The Rennaissance Will Be Televised
Of course, to state that interracial and black porn is currently undergoing a renaissance, rebirth or revival is to directly imply that it was a hot commodity at one time in the past. According to Melendy, the black genre has always been a winner. Yet in the eyes of many directors and producers within the field — a number of them performers, too — it’s a genre that had been largely relegated to bargain-basement productions values, causing it to consistently remain of low quality with no hopes of achieving the same equality, status and recognition as nonblack porn.
However, with so many black-porn production houses sprouting up and pumping impressive amounts of money into their movies’ production values — in direct conjunction with the increase of black performers taking the helm of such productions and, in many cases, companies — black porn is most certainly riding a powerful wave.
We recently spoke with a number of directors and producers of the genre to get a greater sense of the past, present and, most importantly, the future of black porn.
Lexington Steele has been in the business for 11 years and is, hands down, one of the most famous black performer/directors ever to hit the scene. Starting his own production house, Mercenary Pictures, back in 2003, Steele has released a nonstop string of immensely wellreceived black and interracial lines, including “Black Reign,” “Iron Head,” “Ebony XXX,” “Lex on Blondes,” “Lex Steele XXX,” “Manhammer,” and, most recently, “MILF Magnet.”
“Over the last several years,” Steele said, “what we’ve seen is the emergence of black stars as marketable items to the industry. Examples are black female performers like Jada Fire, Marie Luv and Nyomi Banxx; all women of color who have proven themselves tremendous bankable commodities.”
As far as black auteurs go, Steele cites two pioneers in the field of performing/directing who profoundly helped pave the way for others like himself: Ron Hightower and Sean Michaels, who each turned to filmmaking in the early 1990s. Even more specifically, Steele points to three companies that were instrumental in helping him achieve a credible position as a respected director in the black porn genre.
“Anabolic, Diabolic and West Coast Productions — those are the three,” he recalled. “Keep in mind that I never directed for West Coast Productions, but the owner, James Alexander, has definitely influenced me and I absolutely look up to him. He’s the godfather of black porn; every black talent in this industry considers him our Michael Corleone or, at the very least, the black Larry Flynt. I only directed two titles for Diabolic, but, in a nutshell, it’s Chris Alexander of Anabolic who really helped me become a director. He gave me the wherewithal, the budget to make high quality gonzo.”
“See, the problem with the production of black porn, for years, was that the budgets afforded non-black genres were not the same ones afforded to black productions. The notion was that the black consumer would be satisfied with a production of a lesser caliber. Consequently, the genre has been underfinanced for years. Chris Alexander, however, gave me the same budgets which he gave Vince Vouyer and other directors at Anabolic so that I could successfully produce and direct quality black-on-black and interracial material.”
According to Steele, what has remained most consistent over the years is the hard work involved in making a good product and maintaining the quality of such.
“And the most important thing that successful black directors have done is make a name for themselves as performers first. That is to say, the very best most competitive gonzo directors are always the ones who started as performers. They’ve proven themselves as highly intelligent, highly business-oriented individuals who are truly blessed with incredible physical attributes. And that’s what makes the black performers/directors really stand out — great bodies and big dicks.”
One of the more outspoken, downright intense black performer/directors out there is 35-year-old Justin Slayer. The Atlanta-born, Chicago-raised director entered the adult industry at age 29 and made a name for himself by hooking up with John Stagliano’s Evil Empire in 2003. Through Evil Angel, Slayer put out 57 black and interracial titles, all of which he still owns, including “Phatty Girls,” “Mami Culo Grande,” “Big Booty White Girls” and “Black Pipe Layers.”
About a year ago, Slayer decided to go on his own and left Evil Angel to start production/distribution house Justin Slayer International (JSI) which, according to Slayer, has already put out about 30 titles. Aside from his own productions, Slayer also has unleashed a talented group of black directors upon the world (all under the JSI umbrella) consisting of CJ Wright, Prince Yahshua, General Mo, Nevaquit, Marie Luv, Robin Rich and Josh Stone Productions.
Slayer, in fact, began directing porn because of what he saw as the sad state of the industry at the turn of the century.
“When I was doing ‘Black Pipe Layers,’ I wanted to have pure sex in the movie,” he said, “and wanted to make it more real because a lot of porn coming out of Porn Valley was fake-looking. The positions, the expressions, the sex — it was all terrible. Good quality will always sell, and bullshit will go the way of all bullshit. Me? I only shoot the freaks who want to fuck.”
While he’s a no-nonsense businessman, Slayer is, nonetheless, quite sensitive about ethnic issues being treated in a cavalier manner within the industry. In turn, he not only points out the absurdity of racism in 21st century porn, but similarly promotes the power of the “international language.”
“My stuff is interracial and the girls like what happens in it,” Slayer proudly proclaimed. “But it doesn’t have racial-ass overtones. None of this ‘n’ word shit. I mean, if you use the word ‘nigga’ in the right context, it’s cool. But if you have a scene in which you state ‘Her daddy would kill the nigger,’ it’s racist shit, man. We’re in California, yeah. But that stuff is going to Alabama and Kentucky, and those freaks out there are getting immense pride out of that shit. Why make that kind of stuff in 2009? Hey, I’m from the hood, too, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the intellectual capacity to learn.”
Flourishing beside its sister companies Zero Tolerance and Third Degree Films, Black Ice has been producing in-demand black and interracial titles since 2005. Some of their more sought-after lines include “All That Ass: The Orgy,” “Meat on the Grill,” “Big Ass White Girls,” “Big Ass Slumber Party,” “Massive Wet Asses” and “Pimp Juice.”
The lean, mean company that consists of a potent triad of directors: Dwayne Dane, Tony Flush and Lee G. — is managed by Tony Santoro, who explains that the entire concept of Black Ice came about from a distinct need to fill a major gap in the marketplace.
“Consumers were positively starving for good quality black porn because there was a shortage of it out there,” Santoro said. “The only two companies producing stuff worth watching were TT Boy’s Evasive Angles and West Coast Productions. And even they couldn’t put out enough product to fulfill the customers’ needs. Viewers were looking for more. In turn, distributors and retailers were similarly asking for more black-on-black porn because there was this total shortage of quality material in the genre. So we said, ‘Hey, let’s do it!’ And we did!”
According to Santoro, a big demand for black porn typically comes out of urban areas such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Atlanta, all of which have large black populations.
Melendy, a 38-year-old entrepreneur who started Black Market almost three years ago, specifically developed a company consisting of all black directors making only black-on-black and interracial titles. His dynamic roster of black auteurs includes Jeremy Regal, Ron Ellis, Phashion and, his latest addition, D.J. Yella of N.W.A. fame. Just a few of the sundry cool yet scorching titles from Black Market include “Little Red Rides the Hood,” various lines with performers Pinky and Shorty Mac, with the first title from D.J. Yella being the catchy “H.W.A.,” an acronym for “Ho’s Wit Attitude.”
“I specifically want black directors putting these titles together,” Melendy said passionately. “I mean, if I ran a company that produced gay movies, I’d have gay people making the product, because they know what their market is. They know whom their audience is and what their audience wants to watch. The same goes for black directors making black and interracial porn.”
If we could only use a singular word to describe redoubtable performer/director Brian Pumper, it would have to be “enthusiastic.” In fact, when he animatedly discusses the various titles he stars in and directs for Evil Angel (under his own company name, B Pumper Productions), Pumper sends off so many sparks that it’s happily contagious.
Originally from New York, the 27-year-old Pumper got his start as a performer back in 2001, and began to direct titles in 2005. He eventually joined forces with Evil Angel in 2008 and has since put out such popular lines as “The Ass Spread,” “Juicy Latin Coochie” and two of his own personal favorites, “Gapeman” (“the series is cool, hip-hop, urban, creative,” chimed Pumper, who performs his own unique, oftentimes hilarious, brand of rap in the series) and “Phatty’s Rhymes and Dimes.”
Reaching his current choice position at Evil Angel, however, was far from an easy road for Pumper, who struggled for years to realize his creative vision — and receive a decent paycheck for such.
After working for various companies, Pumper inevitably set his sights on premiere production house Evil Angel so that he could not only have more creative freedom over his titles but also own his own product.
“For a year I never really saw John [Stagliano], but I’d stop by his offices and drop off my movies,” Pumper said. “He’s a really busy guy. But he finally saw ‘Gapeman,’ and he made his decision to hire me as an Evil Angel director based on that movie alone.”
While having fully earned his position at Evil Angel, Pumper also is quite modest about it, sincerely wishing the best of luck to other up-and-coming directors.
“I feel truly lucky because there’s a lot of really talented guys out there who’ve been working and grinding away at it for years and busting their tails — and it still didn’t happen for them,” Pumper said. “That feeling has to be brutal.”