opinion

Go Go Gojira, Dakota

Gram Ponante
As you know, I like to view porn through the filter of Godzilla (or, in the case of Internet porn, MechaGodzilla).

Director Daniel Dakota, in addition to filming Carmen Luvana in a James Bond porn spoof called Jane Blond: DD7 as well as Mikayla's first boy/girl scene in Land of the Amazons (in which she and others cavort with the likes of Amazon bodybuilder Yvette Bova in the Santa Susanna Hills) also collects Godzilla memorabilia, and reflected on how the Bane of Tokyo relates to adult films.

"Like Godzilla," he said, "if you stripped away all the dialogue from a porn movie you'd still have the reason everybody came to see the movie in the first place."

So why bother with dialogue in porn films?

"That's why you watch Godzilla repeatedly."

Dakota, it should be noted, dislikes the word Porn ("it sounds like such a severe word to me. 'Adult' sounds so much classier.'")

Dakota grew up in the Bay Area and developed an appreciation for Kiss, model-making, and stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen. A stop-motion Kiss movie would be the greatest film ever made.

"I had the chance to meet Ray Harryhausen and I asked him if digital effects would be the end of what he did (Harryhausen created the arresting effects of Clash of the Titans and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, among others, posing and photographing models one frame at a time). I expected him to be a little angry. But I have such a high regard for the things he did, and he said, 'like everything I did with stop-motion, digital effects are a tool. They're not the answer to everything.'"

Dakota enrolled in Damon Charles' Institute of Studio makeup in the late eighties. "They taught us makeup, but they made sure we had exposure to everything else." It was at the North Hollywood school (now closed) that Dakota began making contacts in the film industry.

"And I found out that on a film set it isn't really the makeup guy's prerogative to offer his opinion on how shots are framed."

Dakota began diversifying his resume by digitally touching up set photographs. "In 1993, I had a Quadra 950 with 64 megabytes of RAM," he said. "I was the coolest kid. Still, I would wait 20 minutes for a picture to rotate."

Fast forward several years and Dakota had a successful design business within the adult industry (which he keeps separate from his directing gigs). Easing into directing, he worked on gonzos like School of Hard Knockers for Avalon and Stocking Secrets for Smash before helming his first feature, last year's The Contractor for Adam & Eve.

"With Adam & Eve you have to walk a fine line between something that sounds dirty and something that sounds more positive. I'm shooting Make Love to My Ass: An Anal Love Story for them."

GP: That will be the crossover hit of the year.

"I want all of my clients to be 100 percent satisfied," he said. "I don't know anyone else who says, 'I guaranteee you'll be happy.'"

Dakota doesn't have the aggressive bearing of a lot of porn directors. Walking onto a porn set, one might have a tough time picking him out as the director, and instead wonder "Why is Tom Scholz from Boston here?"

"We have a lot of fun on my sets," he said. "We have so much fun that sometimes the male talent asks us to stop goofing around because their Viagra is wearing off."

Dakota, like Ron Royster, seems partial to the porn stars who don't exude evil and menace. "Great bodies are a given," he said, "but if she's sweet, too, she's a hundred times more attractive to me."

Porn girls are one thing, but porn girl hangers-on are another.

"I can't tell you how many pierced, hat-on-backwards, goateed boyfriends there are out there," he said. "Do they all come from the same factory? Some are very respectful and stay out of the way, but others sit just beyond the camera and suck off the craft services or walk around the set talking on their cell phones. To these guys I say, 'You can wait outside.'"

GP: Do you ever have problems saying that?

"No, because I never say it like that."

Dakota (like Tom Scholz) is naturally inclined to do all the jobs on his movies himself, but has instead put together a small, trusted team.

"Having a crew of familiar faces is really a great thing," he said. "I don't know what I'd do without them. It has taken me a while, though, to just delegate and let people do their job."

Like that of Haruo Nakajima, the actor who wore the Godzilla suit in 12 movies ("the head is attached to the top of the suit," Dakota pointed out, "and the actor would look through a narrow slit in the neck"), the life of a porn director is sometimes too focused. That is why Dakota hasn't dropped the threads of the various jobs he's had.

He pointed to a large prop bug perched on a box in his office.

"I found that at a store the other day," he said. "But something wasn't right. I want to use it for Land of the Amazons. So I stayed up all night painting it."

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