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Checking In With Hamilton Steele

Jennifer Leigh writes

Leigh: So is the AIDS scare frightening performers away from the adult industry? Forget about deadly diseases, it sounds like industry drama is the biggest scarecrow. TAW’s Jennifer Leigh checks in with former male porn star Hamilton Steele, who has moved on to mainstream film projects. While Hamilton isn’t working on an adult production at the moment, you should hear some of the stories he has to tell about his time in the Los Angeles porn business. Don’t miss this exclusive interview.

TAW: Hi Hamilton. It’s been quite a while, and I wanted to check in with my favorite male porn star. I know this is a sensitive subject and I don’t want to pry, but I know many are curious as to how you have been holding up since losing your beloved son? I also want you to know that I keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as do many others in the business who know you and Kelly.

HS: The saying that it takes a year to get over the death of someone is a lie. When you outlive your child you never get over it. You learn to accept the pain and continue with life. I was very close to Seamus, and thank you for asking.

TAW: I hear that you have been doing other work overseas, non-adult related. Independent films and such. This is very exciting, so can you tell us what you have been working on, and are you leaving adult? I personally hope not.

HS: I have been extremely busy and moving around a lot. I settled in a cozy condo in Reykjavik about a month ago. The language is a challenge, but the land and people are beautiful and the weather is perfect for writing novels and staying focused on work. Sexually, the lusts of Icelandic women are like the flames that dance upon the logs in a bright hearth, and when the fires diminish to glowing embers it takes only a breath to fan their passions again. For me this is a Garden of Eden and I can’t wait to share it with Kelly.

Ok, enough of that. My column is now syndicated in almost a dozen mainstream monthlies. Additionally, my book, My Warm Northern Heart, I’m told is selling well. I did a mini bookstore signing tour to help promote it. It’s a romance story and slightly autobiographical. The main character, Conner, is a man that was raised to appreciate the simple things in life, yet he continually sought something more. His life was tragic in that he kept surviving his loved ones, including a beautiful woman and their son. But ultimately he discovers that God truly looks after fools and he was blessed with the love of a woman who could save him. I want to thank Aaron for giving me a place to express myself, even when AVN Insider wouldn’t publish my volunteered efforts.

I produced and directed Emotional Vacation, and it was originally going to be low budget porn. However I discovered it was easier to find $100k or more to make an independent film than to ask a gonzo company for $10k to make a porno. To this extent I’ve already done two productions and I am in the planning stages of a third.

Emotional Vacation is a period movie set in the early 1950s. Shot with a home movie feel and including segments that used an old Bolex 16mm, it follows the story of two families sharing a house by the beach for a summer. One couple deals with a possible divorce while the other wrestles with inner desires for a more open relationship and has a daughter in her late teens that can’t understand why she has no attraction to men. It is a real artsy flick and so far it has done well at various film venues.

With Me Tonight is in the editing process and is a very ambitious endeavor. I got the idea for another period-based movie from the previous one. I felt that the teenage daughter story could have been more developed and I wrote a script based slightly on the same concept. Filmed on location in England and Italy, it is set in the early 1970s and it is about a widowed Italian woman and her Tomboyish teenage daughter. Silvia Amato and Thalia Bertismas, two very beautiful women I found in a community theatre group, play the roles. The mother, Silvia, has mourned the loss of her husband for five years when an English gentleman comes into her life. In the meantime her daughter has been secretly exploring her sexuality. Her secret is revealed during a wedding rehearsal and there are disastrous results. Silvia is forced to choose between her daughter and the man she loves, while Thalia has to come to her own terms. I did my best to portray all the prejudice, comments and attitudes present in the early 70s. But my youth and masculinity necessitated consultation with several lesbian communities. I hope no one is offended by the outcome.

The one in the planning stages is a comedy called WPRN. Hopefully interest in this is maximized due to my porn career. So far the basic outline of the story is a group of no talent, 30-something hicks get the idea start a pirate radio station in order to get closer to porn stars. They become very successful in convincing the porn industry they have the power to make people into stars, and they end-up becoming a circus event. Their journey ends when a very busty female porn star called Broadzilla finds out they are using old CB radio equipment and don’t have the big coverage or power they claim. She charges the studio and chaos ensues. I plan to add every possible element of the foolishness that permeates the adult industry… everything from marijuana use and gossip to Viagra overdose and Caverject failure!

As for leaving adult, well I don’t have any immediate plans of returning to the porn industry. However, they did say that the Titanic was unsinkable and everyone knows how that ended. So I guess, never say never.

TAW: You’re one of the smartest men I know in this business. I am sure you probably kept up with the news on the HIV crisis. What do you really think about what is going on, and how do you feel this should be handled?

HS: I’ll start by saying my prayers are for the victims that contract the virus. But the first time I actually heard about the outbreak I was called up by a reporter and asked for a comment and I really didn’t have much to say on the subject. Save for that in late November 2003 a friend and I agreed that an outbreak was long overdue, however since I was preparing to move on to other opportunities, it didn’t worry me. My opinion might be harsh, but I believe the adult industry wanted this or at the very least asked for it. There is needless insanity in the jizz biz and no one is playing safe. Toss in the fact the girls really aren’t allowed to set limits or voice a concern on set, because if they do they are bad-mouthed and lose future work. I know a very large portion of the talent can’t balance a checkbook and have crazy spending habits. One of the most subversive tricks used in the biz is to keep them broke and hungry. I have seen it happen where a girl shows up on set and is expecting to just have sex with me but when she gets there it’s myself and another male and it’s double internal. You can just see it in her eyes that she needs the money, and even I was keeping my mouth shut because I didn’t want to be out of work. I have learned over and over again that some of the most malevolent people in the industry never bounce a check and are loved by all.

As for the actual particulars of what is currently going on, I know very little. Along with this interview, Kelly faxed me some printouts from the Internet but I never bothered to read them. It’s just your standard gossip Web site junk, and that stuff is predictable. I’m sure whoever the Typhoid Mary is … he/she has crawled under a rock and we hear next to nothing from them and everyone is saying what a great person they are, how suicidal they have become or what a shame. Two, one of the victims is having their character assassinated on the Internet and made to look like it’s their entire fault. Three, the person that initially contracted HIV was male and probably either faked a test, had sex with a tranny, did a trip to Brazil, did hard drugs or was one of the hetro males in the industry that enjoyed a different lifestyle off camera and lord only knows you can’t get them to wear a condom off camera either. Four, lastly, it was transmitted during some sort of extreme anal sex. That was how it happened the last time and that is how it will happen in again in the future.

TAW: Is this crisis making you and Kelly reconsider your adult careers? I am sure you know some of the people affected by this. I personally know of quite a few who are leaving the industry and they were not even on the quarantine list.

HS: At this point in time neither Kelly nor myself are involved in the adult industry, but if we were the HIV outbreak wouldn’t make us reconsider our careers. Porn talent takes risks for the money and bad stuff happens to good people. But the risk is always on the talent, the people in power do not take the risk, so they have no reason to change their ways to protect the talent. There will always be another whore to do the job. Sharon Mitchell (AIM) appears to be the only one concerned with the well-being of the talent. Maybe that is because she once was talent herself, but whether by her intervention or not, the government is sure to step in with sanctions. Especially when the industry continues to make wild and false claims of being a 5 to 13 billion-dollar industry when at best it is only several hundred million. It’s just a matter of time before the revenue boys come looking for their tax dollars.

Still, the issues that we do have with porn are the overall drama that goes on in the industry. Given the fact that I am no longer dependant on the industry, I can finally speak my mind. For us the events read like a grocery list, and in hindsight are almost bad comedy. Several years ago I had been involved in other facets of the adult industry, outside of the US, and was very aware of the unique experiences it presented a person with. It was no small amount of reservation we became involved in the LA biz. The roller coaster ride started immediately. Admittedly I screwed up on our first visit to LA, believing that porn was horny people who figured out how to make a dollar. Unlike other adult venues, it does give that illusion. In hindsight there are a couple of people I should apologize to. Still that didn’t give anyone the right to mail the raw footage of Kelly to loved ones before she had a chance to talk to them. This was most likely in retaliation to Kelly’s not wanting to do a private show. We continued on believing only quitters lose and that the worse was over. Sadly from there it just got worse. It continued with getting banned from AdultCon because the company we had signed for at a previous AdultCon event did not want us to sign for anyone if it wasn’t for them. A week after the show, this same company booked us for AVN, months in advance because they wanted to be sure that nobody beat them to it with another offer. The company owner was a gentleman, and at the time we didn’t know who was to blame for the ban. But when we found out that his second in command was responsible for the banning, for conveniently forgetting promotional materials, and was the one responsible for setting up scenes promised but never realized, we wanted nothing more to do with them. Sorry Easton, nothing to do with you, just the company you keep.

My wife had to change her stage name at one point because an occasional performer in her mid 40s started claiming she was Kelly, and to people who knew otherwise, that Kelly was her big sister. Directors wouldn’t even meet my wife. Luckily my popularity grew and she adopted my name. Still it was a long time before she was able to get her own work and her career was never the same. When my son was dying from Leukemia, I did not want to discuss it with people in the industry; maybe I should have said something sooner. But when the problem became known, the people I was working for kept pushing me. Grief and sex just don’t go together. I had someone trying to get wealthy off my back and talking about my problems with the gossip columnists. In the end, no one profited or gained and now none of us wants to talk to the others.

When we returned to LA, after the funeral and dealing with family obligations, we went after things even more aggressively than before, even hiring a publicist. His main purpose was to strengthen ties with AVN, but he ended up destroying the ties we had managed on our own. He forwarded private emails Kelly sent him to his contact there. He breached confidential obligations and Kelly got her column on AVN Insider cut. I am sure he now complains I owe him money, but he didn’t do his job in the first place, and I’m certainly not going to pay him for causing damage. If he still thinks he was in the right to demand payment, he could take me to court and if a judge orders it, I’ll gladly pay.

And we left with drama at our heels. It all started with 24 hours of my phone ringing off the hook. Some guy I had apparently met but didn’t remember, my agent, a loud-mouthed mobster wannabe and handful of others were accusing me of harboring a female performer and her baby. Being accused, I was involved whether I wanted to be or not, so I phoned her. Amazingly she answered my call and we agreed to meet. She was scared and disoriented. She had been physically threatened and the child was in rough shape. I put her in touch with the authorities that could help, those outside of the industry, because those within the industry were accusing her of stealing her own kid. Where they are or what they are doing now, I have no idea.

Lest we forget the beneficial drama, I saved the best for last. A gossip columnist stated I was dead and the on-going mutual dislike with a particular Internet show. Being dead gave my porn career a real boost when Kelly and I spun the story. As well, compensating for the anti-publicity from the Internet show always kept me redefining my image and ultimately probably got me to look beyond porn. Recently Kelly put me in touch with a guy who had discovered my name on a Kendra Jade Web site. He didn’t think much of it at first, because it was negative, but he followed the story to JimmyD, because Kendra had said JimmyD was tops. There he discovered that Jimmy seems to like me, and began to look into what I was about. Kelly faxed me his email attempts to contact me. After actually talking to me, he gave me a $10k investment in my next movie project. It seems that my name had come up as the most memorable asshole to the people of that Internet show; their 30 seconds of BS led an investor to me. All I can say is isn’t karma a bitch? Keep it up and I’ll have to start liking you.

TAW: So then I take it you don’t have any new adult projects in the works?

HS: No adult at this point in time, but who knows. When I get everything in place for WPRN I might consider attacking the North American market. If not I might later with a concept floating around in my head for a mockumentary called Operation Iraqi Liberation, or O.I.L. And I’ll make certain it is shown in US theatres.

TAW: As always Hamilton, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. You’re missed on the scene and in the Yahoo groups. Much love to you and your beautiful wife.


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