Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mainstream






Mainstream

I remember the first conversations I had with my family about porn. Not just the subject, but the topic of my participation. There was shock, curiosity, affirmed suspicion, and - in some cases - severe disappointment.

Despite the worst of their reactions, I remain on good terms with each of my kin. Mostly, I attribute this to strong family bonds. In regards to my work, I’d say most every hostile sentiment has evolved to casual acceptance. At the very least, it’s given way to denial.

But if it weren’t for another part of my life, I wonder if the issue would be so easily smoothed over. I mean, doing porn sounds better when it’s just a means to an end. Fucking my way through college provides an “excuse” rather than a career choice. At the first sign of conflict, I can always draw on the same card: “But I’m just doing this until I graduate and make ‘real’ movies.”

Now it’s two years past graduation and I’m still spending most my time on the porn side of the fence. But other opportunities do arise. On occasion, I’m offered a “legitimate” gig, a chance to sit face-to-face with an esteemed member of the mainstream film industry.

Given that film-making is an actual passion of mine, it’s hard not to get excited when there’s an opportunity to work on a non-pornographic project. It just never ceases to amaze me how terrible a place that “other” side can be.




“We’ll just be few minutes,” says the director. “But pay attention. I want you to watch this.” Wait, there’s no need for anonymity. His name’s Michael Oblowitz and all of this is true.

“Have you seen Die Hard?” he asks. “What about Halloween?”

My girlfriend says she was in the XXX parody. I’m here, tagging along while she auditions for Oblowitz’s next feature.

“Well, he edited it.” Oblowitz is pointing to one of the men sitting in the room. One of the miserable-looking ones, which means all of them. Oblowitz says this and then starts yelling.

My girlfriend and I sit on the floor and watch them edit a scene. The director lowers his voice when he talks to us. “In porn, it’s all about the money shot. But with this, it’s the acting, the editing. Watch these kids. These are some of the best young actors in the world.”

We try to look impressed while staring at the monitor. Oblowitz continues, “See... They do the same thing in every take. I want you to pay attention.”

Now he’s yelling again (at the editors), and pacing. Forty minutes later, he takes us upstairs. “I just can’t stand ‘old people energy,’ you know what I mean?” Not that he’s ancient, but the man is definitely graying. He’s a peer to the men he continues to slander. “I have to keep those guys in line or they’ll fuck everything up. I mean, you saw what I have to put up with, right?”

We nod, smile, whatever. Then Oblowitz sits us down on a couch. “You’re a porn star too?” he asks me.

“Mhmm.”

“That’s so hot. You two should do a show for me right here,” he says.

My girlfriend laughs as if it’s a joke.

“I’d like to have a couple of you. My own porn star pets.” I think he’s licking his lips.

Finally Oblowitz brings out his lap top. It seems we’re on to business.

“You’ve seen one of these?” he asks, dragging his cursor over several .PDF files.

I lean in to to catch a closer look. “What?”

“A script. You guys have scripts in porn?”

The question is perplexing because it’s delivered so sincere. If he was smirking, I could at least go along with it. But it’s as if Oblowitz believes our entire profession relies on improvisation and chance. As if pornographers never shoot multiple takes or write down what needs to be said. The man believes he’s teaching us by displaying words on a screen.

Never mind that we make movies for a living. My girlfriend and I are middle-class, twenty-somethings living in Los Angeles. Media is a part of our culture. To see a document so specifically formatted with scene headings, dialog, descriptions, and not understand what it is; we’d have to be dead.

Still, there’s an opportunity here for mainstream recognition. And my girlfriend is near invincible to patronizing, older men. She urges him to deliver something new.

“So what’s the movie about?” she asks.

“You guys make porn,” he says. “I make torture porn.” The words are worn like a badge of honor. “Here... Read this. It’s really cool.”

“The whole thing?” asks my girlfriend.

“Well, at least the last thirty pages. Make sure you read the end. I want to know what you think.”

We’ve already been here an hour and have no idea what the movie is about, or what role my girlfriend might be playing.

“I’ll be right back,” says Oblowitz. Before he actually leaves the room, he adds, “Oh, and read some of the beginning too. I want you to get a good feel for the movie.”

Once he’s gone, I’m saying, “If you want to go, I’ll be the asshole. I’ll make something up, say we have to be somewhere.”

“No, it’s okay,” says my girlfriend. “We’ve already gone this far.” She’s not exactly excited, but I respect her determination.

She browses through the last thirty pages. I look over her shoulder at a few of them. It seems like standard kidnap/torture stuff. I guess with its own spin.

Eventually Oblowitz returns. My girlfriend says, “Done.”

“You read it? Cool, huh? Did you see the last scene?”

“Where she cuts his dick off?” I say.

“Yeah,” replies Oblowitz. “See, I’m a feminist.”

I don’t want to tell him, but it’s the same gag from Hostel 2. “Derivative” doesn’t even cut it. The guy’s stealing scenes from Eli Roth sequels.

“So you read it too?” Oblowitz is looking at me.

“Yeah, it’s good.” I’m a guest, so I’m trying to be polite.

“There’s a young man in there. Could be you,” he suggests.

My girlfriend starts telling him how much she loves horror movies and I try to chime in with some of my favorite gore films. I guess we connect on our love for Ichi the Killer.

Then Oblowitz goes, “Let me show you some of my research.” We crowd around him on the couch so he can show us a collection of images - most of them low-res screen shots from a porn site called Water Bondage.

I spot a couple friends and point them out.

My girlfriend says, “That’s a Kink.com site. I work for them all the time.”

Oblowitz asks to see one of her scenes and she pulls up a trailer from Sex and Submission. After it’s over, he asks to see it again.

“Oh, that’s hot.” Oblowitz is now rubbing his erection through his pants. “Can I see you naked?”

“I thought that was gonna be part of it,” she says. My girlfriend stands up and flashes her tits and pussy.

“That’s it?” says Oblowitz.

She laughs and says something like, “You can’t get everything for free.”

“Oh come on.” She continues putting her clothes on so he looks in my direction. “What about you?”

“You want to see me naked?”

“Why not?” he says casually.

I look to my girlfriend and then take off my shirt. Oblowitz asks again if we can put on a show for him. When I ask if he’s kidding, again he says, “Why not?”

“We can’t for practical reasons,” I say. “We’ve both got gonorrhea.” I’m trying to gross him out so he’ll drop it.

Once we’re back on the coach, he goes, “What if I just get a blow job? Can I catch it from a blow job?”

“Yeah,” I tell him. “It could be in her throat.”

“I’ve had a LOT of sex. I mean, a lot of sex. And I almost never use a condom.” This is Oblowitz again. “I’ve never caught anything. I think my body’s immune to it.”

“Have you ever been tested?” asks my girlfriend.

“Yeah, I’ve been tested!”

“When was the last time?”

Oblowitz changes the subject. “I’d love to fuck the both of you.”

My eyes go wide.

“I want to take you both on a date. We’ll drive around in my sports car, go out to eat somewhere nice.”

“Like The Olive Garden,” jokes my girlfriend.

“No! Not The Olive Garden. I said somewhere nice. Maybe Japanese food.” He’s looking back and forth between us. “I’m really open-minded.” This leads to a monologue about his days spent in New York sex clubs, getting his dick sucked by men through a hole in the wall.

“We don’t really have sex with other people outside of work,” says my girlfriend. I’m glad she’s carrying this because I don’t really know what to do.

“Well, let’s make a movie. How do I hire you?”

She starts to give him her agent’s number, then goes, “Wait, seriously? You’re gonna show your face on camera? Can I use it for my website?”

“My face... Well, I can’t show my face. But yeah, whatever you want. Can I fuck the both of you?”

“He doesn’t really do that.” She’s referring to me and getting fucked in the ass.

“Yeah, I don’t bottom.”

“Okay, but seriously, we’re not going to have sex with you,” says my girlfriend.

At this point I’m holding on to her. We’re both backed into a corner on the couch. Oblowitz is rubbing his cock through his jeans. His other hand gropes at us.

“I’m really good at seducing people. Like, REALLY good. Obviously.” He’s actually saying this. “But I find porn stars are the hardest to seduce. It’s cause you fuck people all the time, huh?”

“Right.”

Oblowitz moves on to another story. This time, it’s about the girl he wrote the screenplay with. At least that she never wore panties around him. The point: he wants to fuck her. Also, that it somehow deems him “open minded.”

We’re two hours in and neither of us have read a line for the man. All he’s tried to do is get us naked and fucking. After a few more of his attempts, we get up to leave.

Outside, he throws his arms around us. It’s a forced group hug. “I’ve been bad, huh?”

“You know what you’ve been,” answers my girlfriend.

Still, the guy is smiling. “I love how he’s rubbing his cock against me.”

The director’s referring to me so I immediately let go.

“We’ll be in touch,” he says. I think. But it’s probably worded douchier than that.




The following afternoon I get a call from Oblowitz. I’m on set, so he leaves a voicemail: “Hey ****’s boyfriend, it was great meeting you two yesterday. We’ve all been looking at ****’s stuff over here and jerking off. Anyways, I was hoping you could get me the contact information for Kink.com. I’d love to talk to them about my movie...”

I stop listening and text him.

Me: No. You are one of the most unprofessional, condescending people I’ve ever met. I don’t want to work with you, and I’m pretty sure that none of my friends would either. So good luck on your project. Please don’t contact me again.

Oblowitiz: Wow!! I’m sorry if I offended you. I never mean to patronise; I don’t know what “professional” means, other then some boring, conformist, conservative, narcissistic form of behaviour. I’m sorry you cannot appreciate my art or the opportunity that I’m offering you. Obviously I should stick to working with the kind of actors I’m used to working with. I didn’t mean to dredge up any trauma. I had no idea I was being so offensive. Apparently we have massively different interpretations of open-minded. I seriously regret having let you read my screenplay. A massive character misjudgement on my part. Please know that all ideas contained in that script are copyright protected under the Writers Guild of America and any infringement thereof will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. Good luck.




There’s a point to this story, and I’m sure I’ve made it before. Porn is just another job. And it’s filled with just as many sleazy pieces of shit as any other. In fact, the more I delve into the mainstream world, the more I feel like porn is a vacation.




I’ve had friends in film school who worked as production assistants for Transformers director, Michael Bay. They tell horror stories of being verbally and emotionally degraded on set. For terrible pay.

On a recent shoot, a fellow crew member explained how his admiration for Mickey Rourke disappeared once he worked on Iron Man 2. The actor would often show up two-to-six hours late, costing the entire production time, money, and effort.

A woman from the NBC marketing department complained to me one night at a party. She said that executive producers are killing the network’s budgets. “They take all the money and don’t actually do anything. And their coke habits... They’ll buy up to an eight-ball a day. I mean, I only buy one a week... And I share it.”

Even those I respect come off as mildly insulting. A director hired me to consult on his film, and then asked, “How did you get started in all this? You run away from home or something?”




Close friends from the mainstream world will tell me how they hope I can move on from porn some day. My family will too. And I guess when I look at myself, there’s a future in mind that exists beyond XXX.

After all, I’ve got an expiration date. One day, no one will pay to see me fuck.

In the meantime, there’s always something to consider. Unless I fall upon some amazing patch of luck, switching careers will likely mean I’ll work longer hours for less money, and have to spend more time with miserable people.

Of course, I’ll come across hard-working, dedicated, and interesting peers. But I’ve already got those. They’re the friends I’ve made in porn.

The pieces of shit in my industry will always be around. Though, if given the choice, I’ll take my brief interactions with them over months on set with a guy like Oblowitz.




In so many words, “Fuck you, Michael. But don’t worry. This blog won’t effect your career. To the average person, you’re still above me. Because you haven’t sold the footage of the people you’ve fucked.”

19 comments:

  1. What a cartoon character. This is the reason my wife prefers working in porn too. She went to film school and has had mainstream film work... but the abuse and low pay and lack of appreciation that all but a lucky few at the top have to endure is just awful. Luckily neither of us ever came across anything THIS bad though... my god.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your blog serves as a remind...

    Your rational, about porn being a means to an end... I told myself the same thing, and I even as far as to give myself my own expiration date. And I quote, "If I'm fucking for money when I turn 30 then I'm going to cut my cock off." I'm 31 and I haven't cut off my cock. I wonder and I worry. When isn't porn a part of my life but my life?

    You wrote about walking away for less money and longer hours. That's true, but... Would you trade the freedom and the pay for... For what? The what might be the mundane, working at a Starbucks, or the what might be the majestic life you've dreamed of. But, the grass isn't always greener... After all, I know you've found a lot of your friends and found love in porn.

    You and your girlfriend's "meeting" put porn into perspective, or at least society's perception of porn. Adult actors and actresses... We're The Jersey Shore. I don't think I'm out of line typing that the "guidos" and "guidettes" are punch lines to a joke, laughed at like jesters performing for our own amusement. We're that punch line, put into sex's perspective. Society asks "The Situation" to flash his abs and smirk and we're ask to flash our cocks and cunts. "Mainstream" jobs and 220,000 twitter followers and Sasha Grety is still the whore who reads to children. Sadly, we're second class citizens, in the eyes of society.

    For the record... I'm not telling you or your readers that a pornographic life isn't the good life or that society's treatment of us is tolerable. I am telling everyone that I think a lot of us, my porn peers and I, forget to put our lives into the perspective. Who are we? Who do we want to be?

    Danny... You know who you are and you know what you want to be. For that, I envy you. Don't give up on your dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here's a scenario

    You do get your big break into a mainstream project.The producers loves you and the director have ambitious plans for you.You shoot the film,being a multi million dollar project,millions more were pumped into publicity.Then,on the eve of the grand opening,the press finds out you're a porn performer.WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN next?The public will love the film and because the film was a big hit, the producers will laugh all the way to the bank ,with money stuff in their pockets?REALLY?

    What will probably happen is all support for the project will disappear and the producers will be left with a big price tag of a film nobody will wants to be associated with.

    NO ONE WITH REAL POWER IN MAINSTREAM WILL EVER ASSOCIATE THEMSELVES WITH PORN.NO ONE.That is truth.

    This applies to the little players too.

    Anyone who "offers" you a role.especially those
    in league with power players are most likely playing you for a desperate fool.

    There will always be slim in any industry,and that's a fact.
    But you are setting up yourself for this kind of treatment if you continue to yearn for that lime light.They know your hunger and they use it for their own amusement.

    So,please.Don't pretend you don't already know this facts and appear to be a victim of a "shitty" attitude of a director.
    Who the fuck do you think watches porn?
    Good ,loving ,rich and powerful producers who goes to church every Sunday?

    You can't be that dense ,can you?

    ReplyDelete
  4. To Anonymous Commenter above:

    Yes, there is an absurd amount of prejudice against porn actors from the rest of the world. However, some of the most intelligent people that I know of are involved with some kind of sex work, and Danny is definitely in that group. It's thanks to people like him that the wall between porn and everybody else is slowly being broken down. Just because the bridge between the two isn't crossed often doesn't mean he can't do it. Who says he can't change the world?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on my point in my previous comment but I was not talking about prejudice or stigma that comes along by being apart of the industry .I was talking about a very basic human instinct .Fear.

    In this case, fear of losing one of the most precious of commodity.MONEY.

    Losing money is what the rich and powerful fears the most.And with ANY association with porn,comes scandal,with scandal comes controversy ,with controversy comes media attention,with bad media attention comes lost of lots and lots of money.

    I hope I made my point

    ReplyDelete
  6. Godal-bloody-mighty, Chris.

    I'm going to do everything I can to help change this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's not about you and my girl, it's the rest that live, breathe, eat, talk and exist to simply suck up the air in a room. I would see a great movie to see a great movie porn actor or no and if the truth be known I'm not a quiet minority. It still amazes me the prejudices we live with in our so called modern world. It is still a world where we are better pretending we're living in the "norm" then that perhaps some things just aren't that big of a deal at the end of the day. You and my girl are the brave ones and I hope you never give anything but attitude back to morons like that producer/director. He's been living in his own crazy fucked up world way too long. And I don't know about the rest of you in blog land but go ahead and name the last movie you saw that captured some part of your soul, and moved through your blood like you lived it. I'm not talking about the great overdone special effects kind, I'm looking for a great story. You kids in porn I applaud you and I hope you have people that love you. When you're faced with guys like Oblowitiz you need to look at them and laugh in their face and hold onto your integrity. Oh and fuck that guy..I mean really...oh see you at Thanksgiving.

    ReplyDelete
  8. awww....motherly love at it's finest.The support for her son is so beautiful.
    If only Melissa Kimbros was that way.
    Actually, it was she who directed me to this blog.

    And "Mom",
    there is much more to making films than having a good story.A whole lot of politics is involved ;and with politics coupled together with money,there will always be enemies.
    People who will do just about anything to see the other party fall.Which kinda reflects how "little" Danny was treated,no?

    It's a cutthroat world out there and your undying love for your son may not be enough to protect him from the harshness of that reality.

    and oh,happy Thanksgiving,"Mummy"

    ReplyDelete
  9. To Anonymous,

    We went to this casting call with realistic expectations. It was a horror movie with a female role that required nudity and bondage. Porn performers are used for stuff like this all the time (see Pirahna 3D). No one expected to get famous. It's just a nice treat for fans, and a decent paycheck.

    As for your claim that no one in mainstream will associate themselves with porn people... The only reason Soderberg's "The Girlfriend Experience" got any press is because of Sasha Gray. Some of it was obviously good press. Otherwise she would have never gotten a recurring role on "Entourage."

    I don't think I'm going to be the next Spielberg. I never did. But working below the line on mainstream films is always a possibility. It's something I do on indie stuff every once in a while. Because no one cares what your past is if you're hauling equipment or setting up lights.

    It's the above the line people that care about publicity.

    The point of this blog is that, in my experience, the stereotypes that are often attributed to the porn industry are more likely to be true in mainstream film.

    We didn't go to an audition. We were there so some guy could get his dick sucked. I don't care what industry you're in. That makes you a piece of shit.

    Also... That's not my mom. It's my girlfriend's. And I commend her for being so supportive of her daughter in light of the more "legitimate" people out there who are just a different kind of whore.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The response to Sasha Grey and The Girlfriend Experience was tepid at best and like Traci Lords she is pretty much stunt casting. Those are the kinds of parts that 99.999% of porn people get. I don't think you really believe that Sasha Grey will ever be competing for parts with Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone or any other truly talented young A list actress.

    Perhaps the treatment of porn performers goes back to the fuck the whore, marry the nice girl mentality that many straight and gay men have. When I was in LA, I saw gay men that were high rollers fuck and date porn stars and often these porn stars would fall in love with these guys, but ultimately they would dump the porn guy and partner with someone who was within their own social/professional/financial circle.

    I think Howard Stern is a pretty good indicator of how mainstream Hollywood and society think of porn. Howard is fascinated by porn, talks about getting off on porn, and has performers on regularly. At the same time though, he talks about how degrading it is, how ashamed some of these girls mothers must be, and how embarrassed most of these people will be in 20 years about doing porn. I don't agree with it but it all goes back to the fuck the whore marry the nice girl mentality that men have.

    Seth Rogen was on the Stern show and talking about watching porn and thinking in his head "I can fuck any of these girls if I wanted to now". Meaning that now that he's famous, any of these girls would gladly fuck him with no effort or hesitation. It's probably true, but at the same time his attitude is that these girls are disposable and not people. I've found that kind of attitude is prevalent in Hollywood.

    TJ Cummings is right. No matter what any kind of success you might have, you will always be placed in the box as a porn performer. I don't think Hollywood will ever let a porn performer make it as a star. Chloe Sevingy paid dearly for doing a blow job scene in a movie (a crummy one at that) and it cost her a lot of work. She was able to come back, but by the time she did, the buzz she had accumulated from Kids and Boys Don't Cry was gone. Even people behind the scenes can get stigmatized. Look at Gregory Dark.

    I used to know a few guys that did softcore/skinemax porn in the late 90's who desperately wanted to have mainstream success but had to do it in order to pay the the bills. Krista Allen never fully broke the stigma of the one softcore porn she did.

    Also I think the internet can make it much harder for someone to transition from porn to anything mainstream, including a non entertainment industry career. Gone are the days when someone can make a few movies and disappear into anonymity. Porn wikileaks and the slew of gossip websites took care of that. Look at what happened recently to the son of that soap opera actress that got outed for doing porn.

    ReplyDelete
  11. First of all, YAY new blog! :D Boo to that guy, though, he can go right to hell. What an asshat. I was wanting to go to graduate school for film and tv and theatrical costume design, but if assholes like that are still in the business, I think I might just stick with theatre. Yeesh!

    But to the post at hand. Your girlfriend is a fucking SAINT to put up with that and still give off a good natured face to the whole thing. I don't think I could have ever done anything like that and she deserves kudos. As do you for being blunt to that dickhole. Whatever happens in your life from this point on, I know you'll find your bliss and be happy whatever you do. :)

    And Anonymous, I feel like you're trying to argue something that no one is really arguing about, and you're being a bit condescending to both Danny and the other posters. I understand your point, I do, but no one here really is that naive. Also, nobody really said that Sasha Grey was the next Emma Stone or anything, but her life experiences did provide her and the audience a sense of realism and believability to the character she played in the movie. In short, you're trying to "educate" us on stuff we're already aware of in kind of a rude way. Of course, it's hard to add inflection and stuff on the internet typing out responses, so I get that. But this isn't really a "poor me" post, it's (to me) a post both promoting awareness and showcasing irony (or whatever the proper word is :P).

    ReplyDelete
  12. You have to wonder how many others he has tried this routine on? You put it well, all industries have this type. interesting read. You write well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great entry! Brutal, and incisive. I guess it's not surprise that the non-porn industry has just as many (if not more) creepy douche-bags.

    ReplyDelete
  14. what a bunch of morons...

    ReplyDelete
  15. oblowitz is a really cool, creepy, twisted, perverted underground film maker, whose made dozens of great award winning films and music videos...obviously you were neither educated or respectful enough to do your homework...he doesnt give a shit how he is perceived...and will behave however he feels... he is a true anarchist as opposed to a couple of desperate schmucks having to fuck for a living and then pretend they live a normal, petit bourgesois life...go read a book you brain dead imbeciles...pity he didnt masturbate over your self righteous idiotic faces...you two sound like perefect candidates for The Biggest Loosers

    ReplyDelete
  16. In one sense if you believe that people are not ultimately (morally) responsible for their own choices then yes the comment "having to fuck for a living" by the poster above me holds some sort of merit. I find the idea of total moral responsibility to be a murky affair at best when taking into account both neuroscience and modern cultural anthropology, thus there is a certain ringing truth the statement. You came to a point because of your circumstances where you had limited decisions you could make based on who you were sculpted by life to be. You decided porn. It does not follow truly that you are completely responsible for that decision, there is a lot of nature and nurture in there. The Anonymous poster seems to give Oblowitz the pass on his behaviour as him just being who is so to speak, while in turn condemning you for just being who you are.
    This is of course the same type of faulty logic employed that let's murdering cops get a slap on the wrist while murdering citizens get life in prison.
    One group is seen to have the dignity of choice while other is seen to be only acting in natural role in which they are placed.
    The dignity of choice however comes with a great cost when society deems your choices to be ill fitting with normative behaviour.
    Thus when a dignified chooser makes a choice the ego must ascribe to them traits as either an actor whom has acted poorly or who is bad, or as a roleplayer who is only embracing their true nature.
    Meritocracy is a messy busy.
    Beyond that my comments must speak to the idea that of course mainstream film industry has people with issues. Many people sacrifice much of themselves to be involved with it, and go so far as to create facades to hide behind to stay clean and nice. This is going to wear on the ego and probably create unseen demands from the individuals who participate in the industry. The need to hide desires, ego's, anger, and sexuality is a breeding ground for having those exact desires control oneself.
    The porn industry much in the same way creates a facade and sexualizes the models and actors in its field. I would not be surprised to find many of its participants bogged down by issues of intimacy and communication because the actors and models are all but torn from their own privacy.
    In stating this I am not making a case to forgive Oblowitz's behaviour, nor attacking the porn industry and saying they are passive aggressive whatevers, but instead trying to point out that perhaps your experiences are not the experience and that there are most probably good and bad people in both industries. You just seem to have encountered the very bad in one, and represent some of the very best in another.

    ReplyDelete