Down and Dirty with Michael Lucas
Taking his cues from Hugh Hefner, Russian import Michael Lucas has built his own porn empire in New York, effectively building his company – Lucas Entertainment – from the ground floor up. He not only appears in some of his company’s prolific output, but he also writes, directs and promotes. Last week, he even spoke at Yale.
Lucas – who became an American citizen last year – earned a law degree in Moscow before embarking on a career in adult entertainment. He launched his company in 1998, which has blossomed into an industry leader by offering a diverse range of models and situations, as well as price points below that of his competitors. He keeps pushing the boundaries of the industry and has earned a fair share of critics because of his outspoken opinions on barebacking (no way) and drugs (not on his set). Success always breeds contempt. Now all he needs is a mansion. EDGE caught up with Michael last week.
What is the strategy for bringing gay porn into the mainstream?
“I not trying to bring it to the mainstream, it’s too hardcore. Let’s be realistic. What I’m trying to do - and what is possible – is to bring some of the performers to the mainstream. I want to make some of the guys who are interesting enough, to make them mainstream performers. There are more disgusting people than nice people in this business - more boring than interesting. More stupid than smart. But there are individuals who have that combination of great looks and intellect and originality. They mainstreamed Jenna Jameson. Whatever makes money can be mainstream. So launching the new gay TV stations - Logo, Here – these performers will have more and more opportunities to go there and be a part of shows.”
Of your exclusives, who do you think has the best chance of crossover?
“Bruce Beckham, who appears in “Dangerous Liaisons,” and Wilfried Knight are my priorities. They have brains and beauty and sex appeal. Wilfred was named OUT magazine’s hottest adult star of 2005.”
What is wrong with the current state of the porn industry?
As with any genre, there are changes all the time. For too long, there has been nothing but dick worship in these movies. No story, no build-up. Nothing but worshipping dick and tops and dick. Now, there is more worshipping of the ass. There are more versatile guys. They are getting more exposure than just tops. We are looking for versatility. Now we are looking at the plot. If you can keep both things interesting, with witty dialogue and get guys to act - if they are capable – it makes a better film. I will tell you, I didn’t think it was possible, but I changed my mind when I started my own company.”
How long have you been in the business?
“ I’ve been doing this since 1995. I did my first straight movie in Germany then went to France and worked with [gay film-maker] Cadinot.”
You are currently publicizing your most lavish production, “Dangerous Liaisons.”
“I’m having lots of fun with that. Not only did we do a very good job with the dialogue and story line, but also with the camera work and the locations. It has lots of style. We had wardrobe and stylists. And six cameras. I also brought in celebrities to do walk-ons – they’re non-sexual, but I think it is something very different. It legitimizes it in some way. We had Graham Norton, Bruce Vilanch, Rupaul and Michael Musto in different scenes. Celebrities will help us bring new models to the scene. It will give them a little push.”
Where do you cultivate your models?
I like them from New York, but if they are in Boston or elsewhere, they can stop by the studio to audition. I look everywhere. Different guys from different places.”
What was the budget?
“A quarter of a million.”
You appear to keep your prices lower than other companies?
“If a company can sell “Star Wars” for $19.98, we should be able to sell films cheaper Chi Chi Larue sells “Bolt” for. [Editor’s note: “Bolt: The Director’s Cut” retails for $89.99]. How bad to do want to jerk off? It’s ridiculous to sell adult films for over $60 each these days. Today, with file sharing and Internet we should encourage people to purchase. We should give them a better deal.”
What do you think of the rise in bareback videos?
“If you are in your right mind, it is easy to take a position. When you make porn, you are advertising sex and you should be responsible and have sex with a condom. That’s my movies - and other good companies – do. These movies can be an education tool.”
You’ve been a bit of a renegade in the industry. How do you fit into the larger picture?
“To be honest, I’m an outsider in the industry. I am not a part of LA porn circle. There are some people in this business that I would like to stay away from - as far as possible. Some of the so-called ‘The Grandfathers of industry.’ Maybe you were good yesterday, but it’s about what you produce. They don’t like someone who came from another country and is having success. I’m enjoying success because my customers like my product.”
For more on Michael Lucas go to www.lucasentertainment.com.