Risqué Business: If Porn Star Taryn Thomas is Any Indication, the Valley of the Sun May Be the Next Porn Capital of the World
Taryn Thomas isn’t shy about anything, which makes for an unnerving lunch. On a breezy Friday afternoon on the patio at Zipps Sports Grill in Scottsdale, she’s chain-smoking between coughs and eating fried chicken strips with her fingers. She’s talking loudly and enthusiastically about her sexual experiences, using lots of graphic detail and four-letter words. The people trying to eat on the patio around her have all fallen silent, conversing only through wrinkled brows and grimaces.
Restaurant management’s been trying to drown out Thomas for the past 30 minutes — they’ve gradually turned up the music coming from the patio speakers until it’s absolutely blaring. Every time they turn up the volume, Thomas talks louder. By the time she gets to the part about how she got into porn, people on the patio have to shout their orders at the waitress.
Thomas is oblivious until somebody in her party remarks on the loud volume. “Oh, is it because I’m talking about fucking?” she asks, wide-eyed. “I can’t help it. I talk loud.”
At 26, Thomas is already a seasoned veteran of the adult industry. Four years ago, she was making bank as one of the most in-demand hardcore performers in the business — and business was booming. Then she drifted to the dark side, almost killing herself with drugs and rough sex and going broke in the process. She left porn three years ago and now is returning with her own production company, Taryn It Up Entertainment.
The adult business isn’t what it used to be, especially in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, the long-reigning capital of porn in America. But luckily for Thomas, her new company’s based in a place considered the next big hotspot for pornography: metropolitan Phoenix.
Some of the most successful adult sites in cyberspace are grounded here. In fact, Taryn It Up Entertainment leads a pack of profitable, Phoenix-based adult-entertainment businesses that, like it or not, just might make the Valley of the Sun the next porn capital.
“It’s kind of strange. Arizona’s become like the small mecca, the little porn capital already,” says Buzz Aziani, owner of Phoenix-based adult site Aziani.com. “The San Fernando Valley is definitely still the porn capital, but it feels like we’re second, especially with Web companies. There’s a ton of Web companies out here.”
Before Jenna Jameson retired from the industry to have babies in California with mixed-martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz, she was Scottsdale’s most famous resident porn star, and her Club Jenna (acquired by Playboy in 2006) was the best-known Arizona-based brand of adult entertainment. But those in the industry — both in L.A. and in Phoenix — say Thomas’ company has the potential to enjoy even more long-term success. She’s already filmed her first movie for Taryn It Up and procured distribution through the same company that handled Club Jenna. And she’s building a Web presence that could bring in substantial income.
She’s been able to lure big-name porn stars here to work with her company — including Ron Jeremy, Poppy Morgan, and Veronica Jett — but she’s most interested in bringing in local talent to work in her videos. It hasn’t been hard for her to find people willing to work in Scottsdale, either, since Thomas says her company pays more than many companies in the San Fernando Valley — about $2,000 for a boy-girl scene, whereas talent in L.A. might get half that in the current economy.
There have been a couple of business disputes, including a costly one with former frequent Howard Stern Show guest Lee “Crazy Cabbie” Mroszak over who has rights to hardcore footage from the Stern studio. But they haven’t damaged her company.
Fortunately for her, she’s not venturing into this territory alone. Thomas has the support of her family and friends, as well as some key people in the adult industry. And she has her fiancé and the co-owner of Taryn It Up — New Jersey porn businessman Brett T. — by her side to fend off bullies and handle the finances.
“We plan on being together forever,” Thomas says. “Really, he’s my soul mate.”
Thomas talks with her hands a lot, so it doesn’t take long to notice the words tattooed in black on the inside of her wrists: “Love” on the left, and “Lust” on the right. She says they’re recent tattoos she’d wanted to get for a long time.
She considers the fresh tattoos a step toward burying her demons and reclaiming her place in an industry where women are easily replaced and quickly forgotten.
“I’d say 97 percent of porn stars are psycho,” Thomas says. “Everybody wants to paint their life as the perfect fairy tale, and it’s not. A lot of people don’t like my honesty. And, honestly, I’m still getting my own head back to normal.”
When a girl’s thinking about getting into the porn business, every agent tells her the same thing: Your family will find out.
“It doesn’t matter if you use a stage name and your parents don’t have e-mail, or they don’t even know how to use a computer,” says Mark Spiegler of L.A.’s Spiegler Girls agency, which has represented many successful adult stars, including Belladonna and Taryn Thomas. “Somewhere, someday, somebody’s brother’s roommate’s friend is going to see you, and that’s it.”
Thomas swears she’s the exception, that her grandparents back east still think she’s a real estate agent. For that reason, she says, she doesn’t want her real name on record.
But Thomas’ secrecy applies only to extended family. Her immediate family is very aware of her career, to the point where her dad — a U.S. Postal Service employee for the past 25 years — sells signed pictures of her to co-workers, and her younger brother Vince — a part-time porn actor and aspiring Marine — makes deposits for her company when she’s out of town.
Not that everyone in the Thomas clan is thrilled about Taryn’s occupation. Thomas says she and her younger sister don’t speak very often. Her mother, Anna, says she keeps her daughter’s career a secret, and only a few of her closest friends know the real story.
“I was shocked when I really found out about it,” Anna says. “And, of course, it’s a risky business.”
Anna says she also wasn’t happy when Taryn paid Vince to perform in a couple of adult movies. “Now she’s dragging him into it,” their mom says. “Well, I can’t say she’s dragging him into it, but it’s just that I have one, and then another one — what’s my family going to say?”
Vince, 22, says he plans to enlist in the Marines and just wants to be able to brag to the guys that he’s had sex with a couple of porn stars.
The family must get the same inquiries over and over, because they answer some questions before they’re asked. No, neither of her parents has seen one of her films. “I don’t really watch porn, and I don’t watch Taryn,” her father, Henry, says. “I told her, ‘I know you’ve been fucking since you were 13, but I don’t need to see it.'”
And, no, Taryn was never in the room when Vince was performing. “I just think that would be a little weird,” Vince says.
Thomas’ career may be profane, but her childhood was G-rated. She was born into a large Italian family in New Jersey, the oldest of four children. She was raised Roman Catholic and went through communion and confirmation. By all accounts, she was athletic, playing softball and basketball and winning a Presidential Fitness Award in sixth grade. Her dad says she was shy. Her mom says she was a good kid.
The family moved to Phoenix when Thomas was 12. By the time she was a teenager, she was frequenting desert parties and drinking with classmates from Desert Mountain High School. She cut classes a lot.
Her parents were at odds over how to handle her. Her mother says she was the stricter parent: “[Taryn] went wild. Her father let her do anything she wanted to do.”
Henry admits he let his kids “go out and explore life on their own and stuff.
“I basically told them, ‘Go out and try everything you want, everything you can,'” Henry says. “So we had a clash of personalities, me and [Anna].”
Her parents divorced when she was 15, an event that left Thomas feeling “torn apart.” She went to live with her father — most of the time. “She ran away a lot,” Henry says. “She ran away about five or six times. But the father of one of the girls she ran away with was a U.S. Marshal, so they never got far.”
When she was 15, Thomas stole a Cadillac from an acquaintance and drove across the U.S. border with some friends. She didn’t get farther than a motel room in Nogales before one of her companions called her dad to check in. They were tracked down by Nogales police and detained in the local jail until their parents retrieved them.
By the time she was 16, she was doing a variety of drugs recreationally, including Xanax and cocaine. When she was 17, her parents sent her to live with an aunt in Georgia. The two months she spent there, Thomas says, were like rehab. Very disciplined. “I didn’t have sex at all,” she says. “I wasn’t even really allowed to go out of the house.”
Ultimately, Thomas returned to Phoenix but never finished high school. She says she stayed clean when she got back from Georgia, but it wouldn’t be the last time she would take off to escape her “demons.”
She got into the adult industry as soon as she turned 18, in May 2001. Her father says it was a longtime goal:
“She’d been trying to do that since she was 16. She worked at Hooters when she was 16, as a hostess. I think the first thing I can remember was her and these two other girls, they went some place in Scottsdale to pose topless. I told her, ‘Make the guy sign a contract to make sure he pays you, or he’s gonna rip you off.'”
And that’s exactly what happened.
It wouldn’t be the last (or the worst) time Thomas got ripped off.
Her first paying gig was a sorority girl-themed photo shoot for Glendale-based Lightspeed Media Corporation, which operates several Internet sites featuring soft-core porn.
LMC owner Steve Lightspeed says the first thing that struck him about Thomas was her natural, fiery orange hair, which she now regularly dyes black. “We called her Daphne,” he says, comparing the shade to that of the Scooby-Doo character. “She had the most beautiful, bright-red hair.”
Thomas was 21 and making about $200 per photo shoot here when she decided to move to L.A. in late 2004 and make the leap to hardcore, where she could make up to $2,000 per scene.
She hired agent Mark Spiegler, who’s represented such porn stars as Katsuni, Sasha Grey, and Kylie Ireland. Spiegler says Thomas was a welcome addition to his stable: “She was cute. She did good scenes. She had a nice personality. Everybody liked her.”
Thomas’ first photo shoot in L.A. was for Hustler; her first DVD was titled 12 on 1 #12, for a company called Lethal Hardcore. She moved into one of Spiegler’s homes with a few other female performers and quickly ascended to porn stardom. “Over the course of five or six months, she became one of the top girls in the business,” Spiegler says. “She could make easily $20,000 a month.”
In 2005 and 2006, Thomas worked constantly, appearing in more than 100 films. She became known for her dirty talk during scenes, and for her willingness to go all-out sexually. Her performances got her a “Dirtiest Girl in Porn” award from Fans of Adult Media and Entertainment in 2006, and a nomination for a Best New Starlet award from Adult Video Newsletter that same year. Although that award went to McKenzie Lee, Thomas made quite an impression, says AVN editor Dan Miller. “The intensity of Taryn’s sex scenes was probably the biggest factor in her nomination,” he says. “She got booked a lot for many different companies, so she was prolific enough for us to take notice.”
But back at Spiegler’s house, all was not well. Thomas was raking in the cash, but she was blowing through it even faster.
Spiegler, who describes himself as “like a Jewish mother,” says drugs were not allowed in his home, and he tried to help Thomas control her spending by setting up a trust fund for her that she couldn’t touch. “I told her if a bus ran me over, then she could get the money,” Spiegler says. “I put money away for four or five months, and I gave her $1,000 a week, which to a regular person is a lot of money.”
It wasn’t a lot of money to Thomas. In addition to her occupational expenses — STD tests, manicures, tanning salons, clothes, sex toys — she was putting a lot of money up her nose. Coke had started as a party favor to enjoy with fellow performers, but her use intensified beyond recreational. “My first year at the AVN awards, I was all fucked up and trying to sign stuff,” Thomas recalls.
It wasn’t long before Thomas’ relapse started to affect her career. She started showing up late for jobs, or not showing up at all.
But Spiegler continued booking steady work for Thomas, and she kept pushing her bodily boundaries. Her self-described reputation as “the skinny girl who did anal intercourse” and the nullification of her senses and conscience with drugs eventually led to an injury on a movie set that required surgery.
She subsequently had a massive breakdown and, in March 2006, she abruptly left the adult industry and came home to Phoenix, metaphorical bridges burning behind her.
When Taryn Thomas told Mark Spiegler she was leaving Southern California to go back to the desert, he gave her the $50,000 in her trust fund. He also issued a warning:
“I said, ‘Listen, mark this moment, because you’ve got all this momentum going, and when you stop, if you ever want to come back, it’s not going to be the same. You don’t get a second chance at being new.’ And she said, ‘I don’t care.'”
Thomas says she regrets that Spiegler felt abandoned. “He was like my dad. But I had to take that break to save myself.”
Back in Phoenix, Thomas kicked cocaine but gained 45 pounds. She took gigs dancing at strip clubs around the Valley while desperately trying to lose weight. At 5-foot-4 and 160 pounds, she wouldn’t have been able to return to adult films even if she’d wanted to.
And, eventually, she wanted to.
Thomas tried different jobs — she says she worked as a pharmacy technician at Advance PCS (now Caremark) and attended real estate school, but she never got her license. She had no money left from her film career; she’d spent the 50 grand from her trust fund in six weeks. Her return to porn seemed inevitable, but she knew she couldn’t go back to Spiegler.
By May 2007, Thomas had lost a few pounds and sent some photos to L.A. Direct Models, a large agency with names like Penny Flame, Brianna Love, and Eva Angelina on its roster. It agreed to sign Thomas to a two-year contract, with some stipulations.
First, Thomas had to get back down to her former weight of 115. The agency hired a personal trainer, and Thomas worked out at a gym three hours a night. It also hired a nutritionist to put her on a diet, gave her a place to live in L.A., and made her submit to regular drug tests, with the agreement that it’d send her home if she failed.
L.A. Direct’s Scott Stone described why the agency took a chance on Thomas: “She’s great. She’s a great performer, not just on film, but she’s great onstage with feature dancing. We’ve gotten inquiries from as far as London about her feature dancing.”
One of Thomas’ first movies upon returning to porn was Please Pay My Tuition. It was on the set of that film, in the fall of 2007, that she met and filmed a scene with her fiancé, Brett T.
Ten years older than Thomas, Brett’s stocky with dark, slicked-back hair. He was already a successful businessman when he met Thomas. He made money on-camera as a performer and off-camera as a director and producer, and he also owned a massive arcade on the Jersey shore. Brett talks enthusiastically about stocks, the way a lot of guys talk about sports.
“I get off watching my bank account numbers go up,” he says with a smile. “Sometimes, I lay awake at night and just think of more ways to make more money.”
As soon as they started dating, Brett made Thomas change her priorities. “Think about all these girls that blew all this porn money,” he says. “If they would have put a little bit of that money [away] and kept working, they would have had a nice, tangible asset that, in six or seven years, would be worth [millions]. But hindsight is 20/20. You can’t tell a young girl what to do. Young people know it all.”
Thomas admits that’s the way she felt: “I knew everything at 18, but a fancy Chanel purse isn’t going to pay your rent.”
She and Brett bought a 5,400-square-foot house in Scottsdale last year, and they also own a home in their native New Jersey. They’ve poured a lot of money into their recently incorporated Taryn It Up Entertainment. Though Brett couldn’t provide an exact figure, he broke down various costs for props, video equipment, Web design, editing, special effects, makeup artists, and talent. “It’s more than six figures,” he says. “It’s substantial.”
Launching a new production company is a challenge because the sluggish economy affects the adult industry, too, and the technological advances of the Digital Age aren’t helping. There are more performers than ever, and while amateur Internet porn sites are growing, paychecks from DVD-production companies are dwindling. Just like the digital shift in the music industry, the traditional business model of the adult industry has been changed by easier and more direct user access to the product.
Selling sex has become a tricky business, but Taryn Thomas has some new tricks up her skirt.
A lot has changed since Thomas started her career in porn eight years ago. The adult industry, once viewed as recession-proof, has suffered profit losses for the first time in its history.
With estimated yearly revenues of $12 billion, the porn industry has traditionally made more money annually than the NFL and the NBA combined (the NFL and NBA reported $6 billion and $3.2 billion in revenue for 2008, respectively). And though the January request by porn moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis for a $5 billion federal bailout of the industry was largely viewed as a publicity stunt, the economic squeeze has indeed affected every sector of the industry — especially in its L.A. hub.
A recent article in the LA Daily News listed the 2007 combined revenue of more than 200 San Fernando Valley-based companies at $1 billion, a figure that’s not even a tenth of the industry’s former annual average.
According to Adult Video Newsletter, sales and rentals of adult DVDs have fallen more than 30 percent since 2005. The DVD market is disappearing as more people download online pornography — and for free, most of the time. The result is that production companies are shooting less new content and performers are offered smaller paychecks for more extreme scenes.
Thomas says her flat rates were $500 for a solo scene and $1,000 for a girl-girl scene (her rates for a boy-girl scene varied). When she re-entered the business, she was asked to shoot an anal sex scene for $1,000. “Even with the economy the way it is, I’m not going to do that for just $1,000,” she says. “I could make $1,000 being an escort for one night.”
Such budget squeezing has pushed some performers to the edge, like one actress who accepted $15,000 for a “55-guy” orgy video, Thomas says. Most male talent won’t work with that woman anymore, she says.
Dr. Sharon Mitchell is the founder and director of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Southern California that provides HIV and STD testing, counseling, and group support for performers in the adult industry. Before her current profession, Mitchell was a performer and director in the adult industry for more than 20 years, beginning in 1977, and she’s seen the ways the industry’s changed over time.
“You were able to make a career out of this at one time,” Mitchell says. “Now, I don’t think it’s that easy to do. And the sex is very risky. A lot of it is very rough and extreme. Today, I wouldn’t join the porn business as a young actress.”
Ironically, though the demands have become more difficult and the rates have gotten lower, the pool of porn-star wanna-bes keeps growing. Mitchell says AIM receives between 500 and 600 inquiries every month from potential new talent about AIM’s instructional videos, “Porn 101” and “Porn 102.”
Thomas’ former agent, Mark Spiegler, says “more women than ever before are trying to get into the business,” even though companies are shooting less. “It’s gone from people falling into the business to girls who aspire to be porn stars and plan to get into the business itself,” Spiegler says. “There are a lot more of them, even though the industry has down-turned.”
The reality is, with a few exceptions, there are no real “porn stars” anymore. “The average career in the industry now is between six months and three years,” Mitchell says. “Nowadays, girls come in and, six months later, they’re overexposed because they’ve been shot by every company. People want to see new faces.”
But though some companies in the San Fernando Valley are scaling back, other adult businesses are booming — especially in the Phoenix area and on the Web.
In addition to popular Phoenix-based amateur sites like amateurallure.com, which features videos of “real amateurs” having sex, and First Time Video (www.ftvgirls.com), which specializes in videos and photos of young-looking models, the Valley’s also home to Lightspeed Media Corporation and Aziani, two thriving adult-content online companies. The Valley’s also the corporate headquarters of CCBill, one of the largest online billing companies for e-merchants — particularly adult sites — in the world. Business information corporation Dun & Bradstreet estimates CCBill’s annual sales at $4.8 million.
The owners of Lightspeed Media Corporation and Aziani declined to give their exact revenue figures, but both say their companies are doing very well and turning profits. Lightspeed Media was founded in Glendale in 1999. By 2006, it was notable enough for the Wall Street Journal to profile its founder, Steve Lightspeed. “We make more than a penny and less than a hundred million,” Lightspeed says with a laugh. “We’re doing well enough to continue doing what we’re doing.”
Buzz Aziani created Aziani.com with his wife, adult actress Rachel Aziani, in 1999. The site features solo glamour shots of well-known adult performers. Like Thomas and her fiancé, Brett, the Azianis alternate between flying talent to Phoenix and working in L.A.
Dr. Mitchell says many of the resources for the adult industry are still in the San Fernando Valley. But with the Internet, location doesn’t matter so much. “We’re all connected now by computers,” she says.
One thing successful adult-business owners agree on is that the only way to survive and thrive right now is to offer something that no one else offers, or to have an established brand with a loyal fan base.
Taryn Thomas believes her business features both.
The home Taryn Thomas shares with Brett T. is technically in Scottsdale, but it’s in the middle of nowhere, about 10 minutes south of Cave Creek. To get there from northeast Phoenix, you drive for 45 minutes past numerous horse ranches and down a long dirt road that cuts through the desert and leads to a brand-new development. The homes here are all recently built and mostly unoccupied.
The secluded location and scarcity of neighbors were the main reasons the couple bought the sprawling, ranch-style house with the circular driveway. They can shoot nude photos or sex scenes in their backyard without worrying about prying eyes.
Much of their money has gone into their company, so the massive house is barely furnished. There are two large, solid-oak dining tables with matching leather chairs, a couple of brown leather couches, and a large flat-screen TV. Beyond that, the house is mostly yawning white walls and open space — until you get to the studio room.
The studio’s décor is eclectic — each wall a different color, with deep blue nestled between soft pink and royal purple. A school chalkboard hangs on the north wall, above an old classroom desk and an American flag on a brass pole. Across from these props is an industrial dungeon-type setup, with several long, thick chains dangling from a wall of shiny sheet metal. And stacked against the west wall, going unused thus far, is expensive DJ equipment Thomas purchased last year.
Any room in the house is game for a porn shoot, but most of the action for the company has been shot in the studio or the master bedroom.
On a sunny Wednesday, it’s the master bedroom where Thomas is filming a vigorous sex scene with British porn sensation Poppy Morgan. A slender brunette who’s spent most of the day walking around in nothing but a bath towel, Morgan has also signed on to be one of the directors for Taryn It Up Entertainment.
While the two women go at each other on the couch, Brett hovers over them carefully, video recorder in hand. At one point, he leans in to get a close-up, and Thomas, whose head is out of camera shot for the moment, cranes her neck to peek at the LCD screen while Brett’s filming.
Once the camera’s off, Thomas and Morgan head to the patio for a smoke. The mood is as casual as if two office workers were chatting by the water cooler.
Inside the house, legendary porn star Ron Jeremy is watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Brett’s known Jeremy for years and will be shooting him in a scene the following day for the company’s video library. Jeremy landed in Phoenix an hour ago, and he looks tired. Every so often, he pulls a harmonica out of the pocket of his sweatpants and blows a few bars.
At the other end of the living room, the heavy and heavily tattooed Lee Mroszak, better known as “Crazy Cabbie” to listeners of Howard Stern‘s show when it was on WXRK, is showing off his joke business cards to Thomas’ little brother, Vince. They’re hit-man cards, he says, and people really have called the number on them with assassination assignments.
Thomas says she doesn’t really know Mroszak, that he’s a longtime friend of Brett’s. He’s here because of “the Stern video,” a.k.a. The Howard Stern Porno DVD, which consists of footage Mroszak shot of people — including Ron Jeremy — wearing Howard Stern masks and having sex in Stern’s studio chair.
Mroszak had been shopping the film around since 2007, right after he finished directing Please Pay My Tuition — the film in which Thomas and Brett met. The couple agreed to release The Howard Stern Porno through Taryn It Up Entertainment, and the DVD release party is tonight. Ron Jeremy’s along for the ride — and the $4,000 appearance fee he makes for showing up at a club, according to Brett.
For the moment, though, Jeremy’s dozed off, and Brett goes running for a giant dildo to wave over Ron’s mouth while Vince snaps a picture. Just as Brett comes snickering around the corner of the couch, dildo in hand, Jeremy’s eyes snap open.
“Damn,” Brett says. “That would have been funny.”
Later that night, everybody heads to Pink Cabaret for the DVD release party. Thomas is wearing a tight black dress, short enough to show off her hot pink G-string underneath. Morgan’s donned an expensive, form-fitting denim dress. Jeremy’s also dressed up some, having changed from sweats into a black shirt and pants. After posing for several flesh-flashing photos with the dancers at Pink, he dozes off yet again. Thomas and Morgan head upstairs to escape the growing mob of ogling drunk men, one of whom has already fallen out of his chair trying to talk to Morgan.
Mroszak has pretty much disappeared, hiding out at the DJ booth and on the club’s second floor most of the night. In less than two months, he’ll have a major falling out with Brett and Thomas, and The Howard Stern Porno will remain unreleased.
Thomas and Brett claim they invested big bucks in promotional costs for the Stern video, money they lost when Mroszak, who owns 50 percent of the footage, decided not to let them release the film after all.
Mroszak’s side of the story is that Brett “maintained control over the film, and I wasn’t allowed to make any decisions on what was going to happen.” Mroszak also explains that releasing the footage “would probably ruin my friendship with Howard.”
Thomas and Brett say they don’t care anymore whether or not the movie comes out. They just hope they never lay eyes on Mroszak again.
Taryn It Up Entertainment recently finished shooting its first feature film, Vogue Nasty, and it has a handful of other projects in the works.
One is a racy spoof on IndyCar driver and GoDaddy.com spokeswoman Danica Patrick, wherein Thomas plays a lusty lass who drives a race car and has a sponsorship through a company called “HoDaddy.com.” Another film in the works is Jon Minus Nine, a spoof on Jon and Kate Gosselin of the Jon & Kate Plus 8 reality show.
Thomas and Brett are hoping to make money in the flailing DVD market. In fact, Taryn It Up is the only local adult company that’s shooting videos for DVD; every other Phoenix-based porn company focuses on either still photography or exclusive Web video. Thomas says the movies she’s filming could prosper because she’s already known in the business and because she’s shooting original content, which is becoming scarce in the adult industry.
“The majority of the movies being released right now are all compilation DVDs from different movies. The fans are getting bored,” says Morgan, who co-directed Vogue Nasty with Thomas. “They’ll e-mail and say, ‘Hey, I got this new movie, but I’ve already seen this part.’ It’s because of the economy. Companies are finding it hard to shoot, so they just grab stuff from various movies and put it on one disc.
“Taryn’s got the ability to shoot fresh, new stuff with awesome talent,” Morgan oozes. “I think it’s going to be really big because no one else is doing it.”
Antigua Pictures is now distributing Thomas’ work. The 20-year-old company has represented some of the biggest names in the industry: Vivid Video, Club Jenna, and Tera Vision. Antigua national sales manager David Peskin says, “We’ve been very aware of what a big name Taryn Thomas was in the industry. She has a loyal fan base, and her DVDs sell very well.”
Most of the performers in Thomas’ new films are established names: Ron Jeremy, Bobbi Starr, and Veronica Jett, who came out of retirement to star in Vogue Nasty. But Thomas and Brett emphasize that they want to work with new local talent.
“We’d rather use local talent, all day, every day,” Thomas says. “We get new faces, and that’s what we want.”
New local talent also is cheaper. Thomas and Brett can pay newbies a fraction of what big names from L.A. demand.
Finding attractive young females to work with in the Valley hasn’t been difficult. Thomas and Brett pay $50 an hour for photo shoots and have already shot several local models for their future Web site, totallytaryn.com. Thomas also plans to recruit exotic dancers from clubs around town.
“I’m from Phoenix, and if I can help the girls out, I will,” she says. “They’re not making any money dancing these days. And it keeps my talent fresh.”
There’s no shortage of potential adult performers here, especially in the bad economy, says Steve Lightspeed of LMC. “I like to work with new girls who haven’t worked for anybody yet and haven’t picked up any bad habits,” he says. “In L.A., girls get passed around like $2 whores. Here, everybody knows each other and is friendly.”
Perhaps loads of friendly people who’ll work cheap are driving the success of XXX-rated businesses here. It could be one component of a business plan that helps Taryn Thomas and her porn colleagues turn the Valley of the Sun into an industry town.