Honoring Well-Known Industry Photographer 'Dr. X'

LAS VEGAS—In our coverage of the inductions of classic performers Jill Kelly, Lisa Ann, RayVeness and Mr. Marcus into the Legends of Erotica Hall of Fame, we missed someone—possibly because his induction didn't take place with the rest last Friday night at Showgirl Video.

The honoree is known in the adult industry as "Dr. X," a 24-year veteran photographer and videographer, who was presented with his "Legends of Erotica" medallion with little fanfare on the floor of the Adult Entertainment Expo over the weekend.

"He's been trying to get me to do it for a couple of years now," Dr. X said of Bill Margold, founder of the Legends, "but I've just been so busy at the conventions..."

But the diminutive lensman recalls being at one of the earliest CES shows with an adult section, and hanging out with "new" stars like Nina Hartley, Ginger Lynn and Porsche Lynn, as well as "old-timers" like Sharon Mitchell.

"I could not even get into the convention at that point," he admitted. "I'd met Mitch more than Porsche on the dance circuit; that's kind of how I got into all this stuff, because Mitch and Porsche and Nina basically introduced me to the newer girls."

"It's been a long, strange, weird journey," he continued. "I started as a fan, I got in line like everybody else; said stupid things to porn stars—I did all that stuff. I understand that mentality."

"I've been extremely lucky in that I've been self-employed all the way through this, and and that I got the opportunity to work for AVN. It might sound corny but I always considered that a privilege. That was never just a gig. When [publicist] Adella [Curry] approached me about doing the thing this past show, I wanted to go back to how we did things before, which is what we did. Before, it was 'shoot as much as you can, get as much stuff done, and basically sort out the bodies when we get home.' To me, AVN should always have the best coverage of its own show, and [AVN publisher] Paul [Fishbein], who always made sure I had full access to the convention and parties and all that, always wanted me to make as much as I could and do as much as I could, with the understanding that, of course you've got to take care of AVN."

And "take care of AVN," he did! Dr. X's photos have graced AVN's pages since the mid-'80s. And along the way, he's been part of some of the adult industry's major events.

"The 'Erotic 11' bust, certainly, was major," he recalled. "If you believe Bill Margold, I took one of the most famous pictures in the history of porn, which was Nina [Hartley] getting arrested at that stage they'd set up behind the Pure Pleasure store. John Leslie passing away was very sad. The memorial was very cool; it was good to see a bunch of more established people coming out to honor him."

The mention of the "old timers" sparked a monologue about how the industry differs now from Dr. X's early days shooting it.

"I'm used to a different type of girl as far as porn stars, now," he reflected. "I mean, to me, there's not a lot of porn stars anymore. I don't know if it's because of the internet or what, but there's not a lot of girls who take the time now to do marketing, not a lot of girls who understand it. Ten years ago, wouldn't you say we had more characters in this business than we have now—not saying they're good or bad people, but just 'characters'? Now, what do we have? Max Hardcore? Porno Dan? Who are the girls that stick out in your head from last year? Of course, there's Sasha Gray, but who else? Chanel Preston made a good impact last year; Tori Black is awesome—I love Tori Black; she basically keeps her mouth shut and does her job, and it's a good job. To me, she's an 'old school' performer."

"To be a real porn star nowadays, you have to do a lot of self-promotion, and you have to separate yourself from everybody else," he continued. "Let's pretend we had a hundred new blondes that came into porn last year; name me three who stuck out? The people who, to me, 'get' marketing right now are Sunny Lane—she's great at doing marketing; Bree Olsen; Chanel did an amazing job with Adella and everything. There's other people who made an impact. Asa Akira, I thought, had a great first half of the year; she did an amazing amount of work, but she kind of tapered off the second half. In this day and age, in my opinion, the chicks really need to lay off shooting 10,000 scenes and they need to plan their names more; take better work and things that will get them recognized. And the internet being what it is—I mean, we can go back and forth and say piracy, downloading killed porn, but to me, that's just one part of the problem, in the sense that if a girl does her homework, you'll note there's a lot more opportunities for a girl to make money now than there was before. Before, the girls just did scenes for DVDs, posed for magazines and made a couple of appearances. Now, between Twitter and Facebook and everything else, you can get your name out there, you can control your own image, and make a much bigger impact."

"And we've all seen girls and we can scratch our heads and wonder why that one took off and that one didn't; it's either luck or timing or marketing or whatever it is," he assessed. "Jessica Drake, for instance, I think she should have been recognized a lot sooner in her career; she's a great talent. There's different people right now, a lot of girls who, in my opinion, have 'it,' and I couldn't tell you what 'it' is. It's that indefinable thing that separates some from the rest of the crowd. Jenna [Jameson] has it; just a couple of people do, and in Jenna's case, she had the backing of [Wicked Pictures'] Steve Orenstein and Joy King, and she had the initial fan base from Cheri magazine and everything else, and it just spiraled and she became Jenna. The thing I like about Sasha Gray, she makes no bones about who she is and what she does. I respect the shit out of that. If you're going to be in porn, especially now, there's no place to hide. You've just got to be out front about everything."

The good doctor also has a few choice words to say about the current state of the industry ... and about the role of talent agents in particular.

"This community needs to get out of the 'me' mentality and get into the 'we' mentality," Dr. X opined. "We all have problems, not just me or you. There's not any one part of the situation you can pick and point a finger at. I mean, you can, but everything affects everything else. Anybody remember, nine years ago or so when we did a 9/11 benefit? The whole premise was called 'UAC'—'United Adult Community'. The premise of the evening was, for one night and one night only, we're all part of a community, we're all doing our bit for the 9/11 survivors and their families, and that's it; at the end of the day, everyone goes back to being what they think they are. It turned out great."

"On the other hand, last year, they had the earthquake in Haiti, and there were a lot of really, really good people who got together to get involved in doing a benefit; it was an amazing cross-section of people, and some of those talent agents essentially said, 'Fuck the people in Haiti; let them die. My girls are not getting on stage with other girls from other agencies.' That's the only thing I can say about that, except that it should have been about 'we,' not about 'me.' And the public perception of this business is always going to get trashed, and that's a perfect example of why. There are good people in this business, and a lot of the people, you never hear a word out of for whatever reason, and to me they're the most successful people in porn; you never see them. They're too busy working, too busy doing their thing."

"I've gotten in a lot of trouble for saying the stuff I've said to you," he recognized, "but I've always been the type of person that, if you ask me a question, I give you an answer, and if you don't want an answer, don't ask me the question. So I've gotten myself banned from stuff, I've gotten in fights, I've gotten in all kinds of shit."

But the fights and bans have diminished over the years as Dr. X has become more respectable.

"I opened my photo agency a few years ago; the economy took a shit; I closed the photo agency," he summarized. "I started a news agency, EMMReport; I'm working on a social network with the news agency and just a whole bunch of shit. It keeps evolving."

It's a tough gig, but on the occasion of his induction, Dr. X didn't want to forget the folks that helped him attain the high status he currently enjoys.

"The three people I'd like to thank would be Bill Margold, [former AVN and Adam Film World editor-in-chief] Tim Connolly and Paul Fishbein," he said. "I'd also like to thank my crew—Gordon Mui, specifically, and everyone else that works for me: Big Mike, Pacific Pro Digital, Rich Stephens, Martin, Industry by Rick, the late Allen K, and Lee Austin. I seriously appreciate them. But apparently, I now have people running around who I don't even know are my guys!"

"It's been a long, strange, weird journey," he repeated—and so it has!