Crowded House: Falcon Studios Group is a Gay Porn Juggernaut
It’s fitting, really, that the stars aligned this way — a sort of poetic symmetry about how the lineage of gay porn’s biggest names have found themselves under one roof. In early July, Hot House president Steven Scarborough announced his retirement from the industry — leaving his legacy in the hands of Chris Ward, who soon re-branded his new triumvirate as Falcon Studios Group. Scarborough got his start at Falcon, founded by the legendary Chuck Holmes, before creating Hot House Entertainment in 1993 — where Chris Ward got his start before co-founding Raging Stallion Studios in 1999.
When AEBN bought Falcon in late 2010 and merged it with Raging Stallion to stand alongside NakedSword, the presence and influence of the entity was staggering. Now, it’s virtually unstoppable.
“I came to Hot House as a novice — I had never even been on a porn set, or any kind of film’s set for that matter,” recalls Ward. “Steven guided me through my first shoots and became my mentor. The main thing I learned from my time at Hot House was how to film with super high quality. It’s something I have never forgotten. Once I went my own way with Raging Stallion, I did things slightly differently, but still the Hot House foundation was a dominating influence.”
Ward says that when Scarborough approached him, his former mentor told him that he trusted him the most to carry on his legacy. That meant a lot to Ward considering the sometimes tumultuous relationship between the two.
“Steven and I go back to 1996. We worked well together for several years, and I directed some great movies at Hot House. We fell out after I started Raging Stallion. Indeed, our relationship was really bad for a long, long time. Only in the past five or six years have we grown together to become wonderful friends. I think the tough years were the result of a very competitive environment.
During the golden years of porn — by golden I mean when money was coming in faster that we could count it — we were all very competitive. That’s the period I grew Raging into a powerhouse. Steven, and others, very rightly viewed us as competitors, so relations were always strained. As times got more difficult, companies have come together much more and attitudes are less competitive. My reconciliation with Steven has yielded so many wonderful hours of phone calls over the years. As two studio heads, we shared information and ideas the not only kept our spirits up during difficult times, but also made us begin working together.”
That bond has made Ward committed to keep the Hot House brand thriving — including the Club Inferno line that he once starred in and directed.
“Hot House is, of course, the supreme butt play studio in the industry — mainly via the Club Inferno line of videos. That’s also where I got my start in the business. One of the things I have long admired about Hot House is the attention to high quality. The movies are beautiful. Steven has also always approached his erotica with an aggressive attitude that really pushes eroticism to the max,” Ward says. “I got my start at Hot House as an actor and director in 1997. Steven got his start as a director at Falcon back in the early 1980s. All three companies have always been known for high quality, and all three have been remarkably successful. Having all three brands come back full circle under the banner of the Falcon Studios Group is an important moment in the history of our industry.”
Ward notes they will be filming in Europe and Las Vegas, as they present a cheaper option than California. All three studios will remain a strong supporter of condoms in all of their sex scenes, “but even so the legal environment in California is challenging. Moving out of state is part of our long-term plan to keep our business viable.” Showing consistency with the Hot House brands will be key.
“We brought Christian Owen, the Hot House director, on board to continue shooting these films. Remember that I was trained there. Because of my own background, I am very familiar with the house style Steven has promoted over the many years. One minor change is that we are a big enough company, with all three major brands combined, to support a large team of exclusive actors. This will allow me to bring back to Hot House some of the top stars in the industry.”
Having gone through a major acquisition a few years ago has made the Hot House acquisition much easier, Ward notes.
“We knew what to expect, what challenges were out there. We fully integrated Hot House into our system in a matter of four or five weeks; the previous merger took four or five months,” he says. Nonetheless, he knows that some fans will fear that Hot House might lose its identity and morph into Raging Stallion 2.0. “The same concerns came up when we merged with Falcon. We learned a lot from the Falcon acquisition about retaining brand identity. We are good at this and I plan to keep Hot House as the unique brand that it has been for so many years. And don’t forget that of the 200 or so movies in the Hot House library, I filmed some 30 of them myself.”
Shortly after the Falcon merger, Ward quickly celebrated by continuing the studio’s most iconic series—directing ‘The Other Side of Aspen VI.’ When asked if a similar sort of effort might be in store for one of Hot House’s celebrated series (like the “Road” trilogy comprised of 1994’s “The Road to Hopeful,” 1996’s “The Road Home” and 2004’s “The Road to Temptation”), Ward offered “This is something we are seriously considering! It worked wonderfully with the ‘Aspen’ movie.”
For fans, it will undoubtedly be a road worth traveling, wherever it may lead. “Raging is about hairy, fit men between the ages of 25 and 35. Falcon is more clean shaven and slightly younger, and always shot on location. Hot House is much more studio based, with the exception of the “Trunks” series. Raging is filmed much darker, Falcon much brighter and Hot House with its own clean, crisp and colorful style.”
What else would anyone expect of Scarborough, who always emphasized style in front of and behind the camera?
“He is one of the great directors, and I am proud to be his main protégé. My own success stems from him, without a doubt. Steven understands eroticism — he knows what kind of movie really gets guys off. It’s a natural instinct that many directors do not have. If I had to make a list of the top five directors in our industry, Steven certainly would be included in that group,” Ward says. “His legacy is huge—not only as a filmmaker, but also as an industry leader. He led the first battles on Cal/Osha and he has always been a spokesman for all of us. His larger legacy, however, is that he has shaped porn as we know it. Steven Scarborough, whether at Falcon or at Hot House—or even through his influence on other directors such as me — has had a large part in defining gay erotica, and thereby gay culture.”