LOS ANGELES—By most measures, Jack the Zipper is a porn phenomenon. With just 13 titles in his CV (though he's been responsible for several others without a directorial credit), nearly every one of them has received multiple nominations, with Zipper winning awards for his accomplishments on Stuntgirl 1, Squealer and Blacklight Beauty, the latter two receiving AVN's very first two Best All-Sex Release honors, among other awards.
But with the adult industry suffering from the fact that its customers' incomes are down an average of about 36 percent since the start of the Great Recession, not to mention some bad luck on Zipper's part when he spent time making a movie with the soon-to-founder Pleasure Dynasty, Zipper is having difficulty finding distribution for his most recent movie, Killers.
As those who read GFY are probably aware, Pleasure Dynasty and owner Carlos Cavero have been the focus of discontent in its handling of some adult investors' money. Zipper said that Pleasure Dynasty secured "money people" to bankroll his production of True Grit XXX, but when the company ran aground the investors seized the completed movie, leaving him without even a final edited version of the horsey drama.
"The movie True Grit XXX is gone forever, because some billionaire in Georgia owns the rights to it," Zipper told AVN. "That's such a story, and if you knew my humiliation and embarrassment about all the things that were going on—if you knew what was actually happening to me in those days, it was just beyond."
But the True Grit debacle was a couple of years ago, and before that deal went south in 2012, Zipper had secured the financing to complete one of his most ambitious projects to date: Killers, a high-end all-sex feature starring top-rated performers like Skin Diamond, Andy San Dimas, Emily Addison, Joslyn James and Maya Hills.
"I think Killers is Skin Diamond's best work by far," Zipper said. "She doesn't need my help to be big, but she's really good in it. She's big as hell, but I met her the week she got her to L.A. and I was trying to put her in a movie for two years and we became friends, and I'm like, 'I gotta put this girl in something,' and it took me two years to finally be in a position to put her in something. I've been watching Skin Diamond in these [Killers] scenes now for two years, and this is by far her most cinematic stuff. And we shot it at the moment where she wasn't supernova yet, so there's this edge to that performance, and 20 years later that's going to be her radioactive stuff.
"I look at it like Bettie Page," he continued. "When you look at Bettie Page stuff now, it gains atomic mass every year, every decade, every new generation. Like when you look at the Irving Klaw Bettie Page stuff, that was her at her most volatile, her most interesting. She was a year away from retiring forever; she was doing the heaviest, weirdest stuff she'd ever done because Irving was such a nice man. She was in the most nurturing environment of her life, which is why she did her dirtiest work. It's all just juxtaposition of reality in a weird way that creates this radioactive material, so 20 years from now, that Skin Diamond stuff is gonna be The Stuff, if you ask me."
Indeed; Diamond gets two scenes in Killers—a moody, energetic boy/girl tangle with Xander Corvus and a smoking hot girl/girler with Emily Addison—and the atmosphere and raw sexuality displayed in both are award-quality material. But in the rough cut AVN was allowed to see, perhaps the most controversial scene will be the one featuring Nacho Vidal and Joslyn James, which begins with Nacho pulling a plastic bag over the redhead's head—not to worry; he quickly pokes a large hole in the bag so she can breathe—and binding her arms and chest with thick ropes.
"Nacho does a very European scene with Joslyn," Zipper assessed. "It looks like a Kink.com scene with some light rope bondage, but it's not as heavy as a Kink.com scene."
Zipper also told us about the genesis of the scene.
"I was casting Killers, and who do I run into in Vegas but Nacho Vidal, and I was super-surprised to see him in America," Zipper explained. "So I'm like, 'Hey, Nacho, man, I'm shooting this movie in L.A. next week'—turns out he was going to be in L.A. for about two weeks working and then he was going back to Spain, and I'm like, 'I need a Bond villain badly.' So he agrees to do the movie. We're downtown in this warehouse and we're shooting and Nacho shows up. Now, we've all seen Nacho Vidal movies; he looks really scary. He's the nicest guy in the world. He literally gives off the energy of nice, which is interesting for a guy who looks like a pit-bull.
"So I'm shooting another scene, Joslyn's just arrived—she was a last-minute replacement but she's a friend of mine so when I called her, she was cool as shit with it—and they're getting her ready and Nacho's wandering around the warehouse, like scouting, looking around. Finally, we're ready, and he's like, 'I found two chairs. I would like to use a chair in the scene. I found a red chair and I found a wooden chair; which one do you prefer?' I was like, 'How about the red? It would look better in this room.' And he goes, 'That's exactly what I was thinking,' and he goes, 'I have a plan; I wonder if you like it.'
"So what he did was something I've never seen in any porn shoot I've ever been involved with: he had blocked the entire scene as if it was a kung fu movie, as if it was a Jet Li fight scene. I'd never seen a male performer in the adult industry block an actual sex scene; every move, every step, every leverage he might need to go from point A to point B to point C, to change locations, to pull in the red chair, get rid of the red chair, tie her to a thing, untie her to a thing, this position, that position—I mean, it was like watching the world's greatest tango dancer win a tango competition with a dancer he's never rehearsed with. I was amazed, and he literally just destroyed this scene with her, and she stepped right up and was the other half of the scene. So Nacho's the greatest male porn star that's ever lived, as far as I'm concerned."
But it's that scene that seems to have kept Zipper from getting a distribution deal for Killers for nearly two years, and Zipper is currently shopping it to some of the biggest names in adult, hoping they'll be able to see the artistry of the movie and allow Zipper's legion of fans to get a look at it.
"Hey, I could trim the Nacho scene for DVD; I have no problem with that," he said. "I'm not trying to force an overly controversial scene down the throats of the world; that's not my goal at all. And the thing about me is, when I shoot my scenes in a Zipper movie, I don't have an agenda for what sexual content is in the scene. I hire performers because I think they're cinematic people and I hire them because I think they have presence and they shoot well, and they have some magic to them, and they show up and they do a scene together. My job is, I create an environment and then I record the scene that performers choose to do with each other. I don't direct sex. I consider that an oxymoron. I don't think a director is needed when people are having sex. I think an art director, cameraman, environment-creator is needed; I don't particularly want to direct the sex, though I'll stop and start if I have to, to get a better shot or something."
But even more than getting Killers on store shelves, Zipper is looking for a home for his future productions, at least one of which he's already shot several scenes for already.
"I'm shooting a series that hopefully will be an ongoing series that I need a distributor for," he explained, "but it's actually a lot lighter weight than all this, because after all these big movies I've done with huge crews and me having to be the director on set kind of guy, I wanted to just like take my camera and be in the motel room again, like my earlier movies. I really kind of like that."
In a way, Zipper's new series was inspired by his friend the late Jamie Gillis's early '90s series On The Prowl.
"I always wanted to do On The Prowl; I always wanted to work with Jamie; I always wanted to do that kind of stuff, and so now I'm doing sort of stuff like that in a weird way, but with what I call 'the Lohans': like all these girls from Miami who start out doing all this stuff that's being shot in Miami, and they all have these local Miami agents and that's how they get into porn. ... They're just really crazy; these 19, 20, 21-year-old girls that are jumping into porn down in Florida, they're fucking all crazy and they're wild and they're interesting and they're just smart but crazy and volatile. There's a couple of model houses right down the road from me here in Chatsworth and they all stay there when they come into town, and they're like my neighbors. I'm meeting them all, and I'm just like, 'Holy shit!' So I'm doing an entire series about them. Like every time a new Lohan shows up, I try to just get her somewhere in some weird place and shoot some weird thing, whatever it may be. I bought the URL GirlsGoneEvil.com, so I own 'Girls Gone Evil,' and I think that's the name of the series, but it could change. But I shot an entire episode and I've got to get that out.
"My stuff is so signature that I don't feel I'm copying anybody," continued Zipper, some of whose work is reminiscent of the artistry of the Rinse Dream films of the early '80s like Café Flesh and Party Doll A-Go-Go. "I think I'm doing something completely different. I think 'Girls Gone Evil' is just an interesting title; I made it up one night and my partner said, 'That's genius!' The thing is, I just like having me and my camera, just running around and doing covert stuff. I like that stuff, because if you're in a weird place, it just looks so much more interesting, and the fact that we have to get away with it makes it actually interesting, and that crackles through when someone's watching it."
So, distributors: don't be surprised if you get a call or email—or a knock on the office door—from a guy with the weirdest name in adult movies today, and a track record that's the envy of many lesser directorial lights. He'll just want a few minutes of your time to pitch his projects—and even if you don't think it's your cup of tea, they'll probably be the most entertaining few minutes of your day.