May 6, 2001

Interview: Director Drew Warner


Drew Warner is on a schedule. “Chi Chi’s been here shooting for Odyssey for the past few days,” he says, referring, of course, to everyone’s favorite drag-queen directress, who has been working at his Sports & Recreation studio in Hollywood. Now, Warner is helping to clean up the New York–style loft, where he also lives, before heading off to an awards ceremony in West Hollywood with LaRue and her porn posse. So he only has an hour to talk. “Chi Chi is always great about being organized and not leaving a mess, unlike some other people,” Warner says, although he stops short of naming the culprits, which is unusual for the outspoken 29-year-old director who has made a fast name for himself in the porn industry.

During the past two years, Warner (pictured above with model Rhett O’Hara) has produced and directed numerous films for his own company—such as Man Trade Solos, which won a GAYVN Award last year for Best Solo Video—and for others, including Exhibition and Gang Bang Jocks for Channel One Releasing’s Mandatory Pictures. He has also won a Grabby Award for Best Newcomer Director. But his initial exposure to the business wasn’t in Los Angeles, even though he was born there. Warner lived in Miami for 11 years, where he got a degree in business management from the University of Miami. It was there that he first got involved in the porn industry.

“I had done a lot of commercial work,” Warner recalls, “shooting mainstream fashion campaigns and other stuff when I was approached at a party in Miami. They needed someone who could shoot some underwater video for a porn movie called South Beach Heat. I didn’t have any problem with shooting the scene, so I did it.”

And what did Warner take away from the controversial Phil St. John production that featured a notorious bareback scene? “Well, I learned everything not to do on a porn movie from that film,” Warner laughs. “And I realized it wasn’t that difficult to produce these kinds of movies from a production point of view. So I decided to head back to L.A. and get involved in the business.”

Something else he got from that movie was his first porn-star boyfriend. “Yeah, I started dating Dax Kelly, a cute blond guy who was in the movie,” Warner admits. “I also had no problem with that!”

As if on cue, Warner’s most recent porn-star boyfriend, Dillon Pierce, calls in on the other line. The couple, who dated for a year and broke up last fall, has maintained a friendship despite an industry that Warner claims would rather see them apart. “I’m doing an interview,” he tells Pierce, “but can I call you tomorrow?” It’s obvious that there are still a lot of warm feelings between the two.

“I learned very quickly that porn is a cannibalistic industry,” Warner continues. “It builds up and creates egos that it tears down just as fast. It is a miniature version of any shark pool. The gay community is very small, and the porn industry is even smaller. It makes it difficult to have a relationship in it. People are not happy with themselves, so they try to make others unhappy. I get slack all the time for being friends and having relationships with my models, but I don’t care.”

So would he get involved with another porn star? “Of course,” he says without hesitation. “I have no problem with a partner having sex with others on film. But if the relationship is unstable, then it’s a problem. But sex is not an issue if you care for and love each other.”

And speaking of porn models, what does Warner look for when casting one of his films? “I look for all-American type guys,” he says, “good-looking, good personality, easygoing. Guys like Dean Phoenix, Corey Summers and Jack Ryan. They are all great.”

And how about some who aren’t so great? “Well, I don’t like models who show up to the set in a rush,” Warner says. “I did one movie with Chase Allen called Locked Up!, and he showed up and all he could say was that he had to be at happy hour by five o’clock. That was all he cared about. I would never work with him again. Some models are just too high maintenance. You just get through the day and then don’t hire them again. Everybody is replaceable. I say, Do your job well and be happy you are there—or you won’t last. I mean why would anyone put up with a bitchy, whiny queen—and then you have to pay ’em too!”

Warner says that in his experience most models who have reputations for being divas don’t deserve the label. But he does have a theory for what makes a successful porn star. “I believe that models should be in it for the sex, not for the money,” he says. “If that is what they want, they shouldn’t be in the business. And it’s not about the acting either. Acting isn’t typically what porn viewers want to see. Most people who watch porn want to see sex. If they want to see acting, they’ll go rent a video at Blockbuster.”

Warner goes on to recount some favorite moments from his sets that sound worthy of a video rental. “We were filming High Desert out in Joshua Tree,” Warner recalls. “It was a big shoot with 10 models and a large crew. There weren’t many places to eat, so every night we would have dinner at the local Sizzler. Well, the second night the waitress was looking at us and asked, ‘Hey, are you guys in a boy band?’ We thought that was hysterical, so we told her, ‘Yeah, we’re filming a music video.’ ”

Then there was the time that leather daddy Cole Tucker gave Warner and crew a good scare. “On the movie MANeuvers: Agony of Victory, Cole was doing one of the vignettes,” Warner says, “and it was the one about water sports, and he had to urinate in a cup. And before, he asked us how far he could go and we said, ‘Just go as far as the law will allow.’ So Cole pisses in the cup, sticks his finger in it and brings the cup up to his mouth, and we really thought he was going to drink it, but instead he put his underwear in it and then wrung it out over his body. My cameraman and I just looked at each other and we were like, ‘Whew, that was a close call!’ ”

Warner describes his own preference in porn as softer and more romantic. “I don’t do real nasty, in-your-face type movies,” he says. This may explain why in a world full of piss-swilling daddies Warner hasn’t ruled out a crossover to the other side of the camera. “I have been thinking of going in front of the camera, showing more of myself than in the past,” Warner admits. “I had hoped to do a scene with Dillon, but that never happened. I used to dance as a go-go boy in Miami Beach 10 years ago. Hey, if it saves me money by being in a scene in one of my movies, why not?” Warner asks with a laugh.

Obviously the bottom line is never far from the mind of this savvy businessman. When Warner isn’t busy producing and directing movies for Sports & Recreation Video—such as the popular Leather Trade solo series, the Open Trench series for the younger fetish fan and the upcoming Poolside With Dean Phoenix and Drew Warner On Location—he works as a videographer for other studios. He also does his own editing and oversees his Web sites, which feature live Web cams and sell merchandise. This doesn’t leave a lot of free time, but Warner isn’t complaining. In fact, he is due at that awards show with LaRue, so it’s time to wrap up the interview. But before he goes, Warner has one last confession: He has never been a big fan of his own industry. “Porn has never turned me on,” he says. “I never watched it. It never did much for me. For me, it’s just a business.”

Reprinted from All-Man magazine (2001)

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