opinion

Latin Porn Salsa Style

Michael McClay
Ethnicity in American-produced porn is a staple and has been for many years. If any area of leisure-time business in general can boast a true “melting pot” environment, then pornography is the most democratically integrated entertainment business on the planet.

In the last decade, the Hispanic porn market has not only thrived, but actually has matured, with all the attendant issues — good and bad — that come with its development as it continues its assimilation into mainstream porn.

Like all porn, female talent drives the Latino sex market. The growth of Latinas in triple-X was facilitated by the emergence of such mainstream film stars as Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, who became bigscreen names and sizzling sex symbols during the ‘90s. Topping them all, however, was the unprecedented rise of Jennifer Lopez, who shattered all ethnic barriers, emerging as one of the biggest stars of the decade.

Adult entertainment has not only embraced Hispanic performers, but has given its entrepreneurs a climate to produce, direct and distribute Latino porn here and abroad. A healthy cross-fertilization of homegrown American Hispanic porn is making its way overseas and a growing number of adult product and talent from overseas distributes in the U.S.

Although often depicted in stereotypical roles, many Latinos working in the adult business both behind and in front of the lens are in on the joke. But this business by its very nature pokes fun at the status quo and thrives on shock value much like a Comedy Central Roast. To wit: some titles, lines and websites are admittedly — even proudly — profane in content, language as well as sexual and ethnic slurs.

Crossover of cultural, racial and sexual barriers and media coverage of the entire sex business will continue. Talk shows beyond Howard Stern will increase booking porn talent and likewise the Hispanic media is beginning to focus on adult content. Last year the very conventional “Cristina” show (“Hispanic Oprah”) interviewed several women from the sex business for the first time, including Bronx-born Puerto Rican Internet porn actress Dimond Jewelz.

There have been Latino and Latina performers going back to the dawn of porn. Kitten Natividad and Vanessa del Rio already hold iconic status since the early 1970s. In addition to Daisy Marie (profiled in accompanying story) other notable Latinas in the business today include Gina Lynn, Rebeca Linares, Luscious Lopez and Alexis Amore among others. In the male arena Don Fernando has been a journeyman performer for more than 30 years, while other male talent includes Marco Banderas (also profiled herein) Nacho Vidal, TT Boy, Mario Rossi and Tony Ribas.

There may have been some Latin-themed titles in adult prior to the 1990s, but they are lost to obscurity. John Stagliano is credited with opening up overseas production with his 1990 release for Evil Angel, “Buttman Goes to Rio.” He followed up with several other similar South American titles in the same genre and other companies have followed.

Although many Latin countries produce their own adult, a majority of Latin-themed video content is still produced in the U.S. Evil Angel, Hustler, Naughty America, Zero Tolerance, Devil’s Film, Evasive Angles, Combat Zone, Latin X, West Coast, Elegant Angel and many others too numerous to list are all influential players in this growing market.

The Latino video market is still emerging and morphing but it is definitely no longer a virgin market. It has matured and there even has been a shakeout or two over the past few years, with some promising companies now shuttered.

As a 15-year veteran in the business, Nacho Vidal is a key Latino director, producer and actor and he has been very concerned about the direction of video sales and distribution. Although he has been shooting for Evil Angel for many years, he has his own projects and recently he has been making overtures to Internet-based companies for his future efforts.

“When everything went to DVD, sales were simply retooled for an infrastructure based on videocassette marketing,” he said. “The Internet is completely different and the producers and directors are now running scared, especially with piracy and tube sites.”

When asked about the creative process of film production, Vidal is very specific.

“We’ve gone about as far into the extreme as we can and while hard sex has its own space, I think we need to get back to the basics of that personal connection though sexy teasing, more passion, romance and sensuality rather than just watching a cock in a mouth,” he said. “We crossed the hardcore line long ago and now we don’t know what to do.”

Vidal describes his style of filmmaking as the ultimate reality porn.

“My style is always real,” Vidal said. “I take my cue from the girl. We talk ahead of time and as it’s filmed I follow her lead and take it as hardcore, or on the other hand, sensual, as she feels it. Some girls want it hard and nasty while others like you to act like a lover. It turns me on to film her with what turns her on. It makes for the best scene and a better movie in the long run. The best example of that was a scene I did in ‘The Fashionistas.’ I’ve been in over 4,000 scenes and it was the best I ever did in my life. I had a real connection with the girl because the shooting went on for seven hours.”

In spite of the fact that Spanish-named San Fernando Valley has been the planet’s porn capital for more than 40 years, no company in the business produced a genuine Latino porn line until 2000 when Kick Ass Productions released “Chica Boom.”

“It was a great niche because no one was doing it, surprisingly,” Kick Ass owner Mark Kulkis said. “With no competition at the time it was very lucrative. Playboy TV bought every one and I believe we were largely responsible for starting this trend.”

Meanwhile over at Third Degree, president Joey Wilson launched the highly popular “Chicks & Salsa” line, pioneering the inclusion of a separate Spanish track in order to service the growing Mexican market.

“Our dubbing efforts paid off very well and we became one of the only companies distributed through Mexico City and today we’re entrenched there like few others,” Wilson said.

Rough and ready, TT Boy’s climb up the ladder of success with Evasive Angles was hard fought. A 20-year veteran as an adult actor, his titles and lines are in-your-face and dirty, with no apologies. Outspoken and direct he attributes his success to the old phrase: “giving the people what they want.”

The importance of business presence on the Internet has emerged as the primary focus of every business worldwide. With its massive global reach, filmed/videod and recorded entertainment products and their future will be driven by Internet distribution.

The key online adult website link PenisBot lists more than 2,000 Latin-themed adult websites and as that number escalates more Hispanics worldwide will increase purchasing adult content like their American counterparts.

OC Cash hosts numerous ethnic lines and the company’s president Jay Quinlan acknowledges that the Hispanic market is not only growing vertically, but laterally.

“We’ve watched the market go way beyond the ‘pretty girl gets fucked by a big dick’ phase and it’s growing more like an oak tree than a pine tree,” Quinland said. “We’re trying to develop more nichey and specialty sites including interracial, tranny, double-triple, girl-next-door — you name it.”

He feels that further diversity and creative thought will continue to feed the public’s taste for ethnic erotica.

Playboy’s Spice Digital Networks Vice President of Programming Mike Spierer sees continued growth in the Latin market, and the company provides high-end adult programming for two platforms: Spice Xcess On Demand (SXOD) and Spice International’s Xcess (formerly “Muy Caliente”).

Playboy’s reach into cable adult programming grew exponentially after acquiring the Spice Network last year and the company considers its commitment to the Spanish market a crucial part of its program mix. All of its SI programming is broadcast “in language” with no subtitles, and is available in English on SXOD.

Spice networks rely heavily on Internet partners for programming and market research.

“On the VOD platform, we have a strategic partnership with Reality Kings who is the largest online producer,” Spierer said. “So in their content that we’ve taken, like ‘8th Street Latinas,’ and ‘Brown & Round,’ we make use of all the targeted ethnic data they have and compare it with our own VOD and TV research to spot trends. Instead of thinking about the Internet as a parallel technology, we look at it as a circle that compliments what we do and vice versa. Because downstream this will all be in one system.”

On the independent side, Marc Bruder of CED Releasing is one of several companies representing adult and mainstream producers supplying Latin programming to big companies like Playboy TV and Hustler, but he also engineers deals directly with smaller domestic and international systems.

“There’s an enormous demand for Hispanic cultures developing their own erotic programming, but they want to see other cultures too,” Bruder said. “This interest in sexual interaction with other cultures and people is repeated all over the world, except Asia. Of course the popularity of American porn far outstrips every country’s output.

“Up until a few months ago we started to do a mix, which still has Latin programming, but now it’s straight, gonzo, interracial like most of them,” Bruder continued. “The Latin channels we book in Mexico with Sky Channel TV is called TV Hot and has a mix of interracial and Latin programming.”

The consensus of every major player in Latino adult is that the future of cable TV and the Internet rests with a fusion of those two massive platforms. They also agree that whatever the technology, it’s the content that drives the business and the technology. It’s the belief that whenever this becomes all one system, many of the problems associated with global video content will be solved, including piracy, tube site concerns, parental blocking, advertising, DVD production and dozens of other critical issues. The Hispanic world of porn is as important and significant not only to its own community, but to the rest of the manufacturers and consumers as well.

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