Corruption

Last night, Mischief & I ordered Chinese and watched Corruption. It was her idea, not mine, so don’t imagine I’m forcing the girl to sit through my oeuvre and tell me how brilliant I am. In fact, I have no idea what she thought. There was a lot of heavy silence, so my guess is she was less than impressed.

I’m not surprised. A few days ago, I showed her – without telling her I was responsible – a Cock Diesel music video I directed as a cross-promotion for ICON, and she hated it. Not knowing it for what it was, not being able to recognize the location or the roof or Kylie or Hillary (largely because we were watching it in Ultra-Shitty-Scope on YouTube) gave her permission to express, and boy did she.

I don’t mind. Her opinion was so heartfelt and honestly delivered, I can’t take it personally. Besides, there’s a lot going on; the age difference, the different cultural references, the fact that she was, to an extent, comparing a video shot for free in 4 hours to a $460,000 Fatboy Slim video (Weapon of Choice directed by Spike Jonze) that was shot over six days, the incredibly bad YouTube encoding, etc.

None of which changes the fact that she hated it, and I’m okay with that. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m proud of it, either. We’re learning that we have very different taste in media. But it was useful to compare her reaction to Corruption and gauge her distaste by all she didn’t say.

I suspect she hated it as well. And that’s okay, too.

The most curious part of the evening was how it brought crashing back into my consciousness something I know, but often forget. A subtle reminder of why it’s so often pointless to put real effort into porn films.

No one takes a critical eye towards a cheesy Brady Bunch parody. But for those who care, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we work, we just can’t compete. To the average viewer, movies like Corruption that come close to looking and feeling like “real” movies get compared to those same mainstream films, and that’s a contest we simply cannot win.

Compare my little political drama with its crew of 11 and its 10-day shooting schedule to even a single episode of West Wing, whose catering cost more than my entire budget, and we’re just not going to shine very brightly. Like Icarus (in my new favorite poem), having flown too close to the sun, we come to the end of our triumph. I suppose that’s the very definition of hubris.

But, like a proud parent ignoring his child’s faults, it is so very easy to forget. I don’t take it to heart, but I have to admit, the whole enterprise has made me somewhat melancholy and reflective about the hopelessness of my life’s ambition.

I have a close friend who is in his final weeks of pre-production on a mainstream film. At one time, I was to have a small role in it, essentially playing Helms from Corruption. When that looked untenable I asked if I could at least audition for the part, simply to be seen by a real casting director. I asked for a job on the movie, even as a P.A., just to get back on a real set, just to get the taste for blood, the hunger back in my mouth.

I have essentially offered to work for free. Apparently, I am too tainted by my current career to pursue my vocation even as an avocation. Free, it seems, is too high a price for a broken-down old pornographer to venture back into mainstream.

I’m supposed to be working on the script for Upload, my big summer show for SexZ at the moment, so it seems like a good time to blog since I haven’t posted one since, oh, 1887 or something. Plus, this saves me a general “catching up” e-mail to about two-dozen people I haven’t written to since at least 1886. You know who you are. Love ya, man. Or girl.

Whatever. Incidentally, if you forward this blog to at least 20 more people, you’ll receive wealth, fame, popularity, pleasant breath, a larger penis and/or breasts, lose weight, gain muscle and achieve Total Consciousness. So you’ll have that going for ya.

Life has been pretty damned… oh, fuck that. Insanely, crazily, psychotically busy since AEE. I’ve signed a deal to direct exclusively for SexZ Pictures (who else is gonna let me make movies likeCorruption?) and have taken over as their head of production, a post they’ve never really had manned before, so the “office” is a bit of a mess, if you take my meaning.

One of my first decisions was to hire David Aaron Clark to direct a feature for us from a spectacular script he’s been sitting on for a few years called Doll Parts. David’s a really amazing writer and director with a terrific eye and a very original sensibility, and everyone at SexZ is excited as hell about this movie. Details will come as we lock down cast, dates, etc.

We also got several XRCO nominations for Corruption which was a welcome surprise. I’ve always seen the XRCO as skewing towards fluffier fare, so it was extremely generous of them to nominate us. I guess we can officially refer to Corruption as an “epic” now since we got nominated in that category (I know, I know, “you made a four-fuckin-hour-long porn movie, asshole! How is that notepic?!?”)

K&I finally saw The Departed which I’ll talk about on another day. We also watched Idiocracy, which actually isn’t a documentary about the Bush administration. If you haven’t seen the movie (and most of you haven’t, hence the $12 it made in its theatrical release), it’s worth a spin. It certainly isn’t a work of brilliance, but it’s worth watching just for the fact that it probably represents a fairly accurate view of humanity’s future.

The movie follows Luke Wilson as he plays Luke Wilson, a completely average slacker who does a highly implausible Buck Rogers and ends up in a future where evolution has resulted in a human race so pathetically stupid that Luke is now by far the smartest man on the planet.

Like most things in life, it would be funny if it weren’t true. Sure, parts of the movie are worth a chuckle, but in an excruciating way. Kinda like that Ben Stiller seal-clubbing movie I’m sure is in development. Or that Will Ferrell movie where he plays the really dumb guy with overstressed hair, outrageous clothes and a lame accent being really successful at something he’s really bad at.

Oh, wait. That’s not a movie. That’s Will Ferrell’s life.

Lastly, speaking of bad comedy, I’m going to be profiled in an upcoming issue of Geekmagazine. No, really. And if that isn’t a straightline you can make something out of, I don’t know what is.

My most vivid recollection of my years running AVN is the absolute, impenetrable, near-comic inability to make anyone happy. At all. Ever. Anyone. Really, there’s just no winning. At a certain point, you just accept that fact, move on and laugh. For me, that point came after the 1999 awards. That year, the winners were all over the map; nothing really swept. The video category was wide-open with contenders like VCA’s Café Flesh 2 and Forever Night, Wicked had Exile (a little throw-away movie that I still think is one of the best things Brad Armstrong has done) and the beautiful-but-laughable PornoGothic. Sunshine — yes, Sunshine — had a big-budgetredux of L.A. Confidential called L.A. Uncovered that Gene Ross and Mark Kernes really liked (I… well, the word “loathe” comes to mind… I seem to remember Tod Hunter being on my side with this one).

On the film side things were much tougher. Sin City had an extremely strong feature with Kris Kramski’s Models. Vivid had Masseuse 3. Private released the massive Tatiana trilogy. Metro had James Avalon’s big-money Stacy Valentine flick White Angel. Wicked was pushing it’s deeplyflawed Jenna über-vehicle Flashpoint. And Pleasure Productions had a little Nic Cramer movie called Looker.

I never got the impression Looker was any big deal to Pleasure. Back in those days, they had Nic Cramer doing two small films every month, and I think this was one of those shows. It wasn’t an epic production, and we certainly hadn’t heard much about it. In fact, the story was more-or-less a boilerplate Martin Brimmer porn noir detective yarn. With Mike Horner as the detective, even. Again. But Looker was really well done. For some reason, the stars just aligned, or Nic Cramer decided to really put his heart into this one, or the editors worked some real magic.

Whatever happened behind the scenes, the resultant movie was a real gem. We actually found itduring nominations. I was sick at home missing a nominations meeting, but still looking at movies, and I found Looker. I called into the meeting and told them we were going to have to go back through the film categories. Deeply unhappy and with much grumbling, Paul & co. dug up a copy of Looker from the warehouse and watched it. Everyone agreed, and we realized that yet another freelancer (I remember who it was but he shall remain nameless) had let a great movie slip through the cracks.

So, with all that extra effort, Frank Koretsky who owns Pleasure must be my best buddy, right? Nope. In fact, Frank hates me. He has ever since 1997(?) when I wrote a less-than-glowing story about a miserable week I spent in Mexico at a fan-attended resort-vacation-turned-porn-shoot event Pleasure was sponsoring in Jalisco. Nic Cramer? Nope. Met him maybe twice before when he came to get awards show tickets.

Ahh, so Lauren Montgomery, the co-star of the show, must have come over to bang me, right? Actually, I didn’t meet Lauren until a few years later, when she was basically out of the business. Maybe Shannah McCullough? Much as I love Shannah, I have never, sadly, fucked her (or happily fucked her, even), nor has she expressed any interest. And I had really disgusting green mucelage pouring from my nose at the time, so I didn’t feel like banging anybody. Hell, I didn’t even check with AVN Advertiser CentCom to make sure Pleasure was feeding us adequate ad revenue to justify this expense of my valuable time.

Baffled as to why we spent the effort to hand Looker a slew of nominations? Hmmm… could it be because it was a great movie?

Nah.

In the end, Looker took Best Film, Best Director Best Actress, and three other awards. Models got two for acting. Masseuse 3 took a few, White Angel took one (Metro’s ONLY award that year), and Flashpoint got a single, well-deserved nod — for Best Marketing. The big video awards got scattered between the various contenders more-or-less evenly (okay, L.A. Uncovered got a single acting award for Michael J. Cox, and that was a stretch).

How popular do you think we were that January? Russ Hampshire from VCA was convinced —convinced — we were in Wicked’s pocket. Vivid was convinced VCA had bought us off. Metro decided Wicked and Vivid had made a payoff. Wicked figured we had to be doing a deal with Pleasure. Sin City took their two awards for Models and promptly pulled their ads. And Pleasure? They couldn’t care less. They’d released 20 films since Looker had come out, and Koretsky still hated me. I’m sure he thought the awards were a gift from Paul to make up for the “terrible Mexico article.”

That was the January I learned to laugh. I liked Looker a lot, but I voted for Models.

This year the no-win-situation is the trophies. For 20-plus years, recipients have bitched and moaned that the trophies aren’t personalized; they just have the category, not the winner’s name. This year, for the first time everAVN is ponying up the extra money and effort to engrave the fucking trophies. As a result, people are now bitching and moaning to the gossip sites that they have to wait for their trophies to be mailed. Apparently, the prevailing opinion is that the “Winners Only” folks — those who got announced but didn’t get to go onstage — were the only ones who have to wait.

Wrong. I went up onstage twice. Both times I got a trophy. Both times they took it away from me backstage ’cause it was a dummy, dummy. And, incidentally, they do the same thing at a little awards show you might have heard of called The OscarsI remember seeing a great interview with F. Murray Abraham talking about how he refused to give the dummy back when he won forAmadeus so he could show it to his family that night. He later traded it for his personalized statue.

As with every other show, there were a lot of problems with the AVN Awards just passed. Issues with the new venue. Issues with the seating. We had to listen to the fuckin’ Stingers again. And, like everyone else, I’m still waiting for my trophies. But it’s what we have. It’s our moment to dress up and play pretend and treat ourselves like human beings. So, yeah, you can choose to be an ungracious cunt like Amy Reid, or you can go with the flow and enjoy yourself. I was geared up and ready to lose at Mandalay Bay, and I was planning to clap my heart out for whoever kicked our ass. This show might be flawed, but it’s all we’ve got.

So when guys like this bleeding hemorrhoid make the implication that Corruption only won because I used to run AVN (after all, it certainly wasn’t ad revenue, and it couldn’t have been because we made a great movie), I just laugh my January laugh. It only shows how little these people understand the way Paul Fishbein works. Or AVN. Or anything, really. All they know is that somehow, somewhere, something was rigged. It might not be verifiable, and it might not even make sense, but somehow, some way, AVN did it. They might not even be sure what “it” is, but they do know that blaming AVN makes them happy. And that’s the closest AVN is ever going to get to a satisfied customer.

Gram was the first person who predicted (despite his own disgust with the movie) that Corruption would come home a winner. He even went so far as promising to buy me lunch if I didn’t win best director.

Well I did, so I figure he’s due for lunch on me.

Luckily, I didn’t make similar wagers with everyone else who was certain we were gonna win or I would be having my mea culpa catered (however, Paul Thomas does owe me $50, but that’s another story). Attending the party would be (in no particular order) Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley; Tristan Taormino, Shylar Coby, and Marci Hirsch from Vivid; reviewers Houston Don, Den from CAVR, and Roger T. Pipe; MAC, Mischa Allen & Wit Maverick from Adam & Eve; Dave Diamond from Hustler; David Lord; Tricia Deveraux and a selection of Kylie’s fans and other performers.

I sat each one down in course and explained calmly why there was absolutely no chance that we would win. That Fashionistas, whatever its weaknesses, was unbeatable.

I even went so far as to tell Peter Warren from AVN not only could we not win this year, but now that Pirates II has been announced, our 2007 show, Upload, is doomed as well.

Okay. I was wrong. I made an ass out of myself not once but twice on theAVN stage because I didn’t know what to say. You don’t have to rub it in.

I should also mention that I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong in my life.

A special thanks to Belial, Nic, Stephen, Kari, Angie, Trendee, Audra, Jenn, Alvin and everyone on the cast and crew who worked so hard to makeCorruption a movie that stands apart from the pack.

A lot happened in Vegas, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about the things we don’t cover in our podcast (we’ve had some in-house technical difficulties that have stalled the first volume, but it’s coming) as the weeks go by. For now, let me just say that this is the first time in memory I’ve come back from Vegas feeling better about my life and career than I did when I left. That’s enough.

I like Christopher Guest a lot. Obviously, I like his Nigel Tufnel persona, I like what he has to say in interviews and his commentaries, and I like the fact he hasn’t tried to make his films a vehicle for his brother Nicholas, who I guarantee you’ve heard if not seen. And, in general, I enjoy Christopher’s films, although they tend to feel just shy of the mark.

K & I went to see For Your Consideration on Thursday, and if A Mighty Wind is the best of the Guest movies (my own opinion), this is definitely the worst (okay, I’ve never seen Almost Heroes, but I’ve read that it’s awful). It misses the mark for a lot of reasons, but they’re just refined versions of the problems present in all of his movies, i.e. a tendency to let things go to far. Eugene Levy’s two left feet in Best in Show is a prime example of the kind of excess that sinks these movies for me. If you listen to the commentary on that disc, you’ll discover that Gene Levy thought the bit was too much, and Guest talked him into it.

Well, Chris, Gene was right. For me, these films are at their best when they’re most real, and every time Fred Willard goes completely off the reservation — which he does in Considerationmore than in any other film — things start to fall apart. I’m sure it was a riot on set, but for those of us who weren’t there, not so much.

However, given that the entire movie is about the fury of egos that surrounds Oscar nominations, I thought it would make a delightfully ham-fisted segue into a discussion of our own AVNnominations. For the record, Corruption got 17 nominations, and we also got a few for the undeserving bastards at DVSX; Kylie’s Twisted as Fuck got 2, my girl/girl show Whoregasm got 1, and Grudgefuck got 1, for a total of 21. I also think we can take a bit of credit for Hillary’s Performer of the Year nom, just for putting her right in the center of the “serious work” spotlight.

I’m pretty damned good at handicapping the awards; Kylie has sat with me year after year as I predicted 90-95% of the winners. With that in mind, I’m going to present my rather bleak predictions for our awards chances:

Best Video Feature
Fashionistas

Best High-Definition Production

(okay, I’m confused; as originally instituted, HD was considered a third medium, like film and video. Judging from the fact that everything here is a duplicate from some other “Best Genre” category, I’m guessing this will get downplayed. I’ll bet the voter’s will confused as hell, and decide this is a “quality of production” award unless instructed otherwise. My bet is on Sacred Sin, Island Fever 4, or Fashionistas)


Best Actress – Video; Hillary Scott

Hillary might win – and should – but I’m betting on Belladonna for Fashionistas. Too many people think of Hillary as “just a gonzo girl.”


Best Supporting Actress – Video; Alana Evans & Kylie Ireland

They killed us. If they’d picked one girl, I would have said we had a chance at this one. With the vote split, it’s unlikely…


Best Non-Sex Performance – Bryn Pryor

So few freelancers vote in this category, we might take it. Then again, you get a lot of really weird votes in this category. The reviewer who thought Xavier Towers – whoever the fuck that is – Was amazing in Bustful of Dollars will vote for him. Often this category is decided by two or three votes.


Best Director – Video
John Stagliano, with Micahel Ninn as a dark-horse second.

Best All-Girl Sex Scene
This’ll go to one of the Belladonna movies, or maybe Jenna Haze.

Best Oral Sex Scene
No way. I don’t know what will win, but it definitely won’t be us.

Best Threeway

Maybe. This is kind of a wide-open category, so we’ve got a chance, but it’s unlikely. One of the gonzo scenes will win, probably Jules Jordan.


Best Group Scene
We should win this, but Fashionistas will.

Best Solo
I think we’ve got a good shot at this.

Best Screenplay

I think we might take this. Hard to say, but they often vote for the underdog in this category.


Best Videography
I’m betting on Island Fever 4 or Sacred Sin.

Best Editing
Whatever has the most MTV-like editing will win. The rule with the voters is whatever has themost editing has the best editing. I’ll prognosticate after I’ve seen the contenders, but probablySacred Sin.

Best DVD Extras
Who can say? Three people vote in this category. Maybe Tailgunners.

Best Online Marketing Campaign
I think Britney, Manhunters or Island Fever 4.

As for the DVSX noms, those are just courtesy nods, though there’s a very slim chance for Twistedin Most Outrageous Sex Scene. Hillary, however, has a really good shot at Performer. It isn’t a lock, but she’s one of the three contenders.

If she wins, rest assured, I’ll be claiming even more undue credit than I am now.

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It is only the great men who are truly obscene. If they had not dared to be obscene, they could never have dared to be great. — Havelock Ellis