It's 8:45 on an early-April morning, hardly the sexiest time in the world, yet dozens of men -- and one leather-clad woman with a giant red strap-on dildo -- have turned up at a warehouse in Williamsburg hoping to snag a role in Candida Royalle's new film, whose working title is Stud Hunting.
Royalle, the former porn actress behind Femme Productions, decided to cast her latest film entirely in New York -- and entirely with first-time male actors. "I wanted to use fresh talent that no one had ever seen instead of the same five guys you always see in L.A.," said Royalle, who founded her company in 1984 to produce erotica from a woman's perspective: "We don't focus on getting the money shot -- we want to show women being sexually empowered." Her first eight titles brought in more than $2 million, an impressive sum for the porn world.
In Brooklyn, the would-be actors' motivations turned out to be as varied as their looks. A few, like John, a strapping 31-year-old construction worker from Iowa who drove 1,200 miles to try out, were flirting with the idea of becoming full-time porn stars. "I wrote a sex guide for men that's illustrated like a tractor manual, so I thought that this may help promote it," he said.
For others, shooting the casting-call scene -- in which veteran porn stars Alexandra Silk and Ava Vincent asked each man about his sexual talents and invited him to strip -- was a one-time thrill. "For men, this is, like, the American Dream," said Marcus, a soft-spoken 26-year-old military EMT who showed up on a dare and is "studying to be a doctor." Some got creative while pleading their case: "My tongue is my greatest asset, and I do a great Marlon Brando impression," said Gene, a bespectacled 48-year-old lawyer who spends weekends singing at jazz clubs in the Village.
Grego, 35, a musician with a shaved head who owns a dungeon in Brooklyn, was a little more direct: "Even with the shrinkage factor in these leather pants, I've got a solid eight inches with a G-spot curve." To no one's surprise, he was given a prominent role in the "grand-finale gang bang."
On set, there was a sense of real camaraderie, even though physiques ranged from strictly mediocre ("Oh, my God, he's a train wreck," one woman in the back whispered as a 41-year-old writer peeled down to his Speedo) to stunning: "Someone who looks as great as I do should be with beautiful women," said chiseled D.J. Bryan right before he sprawled out on the red satin bed for a moving rendition of a scene between "Mrs. Robertson" and a delivery boy.
"He's my new discovery!" Royalle exclaimed of Bryan, who will earn a total of about $750 for his work on Stud Hunting -- not bad, considering that most of the extras do it free. "Which is fine with them if they think they may have a shot at having sex," said Royalle. "I swear, men are such sluts."