This article originally ran in the April 2014 issue of AVN magazine in a series of interviews with Elegant Angel Productions directors. to see the online digital edition.
Toni Ribas started his directing career at Elegant Angel "a long time ago," after he first came to the United States in 1999. "Guys who end up directing already have it in them—or they pursue something else. It's an ongoing thing." He started as a performer in 1994 and first met director Andrew Blake in Spain in 1997, when Ribas was doing live shows with his wife at the time. Ribas went to Paris to shoot with Blake, but the location wouldn't allow boy/girl, so he worked behind the camera. "I'm listed as assistant director in the credits for [Blake's] Paris Chic. He's a genius. The way he portrayed the women is amazing. After that, I went to Spain and I went to film school for a month, to get the basics. I was shooting in Prague, Budapest, I would come [to the U.S.] for two months, I didn't have a lot of time. I got a base of knowledge of cinema editing, the A-B roll system, audio, a little bit of basic stuff. I started directing here in 2000, with a line called Hardcore Innocence. I wanted to learn more things. This is my life. I've done porn since I'm 18."
He has directed for Elegant Angel, Cineplex, Red Light District, Private ("I was there for four or five years."), Penthouse in Europe, and "now I'm back at Elegant Angel. It feels like home. I embrace the style they have. I like to shoot gonzo with high production value. Portray the woman as beautiful as you can, and the sex—I like to keep it real."
Ribas places a lot of importance in casting compatible performers. When asked how he selects performers who work well together, he shrugs. "I'm a talent. I have the input. We guys, we talk. When I perform with a girl, I know what scenes she likes to do. You know who are the better performers, who will get the best out of a scene no matter what. There's nothing like the first time you have sex with a girl, either in porn or out of porn. The excitement and the buildup—and you can only have it once. And that's a unique scene. These are things I like to keep in my head."
Ribas takes a hands-off approach to his performers. "I like to give them some instructions, some guidelines, but I like to capture it because I believe the good things, they happen. You can't tell them, 'Go crazy, and when you are going crazy, then just kiss and make it amazing.' These things happen. As talent I know they happen when you are 5, 10 minutes into a scene. You get that rhythm and you get that connection and you forget you're in a scene. Magic things happen. Basically, I like to let them go. I know that once you stop, you break that thing. I'd rather shoot five minutes of footage I cannot use than stop them. What I like to see is when they are lost in the moment. They are looking at each other and they are in that zone. For me it's magic. The most amazing thing in porn is the magic of sex. You can get lost in another person. That's what I like to see."
Above, Toni Ribas with Bonnie Rotten, star of Elegant Angel's Bonnie Rotten Is Squirtwoman. Photo by Carlos Dee.