CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Sam Lessner, aka Sam Xavier, founder of pioneering big bust-centric studio Big Top Video, succumbed last week to a roughly two-year battle with cancer. The cause of his death was failure of the liver, according to sources close to him.
Lessner got started selling fetish-themed fare while working at Parliament News in 1976, when he created H&S Sales, later renamed Xavier Productions, which sold European magazine Bazooms and a handful of film reels by mail order. The success of that venture was overwhelming, and in 1982, to throw his hat into the ring of the exploding video revolution, Lessner formed Big Top Video.
In the mid-'90s Lessner became a partner in big bust powerhouse The Score Group, until a falling-out caused him to split from the partnership, taking Big Top with him.
Big Top originally produced all manner of fetish titles—encompassing niches such as legs and feet, hirsute women, pregnant and lactating women, mature women, plump women and ethnic women—but the big bust genre was always the company's staple.
In a 1999 interview, Lessner told AVN, "Big Top Video and Xavier Productions put out a specialty video product found nowhere else in the world. The girls have breasts ranging in size from larger than normal (DD) to breasts so enormous the girls have spent tens of thousands on implants and custom-made lingerie and clothes. Mainstream porn can use just about any model they like if she can fuck and suck well. I require women who not only can meet that criteria but also have breasts large enough to meet the demands of our viewers, retail and wholesale alike. The talent is difficult to come by and anything but a dime a dozen. What we may lack in high-gloss production quality compared to giants like Vivid or Metro, we more than make up for in commodity and talent with such blockbuster babes as Lisa Lipps, Wendy Whoppers, Tiffany Towers, Traci Topps, Danni Ashe, Chloe Vevrier, Letha Weapons, Kayla Kleevage, Minka, Busty Dusty, Europe DiChan, SaRenna Lee, and many many more.
"We also commission the talent of directors who know and understand the fetish of breasts," he continued, "and that means knowing how to direct the girls properly and where to point the camera. It's true, our videos are not for everybody. Only the true lover of big tits will be able to understand and appreciate our product. And our success over the past 20-plus years shows they are more than willing to pay a few extra bucks for what I can give them. We are the Tiffany's of big bust."
Among the directors Big Top commonly used were industry greats David "Pussyman" Christopher and Viv Thomas. Christopher, in fact, essentially originated his signature character with the company.
"When I was running Coast to Coast [Video] in New York during the late '80s, early '90s, my little sideline was I talked him into doing these movies," Christopher told AVN. "We were going to call them Smother Power, but he didn't like the name; he thought smothering would be like I was trying to get killed or something, so we came up with Pussy Power."
Christopher made four volumes of Pussy Power for Big Top between 1991 and 1992, before moving to L.A. and making the first Pussyman for Snatch Productions in 1993. Christopher continued to work with Big Top throughout the '90s, however, including on a few larger productions like Boobsville Cabaret in '98 and Bustin' Into Las Vegas in '99.
"He was a good guy," Christopher said of Lessner. "He was one of my better friends in the business."