LUCAS KAZAN: THE GAY PORN BLOG INTERVIEW
Director Lucas Kazan has worked in the adult industry for over twenty years — from the lavish highs of VHS to today’s uncertain waters. I ran into the master of Italian hardcore a few months ago, while he planned his next shoot. So I reached out to him last week to talk more about how he got into the business, his favorite men, his longest shoots and where he sees the gay porn industry going. The Gay Porn Blog Interview with Lucas Kazan, after the jump …
What was the first porn you ever saw?
Frankfurt, Germany, 1980. I was barely 15 but looked much older: I mustered the courage up to buy a ticket at one of Frankfurt’s sleazy “Kinos”. It played straight movies on three screens, and a gay movie on the smallest. I remember the cashier looking at me and asking: “Honey, this is for a queer flick. Don’t you want to watch a straight one?” The theatre had no more than 20 seats, all filthy, most broken. On the screen, a young man jerking off. No sound, not even a music score… I was hooked.
How did you get into the business?
Funny how things turned out. In my early 20s, I used to work as a film critic: under my ‘real name’, I also wrote extensively on gay porn for glbt monthly Babilonia, and wrote about it with the same tools I’d use in my trade — semiotics, narratology, sociology … Which eventually led to my Vietato ai minori, Italy’s first ‘scholarly’ book on the history of gay porn. I left my native Milan, moved to Hollywood, graduated from the American Film Institute and began pursuing a career as a production manager first, as an independent Producer then. What about porn?, you ask … Well, my Hollywood neighbors at the time happened to be director Gino Colbert and German performer Wolff: we became good friends and Gino asked me on his ‘naughty’ sets. They were fun, colorful, transgressive — so different from anything ‘mainstream’ , so foreign to my Catholic upbringing. I quickly learned the ropes and, in late 1993, I became Gino’s production manager. Nothing more than a hobby over the weekends. But it offered me a chance to work with a number of porn companies (straight and gay) and to learn from industry veterans: Savannah, Jeff Stryker, producer Scott Masters, directors John Travis and Jerry Douglas, you name them… At the same time, I kept writing for the skin trades — both Italian and American: the now defunct Manshots, Unzipped, GayItalia, Adam [Gay Video Guide] …
Why did you decide to start your own company?
In 1997, Men of Odyssey made me an offer I could not refuse — helming a movie in my own country. The end result, Journey to Italy was nothing short of a disaster, despite its lofty budget . But it taught me a lot… think of it as my ‘hardcore’ boot camp. For the sequel, I wanted full creative control: I started Lucas Kazan Productions in 1998, financed Journey to Italy 2/Desire on my own and sold the hardcore rights back to Odyssey, while retaining the soft core rights. I’ve grown since, I’ve learnt by trials and errors. And colleague Kristen Bjorn was patient enough to mentor me and help me better both my camera work and my sexual choreography.
You’ve been making porn for over 15 years, what’s changed most since you first started?
20 since my Production Manager’s days… What changed? Everything. Back then, there used to be a few visionary players — both in production and in distribution. Today, everyone with a $300 handycam and an Xtube channel is his own producer. The studios that contributed to shaping the business are no longer or have changed ownership: Catalina, Colt, Fox, All Worlds, Studio2000… Same goes for some of the largest online properties: do you even remember StraightCollegeMen? Big budgets, large crews, purpose and production values… mostly gone; auteur porn, story-driven and visually-driven porn… gone. Instead, ‘corporate’ smut has taken over — often straight-owned, often with gimmicky (offensive?) niches and pseudo-amateur camera work. Media and viewing habits have shifted: from VHS/DVD to the internet realm of now-free-and-everywhere. Piracy has devalued porn to the point consumers no longer see the need to pay more than a $1 trial and producers no longer see the need to support it with broader ambitions. Then you have brand-new forms of adult entertainment — with nothing to do with the pre-recorded content I first fell in love with: mobile apps, chats, live cams, dating sites, cruising sites, social networks. It’s a whole new game, really! And yet I keep asking myself: the magnificent porn features of the late 70s – 80s had in fact developed from the ‘loops’ of the early 70s. Is reality porn, as we experience online these days, somewhat similar to those old 8mm loops, poorly lit, blocked, shot, edited? And, if so, what kind of porn will develop in the next few years? How will it look like? Which needs will it answer? Which language will it speak? These are the questions that keep me engaged. And I begin to find some exciting clues: as the ‘reality wave’ and its aesthetic indifference weaken, producers like CockyBoys and Nakedsword are taking risks and boldly exploring the genre from within: form, content, business models.
What mistakes do you see new pornographers making?
I fear we may have no future as an industry, nor as a film genre, if we have little memory of our past. True, we’re making progress: a few well-researched documentaries (Inside Deep Throat, another one [Seed Money] on Falcon’s founder); a few books on the history of gay porn (Escoffier’s Bigger than Life and Clarke’s Porn. From Warhol to X-Tube). But overall, no art form has been as poorly documented, studied, understood as gay porn. And it’s a shame, really. I was lucky enough to become friends with many of the pioneers (Tom DeSimone, Bill Higgins, Scott Masters …); I was blessed to be mentored by and to work with the artists I looked up to the most –George Duroy and Kristen Bjorn. Ask most bloggers/webmasters/pornographers about the Masters who preceded them and helped shape this genre, as we know it: some may remember the late Matt Sterling and Jean-Daniel Cadinot, many may credit Joe Gage, Wakefield Poole, Scarborough, Rutherford, LaRue, Bruce Cam and rightly so… Yet, few have ever heard of Steve Scott — perhaps our greatest filmmaker ever. Few of Arthur Bressan. Of Pat Rocco. Of Toby Ross. Of Christopher Rage… How did they block and film sex? Which vision of sexuality and masculinity did they commit to film? Can we ever take pride in our accomplishments and in our failures without confronting ours with theirs? Can we hone our craft, ignoring its rich and diverse history? Or are we forever doomed to re-invent the wheel and repeat old mistakes?
What is different about Italian men?
You mean…. What is DIFFICULT, almost impossible, about Italian men. Their Catholic upbringing, their machismo, their sexual hang-ups… But in the end, they’re my countrymen. And Southern Italian men, I must say, are smoking hot!
You know, I’ve been lucky: I got to work with the legends of the past —Jeff Stryker, Ryan Idol, Ken Ryker. I got to work with the icons of the ’90s and 2000 –from Derek Cameron to Lukas Ridgeston. I got to help build a star system of my own in Italy — exclusives Bruno Boni, Pietro Cattani, Tiziano Cortese, Dario D’Alba, Daniele Montana, Marco Ramazzotti, Filippo Romano, Matthias Vannelli, Ettore Tosi… I’ve learnt a great deal from each and all of them, I’ve lusted after a few and have been in a committed relationship with one for the past 14 years.
What has been your most memorable shoot?
I wouldn’t say the most ‘memorable’. For sure the longest, when we filmed Journey to Greece and The Innkeeper back to back. Now, the former was a co-production with Kristen Bjorn on the Greek isles and, by contract, each scene took 4 days to shoot. Times 5 scenes and the ferry boat, you do the math. The latter was filmed in the Tuscan countryside over 2 weeks. A total of 45 production days that almost killed us… We swore off dicks, lube and asses for months!
More Italian, Spanish, French, Brazilian newcomers. More uncut cocks and Mediterranean heat. I may have given up on the lavish productions we used to make around the world. I haven’t given up on discovering, grooming and debuting hot new talent. After all, 80% of directing is casting, isn’t it?
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As he says … Italians Do It Better at Lucas Kazan
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