In 1989, Christian Mann, owner/president of Video Team, recognized a deficit in racially-themed adult products.
"At that time, the only video that highlighted women of color was really offensive stuff or comedic parody-type stuff with all these over-the-top depictions of women as outrageous whores, streetwalkers and drug addicts," Mann explains. "What I saw were fans who wanted to see women of color in sex situations, not being humiliated or ridiculed."
Mann's attempt to fill the void resulted in Video Team's "In Loving Color," released in 1989, which was quickly followed with "My Baby Got Back" in 1990; the all-black, all-anal series is now in its 38th installment.
Often regarded as one of the earliest and most well-established purveyors of ethnocentric adult content, Video Team set a precedent for racially themed features showcasing female talent. In doing so, the company's marketing approach helped define the genre. "If you look at the titles, we go out of our way, in many instances, to make it clear that the racial composition of the performers was a factor in the casting and coupling and marketing of the product — that's 'racial,'" Mann says. "It becomes 'racist' when [you] pander to mean-spirited stereotypes, which I refuse to do."
As well as breaking down stereotypes, Mann also recalls having to overcome other obstacles in marketing his product.
"There was a lot of feeling among people who carried adult movies for different cable and hotel systems and even broadcast that if you showed white women in interracial scenes with black men, you were going to enrage people, and the Deep South would rise up and lynching would be the next logic," he says.
Now, 15 years later, Mann credits changing societal trends with fueling the interest in multi-racial porn as well as providing an indicator of what products will move in the ethnic market.
Even the popularity of hip-hop culture has paralleled and crossed over into the world of adult entertainment. Video Team's "American Sex" series, starring self-proclaimed "King of Crunk" Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz, is one of the better known hip-hop/porn fusion videos, alongside LFP's Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle" series from Hustler/LFP.
Bad-boy rappers use the association with adult entertainment to boost "street cred" and enhance their "mac daddy" image for the urban demographic; the same fan base likely to purchase ethnic product, Mann says, in cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas or Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, mainstream America may still be catching up to the interracial concept. The popularity of the VH1 "Strange Love" reality series — pairing Nordic Amazon Brigitte Nielsen with old-school rapper Flava Flav — brought interracial coupling into the tabloid spotlight. More recently, an alleged liaison between sex symbol Pamela Anderson and controversial hip-hop star Kanye West, who has admitted to being "addicted to pornography," made gossip column headlines.
"The ideal was once Pam Anderson — big-boobed blond girls — but what you find in the last decade is an explosion of interest in women like Lucy Liu, Jennifer Lopez. More exotic, colorful women," Mann says.
But given the popularity of the genre, the reasons why the multi-racial market has not produced more high-profile female talent comes into question. Performers like Midori, Daisy, Dominique Simone, Angel Eyes, Chocolate and Mocha, Vanessa Blue or Ayana Angel all have appeared in Video Team titles but rarely cross over into mainstream adult videos. Mann feels many ethnic actresses have cultivated a broad fan base but are mostly recognizable only to fans of the genre.
Valid Criticism or Bad Rap?
Many of the larger, more mainstream porn companies have been criticized for using women of color sparingly or as novelty items in their movies. Although some might say this indicates a racial bias within the industry, companies like Vivid and Wicked have utilized multiracial talent, male and female, and have released titles and series aimed at the ethnic audience. Vivid also typically maintains at least one black Vivid Girl on its contract roster.
If the casting of talent at higher-end companies does not seem as ethnically diverse, it's more likely due to the fact that their marketing is not specifically targeted toward that audience, as it is with a company catering to the ethnic markets.
Another widely-held theory is that top-flight contract girls avoid interracial scenes for fear that it will affect their career potential or anger their fan base. The choice to do interracial may be a matter of personal preference for most actresses, but some have shown enthusiastic interest.
In October, Digital Playground and Vivid released — almost simultaneously — two titles featuring contract girl and former Penthouse Pet Janine Lindemuller in her first interracial scenes.
Digital Playground's "Mrs. Behavin'" released first, included a three-way scene with Lindemuller, Mandingo and Dexter Drizzle.
In Vivid's "Janine's Been Black-Maled," Lindemuller, Mr. Marcus and Sean Michaels perform in a feature-length three-way. Shot a full year before the Digital Playground footage, the release was delayed until October.
"It's something that I wanted to do for many, many years, and it was something that always appealed to me," Lindemuller says. "I know prior to doing the scene, many told me, you know, 'You don't want to do that. It's going to ruin your career' and 'You've really got to think about it,'" she says. "But it breaks down boundaries. The whole thing where you can't, or you shouldn't, or don't do that — when that's applied to me, it makes me want to do it more. So, I think it's necessary, and if people have a hang-up with it, well, you know, that's their hang-up."