Boobs, Butts and B-Sides

Erik Jay
The Director’s Chair column started out more than three years ago as Gear & Gadgets, and this is its 50th appearance. It seemed like a good time to look back and revisit some of the people who have shared their successes, failures, hopes and dreams with our readers. The aggregate experience of the directors who have been featured in the column exceeds 500 years, tens of thousands of shoots and probably tens of millions of dollars in sales revenue.

This feature has matured into a sort of free speech zone for directors — a column dedicated to their views of this industry. The column does not carry reviews, discuss male appendages or obsess over sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll. It is about the business of porn, the nuts and bolts of production, the relationships among the principals of the industry and the future of adult entertainment.

Some of what follows made it into print the first time around, some didn’t, but it’s all bottom-line relevant stuff. From the trenches of this rowdy biz straight to you, here are some highlights from three great years.

Diana DeVoe graced us with an interview in July 2007. As a performer and director she’s “been there and done that” as a strong black woman in an industry historically run by strong white men.
“We are barely a generation away from free-range lynching of minorities in certain areas of the country. Racism exists in America [and] there is no pocket of our culture that that conflict doesn’t touch, including porn. In fact, the business of pornography gets away with much more outright bigotry and discrimination than mainstream entertainment. Minorities in porn have no sympathetic shoulders to cry on in the media, present company excluded. It is accepted knowledge that a black woman in this industry will earn between 20 and 50 percent less than her white counterpart for the same scene because she is black. You fight the good fight, do your best in every situation, or you don’t bother to get out of bed. That’s the choice.

This business [is] more overtly segregated than other, more public endeavors. Don Imus, the radio talk show host, got fired for calling a group of women ‘nappy-headed ho’s.’ We have called black women worse than that for years, and made millions. To me, the thing to look at is not ‘if’’ but ‘why.’ Why are black women viewed this way? Why are black men faring better as long as they behave like animalistic ghetto nightmares?”

Bo Kenney, interviewed in June 2007, comes from a long line of adult industry entrepreneurs. SexZ Pictures exploded onto the scene with high-end productions that have dominated the awards shows. It wasn’t easy.
“We had somebody in California start a rumor that we were going out of business [when] our big-budget feature ‘Upload’ was getting ready to start. It seems that anything that they can do to hurt us, those guys on the other coast that feel we’re a threat, they will do it. They’ve been playing very dirty pool. I kind of take it as a compliment that they feel they have to stoop so low to try to keep us out. We just continue to push ahead, that’s all we can do.

When you look at Wicked and Vivid and the so-called ‘insiders,’ none of them have paid like my family paid. We suffered and lost 37 stores. If you look through the Meese Commission report, if you look at how many times my stepfather, Dennis Pryba, is mentioned, and how many battles he won — well, he’s right up there. This was my mentor growing up, and he always said, ‘Don’t worry about what the other guy does, the person to worry about is yourself, and what you do. And the other thing you have to remember’ — and he told me this time after time — ‘is don’t be afraid of change.’ I still go by those principles today. I’m never scared of change, never scared of going out there to fight for what I believe in. I don’t worry about what the other guys do; I can only control what I do. All we’re trying to do at SexZ Pictures is make the best movies that we can make.”

We spoke to Chi Chi LaRue in October 2007, about advancing technology — and advancing years. Chi Chi, the ever-effervescent polysexual adolescent, is turning 50.
“A lot of people, including me, really don’t want to step all the way into this so-called digital age where everything is beamed into some computer or little device in your pocket. Who would want to watch a good, hot porno movie on a 2- or 3-inch iPod screen? In fact, a lot of the DVD-buying public [wants] the physical product. They like the pictures, they like the liner notes and they just like having something in their hands to make it all real, to make them a part of the whole thing.

I am going to be 48 this year, so I am going the gym, taking care of myself, eating right. Of course, it’s hard when you’re traveling around so much, but I’m trying. I must say, it’s weird how things change. I mean, I feel like I am still 25, but I am about to turn 48. You know you’re getting up in years when there you are, in full gorgeous, glamorous drag, on the red carpet or in front of the photographers, and someone whispers to you that the lights are reflecting off the hair coming out of your ears.”

In February 2007, Will Ryder talked about the right lighting for the right look, and the still-evolving digital technology. Before you second guess his opinions, just check his awards, critical raves and sales figures.
“We take lighting very seriously. I see all kinds of porn producers and directors who barely light their sets, and that is fine for them but that doesn’t work for us. We spend a lot of money on each budget getting the lighting up to our standards so that our product has a special look. We own a number of lights but always spend money on a grip truck so that we have everything necessary to light each location.

We are shooting various lines in hi-def now but I just am not a big fan of it yet. I just know what I like to see and so far I am not falling in love fast with HD. The music comparison is a good one. For me certain types of music sounds great with digital delivery, yet older albums still sound good all scratchy on vinyl.”

Van Styles gave us a lot to think about in May 2007, from going with “the flow” to dressing the set, dressing the girls, undressing the girls and keeping everyone happy.
“I try to come up with a game plan of my shots, positions, etc., but sometimes you have to go with the flow and that’s what I love about gonzo. You can say you will do one thing, but if it goes another way and it is working, fuck it, you just keep rolling with it and go with the flow. I try to keep a fun vibe on set. We all get along and have a great time but at the end of the day we all do what we need to do for the scene. But I think it is very important to have your talent smiling. Smiles go a long way on porn shoots.

If there’s a ‘Van Styles look,’ well, it’s definitely great outfits. I go out and do my own wardrobe shopping for my shoots a couple times a month and it definitely pays off. Second I would say it’s also to show the girl’s personality. As a fan of porn I love seeing a part of the girl that makes me feel like I can go outside and meet them on the street and talk to them. And I would say great sex.”

Ivan talked to us in February 2008. He has a degree in cinematography from the Brooks Institute, makes indie horror films, shoots inventive porn for Anabolic and agrees with Goethe that nothing good happens without passion — and good manners.
“Anyone who comes into this business needs to take some sort of maturity test, and not necessarily an ‘age’ thing, because there are 30-year-olds who are clueless and 18-year-olds that can mentally run circles around them. Also I strongly believe that we all should treat each other with respect. I have seen, on so many occasions, girls in this industry being mistreated by their agents and guys. I for one do not use those agents or performers. And if more people in the industry did the same we would weed out the crap.


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