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American Dreamer: Jules Jordan Interview

The rapid rise of Jules Jordan from East Coast fan to the top of the adult industry

American Dreamer: Jules Jordan Interview

The boss walks in wearing baggy jeans, a hooded jacket and an old-school pair of Air Force Ones. It’s 10:10 Tuesday morning on a sun-drenched day in Southern California, where one of the leading porn producers in the world has just moved his company into a modern, two-story office building that blends in with the other businesses along the private drive in the Chatsworth area of the San Fernando Valley.

Jules Jordan will make a quick lap through his new headquarters, getting updates on a few key areas of his operation before turning his attention to other activities today.

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“Sometimes I go to the office like a whirlwind. I don’t want to get sucked in,” he says. “Administrative versus creative is a constant struggle.”

The first stop is his warehouse, where seven men are packing and shipping titles from the expanding arsenal of Jules Jordan Video, which this month will begin distributing its 10th different product line in addition to the flagship brand of movies that Jordan continues to produce.

“We’re up to about 85 titles, just the ones that I own,” Jordan says as he surveys the rows of DVDs. He reaches for copies of Ass Worship, Flesh Hunter and Lex the Impaler. “It’s funny to look at some of these first ones and see how much different the chicks look now … or if they’re even around any more.”

Jordan wants to be around the adult industry in some way for the rest of his professional life. He found his calling in 1996 when he moved from his hometown of Hershey, Pa., to Philadelphia and started shooting amateur sex scenes with girls that he recruited while doing shifts as a clerk at an adult video store. Since those early days of East Coast hustling, the former high school wrestler has excelled in nearly every facet of adult entertainment—from sales to performing to directing over 20 AVN award-winning movies. Now a multi-millionaire who will turn 38 on May 25, the enigmatic superstar has become the most accomplished gonzo director of his generation and a bona fide, 21st-century porn mogul.

“Yeah, I mean The Whole Thing is surreal,” Jordan readily admits. “When I was a kid I always saw pictures of California and thought about what it would be like to be out here. At the time I was into skateboarding, and the Mecca of skateboarding was California. So I would see these pictures and it was kind of the dreamland.

“Obviously I never had enough money to move out here when I was younger but it was cool to be able to come out here and survive. Because when I first moved out here I didn’t know what was in store. Nothing was solidified with what I was going to do when I got here.”

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Jordan specializes in the creation and distribution of premium gonzo content, running a formidable production company that consistently releases some of the best-selling movies in adult entertainment. He now employs 20 full-time people that keep the business side of the Jules Jordan Video train moving while he oversees the creative vision of the company.

“My goal wasn’t to make money or be rich from it but to make a living doing something I enjoy,” he says. “That’s the best part of this whole thing. Just to see the results of something you enjoy doing.”

Jordan began distributing his own product in January 2006, when he left Evil Angel Productions, the pioneering gonzo heavyweight that had been releasing his movies since 2001. It proved to be a lucrative collaboration for both as Jordan’s sales steadily increased along with his profile, until he eventually emerged as the top-selling director in John “Buttman” Stagliano’s Evil Empire.

He established himself early on with Evil Angel, releasing the initial volumes of signature titles such as Ass Worship, Flesh Hunter and Feeding Frenzy, all three of which would go on to become AVN award-winning series.  
“They did OK at first, and in about six months they started getting a lot more reorders,” Stagliano recalls. “There was a point where he was getting more reorders than anyone else.”

The numbers became more impressive considering that Stagliano’s stable of all-star shooters at the time was a trio of Hall of Famers named John Leslie, Rocco Siffredi and Joey Silvera.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” Stagliano says. “His movies were good. His movies were clean. He was making a lot of correct decisions with pretty American girls. Rocco was shooting mostly girls in Europe. It was more difficult for Rocco to compete because Jules was using American girls and there wasn’t the language barrier. So his movies started selling better than Rocco’s.”

Jordan’s blossoming talent and the rapidly changing media in adult created the perfect storm in which he could flourish. It was during the first year of his tenure with Evil Angel that Jordan realized his life would never again be the same.

“It was at a point where I was spending a lot of money on productions but I also knew the money was coming back around right around the corner,” Jordan says. “Because of the internet it really helped spread the word about my productions. My movies got real popular at the time when the internet was starting to become relevant to porn fans, whether it was message boards, or websites that have my movies for sale.

“DVD was also coming out right around the time when I joined up with Evil Angel, so it was kind of a meeting of technology that was really porn friendly and that’s one of the things that really helped catapult me.  

“By the time I was 30 I was a millionaire, which is crazy to me.”

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Though his lifestyle has changed dramatically in the past decade, Jordan’s keen sense of perspective keeps him amazingly grounded. Born in Harrisburg, Pa., and raised by his mother in Hershey, a blue-collar town 14 miles east of the capital city, he learned how to fend for himself at a young age.  

“I always had to work as a teenager through the years. I didn’t have much growing up. I lived in small apartments my whole life,” Jordan says. “I always had to pretty much make my own money to do stuff.”

He took jobs at an amusement park, a skateboard shop, an Italian restaurant, a pizza joint, even Subway. He got average grades while holding down a first-string position on the varsity wrestling team all four years at Hershey High.

“I thought that was going to take me places,” Jordan says. “My family didn’t have the money to put me through college. And I was obsessed with porno at the time.

“That was during the first amateur phase of porn, which made it seem attainable. In 1991-92-93-94, amateur became hugely popular with real people with cameras. Then there was the pro-am phase with Ed Powers, Randy West, Jamie Gillis, Max Hardcore... Some decent quality stuff was shot, and the porn market went from features to Buttman gonzo.”

Jordan had “the usual childhood experiences with pornography.”

“My grandpa had a film machine with the loops. It was always too complicated for me to run the film machine but I’d try to look at the filmstrips,” he recalls. “Or there were the community magazines—the soggy magazines in the woods that every teenager in a 10-mile radius would come to look at.”

Jordan was also a scrappy teen who never backed down from a fight. He landed in the hospital after one scuffle when his beaten opponent hit him with an ice scraper.

“My father was never around when I was a kid,” says Jordan, who was an only child.

“He was out of the picture by the time I was born.

“... I looked him up. I do some research once in a while. But it’s one of those things where, do you want to know the guy ... or not, know what I mean? It’s kind of an awkward thing, you know.”  

Jordan’s mother died in 2007 at the age of 60 after a long bout with cancer. He stayed with her in the hospital until the end, spending weeks at a time away from L.A. while she was sick.

“That feels like a year ago, crazy,” he says.  

Dealing with adversity in his life and his business drives him, Jordan adds.

“Sure I make good money and shit like that, but I deal with the same shit that other people deal with. My mom died and I had to step away from shit for a while. A lot of people that shit would’ve ruined,” Jordan says.

“I’m just fortunate that I have a job that allows me to step away and deal with personal shit like that. Where the whole time she was sick I was able to be there, whereas a lot of people having to go cross country wouldn’t be able to properly deal with that situation. People would lose their job. So that’s probably the best thing that’s ever come out of this, is being able to do that.”

He continues, “I’ve had sales people quit and I was the one who had to step in and do that stuff. When stuff like that happens, it kind of motivates me to take initiative to step up what I do within the company or whatever. Sometimes you could say I’m motivated by adversity a little bit whenever it comes because there’s definitely been some challenges in my business.”

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Jordan graduated from high school in 1991, trying one semester of college before deciding he wanted to work full time. He fed his porn obsession stocking shelves and manning the counter at Excitement Video stores near his hometown. “I actually didn’t think they would hire me at first because I was always in there as a customer,” Jordan jokes.

He learned about the product and who the big players were, saw what sold and found out what he really liked. He watched loads of it.

“I was the biggest fan of Evil Angel stuff. That really shaped my vision of what I wanted to see sex-wise,” he says. “The best way to describe it is a combo of Buttman, John Leslie, Rocco and Joey Silvera.”

Inspired by the exploding amateur market, he realized his true desire was to make his own porno.

“I would say one of the biggest turning points in my life was moving to Philadelphia from where I grew up because it opened up a lot more opportunities,” Jordan says of the decision he made at 24. “I was working in adult stores but no one wants to make a career out of a job at an adult store. But obviously I worked it the right way because I was into it.”

Enterprising and hungry, Jordan already was making frequent two-hour drives to the city to meet girls for shoots or to search for new ones.

“I started shooting scenes and I found myself traveling to Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York all the time,” he recalls. “Philadelphia was kind of an in-between spot between all those places. And there was no internet when I started shooting so it’s not like you could just call and order up chicks or find their websites. You had to like find girls in strip clubs or work on word of mouth. It was a real challenge.”

Then Jordan got one of his first big breaks, connecting with Frank Kay, the owner of the Hightstown, N.J.-based International Video Distributors (IVD). Now in its 25th year, IVD is the largest wholesale distributor of adult product in the world and also the parent company of Pleasure Productions, among other leading studios.

“Jules Jordan actually worked in a video store in Philadelphia and he wanted to get out of the retail business, so I hired Jules as an IVD salesperson,” Kay tells AVN. “The guy knew his porn. He knew his stuff and he sold real well. He had a desire for adult entertainment, and he pursued his dream in the production business.”

Kay continues, “After a year or two in distribution—he knew his product, he was an avid watcher—he asked me if he could film some movies. So he started some productions for me under the Pleasure and Rosebud logos. He probably produced 40 to 60 VHS tapes, and that lasted a solid two or three years until he wanted to step out and change his position in production, and he went out and John Stagliano brought him in as one of his directors with Evil Angel.”

Jordan in 1998 directed the first full-length movie of his career for Pleasure Productions, releasing Live Bait. One of the girls he shot helped propel the tape to national notoriety.

“It was funny because that movie actually made Page Six of the New York Post because one of the girls I shot in Baltimore actually went on months after to become a weekly television character on the pro wrestling circuit. First it was the ECW, and then it was the WCW at the time,” Jordan says. “The girl’s name was Chastity and she was a wrestler’s valet, the girl that comes out with the wrestler. She was a real character and it hit the gossip channels that she did a porno. She wasn’t listed as Chastity on the cover. She wasn’t even on the cover. She was just in a small portion of the movie doing a blowjob scene. She was actually supposed to be doing an anal scene. So that hit the gossip channels that a girl that was on pro wrestling every week did a porn movie, and it just went crazy. My first movie, it took off huge.”

Call it a foreshadowing of things to come.

“By the time I did my second movie [New Breed] I discovered Devon, who used to be [an exclusive contract star] with Vivid and Digital Playground,” Jordan continues. “Devon was from Pennsylvania and she did her first movies with me. She was in my second movie and that was a big find as kind of an amateur-type thing. So those two movies kind of established my name a little bit at the time.”

A little-known fact about Jordan is that he actually managed to sell several individual scenes prior to releasing Live Bait.

“I would send scenes out to California to see who was interested in buying just scenes, because the amateur market was pretty big back then. So I was able to shoot scenes with individual girls on the East Coast that were unknown on the West Coast and sell them off,” Jordan recalls. “And a lot of the first stuff was sold to Odyssey Group, who’s now out of business. One of the other people who bought some of my first stuff was Patrick Collins from Elegant Angel. So it was actually before Pleasure and Evil Angel, obviously.”

IVD/Pleasure owner Kay says Jordan’s early releases for Pleasure and Rosebud still sell to this day.

“He was a phenomenal photographer and had an eye for holding the camera and taking good stills,” Kay says. “He had great girls and always had a talent for shooting it properly.”

Kay continues, “My relations with Jules have been nothing but great. I didn’t really take offense to it when he left. I think he did it gracefully with me. I gave him my best and he moved on and became very successful. Hey I’m happy for him.”

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Jordan’s seemingly meteoric ascent did not come without some moments of uncertainty. In 1999, with three full-length video credits on his résumé along with the invaluable experience at the retail, sales and distribution levels, he decided to take his biggest risk yet. Disregarding the advice he got from AVN founder Paul Fishbein to stay on the East Coast and not become just another producer trying to make it in L.A. (now a running joke between them), he packed his Mitsubishi Eclipse to the roof and drove to California with visions of a serious career in Porn Valley.

“When I first came to L.A. I was living in a motel for two months, the Econo Lodge at Melrose and Vine,” recalls Jordan, who had $2,000 when he got here. “It was funny because I always thought Melrose was a nice street everywhere, but there it was like borderline sketchy.”

There had been some talk of potential jobs for him at both Vivid and Elegant Angel, but neither of those materialized, so he hooked up with IVD again.

“And I was selling my customers on the East Coast out of my apartment [in Woodland Hills] with just a fax machine and nothing else for a while,” says Jordan, who remembers sitting on the floor making his sales calls because he had no furniture. “And that’s before Frank [Kay] bought Rosebud, like right before.”  

Jordan helped re-invent the Rosebud line in 1999-2000, producing, directing and selling titles such as Bottom Feeders (1-4), Deep Cheeks (6-7), Anal Sluts & Sweethearts (4-5) and Heavy Metal (1-2). The industry took notice and in January 2002 in Las Vegas, the 29-year-old Jordan won the first AVN award of his career for Heavy Metal, which was honored as the Best Anal-Themed Release. The movie starred Adriana Sage, Taylor St. Claire and an up-and-coming guy named Lexington Steele, who performed in all six scenes.

“Those titles that I produced in 2000-01 were real well-received and caught the attention of John Stagliano,” Jordan says. “You know the funny thing about Evil Angel was everybody chases John down for a deal, but I would just send him tapes of the amateur stuff that I would do when I was on the East Coast, and he would call me once in a while and say he liked it or whatever. But I never really asked him for a deal.

“And then he went to see my Rosebud stuff and after seeing that, that’s what got me the deal there, which was a great thing and obviously life changing.”

He continues, “But it just got to the point where I wanted to control my own destiny, with where my product was headed. I left [Evil Angel] at a point where my stuff was the No. 1-selling stuff there and I accumulated a big catalog that I could do good business with. And I knew all the people we were selling to, so it was kind of a lateral step that got me to where I am.”

Jordan bought his first house in 2003, a mansion in Woodland Hills with spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley. The interior is adorned with contemporary furniture and brightly colored, post-modern artwork. He maintains a fully equipped, post-production studio where he still meticulously hand-picks the photos for his DVD covers and magazine ads, as well as occasionally edits.

“One thing I’ve had to outsource more is the editing. I wish I could do everything but I had to learn to give some stuff up to be efficient in other areas,” Jordan says. “When I do all this creative stuff looking at pictures, I still have a say in how it gets edited. And I have to be in my own space to be able to do that. I can’t have all the craziness of the office going on. It used to be that I’d go to the office to get the work done. But now it’s become such a big operation that I have to come back home to focus on non-administrative aspects, more of the creative process in a more controlled environment, otherwise I’d be getting interrupted a million times.”

During our visit to his house in the hills, landscapers work on his sprawling backyard, planting trees near the remodeled swimming pool that now has an Infiniti Jacuzzi. In his driveway sits a custom-painted, black matte Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and a black Cadillac Escalade. His silver Mercedes Benz CL 63 is at the car wash.

“It all comes from just non-stop, 24-7 just living and breathing pornography,” Jordan says. “There are very few things that I do in my life that aren’t business-related somehow or some way. As long as my phone is turned on there’s business going on.”

Jordan jokes that his “biggest distraction” when he’s at home is his two-year-old puggle dog named Sable, who hops onto his lap while he’s at his computer.

“Any time we’re shooting girls she wants to be in the picture,” Jordan says. “She wants to steal the spotlight all the time.”

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Even though Jordan has achieved a certain level of fame—he even made his high school’s Wikipedia page under “Notable Alumni”—he typically shuns the spotlight. Aside from representing his company at major trade shows such as the annual AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in January, Jordan rarely attends parties and doesn’t turn up at too many industry events. He markets his brand effectively, but has never been a publicity hound. He still has yet to have a reporter visit one of his movie sets.

“I’ve always been fortunate to let fans talk about my stuff,” Jordan says. “I’m active on a couple different message boards but not a shameless self-promoter. I never wanted people to know too much about me. I have kind of a character to what I do. It bugs me out when people come up to me at trade shows or conventions shaking, wanting to meet me.”

Jordan doesn’t smoke or drink, and maintains a strict vegetarian diet. One of his leisure activities—aside from going to speed metal concerts for bands such as Slipknot and Fear Factory (both good friends of his)—is riding his bicycle. It used to be that he would go for spins around the Woodland Hills bachelor pad, but now he’s got another private spot in which he can unwind. Jordan can slip out the back door of his newest home, walk a few steps to the bike strand and pedal past the famed Santa Monica Pier on the way to Venice Beach. He bought the brand-new, three-story beach house in September practically on a whim.

“I took a chunk of money out of the bank and I was like, ‘fuck the bank—why not have an investment that you can enjoy?’” Jordan says. “Something like this is never going to be affected by the economy, the real estate. …”
A person could get lost inside the deceptively spacious, multimillion-dollar property that has such amenities as an elevator, a TV built into the mirror of the master bathroom, and a rooftop deck that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

“I was down here one day and I stumbled across this house that’s on this exclusive stretch of houses right here and I was like ‘fuck man, the pier is right there.’ It’s awesome, you know.”

Almost incredulously, Jordan adds, “Of course I never thought that I’d have something like this, let alone two houses.”

Jordan’s path to porn’s upper echelon represents hope for future generations of young people chasing their dreams. That just maybe they can do it too.  

“The fact is Jules is a unique talent, a fan and a talented guy who is capable of creating what his vision is,” says Evil Angel’s Stagliano. “He has good charisma with the girls. He was going to create good porn even if he had not signed with Evil Angel.”

Stagliano continues, “I feel like he really cares about pornography, you can tell that’s important to him. It doesn’t bother me at all that he is a little aloof on occasion. I understand where he is coming from. I find him pleasant to be around and enjoy talking to him. I think the pressures of running a company have made him a little more serious about life. … Otherwise I don’t really know if it’s changed him.”

Pleasure’s Kay points to the work ethic Jordan displayed over a decade ago.

“He came to work and loved what he did. He always loved the adult business, loved selling,” Kay says. “… In those days people really wanted to know about the movies a little bit. His passion was pretty evident in the beginning. He wasn’t ever interested in drinking or partying. He was very focused on the business of adult entertainment.”

Jordan says if there is one thing that he wishes more people knew about him, it’s “probably that I’m a down-to-earth person that is a real fan of the business and not just a businessman.”

“There are a lot of businessmen in this business that won’t be here in five years,” he says. “Me, I’ll always be doing this even if it’s just a hobby. I was never into this for the money. I was into it for what it is. Some of the richest people in this business are not pornographers, they’re businessmen. But I’m a pornographer, and that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.”

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Sidebar: 'The Artistic Edge'

Jules Jordan likes to combine styles of shooting in his movies.

“I like to combine tease with reality sometimes. It just depends on the girl how I decide to shoot what I shoot,” he says. “I like to interact with the girls when I’m behind the camera also.”

The gonzo approach always came naturally to him.

“I like the raw spontaneity of gonzo,” Jordan continues. “Because if the girl does something that she’s not originally supposed to do, it can become something better and work out than it would be if there was something scripted out that says she has to do this or that.”

He adds, “One of the things about my movies that I like to see are some of the girls being challenged in the movies, so it’s not predictable. I always try to make my movies an event. When something comes out I always want there to be something different or special from what the other companies release, whether it be a girl doing a new thing or working with new people, or just portraying them in a different light than they’re used to. That’s what makes it a lot of fun to do what I do.”

Jordan in the past three years has established his distribution portfolio as one of the best in the business. He calls the Jules Jordan Video roster of producers “Professional Perverts,” releasing five movies per month with plans to do more. The JJV starting lineup consists of Mike John Productions, Erik Everhard Entertainment, Alexander DeVoe Productions, Chris Streams Productions, Gina Lynn Productions, Brazzers, Vince Vouyer Unleashed, Cruel Media and Jenna Haze’s JennaRationX Studios.

“[Quality control] is a big thing. It keeps the artistic edge to it intact,” Jordan says. “My biggest thing is overseeing ultimately the whole artistic vision of the company. That’s where I really try to have a say in everything that comes out. We let producers do their own thing but all of it ultimately is under my artistic supervision, the final product, the packaging, and the final look to it.

“Ultimately I have to say when this goes out the door this is a Jules Jordan Video product, and if it’s not right it’s not coming out.”

Two years ago Jordan also quietly purchased a chain of four brick-and-mortar retail stores in Southern California as his life came full circle.

“That’s been an interesting look into the economy and how it affects adult,” Jordan says.

While the challenges of overseeing a full-scale distribution, production and retail business have prevented him from doing more movies himself, he intends to make it a priority for the remainder of 2010.

“Definitely this year I’m stepping up production a lot more than I probably ever have,” he says. “And also I just created The Ass Factory, which is going to be doing all-anal releases. There’s going to be a lot more production for me that goes into that as well.”

The first Ass Factory release this month is called Gape Lessons.

 

(Editor's note: This was the cover story of the May 2010 issue of AVN magazine.)

Photo by Dan Miller






Related Content:

Jules Jordan Video
Pleasure Productions
IVD
Rosebud Productions
Jules Jordan
Dan Miller

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