Born For Porn
Vivid Co-chairman Steven Hirsch employs his sister Marci as their director of production. Tightfit Productions President Oren Cohen comes from three generations of adult businessmen. Lynn LeMay works with her daughter, Amanda. Sunny Lane's parents work closely with her to promote her career as a performer. Sisters Whitney and Britney Stevens have achieved success as performers. XCartel's Ed Kail has a daughter in the business, Wicked Pictures Sales Manager Bonnie Kail. Seymore Butts made celebrities out of himself and two of his family members on a reality show.
Most industry members were happy to report that having family in the business enriched their personal and professional lives.
There are drawbacks, to be sure — judgment from those outside the industry, weird expectations attached to having a relative in the industry, and old-fashioned sibling rivalry — but sharing professional lives with family came out so far in the black that a few industry pros said they would make concessions to keep a sibling (or uncle, or mother or father) around.
And for the last time: Evan Stone and Lee Stone aren't brothers.
Adam Glasser, aka Seymore Butts, told XBIZ that working with family not only ensures good communication — it mandates it.
"You can't not talk to them," he said, and talk to them he did, over four seasons of the popular Showtime reality show "Family Business," which followed Glasser as he maintained a career in adult with his mother, Lila Glasser, and cousin, "Cousin Stevie" Glasser.
Glasser got into the business back in 1991. His mother joined his team as a bookkeeper soon after. Stevie came on board around 1998 and has since built a following as an adult director, known for his all-female orgies.
On the whole, Glasser said working with family members in the adult industry is as difficult and rewarding as it would be in any industry. As for any negative reactions to his family's involvement in adult, Glasser said his mother once had an uncomfortable evening with a new neighbor who had come over to introduce herself, and that was it.
But the stigma attached to working in porn still applies whether you have family with you or not, he said. The mainstream media still looks askance at adult, even when you have a successful show on a major cable channel.
"Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, me — we've all had some mainstream success," Glasser said. "But the reality is still the same: We're used for our novelty value, not our talent. For example, I can get a meeting with any big-shot in Hollywood, but they only give me that meeting because they want to be able to say they met me."
Novelty or not, Glasser and his clan found a following on Showtime for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is their energy. Cousin Stevie could attest to that.
"We're a typical Jewish-type family," Stevie told XBIZ. "We spend all day yelling at each other, but don't let an outsider come between us."
Stevie and Lila Glasser both achieved an unlikely, third-act-in-life fame through the Showtime series, and despite the additional pressure and popularity that came from the show, they've remained a close-knit group through communication and sacrifice.
"We're a family," Stevie said. "And we're close. Adam and I have had our differences. He has his way of doing things, and I have mine, but there's only one captain of a ship, and that's Adam. At the end of the day, we always walk out happy."
As for sacrifice, Glasser said he's made many to keep his business viable and his family strong. On the business side, he's sacrificed the luxury of having a professional bookkeeper to keep his mother on the payroll — and his mind secure.
"After 16 years in this business, trust is an issue," he said. "I've got my mother doing the books. Is she a professional bookkeeper? No. Does she make mistakes? Yes. But it's nice to know that your family's behind you."
Glasser also has foregone other money-making opportunities, including performing in adult scenes, to forge a strong relationship with his 10-year-old son.
"I could be doing personal appearances every weekend," he said. "But I haven't in a long time. When I weigh the pros and cons in doing it, it's not worth leaving my son."
Glasser's success on Showtime not only helped his business, but it also inspired another adult star with family ties to get into the game: Sunny Lane.
Lane is known for her perpetually bouncy persona, her formidably sexy figure-skater legs, and her parents. For those who didn't catch the ABC "Primetime" special on Lane, the adult star works closely with her parents, who help manage her career, while also watching her finances and her back.
"My parents are cockblockers, to be blunt," Lane told XBIZ. "I get a lot of people coming at me from all sides, and my parents take care of that."
Although the ABC special raised Lane's profile, Cousin Stevie said it cast an unflattering light on her family.
"The 'Primetime' special made them look like white trash," Stevie said. He later argued that women who are open with their families about their work in adult are perennially more stable and successful.
"I'm blessed to have them involved with my business, because that's what it is: a business," she said. "I have the support and unconditional love of my family, and they keep me grounded and help me keep a realistic view of what's going on in the world. It's a team effort."
But beyond professional stability, Lane said that her family has no conversational taboos. When she was in second grade, Lane's parents explained the birds and the bees to her in clear, forthright language, giving condoms the nickname "rubber ducky" and stressing the importance of safety and honesty.
"My parents sat me down and explained everything to me," Lane said. "They told me that if I was going to do it that I should do it right the first time. I think we're repressed in this country. People aren't honest about sex. We were given these organs for a reason. I was taught that sex is a good thing when it's healthy and consensual. It's easier to be open-minded when you communicate."
Another industry family praised the efficacy of honesty: Tommie and Tawni Ryden.
Tawni was performing in a five-man blow-bang with Jack Napier when she told the well hung performer she knew someone who could handle all of his girth: her sister, Tommie. The Missouri residents later flew out to Los Angeles to shoot "Who's That Girl 3," where Tommie earned her proverbial porn star stripes.
"I was a champ," Tommie told XBIZ. "I took it all." Both sisters agreed that they're having a great time in the adult industry, but more importantly, Tawni said that growing up in a sexually frank household helped them.
"We always had a leg up on everyone else," Tawni said. "We were never stupid about sex. When it came time to experiment, we were all about condoms and safe sex. We knew all about it."
The Rydens also enjoy a great deal of friendly competition. They both joked about being a better porn star than the other, but when it came down to it, Tommie acknowledged that they've carved out different specialties in the industry — Tommie said she's into more traditional, vanilla sex, while her sister enjoys more intense, dominating performances.
Two more sisters in the industry came from a taboo-free family and have made names for themselves in two different areas of performance, though Ava and Mia Rose have had a more turbulent time in the industry.
"Porn's rough on you," Ava told XBIZ. "You can make yourself or break yourself very easily."
Since they entered the industry, Ava got signed as an Adam & Eve contract star, while Mia has become a popular performer on the gonzo scene. Both said that being sisters got them a lot of exposure, not all of it good.
"People are always saying, 'Ava versus Mia, who's better?'" Ava said, and Mia complained that fans and industry professionals are always comparing the two sisters to each other.
Neither sister agreed on the level of competition between them, but they did agree that having a family member nearby is a good thing. Ava said she wouldn't be in the industry without her sister, and Mia said she draws strength from having close friend nearby.
"We've played off each other," Mia said. "If I don't know what to do, I've gone to her for help."
The two also agreed that despite the attention heaped on them for simply being two sisters in the adult industry, exploiting that relationship is as uncomfortable as it is distasteful. Mia said she threw up after they did their one photo shoot together.
"It's weird," Mia said. "It's weird if I were someone else looking at it, and those girls who work together but pretend to be sisters? That's not OK. That's so not OK."
Adult star Lynn LeMay told XBIZ that the adult industry helped her grow closer to her daughter, Amanda, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. "We're an electronic family," she said.
LeMay hired her daughter to revamp her website, LeMayzing.com, and since that time, the two of them have grown accustomed to talking with each other via instant message, webcam and email.
"Sometimes she'll be working with a webcam on her desk, and I'll have my laptop on the Santa Monica Promenade," she said. "It's become a real family thing. I never dreamed I'd be able to do this. I came closer to my daughter on a website."
This closeness shines through the playful side of their personalities, which LeMay said was on display at this year's Adultcon in Los Angeles.
"Sometimes people would come up to me and say, 'Can I touch [your breasts]?'" she said. "And I'd say, 'Would you like to meet my daughter?' It's a whole new level of fun. I love teasing people. Sometimes people who write into my website think [my daughter] is me."
Amanda told XBIZ that LeMay's ample chest kept a steady stream of fans coming to their booth at Adultcon.
"We'd be sitting there talking about one of her movies, and she'd say, 'I'm going to go get some more people,'" Amanda said. "And then she'd lift up her shirt, run around, and we'd get another big swarm of people."
But despite their close relationship, LeMay conceded that they butt heads on occasion.
"She's made some mistakes I won't save her from," LeMay said. "I make her fix them herself."
After four days together at Adultcon, LeMay said she was ready to start chatting with her daughter on the computer again.
"I was ready to kill her," LeMay said, but like every other industry pro with family in the business, she's willing to work through difficulty, squabbles and nerve-wracking drama that comes with a relative who's also a colleague.
But despite the heartache, Adam Glasser said the occasional lack of peace was worth the peace of mind.
"There are a lot of people who go by the adage that there's no doing business with family, and there are a lot of reasons for that, no matter what industry you're in," he said. "But the other side of that coin is: Who can you trust more than your family?"