This interview with Lexington Steele ran in the November issue of AVN magazine as part of a cover story on African American men working in the adult industry. to see the whole issue online. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Home State: New Jersey | Age: 46 | Started in 1996 | Twitter: @LexSteele11 | Website: LexingtonSteele.com
What inspired you to pursue a career in adult film?
What inspired me to pursue a career in adult media and continues to inspire me every day is the opportunity to be a paid professional athlete. Most of my heroes over my life have been athletes, educators or broadcast journalists. I have been able to live my life over the last 18 years as an athlete, a “professional sex athlete.” This is how me and my brand have historically been regarded by my supporters.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
The most challenging aspect for me as a male performer is maintaining the level of performance I have been known for. Well over a decade ago, I was named AVN Male Performer of the Year 2000, 2002 and 2003. I have been in the AVN Hall of Fame since 2009; that’s longer than most of my contemporaries’ whole careers at this point. The challenge is still being worth the exorbitant rate that I charge, to be quite honest.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job has been the lifestyle I have maintained since launching Mercenary Pictures in 2003 and launching Lexington Steele Productions in 2013. Even in these most challenging years, I remain in the highest tax bracket. That being said, the rewards are not all monetary and the rewards no longer provide the financial security enjoyed between 2000 and 2010. But the greatest reward has been the people that have been my friends, compatriots, brothers and sisters for the last two decades of my life. My male friends know that I’d go to war with them any day. My female counterparts know that I’ll protect them every day. The ultimate reward has been to find the woman I would marry in 2015 [Savana Styles].
Who are your biggest influences?
As a performer, I have had two major influences in my career. My good friends for life, Mark Davis and Mr. Marcus—both of these men taught me how to do this job. I have fed myself and my family based on the performer skills imparted upon me by these two gentlemen. As a director, my biggest influence was Mike John—he taught me how to shoot video camera—and Kevin Moore, my co-director/partner at Lex Steele Productions. He has had a tremendous impact on the quality of my brand, taking it to a higher level. As a producer, my most influential people are my mentor James Alexander of West Coast Productions and my compatriot and confidant Jules Jordan of JJV. I have known both of these men since 1998; we are competitors, collaborators, and friends.
What is the most common misconception about adult?
The most common misconception about adult, historically for me, has been that doing interracial scenes will damage or curb the careers of some female performers. This may be true for some, but certainly not most. Additionally, the misconception that black male performers actually care if they don’t is equally profound. Most of us don’t knock the hustle of our female counterparts. If what she does does not include black men for whatever reason, it is her business, her body.
What do you think of the way IR product (black male/white female) is marketed?
IR product has been an integral part of XXX media, practically since its inception. The marketing of such has remarkedly progressed over my tenure, in large part by what [the late] Christian Mann had created in his early years as president of Video Team (for those that can remember that era). That being said, Sean Michaels is the foundation of IR marketing and I have patterned my brand to reflect the image he created. There have been derogatory marketing campaigns that I personally would not co-sign or endorse, but others have done well with. This is the business of capturing fantasy on video. IR XXX is an integral part of our collective, cultural sexuality as Americans. Other countries do not have the historic issues that still exist today in America. This is what fuels the interest in IR sex and has bolstered the commercial viability of my product and brand. Today’s IR campaigns rival that of the highest budgets afforded to the marketing all-white product, respectively. The direction IR marketing takes from here will always directly reflect what society is asking for. It is my job as a black producer to package fantasy in a highly deliverable form.
What barriers, if any, have you encountered working in the adult industry?
There are barriers I have encountered and moved well beyond over the course of my career. But none of these barriers were challenges that I have been unwilling to undertake. Launching my first company, Mercenary Pictures, provided a number of barriers. These challenges were not necessarily racial, as many would believe. Getting a buyer to take your product had been a business issue based on money, trends and shelf space. That is a tangible barrier to encounter based on logic and economics.
Another tangible barrier is the lack of feature production inclusion of black performers. The greatest feature director of our time is Axel Braun. He casts me in his heavily budgeted productions as often as he can. What he has done must not go unnoticed.
Personally, I am a member of the [Screen Actors Guild] since 2008. There have been surprisingly few roles extended to me over my career, so I know there are even fewer roles out there being filled by my black male counterparts.
But as I said earlier, in many ways XXX will always directly reflect what society is asking for. This is a particular barrier that runs congruent with Hollywood casting practices. But, perhaps, it is in the writing of the feature productions. As a black performer, director, producer and distributor, perhaps writing my own feature production is the answer. Getting it sold is the ONLY barrier.