Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Diving In

By Kay Brandt (Guest Blogger)

An award-winning pornographer dives into the world of erotic fiction.

Excerpt from The World of Cherry available November 22nd via eXcessica publishing:

CHAPTER 1 – The Lady and her Club

Only a special and specific type of woman do I hire. I look for women who have substance—a story to tell—and not just with their beautiful bodies, but also with their intelligence. Women desire women who can pleasure their minds as well as their pussies, and the girls I recruit need to be the best at both. They must also present themselves in a professional manner and be willing to do whatever the job entails. I never try to hide my own desires either—I let every new hire know they must service me first. Their skills have to be assessed before I place them in my company and like any other business owner would, I take it upon myself to be the judge of how qualified they are. Some are utterly gifted, and they naturally become the most requested items on the menu in my stable. 
The Cherry Club, a private oasis for the most discerning ladies who want their affairs with other women to be totally discreet as well as deeply, romantically, wonderfully sexy, is my namesake—my baby. For the past three years I've run my operation from very secret locations. Not one soul, outside of my dedicated personal assistant, Dusty, and the paying members, know where the club will be located until the day of their visits, as the venue moves and changes as needed, and that is how it must stay, no exceptions. I've learned far too well how dangerous it is to expose yourself, even to those you think you can trust. Losing the Cherry Club would be devastating—it is my life's blood, the reason I'm alive and without it I would lose my mind. Within the club, my members are completely free to be who they truly are.

And so am I.

My entry into the world of explicit storytelling was a strange, and totally unexpected event. I had sent my resume to a “small creative company” that was seeking a writer/director for hire. The four desperate years leading up to finding that job post were riddled with writer's block and depression as a screenwriter. I liked the idea of writing books, but it felt like a rather claustrophobic activity, incomparable to the freedom of scripting the moving picture. When I read the job post, I thought about how great it would be to become a member of this unnamed boutique production company as their writer. No mainstream studio egos to deal with, or star trips, and no bozo executive assistants who could care less about a writer with multiple scripts sitting in development hell for years without pay.

Working with a small group of “creatives” who just want to make movies and not waste time doing the perpetual script runaround seemed like a welcome relief. Indie film-making always appealed to me. I was a big fan of the art-house film movement in the 1980's and 1990's. Most of my favorite directors during those two decades made their first movies in film school with miniscule budgets and yet they succeeded with limited theatrical releases. Their names became known for being experimental and that turned me on. I wanted to follow in their footsteps, and make my own great indie pieces. The road to artistic gratification was as elusive as the dominant world of corporate entertainment, though. My inspiration dwindled, trying to please the moody fluctuations of a downsizing industry and was tired of the games. I had sunk to an all-time low, and gone back to retail as a store manager selling high-end luggage. At that point, it was clear I was giving up, and gladly, as it meant striving for the impossible was over, or so I convinced myself.

I wasn't expecting the voice of a quirky man who sounded rather square when the owner of the unnamed company called me. The first time I spoke with Dan O'Connell, the sixty year-old owner of Girlfriends Films, it was like talking to a relic from the '50's. He sort of blurted out that this small production company I'd sent my resume to was an all-girl x-rated film outfit. He was a pornographer, essentially, wrapped in an unassuming exterior, who just, you know, built a company that only made movies based on his fantasies. He had placed that advertisement because he was seeking a mainstream screenwriter/director to take his company to the next level of success.

I remember standing in my bathroom, listening to his explanation of why he chose lesbian for the 'model' of his business, and thinking, is this guy for real? He invited me to the office so he could show me around, and introduce me to the 'family'. I agreed, and went to the plain, no frills, office in an industrial center, smack in the armpit of porn valley. I actually prayed before going in—not because I was asking God for the job, but because I was very unsure about what I was getting myself into.

Far from the typical billionaire-screw bag porn company owner one might imagine a guy like Dan to be, he wore earthy sandals and inexpensive clothes. I met his burly VP who was warm and friendly, as well as the rest of the quiet, harmless office staff. The colorful, butch dyke camera girl with a jet black Elvis Presley hairdo was my favorite of the bunch. I instantly saw myself working side by side with her. Dan explained that his brand was growing rapidly and needed a second director, besides him, to meet the five to six movie a month output. I shared my experience working within the realms of erotica.

In the 1990's I had scraped together every cent I had to launch an indie theater company for the purpose of producing my own stage plays. The first play I wrote and produced just happened to be about two lesbian strippers who were in love with each other. The irony of that moment, and how I suddenly felt this sense of bizarre destiny, still haunts me.

I tended to write about the complexities of love, sexual characters and romantic entanglements. When I was writing erotic lesbian stage plays, it wasn't abnormal, as porn-based theater in Los Angeles was the trend at the time. I never imagined the plays were a foreshadowing of my future career as a pornographer, but that's precisely what they were. The journey I was about to embark on was like nothing I ever would have imagined.

Dan sent me home with a handshake, a hopeful sentiment and a box full of lesbian XXX movies to watch as 'research'--to see if I was really the one to hire. Having been given the assignment, I did my due diligence. The stories and girls performing in his pervy films hit a creative chord in my soul. I emailed Dan the next morning with absolute conviction that I was the right candidate and I wanted to start immediately. He responded positively, and told me to write a short script, no longer than five pages, featuring two girls meeting for the first time. One should be older, as fans of lesbian XXX loved the older/younger combo.

Believability, heavy seductions and underhanded manipulation—the three key ingredients for powerful lesbian porn. I proceeded to write a sweet little story about a woman with a home-based cosmetic business interviewing a new girl to do sales for her. Of course, the products must be tried during the interview, starting with a sensual hand massage.

Dan was clear that dialogue and story setup were very important and that his brand was associated with a popular catch phrase in the adult biz, “story porn.” Apparently, after a decade of lackluster 'gonzo' flicks, which often times didn't offer good quality material—the sex sucked as well the production value—the buyers of porn were desperate for a change. Dan's 'accidental' style of B-movie amateurish, fly-on-the-wall type of jerk-off film was a hit and beginning to take over larger portions of market share.

He invited me to jump in to the film-making, after buying the first five-pager I wrote for him, and the next one and the next, until I was writing/directing four to five movies a month. All the scripts were original, convincing yet fantasy setups that almost entirely took place in a house, as I had no other choice for locations. And when he said low budget, he meant much lower than my lowest guess, and I usually had two days to complete a release, which had to include four lesbian sex scenes, dialogue, story setup and conclusion. My dream of making low budget indie films had arrived in an unfamiliar and shocking package. The dry spell was over and I was happily back in my element.

My creativity soared during the ten months I worked for Dan. I wrote like a wildfire of inspiration, tapping into an old well of passion for erotic storytelling that had long dried up since my stage plays closed. I admit to running in fear my first few times on set, terrified at the mere suggestion of being in the same room with naked women having sex at my command. The typical excuse I used was traffic—had to leave before traffic got bad—until Dan put his foot down. It was a surreal experience, that beautiful women were engaging in all aspects of my scripts—from dialogue to the first kiss, and then whatever else I wanted them to do—willingly.

Pornstars were surprisingly easy to work with, many of them actresses previously, and I developed a core group of performers that were my favorites to hire. The results of my directorial works was better than expected, considering how nervous I was to take the helm with the lovely nude ladies doing the deed often and repeatedly in front of me—making love until I was good and ready to call 'cut'!

The fans wanted longer, more luscious sex scenes and I was thrilled to oblige, and gave the buying audience what they wanted. The longest sex scene I filmed was more than one hour long, start to finish. There was no stopping me—I had been sucked into the forbidden side of movie-making and rediscovered an affinity for explicit content. Soon, I had a loyal following of fans, each with their own set of demands for what turned them on. Churning out unique, sexy stories and making them happen on a shoestring budget became a daunting task eventually. I didn't just want more—I had a hunger to strive and achieve more—wanting to create what no one else had ever done in porn. My movies had won awards for Dan, and I knew I could win them on my own. Clearly, it was time to move on.

I announced publicly my plan for Jewelbox Films—a high-end line of all-girl content—and it quickly came to fruition. There were articles in AVN written about me and my new endeavor, and I reached out to an old friend—a filmmaker I dealt with when I was working for a post production house during my last, broke years producing for stage—who was the owner of one of the biggest and most successful adult film companies in the business. He took a meeting with me right away, and partnered with me to launch Jewelbox Films with two groundbreaking films, “Cherry 1 and Cherry 2”. While writing those two scripts, I also wrote fourteen X-rated boy/girl features for his in-house director which were shot, produced and went on to win awards and critical acclaim.

Making my two babies, the Cherry films, was a challenge of sheer dedication and belief. I was given a large sum of funds, much more than the standard porn budget, and five days to complete production of both films, back to back. It just so happened that during those five days the worst storm of 2010 hit L.A., which caused numerous issues to work around while we filmed, but the results were extraordinary. I had a nearly 90 person crew working 17 hours a day until we shot the last scene. For five incredible days, I was surrounded and supported by gifted and talented people both in front and behind the camera and the results were awe-inspiring.

The Cherry films went on to be not only pornographic hits, but worldwide successes. Both films swept the prominent adult industry awards in 2012 across AVN and XBIZ and received mainstream acclaim as well. I'd followed in the footsteps of the filmmakers I most admired in my youth, but in an entirely different field—one in which I found fame—but more importantly, where I found my soul. My goal had been accomplished.

Sadly, in the afterglow of my proud achievement, the industry as a whole took a drastic turn. Downsizing due to piracy, and other insidious issues corrupted the adult sector at its core, and the company that funded the films was sold. I went on to make several more award-winning films after the Cherry movies and then ultimately came upon the crossroads of fate once again. The stories living within me needed a broader range of expression, and film-making could no longer capture what I needed to express. It was time to venture out and thrust myself into the challenge I'd been running from for too long.

It was another one of those strange and unexpected events—the moment I realized my stories, the entire story, not simply the setup leading to sex, but the deeper world where the characters exist—was what I truly write. The world of books, of writing erotic fiction, is where I wanted to be. The inspirations had already been born on screen. The elusive freedom of writing for film had lost it's power over the endless and boundless expression of writing for the page. My stories have come to life once again, but this time, nothing is held back. From my imagination to yours, the next journey begins.

About Kay

For two decades, Kay Brandt has been a theatrical writer of both stage and screen. Best known for her cinematic work as the writer/director of forty-five erotic films, including two of the biggest budget all-girl films ever made, “Cherry 1” and “Cherry 2” which won AVN and XBIZ awards and were distributed worldwide. Ms. Brandt specializes in the all-girl/lesbian art of storytelling, and her company, Jewelbox Films, develops high-quality erotic films for broadcast. She has written many films for award-winning companies, such as Digital Playground, New Sensations, and Girlfriends Films. 



Lisabet Sarai said...

Wow, Kay. That's a hell of a story!

I wish you great success in this new, latest phase of your career.

Kay Brandt said...

Thank you, Lisabet!

Tonya Kinzer said...

Hi Kay and Lisabet - Great interview and excerpt! Kay, thank you for sharing your background. We love reading about the success stories of fellow authors. Best wishes for the best future possible! Muah!

Anonymous said...

A most excellent bio and a perfect inspiration to those who have perhaps put their own dreams on the back-burner of life's to do list! I am thrilled and honored to not only have met and witnessed Kay's creativity first hand but I actually got to work side by side with her on some of her productions which have easily become treasured and favorite memories of mine. I would always tell Kay " keep creating no matter what because the world needs your stories " and I will say that always! Way to go Kay...YOU ROCK!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a crazy story! Very much enjoyed the excerpt.

Kay Brandt said...

Tonya, thanks so much. I realize their are thousands of erotic fiction writers publishing and I think it's amazing to be friends with such awesome, creative, kinky women so quickly!!! Great to be in your 'realm', and walking the path with you.

Kay Brandt said...

Oh of course, the typo! 'There', not 'their" LOL

Kay Brandt said...

Big hugs, Candi-girl. I loved every second working with you as my camera woman. You made every second fun, exciting, happy and worth it. Thanks for holding my hand through the wild transition into the business, and for being my diehard support when I went through the often traumatic shifts after leaving Girlfriends. You're far more than the 'colorful dyke' I described you're my forever friend and soul sister. It was a blessing the day we met :) and I hope one day we will work together again and make more pervy films!

Kay Brandt said...

Hi Emme :) Excellent. Glad you enjoyed the read. The devil is in the details, and there is more to the story--much more--than I could write in 2000 words. Happy to have met you. Let's see where this journey takes us, yes?

CandiGirl Carmichael said...

Awwe.... thank you!! Indeed it was fate that brought you and I together to learn from and about each other and our creative sides so we could unleash the pervy films we worked on together lol. I would love nothing more than to work with you again ... but I think you know that already . Until then .... keep creating cuz the world really does need your stories!! Xo

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