This interview with Mandingo ran in the November issue of AVN magazine as part of a cover story on African American men working in the adult industry. to see the whole issue online. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Home State: Mississippi | Age: 41 | Started in 1999 | Twitter: @fred_nice | Website: FredNice.com
What inspired you to pursue a career in adult film?
Strength inspired me. When I made this decision to enter the adult industry, I was at a crossroads in my senior year in college. I had set myself on such a high pedestal that when I didn’t achieve what I had set out for, I could not handle no longer being in that limelight. So in order to maintain, I wanted to attach myself to something with immediate power. I chose adult film.
I was also a quiet fan of the industry. In the early ’90s, it was Playboy’s Night Calls and their cable videos. Also Hustler magazines and this specific scene with Ray Victory, one of the great early black pioneers, had me very intrigued about the adult industry. As a communications major, I learned a lot about journalism. I had this idea of mixing African history and sex; so the name Mandingo was perfect. I then later chose the name of my brand as FredNice; since people like to use my actual name Fred along with Mandingo. My older industry colleagues are more comfortable saying Fred, while the younger ones prefer Mandingo. So my studio, FredNice, is a actually a little word play on my true first name.
So how did I go about it?
Well a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. After entering the industry in ’98 and after a few successful productions, I emailed the various companies some production photographs, and the rest is history. A very nice history, if I might add. I came from being a fan to actually entering the industry. I made some strides, and I’ve received awards from the industry; to even having a relationship with a major star to then us getting married. I’m really not the boasting type, but I am really content with who I am and where I am. A young man from a small town, who made it big in a tough industry, and I’m very proud of that.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
When I started out, just trying to maintain focus was the challenging part. It’s not easy. I compare it to professional sports. I was on quite a few larger sets in the beginning, so to focus and getting into a zone. Similar to sports, music and acting, focus is key. Nowadays, just mixing an adult life while being a family man can be interesting. After entering adult, my only serious relationship is with a woman from the industry, so we both understood each other’s day. Like entertainers of all genres, celebrities, and sports figures, having a family and navigating a normal life while having an enhanced career can be interesting. I recall Howard Stern talking about this. I compare entertainers of all levels—adult, music, sports, acting—as meta-human. We’re human with a little bit of something else. That’s why we watch in amazement. That’s why with entertainers and celebrities there’s such acclaim and high regard.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I get to be an example. It’s what I set out to do initially in college. I just chose a sexier route to go about it. When you have a platform, you must represent, especially being black. It’s reality. This is not a United States reality, this is a global reality. This is a reality from our own global history. It runs deep. With our new technologies, you read about black people from all over saying the exact same thing. The work is not yet done. Blacks from all over have now achieved the global non-judgmental “thing.” Now, we need to clean up some of our own. There’s still black on black crime in the U.S. There’s still oppression to this day by our own in Africa. To be able to do this job, to travel and to enjoy the perks of this job, is a gift. And I’m fully aware that there are those who aren’t fortunate to have the gifts that I’ve been given. Just being able to walk and to eat and to go outside and to see and touch and feel is a gift that a lot of us take for granted. I see it every day when I travel. I’m thankful for everything. I’m thankful for my industry embracing me.
Who are your biggest influences?
Major sports figures, actors, musicians and President Obama (I voted for him twice even though I’m Republican) influence me quite a bit. It’s real cool when I have some of their exact same interests. I do notice I tend to root for the very confident and cocky ones! My family of course, from L.A. to Houston, through the south to Atlanta, and up north to Chicago.
What is the most common misconception about adult?
That it’s easy to do. It’s not. That’s why now, more than ever, there needs to be more appreciation for adult. With our newest technological advancements, I’ve noticed quite a few consumers taking a lot of what we do for granted. With these tube sites taking revenue away, there needs to be more unquestionable financial support for actor/actress producers. If porn stars are like mutants, then tube sites are the sentinels. Those who know this story know that didn’t end well. It’s the same for porn, it’s only a matter of time. If you love porn, then financially support it. People like Lance Armstrong ask for donations, raise millions, and you see how that turned out. If your favorite star has a donation link, a clip site, direct payment option, or a membership link; that is how our industry will continue to thrive. We go to work, eat, support our families, and pay bills just like everyone else.
What do you think of the way IR (black male/white female) is marketed?
There’s been talk resurfacing again about racism in the adult industry. The marketing of IR porn has come a long way. As of today, the presentation is much better now. It used to be very stereotype driven. That’s what the public wanted at the time. Nowadays, aside from specific genres, the desire is no longer mainly focused on stereotypical types of images. That change is from amateur to professional. We have evolved. In that aspect, we are all one and the same.
With the whole “IR” thing, that is a reflection on us as a society, globally. Before the year 2000, we were all racist. Everything was race related. It’s the reason N.W.A was so successful. People talk about Trump being racist. In the ’80s and ’90s we were all still racist. I honestly believe that Obama’s presidency and this new generation has helped to heal and educated us all. Nowadays, the packaging and desires have become more pleasant and appealing. But a lot of our own societal issues are still there. If a black man is involved in a production, a lot of special care or handling, labeling and categorizing is involved. That’s due to our own global insecurities when it comes to race. That’s why they say, if you have a platform, then represent to the best of your ability.
What barriers, if any, have you encountered working in the adult industry?
By the time I got in the industry, the barriers had already been taken down by the likes of Sean Michaels, Julian St. Jox and Ron Hightower. There was a very solid all-black genre at the time. All I had to do was just be me. That’s another reason why I decided to get into adult entertainment. At the time, there weren’t any stereotypical boy-next-door collegiate types. Now here I go stereotyping. Everyone, black and white, has a distinct category. So I said what if I bring my type to the industry? What if I try this mix of African history and sex? So I went in.