Styles has wasted neither time nor talent in his 26 years. A top skateboarding pro and videographer since his teens, he has directed more than 40 adult videos since entering the business in 2002, and is under contract to Hustler Video as its "go-to guy for gonzo."
Styles learned about both "porn and the business ethics in the adult industry" from Christian Mann, who recruited the skateboarding filmmaker into his Video Team, a talented group of directors. Like the "studio system" of Hollywood's Golden Age, being under contract to two top adult production companies gave Styles the chance to learn "on the job."
Clearly, he learned a lot — or just enough, as another old saying goes, to realize how much he doesn't know. Of course, he has a solution for that: more work. Several of Styles' Hustler Video series, like the upcoming "Barely Legal: Corrupted 9," are about to hit double digits, and his titles are mapped out for the rest of 2007. He took time out from his hectic schedule to speak with XBIZ.
XBIZ: How did you come to be a director of adult films?
VAN STYLES: I was a professional, sponsored skateboarder and one summer I ran a skateboard camp for kids in Northridge, where Christian Mann enrolled his three sons. They knew me from skateboard videos and magazines so I think Christian took an interest in me. Over time, we developed a friendship and it just so happened he had a project in mind, "Skate Trixxx," that was skater-oriented porn. I produced that for him and it did well, getting great reviews and becoming a cult movie with skateboarders.
I was only 22 at the time, but Christian gradually gave me more and more opportunities. I went on to produce "Skate Trixxx 2" and then I got the chance to direct my first movie, "Mamacitas." The projects kept coming and I wound up being one of Video Team's "go-to gonzo guys" before I knew it. When my agreement with Christian expired, I decided it was time to see what else was out there. I signed up with Hustler and have been very happy with them. Of course, Christian and I remain great friends and I will always be thankful to him for opening up the doors to the business for me.
XBIZ: Some folks in this industry really do live the porn lifestyle — work and play, it's pretty much the same routine. Is "the business" a separate arena from your "personal life," or is it part and parcel of how you live?
STYLES: When I am not making movies I am skateboarding, snowboarding, watching movies, partying or whatever. I have always had a strong sex drive so when I'm shooting that's an outlet for that part of my personality. But even when I am just skating around the city I'm always checking out girls. It's funny, and I just laugh to myself because I know how fortunate I am to be working at one of the best jobs in the world.
XBIZ: What is your camera of choice? What makes it the one for you?
STYLES: I use both the Sony V1U and the FX7. I love these cameras due to their size and crisp, clear images. The V1U has the true 24p option, which is a big plus along with the XLR microphone input. Since my days filming skateboard videos, I have always loved Sony cameras. I just stick with what I think works best.
XBIZ: You're known for doing your own camera work, but do you map out all your shots, go with the flow, or what?
STYLES: I try to come up with a game plan of shots, positions and so on. But sometimes you just have to experiment, and that's what I love about gonzo. You can plan on one thing but if the scene goes another way, and it's working, then fuck it — you just keep rolling with it and, like you say, go with the flow.
XBIZ: Is there a "Van Styles look" and, if so, what is it? What is your approach to lighting, set design, etc.?
STYLES: Well, one aspect is definitely the great outfits. I do wardrobe shopping a couple times a month and it really pays off. It gets the girls in a great mood, because they see that I care and they appreciate the effort I put out to get them cool outfits. Another part of the "Styles style" would have to be great sex. I am not really into super rough stuff. I definitely prefer to see everyone just getting off and having a great time. The way to present that is to have crisp, clear lighting. And the best place to do it is in a contemporary house with unique furniture. I think it makes the scene look that much better when you shoot in a quality location, a real-world setting that people can relate to.
XBIZ: What's the vibe on the set, and how important is it?
STYLES: With the talent, 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. Attitude is very important, and smiles go a long way on porn shoots.
XBIZ: What's your take on hi-def? What are the pros and cons of the technology?
STYLES: I love it. I look forward to any technology that will bring us the best picture quality for porn. Every month, the technology gets more and more affordable. I think it's great that HD-DVD is working with porn to get things done, and I hope Blu-ray comes around soon, too. The cons would have to be storage, as it definitely takes a lot of space. Costs for authoring and replication are high, but costs will come down.
XBIZ: Is there a generation gap in this business? Is alt porn a real, meaningful term in the discussion?
STYLES: When I first got into this business the generation gap was really bad, but it has gotten a lot better over the past five years or so. There are more young directors out there — Ricky D, Mr. Pete, Rico Strong, Joanna Angel — and younger audiences relate to the set-ups, the music, the wardrobe, the dialog and our style of shooting. So I do think alt porn is a legitimate term for a style that not everyone and their mother is doing. It's the alternative to all that and caters to a certain mindset, and you have to respect that. I think what might annoy some people about alt porn is all the publicity it's been getting. I think they should stop worrying and just have fun making their own kind of product.
XBIZ: Looking at the changing business models and delivery methods, what's the future of porn?
STYLES: On the personal side, I see it the same way as when I was 22 — a fun, amazing job. But on the business side, it really is a hustle. More companies with more product means more girls working more than they should, more male talent doing the same — none of which makes the job fun. It becomes a routine, sometimes even a chore. That's the downside. But on the upside, I think porn will become more and more accepted. I hope it doesn't become too mainstream, though, because that was one of the things I loved about porn and skateboarding — they're both things that people do just because they want to. They are alternatives to conforming.
As far as delivery, everything will be coming out of our cable boxes in hi-def but until then I prefer a DVD. There's just something about watching porn on a big TV monitor instead of a little computer screen. Plus, with TV, I have a remote so I can get to the good parts from the comfort of my couch. Bottom line? Porn will continue to blaze its own trail and not conform to the ways of mainstream.
XBIZ: Do you have enough time for everything these days? How about skateboarding?
STYLES: I am still very much involved with skateboarding and I will always make time for it. I still skateboard with a lot of friends I've known since I was 15 or so.
XBIZ: How is your relationship with Hustler Video today? And what about your future? What new things are in store for you, and what can viewers of your films look forward to?
STYLES: My relationship with Hustler is great and still going strong. I am doing some great series for them like "Barely Legal: Corrupted," "Ass Appeal," "Gaped Crusaders" and lots more. And there are some great new things in store with my website, VanStyles.com, with some exciting plans to become stronger in that niche. Fans of my films can look forward to upcoming titles in the various series I do — "Young Latin Ass," "Take it Black" and the others. So my future is looking great.