Tag Archives: Digital Playground

Interview with Scott Taylor: Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

On my recent trip to the sunny wonderland of Southern California I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Scott Taylor, owner of New Sensations/Digital Sin, one of Porn Valley’s top production companies.

Scott has done it all from shooting to directing and offers some valuable business insights into the ever-changing world of adult film.

We sat in his office in Chatsworth and discussed a variety of topics. Here are some highlights.

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From Army Brat to Business Owner

I was an “army brat,” Scott  begins, so moving around (in other words, frequent change) was his version of normal. In his teens he became a drummer and later gave college a go, but education was not his calling.

“I really wanted to pursue music and moved to LA to become a rock star.”

Of course, bursting onto the music scene takes time and the nineteen-year-old recognized the rent had to be paid.

“I don’t have a degree, so I’m taking any job I can. I play in a band, work in a warehouse, do whatever, until I stumbled onto adult video,” Scott continues.

He caught on with a distributor and spent a couple of years learning the business before his entrepreneurial instincts sensed bigger opportunities.

How did all this lead to becoming a respected company owner?

While still involved in the music industry (he cut a record), Scott wanted to start his own distribution company because adult film was becoming his future. Before long the next logical step was to produce his own content.

“I decide I wanted to go into making movies and I’m going to shoot with two cameras,” he says.

It was the 1990s and gonzo shooting, a POV style popularized by Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, dominated the market. Scott hitched his wagon to that train and turned out the award-winning Dirty Debutantes.

“I do all the interviews. I learned how to edit. I’m learning photography,” he mentions with a go-to pride.

Scott had a company in place: Video Virgins/New Sensations with Video Virgins being the pro-am package, he explains. At this point, the enterprise represented “a change between pro-am and a more gonzo related product,” he says, adding that Jewel De’Nyle was “our first contract girl.”

With New Sensations underway and more opportunity on the horizon, Scott and his business partner Joone initiate a new venture, Digital Playground (DP).

“We’re doing CD ROMs at the time and the business became moderately successful. I created a series called ‘Virtual Sex With.’ We shot Jenna Jameson as our first girl. It was interactive,” he explains, and relied on “new technology’ that involved switching  “between cameras.”

The result? More innovation.

“By the time I left Digital Playground the CD-ROM industry had been replaced by DVD. Digital Playground was a leader in the emerging DVD marketplace,” Scott adds.

Scott’s eye for talent was vital to his early success. He brought on Peter North and Nic Andrews, whom he recognizes as “an excellent filmmaker.” Working with the best behind the camera became a Scott Taylor trademark and, at that time, determined the future of New Sensations because it underscored “the difference between pro-am and becoming a gonzo/feature film company,” he proudly states.

Though I had several questions prepared for the interview, I let Scott Taylor’s passion for what he does take over and the outline of an adult film company’s evolution took shape.

Gonzo v. Feature

Scott and DP ultimately parted ways.

“I had controlling interest (in the company) when I left, but elected to take a buyout and start over. This was one of the best decisions of my career.”

The move allowed him to invest in a new enterprise, Digital Sin, to go along with the existing New Sensations. His maneuvering yielded a single entity he defines this way:

“Digital Sin is a DVD company releasing a New Sensations product.”

This transition allowed Scott to experiment with interactive video.

I inquire if the interactive idea is like today’s virtual reality.

“It is as best you could do at the time,” he says. The action is prerecorded obviously, but the control is left up to the viewer. In other words, Scott adds, “it’s POV, the intent is to make you think you’re in the scenario.”

He goes on to say that the shortcoming of interactive video reflects what virtual reality also currently lacks, the “touch and feel” that personalizes the viewing experience. Over time, Scott asserts, achieving this has been difficult and there is no guarantee for the future.

“Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t,” he comments.

At this point in New Sensation/Digital Sin’s development, Scott makes a market decision that defines what we see today.

“I decide that Digital Sin is going to become its own company. It’s going to produce its own series of movies and release them through New Sensations/Digital Sin.”

The result shaped his future because he determines that “Digital Sin will be gonzo driven, New Sensations more feature oriented.”

Bear in mind, however, that the business model is flexible. The company will stay fresh because sales will determine the direction of the collective product.

Either label will become more of what the other label is creating depending on what the customer wants, Scott explains. Originally Digital sin was more feature oriented and “rested on New Sensations’ shoulders.” Then it began “outselling New Sensations” and that sparked the necessary adjustments.

It’s All About Talent

To ensure a strong path, Scott brings in the best film making talent he can find because that ensures success.

“It’s important to me that the integrity of the company is maintained,” he says.

Incidentally, a high-quality product means one more thing to Scott.

“I’m very loyal. I attach myself to certain people even if they move on.”

He emphasizes the “excellent working relationship” he’s nurtured with “everyone who has passed through here” and stresses that friendships have remained in place.

“It’s been fantastic working with all these creative people” and when they go on to enhance their careers elsewhere, there’s no animosity on anyone’s part.

Lee Roy Myers

Like a proud parent, Scott Taylor runs through a list of porn talent that is recognizable across the industry landscape. Among them are Jonni Darkko, who started as a cameraman, Greg Lansky and Mike Adriano, whom Scott met at a European trade show.

“Mike is more the performer where Greg is more the director,” Scott interjects, offering them up as any porn company’s dream team.

Throw in Nacho Vidal, Jeff Mullen (aka Will Ryder), Lee Roy Myers, and Axel Braun, all award-winners with impeccable credentials, and you get a sense of Scott’s ability to find innovative talent.

That leads me to Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell.

Scott is eager to talk about both and that takes us to Part Two of this interview.

*          *          *

Some of the awards on display in Scott’s office

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I am NOT a Prostitute and I am NOT a Whore

by Rich Moreland, February 2014

This is the second installment of my interviews with the girls of Digital Playground at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo.

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Thursday, January 16

The singular most divisive issue in porn is escorting. Some girls prefer not to talk about it, some get indignant when it is brought up, and others acknowledge it in passing. No one claims to know exactly how many adult models are escorting; I’ve heard guesstimates from about half to everybody. My feeling is that over half is correct, but “everybody” is not. There are performers who definitely do not escort.

Looking for some upfront answers in my Digital Playground interviews, I decide to weave my way into escorting through a discussion of Measure B, the new ordinance that requires condom use in filming. Some California districts, most particularly the city of Los Angeles, are dealing with implementation now. This legal dictate is considered so onerous that rumors of the industry’s move to Nevada are always in the wind. A not so awful alternative, some porn people have quietly observed. The lower cost of living and affordable property values complement an already attractive desert welcome mat that features Nevada’s legitimate brothel industry.

Before delving into the safer sex issue, one more point needs mentioning. The Digital girls choose not to shoot the high risk behaviors that pervade much of porn today. As a group, they avoid anal, double penetrations, gang bangs and heavy fetish, particularly BDSM. Though no one said it directly, this fact may influence their views on safer sex. To put it bluntly, advocating condoms is much easier if a well-endowed manhood isn’t headed into a girl’s backside for extended hard work. In other words, most models who do anal will quickly complain that condoms are abrasive.

Lastly, adult film performers are a closed and tested community. Currently, the fourteen-day test is evolving as the standard. Before a shoot begins, paperwork is checked all around to make certain everyone’s blood work is updated. In theory, if everyone kept their sexual activity within the performer community, condom use would be redundant and superfluous.

Just Me Being Responsible

Though she fully understands the safer sex push, Jesse Jane personally doesn’t like condoms.

“I can’t have sex with a condom. It hurts, I don’t like it, it doesn’t feel good and I’m not going to wear one and make my performance horrible,” she says with conviction. Then Jesse dips into the political cauldron by adding that condom use is a matter of choice, a personal freedom she has a right to exercise. But the film vet tempers the idea of choice with an added layer of protection. She works with the “same people” year after year and considers herself to be very fortunate to do so.

A cautious Selena Rose supports condoms. “We are very sexually active people,” she states, mentioning that she prefers her partners get tested the same day she does. In fact the Miami resident offers that if a medical person, such as a nurse, were on set the day of shooting, everyone could be tested “real quick,” thus closing the window between testing and shooting.

Selena Rose Photo by Bill Knight

Selena Rose
Photo by Bill Knight

This idea gets my attention though I know many companies would balk at the extra expense.

The careless off set activities of “unprofessional” people unfortunately endangers everyone, Jessa Rhodes says.

“I’ve never had an STD in my life,” the twenty-year-old says, “so it’s not hard to stay safe.” She is vigilance personified. “I stay in tune with who fucks who, whose been doing what, and what they do in their private life.” Though it may sound like snooping or gossiping, it’s Jessa’s most efficient way to “know if something is questionable.” If it is, “I don’t do it,” she says. After all, it’s her health that is on the line.

Civilians (non-industry people) may intellectually understand the risks performers take, but they often don’t emotionally. It’s not their livelihood that’s under the gun. What’s more, a director once told me porn performers sometimes think civilians are cleaner than industry people, as odd as that sounds. The idea is nonsensical. There are no guidelines for civilians to get tested should they party with a porn star.

Lay on Your Back for Money

Jesse Jane sadly admits that ninety percent of the porn industry escorts and many of the escorts are men. She illustrates the logic of paydays beyond the set for those girls who escort. “I’m already having sex for money so why not make some extra cash and nobody knows I‘m doing it,” she says. But the Texas native brings up a darker scenario, the part that “sucks.” “More power to you,” she says to girls who hook, “if you are comfortable having sex with strangers” because the possibilities of bad things happening multiply. There’s always a risk the “john” is a weirdo or a misogynist and getting beaten up or killed is a tragedy that should never happen, Jesse says, and she feels for girls who put themselves that that situation.

Incidentally, Jesse words are scenarios. She personally does not, and has never, escorted.

Jesse Jane Photo by Bill Knight

Jesse Jane
Photo by Bill Knight

At this point Jesse reminds her co-workers that being careful should be a given. “We risk our life working with each other and trusting [that] everybody in our industry [will] take care of themselves,” she says. In short, “we are taken care of because we take care of ourselves.”

Her statement is a hope, an encouragement, and a thank you.

Jesse adds a final thought. Hinting that condoms should be a part of escorting, she references HIV, “You have the responsibility to keep yourself clean before you risk somebody else’s life in this industry.”

Selena Rose and Jessa Rhodes are upfront that they do not escort. Condoms should be a given in escorting, Selena says, because a civilian, unless he is a boyfriend, is not that important to a girl. So, she asks, “why would you risk yourself like that? To me it kind of shows that you don’t love yourself.”

Jessa Rhodes Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa Rhodes
Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa is unforgiving and possesses a commanding presence that easily backs down her critics.

“I don’t escort, I don’t hook and I don’t agree with the girls that do,” she says. Speaking of performers who are out the night before and come to work the next day, Jessa is equally as adamant. “I don’t know who you fucked last night and I don’t approve of it and I don’t agree with it!”

She is appalled at the lack of responsibility and professionalism among some of her fellow performers. “If you want to go lay on your back for money go do it, but this is a business. I make movies and entertain people for a living. I am not a prostitute and I am not a whore.”

Obviously, condoms are an absolute necessity in escorting, Jessa implies, because girls who hook on the side put everyone at risk for infection. She does, however,

Jessa Rhodes has porn street smarts. Her boyfriend is in the business and has undoubtedly offered her a veteran’s wisdom. But Jessa has learned to assert herself, to stand her ground. A large contributor to her well-balanced approach is her mother who home schooled her. “My momma raised me right,” she says.

I ask if she knows Dana DeArmond who also lacks formal education but has forged an iconic career in the business. “I do!” Jessa’s face lights up. “I firmly believe that knowledge is something you can get for yourself if you read and you experience life. That is the best education you can get.”

*                    *                    *                     *                    *

Though I have no solid evidence to reach definite conclusions about any of the Digital girls, there are indications where they are now in their careers. Selena Rose has the advantage of living away from the LA hotbed of rumors, parties, and agents who are not always licensed, flying in for business when she is booked. And of course, Jesse Jane is quickly reaching legend status and has over a decade (a lifetime in porn years) to guide her decision making. To reinvigorate her mental health,  she can spend time away in the southwest.

In branding her name and pushing her career forward, each of the Digital girls demonstrates that success in porn requires an empowerment not always found in the civilian world.

I wish them well.

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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.

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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.]

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