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The Godfathers of Gonzo

The Godfathers of Gonzo

September 25, 2007
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" Why pay male talent when I could do this myself? "

Solid, steady (if unspectacular) gonzo directors in today's booming business of all-sex videos are a dime a dozen. With thousands of gonzo movies being pumped out of Porn Valley each year, finding someone who fancies himself a gonzo director is easier than spotting Rosie O'Donnell at an all-you-can-eat pussy buffet.

But before the current bumper crop of gonzo directors picked up cameras and called themselves auteurs, the pioneers of the genre paved the way. For many of these groundbreaking filmmakers, shooting gonzo-style was just a way to insert themselves into the scene. "Why pay male talent when I could do this myself?" they asked. For an industry that puts itself in the driver's seat of innovation, XBIZ found it important to acknowledge the gonzo directors who broke new ground and created a new style of filmmaking.

The goal of this list is not to name the best-selling or most talented gonzo directors, nor is it a list of the most prolific shooters. It's a compendium of the genre's forefathers who explored a new method of shooting adult videos with vigor and passion, and in their own way, changed the landscape of adult entertainment forever.

Seymore Butts
A chance meeting with Buttman himself, John Stagliano, at a gym he owned was all the impetus Butts needed to begin his debaucherous quest. Partnered early on with real-life paramour Shane (of Shane's World fame), the pair popularized reality-style gonzo porn. A vociferous proponent of the pleasures of anal sex, Butts has produced hundreds of videos for his production company, which is currently distributed by Pure Play Media. The Bronx, N.Y.- native also is a staunch advocate of free speech.

Jamie Gillis
One of the leading performers of porn's Golden Age, Gillis has eased into semi-retirement but remains one of the industry's most fearless and enduring personalities. Gillis' influence on gonzo pornography is widespread – consider that he starred in the first "Buttman" movie in 1989 and co-produced the "Dirty Debutantes" series along with Ed Powers. The New York-born Gillis is perhaps best known for his pioneering reality series, "On the Prowl," in which he takes a porn star around in a limousine looking for regular Joes off the street to fuck her.

Jules Jordan
A pioneer of recent vintage, Jules Jordan is the most acclaimed and awarded director among his peers. A former adult store clerk in Pennsylvania, Jordan is a master at capturing fabulously filthy sex that's known for its intensity. A big fan of natural lighting, the girls in Jordan's movies seem to look better in front of his discerning camera lens. Many of Jordan's fans claim that the most popular starlets in the business have done their best work for him – and we certainly don't disagree. Jordan cut his teeth at Pleasure Productions' imprint Rosebud, then moved to Evil Angel and now helms his own company, Jules Jordan Video.

John Leslie
The dapper elder statesman of porn, Leslie, one of the cadre of Evil Angel directors, got his start performing in 1973. He made his directorial debut in 1987 with "Nightshift Nurses" and "The Chameleon," "Curse of the Catwoman," "Dog Walker" and "Drop Sex" in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which are widely regarded as definitive masterpieces. Leslie's current series includes the "Voyeur," "Fresh Meat" and "Crack Her Jack."

Rodney Moore
If anyone could challenge Peter North for the title King of Cream, it would be Moore, whose cumshots look as if someone unscrewed the cap to an industrial size tube of Elmer's glue. Not blessed with leading-man looks, Moore continues to produce numerous adult movies and has even expanded into the specialty market with series like "Horny Hairy Girls" and "Scale Bustin' Babes." Moore was one of the first gonzo directors to popularize facials – starting a trend for which modern- day gonzo directors have Moore to thank.

Ed Powers
The nebbishy and modestly hung Powers doesn't look like the prolific performer and pro-am gonzo director that he is. No one, perhaps, is as responsible for popping more newbies' on-camera cherries as Powers. One of the two brains behind "Dirty Debutantes," Powers created one of porn's all-time enduring and iconic series. While Powers' camera-work leaves something to be desired, there is no doubt he has inspired generations of amateur filmmakers with his "Everyman" persona.

Rocco Siffredi
One of John Stagliano's disciples, the Italian Stallion is widely regarded as one of the most intense and passionate male performers of all time. Buttman's sidekick on many of his international adventures, Siffredi has branched out and created his own memorable series that surely makes Stagliano proud. Though not immune to criticism because for his roughhouse tactics, Siffredi has been in high demand by female performers throughout his illustrious career. Siffredi announced his retirement from performing in 2003, but can't seem to stay away from the camera, having since starred in Vivid's "Emperor" and "Lexie and Marie Love Rocco." As a director, his long-running "Animal Trainer" and "Rocco's True Anal Stories" lines are known for their sexual ferocity.

Joey Silvera
Another member of Evil Angel's bevy of gonzo pioneers, Silvera entered the adult industry in the early '70s. Initially regarded as one of porn's best actors, Silvera made the transition to director in the early '90s, first for Devil's Film and later for Evil Angel. Silvera is credited with bringing transsexual, or shemale, videos with high production values to the mainstream. Hit notable lines include "Service Animals," "Hellcats," the shemale series "Rogue Adventures" and female-to-male strap-on series "Strap Attack."

John Stagliano
While others might have come before him, no gonzo director is as revered – or as influential – as Buttman himself. As Hunter S. Thompson is credited with popularizing gonzo journalism, the same should be said for John Stagliano and gonzo pornography. No one has influenced mainstream gonzo shooting (and spawned more imitators) than Stagliano. In 1989, Stagliano founded Evil Angel and continued his pioneering ways by creating a new distribution model in which his directors own their movies, with Evil Angel acting as distributor. His studio is known throughout the world for producing some of the hardest and most masterfully directed gonzo fare.

Randy West
The perpetually tanned and perfectly coiffed West has been a staple of gonzo porn since its inception in the late '80s. West is often credited with popularizing a short interview with the female performer before the sex scene. Along with Powers, West has worked with many famous porn stars early in their careers. He was the lucky man to perform with Jenna Jameson in her first boy-girl scene. His signature lines include "Up and Cummers," "Real Female Masturbation" and "Please Cum Inside Me." After a long hiatus, West recently announced his intentions to begin directing again.


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