Location, Location…Location!

For years, I shot in a studio, the first being Woody’s in KTown, near 7th and Vermont. Back then, I’d come to Porn Valley for a few days, shoot scenes for Blacks on Blondes and Gloryhole and Spring Thomas, sleep in a tiny room after we wrapped, then haul ass back home.

In fact, the whole second floor of that building was porno-rific: in addition to Woody’s studio, Nicky Milo had small place there, and Woody’s was huge, probably 7000 square feet, and it even had a huge “cyc” (cyclorama wall — Google it). When I first saw it, I thought to myself — ohhhh that’s how they do it. I was totally amateur; my camera was a simple point-and-shoot set to AUTO. I did know about white-balancing my videos, but even on my first few shoots, that was set to AUTO, too. 

I shot a lot of porn at Woody’s. Then, in ’08, I moved my productions to a new, larger warehouse. It’s not easy finding a landlord who’ll rent to a smut peddler; in fact, the only thing worse than shooting smut was growing weed. My PA, The Minion, and I would make hundreds of calls and get hung up on most of the time. But we finally found a place.

One of the things I do, whenever I rent anything from anybody, is to ask around about the “anybody” I’m about to rent from. In this case, the landlord was an absentee landlord who lived out near Coachella. So I knocked on a few doors of my future neighbors. The general reply, once I told them who I was: “Oh, wow! You’re taking over where the artist used to work!”

Almost all of them said the artist like The Artist was some sort of big deal. Turns out, The Artist was kinda a big deal (Jason Rhoades), and being a huge art geek immediately researched his life: who he was, the art he made, and where he died…which, depending on who was telling the story, Jason OD’d right in the studio I had just rented. Two last words on Jason, for now…and yea, they’re ironic: Black Pussy (Oh…and you can see what the space looked like in Jason’s heyday). I stayed from ’08 until I was forced to leave six years later, after it was sold.

The toughest thing about managing a porno studio is keeping it “fresh” — the necessity to change out sets on a fairly frequent basis. Actually, you can’t change sets fast enough. It’s called being “shot out”, and not only does it apply to sets, but locations and models as well. Once it’s shot out, forget it. No one really wants to see it/them any more.

So, if it’s a set, you’re constantly changing out wall paint and flooring and furniture; if it’s a location/shoot house, I had to change it up maybe once every 8 to 10 scenes; and, if it’s a model, well…the average career span of a Porno Princess is maybe six months. By three years, they’re into “veteran” status, and anything past, say, five years, they’re in super-vet status. If they’re in the biz more than that, you’re talking about legendary status. For most, anyway. (Stunt cocks’ careers usually last much longer).

Around mid ’13, The Producer called. It was time to “up our game”, and get out of a studio and on to locations. This meant packing gear into a van and driving to pretty much any place in Porn Valley. Shoot houses, mainly. Every once in a while, I managed to secure a retail spot (everything from sandwich shops to laundromats to a fancy, lady’s boutique) — but most of the time they were houses.

And the houses varied in size and quality. Some were beautiful spots up in the Hollywood Hills: homes that might host a celebrity birthday party; others were modest, decent homes that sit in the middle of Porn Valley; and there were some that were dumps. It was all part of a new learning curve for me. I didn’t know what to expect the first time I knocked on a door, and most of the time the anxiety came from who opened it. Some of the homeowners were creatives (making music or movies or records — some of which you’d recognize), some were real estate hustlers (hustlers owned a bunch of homes and would rent them pretty much to whomever — from Air BnB’s to smut peddlers), and finally, some were just fucking perverts who liked the extra money.

One homeowner offered up his wife to my male talent. It was a 3 on 1 that day, and he assured me Wifey could handle all three dudes better than my Porno Princess had.

Some were ex-swingers.

A few were record execs whose income took a big hit with their income in the new streaming era. These were the guys who discovered bands or signed bands or managed bands or ran big labels. A&R guys. Shit like that.

Most just liked their side-hustle and didn’t mind the lube on their sofas nor the empty douche and enema bottles strewn in their bathrooms nor the DNA on their floors and furniture.

My goal was to always leave the place cleaner than when I walked in, and I never had a problem booking the place again.

What never made sense to me are the fans who pay attention to what’s going on in the background. As a porn fan, my focus was on the girl…not the sofa she was getting railed on nor the view out the window behind her. But fans really do care about things like that, and The Producer always told me sales went up when his smut was shot in a nice home.

Go figure.

Aaliyah Love & Mandingo
Aaliyah Love & Mandingo

Super Fun e-mails:

B. Smith writes:

Hey Billy,

I watched a video about John Holmes on YouTube. Does everyone always have to self destruct in the porn industry? I went to a Porn Expo in Denver. I remember seeing Ron Jeremy and thinking to myself how could all that good pussy leave you looking so haggard. I didn’t even talk to Ron. What you do seems to be the best position in the industry. I heard your voice on many videos and has a positive tone to it. I got the video with Former Male Porn Star Randy Spears pulled up on YouTube. He breaks down crying but I think of the alternative and that type of life is also tear inducing. You mentioned you being a school teacher a lot of people take the safe route and it’s agonizing. Everyone’s priorities shift. The industry is changing, use to be primarily the same male talent now I’m starting to see the “Skinny-Jean Generation” in interracial videos. I guess that dispels the myth that Skinny Jeans will ruin a man’s sexual performance. I think to myself — can that person transition after porn? Are they going to feel thankful or regretful later in life? For me, I lived like a porn star for about 4 years and don’t have many regrets.

Hey B!

The title to The New York Dolls’ second record, Too Much Too Soon, can sum up some of what happens to a lot of the Porno Princesses / Stunt Cocks who come to Porn Valley to become “famous” — especially the “barely legals”. Their self-destructions aren’t literal (although a few have ended their own lives), and often are more financial: in the real world, they’re qualified for minimum wage jobs, and suddenly have incomes that rival most professionals. And instead of saving their money and paying their taxes, they do neither. Too much attention. Too much money. Too soon. Combine that with an average career of 6 months to 3 years, and suddenly they’re 22, shot out, might have a substance problem (that often times developed after their arrival to Porn Valley) don’t have any money, and are about to get their first certified letter from the IRS.

It’s a bleak picture for sure, and for a small amount of porn stars, it’s bleaker in that they don’t make it out of Porn Valley with their lives; however, not “everyone” self-destructs in any sort of way. On the contrary, a lot of Porn Valley’s actors and actresses are wisening up and actually thriving, especially with the newest business model that’s arrived: the performer-as-producer, who now are enjoying various monetizing platforms such as Only Fans, private Snap Chats, and Many Vids.

A lot are also “creatives” (of which I count myself as one), and as creatives, they often lead lives that, for lack of a better word, aren’t “normal” and often consist of a myriad of vices. I don’t wanna overgeneralize here, but you get the picture.

I love being a director, but it’s got its challenges just like your job has — or any job for that matter. I’m generally happy and healthy and I love life in Porn Valley, and, for the most part, I feel like there’s more and more of us and less and less of them. Since jumping into this game almost 17 years ago, I’ve seen a lot of changes, and they’re almost all good changes: the Slimeballs are getting weeded out; the folks in front of the cameras seem to be getting their financial shit together more and more; and, finally, it seems the Bad Times that started in 2008 (ie tube sites) are winding down.

Kinda, anyway.

I don’t know much about skinny jeans, but I do know a lot of the Stunt Cocks have as difficult a life after their porno careers end as their female counterparts…but that’s another blog.

I’ve Retired. Well…sort of.

Since I’m often a lazy writer, I’ll just go ahead and cut & paste what I just tweeted:

“It’s with great excitement — and at the same time being absolutely scared shitless — that I’m announcing my retirement from The Dogfart Network in order to spend 100% of my time & energy on the 4 websites & affiliate program I began almost 14 years ago. Thank you so much Cable! I’d also like to thank all the terrific talent — both female & male — that made my (almost) 17-year-run with The Dogfart Network enjoyable, interesting, frustrating, and downright fucking weird! I wouldn’t trade my DF time for anything. Now on to @manojob & @mrpov & @LegitClips!”

I make that statement with the utmost of sincerity. Look, almost all jobs are difficult. To me, shooting an 18-man blow bang for Dogfart (the record, about to appear on InterracialBlowbang.com starring the incomparable India Summer) was as challenging as managing a 7th-grade classroom; in fact, there’s nothing better to qualify a person to become a director in Porn Valley than teaching middle school. The dynamics are all pretty much the same: too many hormones and strong personalities and a whole lotta drama.

Now, here’s a portrait of barely-legal Porno Princess Chanel Grey…one of the last I made on a Dogfart set. I’d write some more, but I’ve got work to do.

Barely Legal Chanel Grey
Chanel Grey

Billy Watson — The Dumbest Name in Porn Valley?

Hannah Hays and Lexi Lore
Hannah Hays and Lexi Lore
I invented the name “Billy Watson” a long time ago — 1998, to be exact, as I was building a simple web page. Back then, I was simply an “affiliate”; which is to say I created a “thumbnail gallery page” to submit to a “TGP” — a “thumbnail gallery post site”. Back then, there was a decent living to be made submitting what was essentially a small sample of smut (15 pictures was the standard requirement) to sites like “The Hun“, “Sex Hungry Joe’s”, “The Adult Buffet”, and “Persian Kitty”. To my knowledge, The Hun is the only one still in existence…although it only slightly resembles what it looked like in ’98.

It sounds ridiculous, but I wanted to brand my simple little page. With a “name”. And simple the page was. In exchange for hosting (and paying for the terrific amount of traffic they sometimes generated), whoever it was who owned the hosting company who slap their banners along the top and bottom of page…and sometimes have a text link in the middle, as well. They kept that revenue; if the horny surfer clicked on one of my pics — and then to the site I was promoting — I’d make a couple bucks!

I was a part-time affiliate, and I wasn’t really any good at it. There were always rumors that the full-timers were making 5-figures a month — a rumor that was later substantiated. But I digress.

Inventing a porn name isn’t as easy as choosing your pet’s name followed by the street you grew up on, although that’s worked nicely for some. At first, I thought I’d give myself a powerful name. Like Master Blaster. Or maybe a normal first name, followed by a last name synonymous with something tough…or impenetrable…or piercing. Billy Steele? Billy Strong? Billy Nails? Maybe something of value: Billy Silver or even better Billy Gold or perhaps the very best…Billy Platinum? Billy Bitcoin? (Not really. We all know there were no bitcoins in 1998, kinda like there really are no bitcoins in 2018).

I can’t believe it was 20 years ago (maybe even today!) Billy Watson popped into my head, and I still have no idea why. Speaking of 20 years ago today, I really, really wished I’d have called myself Billy Shears. Way cooler. But no, I got hung up on Billy Watson, and here I am today, stuck with a ridiculous name that makes no rhyme or reason.

A quick Google search turns up a 94-year-old actor named Billy Watson; “Whipper” Billy Watson the Canadian professional wrestler; Billy Watson and the International Silver String Submarine Band; and, finally, a soccer player named Billy Watson who started his career in Scotland, then moved to England, and then the United States.

Another digression: I’ve often contemplated blogging a list of the greatest porn names ever invented. They’d have to include Alexis Texas, Cherry Poppens, Faye Runaway…and? I dunno. Leave a comment and help a brother out.

Anyway, after I invented my name, I had one very difficult thing to do: tell my parents exactly what I was doing to make spare money. (Yea…that’s the way I roll). I was part-time adjunct, teaching English 101 and 102…and selling two kinds of smut online: a Japanese Bukkake site and a site specializing in interracial sex: Blacks on Blondes. My pal, Jay-the-Postman, who had just quit the post office to become a pornographer, had just met a dude who owned the site. “Promote these two sites, and even if you put in a couple hours a day, you’ll make a couple grand a month.”

I though it was all bullshit, but nope. I’d submit a couple hours a day, Monday through Friday, and yea…I made a couple grand a month. “That’s where the extra money is coming from, Mom and Dad. I promote pornography on the internet.” Mom and Dad looked at me. Dad kept eating. Mom kinda shook her head in disgust. “What do you call yourself?” She asked.

“Billy Watson,” I replied.

My mom looked at me in this sort-of are-you-kidding-me-look and said, “I know I never told you this, but before your grandmother married your grandfather, she briefly dated a man fellah named Billy Watson.”

Yea…and this: here’s a couple arty-farty picture I made last month, while Porn Valley was on its HIV moratorium.

Hannah Hays and Lexi Lore
Hannah Hays and Lexi Lore

My (Brief) Phone Call with a Performer of the Year.

The Award Winner knew me before I knew him. I didn’t know it when we first shoot hands, but Cumbang is a really popular site from his part of the world, which is somewhere far, far east of Porn Valley. It’s east of London and Paris, too…I just don’t recall if it’s the Ukraine or Russia, but it’s over there, somewhere. But hey — give me credit, at least I know the difference between the two.

After we shook hands that first time, and he told me how much he loved my work, he proceeded to just kill it on set with September Reign for We Fuck Black Girls. A superb performance.

Next up, another phenomenal job, this time in an Ashley Pink gang bang.

He’s the best male newcomer I’d ever seen, and he might be the best ever to step foot into Porn Valley. He did have an outstanding coach, though — namely Rocco Siffredi; in fact, he kinda reminded me of a young Rocco when we met.

And word spread fast. I know, because every time I tried booking him from then on, I couldn’t. The date was taken. When he left his agent, I started contacting him directly…which is when his rate changed. It went up. Way up. But that’s cool, cause if anyone deserved a rate increase, he did.

Fast forward to January, and his big day at AVN’s.

Fast forward to today, when I reached out to see how far out he was booked and to congratulate him for all the AVN success…which, I suppose, I should have done sooner.

Which is when things got weird. It got even weirder when he called me…instead of replying to my text. “Hey dude!” I said, answering the phone in my nice-guy voice. “Thanks for calling. I’m not sure why you’d think I’d ever mock your rate. It’s something I wouldn’t do to a performer.”

There was a few seconds of silence. Then, in a sort of sinister, intimidating tone (I know I’m showing my age, but think Boris Badenov from “Rocky & Bullwinkle”): “This is how it’s going to be. When I call you, I do the talking and you do the listening.

Which, of course, isn’t at all how it’s “going to be”.

At all.

After I terminated the call, I thought a little bit about all the different personalties in my industry: the good folks and bad; the narcissists and the meek; the porn stars and the performers; the pervs and truly perverted; the psychopaths and sociopaths.

A long time ago, when I first started driving girls out to the glory hole, one model showed up and asked what we were shooting.

“Didn’t your agent tell you?”

She said, “no…he doesn’t communicate very well.”

After I told her what was expected in the scene, she picked up her bags and left, saying, “I’m at AVN Award Winner. I don’t do blowjobs anymore.”

I’d tell you who, but that wouldn’t make any difference. You wouldn’t remember her anyway. It took me a couple minutes poking around the site to recall her name.

Or, in other words, one minute you’re working on your mainstream TV show and the next you’re worried if you’re going to be back on a porn set..and if you can still get your rate.

As I bang this blog out, there’s AVN Awards winners and Hall-of-Famers living in the back seat of a car and there’s some jumping into their car about to start their Uber shift; there’s some sitting in a single-wide out in the middle of nowhere about to start another cam show and there’s some sitting in their single-wide smoking meth and there’s some who have died, alone, out in the middle of nowhere…in their single-wide.

And there’s some who are doing really, really well.

At any given time, every one of us is replaceable. Whether you’re in management or the work force, teacher or cop, producer or a director, male or female talent, make-up artist or production assistant, it really doesn’t matter. We’re all here, fighting the good fight, and then, one day, it ends — awards and Hall-of-Fame status mean nothing.

And don’t ever forget this: time is never your friend.

POST SCRIPT: I received a phone call — and an apology — from the subject of this blog, and we are working together again. An understanding has been had!

In Memoriam: Cherry Poppens (1982 – 2018)

Cherry Poppens hand job movies
I received the terrible news on the morning of January 25th, while I was in Vegas, shooting smut and attending the AVN’s. I was in the middle of my “morning routine” (coffee, e-mails, more coffee, confirming talent, more coffee, confirming locations…and then some more coffee). With a couple minutes of down time, and while finishing up my coffee, I noticed a Facebook DM pop up on my cellphone. You probably know you can only see the beginning of DM’s, and this one started with “Hey Billy…is it true about Cherry??” Of course I was immediately worried, but I waited a bit to open it. I was hoping it was something “good”, like…I dunno. Maybe “Hey Billy, is it true about Cherry? Did she really bang President Trump?” or “Hey Billy, is it true about Cherry? She’s making a comeback?” That’s what I was hoping, but it wasn’t good. At all. “Hey Billy…is it true about Cherry?? I just got a message from a friend of hers that she passed.”

I fought back tears and bit my lip and starting clicking all over the place: first, to Cherry’s profile; and sure enough, the RIP’s were already being posted; second, to her parents’ profiles, where I read frantically, trying to find a cause; third, back to Cherry’s profile, scrolling up from the RIP’s for clues to her demise. Nothing. All seemed well (posts of animals, which Cherry loved dearly…no weird drama or anything that would indicate any reason why she wouldn’t be with us anymore.)

A few days later, one of her friends reached out to me; at first, it seemed like foul play might be cause. Later, toxicology reports cited an accidental overdose.

I couldn’t make Cherry’s memorial service, but I think about her almost every day. She was a kind, peaceful soul who loved her friends and family and her bunnies and turtles…all animals, really.

She will be terribly missed.

One of the earliest blogs centered on my “Cherry crush”, and rereading it now just reminds me not only of how much I liked Cherry…but how difficult it is for any sex worker to maintain happy, healthy relationships. It also reminds me that I need to up my writing game — that’s for sure.

This blog’s original air date: September 17, 2005

Lately I’ve been crushing on Cherry Poppens.

And not just a crush like oh there’s Cherry Poppens on a website doing this or that and boy I’d sure like to meet her crush

but

I’m single and I shoot porn and I’m feeling like I wanna have a girlfriend who’s in the biz and Cherry’s a porn star so that helps and we’re friendly and that helps and maybe she might like me so I should ask her out kind of crush.

Whew.

Cherry’s super cool. I’ve worked with her a ton of times. In fact, I’ve hired her for everything I can, and given her multiple scenes on some of the sites I shoot — more than once or twice.

From a marketing angle, Cherry’s awesome: she’s a true redhead (rare), has great natural body, she’s super cute, puts on a great scene…and does just about anything you can ask for…in other words, she sells.

On a personal note, she’s solid: drug and drama free, great personality, true redhead (really rare), is super cute, has great natural body…and can carry an intelligent conversation on anything from punk rock (which I love) to politics (which I love to hate).

Which brings me back to why I even started writing this: I’ve been crushing on Cherry Poppens. I took the top picture at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood a long time ago, right after we wrapped one of her first scenes. The bottom shot is from a couple years later, I took her to a Dylan show at the Hollywood Palladium.

But she’s got a dude. And he’s probably this young, cool stud with cheek bones and washboard abs and tattoos and smokes unfiltered cigarettes while he hangs out on Venice Beach all day, skateboarding or surfing and not giving a shit about anything.

Which means I don’t have a chance.

Bob Dylan Hollywood Palladium show October 13 2009

The Love of The Apache, or, It’s 1955 and all you wanna do is jerk off to something. Anything.

Let’s say it’s 1955, and you’re starting to get into porno. It all began at your local drugstore — the magazine section, specifically. The lurid covers on Stag or Sir! or Man’s Life grabbed your attention: a giant grizzly bear attacking a lone camper; a man swimming furiously to a boat as bright-red water moccasins, fangs out and ready to strike, are closing in; giant crabs attacking a near-hysterical dude in tattered clothes on a lonely beach.

And once you got to know the drug store clerk a little better, he probably showed you some of the “good stuff” he kept behind the counter…always behind the counter, so the church ladies wouldn’t call the cops: Titter and Wink and Beauty Parade and Flirt. He might have even had a copy of Tropic of Cancer or Lady Chatterly’s Lover! And no, unfortunately he’s not carrying Hugh Hefner’s newest magazine, the one you’ve only heard about.

In the back of all those magazines were ads aimed specifically at your demographic: skinny men getting sand kicked in their face, only to return weeks later looking like the Incredible Hulk; lonely hearts clubs; Blackhead Removal contraptions and cheap guns and karate lessons; and, of course, ads for “stag films”. For just $2.00 (almost $20 in today’s money), you could get a movie so thrilling, so lurid, so…unsuppressed, you just couldn’t help yourself but buy one.

(By the way, a decent projector would have set you back another $50 or so, or about 1/2 a month’s worth of rent in a decent New York City neighborhood at that time).

But a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do, and what you don’t have is a gal. Or, you’ve got a gal, but nothing’s happening until you’re married, and the dates are chaperoned by her mom and dad. You save up for a while, then go out and grab the newest, most bad-ass 8mm movie projector (the Kodak Royal — “quiet…brilliant…lubricated for life!”), and then send a company in Hollywood, CA, a couple more bucks (I swear it seems like all the porno companies were based in Hollywood then, which, of course, makes sense)…and a few weeks later, something awesome arrives in your mailbox. It’s in an unmarked, brown package…or, sometimes, in a package that’s labeled anything but “dirty movies. Something like “Tulip Seeds”, for example. (I didn’t make any of this up, as I’ve seen hardcore porn from the 40’s and 50’s at flea markets in original mailers).

Your first movie ordered? Something really filthy. You decide on a title that caught your eye — “Startling Show in Paris” — because it’s so dirty, it could only have been made in the world’s seediest city. And in the first few seconds of your new, great possession, you recognize the title of the strip tease the woman’s about to perform from your high school French class. “The Love of the Apache”. How…savage! You don’t recognize the stripper’s name, Robin Jewel, but that’s ok. You’ll order the Lily St. Cyr or Bettie Page or Blaze Starr or Tempest Storm movie next week (maybe all four!), after you get paid.

Look at the way she snatches that cigarette out of his mouth when she enters! The way she works that room! Her sheer, black hose! Those high kicks! Wait! Can you see her cootch?! It’s all just too much. Your brain melts after the first viewing. Nothing you’ve ever seen, ever, could match Robin Jewel! After your 50 feet is up and the film is spinning wildly in the take-up reel, you set the projector to neutral, stop the take-up reel from spinning, click the take-up reel’s arm up a notch, thread the film back to its original reel, flip the switch to rewind, and wait a minute or so until it’s ready to thread through the projector again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Just you, that dark room you’re sitting in, the Kodak Royal humming for another 2 minutes…and Robin Jewel. Dancing the dance of those wild Indians.

At that moment in time, life didn’t get much better.

Stag Films, Blue Movies…and my Flea Market Adventures.

Part of getting back to finding my voice here means trying to remember the things I’ve already told you about, and I can’t remember what I had for lunch today…let alone something crazy Barbie Cummings might have done in 2006. I know I told you guys I like to collect stuff, and over the past few years it’s been snapshots. But not just shots of the family gathered around the Thanksgiving turkey, or some kids opening their Christmas presents or blowing out candles on a birthday cake. I always keep my eye out for weird and whacky and wonderful…and what I call “happy mistakes”. I also love old cheesecake pics…not vintage hardcore shots, which, to me, are anything buy sexy. Not to digress, but I scooped up some old 8mm stag films lately, then got a gadget that allows me to convert them to MP4’s. Here’s the first of them, and I’ll call this one “Brand New Undies”. I bet this movie hasn’t seen the light of a projector since, maybe, 1965?

Enjoy.