LOS ANGELES — Steven Hirsch called Christian Mann “the best friend anyone could ask for.” Paul Fishbein considered him “like a brother.” And Jeffrey Douglas said “knowing and working with Christian was a great blessing.”
From studio owners and directors to producers and performers, the adult industry responded to Mann’s passing on Wednesday with an outpouring of grief and fond remembrances for the man who had touched countless lives during his 34-year career.
"Even though I knew this was coming I was not prepared," Fishbein, the founder of AVN who was Mann’s best friend, told XBIZ Thursday. "You cannot prepare yourself for it. He was just a major part of my life for 30 years. We went through marriages together, divorces together, travel together, football trips together — we did everything. We saw each other more than some guys see their wives."
Fishbein continued, 'It’s a big hole. It’s just a big hole in my life and everyone else’s. There’s a group of friends and we were all really close and it’s not going to ever be the same.”
Hirsch, the co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment Group, was part of Mann’s inner circle for 30-plus years after meeting him on a flight to Chicago for a CES Show in the ’80s.
“He was a smart guy, very generous and the first one to offer his time,” Hirsch said. “Christian was the kind of guy that would pick you up at the airport at 2 a.m or drive you to the airport at 5 a.m. — he didn’t care, that was just the type of guy he was.
“We traveled many miles together and we went through a lot. He was a lifelong friend never to be forgotten. Now he is no longer in pain — he’s in peace, finally. It was a long 19 months.”
Mann, a native of Southern California who had turned 53 in February, passed away following a battle with cancer that started in January 2013. His career included overseeing the operations for Evil Angel Video for the past six years as their general manager, two years as the vice president of Metro Interactive and 12 years as the CEO of Video Team — among several other endeavors.
He also for the past several years worked to affect positive change in the industry as a member of the Free Speech Coalition Board of Directors, a position he held once before in the mid-90’s. In 2000, Mann received the Free Speech Coalition’s “Good Guy Award.”
But FSC board chairman Jeffrey Douglas pointed to Mann’s strong sense of family above all else. He is survived by his wife Melissa and three adult sons.
“I have recently had the opportunity to experience first hand his love and devotion to his family,” Douglas said. “Among his many other exceptional characteristics, his capacity for love was deep and thoughtful. I mourn the loss for myself, but more importantly, for those he loved and who loved him.”
Frank Koretsky, the owner of IVD and East Coast News and a close friend and confidant of Mann, told XBIZ he was "just a wonderful human being."
“I’ve known Christian about 29 years from the industry," Koretsky said. "We were longtime pals. We knew each other from various companies he’s worked for that he either sold or ran or worked for different individuals from New York to California. We always hung out, always made a point to be around for each other at shows. He’s always been supportive of my organization and me personally.
“I’m on the East Coast, he was on the West Coast. There have been many trips with me flying out to the West Coast and hanging out with his wife and family and kids, and vice versa, him hanging out with my wife and family and my kids. He’s been to a lot of what I would say were my social events. We’ve been very dear friends.”
Koretsky continued, "He was always there for you. He was intelligent — so smart — well versed in different languages. Just an extremely intelligent guy that cared fully about everybody and everything going on in the world.
“Some of things that stand out for me were his fight at the end, his drastic fight for life. He gave it the best he could. It was just too much. I was fortunate enough to be able to fly out there and spend some time with him during the last few weeks. Those visits were tough for me and tough for him. It was nice to laugh and nice to cry, and nice to hold his hand and give him a big hug and kiss. I think he appreciated that outburst of people coming to see him and showing their love and how much they cared for Christian.”
Dan O’Connell, the founder of Girlfriends Films, said that Mann was “always a class act and a model for everyone.”
“People like Christian Mann are few and far between... in any industry,” O’Connell said. “He always had a smile and something pleasant to say. My favorite Christian Mann moment took place when I was at a social event with my fiancee, who is not in the adult industry and had reservations about my being in it. Christian came up to us and knew just the right things to say to soothe her opinion of our business.”
O’Connell continued, “I remember seeing and hearing him speak for the first time at an industry function. I was extremely impressed within the first 15 seconds. From the standpoints of effectiveness, class, honesty, ethics and style, I always put him and [Girlfriends Films owner] Moose at the top of the industry.”
Peter Acworth, the CEO of Kink.com, said that from the moment he met Mann “he struck me as someone of great integrity.”
“He also had the most amazing ability to get people with different opinions to collaborate,” Acworth said.
Evil Angel owner John Stagliano told XBIZ that Mann brought worldly wisdom to any room he entered.
“He added a certain amount of sophistication and intelligence to every meeting he ever went to because he was so intelligent and interested in ideas and the bigger picture of life,” said Stagliano, noting that Mann was largely raised in Europe, spoke fluent Spanish and German — and even some French.
Stagliano's wife Karen worked closely with Mann at Evil Angel, remarking, "I adored Christian more than anyone who has ever been a part of Evil. I considered him a friend and an inspiration in life in general."
So did Glenn King, a veteran producer/director whose movies are distributed by Evil Angel. King and Mann became golf buddies who played par-3 courses all over Los Angeles County. Like so many others, King considered Mann his mentor.
“Christian was never satisfied with being the best he could be,” King said. “He wanted to help others improve their lives. He was always willing to take others’ burdens upon himself. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
Evil Angel producer/director Kevin Moore said one of his fondest memories of Mann was from last October.
“We all went to the Venus Show in Berlin and I spent a lot of time with him and Melissa,” Moore recalled. “He was a funny guy too, had a great sense of humor.
“There was no one like him and there won’t be again because the business has changed so much. Guys like him don’t exist any more. It’s a giant loss for the business. … It kind of makes the future scarier because you don’t have guys like him that have the foundation of how the business is done well and done right.”
IVD’s Koretsky recalled the last football road trip he went on with Mann and their football crew that also included Fishbein and Hirsch during the Fall of 2013. He said that Mann had to leave the Saturday game at Cal-Berkeley before it was over because he wasn't feeling well, so they walked back to the hotel together.
““We talked about life. We talked about us being friends and how far back it went. It was about a half hour walk back to our hotel,” Koretsky said. “Christian and I had so many interesting conversations. He was so intellectual not only about our industry, just about life.”
And Koretsky noted that Mann also had another group of friends that he made through his two-and-a-half decades of sobriety.
“Because he was clean and sober, Christian had a whole separate family through AA,” Koretsky said. “Christian had multiple families out there — not only immediate family and adult industry, he had a whole other AA world — a clean and sober world. I saw that when I was with him. There were so many people visiting that I had never even met before.
“So he had a whole other family and they cherished him. They loved his input. He helped people get clean and sober and he was good at it.”
Tributes to Mann continue to come from every part of the industry today, including in an active thread on the XBIZ.net social network community.
Alec Helmy, founder and publisher of XBIZ, said Mann left a lasting impression.
“I've had the pleasure of meeting many great minds over the years but few have left a mark on me like Christian did,” Helmy said. “Aside from possessing extraordinary intellect, vast industry knowledge and intimate involvement in many facets of our biz, he was a true gentleman and one of the best, if not the best, diplomats I've known.
“He's left behind a deep mark on our industry and I know he'll be sorely missed by everyone. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Retired industry pioneer Al Bloom, who most recently was a marketing and business affairs executive at California Exotic Novelties, said that Mann “was a force to be reckoned with.”
“I never let his mild mannered ways fool me... there was a heart and soul about his every move, and his gentle way of conducting business was a mastery played by one of the few masters I have met after 44 years in the adult industry,” Bloom remarked.
“Chris was my friend… Chris was everyone's friend, and yet he made me feel that I was his only friend. He was a standup guy, and tomorrow will be a worse day without him on this earth. We will meet again brother, but for now rest. You fought the good fight, and you gave a lot of us the courage to face our fears in a whole new light.”
Jeff Dillon, the vice president of business development at Gamelink.com, called Mann “truly one of the greats of this industry.”
“I first met Christian back in 2004 during his time at Video Team,” Dillon recalled. “I remember he was trying to get us to carry his new promo item, Video Team playing cards with porn stars on each of the cards. I loved his lively personality and great sense of humor.
“Christian was an encyclopedia of knowledge about the adult industry and he loved to share some of his wonderful stories of experience, which I loved listening to. Christian was a role model to me for sobriety and proof you could be successful in the adult industry and maintain a sober lifestyle.
“Christian continued to sell me these playing cards at Metro, and then at Evil Angel. Not sure why I remember this, but he loved those damn playing cards. Thank you for being a role model, inspiration, friend and a leader in the adult industry.”
Meanwhile, Colin Rowntree, the owner of Wasteland.com, pointed to Mann’s penchant for selflessness.
“Beyond being one of the most creative and intelligent people I have ever known, what always amazed me about Christian Mann was his truly caring role as an educator and mentor to others,” Rowntree said.
“Over the 15 years I knew, worked with, and was friends with Christian, one consistently amazing quality I adored was his enthusiasm to teach and support others, imparting his many years of experience and wisdom to both other folks in the industry, and in his personal circles. We have truly lost a great mind, leader, teacher and statesman and my heart is broken at his departure from this mortal coil.”
Michael Manning, co-owner of Severe Society Films, said one of his best memories of Mann was when he showed up to be an extra on the set of the last day of shooting of his most recent feature movie.
“He had no business interest in the film, he just wanted to hang out and show his support for what we were doing, because that was the kind of man he was,” Manning said. “Our industry needs more like him, especially now.”
Photographer-director Jay Allan said that every time he spoke with Mann “he was so full of positive energy and encouragement.”
“He had an amazing honesty and impenetrable integrity,” Allan said. “He went through his cancer like he lived every day, with dignity and honor. I am happy to have known him.”
That sentiment is being echoed throughout the industry this week, coming as no surprise to Vivid’s Steven Hirsch, who added simply that Mann was “a good dude.”
“That’s why everybody loved him,” Hirsch concluded. “Christian had a ton of friends. He was loved by everyone and I don’t think he had a single enemy.”
For additional coverage, click here.