Sean Michaels Speaks with HotMovies About His First TS Scene
Sean Michaels is a world-renowned performer, director, and producer in the adult film industry, having worked in multiple countries around the globe, and he is considered a pioneer who broke down racial barriers and opened opportunities for many other performers of color. He's won multiple awards over the years, and is a member of the AVN and XRCO Hall of Fame. After 30 years, Sean Michaels has done it all, yet he continues to move forward and break new ground. His latest movie, Hot For Transsexuals 6 from Evil Angel - Aiden Starr features Michaels in his first-ever scene with a transsexual performer. We spoke with Sean about how the scene came to be, and what the future holds for the veteran performer.
This is a milestone in your career, and I think a milestone for the adult industry at large, to have a performer of your caliber and legacy take this step. Who initiated the idea? You or Aiden Starr?
I did. It is something I have been planning for several years, actually. Back in the mid-90s, I went to France and saw my first transsexual women. It was very interesting and very stimulating. So, since '94 or '95 I have been interested in the whole transsexual experience and what they are about as individuals. Also, never, ever deny yourself the opportunity to do something in life when it presents itself because you are worried about what other people are going to say, do, or think, because that is going to happen anyway, regardless of what you do in life. Any steps you take in life, people are going to be critical of it, whether it's in business, life, or your personal sexual life in this particular case. It is important to not hide. I have heard other males are dabbling in it, but they aren’t owning it and are doing it behind closed doors, some footage leaks out and there are questions about who you are with. Why?
I am very confident in who I am as a person and confident in my body of work over the years and confident in those people who support me, truly support me, for who I am as an individual and what I bring to this industry. Although, I don't think the industry really acknowledges that, for whatever reasons. Honestly, there’s still a lot of racism in our industry and, obviously, in our country that I’ve been battling since day one. When I started my company, Sean Michaels Productions in 1999, I basically started my own distribution, and at the end of my movies, I would put little taglines like, “no color lines,” and, “if prejudice is seen with the eyes, look with the heart and the mind.” This is my message, this is my legacy. I’m so excited because I’m super turned-on to step into this genre of adult films and filmmaking.
What kind of feedback have you received from your fans? How about your friends?
The majority of responses I’ve received have been super positive and supportive. Of course, I received some negative feedback and blowback, but I expected that and I expect more. Again, people always want to scrutinize, especially in this day of social media. As far as I’m concerned, scrutinize away. I am a singular individual who believes in what I believe in, which is good, healthy sex for everyone out there as long as you’re not hurting people who are underage or people who aren’t consenting to the sexual advances of an individual.
Is this a one-time performance, or will there be more?
This is something I’ve been planning over several years. With my whole cuckold series over at Evil Angel, that was where I started to initiate the whole cuckold/male getting closer to my penis and so on and so forth. There’s a litany of things I want to do with my new genre now, including direct and produce my own TS series and just build a whole community of individuals who understand, “hey, I can do this.” And sure, you’re going to get scrutiny from other people, but always do what you want in life as long as you’re happy doing it. Don’t do it just for the money. That’s not a good enough reason in my opinion. If you’re not sincere about it, the sincerity doesn’t come through. People are connoisseurs of entertainment, and especially of porn, so they know when it’s like, “wow, they’re just mailing it in here.” I’m all about passion and chemistry, so that’s what I plan to bring to the TS industry, and the fact that I’m not gay, meaning that I’m not planning on doing gay movies where I’m going to be blowing guys or guys are going to be fucking me in the ass, or vice-versa. No, I’m fucking TS women because they turn me on. It’s a genre that obviously needs individuals like myself to step forward and help to cultivate it to a higher level.
I agree, that content is geared towards a straight audience, not a gay audience, and always has been. You began 30 years ago, at a time when trans performers were viewed as a more of a fetish. What do you think was the turning point for this new view towards trans performers?
I believe the turning point was when people started to feel empowered with their sexuality over the last several years with all of the movements out there saying, “own who you are, enjoy your life as who you are.” Be your individual self, whoever that may be, as long as you’re not hurting people. Dress the way you want. I believe that yes, it’s so interesting and so erotic, and still is very fetish-y that people are drawn to it. It’s fascinating, because the women are so beautiful, and obviously you have the best of both worlds, so to speak.
At one time, interracial was considered a big milestone for a female performer, which - let’s face it - was a little bit racist. Does it matter anymore? If not, what was the turning point?
It doesn’t. It was just a gradual acceptance of interracial sex being normalized, is what it’s become. And it’s a good thing, because it shouldn’t be segregated. The reason it’s popular and remains popular is because it still has somewhat of a taboo on it to this day. The fascination, for me, is two people from different cultures coming together, two different-looking people. I’m not just talking about black and white, I’m talking about all nationalities mixing and mingling with each other, because they’re attracted to each other for whatever reasons. I’m an artist; I like to draw, paint, and sculpt, so I look at things from that perspective as well. Contrast in skin is very exciting to me, even black-on-black. It’s a look. If you have a black girl whose very dark-skinned and a light-skinned male like Ricky Johnson, that’s still exotic to look at too. It’s different shading. Don’t get me wrong, black-on-black and white-on-white sex is still good and still hot too, but you still want to see something different and maybe something that’s a little more provocative, obviously.
Why do you think racism still persists in the adult industry?
Because no one has stepped forward with, honestly, the financial backing to make a difference. It takes money to make a difference, in my opinion, and obviously people getting out and voting and coming together. It’s similar to Hollywood, and that’s what I liken it to. Hollywood is scraping and trying to be diverse now, and try to show their diversity. Well, the adult industry gets away with it because it’s similarly run by certain groups of individuals who are like, “well, we’re going to keep it to the standard, and we’re going to only pay this, and only pay that.” And sure, it’s tier-based. If you’re an A-list performer or a D-list performer, you usually get paid accordingly. But to stipulate that, “I’m going to do interracial with this person if you pay me more money,” well, I won’t work with that person.
Discriminating based on race, creed, or color is against the fucking law, and the adult industry is still getting away with it, and it really, really fucking sucks. Hopefully I see some change in this down the road, but as long as it’s continually run the way it is… and I get it, I get it, we’re in a fantasy business. We fetishize in the industry, but it still doesn’t have to be fucking racist where it’s like, “oh, I’m not working with that person.” And again, it could be a black person not wanting to work with a white person. Sure, I can say I don’t want to work with a person because I don’t particularly like the way they spoke to me or the way they’re treating me, but not because the way they look. That’s ridiculous. The adult industry gets away with it, and it’s ludicrous.
Do you think you could ever have a central governing body of the adult industry?
Absolutely. I was a part of APAC about two years ago. I was president of APAC. It is still existing out there. It is a union setup for the performers to possibly teach them what they need to know when they get into the industry, to better instruct them on how to be successful in the industry.
Like Sean Michaels University, right?
Right, well also, help them with the health responsibilities of being an adult star and help them with the testing and to keep them in a healthy condition to do the job. I believe there will eventually be a governing body, but the reason I am not a part of it anymore was that we couldn't get out of our own way. There was always consistently in-house fighting and stepping on each other's toes, and that is what people expected from the outside and that is what happened.
You started Sean Michaels University to help guide new performers in the industry. Is it still active and are you still pursuing that?
Yeah, I am still pursuing it and I want to revamp it because with everything, you need to change with the times. In fact, I had a website I had to take down, because I’m basically re-establishing myself in the online community with the new genre of filmmaking that I’m about. I’m also in the midst of writing my first book in regards to my career in this industry over the last 29-30 years, and the travels, and sexual and mental education that I have consumed.
What do you think is the single most important piece of advice you could give to a male talent considering joining the adult industry?
The most important thing is to understand why you’re getting into the industry and what your goals are. Are you getting into the industry at a part-time level and you want to work another job, or are you getting into the industry as a full-time thing, and where do you want to go with that full-time occupation? It’s important to have, not necessarily set goals, but an understanding and structure of how you want to apply yourself to the adult industry, because that’s the only way you’re going to be successful. You have to come in and have a plan, which includes being respectful of your fellow man, especially on set, obviously testing on time, being on time, and just being courteous to your fellow coworkers is important. And of course, do your job, because if you show up on set, you gotta do your job.
The adult film industry as we know it has existed for just about 50 years, and you have been a part of it for 32 of those years? Anyone who is a fan can see that is no small task considering the thousands of performers who have come and gone over the years. From your perspective, why have you been able to stay active as a performer?
It is interesting because I, in my opinion, am performing at a better level than I ever have before and it is a culmination of all the experience I have gained over the years to really hone my skills as a sexual performer, director, and producer. To put it bluntly, the world has yet to see and really discover me. Knowing that my sexual proclivity was something different when I was 30-31 years old, I still had to learn how to perform in front of the camera. I am a real movie buff and I take inspiration from people like Humphrey Bogart, Spike Lee, Barbara Streisand. They instill confidence in me because the shit they had to go through. But, as a male adult performer, it is different than anything else. I have to produce a hard-on and maintain it while performing. I liken myself to a professional athlete because you have to have balance. You have to eat properly, take care of yourself, and you have to have a love for what you do. That is what I need in order to continue to perform at a high level, and now I am crossing over to a new genre and have to rock that like it has never been rocked before. It is my determination and resiliency along with the knowledge that is all on me. I have to take this to the next level and get the message to people that you don’t have to be any other way, just be yourself. At the end of the day you have to be able to look into the mirror and be happy with what you see.
Out of all the eras in which you performed, which is the most interesting to you?
The most interesting era for me was between 1990 and 2000. That was when I was traveling to Europe extensively to 13 different countries with Anabolic and doing the World Sex Tours and going out on my own and making Europe my first home. Really, Hanover, Germany was my first home in Europe. In America when I first started I got offered racist roles and I wasn't taking them. I worked a little, but I walked off because after reading the scripts and understanding what they were trying to do, I was having no part of it. There is a movie out there called Black Mariah with an individual on the cover named Dino Alba (Wayne Summers) who is in blackface. That was when I realized these motherfuckers are racist. So, I left. I walked off the set. That was when I staked my claim and I said I am not bowing down to this. I was still working as a nurse at the time. I was an emergency-care nurse when I first got into the adult business. But then I got an offer to go to Hanover, Germany and everything changed in like 1991. That changed my complete course in this industry. I went to Germany and met Teresa Orlowski and Hans Moser, and they had this place that was the equivalent to a network studio with broadcast cameras and multiple sets and it was a real porn factory. I would go there, hone my craft, and get real appreciation for who I am because the Europeans love American black men. I really started to grown in my relationships with Europeans. Then I met Rocco Siffredi and I went to Italy. So, I spent the first five years of my career in Europe. It was about great passionate sex and great food and great people, and you really grow as a person and learn about who you are as an individual.
So, you got to bring the Sean Michaels brand to the rest of the world?
Right. And so now, I'm writing a book and really letting the world know who I am and what I am about. I have been speaking to several universities and they want to come in and put leads on me while I am doing a scene to see, electronically, what is going on with my body.
More than ever before, performers are independent and in control of their own brand, and it appears they have more avenues for revenue than just shooting scenes. What is different about current performers from performers from previous years?
The ability to take back their branding through the internet where corporate America has taken over the adult industry to some degree. We as talent can use different platforms and build our own sites and stream our own content because our fans want original content from us, and also it is a way to be hands-on, no pun intended, with your clientele because now they have direct access to you and you can give them one-on-one personal custom videos, your underwear. It is an entrepreneur's dream.
So, you think it is a good thing for the industry and has been better for performers overall?
Yes, absolutely. Plus, talent can trade content between each other and trade services so we don't always have to pay the exorbitant fees for different talent. We can coordinate with each other and pool our money together for location fees and for the post-production as another way to circumvent some of the corporations that have taken over and still build a better brand.
And, maybe it forces some creative collaborations that may not have occurred otherwise, correct?
Exactly, I have always been a big proponent of that and I am stressing that more than ever on set.
Performers like you, Nina Hartley, Lisa Ann, even Stormy Daniels have been very good representatives for the adult industry over the years and that often leads to crossover roles into the non-adult arena. Have you done any acting in non-adult films or had any type of crossover work?
I have done several productions in Japan. I worked on a movie over there called Break Heat and I have done some work in Italy and some here in the states as well. It is fun.
Do you think the pendulum is swinging back to where people want good acting and storylines in their porn? The industry started out with frustrated actors and the swung into gonzo, which said we don't need acting at all, and now it is going back the other way.
Yes, well, there has always been a demand for good storylines and good sex. People want to see good production value for their dollar. Especially now, because there are more women and couples watching porn than ever before. I think they are the ones pushing the buttons and demanding a better-quality product. It reports back in the sales figures. I just did a movie with Wicked called Carnal. That is the type of production value we need to get back to. And I believe that Hot For Transsexuals 6 will be in the top-five for the transsexual genre if not number-one. That is how much confidence I have in that.
You have always maintained that you are a private person and you don’t speak much about your personal life. But can you tell us one thing that people wouldn’t expect about you as a person?
I grew up in New York and ever since I was young, 15 years old to today, I have always loved museums. From the Museum of Natural History in LA to MoMA in New York, and everything in-between. I love to visit museums. Also, cooking is my absolute passion. I love to cook. I really connect with Anthony Bourdain, that dude is about the realism of what he does and food. But I do try to keep quiet and to myself because that, along with my martial arts, helps me to keep balance.
What is next for Sean Michaels?
I want to contribute positivity, growth, and hot sex to the TS community and spread the message, "just be you." I am going to own who I am because that is what is going to take me to the next level. I want to grow my brand, not just in the TS community, but across all lines of color or creeds and have people just enjoy what I do.
Sean Michaels latest mission is to perform in, direct, and produce quality TS content, but that is just one of the many facets of a lifetime spent searching for the beauty and art in everyone and everything. He says that he continues to learn and grow every single day, and it is that forward-momentum that is key to his successes of the past, and more importantly, to the successes he will incur in the future.
Watch Sean Michaels in his first TS scene with Kayleigh Coxx in Hot For Transsexuals 6, exclusively on HotMovies!
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