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T. Bone: Samantha Strong Was the Best Ever

Porn Valley- Swami said he’d be fired if he aired his interview with director John Bowen aka John T. Bone but said he didn’t care suggesting that Bowen was porn’s bad boy- a Howard Stern, Max Hardcore and Rob Black all rolled into one. Noting Bowen’s frequent trips back and forth to Brazil the Swami began with that line of questioning and asked why the itinerary.

Bowen said the truth of the matter is that he got disenchanted with the adult business. “I hadn’t worked for quite a long time,” he said. “I was investing in real estate and it hadn’t been the greatest move I made.” Bowen said he went to Brazil with a friend of his. “Literally as his crew member to shoot camera for him.”

Bowen said part of the deal was that the guy was covering the expenses. Meanwhile, Bowen got to meet up with some of his own contacts. Bowen went to meet a woman Anna Marie Tobal who owns a company called Sexy Brazil. “I hadn’t talked to her in about six years,” Bowen said. “Ever since Brazilians stopped buying American product and started making their own.” During the course of conversation Bowen said he put a couple of deals together along with some distribution ideas.

“I came back here and I sold some product. I got myself back into the forefront of working again.” His only contacts worth anything being from Brazil, Bowen decided to begin shooting there. “What’s amazing more than anything is the Brazilian work ethic,” Bowen says. “They are without a doubt the best people in the worl to work with. They’re workaholics. They work all hours. They’re godsends. They’re funny. They enjoy it. They’re just great people to work with.”

Consequently Bowen invested a lot of money down there. “I put a studio down here. I have editing bays down there. I have about nine girl under contracts and have 12 employees. I have a pretty big operation. I’m kind of tied to Brazil.”

Swami wondered why the girls there aren’t as jaded are dull-eyed about porn- actually a pretty good question. Bowen sighed.

“At the end of the day you’ve got to realize that no woman really likes being a prostitute,” Bowen answered. “But some fake liking it better than others. The Brazilians are more sexual pople. Sex is part of their every day life. They have hotels here that are geared just for sexual innuendoes in the afternoon. Their pornography plays on television. Middle class, older people watch porno movies and know who the directors are. So it’s a very sexually liberated country and the girls get paid very, very well for working in the movies. Most of the girls are prostitutes. They don’t make a lot of money as a prostitute but they make a lot of money in the movies and they get treated a lot better. I think it’s the whole experience of being in a movie and getting highly paid for it that gives them a much better attitude.

“Unlike the Americans,” Bowen is quick to point out. “They show up two hours late and the first thing they want to know is when they can leave because they’ve got another gig. Americans are just nightmares.”

Swami asked Bowen if he was surprised to learn that women were running their own porn companies in Brazil. “Without a sugar daddy or a financial backer.”

Bowen said he found that delightful because he’s always been attracted to strong women.

“An independent businesswomen is something I find fascinating,” he says. Bowen notes that Sexy Brazil is the third largest company in Brazil. “It’s run by two sisters. They were not married when they started the company. They subsequently married and a lot of people think, oh, it’s the husbands and the women are just doing the book work. But the two women run the company and they brought their husbands in. In fact I think one of the women just divorced her husband and kicked him out. But I think it’s very refreshing. Their product is no different than anybody else’s in Brazil. It’s not like they’re making kissy-face couples stuff. They make extreme hardcore product and they do very well in the market place. They’re a very aggressive company. As far as websites are concerned, they have the best website in Brazil. They’re making the most money from the new technology. More power to them.”

It was kind of obvious that Swami would bring up the HIV crisis, particularly the fact that Bowen saw things first hand below the equator. Swami asked about testing. “Things have changed quite a bit since then,” Bowen commented. “So I have to take it back a step to what it was at the time. In Brazil condoms were the way. All movies were condoms. Brazilians accepted condoms in movies. The government legislates that all porno movies released in Brazil have to have a legend on the front end that tells people to use condoms. It’s a very AIDS-aware country and it’s a very pro-condom country.” According to Bowen, the Americans- himself included- were coming in and asking the Brazilians to work without condoms. “Which goes against everything they believe in,” he said.

“In the process of doing that some of us are responsible and some of us are not,” Bowen continued. “The sadness is that here in America we have a system that works. It’s self-policing. The talent take a lot of responsibility in making sure that they’be been tested. Why American producers can get on an airplane and fly to another country and all of a sudden have no responsibility, I don’t know. The problem was generated by Americans, by changing the Brazilian system. The Brazilians did not test because they were 100% condom. If you’re going to go to people and ask them to work without condoms, it’s your responsibility to introduce all of the American system- this is how we do it in America, we test every thirty says. We suggest we test you now, we test you before you shoot. We’ll test the person your working with and we’ll all show each other tests. Why that didn’t happen in Brazil is absolutely criminal. Who’s to blame? Not the Brazilians. All they did was take the Yankee dollar. Whatever happened it happened because of the American intervention in the Brazilian porno industry.”

Swami suspected it must have been tough on Bowen seeing some stars get sick and seeing TT Boy basically getting away with it. Swami also noted that Bowen and Sharon Mitchell have history. Bowen said twenty years. “I got to say. I knew Sharon when she was shooting heroin,” Bowen continued. “I knew Sharon when she was a wild child. To think of her today as a responsible person, a ‘doctor’ is difficult. It’s like when you no somebody naked, you don’t respect them. But the reality is when you look at what’s gone on here I think she’s done an incredible job. And she started doing her job with people like me who doubted her. She’s trying to bring sense to an industry that doesn’t give a fuck that will adhere to any rule unless somebody offers them a job and they’ll take the money rather than stick to the rules. “I think she’s the lone voice that’s trying to bring some sense to what’s going on here and I admore her for it. But she’ll never really have many friends. She’ll always be the bad person because she’s the school teacher among the naughty school children and trying to save their lives.”

Swami asked Bowen about Samanha Strong, Bowen noting that she was his first contract girl. “I still believe today that she’s the greatest porn star of all time,” Bowen said. “I think the whole world recognizes Jenna because Jenna got smart and knuckled down and did the job and had the right team there from the beginning. Samantha only had me, God bless her. But there’s never been a charismatic, magical woman to hold a candle to her. She was absolutely amazing and still is today. I love her to death. I think she’s the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met in my life.”

Bowen was asked for his take on women getting ruined by drugs in the business and the attitude that comes wih celebrity.

“When you meet them you try and warn them,” Bowen stated. “Of course they all tell you it will never happen to them. And of course it does.” Bowen doesn’t think that Jasmin St. Claire was ruined by celebrity.

“She achieved what she wanted through the celebrity,” he feels. “Jasmin was not a pretty girl. At school she had no friends. She was the one always left out and she was a very spiteful girl. She wanted to get back at the world. She came to me because she had seen me on the Jerry Springer Show with Annabel Chong. She wanted to be famous and that was the simple request. Can you make me famous? I’ll do anything. I’ll do what you say. I’ll follow your instructions. I just want to be famous. I don’t care what I have to do.” Bowen admits that St. Claire worked very hard at it.

“This was a girl who saved her money and spent it all on plastic surgery, improved her looks tremendously. She went to the gym every single day. She had a body and face to die for after two years in the business. But as she grew in popularity she used that popularity to victimize anybody and everybody. She hated the world and just wanted to get back at it for what it had done to her as a little girl. As she got more famous, she got worse and worse and worse. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

On the other hand, Bowen feels that Annbel Chong was a doll and that he missed the boat on her. “Everybody used to tell me how intelligent she was and I never saw it,” he said. “She was at the university. She did have drug problems. She was the victim of the hangers-on. She was a little Chinese girl, a hippie at heart, a free spirit. When she started to become famous she got surounded by the worst hangers-on in the world. And they were the people who were at her apartment every night and doing drugs every night. Towards the end it got so bad with her with the drugs. She lived two blocks from the university in a small apartment complex. But it was one where there was no connection between the front gates and the partment. So if you got there you couldn’t buzz he apartment to let anybody know you were there. “Two or three times a week I used to send one of my guys down there who would literally break into her apartment and wash her and feed her and make sure she wasn’t sick. And then she’d leave an she’d go back doing the drugs. It was really bad with her. It was a great shame.”

Swami noted that Bowen’s allies will call him a genius who knows how to make movies, while his detractors will call him a maverick who doesn’t play well with others and the biggest piece of trash that has ever walked the face of the earth.

Asked to describe himself, Bowen said he has very strong beliefs and no problem in expounding them. “I believe that I told the truth in a country that’s terrified of telling the truth,” he stated. “I’ve made a lot of enemies by simply calling it the way I’ve seen it. But that’s me. I don’t seek friends. I don’t come after you to be my friend. You come after me and want to be my friend you’ve got to take me for what I am. I’m a workaholic plain and simple. I care about nothing but making movies. If you want to make movies with me you’ll be my best friend for life. If you stand in my way of making movies, I’ll cut you off at the knee because it’s all I do. I don’t do anything else. When I finish a movie I’m in pre-production for the next one. I write them, I produce them, I direct them. I put them out. I go to the next one.”

Bowen said he has pretty much no interest in anything else. “Whatever you want to say about me, it’s just about making movies.” Swami asked about Bowen’s latest movie Wicca which is out through New Sensations.

Bowen said that deal was the biggest and greatest joy of his life. Bowen said when he went to Brazil the first time he refinanced his house. “I took all the money I had and went to Brazil. I went there for six months and made seven movies. One of them was a $70,000 production called Puck. It was a takeoff of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Bowen said he came back to the states because it was time to cut a distribution deal.

“My 20 years in this business I’ve been plagued by distributors who have ripped me off. That’s what most of the controversy is over- it’s over me giving people my movies to distribute, then not paying me and me getting pised because I want my money.” Bowen said he called his old partner Bill Whitrock who has a line called Real Sex Magazine. “Very cool guy. I said Bill I’ve been out of the loop for awhile and I need a very good distributor.”

According to Bowen, Whitrock told him that he was being distributed by New Sensations. “He said they have one thing over everybody else- they pay you.” Bowen said he went nuts to meet Scott at New Sensations. “I was calling him every day. I was e-mailing him. I was sitting on the doorstep in front of the building. I wanted to meet this distributor who actually paid.”

Bowen said he finally got through to the p.r. guy over there Jeff Mullen. “By sheer coincidence he used to be in the music industry and he had done the music tracks to a film I did 12 years before called Merry X-mas. That was my foot in the door.” Bowen said he gave him Puck and couple of other movies. He handed them to Scott and Scott called him the next day. “I went in and had the only meeting I’ve ever had with him. He made me a fantastic deal. We signed on the spot and I’ve never spoken to him since. But I get my money every 30 days come hell or high water. If I’m not paid in 30 days it’s because I’ve been paid in 28 or 27. And it’s a dream for a filmmaker because there’s three things that you don’t have enough of- time, money and talent. If you an solve any one of those three, it puts you forward.”

Bowen said it’s comforting having the ability to know that every month he gets his money. “It’s guaranteed, so they’re a wonderful company and I would hate to fuck it up by making bad movies.” Bowen said the only damaging thing to his ego is their right to approve or reject his movies. “Which nobody has ever had in my 20 years in the business,” he states. “I’ve always been way too arrogant to allow anyone to have that.” On the other hand, Bowen said the situation keeps him on his toes. “I can’t get lazy now and skate on a picture because Scott won’t approve it. So I think I’m making better movies right now and very happy with what I’m doing.”

Bowen said Wicca is a $40,000 picture. “It was partially shot in America and partially shot in Brazil. It’s got a lot of special effects. It’s a middle earth, dungeons and dragons kind of thing with massive amounts of anal and double penetration which I think is important to mythology.” Swami then asked Bowen about Extreme and Rob Black wondering if Bowen blamed Black for the government coming after porn stars.

Bowen said he goes back to the beginning with Black. “Years ago Whitrock, Chuck Zane and I were partners in a company called Fantastic Pictures,” Bowen relates.

“At that time Rob was the son of Dominic, Chuck Zane’s brother. [And still is from what we gather.] He was the family idiot. He was the kid that they allowed to put boxes on the shelf in the store but they always figured he’d put them upside down or something. He was never taken seriously. He used to follow me around to the shows. He used to wear boots with no shoelaces and his clothes were always too big. ‘Hey Mr. T-Bone, will you teach me how to make movies, Mr. T-Bone?’ He was doing that for a year or two and I guess one day maybe he grew up and was always a smart kid.

“But he took all the money that he had- which I think was $25,000,” Bowen continued. “He came to Los Angeles and he called me up. He wanted me to teach him how to make movies. He wanted me to broker a deal with his uncle so that his uncle would distribute his product which Chuck would never do. I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to help this kid. I was on the phone with Chuck many, many nights trying to talk him into using his product. Then Rob I guess has the killer instinct.

“Basically he fucked me,” Bowen says. “He hired all my crew away. He took all the boys that I used. He hired all the people that I was hiring. And then he had one of the guys breaking into my studio and stealing my costumes and my sets. And he started making my movies. It pissed me off. I remembered watching one of his movies. I thought it was one of mine then the message came home. He was making my movies. And I guess he was a better promoter than me with his funny hairstyles and silly suits. He became tremendously successful. But tremendously successful by going beyond the limits that I would go. I was the worst, hardest pornographer when everybody was a Vivid clone. So everybody was nice an lovely and I was doing triple penetrations and double anals. I was the only guy doing it. Rob went beyond the limitation that I had.

“I never disrespected women,” Bowen contends. “I never spat on them, choked them or treated them badly. Women were always the leaders in my movies, they were always the stronger characters. And my stuff always had a sense of humor. His was vicious. I didn’t like what he was doing, and he was like a drunk kid that had to find the barrier. But nobody would put up a barrier. So he got worse and worse and worse until he ended up in a federal indictment. I couldn’t see any other course for him. It had to end like this. There was nowhere else for him to go.”


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