MMeryl Streep once said, on creating her Devil Wears Prada’s whisper-terrifying character, that the most powerful men she’d ever worked with never raised their voices. While I doubt she based any of her Miranda Priestly role on Michael Lucas, I’m sure if she knew him she would have studied his tremendous silence as heartily as she would have studied his Russian accent.
Lucas, the founder, owner, and CEO of Lucas Productions in New York, one of the largest and most successful porn studios in the world, is so unassumingly quiet when you meet him in person you could hear a pin drop—or perhaps a condom. Even better looking in person than he is any of the hundreds of videos he’s starred in since 1995, Lucas agreed to meet me in his studio and show me around before we sat down to chat.
Sorry to disappoint you kids, but Willie Wonka and the Porno Factory it’s not. The studio is stark, organized, and, except for the photos and videos of erect penises in editing rooms, could pass for any professional office space in New York—even Vogue. Lucas is a man who, I soon learn, has pretty much defined his own fate since he came to America, via France via Munich via Russia—complete with a law degree from Moscow State Law Academy—not following any Adult Entertainment rule. This determination starts with his decision to work in high-rent New York.
“If I produced bareback porn in Nevada I would be very rich,” says Lucas, with sarcastic irony. “I prefer to live in New York.”
He prefers to do a lot of things on his own terms, like shoot elaborate films in such places as Israel and, soon, Greece. He writes columns (not about porn) for The Huffington Post and The Advocate, and makes no bones over his worth.
“I would not be invited to Huffington Post or Advocate if I were working as a cabdriver or as a lawyer or as a server,” says Lucas. “I was invited, not because I’m the best writer in the world, because I’m absolutely not. I’m invited because I’m a known person in the world who will provoke and who will obviously have a following.”
Provoke, he does. His recent endorsement of Mitt Romney for President on Yahoo News is unlikely to sit well with many gay fans, most of whom have been quick to point out that Lucas has been married to Richard Winger since 2008. His pro-Israel views have also caused a commotion, most notably after he reportedly convinced New York’s LGBT’s center to cancel an Israel Apartheid Week in 2011.
Lucas doesn’t shy away from his beliefs or opinions, whether it’s the politics of the planet or the politics of the bedroom. He has learned to stay away from the chatter.
“You always see negative comments,” says Lucas, on reactions to himself and other celebrities. “She’s ugly, she looks old, how boring, how uninteresting. People don’t write things out of kindness. And most people who post comments, it’s not about what I’m saying. Nothing to do with my point. So I stopped reading them.”
On the disrespect some gay men have shown toward the porn performers who’ve died in the past year, often over social media outlets, Lucas says “It’s called hypocrisy. It’s not surprising. One can masturbate to porn stars, then say ‘He’s a piece of dirt.’ You can enjoy something and be disrespectful at the same time, or think it’s beneath you. Gay people were prosecuted for such a long time, considered to be lower than straight people, shunned upon, so a lot of people think now, ‘Who is lower than I? I am a while collar, clean-cut professional. This one is a drag queen or a porn star.’ It’s something he can discriminate against.”
His views on the porn business are no-nonsense too, starting with his safe-sex advocacy. “I don’t really care what people will say about porn,” says Lucas. “My priority is to show young gay men that, when they are having sex, they are using condoms. Sex education is linked to porn. It’s usually the first experience young people have. With bareback porn it’s bad. If they see beautiful men having sex with a condom, that’s a beautiful moment for them. It’s a role model.” Lucas no longer directs much or stars much or even auditions men much, though he always has the final say. When he speaks of the process of casting and creating quality work and location scouting and themes, he sounds more like an Old Hollywood movie mogul than someone who has to think about who’s in whom.
“We don’t have one particular look,” says Lucas. “We don’t hire bodybuilders, but we do require guys to have a certain shape. Face is very important.” Lucas adds that star “Chad Hunt was not classically good-looking, but he was great sex and had a huge dick. If the guy is really loving sex, you can see it.”
Lucas is also quick to point out that size doesn’t always matter. “If the guy is beautiful and his dick is below average, it’s okay,” says Lucas. “Wilfried Knight was very popular and his dick is below average. Obviously, this guy will not be a top.” Lucas continues, “If you want to be a top you have to have a big dick. If you’re six inches you will probably be more of a bottom.” As a professional footnote, Lucas points out that “today, everyone is versatile.”
Major companies like RandyBlue.com are thriving (and advertising) on the straight men who dominate their sites, and it’s a selling point that doesn’t interest Lucas.
“It’s very rare that a guy will say he prefers girls,” says Lucas on his models. “We don’t allow straight porn [on the set]. In certain companies, they get hard because they have monitors. If he’s capable of having sex, I don’t really care how he thinks of himself. Also, I think it’s very humiliating to a gay model if there’s another model who has to watch porn to fuck him.”
Love him or hate him, Michael Lucas is living the American Dream. He’s an American citizen, who started Lucas Entertainment in 1998 on the money he’d made as an escort, mostly in Europe. He didn’t borrow a cent to form the company, and he told me he’s now at a point in his life where he wants to climb less, and enjoy more. “I always wanted more, more, more, which is great because it got me where I am now,” says Lucas. “Now I want to enjoy my comfort.” During our interview, he showed me photos of his niece, and told me of upcoming holiday plans to visit family friends here and abroad.
At the end of the day, or perhaps the beginning, he knows his place in the world. When I asked him how quickly he could fill in for an absent performer, he almost seemed perplexed at the question.
“I can just walk in and do it, absolutely,” he assured me. “What do you want me to do, mentally prepare myself? I go to the gym every day. There’s no script. I’m not camera shy.” Lucas laughed off the notion that he’d need any prep, and made it clear that porn is, in the end, a business.
“Can you get up in the morning and drive a cab if you’re a cabdriver? For me, I wouldn’t be able to do that. I cannot go on the air, on the news, because that’s not what I do. Anderson Cooper could talk about a hurricane coming for two hours. I couldn’t do that.”
Sex on film? “That’s what I do.” Then he quietly showed me to the door.
For more information, visit www.michaellucas.com. All photos: Christopher Logan.