Momentum: Interview with Brian Gross “The Porn Publicist”.

At the Momentum Conference, I had a difficult time picking which sessions to sit in on. Do I go and sit in on Audiacia Ray or Charlie Glickman? Do I sit in with DangerousLilly or Maggie Mayhem? Hear a trailblazer speak on topics I’m familiar with to see what they’re saying or take sessions that will help me grow? What about workshops FOR workshops? A little Inception-y, I know. One of the sessions I sat in on was called “Sex and the Media: Who Wins?” I’m looking to break into other media and become a public face, I understand hardships the adult industry has with media… so I gave this one a shot.

The speaker’s name is Brian Gross and he is often pigeon-holed as The Porn Publicist. He has worked with Def American Recordings and Warner Brothers Records before he took “the plunge into adult” with Vivid’s Steven Hersh (politely name dropping clients such as Lars Ulrich and Gene Simmons to James Deen, Jenna Haze and Sasha Grey).

He said many things concerning the love/hate relationship between the adult industry and media (radio, tv, internet and print) while weaving on and off topic shared his facts and views through client relationships on how the media loves to use sexuality to sell publications/bring ratings – but at what cost? Of course this sparked a few questions to which I hoped Brian would have the time for an interview – and he did!

After a few txts on where and when, we decided on a late night chat over a drink (he Jameson, I Jack- of course) and this is how it went down. Forgive me for getting link happy, we zipped past some names because we know the industry’s characters so I linked for those of you who don’t know who we’re talking about.

Jane Blow: We know media won’t paint an accurate picture for the adult film industry – but for the select sex educators it welcomes (Laura Berman on Oprah for example)- Who have you found to be the most “oh no way, not at all” on a higher level but on a lower level sneak you in the back? As we know that larger companies own smaller ones we may not be familiar with.

Brian Gross: I don’t have much of this specific experience and I’ll tell you why. Producers don’t have that much time to be that all ‘over the place’ for lack of a better term. An example- the producer from Entertainment Tonight will say “I want to do a story on this actor or this actress, can we make it happen?” It’s a yes or no. Same with ABC Nightline. When specific television programs with an interest in sexuality say “We want to do this…” it opens up the negotiation. There are certain topics certainly that are a little more taboo which are harder to get an outlet to promote unless they’re broken through the news. Then they become a news story. It’s really difficult because there is a differentiation between what is a breaking news story and what we are trying to plan as a topic of conversation, as an editorial.

Every major television outlet, whether is cable news or ABC, NBC etc they’ve all covered some kind of sexuality in some way. So, if it fits, and it works, and its news worthy, then they’ll do something.

 

JB: Speaking of Niteline since it’s one of the recent things I know about because of the James Deen interview- Did Nightline contact you or your people because of this Tumblr phenomenon or how exactly did that happen?

BG: No, AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is one of my clients and Nightline wanted to cover it last year. They were interested and shooting B Roll. Their topics were going to involve…well, they wanted to talk to talent, discuss romance in adult film and they wanted to talk about agencies. So we worked with them and tried to give them what they wanted, to the best of the ability from people who wanted to talk to them. The Deen piece came quickly, because he was interested and they were interested in him. So much of this stuff (as much as pitching to Nightline goes and this and that) they already have in their mind what they want… I get a call or email “We want to do this” and if we can make it happen, it does. I’ve done stuff with them and Adam and Eve (est. 1969, Phil Harvey), Penthouse, and different companies they were interested in over the years.

JB: What percentage of women in the adult industry seek a publicist as opposed to taking their own path through social media? Why specifically then do they use a publicist? Do any of the men seek it out? It seems no one wants to talk to the men -I mean, Ron does his own thing, Deen is approachable- but you don’t hear about the men in the media unless they do something heinous unless they kill another star or they break up with their girlfriend.

BG: As More get women in the industry, less seek out a publicist. The ones who do seek out a publicist- its more about a career for them and they’re using this as a stepping stone. The ones who want to make their name a brand, and understand brand recognition.

JB: So they’d talk to, say, Doc to get their own line, or more because they want to go mainstream? 

BG: They’re going mainstream. But increasing their brand awareness and a realizing that a publicist will help them gain more notoriety and exposure as opposed to doing it on their own.  As far as guys are concerned, I compare guys to models in fashion industry-they’re like hangers. They’re used for a reason. They need to get a job done and very few can so they’re not useable.

JB: Oh absolutely, and they’re approached all the time by civilians “How do I get your job man?” I’ve heard it and laughed to myself. No one seems to have the staying power of Tommy Gun, Randy Spears, Evan Stone to name a few. I joke and say if you want to be a female in porno, its a right of passage  to fuck Evan, it’s inescapable.

BG: They need to fill a need- a lot of guys think they can but they can’t… so what happens is… you go back to the old stalwarts that are able to accomplish whats needed in a scene and theres only so many who can do it.

As far as seeking a publicist Media attention: a girl can create a website get media attention, get people to their website and make money. For the most part a male porn star can’t. Their branding isn’t as viable as a female. That’s just the world we live in. So, James Deen works 364 days a year <JB: yea he’s got a lot of hustle> he’s focused on performing… and performing and performing. Certainly for a guy he’ll get a small percentage for a toy line, and we’re obviously talking about straight guys. Guys can get a website and make money.

JB: James is a little bit of a phenomenon, the only other porn star that I know who is remotely like him is maybe Jack Lawerence (not counting Ron, hes like the Gene Simmons of porno) because of the cop thing he has going on, and the cars he builds.

BG: Well, there’s also Dale Debone, Evan Stone breaking into it too… not counting the obvious, the one I love and admire, who is such a great guy who I enjoy being around, I play basketball with him… is Manuel… he’s passionate and European, it’s a different mentality, and it comes across.

(In the session I sat in on, Brian Gross mentioned a program he worked on for VH1 which ran 70 weeks straight, but didn’t mention what it was – or I missed it tweeting something else he said.) 

JB: Which program ran on VH1 for all those weeks?

BG: The Porn Stars & Rock Stars special about how they’re alike and always seem to go together. It was an hour special about correlation between rock stars and porn stars, 12 years ago. It was a cool, fun piece to do. It fit with the times. It was a cool story in Rolling Stone Magazine. We had Vivid girls in music videos- we did an Everclear video. At the moment it was a hot topic.

JB: I hear thats what Jenna Haze is doing now.

BG: I was just with her last week, she is best friends with Taylor Momsen we went to see the band… they’re cool girls who happened to be best friends; people tend to make a big deal… one just happens to front a rock band the other is a very famous porn star.

JB: People forget famous people are people too; but we just happen to see them naked all the time.

BG: (laughing) Well I don’t see taylor munson naked, but Jenna yes.

JB: (laughing) Funny funny. But really, people have a personal connection to them because we see them naked… On a much smaller scale, I just blog info and people feel they know me, but they don’t.

BG: It happens a lot, yea it’s all perception vs reality.

JB: I feel many adult stars have done cross over into mainstream media- Jenna Haze, Ron Jeremy, Riley Steel did Piranha - but nothing like Sasha Grey. Sasha going into mainstream- it was kind of like how Jenna Jameson started her empire. Her daddy said if “you should do something you should do it the best”, I feel no one has built an empire since. She started the branding movement- a lot of people feel porn stars are being objectified etc- but women joining the industry now are doing it on purpose. Not like when Nina or Vanessa, or anyone before Jenna started. It is a new age of porn star. I feel like Sasha is working on the model of How to Cross Over, like Jenna completed the model of How to Brand. Please tell me how riding the Sasha wave was?

 

BG: I think Sasha like Jenna are very unique, I can speak on both in different ways. Sasha came with determination, she came with- I’m going to make adult films, very intense films, start my own production company, I’m going to go main stream, I’m going to do things that no one has ever done in porno. And no one is going to get in my way- and she did. She brought the right people on board to help her, and she worked hard. Period. There was no laziness, no nonsense, it was “This is what we’re going to do” and we did it.

Another Jenna Jameson will never happen again in all likelihood. Jenna was the girl next door, the chosen one, with incredible people around her, she married an incredibly smart man in Jack who knew he could make the Jenna Jameson property and make it big. And obviously thing biggest thing she ever did was sell, not only herself and her company (Club Jenna) but to Playboy which will never be done again, it was huge. So she has a very strong team around her, and they did amazing things… best selling book, was on the NYTimes seller list, Club Jenna, and all the mainstream stuff she did. So… she was an anomaly to everything else because she came at a time where there were 100s of girls not 1000s, and she was a big deal. Obviously beautiful, attractive, had incredible sex on film- but more importantly she had the power of Vivid, Wicked, and people around her that realized the power of potential of what they could do.

JB: This goes without saying, but this was obviously when the porn industry had a lot of money and the ability to make a lot of money. It was certainly one of the hay-days.

BG: There still is a lot of money being made in the porn industry it’s just different.

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We then spoke a minute about how the industry is changing and my personal experience witnessing it first hand, and that the smart retailers will make adjustments or close. We did a final cheers and ended the night with thank yous and a hug. Despite the flirty nature of the conference we were ‘perfect gentleman’. He went to finish up watching Basketball, and I was headed to the bar to continue the Momentum experience.

I really enjoyed the inside peek from a point of view that you don’t get to talk to often- but you see all their hard work, hussel (and sometimes luck) come to be on our TV screens and on the radio. Thanks again Brian for the interview (and the drink!) …Till next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nikkileighauthor Nikki Leigh

    Great interview and Brian is definitely the person to go to :)

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