The November 2016 issue of AVN magazine featured a cover story on African American men working in the adult industry. In addition to the essay below, the issue contained interviews with a dozen performers. The cover, photographed by director Kevin Moore, features three current stars who have been working in the industry since the 1990s: Sean Michaels, Lexington Steele and Mandingo. Individual interviews wil be posted on AVN.com this month, or to see the whole issue online.
Ever since the legendary Johnny Keyes electrified viewers in Behind the Green Door and Sex World back in porn’s “Golden Age,” black male performers have been an in-demand presence in porn. But how do the men who work in the industry feel about the opportunities and challenges that they face? AVN solicited comments from a dozen of today’s top performers and fan favorites.
To supplement these interviews AVN asked other veteran African-American professionals in the adult industry for their opinions on the top male performers and the state of the business they work in.
Director LT was behind such top-selling Elegant Angel lines as Big Black Wet Asses, Black Booty Worship and Naughty Black Housewives, and also works as talent himself. His movies are currently distributed by Pure Play Media. LT got right to the point. “The top black guys? LT, Prince [Yahshua] and Lex. Why? Because we sell movies. Period.”
Something of a renaissance man, Tee Reel went from working as talent to producing-directing to being the first African-American man to start a fully bonded talent agency within the adult industry.
“There are always going to be legends in the business like Sean Michaels and Lexington Steele,” he said, “and there are a handful of guys that have solidified their names in the industry, like Prince Yahshua, Flash Brown, Jon Jon and myself, for example. These are guys that have good reputations for strong performances, good chemistry with talent, and giving solid scenes.
“There is a secondary rise of go-to guys as well, like Chris Cock and Jack Blaque and some up-and-coming outstanding talent like Isiah Maxwell.”
And what about the women who work on screen with these men? We got some enlightenment from 11-year industry veteran Misty Stone.
“The top black performers as far as male talent in my opinion,” she said, “are Prince Yahshua, Jack Napier and Lexington Steele. They bring more to the table as performers than anyone else I have worked with. They not only perform, they put on a show, something the viewers and fans can grasp onto.
“These guys are extremely professional, giving us girls—their co-stars—a pleasant sexual experience (very respectful) on camera while portraying this beast across the screen for the viewers. This is why they continue to stay in high demand over many years and have lasted for so long in this industry.”
Stone went on to point out that for many African-Americans, male and female, porn work is not always a level playing field.
“I would describe the state of the adult industry as progressing over the years,” she said, “but still a bit racist and unfair. We continue to improve as far as more opportunities slowly for black performers, but for some reason it is still not completely equal.
“For example, I have worked 11 years for my rate, and as a black performer I have been challenged many times about my worth. For some reason companies feel no need to pay a black performer as much or equal to a white performer. It’s just very difficult to continue to make this stand on our worth as black performers if we just go for whatever. I know many black female performers whose anal rate is equal to my B/G rate.
“I just want us to know we are worth just as much if not more. There has to be a change.”
Director LT echoed her concerns, more bluntly. “How do I describe the state of the industry? Racist as ever.”
Asked to expand on that, he said, “Let’s see, where do I start? I will make this short and clear, because I can ramble on all day. I’ll say this: How many black directors that are in the business right now that are working? You can count them on one hand. There’s me, Lexington [Steele], Mimefreak, Prince [Yahshua] and Dreadneck.
“That’s pathetic. You mean to tell me out of everything that’s being shot in L.A., Florida and Las Vegas, that only five black directors are working? That’s enough said right there.”
Reel cited the decline in DVD production and online piracy as major problems. “In regards to black male talent, the industry is in a rough position. A lot of the production companies that are not around have caused many black male performers to make their exits from the industry because there just aren’t enough production companies shooting and it makes it more difficult to have a career as male talent.
“Ironically,” he continued, “throughout the rise and fall of the industry, niche-based content—specifically interracial and black-on-black product—created with attractive talent in a quality setting, has always made money.
“It’s just very unfortunate that many of the production companies that shot interracial or black-on-black content weren’t able to maximize their revenues with it or became victims to tube sites and pirating. Some of them are just putting out horrible product and in time the consumers turned their backs on them.”
For two decades Mr. Marcus has been one of the most prominent stars in the black and interracial genres.
“When I started in ’94,” he remembered, “there was me, Julian St. Jox, Sean Michaels, Devlin Weed and Jake Steed. A few years later came Lexington Steele, Brian Pumper and Justin Slayer. Today there are brothas who work in the industry like Flash Brown, Prince Yahshua, Isiah Maxwell and Jon Jon.
“If you’re working on features, doing specialty scenes, maintaining a social media presence, really nurturing and developing a career, then it’s highly possible to operate and maintain on the level of a top guy in the porn world.”
Of those interviewed, Mr. Marcus took the most optimistic view of the industry. “When I look at the adult industry in 2016 I see opportunity. Even though times have changed, the industry has managed at its core to stay the same. Young people who have a strong appetite for sex dominate the porn scene, while creative types can lead the way by creating a sexual path that’s followed by performers and fans.
“Supporting the part of the industry that is still strongly inventive and imaginative is key—from the camera operator to the editor and everything in between—the entertainment value of porn is ripe for developing and influencing with sex as the inspiration. I’ve always believed that there are infinite possibilities.”