LOS ANGELES — Classic porn never dies — especially on pay TV. And “X-Rated — The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time,” a new documentary set to premiere on Showtime on Feb. 6 at 11 p.m. EDT, satisfies the evergreen interest in both old and new productions boasting 32 clips of the most important erotic adult films ever produced.
Created and produced by Plausible Films, the feature film is hosted by adult star Chanel Preston and packed with fresh insight from some of the biggest names in the industry — both veterans and current figures — including Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, James Deen, Jessica Drake, John Stagliano, Marilyn Chambers, Nina Hartley, Christy Canyon, Jessica Drake, Georgina Spelvin and more.
Historic gems from stars like Hartley, who recounted how radical it was to see porn in big screen theaters with the likes of Jackie Kennedy on line to see the original “Deep Throat,” pepper the film and give “golden age” depth to the documentary.
XBIZ asked director Bryn Pryor — who also helms the James Deen-produced steampunk western film “Cowboys & Engines” — to share the thinking behind the film and set the stage for the premiere that sheds further light on how porn has affected the social landscape and continues to titillate with its mass appeal.
XBIZ: There have been a number of classic porn documentaries including “After Porn Ends,” “The Dark Side of Porn,” “Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered,” Bettie Page Reveals All,” “Inside Deep Throat” and others. What was the impetus behind “X-Rated”?
PRYOR: "X-Rated" was a documentary Paul Fishbein had wanted to produce for years. The core idea was to dispel (as much as possible) the stereotype that all porn movies are cheesy and awful. So Paul wanted to create a documentary profiling the best movies created for the adult genre. He came to me to direct it, and we began putting it together from there.
XBIZ: How is it different?
PRYOR: Previous documentaries have either been politically motivated films examining the ethics of the business, of films that focus on one narrow subject; a particular performer or film. "X-Rated" is much more broad in its approach. Using our discussion of the keystone porn films, we managed to create a thumbnail history of the entire industry.
XBIZ: How did Showtime react to the pitch idea?
PRYOR: Showtime was extremely enthusiastic. It was really just a question of format and timing.
XBIZ: Is there a new interest in classic porn?
PRYOR: I think there's a certain interest in the classic movies on the part of younger viewers. Mostly, I think it's fascination with the way they told stories in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, the lack of restrictions then compared to porn now, and the time machine element of it; the people were much more "real" in classic adult films.
XBIZ: Was the timing to grab some of the “Fifty Shades” interest?
PRYOR: Absolutely not. We've given literally no thought to "Fifty Shades of Grey" in any context.
XBIZ: How long was it in the making?
PRYOR: Really, it was a yearlong process. We began planning and structuring the film in February of 2014. We spent several months doing interviews, several more months editing and finishing, and now here we are, a year later.
XBIZ: Who are the creators? Who funded the project?
PRYOR: As I said, Paul Fishbein is the heart and soul of this documentary. The idea originated with him; I just helped create it. As for funding, Showtime really liked the idea and funded the film.
XBIZ: What are the major titles discussed?
PRYOR: Really, most of the titles we focus on are adult milestones. To pick a handful, "Devil in Miss Jones," "The Opening of Misty Beethoven," "Taboo," "Cafe Flesh," "Flashpoint," "Fashionistas," "Pirates," "Star Wars XXX"...
XBIZ: Name some of the stars interviewed. Any interesting revelations?
PRYOR: To name a few, Jenna Jameson, Savanah Samson, James Deen, Georgina Spelvin, Constance Money, Jessica Drake, Jesse Jane, Evan Stone, Kylie Ireland... We shot more than 60 interviews for the film. As for revelations, there are a lot of fantastic moments. Jesse Jane almost drowning while shooting "Pirates"... Jenna Jameson telling about her sex scene surrounded by real flames in "Flashpoint"... Johnny Keyes fearing he'd killed Marilyn Chambers with his dick during the filming of "Behind the Green Door"... and, of course, every word that comes out of Georgina Spelvin's mouth while discussing "The Devil in Miss Jones" is pure gold.
XBIZ: What is your professional background?
PRYOR: Apart from my obvious adult background, I've been a filmmaker for most of my adult life. I started at the age of nine with a stop-motion epic that pitted Micronauts against the local alien villains in Kenner’s Mos Eisley Cantina play set. Apache Junction, Arizona was a dangerous place to be a toy in 1979.
In the intervening decades, I've directed just about everything you can point a camera at, including four extremely bad films for Roger Corman’s Concorde Studios, creating utterly forgettable moments with stars like Eric Roberts and Martin Sheen. My dramatic feature "Poker," won Best Drama at the 2000 IFP East film festival, and Best Original Screenplay at the 2001 Angel City Film Festival.
Apart from "X-Rated," my most recent projects include the horror indie "iKllr" (as the director of photography), set for theatrical release in 2015, and the steampunk western "Cowboys & Engines," starring Richard Hatch, Walter Koenig and Malcolm McDowell.
XBIZ: What will viewers learn about the classic adult films?
PRYOR: Mostly, I think they'll learn that the people who created these films took what they were doing very seriously. They never allowed themselves to think, "It's only porn." They were making real films that happened to have sex in them.
XBIZ: Are there follow-up documentaries on porn in the works?
PRYOR: Hmmmm... could be. Guess we'll have to wait and see.