A guy who looked like Bucky Larson probably couldn't make it as a performer in porn. Throw in his tiny appendage and the odds go way down. Even Ron Jeremy was a handsome guy back in the day. He was swarthy, barrel-chested, virile. I remember ten years ago hearing girls complain that they couldn't watch porn because the guys were gross. Not that there aren't dozens of attractive veterans, but I think there are more attractive men in the industry now, and women are consuming more porn.
This leaves alone the explosion of various extreme niche genres like the one in Bucky Larson. I think there's something to the idea in the movie that men bought Bucky's porn because it made them look better to their girlfriends by comparison. There are all sorts of genres tapping into this idea—monsters, animation, demons, gross beings getting ahold of women—that are a niche fantasy. And I think women are interested in such genres. There may be a grain of truth in there.
There are a lot of extreme niches. So someone could, as Bucky Larson does, perform crazy ejaculations without touching themselves at all, and that could be a niche. If people find something weird or exceptional, they'll try to do something with it. That performer wouldn't come back with a dozen AVN awards, but still. It could be viable.
Everyone has their niche. Shane Diesel's the biggest guy out there and that's what his material is about. Some guys are covered in tattoos and they do punk rock, metal stuff. Part of the niche I've come to inhabit is feature films, romances and comedies. Sometimes when you're shooting one of those, it will be three 12-hour days of just acting. The script won't be 100 pages, it'll be 40 pages because a full half is taken up by sex scenes. On days where I'm just acting and not having sex, I treat it like a regular movie. I feel like when people are watching regular movies and there's a sex scene, they're like, "Aw, man! Why don't they just have a porn scene in here and show everything and have it be 20 minutes long?" I think that's what we can do. The sex is there, so if the story and the acting are interesting, we're creating that. There are performers who don't care for acting. They prefer to just do the vignette-type stuff and just get through the acting. And some of them are the most talented people in the business.
Bucky's filmed audition is pretty accurate. There is no separate audition process for a guy. They throw you in lower-stakes amateur-type things like, "Hey, these porn stars picked up some random guy off of the street." That's the audition-the audition is trying to make lower tier products for sale, and if it doesn't work, well it was low stakes anyway. Ironically, if I had sent my now-agency naked pictures, they wouldn't have paid any attention to me. Because, simply put, they're straight guys and they don't want to look at a bunch of penis pics.
They paid attention to me just because I seemed sane. It's such a bizarre, personal situation that for male talent, they don't have to be Harvard gentlemen, but no one wants to be on set with someone who's crazy or violent or sends an email full of curse words and bragging. In that one sense, Bucky was ideal, though probably a little too vanilla to get his female scene partners properly riled up.
Bucky is a super nice person. So is his director, Don Johnson. I'd be shocked if Don Johnson doesn't know a porn director personally—he played it really well. In porn, there are lots of nice people. The talent, the directors, the crew, if there's one thing I'd say about them, it's that they're remarkably funny and nice and cool. Maybe once upon a time it worked to be a weird jerk in this business—remember, it used to be illegal—but it usually doesn't work well anymore. You're doing something so odd and intimate and vulnerable that if you have jerkfaces hanging around, it's just going to ruin everything. Especially right now, some of the more recent stars of the last five years, niceness is a big part of their reputation. Rocco Reed is one of the nicest guys in the world-that's what he's come to be characterized by: ability and positivity.
What does Bucky Larson get right? Not much. Yelling at makeup artists doesn't happen. Yelling rarely happens—I'd wager even less often than in mainstream film and television. Maybe on the lower more off-kilter, low budget sets. Fluffers don't exist and apparently never did. But the movie doesn't mind, and neither do I. Also, the titles of the movies they were making were really gross. Why did they keep using "Smell"? The Farmer in the Smell—that doesn't sound sexy. Those didn't make any sense. They weren't funny and they weren't accurate. I think they purposefully didn't do any research on the industry or contact anyone, and that freed them up to invent. That's a fine way to do it-it's like Tim Burton not watching the original Planet of the Apes. With similarly dismal results. I'm sure Talladega Nights is riddled with bonehead inaccuracies.
There are no porn stars in this movie, although I thought I saw Jesse Jane for a second. In that sense, it's very fantasized, unrealistic image of the porn industry. And I think that's fine. There's an indie coming out called Starlet, which just wrapped production, directed by Sean Baker that's a far more accurate portrayal of the industry. But you're allowed to tell a fantasy and have a silly story in the middle of that world. Bucky Larson doesn't tell audiences much about the industry.
There were some characters who seemed to be modeled on real porn stars. One in particular—and I wouldn't say it's irresponsible, but it bothered me—was Stephen Dorff's "Dick Shadow." He seemed to be physically modeled on Evan Stone from like five, 10 years ago before he cut his hair, and he has that gregarious, loud personality. I wouldn't call Shadow the villain because he's ineffectual as a villain. But if you were trying to model him on someone, you couldn't be more wrong than to pick Stone, who's one of the sweetest human beings on the planet. He would never do anything Dorff's character does in the movie. Evan Stone has more in common with Will Ferrell than Bret Michaels.
The most accurate character was Don Johnson's director—the average porn director is something like that. He's empathetic, he's protective of his talent. Kind of a cool dude, not there to exploit people, he's there to make something interesting. I think most porn directors consider themselves artists, and rightly so. And a lot of people have come up through porn to do mainstream work, or they do continue to do both. I haven't been around long enough to see someone go from gaffer to director to directing Volkswagon commercials to directing Batman 7, but there are cases I'm aware of.
As for the fact that all the producers and corporate suits in Bucky were foreign men in track suits—again, wrong. In reality, there are a lot of women in positions of power now. Every producer in that room was a guy. But the female market has really exploded and the female talent, people like Jenna Haze and Belladonna and Joanna Angel, have worked their way up to start companies on their own. People are comfortable with a woman at the top, to tell you the truth. I think people assume that it's going to be harder for a company to have a broad, understated policy of exploitation if Jenna Haze or Belladonna is at the head. They came up as female talent, so they're not going to exploit young girls who are just getting into the business. I wouldn't say it's 50/50 yet, but it's on its way there. Women are directing. Aiden Ashley is doing a Beetlejuice parody right now. Nica Noelle is an artistic and profitable director. It's going in that direction.
The biggest misconception about porn is the level of exploitation. When you look at it, the most respected people in the industry are female talents. They have the most influence. Someone like Bobbi Starr is a respected voice in the industry, and that respect shows on set and on Twitter and everywhere. If you take a broad enough net, the public probably feels like these girls are being exploited—and I'm not going to say that doesn't exist, but I think those corners are being rooted out—whereas for the most part, it's people who are coming together with a high level of mutual respect to create something cool.
People still do those tropes, like being a paperboy, pizza guy, etc. People still shoot those quick vignettes, the hackneyed taboos. I think taboo is an element that needs to be there, some sort of line has to be crossed. Most of the time. You can have romances where the people are just husband and wife having sex. But I've played a handyman, a swimming instructor, a principal disciplining a student. I didn't do any research—they're all pretty easy things to imagine. Some of those taboos I don't like. In particular I'm not a big fan of adultery taboos because I think they're contradictory to the direction I'd like to go. A married person should respect the promises they've made. Occasionally I'll still perform in something like that, but I don't get a kick out of it.
Bucky and Don Johnson could have easily shot that many movies in just a few weeks as it looked like they did in the film—since they were all shot by Johnson. It's possible. Last year, Rocco Reed shot 300 scenes—not movies, but scenes. You can certainly knock them out, but you'd get really tired. It was something he decided he could do, but I don't think he's trying to do it again. It's a physical job and it can take a lot out of you. You have to stay in shape just for that, so you can make it through. On a tough day it could be upwards of two, four hours of exertion. I keep an eye on what I eat, but I do eat cheeseburgers when I damn well please—I get enough exercise.
For my own choice to decide to get into the industry, it took a lot of research. I wasn't sure what the industry would be like, whether it would be full of people who took what they were doing seriously and thought of themselves as doing something good for the world. Twitter is where I did a lot of my research. It's really changed how society at large can interact with porn. I think all celebrities are more accessible now, through Twitter. You can tweet at Charlize Theron and she might tweet back—she might even quote you. I didn't consider myself a porn "fan" even though there were people I'd really admired or respected for a long time. But I wanted to make sure from the get-go that there were like-minded people in the industry, that there were smart people, kind people, artistic people, that it wasn't exploitative. There's a specter of exploitation about the industry that has to do with its past and a lot of people feel that way about it. I didn't know if it was exploitative, either, and of course it's not monolithic. But Twitter allowed me to listen to people like Joanna Angel and Stoya and really most of the community for weeks on end and see what they were thinking, which helped me decide whether I wanted to venture into that world. And also, it gave me the opportunity to attend some events and talk to people in person and decide if they were cool or not. It gave me the information I needed to get my start. Twitter! Great for a porn career.
As far as my reasons for doing it, it matches my lifestyle, it's part of my personal expression. It's a message that I want to send: someone like me is doing this. Sex is not just for morons. I'm a nice person, I'm an educated person. Most people are obsessed with sex, it's natural to be obsessed with it. But we have a long way to go with our global maturity level on the subject. I'll grant that change takes time and that contraception, disease prevention, these are extremely new things. I want to be part of driving these societal adaptations. I have a utopian streak and I think porn is like other arts: it describes a theoretical world which the rest of the world can move toward. It's also, in a sense, protest. It's hard work, but it can also be incredibly fun. I love it.
Bucky's parents are really supportive, and I think even there, that's more accurate than it's ever been. My parents aren't aware of what I do, but I think it's not a stretch that they could be okay with it—they probably will be in the long run. But I come from a pretty liberal, somewhat artsy family. I'll sit there and have long conversations—a series of long conversations—with them. I think there's a natural first reaction. I've had guy friends of mine find out on their own and, look, I am proud of what I do, of my work in the adult industry. But at the same time, so many people are still uncomfortable with it, so it's not something I want to go talking about on Facebook, just because it will get me a lot of opinions that I'm just not that interested in hearing. People going, "This is horrible! You shouldn't do this! It's exploitative!" I can completely disagree with them, but do I want to have 20 of those arguments in a row? I kind of do, actually, but at my leisure. I like the trickle effect of people finding out and me having a conversation with them and letting them know that yes, this is something that I'm excited about and I'm happy doing it.
As for Bucky's girlfriend [Christina Ricci] who's totally understanding of his desire to be in porn, there are plenty of guys with girlfriends outside the industry—and vice versa. It varies. My idea of a serious relationship doesn't involve monogamy. It involves a kind-of emotional monogamy, but I think that finding someone who matches my perspective on love and sex is a challenge whether I'm in or out of the industry. That said, there are tons of people in the business who have marriages and children and they've made it work for decades.
Jealousy is very similar to anger. Everyone gets angry. It's a natural human response. But some people think they have a right to walk around angry and act on their anger, and some people see anger as sort of a relic of the more animalistic side of our brains that should be controlled and used only for positive change. And I think jealousy works the same way. If you're in an open relationship, you will still feel pangs of jealousy, but I think if you value your lover or your significant other's happiness, you get to a place where you can master your jealousy.
I'm certainly not arguing for the extinction of monogamy or marriage—I think that's wonderful and it's not a choice that I look down on in any way—but there are a lot of people who could move in this kind of direction toward polyamory or something different, but they're threatened by it and assume that because they're experiencing jealousy that it's bad. I think it takes maturity and restraint. The idea of looking for the right person and once you have them, you're done, there are a lot of people who make themselves miserable chasing that kind of fantasy, sometimes even after they've found it. But you always have a choice of what fantasy you'd like to pursue.
There are still kinds of stardom in this field that haven't been achieved. We've got the force-of-nature pure sex stardom. Then we've got the more artsy, quirky intellectual stars like Joanna Angel and Stoya and Sasha Grey, obviously—that's kind of a new thing in the last, say, 10 years. Sasha Grey did a better job than Jenna Jameson did in crossing over and maybe she'll stick around. But I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an example who outshines all of those examples in the next few years. I think Xander Corvus could easily cross over and be a mainstream actor while still being a porn star—he's a phenomenal actor. And there are a few girls in that category as well.
I don't necessarily know what stardom is for me. I'm not trying to place too many demands on that sort of thing. Basically, I want to be able to do what I really want to do. I enjoy having a platform where I can express myself in certain ways, and I think even Twitter is a legitimate form of expression now. People make their careers just tweeting and even though my audience is small, I like the audience I have.
I just go by my first name: Richie. I don't want to use my real last name, not because I'm scared of someone finding out my true identity—but I think people have a right to their privacy if they want it that way. I think there's a perfectly legitimate concern, particularly with the women in the industry, not to have people find their addresses and phone numbers. It's probably just the same as, I don't know what Blake Lively's real name is, but I doubt it's "Blake Lively."
Bucky used his real name in the movie. People still make up names, but they're less braggadocios: Michael Vegas, Chad Alva. There's less silliness to it. Porn's been around long enough that the kitsch value is gone—it's not as taboo as it was. But I've still kicked around hundreds of silly names. My first name is fine for now, but I'm going to have to find a last name just for the sake of Google searching. If you do "Richie" you end up with Nicole Richie. I'll be hard-pressed to become more famous than Lionel Richie or Nicole Richie, so I'm going to have to come up with a last name. I love the idea of my last name being "Spacehorse." I just like that image: a horse in space. But "Richie Spacehorse," I'm just not sure. Anyhow my twitter handle is @RichiesBrain and you should all follow me.
At the end of the film, Bucky gives up his dream of being a porn star. His dream didn't seem very deep-rooted. It was sort of a whim. He was very quick to say that this girl is more important to him than the business. That's fine—he should do what he wants to do. It wasn't really the life he wanted. He thought it was his dream, but his dream was adventure and love. And then he opens a restaurant, but that wasn't really his dream, either—the movie doesn't really compute on that level. The little niche he found in the industry would maybe be embarrassing to him in the long run, but he seemed proud of it. A lot of people in the film made fun of his dream, but the film didn't make fun of his dream. It was a sweet film. Stupid. Very stupid. And bad. But sweet in a way.
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