December 14, 2012

Zane Michaels on the shame and fortune of gay porn

Shame and Fortune by Zane MichaelsZane Michaels, one half the the duo behind AustinZane.com, recently decided to cut ties with his popular website and explore life outside of the porn industry. But before going, he decided to share his personal journey in the e-book Shame and Fortune.

The book looks at how two straight man - yep, Zane and Austin prefer the ladies - met by chance in Vegas and started work for another company as gay-for-pay actors. But the two were quickly soured on the antics of their first bosses and decided they could make better gay porn. And so they did.

Zane offers a candid account of his experience in the industry, detailing his life before porn as well as the recent falling out with his once best bud Austin.

He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Why did you want to write this book?
Initially, I viewed the book as an extension of the business. I thought it was going to be a great promotional tool. I thought it would answer the typical questions like how and why i got started in the business. Then, as things got tougher and tougher, I realized that my book was getting deeper and deeper, and at that point writing it just became a release for me. It was very therapeutic.
 
What do you hope people will come away with after reading Shame and Fortune?
Well, that's a good question. The book isn't meant to sway anyone's opinions necessarily but I guess I just wanted to show that there is so much more going on behind the scenes than what the final product reflects. As a performer, I tried being very open but as a business owner, there were certain things that I had to keep bottled up; for the most part, my book opens up that bottle.
 
Zane Michaels sucked off by Austin Andrews
 
You share a lot of personal stuff in your book - from an alcoholic father to being molested with your twin brother - why did you want to share this? Any regrets about being so open?
No regrets about being open. If you never own up to your mistakes, you'll never fully get past them. Since my book's release, my father and I have the type of relationship that I always wished we had. Every Monday night, we go out to eat and come home and watch American Chopper. We've even been building a gazebo together at our local park! I've shared my book on my personal Facebook and to my surprise, I've received a lot of support from my hometown. Some even wanted autographs!
 
You mention early on in the book how the decision to do gay porn meant that you would never be able to realize the life you once hoped for ... had you not done porn, what would your ideal life look like right now?
I guess it would be a lot quieter and a lot less stressful. It's always an internal struggle when a new opportunity comes up and I go through the process of trying to figure out if or what they know or if I have to be extra careful with what I say. I thought by now I would be married and have a family of my own but I think that will come soon enough 
 
As a straight man, how did your very first hardcore scene come about?
My first hardcore scene was with Austin in Hawaii for the website we met on. We were already pretty good friends by that point so I was mostly concerned that I was going to hurt him. It was a pretty rough scene that took hours to film but editing brought it all together. It was not a very pleasant experience for either of us.
 
Zane Michaels and Austin Andrews
Zane Michaels and Austin Andrews
 
How do two straight male friends decide to go from dabbling in porn to starting a full fledged, and successful, studio? Whose initial idea was it and how did the other first receive the suggestion?
 
It was during that same trip to Hawaii when we both felt like captives from our old boss. The book goes into better detail but basically, we knew we wanted to prove that we could build a better site than our pretentious boss had done. It was sort of a joke at first but as time went on, we knew we had to start taking it more seriously.
 
There is a lot of fuss about gay-for-pay in the gay porn world - how do you respond to critics who complain about gay-for-pay actors?
I would say that g4p will never go away just as the g4p critics will never go away. I didn't like being roped into that category because we took a lot of pride in what we filmed and we genuinely wanted to put out a great product. I think many gay4payers only want the quick paycheck but for us it was a lot more than that. Some of the critics say that what we did was homophobic or held the gay community back but I don't think I'll ever fully understand those arguments. We had a great relationship with many of our gay members and they know who we really are and where our hearts are at.
 
[Click image to see gallery.]
 
You've been with more men than many gay guys ... were you just going through the motions or did you ever enjoy the sex?
As much as I hate to say it, when you're producing a porn scene, you plan out what's going to happen and yes, you just go through the motions. There's a lot of starting and stopping and the real job for us was making it look like the best sex we've ever had. With Austin, that part was always easier because after filming so many scenes together, you start to figure about how each other move and interact accordingly.
 
Some scenes I actually hated but there were a handful that were fun or at least funny to film. Once I learned to relax while bottoming, the scenes became a lot less stressful. I love to make out so I figured out that if my scene partner was a good kisser like Austin, I would focus more attention on that so I wouldn't think about the "fucking" so much and the experience would usually be more enjoyable.
 
Zane MichaelsWhat advice would you give to anyone considering following in your foot steps?
I would say to build really strong relationships, including family, before you start. Your friends and family will eventually find out so it's better if you are upfront and have a support system with your new endeavor.
 
Biggest complaint about the industry?
I was fortunate to meet some really great people during my time in the industry and I don't really have any complaints. I think the industry would benefit from joining together and going after piracy but I think until then, new companies are going to have a tough time staying afloat.
 
Happiest memory about the work you've done?
Meeting Austin. Things may have ended badly between us but he came into my life at a time when I needed a great friend so I am pretty thankful for the good times we had before they soured.
 
When was that moment when you decided that it was time to leave the industry? Or are there plans on doing other work?
I knew I needed to leave the site that we created when Austin told me he didn't care anymore and the new partners were making things extremely difficult. He agreed to sell the company to the new partners and I didn't want to do it on my own. As it turned out, after I agreed to sell, he never sold the site which I thought was pretty shady but it just confirmed that leaving that place was the best thing for me. If I ever came back to the industry, I'm sure you could understand why I don't think I could work with them again.
 
What is your relationship like now with Austin?
We are cordial. He's trying his best to hold together a site that he didn't care about for a while and I wish him the best. I think he is learning that its a lot of hard work and discipline to keep members happy. Maybe our paths will cross again someday under different circumstances. He is a very talented individual and he will emerge from the industry a very strong and experienced man.
 
And the next chapter in your life will look like ...?
Right now I am having the time of my life traveling the country and visiting places that I've always wanted to see. I'm creating three separate companies which is keeping me pretty busy. I've been adjusting to a quieter life back in Ohio and for those that have read my book, I have started dating Brianna again. Who knows, maybe porn hasn't necessarily prevented me from enjoying a life I've always wanted after all.
 
Zane Michaels facial
 
You can order Shame and Fortune from Amazon here, or get more information at ShameAndFortuneBook.com.
You can also follow Zane Michaels on twitter here.

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