Born to Perform: Manuel Ferrara Discusses Career Under the Lights

It would be difficult to find a more humble adult film performer than Manuel Ferrara, which makes the veteran French stud all the more likable.

Ferrara likes to let his work speak for itself. And during the past 16 years, the former physical education student from Gagny, France, has built a body of work that few can rival. Now as one of the most accomplished male performers of all time, Ferrara has reached a stage in his career where he can carefully choose his projects both in front of and behind the camera.

Now I hand-pick the people I work with, the people I work for. And people hire me to fuck the way I fuck and not the way they think I should fuck. —Manuel Ferrara

That professional freedom only comes with a proven track record of 1200-plus movie credits as talent, another 120-something as a director a couple dozen industry awards from every major organization along the way. Ferrara’s namesake production company is exclusively distributed by Evil Angel, which releases one new title per month from his top series such as “Slutty & Sluttier,” “Raw,” “Evil Anal” and “Phat Bottom Girls.”

“Manuel has a big sexuality in terms of liking lots of different fetish things and he’s capable of fully enjoying those fetishes with girls,” said Evil Angel founder John Stagliano. “The bottom line is that Manuel works well when he has a connection with the girl, when they’re really fucking and not just performing sexually.”

Evil Angel General Manager Christian Mann said that as porn stars go, the 2009 XBIZ Male Performer of the Year is the total package.

“One, he’s a member of the good DNA club. He’s handsome, he’s tall, he’s athletic and well-endowed,” Mann explained. “That’s the nature part, then there’s the nurture part. He’s charming, he’s affable. The female performers love working with him not only because it’s an intense sex scene with some level of athleticism, but also with some level of charm and seduction. And not a coercion type of seduction. Often it’s the female performer trying to seduce him.”

Not bad for the self-proclaimed “regular dude” who plays basketball in his free time and says he never did porn for the money or the fame.

In this exclusive interview, the quiet superstar talks about his lifestyle, his career and his plans for the future.

When you reflect on your career so far, what comes to mind?

When I started in Europe 16 years ago—a long time ago—it was just for fun, man. I didn’t think I would make it my job. I was in college to become a P.E. teacher and I had three years left and I had the opportunity to do a few editorial shoots. So I was making a little bit of money and I was having sex with different girls a lot. And for me in my mind, I thought ok once I graduate, I’ll be done with that and I’ll move on.

And right when I graduated, I met Rocco Siffredi and he definitely made me change my mind and wanting to do it more like professionally. Then I met John Stagliano who brought me 11 years ago to LA. Now I’m where I’m at because of those guys. I’m having a fun time.

I definitely didn’t see me where I’m at right now back then. But it’s still as fun as it was when I started so, it’s good.

What motivates you each day to go and do your best scene?

I think you’re born with it. It’s like … basketball. Everyone can play basketball. Not everyone’s going to be Kobe. You know, you’re born to do that or not. Everyone can fuck at home, not everyone can do this.

But you see the girls in the industry being able to change every day. It’s really good for your libido to have a different girl every day and keep you excited about it.

Was there any point along the way where it just clicked that, ‘OK, I can do this and I’m pretty good at this’?

I never thought of that. When I started, I just wanted to have sex, man. I really never thought about a career. I never did that thinking career. It just took off by itself. And then you have other people telling you, ‘Hey, you’re good, you know.’ So you’re happy that they think so. But, I think it’s weird to think, ‘yeah, I’m really good at this, you know.’ I wouldn’t be here after 16 years if I was bad at it, but you know, just go with the flow.

What goes through your mind while driving to a set?

Nowadays, it’s very different than when I started. Nowadays, there’s zero pressure. I show up, I know I’m going to have sex with a girl, or two or three or four. The people I work for now are people I am friends with. I hand-pick the shoots I do. So it’s much easier than it used to be when I started and I had to go do a gangbang with a girl I’m not that attracted to. And I had to push the guys with my elbows to get in and do exactly what the director asked me to do. Now I hand-pick the people I work with, the people I work for. And people hire me to fuck the way I fuck and not the way they think I should fuck.

Because I’ve been around long enough and people know the way I do and they seem to like it. So there’s no pressure or mental preparation. I just show up, I’m like, ‘hey what’s up, what’s up.’ And, let’s have sex.

How often do you perform now?

I try not to perform as much as I used to. When I first came to America I used to work twice a day almost every day. I think one month I did 57 scenes. It was crazy. But it was also very easy. It was the high peak of the gonzo. It was like in and out in 45 minutes. It was very easy. Now, I try not to work as much. But it’s difficult, because I’m good friends with a few people and they all shoot. They all ask me to work with them. And I’m very weak and I will say yes. They know how to talk to me. They know how to get me there.

You’re a pleaser?

I’m a pleaser, definitely.

How do you balance the performing with your own projects for Manuel Ferrara Productions?

I just shoot what I like to shoot as a director. I figured out that if I like it, some other people will like it. Before I was in porn, I would jerk off to anything, that’s the truth. I would jerk off to features to gonzo, to everything. ... I had my preferences, but really whatever I would find I would jerk off to it. And it’s pretty much like that for everyone else. Really if I like what I shoot, I’m sure some other people will like it. Some won’t, but who cares. As long as I do it the way I like it.

Could you describe the differences between each of your top series?

I really wanted to make series that show people different things. Obviously, with “Evil Anal” the focus is on the anal sex. I like anal sex. But I like anal sex with women who like anal sex, not just with women that just do it because it’s an extra paycheck. And that’s what I want to show to the anal fans. “Slutty and Sluttier,” that just allows me to book girls that don’t necessarily do anal, but also do love sex. Same thing. I never want to book a girl or shoot a girl that doesn’t like what she does. If she shows up on set and clearly shows that she doesn’t want to be here, I’m sending her home. I really want to people that watch my movies to see that those girls are having fun and are here because they want to fuck.

And then my series “Raw,” it’s more like my personal, private collection. It’s my little thing. I still watch a lot of porn. I’m really tired of all the basic set-ups — you know the funny pizza guy and all the different ways to show that. ‘Oh my God, my husband’s about to show up.’ No. I really wanted to go more toward the more realistic and more intimate porn. And the sex-tape format was perfect for that. That’s why I started “Raw.” It can be more intimate, just a girl and a camera and me. No one else around. The girl appears the way they want to appear. Don’t need them to wear fishnets and big eyelashes. I want them to look as real as possible and show sex as real as possible too.

Intimacy is very important for me. That’s why I really like that series “Raw.” It became my favorite now to shoot, actually.

What is your vision for the “Wide Open” series?

I started the series “Wide Open” as a single movie. I worked a few times with Sheena Shaw and I think she’s incredible. She really loves what she does. She really loves anal. She really loves d.p. She’s like the perfect porn star because she loves doing it. So I shot that movie. I had fun doing it. She had fun. It’s very rare for me to do a movie that focuses on one girl. And this one was very fun. Then I met Bailey Blue, which will be the next “Wide Open” movie. She’s a lot like Sheena. She really wants to be here and has fun and enjoys anal sex. Enjoys sex, period. So I decided to make it a series. And then later on I’ll find another girl to keep going on and on and on.

When can people look for “Bailey Blue Wide Open”?

I’m preparing it right now. That’s the next movie I’m going to shoot.

How do you stay fit for the camera?

A lot of the people at home that watch my movies or my scenes know I’m not always that fit. But, the days I’m fit, I play basketball. I do Brazilian jiu jitsu. When I’m fit that also means I’m watching what I eat. Usually I get fit before I go on vacation to France so when I’m there I eat as much as I can. When I’m not fit, usually it’s because I just got back from France. But no secrets man … I’m a regular dude, man.

What do you do to take your mind off of porn?

I really switch off once I’m done shooting or directing or performing. I’m completely different. I spend time with my family or my girlfriend. Or I do my sports. I really turn it off. I can’t be one of the people that live only for porn. I don’t think it’s healthy to do it that way. When I first came to America I only knew people from porn. And it was like an OD of porn for me. I would have to go back to France so I could see my family and my friends. Now, it’s more diverse and the people I hang out with are generally not from porn.

What do you think of your signature sex toy?

Sex toy companies have approached me in the past, but it was never something I was interested in. It was never a good offer. Let’s be honest, those people just want to make their money but they’re not really good at giving money. But I have a very good relationship with New Sensations and Scott Taylor the owner of the company. When I first came to America I used to work a lot for him and I consider him one of my friends in the industry. And one day we talked about it and he had that toy company and he said, ‘Why don’t you do it with me?’ So we started doing that and I went to do the mold which was like interesting experience. People will tell you, ‘You have to stay an hour hard, keep it like this.’ And really, it’s five minutes, it’s not that long. It’s just a weird process where you put that weird thing on your dick. It’s just a weird process to do but it’s funny now to see that, like, wow, it does like, it is my dick. But it’s not a real one. Actually I used it in my movie “Sheena Shaw Wide Open.” I did a double-anal with myself in it.”

How often do you get recognized in public?

It’s becoming more and more now. Unfortunately, what kills our industry is what’s making us more popular, all those free sites. People have easier access to porn so they see you more and you’re more recognizable. I think that and also I think the way I fuck is different than what other people do. So it’s becoming more and more and it’s always like the weird, awkward thing where you’re at the gym showering and there’s that dude who’s like, ‘Hey, you’re the porn guy, right!’ And there’s 20 people around. Or you’re with your family Christmas shopping and someone’s like, ‘Hey!’ But yeah, I don’t do this for fame at all. But it partly comes with it.

What do you still want to accomplish in the industry?

I’ve done a lot of gonzo all my career. I like to do different things, maybe do a little feature here and there. Definitely not parodies. This is nothing that I want to do as a performer or as a director. Again it’s not about the paycheck. I don’t do everything just for money. But do a little feature that I would write and work on and do something again fun that I like. That’s something that can be fun. Let’s see.

How much longer do you plan to perform?

Well there is a lot of new guys now that are doing good. And you know, it’s their time. I’m close to the end I think, performing-wise, for sure. Not that I don’t feel like performing. It’s just you arrive at a point in life where you’re like, ‘Hey this was cool, this was fun, but I need to focus my energy on other things.’

What is your fan-base like in France?

It’s funny. When I go to France, I get recognized too, a lot. A lot more than here, but it’s also because we walk a lot more there. It’s the same thing. People are cool about it in general. I never hear something like, ‘That’s the guy that does porn.’ It’s always like, ‘Hey man, you’re the man!’ But it’s similar to here when people recognize you. It’s very similar.