The XXXstasy Biz

Porn in Miami Beach is just another franchise operation

It's that sense of resentment that seems to be driving Ray's current plans for his own set-on-South Beach adult video line. "I want to treat the guys better," he says. "The women always look good, so why not go the extra inch for the guys? Let's glam them up, put them in Gucci and Prada."

Isn't the point of a porn film for the characters to get naked? "They'll wear it beforehand," Ray explains, rolling his eyes and beginning to lose patience. Besides, he's already got everything lined up: friends with spacious homes in which to shoot, a large supply of willing talent, and a backer. It's this last figure -- a well-known Beach multimillionaire -- he's hoping will come up with the seed money. This mogul has already allowed Ray and Perry to shoot a scene with De Mea and Rush in his Star Island home earlier in the day, forgoing the location fee usually paid back in Los Angeles, happy just to enjoy the spectacle of a porn film unfolding around his own pool. "He likes the action," Perry muses.

We're ready for our closeup, Mr. Thring: Friday (Top) and Lesley Zen on the set of  DJ Groupie 2: Technosluts
Brett Sokol
We're ready for our closeup, Mr. Thring: Friday (Top) and Lesley Zen on the set of DJ Groupie 2: Technosluts

By 2:00 a.m. there's little festive spirit left among the cast and crew of DJ Groupie 2: Technosluts. Inside the Collins Avenue hotel where they're all staying, the film's producer -- and his all-important paychecks -- are late. At dinnertime, he told the director, Frank Thring, he was going home to fetch his checkbook. That was five hours ago.

The success of the adult industry is encouraging all sorts of investors to jump in, Thring explains. This particular producer, a Los Angeles-based Iranian exile, is testing the waters, having convinced Hustler to give him a shot as long as he was willing to front the picture's costs and deliver the raw footage. For Hustler it's a no-risk proposition. For Thring, though, it's been nothing but frustration. An inexperienced producer has meant basic staples like extra bottles of Astroglide lubricant have been missing at crucial moments. A makeup artist unaccustomed to the task at hand had to be dismissed. And now the ultimate insult: The payoff -- the whole reason for being here -- is missing in action.

Every 45 minutes or so the producer checks in via cell phone. He's on his way, he says. He just wants to take a shower first. He just wants to pick up a friend. He'll be there soon. In the meantime Thring finds himself playing den mother, making the rounds of the hotel rooms where his cast is crashed out. After several days of drinking, drugging, little sleep, and -- not least -- nonstop sex, they're all exhausted. But with departing flights set for the morning, they don't want to leave without their money.

Stopping off in his own room to fetch a can of Coke from his fridge, Thring begins to wax philosophic. He started in this business as an actor himself, back in England. A Los Angeles contact helped him cross over to the director's chair, and by 1987 he was helming his own features on Beta. He's watched the formats change -- the death of film, the advent of video, and now digital video -- and hundreds of actors come and go.

"You know, they're not that bad -- these films," he says, thinking aloud. "If you think of them as little B-movies, they're not that bad. We've got tiny budgets but we're still making pictures with storylines, action, interesting settings. If you gave some big-shot Hollywood director only $50,000 he couldn't even deliver one scene. We're giving you a whole movie!"

Thring's reverie is interrupted by a cell phone call from another crew member -- the errant producer has finally arrived in the lobby. Rousing his minions, Thring leads the cast downstairs. One by one they present the results of their monthly HIV tests, mandated by virtually every adult video company. If it seems a bit irrelevant to be examining these documents after the fact, everyone is too tired to argue. Release forms are signed, checks are collected, and everyone staggers back up to their rooms.

All except Scott Nails. His wife is already sound asleep but he remains undaunted. "I'm going out," he affirms. Opium Garden, crobar, B.E.D. -- it doesn't matter. He's been watching them on all the TV shows back in Arizona. His eyes sparkling, he says, "I can't imagine coming to Miami and not going to a club."

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