For so many articles that I have done about people in the gay porn industry on Manhattan Digest, they have always been people who have performed in front of the camera. As talented as a lot of them are (my hand definitely thinks so) all of what they do wouldn’t be possible without the people behind the lens. Someone behind the camera who has done an incredible job at making a name for himself in the gay porn industry is Titanmen director Jasun Mark, who has worked for huge studios ranging from Jake Cruise to Fratpad to Cocksuremen.
I have been a fan of Jasun’s work for years, not to mention that he himself is pretty easy on the eyes. I also have gotten to know him personally and on top of being a fantastic director he is also a very intelligent human being who has a keen eye on what is going today, both in and out of the industry. I recently sat down with Jasun to discuss it all, from how he got into the industry, his meteoric rise to where he is today, people he still wants to work with and where he sees his future. Take a look.
So Jasun, how did you get involved in the adult industry to begin with?
My first actual paying job was as an HTML designer for a Canadian porn site called Bedfellow, but I really feel like I got my “real” start working for Fratmen and Fratpad. They hired me as a video editor and graphics guy, but before long I was taking part in production and marketing and just about every aspect of what we were doing. Fratpad was a crazy 24-hour cam circus, and while it was 24-hour stress and work, I loved it all. A lot of people copied what we were doing, but Fratpad really was the first and I think best-ever cam house. My first feature I directed on my own was a documentary about our shoot in Australia called “Fratmen Going Down” and then I started shooting a lot of the fun at Fratpad. Those Jack-Off Races were mine. I’m honestly really proud of how well all that stuff turned out, considering I really didn’t much know what I was doing.
I left Fratpad after about 4 years because I wanted to direct hardcore and I knew I was never going to be able to do that where I was. Leaving Fratmen was hard… it was like a close knit family there. But I knew when it was time to leave the nest. I’m still in contact with everyone there, and we’re all still friends. There was no bad blood leaving. I took a job with Jake Cruise… He was starting what was at that time called “Jake’s Men” which was essentially JakeCruise.com without Jake. That, of course, is what was eventually re-named CocksureMen. That was a total dream gig… I was basically allowed to do whatever I wanted. I spent four years learning how to direct on the job while shooting content I actually wanted to see. I’m very proud of the work I did there.
But the brass ring for me was ALWAYS a job working for Titanmen. Titan had been my favorite studio since the 90s and it was always a dream gig. Getting the call from Brian Mills asking if I wanted to come hang out on set and shoot some bonus content for the new François Sagat movie was like getting called up the Big Leagues. I still have to pinch myself that this is all real.
Anytime someone has the desire to enter an industry, there are usually inspirations that drive that particular passion. Did you have any yourself prior to joining?
It’s funny, when I was studying film and even when I was in high school wanting to become a film maker, I was divided between whether I wanted to do children’s horror movies, science fiction or porn. When I was in elementary school I was already writing scripts. Sadly I came from a music family so my begging for a movie camera was laughed off as a silly dream and I was forced to take cello and bassoon lessons, which in itself explains why “children’s horror movies” was on my want list, probably (laughs). But by the time I was in high school I was writing a lot more porn-ish scripts. Most of which were about teenagers stuck in small towns escaping to a city that tried to eat them up but the protagonist always ended up making the city his bitch. I guess my musical background was always there. When I was in high school I recorded an album of songs for my Canadian Literature class that had a song called “Stand Up” about football players checking out each others dicks in the shower. So I guess I was always a bit of a sexual shit-disturber.
What I’ve always loved about making porn is that you’re getting people at their most primal and personal. I can make all the comedy or Sci-fi movies that entertain people [Jasun Mark worked on the Gay Film Festival darling “Birthday Cake” and the Sci-Fi Zombie Web Series “Project: Phoenix”], but porn is what really gets under people’s skin. I’ve heard from so many young men that they were scared, lonely gay teenagers who thought they’d never find a place to fit in until they saw those Fratpad Jack Off Races where instead of getting called “faggot” for expressing sexuality, there were a bunch of guys standing around cheering. One guy told me that after he saw that he knew everything was going to be OK and he was going to find a place where he’d fit it. So I guess the “Ricky/Kent Jerk off race” was my best “It Gets Better” video.
Your work has been primarily behind the camera, was there ever a thought of performing in front?
Honestly, no. I’m um… well, I’m not physically what a porn star should look like. I’m pretty short and stout and I just can’t be arsed to work out enough really look good on camera. When I was doing marketing for Jake Cruise, I did actually stand in for Jake doing some massage videos where I was fully clothed and I did one scene with my friend Adam Russo for Nasty Daddy just to see what it was like to be a performer. But I never really considered being a porn star and no studios have asked me. I’ve always wanted to be a film maker. I never really seriously considered performing.
You have worked for high-profile studios like Jake Cruise, Cocksure Men and of course Titan. Do you have a particular favorite scene that really resonates with you to this day?
Oh man… that’s a hard one. I’ll choose that Ricky/Kent Jack Off Race from my Fratpad days. From Cocksure Men I think I’ll choose the 3-way with Dean Monroe, John Magnum and Devin Draz. I was chatting with Dean the other day and he told me that of all the scenes he did in his 20-year career, that’s one of the few that he still jerks off to. From Titanmen… Almost too hard to nail down. Maybe the opening scene from Nightfall where Thomas is lured from out behind his computer by Alessio Romero. Or the one with Hunter Marx and Damien Stone in Bad Cop. There’s also one coming out this coming Christmas with Jesse Jackman and Eric Nero where I finally got to put some of my cinematic chops on display. I’ll admit that it’s going to be fun to show people I can do more than just shoot good video of hot men fucking…
What about performers, anyone in particular that stands out for one reason or another?
I’ve been so lucky. I got to work with some of the best gay porn stars going. François Sagat, Dean Phoenix, Dean Monroe, Arpad Miklos, Allen Silver, Jesse Jackman, Johnny Hazard, Adam Herst, David Anthony… the list goes on and on. I’ll tell you this… François is one of the most unappreciated geniuses I’ve known. And I grew up in a family of university professors. He’s fascinating and disarmingly nice but surprisingly modest and shy. He’s an enigma, but I’m so proud I got to work with him and still stay in touch with him.
Coinciding with that, is there anyone you would like to work with both in front and behind the camera?
There are a few guys I’ve wanted to work with. I regret I never got a chance to work with Kennedy Carter, but I’m so proud of how well he’s done post-porn. I wish I’d gotten a chance to work with some of the greats like Leo Ford or Anthony Gallo. Guys currently working… I still hope I can get a chance to work with Jaxton Wheeler. Behind the camera… I’ve worked with Joe Gage and Brian Mills… so I guess my only remaining idols are Kristen Björn and ChiChi LaRue.
What is your take on the industry today? Do you find the word “gay porn star” to be a bit of thing of the past?
Not at all. I think it’s easier to BE a gay porn star now so the term is a bit watered down. I also think that as porn performers become more accessible to us, they lose a lot of their mystique. Now you can friend and follow your favorite porn stars on Facebook and Twitter and interact with them in a way you never could in the golden age. But we still have huge stars like Jesse Jackman, David Anthony, Trenton Ducati, Adam Russo, Rocco Steele… I mean the list goes on.
As far as the state of the industry… I think we’re still at a cross-road much like the TV and music industries. The digital age has meant some HUGE changes to how people access and consume content. 20 years ago, production companies had people by the balls. You had to buy things how they chose to sell them. Record labels ruthlessly monopolized record store shelves, TV schedules were chosen for us along with programming. Now that people have broken that model and can consume content in their own ways… it’s evened things out in ways we never thought of before.
Now a tiny artist like Justin Bieber from a tiny town in remote Canada with NO industry connections can use Youtube and become the biggest pop star of a generation. Small home-made porn sites like Sean Cody could totally buck the system and sell his content only online on his own self-hosted, cutting out DVD retailers altogether… and that revolutionized how gay porn was DONE. Look at how the guys from Where The Bears Are have been able to skip the middle man and get their fans to fund their series season by season. Independent Radio shows didn’t really exist before iTunes launched Podcasting. Now even the major players are diving into that. None of that would have been possible in the 90s and most of that wouldn’t even have been possible until about 2005 when we got Podcasting and Youtube.
Even making a movie on a very tight budget is possible if you’re willing to do the work. Digital film making has made budgets almost unimportant. People ask me how much I had to spend on all the digital effects in Nightfall and Dick Danger and the answer is “nothing.” It just meant I stayed up very late for a couple weeks and did it myself. Now you just have to be willing to work your ass off.
All of this means that the porn industry has had to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to a new digital age where we’re putting out a new scene every week instead of a new movie every month. We have tighter budgets and more competition for people’s attention on Twitter and the blogs. We have to have a well-designed and easy to navigate site, we need to have a good social media presence AND we have to have good movies. I find it all exciting but yes… it’s not as easy to get rich making porn as it was maybe in 1997.
What do you have planned for 2016 that your fans can be excited about?
I have some amazing stuff in the works. the really sad thing is that I can’t really talk much about it. Titanmen has a pretty long turn-around time for our movies because we all like to polish and perfect and do all the work we can to make them their best possible and THAT means other studios that turn their stuff around in a week or two can easily copy what we’re doing and release their crappy knock-off the same week you release yours. I think starting this Thanksgiving with my Dad/Son movie Like Father Like Son you’ll see exactly where we’ve been going… more stories and scripts and characters. More hot setups and more developed ideas. Let’s get back together in April and you’ll see just how hard we’ve been working. I can tell you that Like Father Like Son is the most story-driven porn movie I’ve ever directed. You can already see the trailer and people are going ape-shit for it. So looks like I struck that primal nerve I was talking about.
Ultimately, what is your biggest goal for yourself moving forward?
I used to say “to be lead director for Titanmen” and I’ve been letting myself bask in that glory for a bit. But now my job is to pick up that mantle and run with it. Titan has a very proud history and I know just how much responsibility my job came with… so I guess my goal is to live up to the standards of what came before me.