LOS ANGELES — Alchemy was at play on the set of Adam & Eve’s “Babysitting the Baumgartners,” where the natural charisma of Mick Blue, his beloved Anikka Albrite and Sara Luvv was expertly cultivated.
Director Kay Brandt, a gifted and prolific erotica writer, instinctively knew when to vanish and when to appear, when to paint and when to let the canvas unfold. Bolstered by a crack team of cameramen, production assistants and jack-of-all-trades professionals, she adapted fluidly to the fickle weather and lighting conditions.
Grizzled veteran David Lord barked an occasional command, keeping the gregarious rogues gallery in order, yet he remained in the shadows for the most part. Cinematographer Mike Quasar quipped irreverently in between shoots, handling cameras deftly and keeping morale high with his humor. Rick Garcia snapped a steady stream of stills from each scene, before withdrawing to his computer for an editing session. Adam (Tarantino XXX) was the consummate supporter, splashing talent with a well-aimed bucket of water for a poolside scene and worming under the bed for over an hour during an intimate threesome.
Nestled amidst the greenery and hillside mansions of L.A., the shoot took place on Saturday, March 5 in a one-story home with a pool and modest backyard. Hazy clouds promised mild rainfall, yet enough sunlight broke through to dapple the ground with leafy shadows and illuminate a breathtaking cityscape. It was day two of the four-day shoot, which included a steamy girl/girl spa scene with Luvv and Albrite, as well as a threesome with Blue in the master bedroom.
Following the success of Brandt’s romantic drama “Safe Landings” (Adam & Eve), which earned 10 nominations for the 2016 XBIZ Awards, she was soon drawn into the world of novelist Selena Kitt’s “Babysitting the Baumgartners.”
“Selena Kitt owns Excessica publishing, and that’s my publishing company, where I’ve been publishing erotic romance novels since 2014,” Brandt explained. “We started talking about it early last year, right around the time when I was starting to put ‘Safe Landings’ in pre-production, and I talked to her about what that would mean for a book that her company was publishing to actually be made into a movie. And there were special provisions that had to be made, because Adam & Eve wanted the book and the movie to come out within a month apart.
“Selena sent me a copy of ‘Babysitting the Baumgartners’ and… this book has sold over 2 million copies. It’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel,” she continued. “It’s pretty much what put Selena on the map as far as an author. And it’s part of what built the success that she has now. She gave it to me and the first time I read it I thought, ‘This would make a great porn!’”
However, even by porn standards, Kitt’s story had tons of sex. “It’s gigantic, it’s much bigger than the normal sized porn,” Brand pointed out. “It has more than two times the number of sex scenes… this movie alone has 12 sex scenes, there’s 14 in the book, so I had to take out two… and still, 10 would be the size of two movies. So, we’re doing more than two movies worth of sex, plus story and setup and character development.”
There were unique challenges distinguishing this project from “Safe Landings,” which was based on Brandt’s own erotica novel. For “Babysitting the Baumgartners,” she had to balance her directorial vision with what Kitt originally intended. “If it’s my own work, I can be far more flexible in the kind of creativity and the style and the directing, I can really just go with what I saw in my head, and what I meant when I wrote it, and go with that,” Brandt said. “When you’re doing somebody else’s, you have to be true to their work, so you’re truly directing somebody else’s vision and staying true to their vision while having your own… it is very tough to stay true to a book…. to all of the dialogue as written in the book once you’re doing the film. It’s just tough to keep them exact. The book always will offer more, but the movie gives you that great visual impact.”
Casting, at least, was more straightforward for her. “I really wanted a couple that was already a couple in real life,” Brandt said. “So, the natural chemistry that’s between Mick and Anikka is palpable, it’s real, it’s true passion and a chemistry that can’t be acted. So that was really important because the Baumgartners, first and foremost, are a couple that’s very, very much in love. And it’s their love for each other that fuels it and makes it not like cheap sex… it’s not your usual setup of more shallow couples seducing a babysitter or the other way around.”
Brandt confidently helms erotica films like “Babysitting the Baumgartners” because they mesh well with what she considers her signature directing style “I’ve always loved story porn,” she said. “I’ve always been an actor’s director. So, I direct character development, full story… full setup. I encourage the growth of the performers to really be actors, and yet be still authentic and true to their sex scenes. The kind of directing I like is to free all the gifts that every person that works for me has, whether they’re in front of the camera or behind the camera. I like for everyone on my crew to feel empowered as well as my cast.”
Her cast for “Babysitting the Baumgartners” includes Anikka Albrite as Carrie Baumgartner, Mick Blue as husband Doc Baumgartner and Sara Luvv as babysitter Ronnie (who Mrs. B likes to call Veronica). While Luvv and Albrite had not worked alongside Brandt before, Blue said he had. “I worked on a project with her when she was still writing for Digital Playground… and here we are now,” he explained. “We’re producing I think a really fascinating concept of a movie that is basically produced after a book came out. I believe it’s a situation men and women would like to have in real life... who doesn’t fantasize to have sex with the babysitter and their wife together?
“Or moreso, who doesn’t fantasize to have sex every single day of the week with their… loved ones?” he elaborated. “Because in reality, I know this from experience with my best friends, they have with their wife or with their girlfriend maybe sex once or twice a week. And if they want to try to bring in another girl it’s a big no-no, you’re gonna get divorced. So, I really like this concept.
“Another thing they show in this movie is kind of like the development of Sara Luvv’s character,” Blue said. “Where she’s kind of like this innocent babysitter and never really explored her own body in a way. And then she comes into the claws of the Baumgartners — my wife Anikka and myself... throughout the movie it’s kind of like Sara’s character develops… seeing that she actually likes all these kinds of things she discovers about her body, her sexuality. And of course towards the end, she finally starts to enjoy anal sex. It’s a very instructional way in how to get to the anal sex, because people in real life think they can have sex with a butthole the way they have sex with a vagina, but you need to have some preparation for that, you need to know how to do it properly and start slowly and lube it up. And this movie, Ms. Baumgartner basically teaches Sara Luvv the way how to do it right. We have this scene where Ms. Baumgartner and myself, we show her how anal sex works on Ms. Baumgartner, and then after that she becomes more comfortable with her body and then [in a] follow up scene… she will have first time anal sex. Very, very interesting.”
Blue finds inspiration for his character from Kitt’s writing style. “Another thing [about] the author, she’s very wise with the words she uses,” he said. “It’s not straightforward, it’s more like you take a subject and then you make your way around the subject, to increase the appetite of the reader, the viewer, there’s this tremendous amount of buildup of the one thing they’re trying to do — sex, until it actually comes to the sex. You know, she really writes those parts well. It’s like when you take a different book, you have one page and you’re into the sex. But with her, the warm-up, the pre-play till it actually comes to the sex, can be two pages, three pages long.”
After each day of shooting, Blue enjoys relaxing at home with Albrite, a privilege that he says is unique to the American adult industry. “As you know, I started to work in Europe before I came to the United States, and back in the day when I was still in Europe, the biggest difference with the States was that you had to travel from country to country, compared with America from state to state,” he explained. “Different countries come with different languages and also with different systems, so in Europe you had to deal with all this kind of stuff. Every country had its own testing facility and didn’t communicate with each other because of that. And when you compare it with America, you have basically the PASS system, which connects all different testing facilities into one.
“Also, if you work in America, it’s kind of like you still have a life after a day of work, because you wake up in your home,” he said. “You go to work, you’re on set for a few hours, and then you can move on with your day. In Europe, if you travel somewhere, you’re basically stuck with production 24/7. Nowadays, over the past 16 years, I think what was the most dramatic change between Europe and America is that America became the center of the adult industry over time, which we know that say 20 years ago, Europe was the center. Nowadays, productions are still there, but it’s like not as tense as it was before.”
He bade farewell and went to perform in a poolside scene with Albrite, making love in the spa as Luvv sunbathed nearby. Afterwards, a crewmember helped blowdry Albrite’s golden hair. “This is my first time working with Mrs. Brandt,” she said, adopting a pensive expression. “I love it, she’s a great director… she definitely has this vision and I love that she wants to capture everything as close to the book as possible. It’s very naughty… my role is I play Mrs. Baumgartner and she is the matriarch. We’re on vacation with my husband and our children, who are not seen for obvious reasons, and our babysitter Veronica. And we seduce the babysitter together and we kind of form this whole romantic relationship with her while we’re on vacation so that’s my role in ‘Babysitting the Baumgartners’… I brought along Mr. Blue, he’s my Mr. Baumgartner.” Blue strolled up and exchanged an affectionate glance with his wife, their Arctic eyes crackling intensely. He then squeezed her shoulder and went to practice lines with Brandt.
After a few more scenes, Luvv freshened up with a shower and sat down on a plush white sofa to describe her role in the film. Wrapped in a bathrobe, she leaned back and said, “So, I’m playing Ronnie in the movie. And she is a 19-year-old girl who is, seems to me, very sheltered. I mean there’s a part in the book where she has never shaved her pubic hair before… that pretty much says it all.” Luvv laughs. “She knows so little about it. So, when ‘Mrs. B’ goes to shave her, she asks if it’s gonna hurt. That is how sheltered this girl is. And she’s kind of taken back by how turned on she is by this couple she’s babysitting for. Slowly, they bring her into this world of all this sex they’re having, they’re a very sexual couple… I’ve never been a very sheltered individual. I always kind of knew what was what… but I feel like playing an innocent role is pretty simple, in my opinion. It’s not too tough to channel your inner innocent little girl.”
Luvv first met Brandt at the audition. “It was great because when I got there Anikka just so happened to be there and I got to hang out with her, Kay got to see our chemistry together… I’d seen her around at different events, and we always said, ‘Oh, I want to work with you again,’ so now we have all of these sex scenes together and it’s great… I haven’t really had very large roles like this before. I think this is the biggest role that I’ve ever had. Before this I was shooting a lot of just gonzo type movies. I feel like I really go through different spurts of different kinds of movies. Like I’ll shoot a bunch of gonzos for like two months, and then for the next however long, it’s all storyline-based, it’s heavy storyline, it’s not just something light. So, I was shooting a lot of gonzo right before I got this role.”
When asked if she wants to continue performing in storyline-based movies, Luvv nodded. “All of the acting from this has kind of put me in the mood of it, so now I want to continue doing it,” she enthused. “I kind of like playing a devious role, but this is also really fun just because I know I’m not innocent, so inside I’m just like kind of sneaky. Inside, I know that I’m kind of dirty.”
While the talent prepped between scenes, crewmembers like Rick Garcia were equally busy setting up shots and making adjustments on the computer. “I’m the [stills photographer] for this shoot and I’ve been in the business for about 12 years,” Garcia said. “Actually owned a trucking company, I sold that to do this full-time, I’m actually retired and I do this more for fun... I love the people. I love the freedom that’s evolved in this business. I can be creative as much as I want. I just enjoy it. I get off on shooting something that people admire and like.
“This set is a little different, it’s not a traditional porn set,” he remarked, while scrolling through dozens of HD photos on his laptop. “It’s more erotic and more ‘sexiness.’ And I’m kind of old school like that — less is more for me — so this is right up my alley. It’s more about the eye contact and you know the story… not so much the explicit stuff. It’s very sexy, very pretty. I think it’s got to be true to the book. I think the author’s going to really, really like this.”
Adam (Tarantino XXX) ducked behind Garcia, sneaking away from the hubbub to share his own perspective on the movie. “I’m here today as one of the production assistants for Kay Brandt’s movie… second time working with Kay, I worked with her last year in ‘Safe Landings,’ I was one of the extras… she wanted me to come work with her for this project,” he said. “I’m excited to be on this set. One of my first times being on a big budget feature set, cause you know I’m just used to independent sets of my own, where it’s just like two or three guys.”
He said that bigger budget films have their own unique challenges. “Yah, I mean huge, huge [challenges]. Cause you know you got photographers, and it’s just a big crew. I’m not used to it, I guess you can say back in the old days of porn this is how it used to be, and this is kind of like the porn movies I grew up watching. So, the challenging thing is seeing how cinematographers work, seeing how the sound guy works, seeing how everybody works to do one job, whereas I’m used to just setting up a microphone, and then I’ve got one camera and I’m directing and performing. You know, there’s a multitude of things being on an independent production compared to big budget.”
As evening darkened the skies and a scintillating threesome scene concluded, the production team began preparing for a bathroom scene. Brandt took a moment to share her future plans once “Babysitting the Baumgartners” wraps. She has her sights set on several new projects.
“One is a series and it’s a series that is meant to be more of an online… an Internet show… than a DVD release,” she said. “So, we’re working on that. I have an erotic romantic comedy that I’m publishing later on this year — in a book — that we’re talking about making into a film as well. So, those are my immediate things, the series that Adam & Eve and I are talking about.”