LOS ANGELES - Director Matt Zane spoke to AVN recently about his plans to revisit his '90s porn-rock series Backstage Sluts, his band Society 1 and his recent work for Evolution Distribution.
Zane was among the first to combine MTV-style music videos and porno in the late '90s. He created Backstage Sluts with writer/roadie Jef Hickey, intercutting footage of rock stars with groupie-themed hardcore scenes. Zane's cameras captured Jonathan Davis, Mark McGrath of Sugar Gay...er, Ray, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, Insane Clown Posse and other major-label musicians.
"Every night backstage at some rock and roll concert, pornos are being made, even though they will never be distributed, at least not professionally, and all the local girls become porn stars," Zane told AVN. "It always seemed like one is the hand and the other is the glove and are related by blood sweat and tears.... and drugs. Dirty, sleazy, greasy and a whole lot of fun. Why it was never exploited prior to me is difficult to believe."
Zane is working on a 10th anniversary reissue of the three Backstage Sluts movies with bonus footage of some major acts. Highlights of the series include the final interview with the late El Duce of The Mentors recorded just before his death in 1997, and an interview with Motorhead's Lemmy.
"When we interviewed Lemmy at his apartment, it was covered in Nazi memorabilia; it was hard to shoot because there were swastikas everywhere," Zane said. "There's a lot of interesting little stories like that one. As far as freaky stuff is concerned, there was plenty of lunch meat tossing and other various weird things such as the toilet paper beer mummy, but nothing that would shock AVN readers. The peanut butter and jelly boob sandwiches were kind of bizarre."
The son of adult video pioneer Chuck Zane and cousin to Extreme Associates founder Rob Black, Zane divides his time between shooting videos and fronting his band Society 1. He says porn is a tougher sell to metal fans these days in comparison to the '90s.
"In the early days of my career, everyone was very into it because that's what I was: the porn rocker," Zane said. "VH1 and MTV didn't help. I was plastered on those channels weekly being promoted as some type of rocker flesh god. The fans I had were chicks with rock cock fantasies and guys that wanted to get my leftovers, so it all worked. Later, when I came back to porn, metal fans seemed much more reluctant because porn is not as cool as some would have you believe."
Zane returned to the adult industry in 2006 after a five-year break, producing a few projects for the foundering Extreme including the blasphemous Club Satan, which featured gore, metal music and an orgiastic black mass.
"There were moments of pure evil genius within Club Satan," said Zane. "It will go down as a cult classic. As much as I would love to take all the credit, my brother Mark Zane had a huge part in shooting it and without the editor Hart Fisher it would never have come out looking the way it did. Hart was essential in making it all come together. The fact that it was even made makes the whole project a success to me. There has never been anything like that and I don't think there will be anything similar for a while. You thought it was sick? You should see the Euro version. So it didn't sell as much as I would have hoped. The press and interest was there, but getting that movie placed in stores was next to impossible."
Zane went on to create and direct new lines for Evolution Distribution, including Tattooed and Tight, the 'Jackass'-inspired Punkd UR Ass, and the metal-porn series Radium.
"I shifted gears because I didn't really have a choice," Zane said. "No one will shoot projects like Extreme did. When I was contacted by Evolution Erotica they asked for 'alt' stuff and they were going to pay the bills. Doesn't mean I couldn't be creative; it just meant I had to go more mainstream. I think that I still pushed the norm and created some unique projects. Since I have been with them I have done some very interesting work. Porn stars getting real tattoos and having sex at the same time. That's never been done. Guys performing real stunts to get laid 'Jackass' style. That's new. Metal porn that has music vids and exclusive interviews with name music acts. No one is doing that. I may be in a different gear, but it's still creative and unique."
In an industry where 'mainstream crossover' usually signifies the obligatory T&A role in a Hollywood movie, Zane has gone further than most to grab media attention. He beat magician Criss Angel's human suspension record in January at the 2008 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, hanging above the convention floor by four hooks pierced through his back for six hours."Someone very close to [Angel] contacted me [and] basically said to stop making noise about Criss and the suspension, because he will never acknowledge that I broke his record," Zane told AVN. "Anyone mentioning my suspension or even asking questions was banned from his message board and myspace. He and his people did everything they could to just sweep it under the rug. They did a great job. It was in their best interest. I took the one thing Criss does that is actually real and destroyed it. Now he just has tricks."
Zane had previously performed his 'Man Called Horse' feat on stage with Society 1 in front of thousands of fans at the Download music festival. He acknowledges fetish-porn director/performance artist Joey Strange as an influence on his suspension act.
"Joey is a very important pioneer of body modification," he said. "He has influenced everyone from me to Criss Angel. I would have never suspended if it wasn't for him. Unfortunately he doesn't get as much credit as he deserves."
Although Evolution has hyped Zane as the godfather of 'alt-porn,' the director says his movies have little in common with the alt-porn scene of Eon McKai and company.
"It's like night and day," he said. "I think the only similarity between us is that we both use tattooed girls with a bit of an edge to their look. The fact that I was doing that 10 years ago and introducing the idea of relevant music and slicker editing is probably why some people think I am the 'godfather' of alt-porn. In that case, I am also the forerunner of punk porn or any type of porn that utilizes things I was trying to introduce to adult films in the '90s... sometimes successfully, and sometimes not. So with that being said, Eon has taken his filmmaking to an entirely different level. I am not even sure if his movies count as porn, to tell you the truth. If anyone in this business has the potential to really cross over into the indie film scene, he is the guy. I look at his films more like moving art pieces. I think the difference between crowds is simple. One is arty and one is metal. I see his movies being talked about at a runway fashion show. I see mine being talked about at a Mixed Martial Arts event."
Outside of porn, Zane has released a new Society 1 album "Live and Raw" through iTunes. He recently performed live with the band on Dave Navarro's Internet show Spread Entertainment.
"I have been on Dave's show three times," Zane said. "I love his guitar playing; I am a huge fan of Jane's Addiction. Saw them way back in the day. I still listen to those records. Dave says he is a fan of mine...He could be saying that because it's the proper thing to do in show business or he could mean it. I don't know. Either way I have great respect for him as an artist and think he is a very cool guy. He has supported my career more than anyone in the adult biz. Every time I see him I can't thank him enough for all the opportunities he has given me to get my projects out there. Great."
While Zane said his deal with Evolution is "up in the air," he is working on a new website that he believes could redefine the way people acquire and consume porn.
"Hopefully I can get that done in time before everyone figures out some information that I was privy to regarding the future of all media," Zane said. "For all I know, the big companies could be all over this and will launch new sites in the next week. We will see."
For more infoand updates from Matt Zane, visit www.myspace.com/mattthelordzane