Porn Video History

Should pornographers have sex with performers?

Breaking my “hands off” policy with Candy Samples at a trade show.

New girls in porn don’t know the limits of their obligations. The late director Anthony Spinelli told me about directing one neophyte’s screen cherry scene. After it was over, she asked him if she was done. “I kept a straight face,” said Spinelli. “And I told her, ‘Not yet.  For new girls it’s a long-standing tradition that the entire crew gets in on the action,’ She ponders this for a moment, then asks, ‘I get extra for that don’t I?’”

Some new girls don’t even get extra.  Sleazy “agents (some named in my book)” have been known to “audition” would-be porn queens by having sex with them.  Many pornographers (mostly newcomers) think, I’m the one paying her to screw. Why shouldn’t I get some? But, as veterans know, giving in to the temptation is bad business.  Why?  Because paid professional sex, even accompanied by genuine orgasms, remains within the safety zone of an acting performance.  But when interpersonal emotions get involved, it’s like treading a minefield.

One of the most difficult scenes I ever directed—recounted in detail in SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry—involved a young woman named Rita who was in a snit over something that had happened between her and my still photographer, Kenny, who was Rita’s agent and lover.  The following dialogue is from SKINFLICKS:
          “Take a picture of me, Kenny,” she said. “NOW!”
          “OK.” Kenny raised his Hasselblad. “Expression, Rita.”  She remained impassive. “Rita…expression…”
           “I gave it to you, Kenny,” she snapped.
           “I didn’t see it, Babe.”
           “I gave it to you and you missed it.”
           “Oh, come on,” Kenny pleaded. “Let’s do it.”
           “No. Wait. I’ll tell you when.”
           Kenny lowered the camera.  Rita shook a long fingernail at him. “No! You keep that camera over your face!”

After participating in the scene like a dental patient facing a root canal, Rita suddenly wanted to have sex—with me!  She wanted to trade a quickie for a multi-speed vibrator she had become fond of.  I turned her down. It wasn’t the first time a porn actress offered me sex and it wouldn’t be the last.  I had a policy of maintaining a “professional distance,” which was not always easy to do.

The gorgeous blonde sexual volcano Lily Marlene, one of my Superior Video favorites, kept invited me over for some fun.  If I hadn’t been engaged at the time, I might have taken her up on the offer. Sex to her was pure recreation without the need for emotional involvement. Her husband, fearing HIV transmission, finally put a stop to her attendance at bachelor parties, where she could exhaust all men present.  Lily did get to me for a few startling moments after the wrap of the Deviations shoot. I was in an office at the nightclub where the climactic scene had been shot. I was making out checks for the huge cast waiting in line outside the door for their pay.  When Lily’s turn came, I was busy with my pen when—under the desk—I felt my pants being unzipped.  For a moment I savored the pleasant sensations Lily was providing. Then the sobering reality of the impatient group outside the door took over and I passed Lily’s check under the desk.

The closest I came to actual sex with a porn star was during a break on the set of Chocolate Cream. It was a hot day and I was relaxing on a couch wearing only shorts. Mauvaise de Noire, a beautiful black woman who was soon to become a major star, was grateful for the starring role I had given her, and I felt lucky to have cast her. Wearing only her birthday suit, she sat down on my lap ready for some extra action. A cameraman offered to shoot close-ups, hiding my face, but I became camera-shy, reflecting that if my fiancée ever saw the footage, she might be able to recognize me from the part that showed.

The weirdest of possible sex offerings I ever encountered came on the set of my appropriately weird outer space video, E.X.  The following passage is from SKINFLICKS:
    After we wrapped, I found out why Gayle hauled Dennis around like excess baggage.  She motioned me to a stairwell, away from the crew packing up the equipment. Like a cop about to frisk a suspect, Gayle leaned Dennis against the rail. Chattering about how well-hung he was, she unbuckled his belt and pulled down his pants.  I wondered what this was all about; Dennis didn’t work in porn movies.  Then I recalled how the couple had kept telling me about their exploits swinging with third parties—both male and female.  Gayle alone I might have considered, but I wanted no part of this scene.  To this couple, Gayle’s porn work was part of their elaborate fantasy life.

The line between professional and non-professional sex was best drawn by my future housemate, the late superstar Juliet (“Aunt Peg”) Anderson.  My early business partner Joe Loveland (a pseudonym) had written himself into The Perfect Gift, playing an Arab oil sheik, his face carefully hidden in a burnoose.  He enjoyed his scene with Juliet so much that he proposed an encore in private.  From SKINFLICKS:
          “I never have sexual relations with the producers I work for,” she told him.
          “You had sexual relations with me,” Loveland said.
          “But that was work.”
          Later on, he told me, “I’ve never been so insulted in my whole life!”  I decided that any future business partners would have to be less libidinously involved in the product development process.

If you want to have sex with a porn queen, write yourself into the script and make sure you pay her and that the camera is rolling.

Published!—not! SKINFLICKS’ tangled tale

SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry had a great start: a publishing contract and a $7,000 advance from Zebra Books. Maybe all those people in that writing class were right when they told me I would make a lot of money with this book. And why not?  After all, SKINFLICKS chronicled a revolution in the porn movie business in which yuppies replaced gangsters, porn queens became corporations, porn became suburbanized, and the U.S Government declared a massive “War on Porn” that threatened even R-rated movies with prosecution.  I was qualified to describe this revolution because I helped lead it.  After learning the business as a filmmaker for “the biggest Mafia porn outfit on the West Coast (FBI quote),” I launched Superior Video, Inc. and pioneered the first full-length X-rated movies shot entirely on videotape.  My story entwined with that of the porn video industry.  As the documentary filmmaker Alberto Cavalcante wrote, “To make a film about the post office, make a film about a letter.”  In SKINFLICKS, I became the letter.

When I entered the porn business, I began an audio cassette journal with the goal of someday writing about my experiences.  By the time I sold the rights to Superior Video’s movies, after 12 years in the industry, my audio journal had reached 347 cassettes.  I put my money into high-interest investments that would support me while I wrote.

After I sent out book proposals to those who had responded to my query letters, things happened fast. Within a couple of months, I had an agent who almost immediately landed the book contract.  I bought a Mac Quadra (1993 version) and happily plunged into stories of fast-track superstars, porno stage mothers, porn-addicted vice cops, burnt-out studs, obsessed fans, pompous porn barons and other denizens of this twilight world.

With experiences from over a hundred porn shoots, I wanted to answer the most frequent question asked about porn:  What are these performers really like? My answers came from casting them, bargaining with them and directing them. In describing the sex action, I tried to avoid wallowing in graphic details, some of which—of course—were unavoidable.  Above all, I reminded myself that SKINFLICKS was not a pornographic book; it was a book about pornography.  I thought I did a good job of making the distinction.  So did the editor at Zebra Books, who examined every word. She agreed that the book would be fun to read.  

When the galleys (review copies) came out, one went to Paul Fishbein, publisher of Adult Video News, the “bible of the porn video business.”   Fishbein called SKINFLICKS “…the best and most realistic depiction of the modern world of pornography written in book form to date…” (This was before the Internet created a whole new “modern world.”) Adult superstar Nina Hartley also read the manuscript and made suggestions.

Just as I was anticipating book tours, readings, book signings and maybe even an appearance on Oprah, the publisher dropped the book. Why? The reason—I learned—was a storm of bad publicity following the publication of Madonna’s book, Sex.  Publishers were afraid of anything even suggestive of pornography.  Was this true?  I didn’t know for sure.  But my agent, who had so quickly found Zebra Books, spent many months trying again to sell SKINFLICKS with no success.

About this time I began having a series of medical issues. Without going into detail, let me just say that at one point I couldn’t coordinate my hands enough to make a sandwich.  I couldn’t finish sentences.  I was talking about the President and forgot his name. (I’d like to forget Bush again.)  During these travails, I put the promotion of SKINFLICKS on hold.  Then came an offer from a brand new company called 1st Books Library.  1st Books was pioneering a new technology called POD—print on demand.  Books would be printed in response to orders, without the mass printings that risked the possibility of remainders.  1st Books was hungry to sign authors and was offering deals.  For much lower up-front charges than other vanity presses, 1st Books would manufacture, advertise and distribute SKINFLICKS, paying me a royalty that was roughly half the wholesale price of each printed book.

With SKINFLICKS in 1st Books’ able hands, I turned my attention to more basic needs, such as making a living and negotiating America’s so-called “health care” system.  Royalty checks from 1st Books came in quarterly dribbles: $40 here, $75 there, just enough to remind me that—yes—I had a book in publication.  I hadn’t the energy, money or desire to pursue the hassles of promoting it.  Medical costs, a business failure and investments gone sour proceeded to decimate my savings. Fortunately, Social Security kicked in before my landlord could kick me out.  Something else began kicking in—and kicking hard.  1st Books Library had become Authorhouse and had built an aggressive sales staff.  Authorhouse reps began peppering me with calls: Dave, we can promote your book at such-and-such where thousands of potential readers will see SKINFLICKS!  Sign up now for our special! You’ll save hundreds off our regular rates!   Sure. Save hundreds, while spending thousands. Oh, to be rich enough to afford the indulgences of authorship!

Authorhouse made one offer I couldn’t refuse.  For a couple hundred dollars the company would post SKINFLICKS on the new eBook websites being offered by Amazon, Apple and other Internet companies.  But when the dates arrived for SKINFLICKS to appear on these sites, the book wasn’t there. I called Authorhouse to complain, and my “account rep” blithely told me that the company had received so many requests for this service that they had cut it off—without notice to their paying clients. After my angry calls bounced around in their phone maze, I finally found someone who could “authorize” my refund.  I was relieved when Authorhouse replaced their sales calls with sales emails.

As vestiges of mental acuity returned, along with attendant energies, I decided to have one last go at doing something with SKINFLICKS.  Friends had told me it was too good a book to neglect (frequent comment: “well-written”).  I replaced my trusty but obsolete Mac Quadra with a new Dell and took to that PC like a duck takes to an oil slick. New technology and old brain: bad combo.  A local college kid set up a website through a URL provider with the jazzy name of Go Daddy.  attracted little notice outside of spammers offering “SEO optimization.” (Some day I’ll learn how to work that website. In the meantime, there is a detailed description of the book, plus sample chapters on that website, accessible through Google search. But Kindle orders still need to be made through the Amazon Kindle site.  Bear with me, I’m learning)

Through a referral, I lucked into a wonderful eBook expert named Barb Elliott, who patiently walked me through putting SKINFLICKS on Kindle. (I highly recommend the services of   So, now I’m learning how to use Twitter and later (I hope), Facebook.  And then…?   I tend to move with all the speed of those turtles in the Comcast Xfinity commercials.  Like the narrator says, “Fast isn’t for everyone.”  But I’m working on it.

5 Star Review of SKINFLICKS

My thanks to Mr. John Wingfield of Shivley, Kentucky who reviewed SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry (Kindle Edition)  On July 11, 2012, Mr. Wingfield wrote the following:

I really liked this book. It featured an insight into the world of adult film making that is seldom ever seen nor realized.  The author was not your typical knuckle dragging pultroon that may associate with the adult film industry, but a highly educated and experienced conventional film maker who earned his stripes in the world of commercial advertising.  His insight into the personages and events came from first hand accounts and actions.  His research about the overall facts and figures was eye opening.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an actual interest of an oft times maligned part of the cinemagraphic arts. 

What’s love got to do with porn? Tom Byron/Traci Lords

If you ask any veteran pornographer who worked in the 1980s to say the first word that comes to mind when you mention the name “Traci Lords,” he/she might respond with “bitch” or “hate” or something worse.  After all, it was Lords whose revelation that she was underage during her entire reign as porn’s number one queen that almost sank the porn industry.  Yet when I think of the word “love” in relation to porn, it is a scene I shot with Traci Lords that comes to mind.

Her co-star in the scene was Tom Byron, one of the finest gentlemen ever to bare all on a porn movie set.  Now, there have been many real-life partners who worked together in porn, and their on-screen sex usually looked professional and well-rehearsed. But the real expression of their love lives came later, when cuddling at home in their beds. Tom wanted to do that with Traci, but he couldn’t.

He had been her real-life boyfriend before Traci relegated him to the status of sex-scene favorite, and nothing more.  Byron wanted desperately to return to their previous relationship. His pining after Lords had become an ongoing industry chuckle.  On the set of my video feature Physical II, he pursued her naked rear over a tangle of power cables, beseeching, “Traci, for the last time, will you marry me?” 
         She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Not again…” 

After exhibiting his usual expertise with the delightful pixie, Cara Lott, Byron waited patiently for his scene with Traci—a scene that would turn out to be unique among the many I’ve witnessed. Usually, in a boy/girl porn scene, everything caters to the male’s ability to perform.  Women complain about being left “high and dry (or ‘wet,’as it were).”  This scene was the opposite.  As detailed in SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry, Byron didn’t just have sex with Traci, he made love to her.  The scene ended with a totally satisfied Traci Lords sinking down on top of Byron, so that her hair obscured their features, while he nuzzled her neck.  I let the shot hold long.  Finally, Byron raised his head, blinked and asked, “Do we have anything else?”
         “Yes. Your come shot.”
         “Oh, yeah!” An unlikely oversight for a veteran stud.

Years after the Lords fiasco (described in SKINFLICKS), I ran into Tom Byron at a trade show. “What’s Traci up to these days?” I asked him.
          Byron shrugged. “Who the hell cares?”

    The word “love” associated with Traci Lords in the porn industry ends with the bitterly ironic title of the only porn movie she made while of legal age: the 1987 release of Traci I Love You.  Lords went on to become one of the few porn stars to enjoy success in the so-called “legit” film industry.

Tom Byron continued his Hall of  Fame career, and shifted to the other side of the camera to produce and direct award-winning videos.  A man of many interests, Byron also became an entrepreneur in fields as diverse as music and pro wrestling.       

Thanks, Will

Thanks Will (do you prefer Will or Willy?) for more kind words. I’m happy that you found SKINFLICKS to be “an incredible read about the business.”  And thank you for tweeting my blog to Nina Hartley, Tom Byron, Ron Jeremy and Cara Lott, all of whom I had found to be great people to work with.  I still haven’t found the correct way to make a reply to comments. My social network guru is due to visit on July 12, so then I’ll learn how to do it right.  Coincidently, my next blog entry will include Tom Byron and Cara Lott–and that industry disaster Traci Lords.  I hope to be able to post it tonight.  If not, it will have to await my guru on the 12th. 

Wishing you all the best,


Reply to Willy B Good’s questions of June 21

Hi Willy. I’m glad you are enjoying the book and thanks for your questions. Sorry for being so late in replying, but I’m still learning how to work the technology. Couldn’t get reply box to work, so I finally decided to answer your questions as a new post. (Why didn’t I think of that before?)   Sadly, John Leslie Nuzzo died of a heart attack on December 5, 2010 at age 65. He was a consummate professional. I recall him rushing off to catch up on a TV football game between camera setups, then he’d return to the set erect and ready to proceed.  Directing him was easy, since he was such a fine actor.  He was a bit arrogant but that was no problem.  Women loved him because his expertise made their job so much easier. After a shooting day John loved to share a joint with his best industry buddy, director Anthony Spinelli. Their sharp repartee kept me in stitches.  I thought Boogie Nights was an accurate portrayal of porn’s behind-the-scenes.  The partying in the movie was a bit excessive. Most porn stars of that period lived far more sedate lives.  Burt Reynolds’ portrayal of an archetypical pornographer was so accurate that it gave me chills.  I can’t offer a prognosis about porn’s future because I’ve been away from the business for so long.  Internet piracy can’t be defeated. But popular porn stars can (hopefully) count on their loyal fans to buy their movies before the pirated versions come out.
Thanks again for your kind comments, and in the future I hope to be able to answer your  questions more promptly.    


Ron Jeremy had a great idea for a sex scene.  As he described it in Hustler:  “I’d like to do a hang-gliding scene in an X-rated film.  I see this great shot of me standing on a hill with my dick sticking straight out, hard as a rock.  Then I take off and start gliding downward.  There’s this gorgeous girl at the bottom of the hill pointing her little butt right at me.  The master shot would look as if I’m going to dive right into her ass at top speed.  But the final shot would cut to a camera zoom of my dick making a safe rear-entry landing right smack in the middle of her pussy.  I’d like to see James Bond do something like that.” (excerpt from  SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry)

As absurd as Jeremy’s scenario sounds, it is indicative of how pornographers think.  In SKINFLICKS, I detail such pornographer’s brainstorms as sex in a vat of spaghetti and in a tub of chocolate; three-somes balancing precariously on toilets; prosthetic penises mounted in unusual places (Paul Norman’s Cyrano and Edward Penishands); scenes featuring octopus tentacles and snorkel cameras; and gang-bangs with one woman taking on up to one hundred men. When I produced E.X., I used my special effects generator to show aliens with three-foot-long members performing double-penetration on Lilly Marlene.

Why do pornographers go to such extremes?  Because they have to.  Psychologist Neil Malamuth of UCLA said, “Our research shows that every time there is a satiation of themes, people to some degree lose their ability to be aroused by it.  Therefore, newer themes are introduced, breaking new taboos.”  The late porn director Alex DeRenzy put it more simply. His biggest problem, he said, was “beating audience boredom.”

Regardless of how resourceful they are, pornographers are stuck with the fact that all sex scenes come down to the same half-dozen positions.  If the chemistry isn’t there, no director, regardless of competence, can make a scene sizzle.  On the other hand, when performers are hot for one another, even the dimmest of directors can end up with a great scene. Being at best skilled documentarians, pornographers hasten to proclaim their uniqueness.  (This was especially true when an avalanche of new titles descended upon the industry during the “smut glut” era of the late 1980s and early ‘90s.)  Thus, Scotty Fox, director of Ass Backwards and My Bare Lady, became porn’s “King of Comedy.”  The late Henri Pachard, famous for staging sex on bathroom fixtures, was dubbed “The King of the Commode.” With Shape Up for Sensational Sex, Gail Palmer declared herself “the Jane Fonda of porno.” The late Anthony Spinelli had no interest in directing sex, which he turned over to cameramen such as myself while he took a nap. Spinelli became famous for the miraculous acting performances he managed to wring out of even the most unmotivated of cast members. At Superior Video, my co-director Joe Farmer and I took pride in making low-budget videos look like more expensive ones (that special effects generator sure helped).

The downside of thinking like a pornographer is when it comes to dominate your outlook—especially when you’re cranking out one sexvid after another.  As veteran pornographer Bill Margold observed in a 1982 Adam magazine interview, “You can only live in a fantasy land just so long before it starts driving you crazy.”  When real life runs counter to that fantasy land, disaster beckons. “Pornographer’s disease” is another name for impotence.  My friend Ace Walker said that after he quit shooting and acting in porn, it took him two months before he could enjoy a normal sex life.  Actor Cal Jammer was not so fortunate. Said to obsess about his erections, he couldn’t recover from bouts of penis limpus. He wasn’t the only failed stud to commit suicide.    

Thinking like a pornographer extends beyond those directly involved in production.  Superior Video’s receptionist Alana told me, “I can’t read Vogue (magazine) without thinking of the commercial possibilities.” She provided the idea behind our video Diary of a Bad Girl.

Bristling with erotic visions, pornographers frequently clash with performers pushed beyond their limits. As actor/director F. M. Bradley said about bombastic little porn impresario Jerome Tanner, “If you can take four cocks at once, Jerry will want five.”

A constant battle in the world of pornography is the often rancorous, push-pull negotiation between porn directors and cast members. After weathering one struggle after another, both sides come to the set prepared to go to war.  But that is the subject of a future blog entry. 


This is a blog category for stars I have photographed and/or directed, and also porn directors I have worked for. For each of these people, I will describe my experiences with them in the 70s and 80s, followed by an update.
Nina Hartley, 1980s. 
“That’s my butt!” the new lady announced to the audience admiring her race-horse rump, which filled the projection screen. “How do you like my butt?”
This was no shy ingénue, uneasy about the throng at Juliet Anderson’s premier party for Educating Nina staring into her body crevices.  The star of Juliet’s first effort as a producer was proud of her debut.  (Excerpt from SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry.)
Usually, you don’t put a fresh, new woman in a starring role. If the newcomer freezes up, thousands of dollars in production costs could be lost. Most porn actors—both male and female—start out in support roles, sometimes as “nude extras” who perform no actual sex.
But Juliet Anderson, the (late) sex superstar making her producer/director debut in 1984, felt that Nina Hartley was someone special.  At the time, we didn’t know just how special.
I was working as Juliet’s director of photography, fulfilling my part of a trade: In 1982, Juliet had directed my Superior Video, Inc., feature, Physical.  In return, I was to do camerawork for her in the future.  It wasn’t until two years later that Juliet secured the financing for Educating Nina.
That title was ironic:  Nina Hartley turned out to be the educator—the best educator ever to emerge from the sex film industry.  Like Annette Haven, the porn Hall-of-Famer whose career started in the early 70s, Nina used porn acting as a platform to express her views on sex and society.  Nina felt that American sexuality was sick, burdened with guilt, shame and persecution.  She wanted to change that; a Herculean task.   Like Haven, she decried the mating of sex with violence.  In our culture, the term “sex and violence” sounds almost like one word: sexandviolence.  Nina said, “I’d rather have my child watch someone making love, even if it’s a little mechanical, than watching a woman getting decapitated or mutilated.”
Nina had the credentials to teach; she was a registered nurse.  She proudly declared that she had both a husband and a wife. (Nina’s husband, Dave, was a great on-set crew member.)  She became the porn industry’s best spokesperson, appearing on talk shows and other forums, maintaining her dignity and humor while confronting the most virulent of anti-porn agitators.
Nina Hartley

Working on movies in which Nina Hartley appeared—including my own feature video E.X.–I found her to be one of the most upbeat and cheerful performers I’d ever seen, bantering easily with cast and crew.  She once arrived for her scene in a problem-plagued Anthony Spinelli production, and Spinelli’s wife, Roz, exclaimed—as if Nina were a good-luck charm, “Ah! Here she is! The most wonderful woman on this whole shoot has arrived!”

            “I’m not the most wonderful woman here,” Nina replied. “You are. But I’ll take second.”
Nina called herself “a sex industry worker.  I’m a feminist.  I enjoy my work and I don’t feel exploited.  A person who works in a bank and hates it is being exploited.  My job isn’t for everybody.  I’m a bisexual exhibitionist making a good living.”
Over the years (decades!), Nina Hartley has appeared in hundreds of movies, both porn and non-porn.  She has produced her own sex education shows.  Her world-wide fan following has only increased as she has grown older.
A year ago, Nina Hartley underwent surgery to remove a seven pound fibroid tumor (non-cancerous) from her uterus. I’m not surprised that she has recovered completely.  Nina has always been known to take care of her health. What does surprise me is a plea from “Lesley,” on, for Nina’s fans to contribute funds to help cover the costs of her recovery. I’m glad that Nina’s fans came through. She deserves only the best.  I know she didn’t get into porn with the idea of getting rich, and I hope she is financially comfortable.
The porn industry may not be financially comfortable, especially if the new Los Angeles ordinance requiring porn performers to wear condoms is copied in other parts of the country to which porn production might flee.  Nina Hartley has raised her voice against the new law.  It has long been a truism in the porn industry that safe sex doesn’t sell.  Fans want to live their fantasies vicariously; they don’t want to be reminded of sexually transmitted diseases.  It will be interesting to see what will happen next in the world of porn production.


This blog will describe a revolution that threw the porn industry into chaos.  Between the late 1970s and early 90s, established mob-connected companies succumbed to a new breed of yuppie video porn kings.  A chance to get rich quick brought hordes of young women clamoring to become porn stars; many–still in their teens–were not prepared for the downside of porn stardom.  As sex movies spread to suburban malls, the U. S. Government launched a massive “War on Porn” that almost drove explicit flicks back to red-light districts.

David Jennings helped lead this revolution.  His company was the first to shoot adult feature movies directly on videotape.  The journal he kept during 12 years in the business became the basis for his book SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry. 

This blog will use materials from SKINFLICKS and other research to detail this “Wild West” period in porn history and answer questions about it.  This blog will not be pornographic; it is about pornography