The bright orange flyers didn’t mince words. “METRO INTERACTIVE DOESN’T PAY THEIR TALENT!” they shouted. “METRO SHOT SCENES WITHOUT REQUIRED PCR DNA TESTING!”
It was petite former Metro contract girl Gauge doing the shouting at the AEE Expo on Friday (at least figuratively). The flyers enumerating her accusations of unfair treatment by Metro were offered to visitors of her booth, the main decoration of which was a large poster with a military camouflage theme that also listed Gauge’s claims against the company and urged her fans to not spend money on any Metro product.
Although Gauge reportedly had disputes with the company in the past and had managed to resolve them, according to an industry veteran who asked not to be identified, Gauge’s main complaints with Metro currently are that she was not paid for her work in the movie Gauge Unchained and that Metro is illegally running a website, www.xxxgauge.com, as the official Gauge site even though she has no affiliation with the site and hasn’t been paid any percentage of profits from the site that she was contractually entitled to. Gauge and her manager, Syko Sun, said that, in a nutshell, Metro breached its contract with Gauge and owes her money. Sun said he could only guess at the amount, since he said that Metro refused to show Gauge any documentation about how much money the company was making from her site.
Here’s where we start playing “he said, she said.”
“This has happened to a lot of people, that’s why [Metro doesn’t] have contract stars anymore,” said Sun. “They don’t pay any of their talent. They’ve got big lawyers, and the girls can’t have lawyers work on contingency” and get satisfaction, he continued. “They dropped the ball, not her. Why they put one of the cutest girls in the industry on the backburner, I have no idea.”
Lesley Rich, Metro’s corporate attorney and CFO, naturally has a different take on it. “The company defaulted her under her contract only after many months of paying her without her performing the scenes that she agreed on,” he said. “Metro had paid Gauge a substantial amount of money for which it never received any performances.”
Gauge said that she has spent $20,000 on legal fees in a lawsuit against Metro that she filed in 2004. Rich said that he is unaware of any lawsuit Gauge might have filed.
Rich also told AVN.com via email that “The movie Gauge Unchained was acquired by Metro and its affiliates from or through Keith O'Connor, now of Defiance Films. They were purchased free and clear of any claims. When Gauge told Metro that O'Connor deceived and lied to her, Metro actually paid her monies for the movie, even though it didn't have to.”
Sun claimed that Metro also purchased footage from O’Connor and made the video Gauge Exposed, for which Gauge has received no payment or royalties. She also said that she never signed a model release for the film and that she was told that because she had signed releases for other films, Metro didn’t need another for Gauge Exposed. Rich said, however, that Gauge Exposed is not a Metro title and that he has no idea where that content came from and who released it. “Thus, Metro owes Gauge nothing in that regard.”
(The production company listed on the Gauge Exposed DVD is New Machine Productions.)
In response to Gauge’s complaint that Metro breached its contract with her regarding profit percentages from her website, Rich said: “The website, and all the content on it, was also purchased free and clear from O'Connor. Gauge again came to Metro and said that she was promised a percentage from O'Connor. Metro agreed to pay Gauge a percentage for her to maintain the site and work it with journals and special events. Upon Gauge's default with Metro, the agreement was terminated.”
It’s unclear – not to mention unlikely – that Gauge’s anti-Metro Expo campaign will help the two reach a resolution. But Gauge, who was promoting her new site, ilovegauge.com at the Expo, said she’s angry and disappointed about what happened and wants to get her message out.
“I’m known for being personable with my fans, and when they come up to me pissed off, saying, ‘Hey, xxxgauge.com hasn’t been updated in a long time,’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, I have nothing to do with that site, I have nothing to do with Metro,’” she said. “They’re tricking my fans…People say they’ve bought stuff from the site signed by me, and I have no idea who at Metro is signing my name, but it wasn’t me.”
An impatient fan horde clusterfucked around Gauge as she spoke to AVN.com while sitting on a table at her AEE booth, a small one along one wall. “These girls work hard for their money,” she said. “And they don’t even get a fraction of what other people make off their work. I’m not trying to change the world, I just want what was agreed upon,” she said. “I think these issues need to be addressed.”
Metro maintains that its business practices are above board, however, and representatives at the Expo said they were baffled why Gauge would try so hard to smear the company during the convention.
“Metro has been in business for many years and has grown its world class library of adult films by developing excellent relationships with its directors and its artists,” Rich said. “Metro pays its bills and satisfies its contractual obligations.”
Rich also said that Metro is “unaware of any scenes Gauge was asked to perform without proper testing.”