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Wednesday Story of the Day Replay: Joel Lawrence Explains the Florida Rumors

Yes, Joel Lawrence, head of Gold Star Modeling, is currently living in Miami but not for the reasons that have been suspected.

Right now there’s a thread on suggesting a variety of conjecture why he might be, but Lawrence tells me he had to go to the Sunshine state essentially to clean up the mess Eli Thomas left him with.

“I had to reconstitute the branch. You let somebody go, I’m not going to let my business go.”

There had been big fanfare about Eli’s coming aboard and establishing a Florida branch of Gold Star Modeling.

“The way I had Eli operate out of Florida was more of a sub-contractor,” Lawrence explains.

“I tried to franchise the agency in three different places- Florida, New York and Europe and the results were the same. The girls got work and I never actually got any money. The franchise idea would have allowed me to expand globally, quickly, and it was a role of the dice to throw money in and trust people that I knew were a little iffy.”

Lawrence is candid enough to say the experiment failed miserably.

“At the end of the day I could not get people to send money back and handle things in a proper way.”

Lawrence says a lot of people got the impression Eli was either an owner or employee but such was not the case and there was no termination. Lawrence simply told him the subcontracting gig was up because of breach of contract and that he owed Lawrence a bunch of money.

“It’s typical Eli,” states Lawrence. “He owes me a shitload of money. Everyone told me this would happen but I got a little over aggressive and it cost me. It was a bad year to get over aggressive as it turned out.”

Otherwise Lawrence says Gold Star Modeling is fine, contrary to other rumors.

In the wake of Hurricane Eli, Lawrence has acquired new Florida digs and has put together a staff.

“I’m going to be here about two-thirds of the time for the next six months. Though I’m not moving [permanently] to Florida.”

According to Lawrence he had a sense almost from the get go he was going to have to replace Thomas.

“But it’s kind of hard to do long distance.”

Lawrence concedes that the past year has been a hard one and that he made his share of mistakes in dealing with the money crunch.

Lawrence believed that had the franchise idea worked out from the beginning he could have done it in every porn-friendly city in the world within two years.

“It was a great idea where I would not have had to put any money in those places and gotten a third of the income,” he continues.

“But the problem ended up being that I picked the wrong people, then when the recession hit, I had to handle LA and deal with restructuring LA- I started paying commissions because the old business model of waiting for the phone to ring just doesn’t work anymore.”

Because of that, Lawrence said he didn’t have the time to oversee the franchises properly and that allowed those people to run hog wild and that sort of collapsed the whole thing. It was one of those circumstances where you’d think even bad people would see a good deal. But it turns out that bad people are bad people, so call me stupid.”

Lawrence compares his experience with Thomas to the parable of the Scorpion and the Turtle [or its variations].

“Sure as shit he stings me, but it’s hard for me to realize that somebody could be that stupid.”

Otherwise, Lawrence says things are back to normal and he plans on “suing the bejeezus” out of Eli.

Lawrence also says if Eli had just been a stupid guy it would have been one thing, but the problems were infinitely more serious.

“Of course everyone tried to warn me but I forged ahead. Some times you role the dice and it works out. Some times it doesn’t. I was rolling to be number one but at least I’m number three right now.”

Lawrence estimates that he lost at least $100,000 in the venture.

“But it’ll all come back.”

I also asked Lawrence what gives with the Adult Talent Agency Trade Association [ATATA] because that was part of the XPT thread as well.

“My impression is that since I’ve been gone, good things are not happening with ATATA,” Lawrence answers.

“It was going and doing quite well, but there have been problems. I think it will continue, but they haven’t been following my plan. It’s hard to tell which way it’ll go, though I’ll eventually come back and resurrect it.”


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