There are few, very few, like him. They may or may not be feted at lifetime achievement awards banquets; some win awards while others don't, but they share a very important set of core attributes. Most importantly, they get the work done on time and on budget. Then, too, they wear so many hats they're like walking haberdasheries — they can prep the set, handle the lights, shoot the footage, edit on a PC, take the stills, design the boxes — whatever it takes.
Zander represents a vanishing breed. With 21 years in the business, his videos have launched with the biggest of Hustler media blitzes and the smallest of start-up-company PR blurbs. One thing he does, whatever name he's using, is speak his mind. XBIZ spoke with the multiple-moniker Zander in mid-August.
XBIZ: Give us the childhood tale, and don't forget how you got to L.A., OK?
ZANDER: I was born in Boston then moved to Framingham, Mass. Early on I realized I wanted to hang out with strippers, drink Bud in bottles and live off their income. This was the late 1970s, that's what I was supposed to do. I had finished up with UMass at Amherst by then. "Zoomass" we called it. Anyway, I studied psychology and culinary arts. Psych fit well with my personality, as I've always been fascinated by the human mind.
XBIZ: You forgot the part about getting to California.
ZANDER: I was a professional bassist, playing a lot of gigs with lots of great musicians, when I hooked up with a Canadian band in the mid-1980s. You know, the hair band era. So I played bass and did the national tour thing. At one point along the way I'd dropped into California and, man, I liked it. After the tour I went home, packed up my shit and came right back. That was late 1986, early 1987.
XBIZ: In all this time, you must have used every camera out there. What are you using now?
ZANDER: My mainstay is the Sony HVR-Z1U. I've been using it since it came out, about six years now. I've gone through a number of them, and many others, since I put a lot of hours on them.
XBIZ: How do you approach a shoot? What's your working style?
ZANDER: For one thing, when I shoot, it's not like I need to hold the camera on people forever to get what I need. If things are set up right, if I walk into it and the chemistry is good, if the talent can block me out and get into their thing, it'll happen. But if I don't get the shot in a few minutes, then never mind, I put the camera down and walk away. That might not be the guy that the girl wants to screw that very minute, you know?
XBIZ: What's your take on the whole hi-def thing? How many pimples do we need to see in their microscopic glory?
ZANDER: Hey, it's not the pimples that scare me. It's all the other stuff like staphylococcus. That is a mean and nasty bacterium there, man. I see 19, 20-year-old girls going, "Oh, drat, there's another one of those hard little red pimples," and I say, "Go get yourself checked out, young lady."
XBIZ: You're a pretty straightforward guy, eh?
ZANDER: Honestly, I am absolutely one of the most forthright characters you'll meet, in this business or any other. This is my 21st year in the business, and I'm definitely not in it for the glory. I am in it to do a job then go home.
XBIZ: Before we head home with you, talk about the job a bit. What's your on-set style?
ZANDER: I use a very small crew, "minimalist," you might say. It depends on who I'm shooting, of course, but for the most part after I pick the girls I count on my production manager to do all the scheduling, put it all together and have everything ready for me to come in and shoot. I will do the still camera and cover shoot, even, or if I need to shoot more footage I will hire someone for stills. I've got a makeup artist that comes and goes and that's about it. Simple.
XBIZ: What about that Fast-Lane Porno Jet Set Lifestyle?
ZANDER: Yeah, right. After work I just want to go home and watch "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" and go to bed. Man, I am no Captain Porno with a studio in Van Nuys and a $180,000 car. I am a pretty normal guy, with a wife, family, an ex-wife and alimony. As far as that other stuff, it can be dangerous. I believe that everything you love should be done in moderation.
XBIZ: Do you read your reviews or keep up on who's saying what?
ZANDER: I just do what I do, and if you enjoy it, great. If you don't, there are 7,894 other flicks. The whole product thing is a mystery anyway. Look, I shoot the same girls and guys as everybody else does, so what makes mine better? At the end of the day I don't know or care, as long as the powers that be are happy, and we sell enough to break even or make a profit. I've made almost a thousand movies, including my share of crap. But I've done a few good things, too.
XBIZ: What's the future of porn delivery? Are DVDs on the way out? Is the Internet the whole show?
ZANDER: DVDs aren't dead, but for sure they're finite as far as market share. You have the DVD companies and then the Internet is everything else. If you're looking at that big revenue pie, a little over a quarter, maybe 28 percent, is the DVD companies and the balance is Internet and derivatives.
XBIZ: Do you agree that the companies producing less than quality content, at least a lot of them, will fall by the wayside now that there is competition for the highest quality?
ZANDER: Since the DVD market has become finite we are all trying to make quality product.
XBIZ: A big part of that seems to be parodies now. You've made some great ones, as has Jeff Mullen. Fad or long-term trend?
ZANDER: We'll all find out at the same time, whatever it is. Jeff and I were neck and neck at Hustler and things were really good because of the competition. He has his way, I have my way, and we both did well. As far as parodies go, if viewers think they're true to the old shows, they'll dig ‘em. The "Munsters" was really cool. I really wanted the sets and the wardrobe and the acting right, I really wanted to emulate the original. If I was watching TV in 1973 that would be the episode that I'd be watching, or at least dreaming about.
XBIZ: What is successful porn?
ZANDER: It needs to have good production values today, at least decent writing, good talent who are into what they're doing, all that. And sales, of course. Not so different than 21 years ago. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here, I'm just making sure it's greased properly, you know? Bottom line, someone is going to be masturbating to it, so if you lose sight of that, look out. It's a problem when you're 28 pages into a script and you're just getting to the first blowjob. You're just not on the right track.
XBIZ: What's up in the short-term for you?
ZANDER: I've been working on a black guys and MILF hybrid, "Mom's Baking Brownies," and "SWAT 6" is coming out. Here's something new, though, a flick called "Self-Service," a high-end solo production with A-listers pleasuring themselves. If I am going to shoot a solo, I want those legs quivering, I want them cumming for real. It has to be real to be convincing, and these are all for real. There's a lot coming out from the Zander cam, that's for sure, since I've shot 14 flicks in the last three months.
XBIZ: And long-term?
ZANDER: I have been writing down a lot of memorable stuff I've been through, since I'm going on 25 years of heaven and hell in this business. Now, it's not going to be a tell all, I'm not using names, but if the public's going to hear about a whole world that they don't even slightly understand, better they hear it from someone who really did it. And man, not only did I really do it, I'm still doing it.