McKai started working with VCA as he prepared Art School Sluts, and credited the nuts and bolts adult business mentoring he received from veterans like Veronica Hart, Antonio Passolini, and the late Jim Holliday in making an alt-porn movie a financially viable one. "Jim Malibu told me, 'It's good, but we need an anal scene or it won't sell,'" McKai recalled. "Luckily somebody walked in that Saturday who wanted it up the ass."
When VCA began to implode, McKai managed to stay with the company. He was young, his budgets were low, and Art School Sluts had done very well. He also had another job editing mainstream TV; porn companies only tend to fire people if the employees have no other options.
VCA was assumed by LFP, and it began to look like the company that produced New Wave Hookers and Cafe Flesh would disappear. Veronica Hart told me a few months ago that "VCA is just initials that stand for Larry Flynt."
But the company is slowly reinventing itself, possibly because of its much smaller size, as an edgy, risk-taking studio, with inspiring numbers from McKai as well as success stories from parent Hustler's Joe Gallant and Jack the Zipper.
McKai and VCA publicist Sean Carney brought Burning Angel to the attention of VCA Creative Director Kat Slater four months ago.
I met Joanna Angel on the set of McKai's Kill Girl Kill 3. This film would be the first Angel shot away from the confines of BurningAngel.com, the hardcore Internet company she and Rutgers roommate Mitch Fontaine began in 2002. In the Huntington Park warehouse where KGK3 was shot, Fontaine was huddled with McKai's producer, Malachi Ecks, and Ecks was explaining the finer points of pulling night permits for filming in New York City.
Both McKai and VCA publicist Sean Carney said that VCA was very interested in bringing Burning Angel's attitude under its roof, and two days ago it was officially announced that Angel would direct her own crimefighting porn, Joanna's Angels, for VCA using the Burning Angel crew.
Joanna's Angels involves Joanna leading the Burning Angel team in evasive maneuvers from toxic sperm bullets. And if you're not careful, you may learn something before it's done.
JA: VCA is giving me more money than Burning
Angel has ever had to shoot this movie.
GP: How much are they giving you?
JA: I can't tell you the budget! It's a secret.
GP: Are you getting any in the back - ?
GP: - end?
JA: Ha ha.
GP: Ha ha ha.
JA: Ha ha.
GP: Ha ha ha.
GP: So no distribution, merchandising, Burning Angel action figures?
JA: No, but we get a great budget and the Burning Angel girls get recognized as real porn girls, which they deserve.
But do they?
Angel said that Burning Angel would continue making its own films and content, with occasional forays for both herself and her company into the realms of other porn studios. She'll be shooting for Tristan Taormino next month.
GP: So what about your boyfriend, James
JA: Well, I call him my boyfriend. We have something cute. Most importantly, I have a budget to fly my boyfriend out and pay him to have sex with me. That is every girl's dream come true!
GP: To have a company subsidize sex for you? That's horrifying.
JA: He doesn't really want to come here though. I think he's scared of the airplane.
GP: I read on the site of trade publication XBiz that you have a new filing cabinet for 2257 compliance.
JA: We're going to have sex on it.
Maybe I'm supposed to be impervious to being charmed by someone, but I think Kat Slater is as cool as Fuck.
I talked with Slater about the plan for the new VCA. Kat, as Christina Peters, had spent many years getting her mainstream movie Smokers made. It didn't get great reviews. In fact, it didn't even immediately land her a job in porn. Perhaps it is to Slater's advantage and LFP's credit that she was told to go make a porn film before asking LFP for a job. She has been with the company, and now VCA, for a total of four years.
(I was reading in one of the industry publications the other day that one company's Internet division head had scored the job on the strength of his knowledge of jewelry, and another company's president had made it there after successfully running several wholesale stores into the ground. Myself, I was a salmon farmer like Ian Anderson when I was given this blog.)
"I remember first meeting the VCA staff," Slater said. "I thought, 'It's a graveyard here.' But there's so much potential. I took a real liking to VCA."
McKai was in place before Slater arrrived at VCA, but she has helped bring Angel over and is in discussions with Silver Lake-based altporn guy Benny Profane to make a similar residency with VCA.
GP: Joanna says she calls you a lot.
KS: Probably not as much as she says. We liked her from the beginning. My feeling was, 'I like what you're doing, now how can we make it better?'
GP: So what did you do?
KS: I gave her pointers on how to make the sex filthier.
GP: When you started with VCA, you had already made a movie and went to LFP looking for a job. The people you are corraling have made porn movies or at least shot porn before. How is their experience different from yours?
KS: I was always trying to push the boundaries at Hustler. They seem to be doing the same. I feel like I'm one of them. I'm not a corporate girl. But in this position I can say, '[What Joanna and Burning Angel] are doing is fresh and hasn't been done before and it's a great business decision as we rebuild VCA.'"
Slater said that VCA will release titles from three or four female directors at the end of the summer, including one by herself, Kat Slater's Ass. There will also be a Mason title and Joanna's Angels.
"September's going to be a great month for female directors at VCA," she said. In the works are McKai's updating of New Wave Hookers and her own new feature, which will employ aspects of Bollywood.
"There will be a whole lot of dance, songs, and fucking," she said. "In the new VCA."