LOS ANGELES—Three-time AVN Director of the Year Axel Braun plans to instate a new policy, effective immediately, that all performers appearing in sexually explicit roles in any of his movies must be a minimum age of 21.
“If the law says you are not old enough to handle alcohol responsibly, then you are probably not ready to make a career decision that will have such strong repercussions on the rest of your life,” Braun said. “After 23 years in the business I have come to strongly believe that an 18-year-old fresh out of high school has a completely different perspective on life than he or she will have three years later, and I just want to allow them enough time to make a more informed, mature decision. This may not be a popular choice, but it is a personal one, and it is what my conscience tells me to do. I simply don’t feel comfortable anymore shooting talent under 21.”
Braun expounded, "I have always believed in the power of learning, and I am convinced that before jumping into a line of work that has such a short span with such long-term repercussions, kids should have a chance to consider pursuing a higher education."
The director explained that this is a conviction he's always held, but is only acting upon it now because "I am finally in a position where I can afford to do so."
Acknowledging that his own decision to enact this policy will not keep those under 21 from choosing a career in porn, Braun reflected, "I'm not trying to change the industry. Do I wish this was an all-around policy? Absolutely. Do I have a political agenda? Not at all. I'm just doing what I think is right. The percentage of talent who start performing at 18 and are out of the industry by the time they turn 21 is staggering. Those are the ones who are not cut out for porn, and who could very well spend the rest of their lives regretting their choice."
Reminded that arguably the two biggest stars the industry has seen in at least the last decade, Sasha Grey and James Deen, both began their porn careers at the age of 18, Braun argued, "For every Sasha Grey or James Deen, there are hundreds of kids who enter the adult industry for the wrong reasons. Sasha is a very intelligent and determined girl who used the controversy of a successful foray in porn to build a real mainstream career, which is something that nobody had ever been able to accomplish. She created a porn persona that was different from anybody we had seen before: an emo, existentialist porn star who looked like a fashion model, did explosive sex scenes and quoted Godard.
"James is a completely different animal," he continued. "A fun, sweet guy with an infectious personality whose dream since kindergarten was to become a porn star. Smart and ambitious enough to verticalize and expand within the industry, he effortlessly attracted the attention of mainstream media while remaining true to himself. The difference between them is that if Sasha could have bypassed her porn career and head straight to mainstream acclaim, she probably would have, while Deen is actually happy to keep doing what he does. They are two perfect examples of successful crossover, but rules are made looking at the bigger picture, not at the exceptions, and the big picture here is that I just want to allow young adults three extra years to consider going to college and eventually making a more mature decision."
Asked whether he would allow that the mainstreaming of porn has mitigated the stigma attached to performing in it, and in turn made it more realistic for someone to have a rewarding life in another career afterward, Braun said, "It really depends on your definition of 'rewarding life.' And the stigma is always heavier on those who are less successful."
Posed the hypothetical question of whether he would delay a shoot in order to cast a performer who was turning 21 in two days, Braun reponded, "Yes, absolutely."
This new policy will be in effect for all Axel Braun Productions movies, as well as for all projects directed by Braun for other companies.