Hay's power base is the Direct Models talent agency in Los Angeles' Studio City.
With some of adult's most ubiquitous performers on its roster, Direct Models can make a strong case to back up the claim on its website, LaDirectModels.com, that it's "the San Fernando Valley's busiest modeling agency."
The site currently lists 82 women and 24 men, including fan favorites Haley Paige, Melissa Lauren, Sativa Rose, Shy Love and Staci Thorn. The agency's male clients include Barrett Blade, Chris Charming and Nick Manning.
Other clients include Vivid Girls Monique Alexander and Lexie Marie, whose contracts were negotiated by Hay, as well as contract performers from other major studios such as Wicked's Kirsten Price and Video Team's Alexis Amore.
Direct Models' best-known discovery, though, may be Hay's ex-flame, British superstar Hannah Harper. When they met in 2000, Hay had just formed Direct Models as a small London agency that specialized in booking adult work in the United States for British girls. As demand grew for his models, Hay and Harper moved the agency to Los Angeles, initially running it out of a one-room apartment. They split up last year but not before Harper scored contracts first with Legend Video and then with Sin City.
Hay acknowledged that he doesn't have the biggest roster, but from the start, his goal has been quality over quantity.
"With respect to other agencies, I think some have less stringent limits on whom they accept," Hay said. "They might be willing to accept a girl who they can only find one or two shoots a month for. I want to know that I can book the girl for at least two or three shoots a week."
Jeff Mullen, president of leading adult public relations firm All Media Play and its video production arm X-Play, agreed, saying "Direct Models has made some serious moves and has established itself as a top-notch source for quality talent. You know that if you book one of Derek's girls, she's going to show up."
Although there are a number of firms in Los Angeles representing adult talent, Direct Models, Hay said, is one of only three licensed adult agencies in the area. (The others, he said, are World Modeling and Pretty Girl International.)
"For those of us who have gone through the rigors of processing our licenses, I think it's nice for the girls to know that," Hay said. "They have that reassurance that we have a clean criminal record and have posted a bond, and they have somewhere to turn to if they have a grievance against the agent."
In addition to agents, Direct Models has a publicist and a team of drivers to shepherd talent back and forth to bookings.
"It's always been our focus to concentrate on how much work we can get for each girl, and not how many girls we have," Hay said. "I think most of them will tell you we're still true to that. I think that our girls are some of the busiest in the business. If Direct Models can't find you work, then work probably can't be found."
Hay attributes his firm's quick rise to nothing more extraordinary than "old-fashioned hard work" and perseverance. "My phone used to ring every morning with a reason from a girl why she couldn't do that day's shoot," he told XBiz. "It's very frustrating, and it's quite depressing. But after four years of working with that, my phone rings perhaps one morning a week now with that type of call. The girls know that if they want to have Direct Models working for them, they need to be as serious about the industry as we are."
The Personal Touch
Hay personally interviews all clients before signing them up. But that doesn't mean that everyone he takes on will last with the agency. Hay, whose soft-spoken intensity, shaved head and muscular physique project an intimidating authority, is tough on performers and maintains a strict code of behavior. "If they do something that is not in keeping with how we think they should behave, we'll move them on," Hay said.
"He has a reputation as a no-bullshit guy," Mullen said. "But you have to be that way when many girls in this industry have historically been notoriously flaky."
Meanwhile, Hay has a flourishing career onscreen. Under the name Ben English, he has appeared in more than 300 adult movies. He won AVN's 2004 Best Male Newcomer award, although he started acting only five years ago with his then-girlfriend when he was living in San Francisco.
"We just started answering little ads in the newspaper for local talent," Hay said. "We worked for a bunch of small producers. It was a good introduction to the business and getting used to being in front of the camera."
New Sensations-Digital Sin contract director Tyrone Shuz has cast Hay in a number of videos, including "Stuffin' Young Muffins" and "Super Naturals."
"It's great when Ben walks onto my set because I know that I'll always get an aggressive, unrelenting and totally complete performance," Shuz said. "The guy is a stud who knows how to bang a woman."
Being around desirable women is hardly new to Hay. As a stage manager for the Rolling Stones, Van Halen and other top music acts, he met any number of adult actresses and strippers. He also made contacts with photographers and other adult figures, learning enough about the industry to spark his interest in changing careers, which eventually led him to San Francisco and his first on-camera sex romps.
These days, further extending his influence in the adult world, Hay occasionally directs videos, including the "Intensitivity" series from Wildlife Productions.
Being an agent, however, is always number one, he said.
"My directing deal with Wildlife is finished, so I'm kind of looking around for a new home to make some movies for someone — but I'm not looking too hard," Hay said. "We'll just see what happens. I've found a good deal of success as a performer, but running Direct Models is more than just a full-time occupation. Somehow, I squeeze in doing maybe two or three scenes a week. And that is enough."
In recent months, however, Direct Models has kept Hay even busier with an upsurge in non-hardcore bookings.
"We're getting more of our girls booked for B-movies, soft core and all manner of promotional events, for example, to have porn stars put on a company's T-shirt or hand out fliers at a convention," he said. "But in the big picture, it's the way that adult in America is becoming more accepted and more mainstream."