T: Ok, so Ernest Greene: the bondage director - does some
pretty amazing stuff.
E: Thank you.
T: I'm not a connoisseur of bondage so... I guess I don't really know like a whole lot about it. But I do know that your stuff looks a hell of a lot better than all the other crap that's out there. All that stuff that comes from New York and I'm sure you don't want to comment on that but... How are you making these really amazing video's? High budgets and classy girls when... the average bondage movie is a lot lower class than something that you do.
E: Well, we started out with a different set of assumptions. We assumed that there was a sophisticated market for fetish erotica, that it wasn't a market that necessarily just wanted to see women getting tied up and abused in various ways for no particularly erotic reason under any circumstances. Basically the inspiration for the original Twist line came from magazines like Skin 2, Marquee and other kinds of crossover publications that were using fetish imagery in a very artistic way that were obviously meant to appeal to a sophisticated audience and that were clearly doing very well. It was obvious to me when I started this... I didn't... I should say, let's back track a little. Twist had a life before me, Harold Lime was the original director.
E: Yes and these guys were known to make conventional bondage pictures for a long time and when uhh... Kenny Lloyd, who is the producer of the line decided to hire me on, I already had been doing rigging work, designing the bondage in a lot of bondage video's for years and I'd had a couple of shots at directing production in the fetish area here and there. But when Kenny hired me, it was with the idea that I would pitch our line to a new market, that we would go after the upscale fetish market. The same market that really likes Andrew Blake's pictures. I've written most of Blake's last few features and I've A.D.'d and done technical consulting for him in his more fetish oriented pictures for a long time going all the way back to Sensual Exposures. I knew there was a lot of overlap between Blake's audience and the audience I wanted to get. In fact, Blake had been interpolating well chosen fetish elements into his pictures for a long long time, all the way back to House of Dreams. If you look in there, there's a domination oriented scene in there with Jeanne Fine and Zara White. So, for years Blake had been putting this kind of stuff into his work. Umm...
T: Then there was the Pony stuff.
E: Oh yeah, that was... I rigged that up, that's how we met. The pony girl scene in Sensual Exposure is the first thing I ever did for Blake.
T: With Debbie Diamond.
E: Yeah, with Debbie Diamond and Raven. He called me up and he asked me if I had the gear to put something like that together. I said "Ahh, how many are you doing? How many ponies have you got?" So, uhh... we did that, it worked very well, we're very happy with the way it looked and there was a good chemistry between the two of us. We just liked each other. We had a very similar sort of visual sensibility and we liked the same artists, and the same architects, you know. We like all the same looking' stuff. So, I thought that there was an audience out there that wanted to see fetish oriented erotica that was done in a way that was visually appealing and artistic. Also that there was an audience out there, a growing audience that had had some direct experience with B&D play in their own lives and consensual erotic play involving the consensual exchange of power and that they wanted to see that. They didn't want to see it portrayed as mindless brutality, they wanted to see it portrayed as foreplay to sex, so that if we made the pictures feel more erotic and more sensual, that we would get an audience of players and people who are interested in playing, a couples audience which this particular part of the market has never really tried to market to, except maybe for Harmony Concepts, which is a pretty couples oriented company. But overall, bondage specialty has not appealed to women and to couples and yet I knew lots of women and couples who were into it. So, I figured I would take the experience that I had in the SM, B&D fetish community and put that into making these shows, and I was lucky enough to find a producer who was willing to put his money where my aspirations were. You know, he was willing to bank roll us to make bigger, better, nicer looking pictures and to try and release them wider and to go outside of what was then the existing economic structure of the specialty market to try and reach out to new audiences and that's one of the reasons why from the beginning we saw distribution through mainstream x-rated channels rather than going through traditional bondage distributors, because traditionally bondage pictures go out the door at very small numbers, and we knew that there were bigger numbers. When a magazine like Skin 2 is doing 32 thousand copies of a $20.00 magazine on the newsstands, of every issue in the United States alone, you know there's a large audience for this material. So, it's just a question of reaching that audience with something that it wants and that's what we're trying to do, and I think to the degree that it's always a bit troublesome to try and create a new, you know, create a new animal that's never been in the world before. There have been some birth pains involved but, I think we got 'em now. I don't think there's much doubt about it. When that guy comes... I'm at the Boston Market picking up some chicken and this guy slips up to me and says, "uhh... excuse me, but uhh, are you the guy who makes those video's?" "Well, I guess I might be, you know, maybe I am that guy". And indeed that's happened over and over again that I've run into people who've seen the Twist shows and said, "Oh man, those are really different from everything else." and really like 'em. We've had actually a lot of support from the public. We get really lovely mail and when we go out to SM events, where people are very snobby about their erotica. The SM community overall are very quick to trash any commercial product that is meant to appeal to them, they're quick to say, "Ah-na, these people don't know what they're talking about, these people are obviously amateurs." I've had very respectful treatment of these pictures from people who are active in the leather community. Which is very gratifying to me. Not to mention that nice fabulous brass award that you get from AVN. That's a nice thing. That picture for which that award was given has done incredibly well, Strictly for Pleasure, which has been the biggest selling title in the series. It's just amazing the legs that this picture has. This is a picture that if you called up at Wicked, they'll tell you that "We're still duping it we're still making new ones." It's sold overseas it's very unusual for these pictures to go so well in Europe, but we have a big European audience. We may soon have an audience in Japan, I suspect for these shows, but we definitely have a strong European audience. We've gotten a lot of support from magazines like Secret and at one point from O. Our shows are pitched at a pretty knowing audience and the publications and other agencies of one kind or another that serve that audience, you know they know these pictures. Word of mouth is very good for selling these things. Of course, we've had terrific support from Wicked. Now that they're distributing them, they do a very nice job. They'd never taken a specialty product before. They'd never taken an outside line before. This was the first outside product that they ever took to distribute and I think that's quite a compliment. I'm very pleased about that. So that's great, I mean, you know, hooking up with them was really kind of a natural because they're a strong company with a very forward looking progressive kind of management, you know, and basically Steve Ornstein looked at these pictures and said, "I like them, they're pretty, they're good, let's take 'em". So they've been selling the heck out of them.
T: You have a lot of actresses that don't usually do bondage movies that you somehow get to do bondage movies.
E: So to speak. Rope 'em in!
T: How do you get them to do it? Well, why are they apprehensive about doing it to begin with?
E: Oh, well, you know, those are two separate questions. I think overall there has been, and I'm glad to say that this is true, a... there has been an exchange of performers in the last few years between bondage pictures and mainstream hard-core pictures because both the composition of the performing community and the nature of the pictures has changed. This is an overall trend in the industry that used to have just bondage players and just hard-core players and one didn't do the other. But now, now that specialty bondage pictures are recognized for what they are really, which is sexy pictures. So now they attract sex players. Also, in the community of performers, there are more SM oriented performers than there used to be which makes it a whole lot easier. They already know they wanna do these pictures. They know that these pictures are going to be fun. The source of the apprehension in the past has been that there have been people who have made bondage pictures who shouldn't be making them for a variety of reasons. Either they shouldn't be making them because they don't really know what it is that's the turn on in this material and therefore they just make a dumb picture. Or because they're into it at a personal level and the reason that they're doing this whole thing is so that they can get some performers in there and work out their own stuff on them. I think performers like doing my shows because they know that that's not the mission. The mission with my shows is to make a beautiful show, make the performers look beautiful. Though I want it to all be seen as fun and sensual and pleasurable, & mutual and then I will get players who are oriented that way in order to do that. I cast very carefully. I think casting is what this is all about. I approach players who I think are going to find this an interesting sort of subject to work with. I say "Look, who do you want to do this with, who do you feel comfortable doing this with, what things would you like to do? And what things would you not like to do, and we'll just do the things that you wanna do. We wont put you in situations you don't want to be in and we'll be respectful of whatever limits you set down." And then there's the clothes. That's an angle that's not to be left out. I mean, really I think half of my performers get into these shows for the opportunity to put on the costumes. That's one thing they know that the clothes will be beautiful, the locations will be nice and that it will be a first rate situation and we treat them well, and that we'll be making a good picture. One of the things that I don't think is really widely understood about the x-rated pictures overall, is that x-rated performers work good, take a lot of pride in their performances and take a lot of pride in the pictures that they make. So, if they're given the opportunity to do something good, they're willing to work their hearts out for you. If they know they're working on a quality project, it's a whole other thing. They can tell right way when it's just a piece of cynical crap and nobody gives a shit. But when they see that you're working hard, then they'll get in there and work hard too, and everybody knows that on my sets I work myself into a frenzy and they sort of expect that that's what it's going to be like. I think we give performers an opportunity to try new things and just stretch out and do some fun stuff and they like it.
T: Right. Well, lemme ask you a little bit about conventional hard-core films. You've done quite a bit of work there also.
E: Shot plenty of them.
T: Yeah, I know you've done a lot of girl/girl movies. Have you ever done any boy/girl movies?
E: Well, heck yes! I did Plaything 1 & 2, two Nikki Tyler vehicles for Vivid. I also did two big girl/girl pictures, 'Where the Boys Aren't 6 & 7' with Amber Lynn...
T: Right, right.
E: And I did Patricia Kennedy's gang bang and I did Shayla's gang bang for Wicked, which is sort of ironic. I mean, I've done pictures that are all girls and pictures that are all boys. Well, not that, but pictures where there's like a lot of girls and pictures where there's a lot of guys. It's sort of ironic to go from a girl/girl picture to a gang bang and yet in a way that I don't want to explore too deeply just here, there's some similarities.
Chloe: But don't forget the ones that you've starred in.
E: Oh yes, my many performing roles as Ernest Greene, but those are really old bondage pictures with the exception of ...
C: The Seduction Of Chloe.
E: We should probably be careful of what we say about this, but nonetheless, yeah, I have been known to go before the camera when no other player would do it. But, back to th question, I have shot plenty of boy/girl stuff over the years. I've also, because I've A.D.'d for a lot of other people, it's sort of an open secret that a lot of sex scenes are shot by people other than the director of record. Because if they're shooting a lot of shows all at once, they essentially run two units and I've often second unit directed. I did that for Paul Norman for a long time. I've had plenty of opportunity going all the way back to the Hustler Video series. With Pierre Ferrante
T: Oh really?
E: Yeah, I worked on those shows.
T: How did you come by getting into adult?
E: Ahh, I don't know, it drew me like a magnet. I was in straight features, I was writing, I was doing regular screen-writing and I'd had some real jobs, you know. My encounter with the x-rated community came about through my SM orientation. I was active in the SM community here and there were people in the adult industry who were in that community as well. And essentially I was recruited originally, heh, here's an ironic thing, I was originally recruited by John T. Bone, to write scripts for him when he was working for Western Visuals. That was the first real work that I had in production. Before that, I'd rigged some bondage on some conventional x-rated pictures back when you could mix the two, which was a long time ago. In fact, the first person I ever tied up for the camera was Marilyn Chambers which will tell you just how long ago it was. She was a great sport about it, it was for Private Fantasies 5 & 6. So, I had taken sort of these little pickup jobs to make some extra dough, while I was struggling as a real screenwriter and that 's how I met the people who ultimately got me in line to do really production work. But I didn't start really doing it as a main thing until 1985 when the writers strike happened, because for 6 months, there was no development or anything in mainstream pictures. Everything came to a dead halt for 6 months. I was a union member at that point. Lucky me I had just had my qualifying deal. So I had finally gotten into the union just in time for a big 6 month strike. So, during that strike period was when I started really cranking out scripts and doing other stuff in x-rated and I discovered that I really liked it. I liked the freedom of it. The subject matter was closer to my heart, I'm a pretty sexual person and sex is really the topic that interests me in mainstream pictures. And their treatment of it was not satisfying to me. It's an important subject to be sure in mainstream pictures but they never really focus on it in the way that it interests me. So, when I found myself in a world where I could have some artistic freedom to express my own ideas about sexuality, it was very seductive. I found myself sort of more and more drawn into it and pretty soon, like so many of us, I was a creature of that world. And therefore contaminated by it and made radioactive by it and couldn't get any other work or at least so I told myself so I had an excuse not to look for any other work and do this work, which I enjoy. Of 22 scripts I wrote in the real world, 2 pictures got made, 7 full page development deals in those 22 features, but of the 7 full page development deals, 5 of those never got made, so that's not very good odds where as in x-rated, everything gets made and everything makes money. You know, there's no such thing really unless you do something really heinously stupid as a picture that actually tanks in this business. You get out there and you actually make the picture yourself. You can write it, cast it, direct it, edit it, see the whole thing from beginning to end, have it in the box, go into the store, there it is, 6 weeks after you started. It's very satisfying after you've had a long period of wasting your energy on things that never actually occurred and that no one ever actually heard of. So it's almost like the old studio system where they're just constantly crankin' stuff out every day and you're actually seeing your credit, your stuff coming out over and over again. That's pretty nice. So, that's one of the reasons why I've stuck around in this business. It's the ego thing.
T: What do you like doing most? Do you have a preference to doing regular hard-core or bondage?
E: Oh, I'm a fetish guy, you know. What I'm doing right now is cutting my own throat. Making sure that you'll never work again in Van Nuys again! Well, the truth is that I really prefer doing is both. That's the correct answer, the correct answer for me is that I don't really see, other than for some bullshit legal reasons that I'm more than happy to discuss, why there's any real distinction between one kind of picture and the other. As far as I'm concerned, bondage movies are sex movies and the only reason we can't really show them the way that they're meant to be is because somebody got it into their heads somewhere that if you had bondage with actual sex in the same movie that that would be a bad thing and that civilization would collapse as a result. But really, I don't see there as being a distinction, so honestly, the answer is I'd rather make both pictures, I'd rather make good sex hard-core pictures that have fetish elements in them and of course I'm not the only one with that idea. It's very interesting to see a picture like Latex, because 5 years ago, there were about 3 people in this industry who knew that latex was anything other than a type of house paint. You know, and then all of a sudden it got to be a hip fashionable thing and of course a guy as smart as Michael Ninn recognized right away, the visual stylistic value of this particular thing and basically put it in what is otherwise a kind of a conventional hard-core picture but gave it that edge. Just from the fetish look alone that helped to blur this artificial distinction between these two things. So, the answer to that is I'd rather make any kind of picture except one that involves car washes or sororities. You know, when it comes to the idea or conception of this sort of 70's conceptualization of liberated sexuality as a bunch of giggling nude blonde bimbos in a hot tub splashing each other around and making stupid corny jokes, that's the kind of picture I don't like to make. Blake and I have this running joke that we're trying to drag porn kicking and screaming into the 80's. It's not easy, there's a lot of resistance still, there's a lot of people who really got that 1975 thing happening and they're not letting it go. So there's a bit of a problem with not a lot of modern thinking on the part of some people who are part of the institutional structure of the adult industry in this regard............
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