XXX :: mr. Pam’s formula for success
Even if you've never heard of Pam Doré, a.k.a "mr. Pam," chances are good that, if you are an adult gay male, you've seen her work. Mr. Pam is the only woman making a living as a videographer and director of gay porn. She is unquestionably a shining star in what must be the most male-defined industry in the world.
Doré, 39, began up the lubed-greasy pole of the adult male film industry after completing her studies in graduate school at San Francisco State in 1996. She found herself going from graphic designer to editor; from editor to lighting designer; then to videographer; and eventually as the lead camera in dozens of big-budget projects.
She has since worked steadily with nearly all major players in the industry, including Falcon, Raging Stallion, Jet Set, NakedSword, Hot House, Studio 2000, Bel Ami, Black Scorpion and Colt Studios. A true force of nature behind the camera, mr. Pam has shot hundreds of scenes in international locations from Scotland and Serbia to Brazil and Israel, and the Dominican Republic to Ibiza.
Along the way, she has photographed every "above the marquee" gay adult star in the business in some of their most memorable scenes. Mr. Pam, who self-identifies as bisexual, is totally professional about her work. Watching super-hot guys get it on doesn't faze her; on the set, she's all business.
Working with Michael Lucas
In 2008, mr. Pam was invited to join forces with Michael Lucas, the founder and head of Lucas Entertainment, far and away the largest gay adult-film company in New York City. As the company’s creative director, she shot and co-directed with Lucas some of his best-known titles, including the highly lauded "Men of Israel" and "Assassins."
Lucas himself has amassed a reputation beyond the confines of gay porn. An outspoken critic of anti-gay Muslims, a defender of Israel and a fierce opponent of drugs on film sets and the trend towards mainstreaming barebacking, Lucas has a reputation as a hard-driving boss. For her part, mr. Pam describes Lucas as "amazing," "a visionary" and "a businessman with exquisite taste."
She admires him for his outspokenness, determination and the sense of style he brought to his films. She added that her crew often included a fashion photographer. That was "something they generally don’t do in San Francisco. Michael will do whatever it takes to make it work," she said. "Sometimes you think, ’This can’t happen!’ but then: It does! He’ll make it happen -- like shooting porn in Israel."
Back to the Castro
After what she describes as "three-and-a-half awesome years" with Lucas, in December 2011 NakedSword Owner Tim Valenti offered her a chance to return to San Francisco. She’ll serve as director of production for NakedSword Originals, a new division at the online gay adult video warehouse owned by the Charlotte, N.C., adult giant AEBN, (Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network).
The prospect of starting afresh was too tempting to resist. "It was a really hard decision to leave Michael," she told EDGE. "It was a great job, and a high-profile company. But I missed California, my family and my friends. It seemed like a fun challenge, and a good time in my career to make a change. So I decided to go for it."
mr. Pam is now back on home turf in the Castro. She admits to missing New York "more than I thought I would. New York is great, it’s crazy. And I miss shooting B-roll in Times Square."
As for NakedSword’s Valenti, he considers signing mr. Pam a coup for the fledgling offshoot company. The camerawoman will will make for "original content that is fresh, that is for new generations, and not simply re-doing the same formula over and over and over again," he said. (For his part, Lucas declined to comment.)
Becoming mr. Pam
So how did a nice girl like Pam Doré become mr. Pam, the woman who shoots the men while they’re shooting? The moniker (deliberately spelled with a lower-case "mr" -- to distinguish her gender, she says) has evolved into her directorial "brand" as well as nom de porn.
"My porn daddy John Rutherford gave me that name when I was still an editor," says Doré. Rutherford is legendary former head of Falcon Studios. Now with Colt Studios, Rutherford recalled the moment Pam became mr. Pam.
"Chuck Holmes, then the owner of Falcon, didn’t believe that woman had a place on or around gay video production or creative processes," Rutherford said. "One day, Chuck asked me who edited our latest Jocks movie. I nervously answered, ’mr. Pam.’ Chuck then asked me, ’Is he Asian?’ The rest was history, as they say."
The Rafael Alencar connection
Doré readily acknowledges Rafael Alencar as her own personal favorite actor. The New York-based porn superstar influenced her to move to the city in 2008. She has worked often with Alencar since his exclusive days with Studio 2000; she even crashed in his apartment while on assignment.
"Rafael hadn’t worked with Lucas Entertainment until I brought him in," mr. Pam recalled. "Before Lucas, Raffy had often done sweet, slow romantic scenes, so for a change of pace I cast him for a foot fetish movie, ’Feet Extreme,’ where he beat his scene partner with his feet. Now he teases me that, because of me casting and directing him in these hardcore scenes, his reputation has changed, and now he’s a tough ’bad boy’ in a lot of pornos. He’s really such a sweetie, and it’s all my fault!" she joked.
"We clicked right away from the first time we worked together," Alencar told EDGE. "We were simpatico. And nobody has shot me more than she has. She knows all my best angles -- every single scar on my body. But what she does with me, she does with everybody else. She can turn any model into a superstar."
mr. Pam credits Alencar with much of her success: "I learned a lot from Raffy. He is the one who pointed out to me to keep the camera moving and not just do static shots that would be edited together later. He’s also an amazing performer. He pushes the crew sometimes, and we’ll say, ’Let’s just stop!’ but he’ll have great ideas. Insane body and huge dick."
Her mommy side
Ambitious, vivacious, charming, and blessed with a musical voice filled with mischief and laughter, mr. Pam’s formula for success in the industry comes from a unique blend of her openness, her "slight nastiness" and her "mommy" side. She’s well-known for bringing positive energy to the set.
"Basically, I just ask the models to top themselves with each new performance," she said. "I think the guys appreciate that, I’m not creepy, I’m not slimy, it’s not like I’m there to get my kicks later. I’m there to produce art. And I have a great rapport with some of the guys."
She’s always early on the set, "wide eyed and bushy tailed -- carrots and celery as snacks in tow," Rutherford said. "She’s contributed a great deal to many of our projects and I value her as a good friend and peer."
Alencar believes that mr. Pam’s personal style of whispering positive messages in his ear throughout shoots is one of her invaluable assets.
Valenti agrees. "Her instincts are amazing," he told EDGE. "She can sense the humanity of the model and is creative and decisive in her direction. She is in total control of the set and the players."
In 2010 she scored a win at the gay adult industry’s annual honors show, the Grabbys, for Best Videography for "Men of Israel." It was the first time a woman had been so honored in the industry.
The Grabbys, formerly owned by Gay Chicago Magazine, are now overseen by producer Mark Nagel. Last week, Nagel contacted Doré to tell her that she had been nominated again, this time as Best Director along with Lucas for his big-budget production, "Assassins."
Challenges in the industry
EDGE spoke with mr. Pam about the special challenges she faces as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
EDGE: Tell me how you got started in directing gay male porn.
mr. Pam: It just fell into my lap. I was in grad school learning video production, and a guy in my class had his own post-production studio, editing United Airlines videos, family videos, and gay porn. I did an internship with him, and since I was new, I edited the gay porn.
EDGE: Which companies did you edit for?
mr. Pam: My first projects were for Hot House, Studio 2000 and Falcon. One day, Chi Chi LaRue rented the studio for a shoot, and I got to talk with her. This was when she was still working with Falcon. I decided the production side of things was way more exciting than the editing.
EDGE: So when did you cross over?
mr. Pam: I got my big break in 2004 when my porn daddy John Rutherford hired me to go on the set of "Buckle Roos," Colt Studio’s big cowboy movie. I was out on this cattle ranch in the middle of the Sacramento Valley for three weeks, doing a featurette documentary for the DVD, "eXposed: The Making of a Legend." Co-director Jerry Douglas asked me to shoot second camera for a scene with Marcus Iron and Dean Phoenix in a barn at night. And it was just magical. It seemed like the universe collided, the skies opened up, and this was where I was supposed to be.
Continued on following page with a Q&A with mr. Pam.
A positive attitude
EDGE: What came next?
mr. Pam: "Wet Palms" was next, the first big movie I was lead camera on. It was a nine-part gay porn soap opera, a big-budget collaboration between Jet Set and NakedSword. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was terrified. But as John Rutherford would say, "Fake it till you make it." So I did!
EDGE: Very wise. Okay, so here’s the big question. You’re a woman in the gay male porn industry. Being accepted must have been quite a challenge.
mr. Pam: I’ve had challenges all of my life. In grad school the instructors would always focus on the guys. If there was a woman in the class, she would sit in the chair so the guys could practice their lighting and shooting. The girls would just be the objects.
I always thought, "I am never going to sit in that chair. I am going to be the one with the camera in my hands." When I shot with Queer News Magazine, I would take my camera to press conferences. I had this huge betacam. And the guys, who were all just trying to shove each other out of the way, were looking at me like, "What are you doing here?"
EDGE: You have a very positive attitude.
mr. Pam: Thank you! Some industry people feel a woman does not belong in gay male porn. And on some of the blogs people will write, "The movie is great, but I still don’t think a woman should be on the set." I am a really sensitive person, I just have to have thick skin, and take it for what it is. And sometimes they have a point, and something that I did really did suck, so I just have to be better next time.
At Naked Sword
EDGE: Any problems with the models?
mr. Pam: I have come on the set and models will say, "Oh: a girl?" and I’ll say, "Yeah, I’m the director." They used to think I was the makeup artist. That happened a lot at the beginning. So I didn’t want to do makeup. And I had a situation in another country, and I won’t say who or what, but the model was just not cooperating. He was dirty, and he couldn’t get hard, and that night he wrote an e-mail saying, ’That was just the worst experience, how can I get hard when there is a woman on the set?’ And I thought, Oh give me a fucking break. My vagina was not the problem with you not getting hard. You have 10,000 other hang-ups.
EDGE: So you have to put a good face on it to stay professional.
mr. Pam: Carlo Masi, who was exclusive with Colt the first time I shot him, came on the set and said "I don’t know if I can shoot in front of a girl! I’m so gay, I was a Caesarian -- I have never even been through a vagina!" But I started telling some nasty stories, so soon enough he was hugging and kissing me and calling me his lesbian mother.
EDGE: Tell me about your new position as director of production at NakedSword.
mr. Pam: NakedSword is the HBO of gay porn. They have thousands of movies, plus their own original content. It’s overwhelming how much porn they provide to people. I’ll be doing one premiere scene on NakedSword per week, plus DVD distribution. We wrapped the first DVD release last night, "Boyfriends," documentary-style porn where we interview guys about issues that come up in their relationships. They comment on it, and then they have the sex that reflects what the issue is.
The first one is "Love," the beginning of the relationship. It’s very beautiful. That got released online two weeks ago. Then we go to "Cheating," "Fight Sex," "Makeup Sex" -- one of the guys is addicted to porn and the other one is having a problem. It was really fun shooting the opening interviews.
DVD market dead?
EDGE: It sounds almost therapeutic.
mr. Pam: Yeah! Next week we’re starting our first big dialogue movie. We’re tentatively calling it "The Stalker," about a guy who moves to San Francisco for this big modeling contract, and has this psychotic ex-fuck buddy who is stalking him. It comes to a head at the end.
EDGE: Does it get violent?
mr. Pam: (Laughing) Hopefully!
EDGE: Some people feel the DVD market is dead, and it’s all streaming content now. How do you feel about that?
mr. Pam: I agree the numbers are sadly dwindling. Definitely things are going more digital, but I don’t think it is happening as fast as people thought it would. This was a big fear two years ago: "DVDs are dead!" But NakedSword has been doing streaming for over 10 years now, and they’re starting to produce DVDs, which shows that there’s still a big market for them. Bel Ami’s "Twins" video just sold over 10,000 copies.
There’s still demand. I have lived in both New York and San Francisco, which are very high-tech cities, but in the fly-over zones there’s lots of people without fast Web connections. And I love doing DVDs, it’s just so nice to produce an actual movie where you craft the box cover and the design. It’s something you can hold in your hand. It’s like old Hollywood. And Falcon, NakedSword and Raging Stallion are now working with AEBN, and they’re increasing both their DVDs and their online content.
EDGE: Other than Rafael Alencar, name your favorites.
mr. Pam: Jessie Colter is great, and Adam Killian is wonderful. Adam is also a cameraman, so he’s so fun to shoot. He’ll bury his face in someone’s ass, and he’ll say, "Okay, go wide," and I’ll say, "I’m wide," and then he’ll do this crazy transition where he picks the model up and swings him around, and he’ll make sure their ass is in the light.
Arpad Miklos was on my first shoot, "Buckle Roos," and he barely spoke English at the time, which was really cute. Over the years, his English has gotten much better. He’s totally reliable, he’s always hard, and he does a great job. He’s funny: Sometimes when we’re doing the penetration shots, and I’m over his shoulder just focusing on his dick, and he knows the camera is not on his face, he’ll make funny faces at me.
EDGE: Give me a wish list of those you’d like to shoot.
mr. Pam: There’s just so many new guys out there, it’s exciting.
EDGE: How do you feel about bareback movies?
mr. Pam: Part of my job is political in eroticizing safe sex. The bareback market is exploding right now, but in all the movies I shoot, the models wear condoms. I am involved in the dyke-porn sex positive community here in San Francisco, and they are really into safe sex.
EDGE: Is the financial crisis hurting the industry right now?
mr.Pam: Oh, yeah, but people still have their needs. What’s affected porn is that it is a billion-dollar industry, but a billion people are doing it now. The price of equipment has gone down, and it is available to everybody. Besides, there’s so much free porn, with people ripping DVDs, and the torrent sites and the tube sites, and I think that is what is really affecting the porn industry. So pornographers, instead of trying to beat them, are trying to join them, producing small little clips for the tube sites, to give people a taste of what we have, saying "If you want to see more like this, come to NakedSword.com." That hopefully gets people hooked on the person they’re seeing, or the style, and then they’ll come to the main site and pay.
EDGE: So it’s still all about content.
mr. Pam: It’s about original content and being creative with the marketing. It affects everybody, like the producers, who don’t have as much money to spend on the movies. And model rates are going down, and I know they’re feeling ripped off. But they can still get paid $500 for the day.
Mistaken for Chi Chi Larue
EDGE: What do you like to do in your spare time?
mr. Pam: I have a great house in the Castro now, and Saturdays are PJ days where I can hang out and relax. I love it when I’m on a plane, and no one can text you or e-mail you or bother you. I love dressing up in drag and going to industry events, a girl dressing like a guy dressing like a girl, like "Victor/Victoria." A couple of times people have mistaken me for Chi Chi Larue.
EDGE: What advice do you have for anybody who might be just starting out in the business today?
mr. Pam: Have fun with it. And the key thing in gay porn right now is collaborating.