In the adult entertainment industry, it doesn't get much bigger than Lexington Steele, both literally and figuratively. Blessed with a generous endowment and a zest for performing that hasn't waned, Steele has risen to the ranks of perennial contender for Male Performer of the Year, an honor this company has bestowed upon him thrice, making him the first three-time winner of the award.
It’s been 15 years since Steele moved to Los Angeles from New York, and he has performed regularly with the biggest names and for the biggest studios with little to no break—the man is truly a machine. Now, Steele is raising his game yet again as he launches Lexington Steele Productions and joins the exalted Evil Angel empire for distribution of his new product.
As Steele explained in an exclusive interview with AVN, he's honored to have the opportunity to associate his name with the Evil Angel brand, and he bestows profuse accolades on company founder John Stagliano, general manager Christian Mann, and Evil’s other directors. For Steele, this new deal represents another plateau in his legendary career, and his passion for his product and the industry was evident during the course of our conversation.
Obviously this represents a big step in your career. A deal with Evil Angel is huge. How did this come about?
Essentially [director] Kevin Moore and myself have done some stuff together over the last few years, and as he has emerged as a director and producer for Evil Angel and for other companies, he thought it was a good idea. Along with a close friend of his, Adam Grayson from Evil, they have a company together and they thought it would be a good idea for us to come together and form a company between the three of us and go forward on projects. Kevin and myself will direct, and it just made perfect sense. They had the Evil Angel platform.
I'm pretty consistent with strong performances, but having a videographer who's exceptionally talented—you put that with an exceptional male performer and you get a very good product. … The stuff I've done with Jules Jordan has been great, and so with those ingredients it made a lot of sense.
For me, I've always felt that there's an upper echelon of studios. So my studio [Mercenary Pictures], having been a small boutique studio, didn't breach that rarefied air. But luckily, as an independent performer I've been able to expose myself to everyone. If you look at the male performers who have been associated with Evil Angel, I think I fall readily in line with them.
The thing as well is that there's a caliber of production that's requisite for any Evil Angel release and I'm able to deliver that and Kevin is able to capture that and edit it—he's a great editor as well—so we'll have a high-quality product. So I still maintain all my other associations, but this is a special one.
What about the power of the Evil Angel brand?
The cachet of Evil is second to none. I'll definitely be exposed on a distribution level to areas that I probably had not had any insertion. Over the years I have distinguished myself as a director and producer, but you also have to realize there's a next level and perhaps you may be unable to make it to that next level without associations, and so I've been very lucky to have been associated with powerful and talented people throughout my 15-year career. As long as I don't drop the ball on my end, we come up with a good product.
And all the great directors they have too.
Evil is known for having great directors, many of whom have been or currently are performers—Rocco Siffredi, Nacho Vidal, Joey Silvera, Manuel Ferrara—when people talk of the most lauded performers and directors, for the most part, they fall under the Evil Angel umbrella. Becoming a part of that is a big deal.
Over the years I've patterned myself after Rocco Siffredi and he's always been my particular hero. Cultivating a career that's tried to mirror what he's done as a performer has allowed me to distinguish myself domestically. There are a lot of good guys out there but I think that the true measure of excellence is tenure. And there are very few men who can count themselves among the greatest performers for over a decade.
The fan base of Evil is huge so the people that were not exposed to me by way of Mercenary will now be exposed to me through Evil Angel. So it's a great situation, especially as I get closer to the end of my performance career it's almost like it allows me a rebirth in some ways. In terms of performing I always gave 100 percent but now I'm contributing toward something greater than myself. … There's a big difference between being a boutique studio and then aligning yourself with a juggernaut.
How are your Evil Angel movies going to be branded?
It's going to be Lexington Steele Productions distributed as an Evil Angel product, like all the other arrangements they have. I think what you're looking at is going to be a paradigm shift within interracial gonzo. … People have associated my name with Lex the Impaler, and that's something I look forward to continuing to do with Jules while also continuing the Mercenary name. This forces me to step my game up. The last few years, playing by my own rules, producing my own stuff—now I have to live up to a standard that predated my existence in the industry. I'm with a team of people that do not drop the ball.
It's fun to challenge yourself. When Kevin and I sit down and put together a cast list, now we have the wherewithal to shoot the top female talent in terms of financial ability. But the main thing is when you cast a movie with Chanel Preston, Asa Akira, Alexis Ford, Jada Stevens and other top names, I also have to bring my A-game. The stakes are higher.
And what about working for John Stagliano? Ultimately he has to give you the stamp of approval.
I've always held Stag in the greatest regard and to know that in the end we have a standard that's been set by him. So while I think I might have done a good job, I have to meet his standard. Everyone at that studio is operating at the highest level of this multibillion-dollar industry. It's going to force me to tighten my bootstraps and say, “Let's rock ’n’ roll!”
One of the reasons I've always loved Stagliano is because not only did he create gonzo as we know it today but as a producer and director the guy is second to none. Look at Voracious, look at The Fashionistas, the Las Vegas dance show too. He's a renaissance man. The man has been involved in things outside of sex. Given the opportunity to perform in the second season of Voracious is coming up, which is fantastic, because I can show people another side of me and that I can act.
Which you've been doing more of.
Well, yes, but what most people don't know is that I've been a SAG member since 2007 because of the mainstream stuff I've done. So there are fans who still come up to me and the first thing they mention is seeing me on Weeds, or Nip/Tuck or the mainstream movies I've done before they say anything about porn. I think that what's happening over the last few years is that people are recognizing that I can act and that's part of my repertoire. I think Stagliano has the wherewithal to maximize that. If I can make an imprint on that it's obviously mutually beneficial.
And I have to mention that one of the guys I've become fast friends with that's had a big impact on my career is Axel Braun and Vivid Entertainment. After 15 years you're wondering how to take your career to the next level, and working with Axel has been another step up. With all honesty, there haven't been many opportunities for black performers to participate in a number of the high-end, feature-oriented productions, but recently I've done [the parodies of] Star Wars, The Avengers, Avatar. I hope me doing these projects leads to similar opportunities for black performers. I owe a lot to Axel because very few people have recognized the fact that I can act too!
Are you bringing any of the Mercenary series to Evil Angel?
No. My Mercenary titles will remain with Mercenary. I will still continue to maintain that company independently. What we will be doing is replicating many of those same genres—MILF, black on black, POV, interracial—the titles won't transfer. All the Evil stuff will be original. Mercenary has been in business since 2003 and will continue on.
How far back do you go with Stagliano?
Well the one thing about Stag is that I've always appreciated him from afar. I've always been a part of their productions whether it was Joey Silvera, who shot me from the beginning, to John Leslie, rest in peace. And the mutual respect I have for Nacho [Vidal] and Manuel [Ferrara] is immense. I've worked for Stag a few times but it’s a greater testament that he agreed to the deal. There's no greater compliment.
What about Christian Mann?
Oh yeah! There are specific individuals I can point to that have had a dramatic impact on my trajectory as a performer. First and foremost is Chris Alexander of Anabolic, then Greg Alan of Diabolic, James Alexander of West Coast Productions and equally important is Christian Mann, formerly of Video Team. When I started in the game, the pre-eminent producer of ethnic product was Video Team. In 1998, Christian gave me the opportunity to perform in Video Team movies and that got my name out there. Without Christian recognizing me it might have been a more difficult road that led to me being a three-time AVN Male Performer of the Year.
Here were are in 2013 and Christian as the G.M. of Evil Angel has been instrumental in conveying the concept of this association. His understanding and approval of it had a lot to do with John saying OK, I'm sure. Another thing about Christian is, you always understood his measure of authority not only because of his position in the industry, but because of everything he does for it, and he doesn't force it upon you. You know the guy's a powerful individual, but he doesn't hold his power above you in a way that's intimidating. What a great human being.
Tell me about your first movies for Lexington Steele Productions.
What we're going to do is cast the best girls that people want to see, and to use myself as a platform for the girls to perform on. The strategy is to not saturate the market with our product. One release a month is perfect, otherwise it's too much, with all A-list girls per release for greatest impact.
The challenge that I've always had is the financial wherewithal to populate my titles with all A-list talent. Now I'm able to mirror what the Jules Jordan model has been, which he really started at Evil Angel. We only did a few Lex the Impaler titles per year, but each one was a blockbuster. The first release for Evil Angel is titled Lex Turns Evil, that's the working title, and it will release in April, with the MILF title coming in May. There will be a POV title too. When people are counting their dollars and cents, it forces us to produce product that is worth them spending their money, not just once on that particular product, but also to ensure that they will keep coming back while creating brand loyalty. Evil Angel has that.
How do you view the business at this point in your career?
At the introduction of my career I had very influential studios give me the opportunity to work for them, whether it was Anabolic or Diabolic, West Coast Productions or Video Team. Even Jules. People don't know me and Jules go back to 1999 with Pleasure Productions. So all throughout my career I've been able to align myself with people who were going places, and in turn that allowed me get my own self started. It's humbling because I've gotten where I've gotten by way of association, but in doing my part, I haven't forgotten those people and those opportunities. …
So I hope my fans really dig this because Lexington Steele Productions is going to put out some real quality product, and I hope that people who've seen me in other productions pick my stuff up and enjoy it. I take pride in my name and the reputation I've built, and now with Evil Angel, I'm taking it to the next level.
I did my first scene in April 1996. Before I came out to L.A. I was doing scenes in New York for a company called Caesar Video. Between 1996 and ’98 it was like being in the minor leagues. It's been a great ride. I've never stopped or slowed up performing. I consider myself lucky to be doing what I do. It's a small fraternity of male performers worldwide, all things considered, and it's a privilege to be among them.
This article will appear in the April 2013 issue of AVN magazine.