Mr. Marcus will be the first to say he's a deep and humble cat, a steady stream of quiet consciousness brewing beneath his muscle-bound exterior.
Consider the following passage of verse in the "About Me" section of his MySpace page:
"I'm into clubs and books, into shit that's deeper than it looks. A clear mind when I find the time, until then I just grind. Life is good, but work to improve, sexually intense when I'm in the mood. I think of sex, more than the next, talk dirty just to catch your breath. You feel that, then you feel me, must have faith and truly believe. I take time to pray and enjoy life in between the moments. Thanks for coming here and sharing your comments. And telling me things I wanted and ultimately needed to know. Y'all make this easy I appreciate the flow. Fans, becoming friends, making my family grow. Respecting sex knowing its importance. Becoming Daddy, Instructions, Inspiration and Guidance, ya diig, feel angels heaven sent, truly meant to succeed. Believe me."
An outspoken proponent of performers' rights, the Pomona, Calif.-born-and-bred Mr. Marcus showed that his heart was in the right place when he organized talent-only meetings after a handful of actors tested HIV-positive in the summer of 2004.
While a performers organization or union never materialized from those meetings, Mr. Marcus believes he empowered performers to take their careers into their own hands, ask questions of the people in power and show the might that the collective talent pool possessed.
The following Q&A is intended to show the soul of the man laid bare. From his sexual exploits — which haven't waned — to his thoughts on the rise of porn for the black market, Mr. Marcus never minces his words and always speaks with conviction. The man has principles, something this business should never take lightly.
XBIZ: Take me back to when you seriously started to consider entering the adult entertainment industry.
Mr. Marcus: It was around 1993 and I was 23 years old when I began reading L.A. XPress. They used to solicit models in the back pages, but I remember this specific ad was looking for black males. It turns out it was an ad for [amateur pornographer] Randy Detroit, so I met him and came down to a shoot, but the quality of the women wasn't quite what I was expecting (laughs). Up to this point, I hadn't seen any hardcore sex in magazines so I always wondered if there was penetration.
After that initial experience, I found out about the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas when I saw it in pages of L.A. XPress, too. This particular year it was at the Sahara and after meeting all the companies, I knew this was for me. I did my research on the companies I was going to approach before going so I was ahead of the game.
XBIZ: Do you remember your first scene?
Mr. Marcus: Heather Hunter was the first female to really take a liking to me and get me work. I remember she took me to a Roy Alexander set out in Palm Springs. We drove up there early and the next guys to arrive were Sean Michaels, Marc Wallice and Peter North. Somehow we all wound up in a car together smoking a joint and that's when it hit me. I'm really doing this. This is for real. My first scene was a threesome with Sean and Heather in "Buns of Steel."
XBIZ: Which directors do you like working with?
Mr. Marcus: I've always liked John Leslie. Jules Jordan is great because of the respect he gives you as a performer. I like shooting for Lex Steele because it's like shooting for a homie; we know what we want and we shoot it. Also Craig Dayze at Darkside Entertainment, David Aaron Clark and Michael Raven.
XBIZ: You are very outspoken about being a black male performer in an industry dominated by white men. How has the role of black performers changed in your time in the business?
Mr. Marcus: I think it's important for black performers to look at all the white people running companies. For a long time it was white owners, producers, directors and performers. I think to be a black performer, the work has to speak for itself. We have to create our own mark, our own businesses. I think it has to be up to the black performers to create product for our people and our market, because no one is going to do it for us.
I think the early success and launching pad for black product was West Coast Productions. I'm sure there were others, but that's a company that was shooting for the black market. They put out a great product that was produced by people of color. It was authentic. I think up until that time, there wasn't much genuine product out there shot by black people.
The time is now for more black companies to get in the game, and there are examples of it on the East Coast; regional companies in Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans and New York all have black-owned companies that distribute their own product.
That being said, I think white guys like Greg Alves at Black Ice and Nicky Starks at Darkside see the black market as a business opportunity, which in turn employs more black talent and directors — never a bad thing. They both brought in black people that can produce black product. Black Ice spun off from Zero Tolerance, which was already successful, to capitalize on a growing market — but more importantly, it shows that there is a market for black product.
XBIZ: How did the market for ethnic-themed porn explode? Was it simply just under-served with lackluster productions?
Mr. Marcus: This market came out of a funny situation. It was born out of the industry backpedaling. When John Ashcroft came into power in 2000, there was a lot of murmur about what kind of product we should produce. I remember the Cambria List, which basically told us what we shouldn't film; all these bizarre "rules." I thought that with the free speech protections adult movie are afforded, the idea of this list took away what we had the freedom to do.
The part that really struck a nerve with me was down on the list: it said "No black men with white women." Here I am, a good five to six years in the business, and I was upset because that was a lot of my work! Would I be unemployed? I thought it was a joke at first, but you know what? I saved a copy of the list as a reminder of what we faced.
The list sent a chill up people's spines, but it never really had any lasting effect. In fact, companies like West Coast said, "Fuck this, we're only going to produce black and interracial product!" It was smart, because after this list came out, there was a surge in interest in black porn. Kind of like the parent warning her child not to do something; once you tell someone they can't have something, they want it more.
XBIZ: Do you think the adult industry mirrors society in any way?
Mr. Marcus: This is a great question, because, yes, I think [porn] holds the mirror up to society and says, "Hey, this is what you guys are like." We're actually all collectively kinkier and perverted than we want to believe, or what is polite to share. Porn captures many forms of sexual expression. I hope it leads people to be more sexually expressive and adventurous. It should be a positive thing.
As it pertains to the black market, many white guys' fantasies are rooted in racial tension, racial stereotypes and racial desires, and so I think the market plays to that too.
XBIZ: How do you perceive the black market? Why does most black porn skew to the urban, ghetto segment in its marketing?
Mr. Marcus: I understand some of the marketing tactics, but as a whole I hate that shit. We can all think of funny sounding titles for black porn, but why does it have to do be that way? It just brings out negative stereotypes. As for me, I never cared about the title of the movie I was in. I understood they had to come up with something to sell it, but I thought some of the titles were unnecessary and insulting.
Let's just make product for the whole black community; not every one of us is from the ghetto.
XBIZ: You've directed a bunch of movies for various companies over the years; what about starting your own company?
Mr. Marcus: I want to direct black features with black casts, dialogue and elaborate sets. I'm primed for that shit. I spoke to a bunch of companies about my ideas, and just this past year I formed my own company called Daddy Inc. I knew I could do this and take the next step in my career. All my years in the business have prepared me for this moment.
XBIZ: What do you love and hate about the business?
Mr. Marcus: I love the women, the fans and I love the opportunity. Money is nice; I made a lot but I spent a lot. I dislike the racial prejudice companies use in their marketing and I hate the negativity that sometimes comes through with backtalk and gossip. Ignorance is never pretty.
XBIZ: Tell us about your plans to organize talent in 2004 when a handful of performers tested HIV-positive.
Mr. Marcus: Basically this happened when [black male performer] Darren James was reported as HIV positive all over the news. The state of California has laws in place to prevent "outing" people's confidential medical records, but he was put out there to dry. He receives a devastating blow and then all of a sudden his face is everywhere on the news.
More than anything, I understood his pain. This story pulled me in in a weird way because I was in one of the clips they showed on the news, so I was getting called constantly from people thinking I was involved somehow.
XBIZ: I just didn't see anyone protecting him from the onslaught of the media. He deserved his privacy.
Mr. Marcus: I wanted to do right by Darren. Here he was, a black man being vilified on the nightly news, so I wanted them to look at me too and use me as an example of a black guy who was trying to make some good of all this.
Had there been attempts for performers to organize or unionize before?
I don't think unionize is the right word. The big companies back in the 1960s and 1970s didn't want performers to organize as a group. When the debate came up, there was a large group of old-school people who don't want to see this industry change.
It's a moral obligation for this industry to protect its performers.
Our organization didn't stick despite our dominant front because performers are ultimately a transient group; here today, gone tomorrow. How could we represent this group if our constituency was constantly changing?
There has to be some amazing plan in place to make it work; I didn't have it. I'm not some great motivational speaker, I just wanted to put people in the same room and hoped ideas would materialize from that.
A lot of people don't know this, but I sought the advice of the president of AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). He sympathized with me but thought we weren't well organized. He told me he had to take care of the reality stars first and I told him that porn stars are the real reality stars.
I think we tapped into something important though, looking back. As the business grows, some sort of performers' organization is inevitable. It's not a dead issue.
However, the meetings did turn into a form of therapy for some performers and we did learn more about AIDS and the transmission of STDs through Sharon Mitchell.
XBIZ: What does this industry need?
Mr. Marcus: This industry needs benefits. It needs the social services that are afforded to many other industries. We need medical care, mental healthcare, pensions, residuals like Hollywood actors' and drug counseling. The adult entertainment industry makes so much money, I know this is possible to achieve.
Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy or dire circumstances to get people to change.
XBIZ: After all these years of performing regularly, how do you maintain balance in your life?
Mr. Marcus: My wife and kids are my balance. We've been together for many years and she always forbid me to work on the weekends. During the week I'm just like any other guy going to work. I schedule my scenes early in the day so I can have time with my kids. They keep me grounded. Off the set, porn does not creep into my life.
XBIZ: Who do you admire and look up to?
Mr. Marcus: I look up to strong black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Sidney Poitier and Tupac Shakur for inspiration. I can appreciate T.T. Boy and the company he created, I admire Peter North and his big fan base, I admire the class of Sean Michaels, I can appreciate Ron Jeremy's longevity and I look up to James Alexander and West Coast Productions for creating a high standard of black porn.
I also give credit to my fans for accepting me into their sex lives.
My next step is to try to impart all the wisdom I've learned to the new cats while I grow and mature as a businessman. I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in. I want to look back and feel confident that deep down, I did things the right way and left a legacy.