Chi Chi LaRue is, let's face it, everywhere. There might be more than one of her. I know that I interviewed a Chi Chi LaRue the other day in her West Hollywood penthouse offices (also home to the studios from which the Live and Raw (www.liveandraw.com) webcasts emanate), but I won't swear on a stack that she was the real thing. Sure, she spoke a mile a minute with an enthusiasm for her work that was truly infectious and heartfelt, but hell, they can do crazy things with cloning technology these days. How else to explain a directing, performing (and now online) schedule that would drive a mere mortal into the ground, much less an "overweight homosexual who dresses in drag."
Live and Raw is Chi Chi LaRue's latest venture in a career that has spanned a couple of decades and hundreds of adult directorial gigs, with many pit stops in mainstream Hollywood. The site will have been streaming its carnal content into cyberspace for about seven months by print time, and if its climb to membership prominence has not been as immediately meteoric as hoped for, it seems inevitable that it will soon set the acknowledged standard for live gay online sex. "I'm excited about the site because I think it is absolutely the best looking and has the best content and the best boys," said a proud Chi Chi. "I am trying to push the limits as much as I can, though I don't know if there are any limits on the Internet."
The site itself is simply designed and easy to navigate, with two video streams operating around the clock. The primary stream, Live and Raw, beams live content for 12 to 15 hours a day, with replays during the remaining hours. The secondary stream, Live and Raw 2, is a continuous replay of previously recorded sessions. There is a schedule of when models will be performing, a page with models' statistics, a chat room, a gossip column by porn star Spike, a forum (message board) section, and, hilariously, a section called Shebay, where items and articles of clothing from the streaming sessions are auctioned off. And that's about it. There are also links to Chi Chi's personal website (www.chichilarue.com) and to her production company's website, Channel 1 Releasing (www.channel1releasing.com).
So what exactly sets this site apart? In my humble opinion, it's the porn stars, without a doubt the brightest lights of the industry, though Chi Chi demurs. "Actually, it's not just the porn stars. It's the porn stars along with the technology we have up there. We're shooting it with the cameras that we're shooting the videos on. It looks like a video. I mean, I know nothing about computers. I know how to talk about how to have sex; that's my thing. When I go up there and do the chat and direct, I go crazy. It's like I'm making a movie."
But it's more than just the technology. There is always someone working the camera and someone working the keyboard, freeing up the performer to do her unencumbered thing. Shifts are also shorter than the norm. "They do three-hour shifts," says Chi Chi. "Other sites, they're on there for five, six hours. I don't want the same guy on there for five hours, especially the way they do it, with the camera on the dick for thirty-five minutes. I'm not a dick person without a face. I want to see who the thing is attached to."
It becomes quickly apparent that Chi Chi's strong personality pervades the site, though she tries to downplay it. "I go on pretty much whenever I can and chat with the guys, and when I go on, I go on in drag. But people are not logging on to see a big fat drag queen. They may log on to hear the big fat drag queen type, but not to be in front of the camera." But she has to admit that the site exudes her personality. "It's here. It's all over it."
And just broach the subject of safe sex and suddenly the flamboyant free spirit morphs into a fire-breathing activist. "No one is going to catch anything on any of my sets or by anything that we do here. Boyfriends have said to me, we can screw without a condom. Okay, you can and should if you want to in your own home. But here on the Net and in my movies, everywhere that I'm associated, I have to portray and project an image that a young 18-year-old boy who's going to buy a tape or log on to Live and Raw is going to see. A lot of these boys out there in the Midwest don't have places to go out to. I lived in a town until I was 19 where there were no gay bars and no gay people and no gay magazines. I had to rely on Hustler to see a dick. These guys are going to do what they see. They emulate these porn stars, they really do. If they see someone screwing without a condom, they're like, they're doing it, and we can do it too. I'm a condom activist."
But that doesn't mean that there are any restrictions to the action allowed on the site. "I think that the limitations of the Internet are a lot different than the limitations of video," says Chi Chi. "You can get a little bit crazier on the Internet. On my site, if they want to do it, I believe we can get it up there. We did a show with Chris Steele that turned out to be a solo show with him, where he ended up peeing on himself, which was very hot. And I'm so connected with all the porn stars that at any given time there will be four boys over here while the one boy is up there doing his thing, and another boy will say, hey, let me jump on that. He'll jump up and do a little thing with the other boy. The other night we had Scott Matthews on, and Spike was here, and he jumped in front of the camera. So it's like, you never know what's going to happen, and I think that's what is really special about this site, because it's really sweet and really spontaneous, with a nice atmosphere. It isn't scary to come to Live and Raw."
It's time for me to leave. Besides, it's early in the morning, there isn't any action going on upstairs, and Chi Chi is headed to San Francisco to cast a movie, then back home to shoot another movie. She seems energized and happy. "It's been a long time coming for me to start my own thing. I've built this persona within the industry; I should have had my own company a long time ago."
I say goodbye to Chi Chi and her two extremely pleasant partners, Rob Novinger and Steve Walker, and descend to the lobby of the nice but nondescript West Hollywood building, curious if the neighbors have anything close to a clue.