Today we're talking with legendary porn director Toby Ross. He brought plots to porn, and has a career in hardcore and mainstream movies spanning several decades.
GayDemon: I know you probably get asked this a lot, but what got you into directing gay porn in the 1970s, and what did you bring to it that was different from the other porn films at the time?
Toby Ross: I was always fascinated with film. When we moved from Germany to Israel we had long hot summers and there was nothing to do, so I went to the movies all day starting at 10 AM... at that time I was 12. Because there was nowhere else to hang out, these musty dark theatres were filled with perverts, some trying to cop a feel in the dark, so I started associating films and sex. The next night I went out as an experiment and let an old Arab pick me up and pay me a few bucks for touching me, that night I made that connection between sex, money and lust. Besides, I always wanted to make films since I was 10.
GayDemon: Who are some of your influences as a director and what videos can we see some of those influences in?
Toby Ross: Any Warhol, the Europeans like Fellini and Antonioni. In porn I loved J.Brian (70's and 80's, he died in the mid 80's), the early Brentwood were fantastic. Some early Falcon, possibly Bel Ami and I love Steve's Shay's work with Citiboyz - he really loves what he does and it shows. Bijouworld is a stand alone studio, as well, that is nursing a great niche, Steve Toushin is a visionary and I would like to see where he takes that to, nothing about his videos is predictable as it is with so many others.
GayDemon: Can you tell us about some of your favorite scenes and performers from your movies?
Toby Ross: My all-time favorite was Bill Eld (pre 1973); his early shots from when living in LA were breathtaking, later cocaine got in and as a deterioration in looks was visible. Beyond him there were so many I loved working with; Al Green the redhead from Schoolmates, Larry Page from Boys of the Slums, Brent Collins who I absolutely adore (from Payton Collins serial Rapist). Too many to mention.
GayDemon: You seem to be fascinated with large penises - what gives?
Toby Ross: I am fascinated with disproportional human body parts, not just penises. Someone on Amazon called me the Russ Meyer of Gay Porn, with a focus on dicks instead of tits. I find it interesting when a small skinny guy has big feet, I find it interesting when another skinny guy who is skin and bones sports a fat ass. Now dicks, first of all, it's the most interesting part of the body, it grows to double its size when excited, the various stages of from soft to flaccid to hard are interesting. And again, when a small weakling of a nerd is hugely hung it can be a powerful effect. But not everyone is interesting just because they have a big cock, I know gay guys that have dicks that could sink the Titanic but that's all they have and it's a waste, a big dick is only interesting on a certain type, when it's all lined up.
GayDemon: You're one of the few porn directors whose career moved to mainstream movies. What are some of the differences between shooting porn and shooting mainstream? And what made you decide to move back to porn?
Toby Ross: There was no place to go from hardcore, and I did not see the merit in showing explicit sex. Most hardcore movies are boring; let's be honest, a dick goes in and out of an ass as the two engage in some phony oohs and ahhhs, the dick keeps drilling and after a while you think you might be looking at an oil well in Texas digging for black gold. Looking for a change I tried mainstream and we did well, but you see, I like films that have nudity and contain an edge and mainstream films do not, so I started moving toward dark erotica... good suspenseful stories, creepy flashers who show off their junk on a dark and wet lonely night under a street light expecting you to follow them... disturbed individuals who come onto a poor youngster riding the subway and doing it all in a public manner, totally unabashed. Danger and Sleaze is good mix. Horny guys who are out for a cheap thrill and get more than they bargained for.
Why did I go back into porn? Did I? I don't believe so, I re-released some of my old 70/80s stuff, but I have not shot a hardcore scene in a while; I still do a lot of Erotica and sexual films, and there might be a few seconds of hardcore if the plot calls for it, but it depends on the circumstances. I have some hardcore versions of our famous Erotica that's true, so your question is not totally without merit, but these films were shot as Erotic first (and released that way), and then I cut in the hardcore only for our customers on bdfstore.net, not for the general public. We had a 15 year relationship with TLA, but they dumped us with no explanation, nothing (I suspected we were not gay enough for them, I am not part of "the club") that was like 2 years ago, so we started doing things that I used to be absolutely opposed to in the past, like the hard versions of Payton Collins, Live For Sex Die For Love etc) in order to survive.
GayDemon: You've seen a lot of changes in the industry - theatrical releases givng way to home VHS, the change to DVDs, differences in cameras and equipment and differences in what audiences are looking for. How do you see the future of the XXX internet phenomenon and porn production?
Toby Ross: I think that all depends, of course, on the political climate. I think that the old in and out is going the way of VHS, people are bored to death with it, you will see more clever movies with twists and plots. You will see more psychology and less physical sex, more tease less please. You know the brain is a sex organ as well, the biggest one, it's all going to this "Wizard" for re direction.
GayDemon: What are some differences between casting and making a porn shoot in the 1970s and '80s and doing one now?
Toby Ross: We live in a different world today. In the past I found "types" much more interesting; you got married men, marines on a one day pass, frustrated bisexuals who wanted to experiment, gay but not gay types - it was exciting to shoot them
Today the sense of intrigue seems to have vanished. If you call an agency, you most likely will end up with a jaded chia pet (a queen or princess) with a 5 inch dick who somehow thinks and acts as if she is hung like John Holmes. I never understood how some of these guys ended so pumped up with enough self importance to launch a ballistic missile across the atlantic. There was a bigger choice of people who came from a very large variety of pools, not as narrow as today. Primarily it was the internet that cleaned up the interesting types - they got scared of the exposure, it's simple as that, so what you ended up with was not very interesting. The old days were wild and the casting, if you can call it that, was an adventure - and yes, we got high all the time.
GayDemon: Any funny stories about some of the movies you've directed?
Toby Ross: Sure! The first real movie I made after my hardcore career was put on hold was called Bowser Makes a Movie. The actors in it did not know that I used to do porn - well, if they did I was not aware of that. At a certain moment the main character leaned back and my instructions for the camera man, which were strictly cinematic, so I said in my moment of excitement... "Pan up, zoom in and come right on his face!" Everyone lost it and I knew my secret was out.
GayDemon: Can you tell us a little your site, Big Dik Factory? Your site and content are a bit different - who do you think is your target audience?
Toby Ross: My audience is not the standard porn audience. I know because I communicated with them, they don't really care about getting off as much as they care about being entertained. In my more sexual films I try to lay the foundation for a fantasy... but it's usually the viewer who can be creative enough to finish it in their own mind. Good or bad, a lot of my audience are not out - they would not get caught dead watching mainstream gay films with gay jokes and gay everything. It's not just 3 or 4 people, we are talking about thousands, and I would like to give this group a place to go to where they don't feel displaced, I would like to entertain sexually and mentally... they do not have to spend any money but I do want them to react and remember.
Big Dik Factory will have streams but also have other interesting departments such as we do right now, we have a fart department that is both funny and sexy, a vintage department, dirty stories, dangerous sex, espionage... I operate in the twilight zone of psychological eroticism and it's not always a pretty picture but is always haunting and interesting.
GayDemon: What's in the future for Toby Ross and Big Dik Factory?
Toby Ross: Two big dream projects. (Investors! Are you with me?)
"MEOW" A story of a sexy super-hung cat burglar, he gets into people's homes when they sleep and eats, showers and acts like it might be his domicile till the man of the house wakes up... then the party begins! one of the wives whose husband he violates falls for him, etc, etc.
"Imitation of Youth" A CIA officer who in WW2 was trained by the USA as a spy, as he specialized in seducing Nazi Generals so they spill the goods and make the war come to an end. Somehow through the years he never got old. Now the government wants to know his secret... This title was also named "Looking For Mr. Deep Throat".
GayDemon: Before we say goodbye, where can fans learn more about you or contact you - things like blogs, twitter, Facebook or email address?
Toby Ross: Sure. You can find me on Facebook, Tumblr. Of course, you can visit my sites, too. My movies are online at BigDikFactory.com (that's my membership site) and BDFstore.net (DVDs, Trailers) and you can email me at [email protected]
I'd like to thank Toby Ross for joining us today. If you'd like to see his blog and his videos, you can check them out at Big Dik Factory.