Even in mainstream movies and television, it’s not very common for an actor to successfully turn to directing. If it is something the actor wants to do or has designs on, they typically ease into it with a small gig (maybe the TV show they are acting in) or with some hand-holding by a director they have previously worked for (like George Clooney with the Coen Brothers when it came time to direct Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind). For every Robert Redford, or Ron Howard, or Harold Ramis, there is a Nicolas Cage or a Kevin Bacon (seriously, did you know that either of those guys directed a movie?).

The same holds true of adult. It feels like the percentage of adult actors that try their hand behind the camera might be higher than it is in mainstream, but it still yields a very low amount of actual success stories. Directing in adult, even in POV scenes, takes a set of skills you might not be thinking about. A good DP (director of photography, not double penetration) and a good editor are essential... but a solid director with a career ahead of them needs vision, patience, the ability to effectively communicate with talent and staff, and an eye for what makes a scene hot.

The Golden Age of Porn (the 70s and early 80s) were perhaps the most freewheeling times in adult. The successes of Debbie Does Dallas, Behind The Green Door, Deep Throat, and The Devil In Miss Jones made the talent of the time a bit more noteworthy in the minds of the public. After gracing the screen with their presence for however long they did, a few parlayed that fame and success into long-running and notable directing careers. We’ve hand-picked some of the most noteworthy among the classic performers to have succeeded at directing. Apologies in advance to all the luminaries we didn’t have room to discuss! Lord knows there’s enough entries to make a sequel list at some point.

Candida Royalle

porn performer/director Candida Royalle

If you look up the word “beauty” in a dictionary, there’s a 75% chance that a photograph of Candida Royalle will be included in the definition. She looked like a supermodel and was riveting in every moment of every film she appeared in during the mid-’70s and early ‘80s. After she retired from performing, she took to the director’s chair.

In the early 1980s she formed her own studio, Femme, to promote a less male-centric erotic film. She was a pioneer in making couples-friendly and women-friendly content through the studio. Additionally she directed films for Adam & Eve and Petra Joy. Candida was an activist for sex work and the societal attitude towards sex, and her contributions reach far beyond the legacy of Femme. To this day, however, her directorial efforts remain some of the best couples-friendly fare in the industry.

Tom Byron

porn performer/director Tom Byron

Tom Byron entered the industry as a baby-faced youth in the early 1980s. For our money, our favorite early Byron performance was as the snoopy nephew Jimmy alongside Honey Wilder and Janey Robbins in Private Teacher. He performed for decades, and he had an iconic look for each decade: going from rocker to mullet dude to straight-laced to something of a godfather-type businessman.

He began directing in the mid-’90s with Elegant Angel and Rob Black’s Extreme Associates. Eventually he partnered up with Evolution Erotica and created his own studio, Tom Byron Pictures. While he is not currently directing, he has racked up a seriously impressive portfolio of hundreds of titles. As a director he may be best remembered for his long-running series, Ass Eaters Unanimous.

Herschel Savage

porn performer/director Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage got his start in adult in the mid-’70s and appeared in Debbie Does Dallas and several other classics of the time. A serious actor under Stella Adler with rugged good looks and a gravelly voice, he was a big star for a good, long time. He found a second life as a performer playing father/older man type roles that lasted into the mid-2010’s.

While he is instantly recognizable as a performer (and has the credentials to back that up), he is perhaps not recognized enough as a director. In the early ‘90s there was a boom of parody movies in adult and Savage, working mostly with Coast to Coast, directed 10 very solid titles-- most of them parodies. We’re especially fond of The Maddams Family, but we can’t not mention one of the best parody titles ever... Ass Ventura: Crack Detective!

Joey Silvera

porn performer/director Joey Silvera

Arguably starting as a performer in blue movies even before the Golden Era (depending on what you define the years as), Joey SIlvera has racked up his fair share of credits. Not quite as prolific as Tom Byron, Silvera still has over 1,500 acting credits to his name. His credits stretch from 1971 all the way to 2015, so it’s probably best to think of him like the Robert Parrish or the Craig Biggio of porn (pick your sport). Silvera acted in classics of the genre such as Long Jeanne Silver and Candy Stripers.

He does have a couple directing credits to his name from the 1970s, but didn’t really start directing with frequency until the mid-’90s. Most of his movies have been under his own production company as part of John Stagliano’s Evil Angel family. One thing worth noting of Silvera’s output is that his high profile releases have helped to destigmatize transsexual performers in adult; most especially with his long-running Rogue Adventures series.

Rebecca Lord

porn performer/director Rebecca Lord

The first of only three performer-turned-directors we chose to mention this time around who started after the Golden Age, Rebecca Lord is no less classic. The sultry French vixen started acting in adult videos in the early ‘90s all the way into the late 2000’s. She has more recently appeared in non-sex roles.

Lord cut her teeth in directing in the ‘90s. Her first title was from Wicked Pictures in 1995, with Rebecca Lord’s World Tour. She has since directed movies for IFG, Penthouse, and Bizarre Video. Her most recent endeavor has us the most excited: she is shooting for her own company now, Rebecca Lord Productions. World look out!

Jonathan Morgan

porn performer/director Jonathan Morgan

Getting his start in 1988, Jonathan Morgan made a huge impact in adult with his acting and performances. The bulk of his filmography was split between [VCA](/studio/150/VCA/], Wicked, Sin City, and Legend. In 1994 he triple-dipped in the AVN Awards: winning Male Performer of the Year, Best Actor, and Best Non-Sex Performance (for Haunted Nights).

He began directing that same year of 1994 (busy guy!) with about a dozen movies; mostly for Wicked. While he has worked with other studios, the vast majority of his output has been for Wicked Pictures. He is the man responsible for classics such as the sci-fi epic Space Nuts and the slasher homage Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre.

Lynn LeMay

porn performer/director Lynn LeMay

LeMay, too, got her start in the business in 1988. The gorgeous blonde (and dead ringer for Gillian Jacobs’ older sister or mom) starred in hundreds of films, including Alex DeRenzy’s Pretty Peaches 3, for a couple dozen different companies. She continued to work until 2010-- no small feat for a woman in this industry!

Lynn LeMay’s resume as a director may be short; but it is no less impressive. She set out straightaway to create her own production company, LeMayzing Pictures. She has directed about a dozen films to-date, and is probably best known for her debut titles, Malibu Moms and Phoenix: Risen From The Ashes.

John Leslie

porn performer/director John Leslie

Not as prolific as some of his contemporaries on this list, John Leslie still had a mind-boggling number of performing credits to his name (seriously, think of all the people he slept with on film!). His films, and his performances therein, were of the highest quality. He starred in classics such as Talk Dirty To Me and Every Woman Has A Fantasy.

Leslie began directing in 1987 and was quickly recognized as a top directing talent while working with VCA. He then transitioned to his own production company, which operated under the Evil Angel banner until his ill health caught up with him. John’s two long-running series with Evil were Fresh Meat and The Voyeur. All are worth checking out.

Gloria Leonard

porn performer/director Gloria Leonard

Best known for her role in The Opening Of Misty Beethoven (another all-time classic of the ‘70s), Gloria Leonard worked on an amazing number of time-tested classic titles. Worth mentioning are her performances in the Taboo American-Style series. Beginning in the mid-’80s she appeared in several adult films in a non-sex role.

Leonard did not direct very many movies during her time. But when she did, she made it count: directing high profile films for Adam & Eve, VCA, and Vivid. Leonard also went on to a long-running tenure as the publisher of High Society magazine. She is often credited with the innovations of publishing celebrity nudes and phone sex lines.

Sean Michaels

porn performer/director Sean Michaels

Truly an astounding resume as a long-running performer, Sean Michaels got his start in the mid-’80s. And somehow he manages to still be a very in-demand performer to this very day for a number of studios, including Metro, Elegant Angel, and Girlfriends Films. Recently he made industry news for beginning adding scenes with transsexual performers to his repertoire.

His directing career is nearly as long and storied as his performing career. He began directing in 1991 for Heatwave and a couple other studios before directing several movies for Video Team. He began his own production company in the 90s as well, and partnered with Red Light District and Platinum X for a time. He eventually found a home as part of the Evil Empire, and after a hiatus with Stagliano, is directing under the Evil umbrella again.

Paul Thomas

porn performer/director Paul Thomas

Actor/directors don’t come more notable or well-known than Paul Thomas. Having appeared in the mainstream film Jesus Christ Superstar, Thomas went on to a decade or so of performing in adult films at the highest level. A personal favorite of ours is his role in Little Girls Blue. He continued to act in non-sex roles well long after retiring from performing.

It is arguable that Thomas has had a larger impact in his directing than he has in his acting. Beginning his career behind the camera in the mid-’80s, he eventually became a long-running contract director for Vivid. Among his most popular films are 1990’s The Masseuse, The New Devil In Miss Jones, and Heart of Darkness.


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