Big Top Founder Sam Xavier Passes Away

LOS ANGELES — Big Top Video founder Sam Lessner has died after a long cancer battle, his close friend producer David Christopher told XBIZ.

Lessner, aka Sam Xavier, had been struggling with the disease for more than two years and passed away due to liver failure in early May in Tucson, Ariz., where he lived.

“He was just a great guy. It was very sad to hear,” Christopher said. “I partied with him, went to dinners with him. He was a good friend. I became friends with him back in New York.”

Lessner got his start in the adult entertainment business doing sales in his native New York in the mid-1970s. He went on to form Xavier Productions, which successfully sold explicit magazines and film reels by mail order before launching Big Top Video in 1982. Lessner eventually moved to Tucson and built what arguably was the premier big-bust company in porn during the mid-'90s.

“He probably had the largest big-tit company for a period,” said Christopher, who noted that Lessner also was a partner in The Score Group in the '90s before splitting and continuing with Big Top. “He was one of the originals. He was probably in the business for 40 years. His stuff was wild, unique and different.”

Christopher, aka “Pussyman,” worked for Big Top during its heyday, shooting upwards of 80 movies for Lessner, including some of the early face-sitting fetish releases.

He said that Big Top had not been active in the new release market for several years. Lessner is survived by a son and daughter.