Story Courtesy Of Clark Harding / Johnny Hazzard Makes His Way Into Mainstream Film
Usually, there’s nothing more cringe inducing than when a porn star announces he’s “acting” in a movie, especially when the movie is from a first time writer/director and is premiering at Outfest. Wince-worthy images come to mind of stiffly-delivered dialogue and home video quality “film making.” However, in the curious case of Frankie Valenti, formerly known as porn legend Johnny Hazzard, the transition from adult entertainer to legit actor has been shockingly painless. In director Wade Gasque’s Tiger Orange (which screens at Outfest July 18), Valenti makes his mainstream debut as Todd, a lovable fuck-up who has returned to his small town, lugging all his baggage of failures from the big city. With the help of his more buttoned-up, gay, older brother Chet; played by Mark Strano together they hash out their Daddy issues and forgive each other for the very different paths they chose to take. Queerty caught up with Johnny Hazzard to discuss the new movie and challenges faced by adult film actors who move on to mainstream filmmaking.
I was pleasantly surprised by your performance in the film. I’m not gonna lie, I was worried.
Which is always the consensus. When you hear “porn star starts acting,” you think train wreck.
How did you prepare for this part?
Well, I had done other stuff before this, like on The Lair. Mark sought me out. We rehearsed and Wade talked me through some points but the role was similar to my own life. It kind of felt like I was playing myself which was a good role for my first one for sure.
I suppose they could. I think at some point you have to choose one or the other because, they may be one in the same but they are also very different.
Have you officially retired from porn?
I’m phasing myself out. I’ve been in the industry for ten years now. Believe it or not it’s good for my taxes. I file as an entertainer, so I need projects to come stemming from that, some form of income from entertainment.
Is porn more lucrative than acting?
No. Porn is not more lucrative than acting and that’s one of the reasons why I want to get out of it. The money just went down hill. That’s purely it. I mean there are new porn stars every day, but the ones that I grew up with, and worked with we’ve all had to go on and do other things.
What is the major difference between being on a porn set vs. a movie set?
They have their similarities, I mean you’re performing in front of a camera. You have your marks you have your lines (sometimes), your lighting. On a basic level it’s the same. But ironically I am showing more by showing less in this project. It’s nice not having to worry that your angles are wrong. In porn you can’t hide behind a sweater. I mean it’s all right there. And also this [movie] took a little over two years from the moment they asked me to the last day. We had a to do a kickstarter campaign. Then we did two major shoots. So it was quite a process. I enjoyed it for the most part. I am curious to see the finished product.
I’m saving it for the big screen.
But wait, does that mean you haven’t seen your own porn?
I have not. Most guys I know, do not [watch]. Because we are all so hyper critical that seeing that would throw us in a tail spin.
Does that mean you’re nervous?
I am. But my nerves don’t stem from whether or not people are going to like it. It’s just the general experience. It’s going to be a good movie. I know that.
I have heard of a lot of porn stars, going in to hiding. Why acting?
Acting found me. It just fell in to my lap. Had I not gone in to acting I probably would have gone in to hiding. Not like totally hiding but I would just want to be in that area anymore.
What’s your next project?
Not sure. We’ll see how the masses feel about this performance and how it’s received.
Watch the Tiger Orange teaser trailer below.