Eli Cross Interview 2007
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Few movies in the recent history of adult entertainment have been as controversial and as honored as Eli Cross' Corruption. It is a chilling film with dark sexuality, relentless emotional sadism and by the way, it's pretty fucking hot as well. At the Adult Entertainment Expo in January of 2007, I sat down with Eli and talked at length about this monumental adult film. It isn't every day an adult film director can discuss the casting process with a straight face, but Eli does it here. We also touch a bit on his history at AVN (As Bryn Pryor), his relationship with Kylie Ireland and why he choose to star in his own movie, but use a stunt cock when it came time to get blown by Hillary Scott. It isn't every day that someone from this industry opens up so completely about his work and the work of others. This one runs a little long, but Eli had so much good stuff to say that I wasn't about to cut him off. In fact, we plan to sit down and do an even longer interview about other aspects of the adult industry sometime soon.
INTERVIEW: ELI CROSS
We just did the two hot girls from Corruption, now we're directing the male lead, Eli Cross.
Yes, I am the male lead. It's true.
And the director.
And also the director.
And the pretentious prick.
And the pretentious prick! See, you got those in the wrong order.
I'm sorry. I'll start over.
Pretentious prick, director, all capital letters.
We've had the hot chicks, now it's time for the pretentious prick/male lead/director/wouldn't even get his own dick sucked guy from Corruption. Yeah, you blew it, I gotta go.Okay, nice interview, thank you.
Fuck you very much. What hostility between AVN and me. Actually, there is no hostility, and he is not a prick, he's just pretending to be one at work.
I just play one on TV. (He laughs)
At any rate, Eli Cross, director of Corruption for Sex Z Pictures, nominated for a busload of awards.
16 is a boatload, 17 is a busload.
Excellent, I'll take it.
One short of a shitload, but that's all right.
So Ninn got a shitload? He got 18 for Sacred Sin.
Well, then it's appropriate to call it a shitload.
Anyway, moving on. Now Corruption is a very different adult feature.
I hope so. That was our goal.
Very dark, very well acted.
Very long, stupid long.
You know, I've seen a lot longer features that were more stupid.
Okay. (He laughs)
It was long, but we're not talking a six-hour movie. It's not Fashionistas.
You're counting it as one, then?
Okay. See, I'll talk about other people's movies all day long. (He laughs) It's like herding kittens.
Let's talk about Corruption.
Okay, Corruption. It is very dark, very motivated. We didn't stop telling the story of the sex, which made some people unhappy but other people really liked it. It's in the real-world. Sex has not only consequences, but complications. That means you can't have a dark, serious story about evil people and then have bubbly, happy sex and then a dark, serious story about evil people.
Actually, you could. It'd be really weird.
I've seen it.
It'd be another movie made by another company.
Yes it would.
Actually, it would be most movies made by most companies, and I've been guilty of it. Because when you're a gun for hire, you shoot what the company tells you to shoot. When I shoot for Vivid, I shoot for the girls and for what Vivid wants me to shoot, and I do the best that I can, but I'm shooting their product. And it's not my goal to make anybody happy but them. So, if they like it, great. This movie, I was given all the rope I could possibly want and some people would argue that I really hanged myself. I am personally pretty proud of it. So I got to do exactly what I wanted, and what I got was really dark, bitter and angry and unhappy.
And it comes across really dark, bitter movie. It is not a happy jerk-off movie.
It is not a happy jerk-off movie. Although you had this issue, a lot of people have told me that they just thought it was the hottest thing in the world.
The sex is very intense. It's not for everyone.
But it certainly does not lack energy in the genre. It's essentially a rough-sex gonzo movie that happens to be a great feature.
Exactly. Thank you.
The sex is rough and hard like a lot of the gonzo stuff.
And that's what we set it up to do.
So you succeeded completely.
Sexy Pictures, and we're going to be doing a lot of work for them in the next year, they want a lot of gonzo sex in their features. I've been saying for years that this idea of the couples market that a lot of the majors have is atrophied and wrong-headed. That couple that they're still targeting is 65 years old now and probably not buying porn anymore. So the target couples market, people who grow up watching soft core porn from the time they're 11 years old and watching Showtime, are ready for something a lot harder edge by the time they get into porno. So I don't think we're scaring them away. I've had many more women coming up to me and saying that Corruption was really hot than men. Now, granted, I don't want men coming up to me and telling me it was hot, but Meredith Christopher from Adam&Eve told me she thought Corruption was one of the hottest things she had ever seen.
The sex is very motivated. That is something I've heard a lot from women and couples, including in my own life just watching it, it is very motivated. Not just a girl on a couch with a dick.
And in order to do that, you have to carry the story correctly. Your logic that applies to the story has to apply to the relationships in the sex scene. And that's hard to do. It's not just hard to do from a directorial standpoint. It's hard to do and not step on toes. Because you can't have everything be happy, you can't have everything be lovey. There have to be consequences. Relationships can get broken up by these things. And if you're going to do that, it has to be realistic. These things have to carry over. It can't just be everybody fucks everybody and everybody goes home in a limousine. And that is exactly what we set out to do, and I think that, by and large, we accomplished that.
The decision to cast yourself as the lead. You played the corrupt senator?
You carry a lot of the dialog yourself.
Yes. What the fuck was that about? (He laughs)
Did you just think that no porn guy could do it?
No. We had real auditions for this show. And by auditions, I don't mean girls blowing me. They had to read pages of dialog. We had days of auditions. I sent out casting calls through the mainstream media in LA. I put out word in the theater community because I'm an actor and I know some people. We also knew a few mainstream guys. They weren't bad actors, but they were just missing something. One guy could do the reading, but he couldn't play the part. If you were listening to him on the radio, you'd totally buy it, but in the scene, it was like he was the Pillsbury Dough Boy, worse than me. It'd be like putting Dave Cumings in that scene. You'd be like, 'I just can't buy it.'
So the character needed an edge.
Yeah. He needed to be really, deeply unlikable, you know? And I am.
I read several adult guys in the role, because we knew it would be a largely non-sexual role, because I set out thinking I needed to keep the guy out of the bedroom. Men lose their power when they make that ridiculous cumming face. They just do. Plus, if he's going to go out and be able to do these things on his own, which is in itself unrealistic, then he doesn't need Natasha. He doesn't need a sex slave. He's living vicariously through her. That's the whole subtext of the thing, that's why he needs her when realizes when he loses her in the end. And yes, I said 'subtext' in regards to a porn movie. Your eyes kind of crossed over. (He laughs)
What are you doing?
So I narrowed it down to four possibilities. One was a mainstream guy, two were adult actors, an A and a B guy. And then Herschel. And Herschel really gave a brilliant read. He wasn't prepared for the monologue, he was prepared for the part he eventually played. Which was unfair, because I just dumped the monologue on him and said 'Here, give it a shot,' and he did really well. But Herschel is so East Coast, that we couldn't buy him as a California senator. If I'd set the movie in New Jersey, no problem. But I couldn't set the movie in New Jersey, I had to do it in California. So obviously, Herschel was perfect for the part that he played. So my fall-back was always, 'If we can't find anyone else to do it, I'll do it.' I was trying to talk myself into it. And I was looking at the tapes with two of the female leads, one of which was Kylie and I was thinking, 'We can't do it, there's no way to pull this off.' It was watching a guy who had a particular cadence of speech. Even during his audition, all I was trying to do was break him out of that cadence, and he just couldn't do it. He talked a lot like Gary Cooper, and it's like, 'You know this is going to be a three-hour movie, and you can't listen to that for three and a half hours.' This was the only decision I advocated. So I put together an audition and made a DVD with me and the three other guys, and I sent it back to Bo for Sex Z Pictures. And then Bo e-mailed me back and said, 'You're insane, play the part.' I feel like I look harmless, especially without the facial hair and earrings. With the facial hair and earrings, I look gay, and again, I look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, nobody is going to be scared of me. But then Bo is telling me, 'You look Virginia, I see all these guys all the time and you look like them.'
What about the decision to stunt-cock the blowjob scene?
I'm not a performer. And I knew I could get hard, no problem, and I did. There is one shot of my dick in the whole movie, because Hillary just wasn't going to put up with that. We're trying to do this after the scene and I'm standing there naked, and she just goes for it. I think she just wanted to screw me up on the monologue, which she didn't.
I think she really wanted to prove she could screw up my monologue.
That she could knock off your game.
I knew I could get hard, I just wasn't sure I could pop. And on a show that big, where you're trying to cram everything in 10 days, you let the pros do what the pros do. So that was easy, that was a no-brainer.
It's up for several awards tonight. How well do you think you're going to do?
I'll be surprised if we win anything. I really don't think we're going to. The only thing we realistically have a shot at is Best Solo. The solo got a lot of press and it's pretty dramatically done. Even if you don't like it, it's pretty striking. Funny, it's the one that the women love, and the guys are like, 'I don't get it.' (He laughs)
Because Alana did such a good job of selling her emotional pain. It's kind of not sexy. It's sexy just to watch her, but it's disturbing enough that you're like, 'I don't want to be jerking off to that.'
Sophia read for the movie, and she actually read for that part. She came in and she told me, 'I whacked off reading this scene, because it is so degrading.'
So you don't think you have a chance as director?
Because I ran AVN for five years. I know the voters. I know how they think. I've been able to sit at the awards for five years and handicap who is going to win what. And they're going to vote for Fashionistas 2, because they voted for Fashionistas 2. I've seen Fashionistas 2 and I don't think it's a particularly strong effort. I think the decision not to have any sex until an hour in is an bold one. I certainly don't think it's John's best movie. But there's no shame in that, and I told John that yesterday when he was here. I think he should come to our party with his 'nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah' dance.
What about your two supporting actors? You don't think they have a chance?
Definitely not. They killed us. They killed us by nominating both of them. Because it's not like it's a packed 10 voting system where you get to assign points. You gotta pick one. I just had this argument with Gene Ross (www.AdultFYI.com all the time when I was trying to expand the categories and he'd ask, 'How can you pick 15?' And I'd say, 'If you can pick one, you can pick 15.' You have to pick one eventually.
You gotta pick one eventually, you can pick 15 now. And by splitting the vote, they guaranteed that neither of these girls are going to win.
Which is a shame, because they both were amazing.
They were both great. I think if they had nominated one or the other, we would have had a chance at that. But both of them? No way. My handicap for that would actually be Aurora Snow.
For "Rumour Had Em" which is a nice role, but definitely not as intense as either of your two supporting. Which is a problem as well, because they were both nominated as supporting, but Hillary was actually a lead. So there was no place to put Kylie.
So Hillary deserved a nomination as well.
Hillary actually does. Hillary blew me away in a subjective sense. I almost didn't read Hillary. I've shot her several times, Kylie has shot her several times. But I thought, 'No.' Then I figured, I know she's popular, she'll probably be nominated for Female Performer, so we gave her diligence. I mean, we were just stunned. She came in, memorized, word-perfect, had obviously done her homework. She did that entire breakdown scene where she just snaps and loses it, more or less at the level she does it in the movie at the hotel. It was just unbelievable, and at that point we're like, 'Okay, we're done!' (He laughs) The rest of you all can go!
But she doesn't have the look, and she has a bubbly personality that doesn't fit the role.
But her other acting roles-she's great in the Britney Rears movies.
She's perfect, she's funny, but that's totally different. But you look st the Britney Rears stuff and then at this stuff, and you know she can do gonzo standing on her head. I mean, she fucks like a gonzo girl and I don't want to say she acts like a contract girl, but she's better than most.
It's unbelievable. And it's freakish, because she has technical, professional acting skills that mainstream people who have been in the business for 20 years have issues picking up. And she's had no training. She can find her life, hit her mark and make exactly the same hand movements on every take, every time and has never trained to do it. It's like she's a reincarnation of some old contract player from the 30's. It's unbelievable. So I tell her, 'Did somebody tell you how to do this?' And she says, 'No, it just makes sense.' Where the fuck did you come from? I mean, there were times when I had to replace the dialog from other takes because it was cleaner elsewhere, and she was like a machine. She'd hit the exact same beat in the same moments doing the exact same line. Unless I wanted her to do it differently, and then she'd nail it.
Now that we've both praised her to death, according to what you said, you don't think she has a chance.
I don't think she has a chance, because I think Fashionistas 2 will carry Belladonna into that. They generally, historically, where the voters will split off is the smaller, technical awards. I think we have an outside shot at Screenplay. Screenplay is historically an underdog award. Whatever gets nominated and doesn't win anything else usually wins Screenplay. But the headline awards-Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress-those generally go as a package. That's not always true, and if we have a chance at any major award, it is Hillary, but I think it's going to be Belladonna.
Now, you've seen Fashionistas 2 2. Do you think Belladonna deserves to win?
No. Not because of anything she did or didn't do, I just think that the part was very compelling, certainly not in the half of the movie we saw, maybe if you take it as a whole. In the part we saw, I just didn't think there was much done with it, and that isn't her fault. If it's not on the page, it's not on the stage. The part of the script that we got in that movie, no, I don't think she deserves it over Hillary.
You're also up for best non-sex performance.
You don't think you have a chance there, either?
I think it's highly unlikely because like, five people vote in that category. It's so sporadically voted. And everybody who got nominated in that category was somebody's pick. So basically it will be one vote for everybody and then some tie-breaker votes. Who knows? I haven't seen any of the other guys.
You definitely had the biggest part of any of the guys nominated.
I know Paul would give me a lot of shit over that. Next time, use your own dick!
I actually sent some nominations to AVN and got some clarification. The rule is, you're not best lead male actor if you're not in a sex scene. Therefore you were ineligible because you stunt-cocked.
Right. And I knew that going in.
And you probably had more dialog than any of the other guys nominated for the lead.
And that's okay.
And the movie might win. You never know.
I hope I'm wrong. Believe me, I hope I'm wrong. But I'm not expecting to be.
Now, if Corruption cannot win, what would you really like to see win?
I haven't seen enough of the other nominees to be able to tell you. Normally, at the end of the year, I'm still to vote. This year, I didn't get to because I'm nominated. I've got a few things and then Kylie's got a few things. And Paul was going to let me vote because he knew I wouldn't vote in anything that I was nominated in. And then when it became clear I was just so entrenched, he said, 'You know what? Don't vote.' So I really didn't get a chance to look at stuff and see what's out there. So I can't really say. I've heard really great things about Wonderland, but I haven't seen it. I thought Tail Gunners was embarrassing.
Yeah, I thought it was awful. But I have insider knowledge, I know that Tail Gunners was not intended to be a comedy.
As a comedy, it was pretty funny.
It's a comedy by accident, and that loses a lot of respect for me. If Tail Gunners wins, and in some freakish universe I suppose it might, then I will be very upset, that we got beat by Tail Gunners .
If I had been a professional, and been prepared for this, I would have pulled out the trophy I gave to Tail Gunners for Best Feature.
(He laughs) There is no justice in the world! I'm sure they're very excited about it.
They haven't seen it yet and I don't think they're going to be excited because I don't know anybody at Adam & Eve.
Oh. Talk to Meredith and tell her Kylie sent you over, because she more weight than me.
I liked it because the sex is a little fluffier, a little easier to digest, and very easy to jerk off to.
I have nothing to say about that while the recorder is still on.
Okay, great, but now you must!
Okay, well, we're running at 20 minutes, we said only 15.
And all we did was Corruption. Anything more we should know about this movie? I've heard rumors about a possible sequel.
Yes, we are doing a sequel, probably in 2008. They wanted to do it this year and I said no, it's too rushed and I don't have a story yet. I know bits and pieces of it.
You just don't want to compete against Pirates 2 and get your ass kicked next year.
No, we're still making a big movie this year that's going to get its' ass kicked by Pirates 2.
I already said, 'Well, you're not winning this show, and you're not winning next year. But the irony is, neither is Stagliano!' And Part 3 is supposed to be really great-it will be really interesting. Because I thought Pirates was one of the worst porn movies I'd ever seen.
I thought it was absolutely pointless as a porn movie. I think the G-rated version would be just great. There is no porn in that movie at any point. I mean, really, there was never anything in there that wasn't 100 percent hype and really well done hype. I thought it was a piece-of-shit movie, and I told her that. 'Yeah, this is really great, where's the porn?'
Alright. So there will be a sequel?
There will be a sequel in 2008. And we'll see, hopefully I won't fuck it up.
It might be a twist to bring back characters we didn't think made it.
Probably. I don't know the details yet. I know that Helms did become president and that's not giving too much away. He figures out that he wants Natasha and tries to figure out how he can get her back and goes looking for her. And I know that his wife, essentially his political enemy even though they're not divorced yet because you just can't do that if you're a female politician. And whether or not Natasha is able to get her revenge on him is going to determine whether or not it's going to be a trilogy. Bo joked about doing three but I don't know.
It's an incredibly impressive movie and everyone should see it, not necessarily breaking out the wine and champagne but to appreciate it for what it is.
And just fast-forward beyond what you don't want to watch.
There's a lot of chapters on that DVD for that reason.
There's a little bit of sex for everyone.
You don't like this flavor, go on to the next one. Watch this story from the beginning to the end, which I rarely get to say about movies.
Well, thank you.
It's not something where they do only one-half of the movie and then lose it. They stick with it. So see this movie.
Okay, obviously we still have a long interview to do back in L.A., but that's it for now. You can go back to your pretentious prickdom now.
Well, thank you.
NEW: Audio Inerview With Eli Cross now available! Listen to interview