And last year, rookie porn star Iris Menke sued the company. According to a contract filed in court, she had been paid $50,000 a year plus benefits and a free cell phone to perform. Menke claimed that when she tried to leave for a larger company after a year, Fisher doctored and falsely notarized a contract to include a noncompete clause, barring her from working in porn anywhere else for two years.
The suit was settled confidentially. For his part, Fisher claims it was Menke who forged contracts. "Once you start your own studio," he laments, shaking his head, "it's like a big bull's-eye on your back for these chicks to take shots at."
Which is one of the reasons Fisher was fired up when Showtime green-lighted his "hybrid" show for an 11:30 p.m. time slot: "They wanted something that isn't porn but really pushes the envelope."
He was ready with the idea for Beach Heat and was given a five-year production option. (Showtime representative Perry Seaman refused to comment about the show or controversy. "With adult-like content, we just acquire it; we don't develop it," he says.)
Fisher claims he was up-front with auditioning actors, showing them a pilot that included sex scenes and describing his show as "like Californication, but racier," referring to the Showtime program often starring David Duchovny's bare backside.
"He compared it to Nip/Tuck or Sex and the City," says the unnamed tutor/actress, who was offered $800 and was not in any sex scenes. "He didn't say anything about gratuitous sex, and I didn't see any scenes like that being filmed."
Galioto won a major role and earned $5,600 for the first season, even though she had done little more than a Home Depot commercial and bit spots on E!'s Sexiest Jobs. She says she knew nudity was required: "We're lifeguards in South Beach; it's a topless beach, so we expected to be topless. But not, like, having sex topless."
She decided it might be porn after the second time she was directed to gyrate nude upon another actor. But by then, it was too late: "It was the type of thing where we were already in so deep. We had already signed a contract."
Tempers flared during four months of production on South Beach last spring. Galioto "got in a very heated fight" with Fisher, she says, calling him a "snake" on set.
The director was unfazed. He began referring to her as "T-Rex" for the way she tried to conceal her breasts with her hands during sex scenes.
Fisher says the disgruntled starlets partied too hard — "staying out at the club until 3 a.m. when we had to shoot at 8 the next morning" — and "were unhappy with their performances." VH1 reality-show star Hauserman, he points out, was busted for DUI during Beach Heat's filming in April. But Fisher allows, "I knew what I was getting into. I knew I wasn't getting Marisa Tomei."
Hauserman, who could not be reached for comment, didn't show up for the show's premiere at Pangaea Lounge in Hollywood. She's refused to sign on for the second season, which is in preproduction.
Fisher is undeterred. "These chicks think the show is about them," he scoffs. "They are so easily replaced. The show is about the concept."
Next up for the director: a comedy called Last Resort, in which a Michigan man loses everything and heads to Key West to start a resort. "It's going to be squeaky-clean, with A-rate actors," says Fisher.