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Paul Thomas’ Porn Star Biography

Early Years on Broadway

The son of an upper-middle-class couple from tiny Winnetka, Illinois, Paul Thomas studied political science at the University of Wisconsin Madison and starred on Broadway in Hair and Jesus Christ Super Star, and in the Norman Jewison movie version, all before age 22. In 1973, Thomas signed with the William Morris Agency and moved to Hollywood, landing parts on such TV shows as Mannix and Police Story. But he quickly tired of the Hollywood rat race. Discouraged, he signed on for the musical Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco. There he met pornographers Jim and Art Mitchell in 1974, the brother/director duo behind the famous XXX film Behind the Green Door. It would turn out to be a meeting that changed his life. "It was the era of porn chic," he recalls, so he had little apprehension about acting in adult films.

Studios, Costars, & Notable Films

As an actor in sex films, Thomas' perception of the adult industry was that of an extension of the hippie lifestyle he had come to embrace in San Francisco. "It was a different time," he recalls. "Doing porno movies then was a celebration and a rebellion against the establishment." Thomas worked with all the big names in adult films, from Seka to Traci Lords. He also worked with some of the biggest production companies of the time, including VCA, Essex Video / Electric Hollywood, Caballero Home Video, Metro, and many more. Notable films for Thomas include, but are not limited to, 1001 Erotic Nights (Essex Video / Electric Hollywood), Another Roll in the Hay (Collector's Video), Black Silk Secrets (VCA), Do You Wanna Be Loved (Arrow Productions), and Hotel California (Western Visuals).

Directorial Debut and Projects

In 1986, at the age of 35, Thomas switched from acting to directing. Since 1986, Thomas has been the "auteur in residence" at Vivid Video. He shoots 20 projects a year, including eight films. He also has directed R-rated movies that have the same plot and character driven elements that have made his adult features so recognizable and popular. "He makes real movies," says Paul Fishbein, publisher of Adult Video News. "If you take the sex out of his movies, you still have an interesting film." Paul Thomas is one of the few directors shooting "big budget" porn on film, like Bad Wives and Bad Wives 2.

Thomas told AVN in an interview after taking multiple awards for his 2002 movie, Fade to Black, "It's not like there's any limit to material. The choices are endless. It seems like everything in porn has been done, but only 1 percent has been done right. Most of my very best material is from my own life. You've got to keep a little bit of an edge; you don't want to get too relaxed. You have to be careful. When you get too familiar and too comfortable, you lose the edge."

Conclusion

In a profile of Thomas in early 2005, the BBC said, "Now 53-years-old, Thomas is virtually unique among his porno peers as someone who not only had mainstream ambitions but the talent to realize them. The young Paul Thomas starred as Peter in the film Jesus Christ Superstar as well as on Broadway, before tiring of the constant auditions and falling into a more lucrative, less demanding means of making a living. Famed for making plot-driven sex films, he is now regarded as the Fellini of adult entertainment and is now under contract to Vivid Video. It is the biggest company in the business, and one of the only producers in America which requires its male performers to wear condoms on the set."

Porn Awards

  • 1983 AFAA Award for Best ActorVirginia
  • 1991 AVN Award for Best Director – VideoBeauty & the Beast 2
  • 1992 AVN Award – Reuben Sturman Memorial Award For Loyalty to the Adult Film Genre
  • 1993 XRCO Award for Best Director
  • 1994 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmJustine
  • 1997 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmBobby Sox
  • 1999 XRCO Award for Best Director
  • 2002 AVN Award for Best Non-Sex PerformanceFade to Black
  • 2002 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmFade to Black
  • 2004 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmHeart of Darkness
  • 2005 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmThe Masseuse
  • 2006 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmThe New Devil in Miss Jones
  • 2008 AVN Award for Best Director, FilmLayout
  • 2008 XBIZ Award – Outstanding Achievement in Movie Production
  • 2013 XBIZ Award Nomination - Director of the Year - Feature Release for Friends With Benefits
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