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Director's Chair: Guy Capo’s Penthouse View

Bob Johnson

He describes his first directorial role as “looking like puke on film.”

Guy Capo wanted to regurgitate all of the suffering of daily mundane living he experienced in Ohio for more than 25 years, so his first adult film — Evolution Erotica’s “AMERICAN GUNK: The Shit That Killed The King” from former shock porn studio Extreme Associates — was a cathartic experience that cleared the path for him to become the success he is today.

Capo got his chance and came to Los Angeles to begin his adult career as an editor and director at Extreme where his original 20-minute promo became the springboard to directing “American Gunk.”

As a go-to director for Penthouse Video and the day-to-day managing of his own softcore studio that’s a collaboration with producer, Dave Gallegos, Capo has not only shed the middle American malaise that shackled his creativity for so many years, but he’s chalked up a number of notable titles that have made him one of the most sought-after auteurs in the business.

His credits include the Penthouse’s “Sexual Revolution,” “Rexx” and “Average Dick” to name just a few.

Penthouse Studios president Kelly Holland, whom Capo says is his one and only adult film mentor, lauds Capo’s unique style and technical abilities.

She says of her protégé, “I’ve worked with Guy for over four years and he is one of the most creative, original directors I know. He has a unique, edgy style that’s highly visual and I’ve always favored strong art direction, lighting and imagery that grabs you at a gut level. Early on we had a video line called ‘Penthouse Underground.’ It was the ‘indie’ line and Guy was our premier director. I think he still typifies that experimental, edgy style of filmmaking. Always fresh, always bleeding edge.”

But the glory comes with sacrifice. Capo, a child of the ‘70’s, born in the “oppressively run-down” Bronx, paid his dues on a number of levels. He tells of how after being shipped off to Dayton, Ohio, he and his family struggled just to keep food on the table.

“I was unemployed and my wife collected welfare to help feed our daughter. I made a 20-minute promo reel showcasing my abilities using my unemployment checks. That reel included a sex scene between two people that took me a year to find (it was Ohio remember, where the Rust Belt meets the Bible Belt.),” Capo recalls.

But he had an itch to create, and shooting porn was something that he felt would be his ticket out of the doldrums and the start of a new life.

With a virtual porn experiment in his hands and more importantly the belief in himself that he could make it in the adult business, Capo decided to send his film promo to a handful of San Fernando Valley companies in hopes of landing a director’s job.

Extreme Associates answered the call in 2003. The company, known for pushing the envelope even in the jaded porn industry, saw that Capo had the gritty edge and the balls to create products that fit in line with the studio’s over-the-top approach.

Capo got his chance and came to Los Angeles to begin his adult career as an editor and director at Extreme where his original 20-minute promo became the springboard to directing “American Gunk.” “I look at it now and can see how badly I needed to regurgitate everything I couldn’t stomach about living in Ohio,” Capo says.

But like all creative types, every experience contributes to the eventual results that allow a person to shine in his chosen field. Despite his disdain for Ohio, Capo enrolled in an introductory filmmaking class at Wright State University in Ohio in his freshman year, an experience that laid the groundwork for an unlikely professional porn career.

“That class made quite an impression on me, for certain. Believe it or not, things I learned to appreciate about filmmaking because of that class still echo with me as I make moment-to-moment decisions every time I shoot. That’s the power of a good teacher. You can always hear their voices, almost forever,” the director says.

His goals weren’t then set on mainstream moviemaking however, despite a few gigs making music videos for DIM MAK records in Ohio and directing a commercial for a major automotive company that aired locally in the Midwest during the 2003 Super Bowl. But Capo does admit he’s made some pitch reels for Hollywood projects to some “unmentionable combination of Hollywood vets and recent comers” in hopes of making the crossover transition.

But for now his Penthouse slate is keeping him more than busy, a vocation that began more than five years ago when he started as the manager of the editing department of local Chatsworth post-production house, SPF Transfer. That company was handling the work for the newly launched Penthouse video division in Los Angeles.

“After cutting a few movies for them, I was given the opportunity to direct and I pretty much haven’t stopped since,” Capo says, once again giving credit to Holland whom he says has been his inspiration and guide for the last four years — “no bullshit.”

“Kelly Holland is grace under pressure personified and so creatively abundant that she is like a wellspring when you need a little boost to keep you going. We have worked very closely ever since the first Penthouse release under her as executive producer, and she is the only person I want to be more like in this business.”

With inspiration from filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, Oliver Stone, John Waters and the likes of Elvis and cult film “Cafe Flesh,” Capo is setting his sights on projects that will continue to bolster the Penthouse line and his own softcore endeavors.

An avid watcher of new technology, Capo says he’s a big fan of 3D and wants more of it in his work. Thanks to Penthouse, he’s logged in thousands of hours directing and editing using some of the most advanced broadcasting technology available today.

Capo says, “3D is about immersion and what medium begs for immersion more than porn? OK, video games, but that’s why porn and video games are good for these new technologies. At Penthouse, 3D is all we do now. I’d venture to say I have more experience behind a 3D camera than the R&D departments of the 3D manufacturers themselves.”

With those credentials and the prestigious Penthouse brand behind him, Capo’s likely to start producing some of the most interesting movies to come out of L.A.’s Porn Valley and rank as one of porn’s directorial all stars. He reveals that he’s currently working on a spoof about the “suffering state of the porn industry.”

But Capo’s personal suffering has paid off, and is a testament to his talent and his bulldog tenacity that started from humble and trying circumstances, eventually leading him to the top floor — a place naturally made for “penthouses.”

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