All About Discipline

Acme Andersson
When most people talk about personal and professional standards, those standards are often adjusted accordingly when money comes into the equation. Isabella Sinclaire is not one of those people. The GwenMedia owner got where she is today by sticking to her principles and forsaking financial offers — some significant — that might hinder her career in the long run. That's why after 15 years in the bondage business she's still a rising star — and jumping ship like most of her contemporaries.

She's a do-it-yourselfer who has only appeared in a handful of movies that she didn't produce herself. She was one of the first webmistresses, even offering streaming video for members as early as 1997. It is this big-picture thinking, combined with her dedication to detail, that secured her ownership of GwenMedia — but it wasn't as simple as it might seem.

The company was formed in 2000 by John Fitzgerald and Bob Zak, created as an extension of Zak's fetish clothing business. Sinclaire, the beautiful and established fetish model, had been releasing her own movies for years. She was brought in, and the trio formed a partnership that created the 10-part video series "The Ivy Manor," based on Sinclaire's dungeon.

The series proved popular with both critics and fans, and it provided the income to make it possible for GwenMedia to expand into other lines. But the relationship soured when, as Sinclaire put it, they "lessened the quality" for volumes five and six. She sued the company, and just before their court date, Zak died. Since there was no money and no heirs interested in taking over the company, Sinclaire was awarded GwenMedia. She started rebuilding the company in 2006 and re-launched it in February 2007.

Part of the rebuilding included pulling volumes five and six of "The Ivy Manor" and reshooting them the way she had originally envisioned them. The company will soon be releasing two titles a month, and though Sinclaire still does plenty of the work herself, she has put together a staff of two. And of course, she is still starring in the company's productions.

"I am pretty much everything," Sinclaire said. "Sometimes I'm in front of the camera, sometimes I'm behind the camera. Some of the best-selling GwenMedia films are films I have starred in, so I know that to make the company big, I have to continue to act in the films. I am my best talent. I also do wardrobe, catering, rigging — pretty much everything."

GwenMedia product is often referred to as "high-end bondage." Sinclaire said the company caters "to a certain level of fantasy, which is more sci-fi, less realistic, more elaborate. We use tight scenarios with loose scripting."

Sinclaire said she tries to keep a certain level of professionalism and quality in everything she does, from events to DVDs to her websites. This attention to detail and dedication to her principles has helped build her reputation. After all, how many adult stars can say they turned down 20 grand to strip for Playboy? Years ago, when the magazine was looking to shoot a dominatrix, they approached Sinclaire — who shot them down.

"They wanted me to be nude and on my knees," she said. "I was trying to build this image as a pro dominatrix, someone who is kind of like a queen, and the idea of that is I would never be on my knees, I would never be bent over with my ass looking like it was about to be spanked. I am probably the most famous adult star who has never taken off her clothes."

Sinclaire is keenly aware that many see the DVD market as dying fast. That she deals in fetish buys her some extra time, as many customers are less willing to take on new technology, but changes are no less on the horizon.

"I think fetish sticks around better than most adult product just because it has a very niche market," she said. "Until last year, I was still selling VHS. I was trying not to sell them, I was trying to take them off my website, but people kept asking for them. I don't know if people who watch fetish, maybe they aren't as technologically savvy, I don't know. The DVDs still sell pretty well, but I'm prepared for that transition into just online sales. I've had an active website since the late '90s, so I'm hoping I'm prepared for it. Any time there's a more convenient technology, of course people are going to do it. As long as they're being watched and people are enjoying them and it brings pleasure to their lives, then I'm for that."