Tag Archives: Evil Angel Productions

AEE 2017: Jillian Janson

by Rich Moreland, February 2017

This is the third of three posts on my interviews with Star Factory clients during the 2017 Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

I value all my industry contacts, but talking with Jillian Janson was an unexpected pleasure.

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Before interviewing someone I’ve never met, I like to chip away any possible awkwardness  with a brief “hello.” In the case of Jillian Janson, I stopped by the Evil Angel booth where she was signing.

In the past, my luck with Evil Angel girls has not always been the best, but this sweetie was the exception thanks to the great people at Star Factory.

After few minutes of small talk, we were looking forward to our time in the press room the next day.

Photo courtesy of Star Factory and AVN

Photo courtesy of Star Factory and AVN

Doing Everything Right Away

Jillian Janson is blonde and perky with adorable eyes. She entered porn at eighteen in 2013.

Describing herself now as “twenty-one going on thirty,” Jillian has seen a lot of the business but admits she doesn’t know everything yet.

2017-01-20-08-56-22-2I mention some girls get shot out early and Jillian must have buffered her career wisely to still be around after three years.

“The fans are all about the new girl because they see too much of girls who work every day,” she says. Veterans know this and are aware of the pitfalls that can eat up untested ambitions.

A new girl comes in with instant stardom created by “doing everything right away—anal, boy/girl, girl/girl, all day every day,” Jillian says, “then they wonder why six months later, two years later, they [finally] win an award but they’re never working because they are worn out.”

She has learned to pace her career.

“That’s why I been in and out the last three years. I’m just relaxing, having a good time, paying my bills.”

But Jillian remains in the mix.

“I’m still getting recognized for [awards like] female performer, best oral, best anal. It makes me want to work even harder, to just be out there more and show everybody who I am.”

Jillian knows how to brand her name. She’s added feature dancing to her resume and recently launched her website therealjillianjanson.com (see link below).

“I still have a few things in mind to work on, but I’m so excited to get that [the site] going, it’s going to be girl/girl because I haven’t been able to experiment with girls much,” she says with a smile.

Increments

Proclaiming her to be a porn veteran, something that surprises her, I ask Jillian what three pieces of advice she would offer a new girl.

img_0736-2Her attitude shifts a bit with the question. She’s suddenly very focused and less light-hearted.

“You don’t want to necessarily do everything right away. You want to do things in increments. You’re brand new and you don’t know what you want to do so take it in steps.”

In her personal history, Jillian began with photo shoots, did boy/girl, “then a week later, what was I doing? I was on the bed with my first girl who happened to be French-Asian, so I got to experience another culture as well,” she declares.

“So many new things to wrap my mind around, but I have a feeling that I’ve balanced everything pretty well. I take enough time off, kind of make everyone miss me,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

What’s Jillian’s next tip for an new eager starlet?

“Be yourself, be charming, be unique, be caring,” and most important, “be positive, be nice, if you’re not going to say anything nice, don’t say it at all,” Jillian insists.

But be prepared for the downside of the business.

“You’re going to get knocked down, so get yourself back up again.”

img_0735-2Jillian is determined with her words now, measuring them carefully.

Some industry people will “help you out and be there for you,” she says, but they’re the few, so “be there for yourself.”

And, of course, there’s the third lesson every fresh face who is instantly awash in dollars must learn, Jillian declares.

“Be patient. Be smart with your money. You don’t want to blow it on everything you want right away because the little things don’t add up to the big things that you want.

“I spent a bunch of money on clothes, three thousand dollars on a massage chair, never home for it. It’s just sitting in a storage unit. So that’s money wasted when it could have gone into a new car or a new house or getting a business together.”

Hit-and-Run

Finally, I ask about Jillian about her background.

Her parents were not married, in fact they never dated, she says.

“I call myself a ‘hit-and-run.’ It’s like you go to a party, you drink, you have sex with somebody, and you don’t see them for four years. That’s how my mom pretty much had me,” Jillian’s smile softens her serious undertone.

“‘Hit-and-run’ or ‘one night stand’ is what you call ’em!”

Her laugh is punctured with a touch of resignation.

Jillian, who is not unfamiliar with the LA party scene, does understand the circumstances of how these things happen, however.

Photo courtesy of AVN

Photo courtesy of AVN

“You have to have some fun,” this blonde stunner says. “The industry is so fun, the parties, the events, everything that goes on here. It’s an entertaining experience.”

Jillian Janson began her career as a web cam model in August 2013 when she turned eighteen. She was still in high school in Minnesota, working to help support her mother. Once her school mates found out about her other more grown-up persona, hassles developed and Jillian left for California after an agent contacted her.

This Midwestern lass considers herself to be an independent spirit. Talking with her hints at concerns over approval and validation, not at all unexpected in performers who start very young.

One has to admire Jillian’s depth of self-understanding when she offers her “twenty-one going on thirty” declaration.

I sincerely believe she is more courageous than she realizes.

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Photo courtesy of Star Factory and AVN

Photo courtesy of Star Factory and AVN

Jillian Janson has won several awards, among them is NightMoves “Best Female Performer” in 2015 and “Best Adult Feature Dancer” in 2016.

This year, Jillian was nominated for AVN’s 2017 Female Performer of the Year.

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The Dark Lord of Pinup

by Rich Moreland, January 2014

                                                                                                                                                  The is the second post about the Vegas Convention. To read about this year’s “Legends of Erotica” which featured the induction of Evil Angel’s Christian         Mann into that hall of fame, go to AINews.com and check out my column on the event.

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The days of pornographers hustling video tape and print material as their sole income source are way behind us. Today’s adult purveyors are expanding into other revenue builders. Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, arguably the most innovative man in the adult business, introduced me to his new line of clothing at this year’s AEE.

Called “Evil Apparel by Armando Huerta,” the clothing features erotic art printed on casual wear (t-shirts, leggings) using a process called sublimation which “keeps all the details of the art,” fashion designer Lea Lexis says. “It will never fade or crack, like other prints.”

Lea and Evil Apparel Photo by Bill Knight

Lea and Evil Apparel
Photo by Bill Knight

The former Romanian gymnast insists that “clothing itself is art, now we’re putting art on clothing.” Though the Evil Angel brand is everyday attire, the customer is wearing something “unique and interesting,” she says.

A partnership between Lea Lexis and John Stagliano led to a start-up company to produce artistic clothing. Previously she had done a bit of design work for the porn mogul. This project is much more substantial. “He pushes me to be more creative, I admire him so much,” Lexis says. She regards Stagliano as a true inspiration, a legend who “manages to upstage everybody.”

For readers who are unfamiliar with the world of filmed pornography, Lea Lexis uses her gymnastics background to twist and frame her body for the camera. She is a adult actress whose work in Evil Angel’s “Voracious” series is widely recognized.

Artist Armando Huerta carries the descriptor, “The Dark Lord of Pinup,” having worked over twenty years producing exclusive art for collectors. Huerta’s creations are quite familiar to John Stagliano. They have appeared in Evil Angel’s publication “Buttman Magazine” for about fifteen years.

Armando shows off his work Photo by Bill Knight Photo by Bill Knight

Armando shows off his work
Photo by Bill Knight

Though he began with pinups, Huerta has evolved into an erotic artist with some of his work being explicit. “Total nudity, spreads, butt holes, penetration,” is how he describes that aspect of his work.

Armando Huerta moved to America from his native Mexico after putting together collections of his work and marketing them in the States. His talent ultimately developed into a career and his first US show was at the AVN convention eleven years ago. Despite success, Huerta had professional decisions to make. This is America after all, arguably one of the most religiously prudish countries on the planet.

“My first paintings were pretty explicit and that helped me a lot because people were amazed that an artist had the guts to produce that kind of material,” Huerta says. Of course, some opinions urged him to become more conservative and stick with the Bettie Page type of art. Moving in that direction prompted client reactions that surprised him, Huerta remembers. “What are you doing? We don’t want this,” became a collective response. So, he decided to travel the middle road, “some explicit, some conservative.”

Bobbi Starr, former Evil Angel director, once said to me that no mother wants her daughter taking off her clothes for a pornographer. But what about an artist whose work contains a pornographic flavor, what are mom’s thoughts? Armando Huerta explains his fortunate situation.

“I come from Mexico and we don’t really care about anything,” Huerta says, referring to his erotic art creations. “In my culture if my mother is proud of me, I really don’t care about anything [else],” he adds with a smile.

He mentions America’s entrenched religious attitudes that tend to drive our culture. But in his case, Armando Huerta never had any “frustrations” about the art he produces.

A true visionary, Huerta explains he is not into his creations to make money, but does not deny money will come his way if his art is appreciated.

“The money is a consequence of what you do,” he says.

The Latino artist has five color books, large format, sixty to sixty-five pages, and three sketches books for purchase. Visit armandohuerta.com for details.

I turn to Lea Lexis for some final words about the official launch of Evil Apparel by Armando Huerta. The clothing has generated interest at the adult convention and is scheduled for the fashion portion of The Magic Show, an upcoming mainstream convention in Las Vegas, she says. The testing stage will be history and the marketing campaign will be underway.

Expression tells the story of a rising business success Photo by Bill Knight

Expression tells the story of a rising business success
Photo by Bill Knight

The clothing can be purchased online at EvilApparel.com. Eventually the products will be available in retail sex stores. “Our styles are unique,” Lexis says with a smile.

We discuss for a moment the meaning of “high end” when it comes to the apparel market and my photographer Bill offers that the Evil Angel clothing targets a special market, “wearable art aficionados.” That is hardly the first time “aficionado” has been used to describe an Evil Angel customer, I imagine.

Chatting with John, clothing on display in the background. Photo by Bill Knight

Chatting with John, clothing on display in the background.
Photo by Bill Knight

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Deeper into Their Fantasies

By Rich Moreland, December 2012

“I’ve failed miserably,” Christian Mann says with a smile. He’s referring to his lack of success in predicting what his boss, John Stagliano, will like in a project. That may be so, I don’t doubt, but Christian’s name in the porn universe is almost as well-known as his that of his employer. He’s the general manager of Evil Angel Productions, one of the dynamic names in adult entertainment.

Christian Mann Photo by Bill Knight

Christian Mann
Photo by Bill Knight

We’re in his office in Van Nuys, part of the greater Los Angeles area. The space is nicely appointed and part of a small facility tucked away among identical storefronts common in today’s ubiquitous industrial parks. “E.A. Productions” is printed over the glass enclosed entrance. The casual visitor is hard-pressed to recognize that this unassuming location houses an industry mover and shaker.

Inside there’s a small waiting area; a receptionist sits behind a window-like opening equipped with a sliding glass front. Typical office waiting room, all that is missing is a clipboard so I could check ‘new patient’ since this is my first visit.

A couple of perky young women are busy around the receptionist’s seat on this day. My guess is they probably shoot a few scenes for the studio and pick up steadier bucks answering the phone and greeting visitors. If not, it’s an entertaining thought.

Unlike most professionals I know, Christian is prompt, coming into the waiting room to greet Bill, my photographer, and me. Very cool. Visits to financial gurus and lawyers often involve secretaries leading the way; for doctors, it’s always a nurse. No third party here. Porn people are hands on and laid back, all puns intended.

Folk Appeal

Evil Angel is the brainchild of John Stagliano who, some twenty plus years ago, patented an artistic and innovative style of filmed pornography called gonzo, a topic I’ve written about previously. John is a genius and highly respected in the business.

A note on gonzo is in order here. It’s an adult film genre in which a movie is a series of somewhat disconnected scenes focused on the sex taking place before the camera. In a sense, it’s a modernized version of the old loop. A storyline is essentially vacant, though some of John’s signature “Buttman” series have a loose narrative base. In gonzo, the sex is the reason for the shoot unlike other approaches that work the sex into the narrative. For Evil Angel, the sex is never an “add on,” to quote Christian. Though this concept may appear overly simplistic, it has made the company into a recognized brand name.

Christian elaborates on the Stagliano philosophy. The sex is greater than “the storyline or the production values,” he says. That is not to say Evil Angel eschews these components, they just aren’t starting points. Two movies in a feature film format, The Fashionistas and Voracious, are “very intense when it comes to those elements,” Christian points out. For example, Voracious is episodic, centers on a vampire theme, and is shot in Europe where the sex is edgier than the American consumer is accustomed to seeing. Stateside, a degree of prudery still reigns. Using a serial format, Voracious turns the soil (always pleasing to vampire lovers) for a new and interesting approach to filmed pornography.

Courtesy of Evil Angel Proudctions

Courtesy of Evil Angel Productions

Courtesy Evil Angel Productions

Courtesy of Evil Angel Productions

Christian emphasizes the heart of the matter once again, hammering home the stake of truth that keeps the Evil Angel model moving forward. “Our movies always start with the sex because that’s what people [the consumers] are first and foremost wanting,” he says.

In defining the Evil Angel operation, Christian emphasizes that the company welcomes diversity. John Stagliano does not “mandate a certain point of view” though the “common thread” of sex first remains. Company directors have a free hand, Christian says, but “John has to like it” which means that boring sex dies on the cutting room floor.

Within a few minutes of talking with Christian Mann, two words jump out: charm and intelligence. He’s no stranger to adult entertainment having been involved in the business for over thirty years. Video, production, sales, marketing, he’s had a hand in all aspects of the pornographer’s trade. Christian got his start working a summer job for his father who was in the print segment of adult entertainment. Eventually Christian’s psychology major paid off as his early years in the business were in marketing. Owning an adult film company was down the road as was a bout with the government over obscenity. But like many of adult film’s historically important people, Christian Mann is stilling trucking.

Along with his current position, Christian sits on the board of the Free Speech Coalition, the industry’s political wing. He has a libertarian heart like his boss. Both have fought censorship battles in the courts.

I’m interested in Christian’s view on the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey literary trilogy. Now that the bondage fetish is collecting devotees, is the company jumping on the BDSM bandwagon as it journeys through the market bizarre of porn? He is definitive: Evil Angel prefers not to respond to the market.

Once again, Christian returns to the company mantra. It’s unlikely John will react enthusiastically to a project if he’s simply told “it’s going to sell,” Christian states. (He’s personally made that mistake a couple of times. That’s where the prediction failures add up.)  Rather, it is John’s personal belief in the product’s quality that establishes the company’s image. Attaching a well-known name (performer or director) to a project’s sales pitch, for example, is no guarantee it will gain traction with the boss.

Of course, if a product with the Evil Angel name generates a profit, all the better. In that case, “the market just happens to agree with him,” Christian says. But there is an underlying secret at work. John has “folk appeal,” Christian reveals, an intuitive understanding of what people want.

I have no doubt that is true. The company’s red logo shouts quality and tradition. But I also contend that John Stagliano shapes the market. Like Vivid Entertainment’s Steve Hirsch, Wicked Pictures’ Steve Orenstein, and Kink.com’s Peter Acworth, the Stagliano name creates sales. In a pensive moment, Christian concludes, “John is the market.” I could not agree more.

Gender Blind

Among the reasons I’ve come to Evil Angel is to talk feminism in porn. We quickly agree that Fifty Shades of Grey and BDSM have opened another door into the female empowerment arena.

E.A. has a stable of directors who own their content and distribute through the company. Among the team are two active legends, Belladonna and Bobbi Starr. John Stagliano is “gender blind” in his hiring practices and some of Evil Angel’s “hardest stuff” comes from these women, Christian says.

Though I’ve never had the opportunity to converse with Belladonna, I know Bobbi. She’s talked about her struggle to become a director. John gave her that opportunity, as he did with another well-known feminist filmmaker named Tristan Taormino, who refers to him as the Steven Spielberg of porn. Bobbi has not disappointed the company, she is hard core to the core in what she likes to put on film. Incidentally, the 2013 Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas are close at hand and Bobbi Starr is among the nominees for both Female Performer of the Year and Best Director, a result of hard work and a personal belief in her own creativity.

Christian comments about projects both women have to their credit. “If you didn’t know it was a female directing it, you would think it’s a guy” casting women in a submissive role, he says. Belladonna and Bobbi deliberately capture the male gonzo point of view and then contradictorily take possession of it, a characteristic of what I call pornography feminism.

But is this feminism in Christian’s view? Yes, he affirms, and goes on to suggest that E.A. directors “who are interested in dominance and role-play” reflect a modern porn POV that puts women in charge of the on screen sex. He mentions one male director who often shoots “high art bondage” and though the viewer might get the impression that he dislikes women, female performers “love working for him.”  In fact, it is often the women who “push the envelope;” in other words, female subjugation on film is often driven by the women themselves.

The upshot is a “new prototype of performer,” Christian asserts, who relishes working for female directors “trying to out hard core each other.” There is a downside to this scenario, he concedes, the sex can deteriorate into “acrobatics” that are devoid of creativity.  Finding balance is not always easy.

Christian understands the erotic perspectives of new century women. They are claiming ownership of their sexuality, refusing “to be told how they’re supposed to behave sexually,” he says. They’re insisting that their boundaries be expanded; they want to go “deeper” into their fantasies and this adventure includes the submissive and dominant sides of the role play.

In short, BDSM is now an “equal opportunity” playing field, Christian asserts, that gives women choices with an added benefit: accessorizing. In his analysis, that may be Fifty Shades’ real attraction. The story shines a light on “something that has existed for a while now,” he points out, the fascination with fetishes and role-play that gives permission to have fun with the attire, the leather, and the bondage gear. For reference, take a peek at a trailer for The Fashionistas or Voracious. Once again, Evil Angel is a step ahead of this curve.

Christian reviews what everyone secretly knows but few outside of the porn world act out. “A lot of sex fantasy is about power, role-reversal,” he says, emphasizing that men can be submissive to female dominance. Something, I might add, that many anti-porn people don’t take time to consider because they are lost in their monomaniacal vision that porn is violence against women.

“Part of a woman’s empowerment,” Christian explains, “and part of the modern woman owning her own sexuality includes the right to express herself”‘ in any role she might want. In relating the Fifty Shades phenomenon, Christian postulates, “When modern women are given the right to choose, they are frequently choosing to be submissive.”

A Final Shot Before We Head OutPhoto by Bill Knight

A Final Shot Before We Head Out
Photo by Bill Knight

Christian Mann’s conversational intensity is speeding the time away and before long his agenda demands attention. We’ve gone way over the time he allowed for me, I’m sure. But I can’t leave without a final inquiry. I ask Christian for a personal vision.

He sees himself as moving Evil Angel through changing times. Most important is keeping the erotic experience for the consumer at its highest level and the best way to do that is to market a quality product.

The philosophy of John Stagliano is everywhere inside this inconspicuous storefront.

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Recognition of the Cameraman

by Rich Moreland, March 2012
A few years ago an adult film called Pirates (2005) and its follow-up Pirates II (2008) hit the DVD market. Lots of hullabaloo expended over dropping big bucks to make pornography. There was plot, character development, adventure, everything that cloaked what it was, fun with sex in a historical setting.

In the language of the industry, Pirates is a feature. Making it required lots of props, crew, industry stars, and hype in order to turn a profit. It’s a throwback to porno chic era of the 1970’s when films like Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door, and The Devil in Miss Jones carried a plot of sorts and the female star had repeated sexual encounters to fit the storyline.

Long before the feature, the stag or loop was porn’s showpiece; a short film with no real narrative, just sex, cheap to make and easy to hustle among a gathering of males in social clubs and fraternities. That’s how the business of selling sex on film got started. The first stags go back to the early 20th century’s Great War days.

The explosion of porn created by the VCR hit America in the eighties; a time of “smut glut” as director and writer David Jennings calls it. San Fernando Valley became porn central and America had a new corporate entity in the boardroom. The challenge was money. Selling a feature is no easy task and profit margins can be especially troubling if a huge amount was expended in its making.

Circumstances brought opportunity and old traditions were challenged. A new kid on the block emerged by the 1990’s: gonzo. The word entered the porn lexicon and today industry people throw it around as if it’s been a part of the business since its inception. It hasn’t and I wanted to know exactly what it is and how it got started.

John Stagliano Talks Gonzo at the Hard Rock

John Stagliano Talks Gonzo at the Hard Rock

Not a Feature
This I did know. Gonzo is used to describe any adult film that is not a feature, which isn’t terribly informative. The word is so ubiquitous now that it has lost its identity. Current industry people bounce gonzo around like a napless tennis ball at a dog park. It rolls around the entire space and all dogs play with it.

I always assumed gonzo was John Stagliano’s creation, but my research-oriented mind had to check with him personally to clarify the genre’s history. John is an industry icon, “the Speilberg of porn” I once heard a director say, and legend has it that the old vids of his “Buttman” Series gave gonzo traction.

I remember one “Buttman” episode John did with old friend Bruce Seven. In one scene, John is sitting on the living room floor in a hillside house editing film, telling the camera about the girl in the video who is doing her thing for the viewer. The tape continues to roll and John shows the visitor/viewer around his makeshift editing set up and comments on shoots that appeared in previous “Buttmans.” This is a movie within a movie because John will become director and performer again within moments. All it takes is that knock on the door.

A cute blonde stands on the door stoop and says she just been tied up by Bruce for one of his bondage videos and she was sent to John next. Bit of a reversal of the traditional stag film formula, handyman comes to the house where the housewife is ready for sex. In this case, the girl just shows up without rhyme or reason and wants to make film. Perfect gonzo: no script, no set, no cast; just another impromptu opportunity for the camera to capture an eager and naked female for “Buttman.”

This is the Stagliano genre and the concept is widely admired in the industry.

Doing Back Flips
Granting me a few minutes at the recent adult expo in Las Vegas, John explains how the gonzo he was “alleged to have started” came about.

“In the eighties,” he said, “all we did was try to imitate a TV show or regular movie. We’d cast parts, write dialogue and do the best we could to find somebody to fit into that role.”

Script writing was the challenge. It was like “doing back flips,” he said, “to try to have a story with a beginning, middle, and end with characters!”

He often had one girl to showcase, but in today’s porn, unlike the old days of the golden age, she’s not going to do all the scenes in the finished product. As a result, John points out, it was “not necessary to have all the scenes build up into a feature.”

Variety drives the porn dollar. The viewer wants a collection of fresh faces to feed what internet entrepreneur Danni Ashe refers to as a male’s “harem fantasy.”

John recognized that to have  more girls is always desirable but to integrate them into a storyline was unneeded. In other words, gonzo reintroduces porn to its old stag roots, ten  minute loops of different girls strung together independent of script and casting with one caveat, the girl will often have sex with the director/cameraman. The camera is a participant because the sex is shot from the director’s POV (point of view), especially when he gets involved with the model.

Other performers may be in the scene, but Stagliano does not leave the stage to them. He is arranging people, talking with them while he is filming, and might choose to shoot through the mirror in a hotel room so that the viewer can see the performers and the director at work; the action becomes a scene within a scene.

Setting aside creativity as a driving force in adult film, porn is about money. Stagliano collapsed the always prohibitive financial hurdle by stringing together his POV version of the old loop into a few hours of sexual variety and sold it all for the same dollars the feature guys were making.

Despite John’s downplaying of plot, characters, and the like, the “Buttman” series always had a loose “man on the street” theme, such as “Buttman goes to Europe” or “Buttman v. Buttwoman,” which highlights an exclusively female version of gonzo. The shtick was always “let’s see what’s going on over here.” To follow “Buttman” around on his adventures was like chatting with your pal at a club while checking out the partygoers. It had the flavor of a hunt.

Some of the individual shoots within a “Buttman” film reflect a feature. Characteristically, the final episode in the overall package might be a sexcapade that focuses on one guy and two girls. It has a loose narrative and can last up to a half hour, surpassing the time limitations of stags.

No matter its nuances, gonzo became profitable.

“I proved that I could be successful and sell them (gonzo shoots) for the same price” as features, John pointed out. “So people started imitating me and that made the business much more creative and interesting.”

First Person Reaction

In our conversation, John remembered that gonzo came from a specific form of journalism.

“It did,” I said, mentioning Hunter Thompson of San Francisco literary fame.

“It was a first person reaction to events,” John said, explaining that from a film perspective, gonzo means “there isn’t a wall between the performers” and the director. John puts the director/cameraman in the scene; his personality is deliberately part of the shoot. He emphasizes that gonzo is “a recognition of the cameraman” in which his “ideas” as composer/arranger of the action are driving the scene. The viewer and performer acknowledge the camera, John notes, the girl is encouraged “to look directly into it and be sexy.”

Most important, he reiterates, the shoot is “not a regular story” that touts script and requires a filming crew.

How does this differ from other directors? Some feminist filmmakers like Tristan Taormino hand the cast the basic theme of the shoot and stand back, letting them do what comes naturally. She likens her product to reality TV and invests time in filming mundane activities and chatting with performers, leaving the sex to find its own way.

A more traditional feminist producer and director is Candida Royalle, whose films have a more erotica flavor, and are based on the feature model.

Well-known directors like Michael Ninn, Axel Braun, and Andrew Blake work with cast and script, producing a mainstream product noted for spectacular visuals.

But John has created a different type of film with notable success. He emphasizes that gonzo has replaced the feature in today’s business environment. There is a drawback. Success has encouraged popular usage of the term to broaden its definition to include anything that is not scripted. “But that’s not really accurate,” Stagliano concludes, offering that authentic gonzo revolves around the cameraman and the creative ideas he’s putting into the scene.

I returned with a final question.

“Can a woman do a gonzo film?” I said.

“Yeah,” John replied, “from her point of view it would be different ideas and different reactions and different feelings.”

He notes directors Bobbi Starr and Belladonna, both work for his Evil Angel Productions, as doing gonzo from a female POV and doing it well.

Before we wrapped up, John mentioned Paul Fishbein and Gene Ross of Adult Video News as part of the story. I made a mental note the give Fishbein a call.

I didn’t have to. He contacted me. John is one of the good guys in the business.

Indescribable New Style.

“While it’s true that AVN coined the term gonzo, I will not take personal credit for it,” Fishbein’s email began. He pointed out that Gene Ross, who worked at AVN for 17 years, was the originator of the word.

Here’s the story from Paul’s perspective. The eighties saw the development of what would be called “reality porn if it had it occurred today,” he said. Accommodating that reality concept, everyone participates in gonzo. Stagliano began this idea when he talked with performers on camera and interacted with them as characters “playing themselves,” Fishbein explained.
The technique broke a barrier, “the fourth wall, but these movies were clearly no documentaries,” he added.

It was an “indescribable new style”and AVN searched for a way “to distinguish this new form of erotica from traditional movies or just collections of sex scenes,” Paul said.

The AVN staff, all trained journalists, brainstormed ideas. Finally, Gene Ross, an editorial staff member, offered up the term “gonzo” as a tribute to Hunter Thompson, a legendary writer admired by everyone in the room. (For the record, Thompson’s “gonzo journalism” heralded first person narratives with an upfront “tell it like it is” manner that ignores the polished effect of editing.)

“It became the industry standard,” Fishbein said, “and AVN absolutely deserves credit for it.”

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What has this investigation revealed about the state of gonzo now?

“Gonzo has come to mean more than I really think it should,” John says. “It’s not useful if it describes everything that isn’t a feature.” Pausing for a moment to reemphasize his point, John adds, “It’s not so broad as to include anything that isn’t a feature” which has happened in his opinion because “words get their definition from how they’re used by people.”

He personalizes gonzo in his final remark. There isn’t a name “for how I describe it,” John declares. His gonzo is “a personal reaction” to his craft, a type of expression that he sees in Hunter Thompson’s literary style.

Gonzo may be a personal application in shooting porn, but it is now global in its use. It is a recognized success story because like John Stagliano’s politics, gonzo is a true libertarian artistic method that has an “everyman” feel.

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