply cut off, just like her life. Was she about to mention her sister? The camera shifts back to the bedroom. Tom is masturbating while his wife sleeps; a voice over transitions the scene to the doctor’s office where another patient, Sara (Siri), recounts her boyfriend’s kinks.

Sara’s narrative moves the story forward. Her boyfriend Hodgy (Steven St. Croix) has a toolbox filled with ordinary items that serve a delightfully deviant sexual imagination.

Dahlia Sky taking a break. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Dahlia Sky taking a break.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

She confesses a fear of him at first, but once Hodgy got into his kinks, “it was nothing like I’d ever experienced before.” Emphasizing that the pain was “exquisite,” Sara deliberately plays to Tom’s fatal Mandy connection. Sara tells the doctor that everything was “an act.” Hodgy, who manhandles one of his BDSM submissives, Anna, played by Bailey Blue (aka Dahlia Sky) wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s just a play session, Sara insists, “not for real, just for fun to make the sex better.”

Listening to her story, Tom wriggles in his chair. Erotic excitement carries with it discomfort and tension, all part of Sara’s agenda. She describes is a highly charged three-way played out in a sterile room only a clinician would love. The bed is covered in black with nothing on the walls except a pair of lights. Skow lays bare the turbulent emotions and violent outbursts that are the film itself.

Awful and Wrong

Because Skow lets his performers do what they do best, the sex scenes are unscripted. The three-way dabbles in BDSM; Anna wears a collar and a leash, light spankings with spatulas and long handled spoons flavor the sex.

Overall, it’s BDSM lite with lots of oral, vaginal, anal, and a DP that includes sex toys. Skow’s camera keeps all bodies fully on screen, giving performers a larger reality than is normally seen in a wall-to-wall shoot. A mechanically operated dildo drives Anna and Sara to ecstasy and after the pop, a nasty clean up between them seals the deal.

Sara says she never “felt so much pain” and “it was awful and wrong, but great,” a phrase that indicts Tom. Like a wounded adolescent, the guilt ridden doctor retreats into his fantasies to ward off his own anxieties. Unconsciously projecting himself into Sara, he asks, “Are you afraid of hurting somebody or if somebody is going to hurt you?”

Shifting immediately to the bedroom and a comatose Abby, a nearly empty wine bottle and tumbler are on the bed stand along with some pills. Felled by Mandy’s death, Abby is as emotionally dead as her sister is physically gone.

Abby and her sedatives. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Abby and her sedatives.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Hearing a voice repeating, “What are you afraid of?” the doctor’s fascination with a pocketknife corkscrew and his unresponsive wife is devilishly psychotic.

I Know What You Are, Doctor

While on the couch, Sara confesses that she’s thought about making him cum, and wondered what his expression would be. Skow concentrates on fidgeting in this scene: Sara’s hands look to release energy; Tom’s face twists as he yields to his compulsion and opens his pants.

In a wicked seduction, Sara tempts him with “Don’t you know a free meal when you see one, doctor?” Girls like her “know what boys like,” she taunts.

Reaching for his crouch, Sara’s anger seizes control in a deft movement. “I know what you are, doctor!” she explodes.

While Siri’s acting is top of the line, Alan Stafford is superb as the obsessive physician. His facial expressions reveal Tom’s distorted mind. However, at times Alan’s dialogue is not easily understood which may be as much a technical issue as an acting one.

Later Skow captures the deadness and futility that pervade this film with a single image.

Tom and his matches. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Tom and his matches.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Once again, Tom is sitting at the bed’s foot board. Shut away emotionally from her husband, Abby lies self-tranquilized, her legs spread. The doctor stares straight ahead before lighting a match. Sadly, there is little left to stimulate her in a relationship that is barely a flicker.

Harpies

In the office, Roberta attempts to blackmail her boss over the Mandy affair. Sara bursts in, grabs Roberta and throws her on the couch, preparing the viewer for the girl/girl sex to come. Skow’s camera dwarfs an astounded doctor by showing Roberta and Sara visually taller.

The women run the sex. Tom can watch, Sara concedes, but he can’t cum.

The girls will trade slaps, choking, and finger banging, ducking in and out of positions as dominants. Though they laugh with each other, they scowl at the doctor, humiliating him repeatedly.

A water cooler adjacent to the couch is a reminder that fluid will stay pent up in this scene. Before the water can run and wash away guilt as in Mandy’s fated bathtub, more must be resolved. In the end, the girls climax, Doctor Tom does not.

During the sex, Roberta lashes out, “You’re not doing anything to help me,” she says, taunting the doctor in the guise of Mandy’s ghost who hovers over the final scenes of the film.

Improvised camera work (a la Blair Witch Project) shows up here, but seems a bit out of place. At one point, a camera carelessly appears in the shot. Why that wasn’t edited out is a mystery.

Female revenge is the centerpiece of the dinner scene later at Hodgy’s house where Sara has invited Tom to join them.

Dana and Alan go over the script. Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Dana and Alan go over the script.
Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

At last, the layers of the three candles are revealed. Tom, Abby, and Mandy form a three-way fated relationship. Now Tom, Sara, and Hodgy are a trio with a different theme: revenge. In a oddly brief sex scene, they sit on a couch with Sara in the middle, repeating the dinner table arrangement where the emotionless distances between the characters is illustrated in beautiful camera work.

When the scene shifts to Tom bound to a chair, Roberta and Abby join Sara in an unholy trinity. They are the final version of the three candles: the Harpies, who in Greek mythology carry those responsible for the deaths of family members to the Furies for punishment.

As the film concludes, conflicts are muted after a cleansing outburst of Abby’s Freudian id, and most important, pictures appear on the walls to conquer sterile desolation. In the final scene, the serenity of boats in a harbor at sunset watch over Tom and Abby’s sexual reconciliation. Forgiveness is possible, after all.

Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

Photo courtesy of Girlfriends Films

 *          *          *          *          *

Sometimes when reviewing adult films, the story surpasses the sex. These Things is such a movie. In an industry that depends on the erotic to survive, it is unfortunate that good filmmakers like B Skow cannot spend more screen minutes developing their artistic storytelling talents and less on sex acts that can fall victim to repetition. Just a thought.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Because We Want To

by Rich Moreland, April 2014

The Belle Knox story has sparked renewed interest in who shoots porn and why they do it. The Duke freshman is all the rage, touting the idea that porn girls can be educated and make smart self-empowered decisions.

While many of her Duke classmates have luxuriated in sanctimoniously skewering Belle, the media is marketing her with gusto. The New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Howard Stern, TMZ, and an upcoming online reality show, “The Sex Factor,” are part of the seemingly endless Belle Knox saga.

I’m guilty of same, by the way, my column in Adult Industry News posted when the story first broke is available here for anyone inclined to read one more article about her.

Belle Knox Photo source unknown

Belle Knox
Photo source unknown

Make no mistake, I wish Belle the best and I’ll probably run into her sometime at an industry event. Regardless of where she goes from here, we need to remember Belle is a teenager who has come under tremendous scrutiny at a time in life when most girls are trying to figure out their own sexuality and where they want to go with it. In fact, there are some in the adult industry who believe that filming anyone under twenty-one needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps Belle shouldn’t even be on a porn set in the first place.

Nevertheless, before the Belle Knox media hangover sets in, a dose of porn reality is needed. It has arrived via Casey Calvert, whose blog post about Belle speaks volumes.

Magna Cum Laude

I have an immense respect for Casey. She entered porn in her early twenties with a maturity that supported her love of anything sexual. A two-year veteran of the industry (a lifetime by porn standards), her intelligence and on-screen performances are unsurpassed. If every girl in the industry had Casey’s work ethic accompanied by her professional responsibility, the industry would run like clockwork. Just ask any cinematographer or director who has hired her.

Casey Calvert Photo courtesy of Naughty America

Casey Calvert
Photo courtesy of Naughty America

Casey is always honest and in response to the hype around Belle Knox, she presents a cogent analysis of what the public lacks: an understanding of why people perform in the industry. Porn myths abound because it’s obvious that no one would really want to have sex on film unless they were psychologically broken, financially desperate, hooked on drugs, or too lazy to get a real job, right?

In her essay “Porn Stars R Stupid,” Casey points out that  in the popular mind, a middle class and educated Belle Knox is surely a porn anomaly. But in reality, that is a gross misperception. Having a college degree is not unusual in the adult film universe, she says, and there are smart women in the industry who espouse sex-positive feminism’s politics of pleasure.

Casey is bothered by the same question that concerned me when I first read the April 14 Huffington Post article in which Belle said she would not do porn unless she was paid. Questions about her claim to feminism and empowerment arose. Is a girl’s sense of having choices and acting on them driven by money?

A University of Florida graduate, Casey relates that she recently faced the same issue during a presentation at the University of Toronto. “‘If money were no object, do you love your job enough to continue doing it?'” she hypothetically asks, correctly suggesting Belle’s response would be “no.”

“Because Belle is seen as the voice of our profession, her answer implies that all of us are here solely for financial reasons,” Casey writes. “But that is not the case at all.”

Casey concedes that indeed “a few” performers have a history of drug use, sexual abuse, and financial need that drives their participation in the industry. She also mentions that some models are simply not very bright and porn provides a decent income that demands little intellectual output. I could not agree more.

Explaining that her career brings her immense satisfaction, the Florida native is openly sexual and loves the choices she has. No justification or rationalization needed. Casey likes who she is and is satisfied with who she is.

For the record, Casey Calvert’s magna cum laude degree offered her graduate school and career options, but the sexual kept its hold on her and she followed her bliss.

In the meantime, Belle makes it perfectly clear that lawyering is in her future; once her education is finished, so is porn. It’s the old tale of a means to an end.

Magna Cum Laude Photo source unknown

Magna Cum Laude
Photo courtesy of Twistys

When I think of the A-list porn stars I have met—Penny Pax, Chanel Preston, Dana DeArmond, Jesse Jane, and Tasha Reign come to mind immediately—Casey’s words ring true. These women are in charge of their careers and committed to the industry.

Have doubts? Listen to what they have to say. Tasha Reign defines her porn shoots as an atmosphere of “free happy sex,” while Chanel says with a smile, “I love getting gangbanged.”

Casey Calvert stands squarely with these superstars because she is the consummate adult film professional: smart, reliable, a hard worker, fair with her opinions, and gloriously sexual.

This sultry brunette speaks for a community of entertainers when she says,

“Many of us do porn because we want to.”

 

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Matter of Respect

by Rich Moreland, January 2014

During this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), I interviewed four girls who represent one of the industry’s leading companies, Digital Playground.  An unexpected opportunity opened up and as you shall see, there is more to porn than money.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

Thursday, January 16

The Digital Playground booth is ready for its fans. A few media types hang around, including my photographer Bill and me, awaiting Digital’s PR person who is moving things along with precision. Likewise, Digital’s stars are arriving to get their interview and signing schedules.

In truth, the convention is a hectic four-day affair in which everyone’s time is limited and under high demand. With warm smiles all around, girls meet industry people and fans, do media interviews, and attend promotions and parties without letting platform heels and fatigue get in the way.

Today’s interviews begin with eleven-year vet, Jesse Jane, whose southwestern roots are integral to her friendliness. Jesse is a contract girl (she shoots exclusively for Digital Playground) and has built a reputation as a woman who works tirelessly to brand her name. Next is twenty-three year old Selena Rose, also a contract girl. Selena lives in Miami, flying west once a month to do scenes. She did her first porn shoot at nineteen. Rikki Six, who currently maintains her residence in Southern California, entered porn in 2012 at age twenty-one and is not a contract girl. Finally, the youngest of the group, Jessa Rhodes, is twenty and a native Oregonian now residing in Southern California. She’s been in the industry for a year and a half and has does not currently have a contract with Digital.

The first issue (the topic of this post) raises the question of respect. Porn girls are valued as commodities in the business, but do they feel respected? The second, safer sex and its relationship to escorting, an undeniable form of prostitution, stirs up divisive opinions within the industry. What responsibilities do performers have for each other? This subject is covered in the next installment of the interviews.

Women Drive This Industry

Jesse Jane Photo by Bill Knight

Jesse Jane
Photo by Bill Knight

With an understated tone, Jesse Jane declares that porn moguls “obviously value us as performers” because “we’re the ones that make the industry . . . women drive this industry.” Directors, producers, company owners “know they need us,” she adds, because women cultivate the fan base (the market) to create the revenue stream. Unfortunately, there are some men in porn who “think women can’t run a business or be a businesswoman,” Jesse points out. Having sex is “all we are good for” in their view, she says, quickly admitting that’s very true in the case of some girls. “But there are quite of few of us who know how to run this industry,” Jesse declares with a smidgen of self-satisfaction.

A daughter of the military lifestyle, Jesse Jane has survived over a decade in a tough profession. She is well-schooled in how to brand her name, something many girls have no interest in doing because their goal is “the fast cash,” she says. Making porn into a career or a business is not on their radar.

Jesse offers a dose of reality for all porn girls. Have a plan because the future can be uncertain.

“If you are not going to save your money and make something out of it, [there are consequences]. Once you step into this career path it’s hard to do something else,” she warns. “You’re labeled.”

Like the famous logo of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter flexing her biceps, Jesse Jane’s final comment is a powerful statement. “The guys need to acknowledge that there are some of us girls that know how to run this industry inside and out.” In fact, the Oklahoma resident suggests, “technically” women are already doing it and some men” just don’t see it because they’re so arrogant.”

Selena Rose sees respect as an expression, or reward, of individual effort. “I am respected,” she says emphatically, citing her “high standards” which dictate how she presents herself in the industry. “I make sure that everybody treats me well because I treat others the way that I would like to be treated.”

Selena Rose Photo by Bill Knight

Selena Rose
Photo by Bill Knight

I press Selena to extend her thoughts on respect to broader society. In doing so, she nears what Bobbi Starr calls the “stereotype trap” that porn girls industry-wide create for themselves. It’s a self-limiting personal view that perpetuates, and is perpetuated by, the porn girl image.

Selena says, “You know, me as a porn star, of course males respect me less but I don’t go out being like super slutty and skanky and making myself look trashy.” She understands what she needs to do for success and with Digital Playground she has placed herself in the right situation to make it work. “I try my best to make men treat me well,” Selena says.

Rikki Six is straightforward on the respect issue. Yes, she’s seen a lack of respect for girls “from time to time” and decides it is best not to name names or recount situations. I ask if she has ever felt disrespected within the industry. Not really is her response, but she does feel typecast, referring to the scenes she shoots. “They always give me the same script, so they think of me like that person [someone who is not very smart],”she says. Does level of smartness determine respect?

Rikki Six Photo by Bill Knight

Rikki Six
Photo by Bill Knight

Playing a part can perpetuate an image that may be far from reality. Even in Hollywood, actresses tire of typecasting because it can assume a life of its own. As for her typecast role, nothing about Rikki leads me to regard her that way. In fact, though she may not be a wordsmith, she impresses me as thoughtful with a hint of  adorable shyness.

If Selena and Rikki are still negotiating the parameters of respect, Jessa Rhodes is taking command of it.

“Women in this industry like myself who fight for their rate and for what they will and will not do and don’t take shit” Jessa says, “are making a difference.” “Ultimately the women [in the porn business] have the power, they just don’t know it,” she announces in a fist-pounding manner. These are validating words I’ve heard from porn’s self-identified feminist veterans Nina Hartley, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr, and the youthful newcomer, Tasha Reign.

Jessa Rhodes Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa Rhodes
Photo by Bill Knight

Self-assured and alive with energy, Jessa Rhodes has an interview presence seen in a select few performers (Chanel Preston and Bobbi Starr come to mind). Explaining that she personally stays away from situations where she might be disrespected, Jessa has “a very short list” of people to work with. Only men who appreciate and value her make the cut.

Looking beyond her own personal empowerment, Jessa Rhodes is adamant about women controlling the business. She exclaims, “I wouldn’t say that this business is run by men at all. Vagina rules!”

I Can be in Control

During our conversations, the topic of agents arose. Are they good for the girls and the industry?

Though Jessa Rhodes does not have a positive view of agents (“agents have fucked up this business completely”), she points out there are a couple of good ones. But overall there is too much “tugging and pulling” to please a middleman who is generating a girls’ work. She’s opted to become independent because she is “strong willed and opinionated” and “better off without having  a middleman in-between trying to make everyone happy.” Now she is solely responsible for her job satisfaction.

Jesse Jane has little to say about agents. “They’re in it for themselves,” she comments. “Nobody has your back in this industry, you look out for yourself.”

After some soul-searching, Rikki Six views free agency (working without an agent) as the tonic she needs. “Just recently I left my agency so I’m booking myself now so I can be in control of my career. My name is a brand and it’s a business. I wanted to be in control more . . . control only the things I wanted to do, not what someone told me to do.”

Sounds very much like Jessa’s proclamation that women can call their own shots and place themselves in front of the camera on their own terms.

Selena Rose talks of past experiences with agents, leaving the impression she does not currently have one. This does not mean the Floridian disdains licensed reps. Reflecting the voices of respected feminist veterans mentioned above, Selena reveals the wisdom of a girl whose been around the block. Listen to her advice for new girls.

Hopeful starlets need to get real representation because pimps or recruiters can pass themselves off as agents and a girl “could end up doing things she doesn’t want to do.” If a girl opts to sign with an agency, make certain of its quality, she warns. Selena’s red flags shoot skyward if certain precautions are not observed. A newbie must make sure she is safe and doing what she wants to do, Selena points out, because once the agent contract is signed, a girl can be pressured into uncomfortable situations. “You got to do this if you want more work,” is typical agentspeak.

Though this Latina beauty reminds every porn performer, “you don’t have to do anything,” the message doesn’t always hit home. Girls come into the industry “young and naïve,” Selena Rose says, and think, “I have to do this” to get hired again.

When that happens choices evaporate; girls become discouraged. Maybe that is part of the stereotype trap Bobbi Starr sees so often.

*          *          *          *          *

The second installment of our discussions will involve safer sex and escorting.

 [Special thanks is extended to Christopher Ruth of FineAssMarketing (FAM) and Jeanette Li of Digital Playground for setting up the interviews. They were conducted on Thursday, January 16, 2014.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Porn Family

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the second installment on Girlfriends Films.

gfs logoMy students know that I write in the adult film industry and occasionally inquire about the people I meet. On the whole they are non-judgmental, though every now and then moral indignation pops up. A couple of years ago a female student asked me quite pointedly why I wrote about prostitutes. I was taken off-guard, but saw an opportunity in her question.

Hoping to have a conversation that would widen horizons, my attempts to assuage her preconceived notions about pornography were futile. Our encounter was brief and she departed, disappointed that a college professor would stoop so low. Had she been willing to listen, this is what she would have learned about one aspect of the business.

Pornographers run their companies much like corporate America. This includes employee perks not always seen in small businesses. A case in point is Girlfriends Films, one of the more prosperous enterprises in Porn Valley.

“Nobody has ever quit or retired from Girlfriends Films,” owner Dan O’Connell says. The company values its employees, offering health insurance (including dental and vision) as well as life insurance and a 401 (k). But Girlfriends does something else that outshines much of corporate America, it contributes regularly to charities selected by the performers. Beyond a paycheck for a day’s shoot, Dan shows his appreciation for their hard work, creating the best of all benefits: the Girlfriends family.

Part of my Family

Last January at the AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo) I interviewed Dana DeArmond, one of adult film’s classiest and most respected veterans. We were at the Girlfriends’ booth where she was signing for fans. Dana told me she was ill that morning and Moose, the company’s Vice President, visited her hotel room with bottles of water and pepto-bismol.

Dana signing at Grilfriends in Vegas. Photo by Bill Knight

Dana signing at Girlfriends in Vegas.
Photo by Bill Knight

He told her not to worry about signing that day, but Dana would have none of that.

“I am going down there and do press for this company because they take damn good care of me,” Dana said. “I am going to get it together because I love them.”

She then brought up something that really mattered personally to her.

“They let me choose a charity and donated a thousand dollars for me,” Dana commented. Last year it was Doctors without Borders, this year she selected the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to L.A., a distance of 545 miles. The event raises money to provide needed services to people with HIV and AIDS.

“I feel like they are part of my family,” Dana declared, referring to Dan, Moose, and the GFs staff. She happily added that the relationship works both ways, “I am in the Girlfriends’ family,” she said with pride.

Chastity Lynn Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

Chastity Lynn
Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

The monthly donation is an ongoing program. In May of this year, Chastity Lynn selected Farm Sanctuary for her charity and had a $1,000 given in her name. She chose the organization because of her concern with animal welfare.

Rising superstar Tasha Reign persuaded Girlfriends to donate to CancerCare in August. She lost her father to the disease a few years ago and wanted to help others who must deal with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. CancerCare provides counseling, support groups, and co-payment options to families who are in the fight together.

Madison Young Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Madison Young
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Girlfriends donated $1,000 to Planned Parenthood in the name of one of my favorites in the adult film world, new mother Madison Young. The director and performer recalled that in her twenties, she was without health insurance and very thankful for the services she received from Planned Parenthood.

Madison compliments the Girlfriends charity program, “It empowers performers and directors, offering an opportunity to create some small change in the world.” Everyone can give something back.

When I was at LAX not long ago, I met a fellow traveler who chatted amiably about his impressions of the porn industry. One of the issues that concerned him was the sexual abuse of children and he wanted to know about the industry’s role in producing such despicable fare. Another opportunity availed itself to me.

Adult film producers don’t like child pornography, I explained, and referenced ASACP (Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection). Reaching out to adult sites to help in its mission, ASACP is a non-profit that combats online child porn through a reporting system that turns in suspected sites. ASACP also enables parents to prevent children from viewing inappropriate online materials by offering the website label RTA (restricted to adults). This year Girlfriends donated $5,000 to the organization.

Adult film is a business and in spite of what much of the public believes, family is important to them as it is to everyone else. This included doing for others and caring about children.

If she had been a smidgen more open-minded, who knows what a particular young women would be thinking today.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Pornographers’ Heart

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the first of a two-part series on Girlfriends Films one of Porn Valley’s most popular studios.

gfs logoDriving to the Girlfriends Films facility in Valencia is a hike but well worth the effort. Like the company’s industry leading product, the building is bright and pristine with an honesty that is a true reflection of its owner, Dan O’Connell.

The people who work in adult film are generally quite receptive to guests. At the 2013 Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) in Las Vegas, I met Dan and immediately felt welcomed into the Girlfriends’ world. This unassuming October day proves no different.

Dan gives my photographer Bill and me a quick tour. The upstairs contains his office and those of the editors. White is the predominant color, the feeling is crisp and streamlined. Spotted around the massive hallway are old movie posters, an engaging artistic touch. Dan has an appreciation for film history, particularly the old days of the B-grade exploitation flicks of the 1930s and 40s.

Dan O'Connell Photo Courtesy of Bill Knight

Dan O’Connell
Photo by Bill Knight

“Shooting is the best part of the business,” Dan says. He does less now than ever due to director B. Skow, who has come on board recently.

“He’s doing a boy/girl every month,” Dan says of the company’s newest addition, adding that Girlfriends has a steady monthly output of five girl/girls. At least two of those are now in B. Skow’s territory. I’m guessing that’s the balance needed to please the buying public without over saturating the market.

The editors’ offices are opposite a bank of windows that extends the length of the floor. Editors are sensitive to light, we’re told, controlling it is vital to their work. The main editor, Dave, along with the business’s marketing guru Moose, keeps Dan up and running. We drop in his office.

Before storing content, Dave’s job is to do a write-up on the film and code it for identification within Girlfriends’ “database system,” Dan explains. Dave finishes off the movies with the other editors, putting the film into a DVD format complete with titles, trailers, and the like. The content is then ready for distribution and sales.

Despite this massive warehouse and office complex, the company maintains a storage vault in Hollywood. If an earthquake damaged this facility, Dan could lose everything, similar to the risk a computer user faces if the hard drive crashes and data is not backed up, a sort of technological earthquake.

There is a lot of film. Each four-hour shoot yields forty-five minutes of content using one pair of girls. Add a second twosome and the time needed expands to six hours. All this effort expended for two scenes with the typical DVD containing four intimate episodes, all with the same storyline. And remember, Girlfriends has thousands of shoots.

Though the shooting process is exact, developing new ideas for content is another matter. It “gets more difficult because you’ve expired your fantasies,” Dan says. Despite writer’s block Dan might suffer, Girlfriends’ central theme gives him a starting point for new scripts. It’s about “the girl who is the predator and the girl who is seduced,” he points out.

Is it a formula? Dan doesn’t think so, but concedes it could be viewed that way. He tries to vary the circumstances within the film, but remains resolute on what he wants to portray. Characters must be explored, who they are and how they meet, he explains. Going from there, Dan elaborates, the script accentuates the Girlfriends’ theme, “have they known each other before and how does that predator give that girl the first kiss?”

In other words, it’s about developing a girl’s larger reality beyond just a sex act, asking the question who is she and how does her on-screen presence support the sex she is having? The key is intimacy, a theme that is often lost in pornography. By the way, Dan’s philosophy reflects a feminist approach to adult film and separates Girlfriends from the majority of porn companies.

Magic Potion

Dave talks about the Girlfriends’ philosophy.

“Dan shoots specifically to let the girls go with the flow,” he says. The performers will have real orgasms and that buys customers. It’s Dan’s “magic potion” for success, Dave tells us.

Of course, it also lightens an editor’s task. Dave never has to rework scenes “to contrive the story.” Rather, he wants the viewer to feel like “a fly on the wall” and uses “suspension of disbelief” to describe the experience. “You want the viewer to believe they are in the room,” he explains. This type of editing is not the same as just telling a story. It’s a kind of authentic voyeurism that dissolves the shooter’s presence.

Perception makes it work. “The girls do what they’d do if they were in their own bedroom,” the editor explains. The narrative “comes in the set up and that’s between each scene.” In other words, it’s all about real sex and using it to massage the viewer’s interpretation of what is seen and felt. Think of it as unrestrained spontaneity, a distinguishing characteristic of the Girlfriends product.

Dan affirms that bona fide filmed sex means interruptions on the set are kept to a minimum. This includes stopping the action to shoot stills, a habit of some companies. Also there is no interference from the crew, unlike the gonzo genre in which the cameraman might take part in the filming.

Girlfriends’ pairs models “who want to work together” because that puts real orgasms on the agenda, Dan explains. But pairing is just the beginning. Gaining a rapport with performers is a necessity. For example, Dan likes them to share a bathroom when they are getting dressed so “they have time to meet each other.” Unfortunately, success is not one hundred percent. A girl who is reticent about having sex with the other girl in the scene is probably “one and done,” Dan says, because attitude is the energy of the shoot.

Calm them down

Most pornographers have a commonality. The type of film they produce appeals to their sexual tastes. Eroticism is brain based, of course, and everyone has a fetish of some sort. To watch it come alive can be an exciting experience and storing it on a DVD likewise rewarding, not to mention profitable.

Most filmmakers say they care about their performers, but at times I’ve heard otherwise. Never has an unpleasant word about Dan or his company come my way. He treats everyone with respect, especially new models whose nerves might get the best of them.

 “We have a lot of girls who aren’t that experienced,” Dan says. The atmosphere surrounding the shoot makes a difference. “If I was having sex [on camera],” Dan adds, “I would want people there who were actually working.”

Models can become uncomfortable on a set that buzzes with unnecessary activity and gawkers can be disruptive to a performer. Of course, that doesn’t include every performer, particularly a veteran..

Dan brings up Dana DeArmond. She’s a shooter’s dream girl because her level of experience is rare in the business. “You could put an auditorium full of people in the room and she’d be ok,” Dan says. The tall brunette is not going to get rattled; she’s seen it all and is a true professional.

Dana DeArmond signing for Girlfriends at the AEE Photo Courtesy of Bill Knight

Dana DeArmond signing for Girlfriends at the last year’s AEE.
Photo by Bill Knight

Understand that Dana DeArmond is porn gold. She thinks of herself as a mother figure around younger models, priceless for newbies when negotiating their way through a shoot. Dana on set opens up all performers to become involved in the sex.

To get what he wants and create a homey feel, Dan limits his film crews to three. Among them is the tall, bespectacled, Sabrina. On this day, she’s collecting trash from the offices. Dan introduces us.

Having a female shooter is important because performers’ nerves get tense. Sabrina reinforces what Dan says: she’s there to “calm them down.” Her warm smile does the trick. She laughs about being a jack of all trades for a small company. “I do everything,” Sabrina says, remarking that she’s in the warehouse during the workweek and often on weekends.

In our brief conversation, Sabrina tells us she is from the DC metro area. I’ll add her to the list of Washington transplants I’ve met in the adult film industry. A touch of home is comforting . . .

Diamond Mines

With roominess an understatement, the lower level storage space has a newly minted, clean, efficient feel. Dan points out stacks of boxes that belong to a neighbor in the warehouse complex, a producer of food flavoring. A sweet deal for his fellow entrepreneur because moving around in this downstairs area is more than convenient.

Bsnks of DVDs photo Courtesy of Bill Knight

DVDs ready for distribution.
Photo by Bill Knight

Dan gives us a walk through, pointing out boxes of DVDs and scores of box covers. “We package them as we need them,” he says. Sort of like print-on-demand books, I suggest. Girlfriends’ hires out the cover designs and supplies an independent contractor with photos and script summaries. Incidentally the artist is female, quite natural for the company, I thought.

The demand for the Girlfriends’ product is high. Even their earliest work still sells on VOD (video on demand).

But Dan can’t do it all and fondly remembers the days when VHS was the market. With today’s internet and the variety of entertainment formats that cater to pornography, running a company and producing a viable product “just gets more expensive and more difficult,” Dan comments. But he isn’t alone. He has help from two names in the business that are worth a South African diamond mine: Moose and B. Skow.

“Extremely bright and very loyal” is Dan’s description of Moose, an imposing guy on the underside of forty. He has a no nonsense amiability that commands attention while remaining warmly endearing.

Moose is the best in the business at what he does, Dan explains, emphasizing Moose’s “official job” of marketing and sales. Moose does it all with an efficiency that impresses his boss. “I don’t know how the guy accomplishes everything he does,” Dan says.

Moose and Dan Photo Courtesy of Bill Knight

Moose with his boss.
Photo by Bill Knight

The challenges of physical activity and a sense of competition have shaped Moose, who is a former firefighter and volleyball player. Working under pressure and paying attention to detail are his fortes. The native Californian’s experience in running his own EMT company and working on “Monster Garage” as the safety officer shaped the kind of management skills that profits Dan. Landing at Girlfriends was almost by accident. Meeting Dan at the 2007 AEE led to a job offer and secured Moose’s place among the porn’s recognized executives. Today he is the company’s vice-president.*

B. Skow’s move to Girlfriends from Vivid Entertainment was a noteworthy industry change. Directing for Vivid meant some restraint as to what he could shoot and B. Skow sought a greater level of artistic freedom. “Here we let him do his own thing,” Dan says, “I don’t review his stories, what girls he’s going to use, what he’s going to do,” though Dan does tell his newest director how many movies the company needs each month. Paying B. Skow the richest of compliments, Dan says the director pulls the maximum out of his performers in a shooting day that can be grueling.

What makes B. Skow special is his comfort level in taking on controversial subjects and handling them respectfully. Dan mentions a B. Skow film in which a girl with leg braces is portrayed as sexual and successful in her pursuit of the girl she wants. Porn involving the disabled can be dicey.

The Director Photo courtesy of Bill Knight

The Director
Photo by Bill Knight

“Dan has this freedom that he allows,” B. Skow says, “they trust me and have never pushed me in any way to do this or that.” Studying the Girlfriend’s product was the director’s first move before venturing to make his signature boy/girl films, ground breakers for Dan’s company. A recent success, Southern Hospitality, B. Skow characterizes as a “fun, crazy movie.”

Our time in B. Skow’s office, where we found him working on his computer, is brief. I’ve heard so much about his talents, meeting him was a rewarding finish to our tour.

Heading back to downtown LA, a story Dave told sticks in my mind.

Mentioning what keeps him working at Girlfriends, Dave remembers Dan canceling a meeting for three days when a girl got sick. He needed to be available for her in the hospital. “How many thousands did he lose by doing that?” Dave remarked. “Most people would just say, ‘you’re on your own,’ and just take off.”

Dan is “a friend as much as a director,” Dave says.

That takes heart. It’s the soul of Girlfriends Films.

*          *          *          *          *

* My thanks to Dan Miller of XBiz for permission to use material from his article on Moose, “Executive Seat: Takin’ Care of Business” (January, 2011).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Maggie in the Smut Den

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the first installment of a two part series on my visit to the dogfart/fabulouscash.com studio in downtown LA.

*          *          *         *          *

“I’m in the back alley. When you walk to my studio, you’ll think you’re scoring crack” reads the text I just received.

A warehouse hidden within the sprawl of Los Angeles weaves images of film noire and Sam Spade. Film is an illusion, is it not? Two days ago an elderly couple showed me Humphrey Bogart’s house: dark, mysterious, imposing, and right next door in the old Hollywoodland development where they’ve lived for decades.

Visions of Sam’s toughest case, The Maltese Falcon with Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre float in its rarefied air.

Now it’s crack alley where the illusion plays out in another film venue unknown in Bogart’s day. Might Sam Spade have visited this very street sixty years ago with a femme fatale playing hide and seek with his suspicions?

The roll up door is raised and the Smut Den breathes in the street air. Billy Watson introduces himself with a charm that is only exceeded by Maggie, his femme fatale. I was tipped off that she’d steal me away with a single look. Maggie is no illusion, she’s the real deal. If I could keep my hands off her, I might learn a little something about internet pornography.

Though Billy’s a one-man show, his editor Doron is a jack of all trades whose presence keeps the work pace running smoothly. Dorons’s theminion.com is part of the Dogfartnetwork, an internet powerhouse of twenty-two sites that explores all avenues of interracial porn. Today Billy is shooting a glory hole scene for dogfart and another boy/girl for his own site, fabulouscash.com. The websites share the studio space with dogfart’s influence its guiding force.

Deron Doing the Editing photo by Bill Knight

Doron doing the editing
Photo by Bill Knight

The physically imposing Doron (food is not foreign to him) tells me he and Billy have been together for a while, having met through the late Chico Wang. Doron’s hand is in much of what the internet world demands of a porn business: twitter updates, MGP movie galleries, and “Behind the Scenes” and trailer links.

When the girls show up, the green screen is first. That’s Doron’s baby. He writes the short script and interviews each featured girl. The green screen is the browsing fan’s intro to what’s available. The girl talks to the camera with brief inserts of her performance shown in the background. If this brief five minutes doesn’t resonate with the paying members, the shoot is a dud. The girl needs a smidgen of acting ability to sell her image because female bodies in porn proliferate. Personality is the linchpin that captures the fan.

We have some time before the first girl arrives. Billy sits down for a few minutes to chat. Maggie is never far away. There’s little doubt she’s the glue that keeps the easygoing atmosphere of the Smut Den amiable to everyone.

Jim Talks Business Photo by Bill Knight

Billy talks business
Photo by Bill Knight

Green Screen

Andy San Dimas checks in for the first shoot. It’s old home week because Andy and I are from the same metro DC community. We have connections through the college where I teach. She was a student there for a time.

A pornoland veteran, Andy San Dimas has perfected the art of sexiness. Doron’s affability says it best, “Seeing Andy is like tempting me to convert to Christianity.” Now that’s power.

Andy Joins the Conversation Photo by Bill Knight

Andy arrives
Photo by Bill Knight

Andy’s quick to the make-up chair. She’s already a bit late and, as they say, time is money. Her male talent in the scene, Big Wire, has been hanging around for a while.

Within minutes Andy heads over to the green screen where Doron, who performed in the industry from 2004-06, has the narrative ready. Andy entices the viewer with a sultry voice that could melt the ice at the Iditarod finish line. With the vaguest hint of sloe-eyed poutiness and a wellspring of pure sexuality, the twenty-seven-year-old is an expert at the art of seduction A tilt of the head here, another with the shoulder there, and the fan is ready to pay to see her play.

Out in Six Months

The Smut Den is has a handful of sets so a seat is never far away. Finding a roomy couch, my photographer Bill and I have a brief time with Billy while Doron takes care of paperwork. Blood tests have to be reviewed before shooting begins and checking off 2257 forms is the bane of the industry. Maggie gets comfortable and Billy alerts me that a single touch will get me in trouble. I remember that Casey Calvert, who loves shooting in the Smut Den, similarly forewarned me. Did Bogart feel this way about his femme fatales?

Billy and I have professorial backgrounds so conversation is easy. He shoots with condoms because it’s the law, he says, but I suspect there is a desire within him to protect the talent. He shares my opinion about age twenty-one, something I originally got from porn historian Bill Margold. Veteran talent like Tara Lynn Foxx, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr also expressed similar feelings to me.

Billy explains that girls in their late teens are “eager and dumb” and jump into the industry with no preparation. They rarely understand their own sexuality and sex on camera for pay can turn into an emotional and psychological slippery slope. They’re kids having “wacky sex too soon,” Billy says, doing every “crazy fetish” out there. Unfortunately, most are too immature to save their money. Taking in $15,000-$20,000 per month as a new hot product is overwhelming, Billy adds, and many newbies leave the biz having spent it all and then some.

“What’s the average life of a porn girl,” I ask.

“Eighty percent are out in six to seven months,” Billy says.

He mentions the specter of escorting which faces every girl if she shoots over the long haul. The “Porn Star Experience” is a powerful seducer for a sweetie who can get instant cash for minimal amount of effort. Shooting for hours is far more difficult than conversation and a few minutes of sex with a moneyed john.

A Change of Plans

Billy Watson and I compare our minimalist histories of porn watching and admit we knew little about it when we were introduced to the industry. Billy entered by happenstance through a friend who worked affiliate programs, guiding traffic to websites and getting a take from each member. The most common tactic was to steal content or lease it by licensing a DVD, then resell and resell some more. It was fast money early on.

Before the Shooting the Stills Photo by Bill Knight

Chatting about the early days in porn
Photo by Bill Knight

In the late 1990s getting the content was a breeze because the studios regarded the internet as a joke . Copy six scenes from a DVD then “burn them and turn them into digital and put them on your website,” Billy says. That was his friend’s game.

As for Billy, his professional goal was a tenured teaching position and a finished novel under his belt. But that bubble burst, leaving dream residue all over his face. The real money, it turn outs, would be a pop shot all over a girl’s face.

So he joined the internet flood. The goal was a constant money flow. “Keep ‘em happy for thirty days,” Billy explains, and use “an army of affiliates.” He maintained his site and got payment from a membership list that reached into the thousands.

By the mid-2000s the big guys caught on and copying content was more difficult. Original work moved to the front of the queue. Exclusive content was now the show.

Billy leaves his Arizona home where he was shooting amateurs and joins his friend. At the time, cyberspace cinematographers had an unexpected financial perk. The internet was cheaper when it came to hiring the models. Agencies received a grand for the girls on DVD sets; they sent them to internet shoots for thirty percent less.

The recession came and content piracy hurt the porn business in spades. Today it is tougher than ever. “People like ripping us off because we’re the bad guys,” Billy says, “exploiting and raping the girls, doing horrible things to girls. Hence we deserve to be the victims of theft.”

Of course, shooting original material has always led to infringement of some variety and will most likely plague the industry well into the future.

Fortunately today’s paying members support the industry and the models, Billy says. The problem is the “non-paying guys” who believe they have the “right” to get content for free.

In time Billy got into his present studio and dabbled in still photography along with filming. He owns his website and directs for blacksonblondes which generates much of his income. On this Monday afternoon, Andy is doing a glory hole episode. No condoms because Billy has to abide by his boss’s preferences.

Madelyn Monroe will arrive shortly to shoot for Billy’s website and safer sex will be on scene. But first a look at Andy as she gets to down and dirty.

The ever present Maggie watches it all. Like Sam Spade, weakness overcomes me. I touch and it’s cool . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized