CYBERSPACE—Anybody remember Luke Ford? No? Count yourself as lucky.
We first ran into Luke Ford in the mid-'90s on a Vivid shoot at the "round house" set on Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. He seemed harmless enough, though his was the first yarmulke we'd ever seen on a porn set. He asked a few ineffectual questions, hung out with the rest of the media, then went on his way.
Little did anyone realize he'd turn out to be such an asshole.
Born in Australia to a Protestant minister, and later a convert to Judaism, Ford's stock-in-trade was gossip, and from about 1995 onward, he'd post, either on his own website or on the rec.arts.movies.erotica (r.a.m.e.) site, pretty much anything anyone told him, good or (mostly) bad, about people and events in the adult industry, with rarely any attempt to ascertain whether what he was told was true. He even created a page on his site that listed performers' stage names paired with their real names—prime material for stalkers.
Ford had no problem accusing various actresses of being call girls, including Vivid contract players Kobe Tai and Janine Lindemulder, former Wicked contract gal Missy, as well as Rebecca Lord and Jill Kelly, nor of defaming producers like Steve Hirsch, Russ Hampshire and David Sturman with veiled accusations of mob ties. Those interested in the "bad old days" can read some of that material here.
But Ford's been gone from the adult scene for a couple of years now, first selling his original website, lukeford.com, to industry insider Scott Fayner for an undisclosed sum—Ford was hurting for cash at the time and owed money to actress Christi Lake, whom he'd defamed on his site by claiming she'd had sex with a dog—then returning with a new site, LukeIsBack.com, which he sold two years ago to porn journalist Cindi Loftus.
"I don't know; I always liked Luke," Loftus told AVN as the anniversary of her purchase approached. "I always thought he was odd, but I thought he was interesting. Of course, he wasn't the best-liked person. I don't think he's a jerk; I think he's really intelligent, but he's odd, and he is trying. He's not an easy person to be friends with."
So she wouldn't agree with the epithet most who know Ford would attach: Asshole?
"No, not at all. But I think Luke was conflicted with his religious upbringing and his switch to Judaism and then his attraction to the adult industry, but he always felt that it was wrong. I think that he was conflicted and he never knew how to rationalize both things together, so it's probably best that he's now into just the religion part, but I have no problem with him at all. I like weird people; you meet interesting people and I get along great with everyone in the adult industry because I've always been an outsider and I fit right in."
Well, not entirely an outsider, as it turns out. Loftus began writing articles and doing interviews for Xcitement magazine about 18 years ago, at first for fun rather than pay, but after briefly running a phone sex company, she came back to Xcitement to edit their new magazine, International X. That publication folded after about two years, but Loftus then continued her journalistic career writing full-time for Xcitement itself. She's also reviewed movies for AVN, and even penned a few articles for Xbiz, running LukeIsBack in her spare time.
Of course, one might wonder how she can keep up with the world of adult from her home base in Ft. Lauderdale?
"Hey, there's porn in Florida," Loftus said somewhat defensively. "It's not big like L.A.; it's not widely talked about. It's not like you could, say, drive around the streets and ask, 'Where's the Vivid building?' It's hidden away. But I've been to a couple of sets. They don't do a whole lot of big features or anything down here, but I've been to sets down here. [Director] Jim Gunn has been a friend of mine and a friend of Xcitement's for a hundred years. The sets I've been on have been mostly Jim Gunn sets."
But while much nicer—and certainly much saner—than Luke Ford, Loftus doesn't shy away from controversial material ... like posting announcements and criticism from religious anti-porn advocate Shelley Lubben.
"I think she's interesting and controversial and I don't agree with her, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have something to say," Loftus explained. "But what I think is funny is that people think that I agree with everybody I post. I just posted what she wrote; it doesn't mean I agree with her; it just means I think she has something to say and I'll give her a place to say it. You'd probably want to write an op-ed and rip her apart, but I leave that for my commenters, and they do. If Donny Long writes me, that doesn't mean I believe what I'm putting up—but it's interesting, and especially if it's controversial and it's interesting, then I let everyone have their own opinion. I don't have to agree with it."
But Loftus isn't moved to put in the amount of time and effort to pin down the facts behind some of what she publishes.
"I just spent the last week being an investigative reporter," she confessed in late May regarding a series of posting involving an alleged suicide by a member of TheFreakSquad.com. "To hell with that shit. My investigation goes so far as to find a couple of people that are going to tell me the same story so that I can get a confirmation: reliable people. This talking to 800 people and trying to figure out who's telling you the truth and who's not, and thousands of emails everybody's forwarding to you and everybody wants to IM you—that's the kind of stuff you do. I don't want any of that. I have a full-time job that pays me. Xcitement is a job that pays me; LukeIsBack is a job that hopefully will pay me in the future."
However, Loftus recognizes that many of the posts on LukeIsBack just aren't nice ... and she has a solution: a new site called LadieZnight.com.
"What happened was, I would do interviews and people would tell me, 'You know, I really like you and I want to do an interview but I don't want it on LukeIsBack because the commenters are mean,' and there's some people that don't want to deal with that," she explained. "You have to have a tough skin to be in porn, I think. But I don't blame them; my commenters are tough, and sometimes they don't want to do a story with me and have people say, 'Her fake boobs are awful,' or 'I don't like her hair,' or 'She's 30; she needs to retire.' I don't blame them. Plus truthfully, I'm a really nice person. You might not be able to tell that from LukeIsBack sometimes."
"So what ended up happening, I thought, well, truthfully, I should have a site for all these people who want an interview but if anybody wants to comment, it's going to be something interesting, nice, or a question, not rip them apart," she continued. "The comments on LadieZnight are moderated. The comments on LukeIsBack pretty much say anything goes; free for all; throw poop if you want. But there are a couple of things you can't do: Racist things, I don't like, and there are a couple of things. But on LadieZnight, every comment is moderated and everything is positive, and if you say something bad about someone, the comment's not going up. It really is the site for women into porn, and for all the fans. And if somebody has something really hardcore to say, they can go to LukeIsBack."
And, thankfully, they won't find Luke Ford there.