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Gay Porn Filmmakers Thrive in New York

New York- Since before the halcyon 1970s, chronicled in the film “Boogie Nights,” Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley has been the porn capital of the world. Gay and straight porn industries alike have made their home in West Hollywood and “the Valley” for decades. For many people, Ryan Idol, Jeff Stryker and Ron Jeremy are more representative of the Valley than suburban malls or backyard pools.

But Los Angeles doesn’t represent the entire gay porn industry by any stretch. A much smaller, but nonetheless thriving, gay porn industry exists in and around New York City, just as it has for years – although you may have to look extra hard to find it.

The term “Industry” might be a stretch. The porn producers in the area are few and far between. As writer and former porn star Will Clark said, there’s little interaction between them. That, he added, may be a good thing.

“You don’t get caught up in the bullshit of West Hollywood,” Clark said. “It’s not as interconnected here as it is in L.A.”

Still, the gay porn producers that have chosen to situate themselves in New York thrive on making videos that are expressly “made in New York.”

Robert Prion got his start 22 years ago at the request of a couple he knew. In 1982, finding someone with a video camera was near impossible. The couple was approaching their second anniversary and wanted to make a video of themselves in flagrante delicto, as they say. Prion got the gig.

He did such a good job that the couple had a party to show the video to friends. After seeing the movie, those friends asked Robert to make a video of them in their most intimate moments.

After six months of word of mouth and schlepping his video camera around New Jersey, he had enough footage for a full-length video.

Again, at the urging of friends who loved his work, he submitted it to several distributors. Porn giant William Higgins and Catalina Video came calling.

With one film distributed, Prion shot his next film, “Friends are Best,” in 1983. Again, he got distribution. Now, 22 years and 63 films since his first accidental venture, Prion’s Galaxy Pictures is, despite being a one-man operation, one of the largest gay porn producers in the New York area. In fact, for a while in the late ’80s and early ’90s, upon the closing of P.M. Productions, Galaxy was the only gay porn house of note in the area, Prion said.

His distributors have always been in Los Angeles. But Prion has remained in his home base of Woodbridge, N.J., mostly because he doesn’t have to compete for talent with the giant megastudios like Falcon and Catalina Video.

While some companies do come to New York occasionally to film, like Blue Alley Studios’ latest venture, his competition for talent isn’t remotely limiting.

Lots of new talent also come to him because he’s the largest producer in New Jersey. One new model, who has lived three blocks from him in Woodbridge for years, came to him just last week after thinking that no porn was being made in Jersey.

He also loves being one of the few to shoot at New York-specific locations. The landmarks he captures in his movies are unique in gay porn.

He has several offerings that feature the Twin Towers as their backdrop. He just finished a shoot with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background. While plenty of companies shoot in familiar California locales, he is one of the very few who can boast on-location New York scenes.

The largest gay porn producer in the area is Lucas Entertainment. The company was founded by Michael Lucas, who hit the European porn scene in 1995 when he got tired of school in Russia and the fashion industry’s cattle calls for models.

He came to the U.S. soon after that. After a short stint in Los Angeles-based porn, he moved to New York.

The porn industry he found here was mostly low-budget, low-quality productions featuring black and Latino men, he remembered. Craving the high production costs of the movies coming out of Los Angeles (but without the West Hollywood scene) he created his company in 1998 and brought the production quality of L.A. to New York’s urban edginess.

Now he produces almost all of his videos in New York. With so much talent from all over the world flooding into New York on a daily basis, he sees little need to venture far outside the city to shoot.

“There is great talent here. There are great guys,” he said, adding that he focuses on using men of all races and creeds in his movies. “I try to show the diversity of New York.”

Lucas, like Prion, has grabbed his corner of scenic locations. His most successful series, “Fire Island Cruising,” which is up to edition six, is the only major production shoot that takes advantage of the island’s reputation for hot action.

Both Lucas and Prion agree that there are glaring differences, even beyond size, between the mega-industry in Los Angeles and the mini-industry in New York.

Prion, who produces, directs and edits the films himself, takes great time and care in his product. He scoffs at the quality of the films pumped out of Southern California.

He said that some producers there recycle old scenes and insert them into new movies and even create fancy, though misleading, boxes for their videos with images of men who aren’t in the movie itself.

“They turn them out like they’re an assembly line,” Prion said.

Prion and Clark lamented the focus on money in the Los Angeles-based porn industry. Clark said that, because the industry here is so small, it’s difficult for an actor to support himself on just porn.

In fact, Prion said he counts a bank president and other company executives as his past models – men who simply wanted to dabble in front of the camera. That, according to them, is not found in Los Angeles, where “porn actor” is an accepted job title.

While Lucas features a wide range of men in his movies, he said that the monochromatic videos out of California get a bit tired.

“L.A. produces the same story,” Lucas said. “Guys with white skin with shaved arm pits and shaved chests and trimmed pubic hair – very clean-cut boys, usually blonds. I’m doing a different thing. My sex is also very diverse, from very romantic and nice to very rough and sometimes kinky.”

Prion and Lucas said they were discouraged by the growing use of drugs on the sets of gay porn movies, which took the life of Joey Stefano in the mid-’90s. They especially deplore the return of barebacking videos, some of them emanating out of Los Angeles. Both said they mandate the use of condoms and prohibit any drugs in association with the production.

With the sexy talent these producers are finding here, and with the continued growth of the gay porn industry, it can only be a matter of time before more production companies pop up in the Big Apple. So remember when you step onto Eighth Avenue: You just may be spotted by a talent scout.

 

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