Award-winning director and industry veteran Chi Chi LaRue is marveling, during a phone interview, over the social media buzz for her latest skinflick — “Earthbound: Heaven to Hell 2” for Falcon Studios — when she suddenly detours into gossip about the much-lauded original picture, which had been released more than a decade prior. The starry cast — Dean Monroe, Brad Patton, Matthew Rush, Erik Rhodes, Tristan Adonis, and Roman Heart, among others — and lavish art direction drew the attention of Hollywood A-listers anxious for an exclusive peek behind-the-scenes of the big-budget blue movie detailing the erotic escapades of The Devil (Monroe) as he attempts to corrupt The Angel (Patton).
However, LaRue declares the sequel to be equally enticing. Among the headline-making news was the surprise return of Monroe. The fan-favorite stud had retired to civilian life in London, where he works as a counselor and health and wellness coach. “He was so excited by the idea that we were doing (the sequel) that he couldn’t say no,” LaRue says. “And Andrew Stark came back to do this! And Blake Riley came back!”
We are marketing four movies a month, at the least, and it was important to make a statement with 'Earthbound'.
Riley had been in retirement for nearly a decade but remained in touch with LaRue, for whom he filmed his most popular flicks.
“I always wanted him to come back, but I never bugged him about it. One day, I got a text message that said he was thinking about doing a couple of movies again. My hand couldn’t have gotten to the phone faster! It all kind of synced up. He’s going to school to become a chiropractor. He really has his life together. He had time off from school and I worked him in. I put him with JJ Knight, who loved him. And it was right back in the saddle like no time had passed.”
Although news of the surprise return of Monroe, Riley and Stark had worked their longtime fans into a lather, it was the announcement of a non-sex cameo player that briefly set the biz on its ear: The Angel himself, original series star Brad Patton. It’s a brief appearance that serves as a link to the prior film. LaRue says the idea for the sequel had been “swirling around in my head for 12 years” and the challenge of recapturing lightning in a bottle excited her.
“Comebacks are exciting to me,” she says. “Brad is happily married in Miami and I reached out to him. We’ve remained friends. He still looks spectacular. I wrote the part specifically as a cameo appearance and it worked perfectly.”
Taylor Reign, a CockyBoys exclusive performer and trained makeup artist, was hired to create the tattoos and special effects makeup for the cast, and the original “Heaven to Hell” costumer, a designer for Cher, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and other pop music divas, agreed to return to costume the sequel. LaRue notes the steel gauntlet adorned with knives that Monroe sports on the “Earthbound” DVD insert was originally designed for Madonna and repurposed for this film. “Earthbound” was also one of the final adult films to shoot at the historic Armory in San Francisco before its transition to an event space; LaRue had unsuccessfully pushed to shoot the original there.
“Things come full circle,” she said. “It was the perfect location in every way, shape and form. All the little pieces fell into place.” The directrix also praised the lighting and sound technicians provided by Falcon for the film’s specific look. “‘Earthbound’ is more gritty and raw and urban,” LaRue notes, in contrast to the original’s glamorous design “with lots of fabric and feathers. The new one is more dirty.”
“It was an event movie,” says Tim Valenti, president of Falcon Studios Group, of the original sexpic. “It will always be one of those standout Falcon features. It was a major hit with a list of who’s who among gay porn superstars of the day. It had the highest production value of any gay porn shot in the 2000s. We wanted ‘Earthbound’ to live up to that level of being one of the Falcon event movies of an entire decade.”
Valenti notes the film has “reignited a Falcon renaissance of sorts” during the legacy brand’s 45th anniversary year. “Falcon is all about delivering beautiful men, striking locations and the finest production. We’ve set the stage for a resurgence of these key brand attributes and we plan on delivering that with every production.”The marketing of “Earthbound” required special attention, including a dedicated microsite specifically for the film.
“We are marketing four movies a month, at the least, and it was important to make a statement with ‘Earthbound,’” Valenti says. “After we had a chance to review the footage, see the photography and know that we would be receiving these amazing illustrations, we knew that we had enough amazing content to build a standalone site.”
He says the marketing team “looked to mainstream Hollywood” for marketing tricks including teasing out the reveal of the starry cast — including Brent Corrigan, Skyy Knox, Armond Rizzo, Johnny V and XBIZ Gay Performer of the Year Sean Zevran. “We generated so much buzz and excitement. It was a total success.”
LaRue expressed gratitude to Valenti and the Falcon executive team for “total carte blanche — and a really big budget” to make ‘Earthbound.’
“It’s unheard-of today. It doesn’t happen anymore. ‘Yes, get more boots. Get more trench coats. Yes, let me cast whoever I want. Yes, let’s get another makeup artist.’ That’s a 2005 budget! It was a dream come true.”
Photos, video clips, ordering information and specially commissioned illustrations of the cast can be found at EarthboundXXX.com.