Gonzo in Their Own Words

Acme Andersson
Recently, XBIZ Video magazine asked several of the Kings of Gonzo to discuss this phenomenon in their own words.

Here's what they had to say:

"I remember when Ed [Powers] took me up to his room at Bally's during the CES show and showed me "Bus Stop Tales" and asked me what I thought. I had never seen anything like it. Nobody did quite that, [going] into the street. I said, 'This is crazy; it's what I would like to have done last night.' You can put yourself right in that, and Ed was so unassuming and perfect for it. He's the bandit. And he knew."
— Roy Karch

"We had these amateur tapes that were doing phenomenally well. We were getting $25 retail for a 30-minute amateur tape, and that's the truest of all gonzo. So we saw it coming, but not under any wording. We just knew it was what people wanted, a more direct feel; they want to feel like it's them in the action. That was Rodney Moore, John Stagliano, Ed Powers."
— Bob East

"I'm proud to have been in the first 'Buttman,' but that was a whole different thing from what I was trying to do. 'Buttman' does a great job of setting up and arranging various sexy kinds of things, but for me what gonzo meant was just going out and winging it with nothing set up, nothing prearranged. It came into my head while I was on the set. Duck [Dumont], who was producing the movie; I said to him, 'This is crazy, this boring, why don't we just take the girl and put her in a car and take her outside, and Duck said, 'That's a great idea, let's do it.' He's the one who suggested the limo, to class it up. After the first one, I remained good friends with Duck, but we parted and I continued the 'Prowls' on my own and without the limos. I didn't even like the idea of 'classing it up.' When I did them for Vivid, I remember Paul Thomas saying, 'Hey Jamie, wouldn't you like to use better hotels or make things look prettier?' And I said, 'No, I like getting down and dirty.'"
— Jamie Gillis

"I didn't think ['On the Prowl'] was going to sell that well. There was no box. There literally was no box. I worked for David Sturman and Reuben, his father, who pretty much started everything, [and] had very strict guidelines as to what goes on the box. Never cut off the head, never just put a body on, never do this, never do that; so it was a complete departure from anything anybody has ever done. We kind of looked at it like the Beatles' 'White Album.'"
— Howard Levine

"Porno has turned into a fucking assembly line like we're making sardines. For what gonzo changed, it's like anything — the Sex Pistols changed the world, but they also spawned a million bands like Blink 182. Are they threatening and exciting? Everything has that birth where it's exciting, but once it's been diluted and everyone in the world is doing it, you're not reinventing the wheel."
— Jim Powers

"I get thrown off by the whole gonzo thing, because gonzo as far as I know means that you recognize the camera, but my stuff has always been more 'reality.' We go on trips, everyone is themselves and I don't even bring a makeup artist. I want them as real as possible."
— Shane

"Patrick Collins always said, 'You've got to have somebody shooting you while you're shooting, that would be more interesting,' and I thought that was not true to the form, so to speak. The idea was to shoot something where the girls could look right into the camera and be sexy, and where I could be a character in the movie with the camera in my hand and do a story about me as a perverted cameraman. Geraldo Rivera following the police around with a camera in 1987-88. There were commercials that came out where the camera was shaking. Filmmaking was using the best shot you could; somebody was doing a commercial where the camera had visual movement. Those two things influenced me somewhat, too, because they were on the air at the time. Geraldo was the first person to do like reality-type news that I know of. Then I did 'Buttman' and then MTV did 'Real World.' Those are the three events which occurred in that timeframe that led to reality TV, not just reality porn, but reality TV in general."
— John Stagliano

"I remember in the early days taking a girl, this hot little girl named Jasmine, down to the beach and putting her up on a lifeguard tower that happened to be closed at the time and having her give me a blowjob up there. There were people on the beach at the time. It was really a great scene. I actually caught two guys with binoculars staring at me through my camera when I zoomed in all the way up the beach. Unfortunately, I [accidentally] turned the camera off in the middle of the scene."
— Adam Glasser

"One thing that gonzo did was open the door for anyone to get in the business. You don't need the same skill set or money to shoot that product as features. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't talented producers and directors shooting gonzo. You can use AdultDVDEmpire's site as an example of the ease of entry to the business gonzo has made — they now list 581 studios products that they carry. I'm happy to say in the midst of this 'gonzo revolution' you refer to, that Wicked is ranked No. 2 of 581."
— Steve Orenstein

"I sort of portray — the word I hear most often is 'goofy' — this goofy character who comes up with these wacky means of getting girls to have sex, which of course always work. Most of them probably wouldn't work in reality, but we're not dealing with reality. I do try to shoot them in a way that seems realistic. I know from my own experience that if you present something that seems realistic there are people who will believe it's real. Even if deep down inside they thought about it and know that the girls have to sign model releases and stuff, but they want to believe it's real because it's more of a turn-on that way."
— Rodney Moore