“Porn is obviously streets ahead on issues of race, disability and gender. There is no room for discrimination here. It can be seen as inclusive, catering to a wide range of disability for example. Adult is creating accessibility, normalisation and empowerment – something the mainstream is still struggling with.” These are the words of Gavin Hay, a multi-millionaire businessman from Chelsea and former adult film star.
Gavin founded Brighter Pictures in 1992 and was responsible for creating programmes including There’s Something About Miriam (Sky One), Get a New Life (BBC2) and Flava (Channel 4 music show). After selling the company to Endemol for around £10m in 2001, Gavin met a Brazilian adult film star, who eventually became his husband and prompted his decision to quit the production industry for porn.
100’s of films later, Gavin moved back to London from South America and founded Cherry Cherry – a post-production house for clients including Nike.
YASS met Gavin and asked him everything, including his transition from production to porn, the myths in the porn industry, his aspiration to become a government advisor on UK porn industry and what business owners can learn from the porn industry
We are very interested in your story! How was your life before entering the porn industry?
My life prior to Adult was extremely busy. I ran a top five television and film production company and travelled between our four global offices. You can imagine how often I had my legs in the air!
What made you sell your production company in 2001 for £10m? Were you at that time already thinking of changing your career path?
Offers like that do not come around very often. When it did, I was ready to have a break. I had been running the company for quite some time. I also had experienced a very stressful home-life caring for my life and business partner who was facing a life-threatening illness. All in all, business and home-life had taken a toll, and I wanted a complete change of life, so the offer came at the right time.
How did you meet your husband?
I think you mean my Civil Partner – the porn actor, Carlo Cox? We divorced over 6 years ago… I knew from day one he worked in the adult industry, and I found it intriguing and exciting. It was so different from the life I was living. I was months form retirement by then and loved the idea that his existence was based on something so simple and stress free as sex.
I was never keen on the fact that he slept for a living with others though, but I had to make a choice, embrace it or lose him. I thought I would try it.
How did you decide to start a career in porn and move to South America? Did you always want to become a porn star?
Carlo was Brazilian, and having visited Brazil often before, I decided to move to Rio, having sold the business. I had always wanted to move somewhere extremely different and also to learn a language. It seemed logical to move to Brazil. It hadn’t entered my mind about being a porn actor at this stage.
One day, he asked me if I would like to join him on a shoot for a film. I jumped at the chance. It was a three-way scene with him and one other very sexy man.
What was your porn star name?
My porn star name was Trojan Rock.
How did you feel after shooting your first movie?
After the first movie, I felt strangely liberated. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s like standing hesitantly on a high board at the swimming pool. You are nervous, but once you do it .. exhilarating. I imagined then, that I would be a one-off experience. Something to mark off the bucket list, but just as jumping off the high board, when you re-emerge from the water you want to try it again. It’s the adrenalin rush… Some days later, I thought, Ok, let’s start talking to some studios in the states….
How is it to work in the porn industry? What was the biggest challenge you faced?
The adult industry is, perhaps, disappointingly just like any other. It is a business. It has the same business needs as any other. Professionalism is necessary behind the scenes. So working in and running a Studio… it was a routine I knew far too well already. Now acting in it, is a completely different story.
It was a wonderfully liberating and fun thing to do. Having sex with very sexy men, and being naked all day. Doing something I enjoyed, without having to think beyond what I was doing was a joy. You roll up, perform and go home. Simple.
What are the biggest myths that are not true?
What are the myths? If it’s about abuse, drugs and all that? This was gay porn. It just didn’t occur. Everyone was extremely professional. They all enjoyed and chose to be doing it. Gay porn may have different rules to straight, but to be honest, the straight porn actors I have met have had the same experiences as me. As with any industry you have those companies that are not run professionally and those who do not respect their staff and artists. I may have been lucky enough to have only experienced those that do – I doubt it though.
What did you learn from this experience?
One of the biggest things I learnt was not to believe the myths. I met some amazing people. Many more often more honest than in television and film. That there really wasn’t any exploitation. People were like me, they chose to do this. Many were even professionals; lawyers, doctors, business owners. I am not unique in that. However, I am not saying there weren’t troubled souls in the industry as well, but again that’s why they chose it. You either own it, or let it use you.
One funny thing that I learnt, is that many wouldn’t do it, while their mother’s were alive. I certainly wouldn’t have, but then, again, I met some who would phone their mothers up after shoots and tell them all the details…that’s for another time…
How has the porn industry changed since you became a part of it?
Wow, the industry is a completely different beast. We used to be paid 2-3,000 a scene, which would take between 4-7 hours. Nowadays, actors are paid around £250 if they are lucky. Porn Hub has a lot to answer for in that respect. It has completely changed the business model. I am not sure there are even regulations anymore. At least we were controlled by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). At the time, I felt they were too rigid, but I actually feel, adult content should have restrictions.
You aspired to become a government advisor on UK porn industry? Did you manage to do that?
It is for the above reasons that I am in discussions to become an advisor. It is too early to say how that is going. The discussion is way too large for this interview, but what I will say is, that if the Government don’t have an Adult discussion on the Adult industry, they will just become more hypocritical and create a dangerous precedent on censorship where it really isn’t necessary. They will appear to be creating safety and security with age checks, but in fact will be just putting whipped cream on dog-shit, I think you can say. By implementing Age Verification, which only governs pay sites or UK sites, they are ignoring that all porn is viewed from the WORLD wide web…It stops nothing, and feeds into the very hands of Porn Hub creators, who are supposedly on the advisory board. A clear conflict of interest.
Now you are back in the production business, but have you quit porn?
Yes I am back. I am producing television and film once again, but I am also a co-owner of a VFX company, CCVFX.com. I am halfway through the process of selling my Porn studios, Eurocreme.com, and its associated studios, such as Bulldogxxx, Rawboys, Alphamales, etc.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
On a business level, it was the creation of Brighter pictures Ltd. The company grew from a bedroom in Brixton to a major TV and Film production company, which was bought by Endemol, the world’s largest production company where it became the producer of Big Brother. It was a place where people felt safe from any form of racial, gender or sexual discrimination, where everyone could flourish and dream large. Many of the people we took risks on during those years have become major players in TV and film. We were, unashamedly, trailblazers.
On a personal level, it is that I can say, I have and continue to live my life fully.
Who are your role models and inspirations?
My ex life and business Partner, Remy Blumenfeld, who is now a business and life Coach, is definitely one.
Other than that, it has to be Sandra Bullock.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs based on your experience and what can businesses learn from the adult industry?
No one should underestimate Adult just because it might make you blush, giggle or feel uncomfortable. Those running professional studios are smart, meticulous and well organized. They are expert at measuring results, watching for shifts in trends and how to react to them. Data allows you to make quick decisions, be fleet of foot and operate successfully.
Remember, what you see on screen is not the business, it is the product. The ones behind the scenes are often brilliant, smart people. Porn Hub, for example, has possibly recruited more top programmers than even Nasa in the last 5 years.
Porn is in fact no different really from any media related business. It has the same intrinsic business rules. One thing I was quite amazed by is the way that the adult world is always steps ahead of other media companies. We were running streaming services and pay per view way before the likes of Netflix ware even dreamt of!
Porn has always pioneered technology. From the earliest days of photography, to being one of the most important decision makers in the demise of Beta max and the uptake of VHS. Now it continues to lead the revolution of the internet and its applications, both fiscal and in marketing methods.
Adult entrepreneurs basically paved the way for online banking solutions, persuading its audience to part with their credit card details to create constant revenue streams, long before anyone else. Their marketing techniques are emulated everywhere.
Customers need to be cared for, and interestingly porn has one of the best customer relations records – it has to! Porn is so personal, and we all have quite unique tastes. If you hide behind a smoke screen, you will never be trusted.
Maybe the biggest lesson we can learn from adult industry is to be bold and not timid. I am not saying man would never have gone to the moon without porn of course, but it is the bravest and boldest that make leaps and bounds.
Porn is obviously streets ahead on issues of race, disability and gender. There is no room for discrimination here*. It can be seen as inclusive, catering to a wide range of disability for example. Adult is creating accessibility, normalisation and empowerment – something the mainstream is still struggling with.
Maybe the biggest lesson we can learn from adult industry is to be bold and not timid. The old adage pushing the envelope… I am not saying man would never have gone to the moon without Porn of course, but it is the bravest and boldest that make leaps and bounds.
Remember, It’s Not All About the Money
And finally, don’t make it all about money. Ultimately, what we all do has to be fun, rewarding and honest.
Take a second to remember what the original human service is that your company provides. Whether it is flying jets to help people travel and connect, creating fashion to keep people warm, or creating shows to help people relax, ultimately there is a human element. And what is more human than sex?
What are your future plans?
I am now part of an amazing company called CCVFX. A real creative hub of expertise and creativity in the VFX world. We provide production, VFX, and VFX supervision with incredible artistry for both movies and television. If I can bring 1/5 of the energy and optimism and possibility to people here that was achieved at Brighter Pictures, I will be happy. If I can help people to not be scared of their dreams, and held back by prejudice and hypocrisy, I will have achieved my goals.
*all images are courtesy of Gavin Hay
More about Gavin Hay here: