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Taking the Plunge
Owen Hawk InterviewThis may well be Owen Hawk's big moment.
Not only did this compact stud receive a Gay VN nomination for Performer of the Year, but Dark Alley Media, Owen's pride and joy, produced films which snagged an additional five nominations, including a nod for Best All-Sex Video, Owen Hawk Unleashed. (Note: Owen Hawk was also recently honored for being named the Naked Swordsman of the Year on Naked Sword)
With the GayVNs just around the corner, Owen took a few minutes out of his jam-packed schedule to chat with me about a variety of topics including Dark Alley Media, the GayVNs, his views on bareback porn, fisting, and his horny fans. I caught up with Owen after a long night and a late brunch.
IAN KISSLER: What time does your day usually get started?
OWEN HAWK: It usually gets started around 8:30. But I had a particularly busy week.
IK: Are you filming this week?
OH: No, we actually filmed six movies this month, so we're in post-production.
IK: Can you tell me about Dark Alley Media and the work that you're doing there?
OH: First of all, it's really important to remember that Dark Alley is a collaborative effort. My business partner (Matthias von Fistenberg) is also my partner in real life. I think it's important to know that it's a two-person project.
IK: Is Matthias the person who's credited as directing Dark Alley's films?
OH: Yeah, Matt. Matt von Fistenberg is the name he uses to direct.
IK: You started Dark Alley Media together?
OH: We started talking about it in September of 2004, and got started on it after that. We shot our first movie Mutiny, which was actually shot during the World Series that the Red Sox won. Actually, we didn't get around to releasing it until May of 2005. We've really only been releasing movies for less than a year.
IK: What was the inspiration for deciding to break away from other successful projects and create Dark Alley Media?
OH: First of all, being a porn star is certainly very fun and very exciting, something I always wanted to do. But typically it's not something in which you derive your career for a very long time. Even the people who do last for ten years or so usually end up using their talents in totally different ways. I've always been somebody who's really enjoyed being in the adult industry. I like being in front of the camera. I'm not stupid, and I'm pretty resourceful. We put together a plan to get into business for ourselves. I guess that has to do with being entrepreneurial.
IK: It seems like your efforts are being rewarded with some GayVN award nominations.
OH: Yes! I feel like we're starting to get some good attention now. 2005 was a pretty dramatic year. Coming out with our first film, there were a lot of obstacles that we overcame in that first year. I feel like now, things are finally hitting the swing. We just produced The Show Parts 1 & 2, which are the two biggest productions we've ever done. We've done six movies this year already.
We said from the very beginning that we were going to make high quality movies, that we were going to try to do this at the highest level it could be done, that we had the resources for. To see our first two projects, Mutiny and Owen Hawk Unleashed be recognized with the awards and people essentially saying the work that we're doing from the starting gate is up there with the best work being done in the industry is really gratifying. I'm very proud of it.
IK: Tell me more about The Show Parts 1 & 2. Are both parts being released at once?
OH: The Show was co-produced with Pitbull Productions, and both parts are not going to be released at once at least I don't think so at this point.
[FriskyFans readers, please stay postedexplicit information about The Show will be posted to the site within the next few weeks]
IK: Why choose New York City as a place to set up shop instead of maybe San Francisco or L.A.?
OH: The most obvious reason that we live in New York City. We knew people and resources, locations. We knew people who could potentially be actors. We also felt like New York was underutilized in the adult industry. There are tons of companies that work out of here, but we really didn't feel like there was anybody who was effectively capitalizing New York City. We felt like there was a hole in the market there.
IK: When you're not working, what do you like to do in New York?
OH: Oh god - what do you mean, when I'm not working? [laughter] I do like some parts of New York City. I used to really enjoy going out. I don't really do that so much anymore, because I'm too busy. I like being able to eat anywhere, anytime during the day. Even if you don't utilize it, there's always cultural activities that you can partake in, like theatre.
IK: Would someone run into you at a Broadway show, a fan? Has that ever happened?
OH: No, I've only been to one Broadway show in my life, Chicago.
OH: I think in industry jargon, 'extreme' usually refers to anything having to do with fist fucking, which I think is certainly why we use the word. [It often refers to] anything that you might have to distribute yourself, anything with tying people up or bondage or fisting. To me personally, extreme sex would be stuff having to do with blood and scat. I've seen so much fist fucking in my life, it seems pretty normal. It's hard for me to think of it as 'extreme.'
Mutiny for example is something that got nominated for Best Specialty Release Extreme Sex. We didn't know we had any really extreme sex with our movie! [laughing] You know, we had one fisting scene and I got hung upside down. But other than that, we thought we were a pretty mainstream film! We didn't know that we'd gone all the way off the deep end.
IK: Is there a hunger for that kind of sex on film that's just not being met? Pardon the pun, but is there a hole that needs to be filled?
OH: Our feeling so far seems to be that the fisting market is certainly underserved. There aren't a lot of people producing. I think there are actors that are willing and want to do it on film and meet a certain casting quality, but a lot of it is that producers are concerned about making certain kinds of products. There's a lot of reasons why I think that that is under-produced. I certainly think there's a hole in that market.
IK: And Dark Alley Media would like to step up and meet that need?
OH: We're committed to continuing to make fisting films. It's something that we enjoy personally. When you run a porn company, part of it is making films that you like to see. You make things because of market forces and you also make things because you find them erotic and you like to see them.
IK: Do you think filming the kind of sex that turns you on, like fisting, adds a level of intensity to your performance?
OH: I think any time you have a say over who your partner is on the most basic level or what kind of scene you're in, you end up delivering a better performance. I've found that models, actors, when I hire them, it's really important that one of the things I have them fill out on their application form is, describe your fantasy sex scene that you'd like to do on film. If we can try to match people with whatever it is that they want to be doing on film, then they're going to be more excited. That excitement is going to translate to the viewer. Of course we don't always get it right, but we always give it a try.
IK: Just what is the preferred term? Is it 'model' or 'actor'?
OH: Oh, I don't know. I think people interchange them.
IK: Do you have a preference when referring to yourself?
OH: I always call myself a model, even on my taxes. I felt like it was becoming more fashionable to call people actors, so I'm trying to adapt.
IK: I talk to a lot of people that obviously watch your movies. The viewers see performers like yourself as quasi-celebrities, perhaps even on the same level as maybe a Julia Roberts or Matthew McConaughey. Porn stars seem have a lot of cach. What are your thoughts on that?
IK: When fans approach you Owen, do they approach you with that same kind of breathless excitement, like they can't believe they're meeting you?
OH: I don't exactly know what kind of feeling they're having. But I certainly notice they have something. I remember one time in Boston. I was at a train station and I saw this man. He looked like a gay guy. He was cute, too. I thought he was kind of looking at me. It happens, two guys check each other out in the train station. I didn't really think much of it.
He kind of walked by and walked by fast. He did almost this drive-by thing where he turned and said, "Love your movies," and then turned and almost ran away.
IK: What was your take on that encounter?
OH: You know, obviously he recognized me from the films. He wouldn't go up and say, "Hey, I recognize you from porn films!" He wanted to express it, but he did it in this way, just this drive-by sighting. I was in San Francisco on the street and someone came up and said, "We love your work with Titan," and I said "Thank you." Some people are very cordial like that. Other people seem like they are starstruck.
IK: Are you open to interactions with your fans? Or would you rather they respected your privacy?
OH: I'm always happy to talk to people. I mean, I wish that if they recognized me on the street, they would come up more often, because it's nice when someone recognizes you. It makes you feel special for a moment. It's nice, as long as they're polite.
IK: I wanted to ask about the GayVN awards and all the hoopla. Treasure Island Media, for example, none of their films are eligible for awards because they're bareback films. What's your opinion about that?
OH: We promote safe sex. My personal opinion is that these are movies that appeal to a lot of people. I mean, it's all pornography. I don't have a strong personal objection to bareback porn, but I don't make bareback porn. I believe condoms are on porn sets to protect the health of the people that are having sex. I wouldn't want anyone that is working for me to be put at risk for anything while they're working for me. But people like to watch it. I don't think that there should be any real intense prohibition of anything.
I personally believe that there is a fine line between media and behavior. But prohibiting or sanctioning media is not an effective way of altering of changing behavior. That said, I respect AVN's decision not to award anything that they consider to be dangerous or harmful.
IK: Do you pick it up and watch bareback porn on your own?
OH: We have some because we like to watch fisting movies. A lot of the fisting movies that we have are coming from StudMall.com or other companies where there's no condoms used. Some of them are very good, but some of them aren't. I think with bareback films, there's a lower expectation of quality. I mean, take for example a film that got really well rewarded like Buckleroos. Bareback films, like a lot of stuff from Treasure Island, is done in hotel rooms with one camera. The lighting is not designed. The mainstream films, there's a higher expectation of quality. And with bareback, and really with all niche films, there's not that much expectation of quality.
Our company policy is to do safe sex films, less because of cultural implications. I personally don't believe that media causes behavior. I believe the media reflects behavior that already exists with any community. I just want to provide a safe working environment for people I hire.
IK: On a lighter note, since the GayVNs are coming up soon (March 9th) what are you going to be doing that particular day to get ready? What's your routine?
OH: We're getting into L.A. the day before. I'm staying with my aunt. So we're probably going to stay in Venice, which is right by the beach. Maybe we'll probably go to Venice Beach and hang out, have dinner before we go. I mean, I don't think there's going to be any particular ritual.
IK: Do you know what you're wearing?
OH: No. I don't tend to think about that. I think last year I wore jeans and a T-shirt that said 'Dark Alley' on it. I think I might try to wear something a bit nicer this year.
IK: I've noticed the candid shots of the event, they turn up everywhere on all different kinds of websites. That's not something that concerns you? Picking an outfit especially for the ceremony is not a big deal for you?
OH: I get really uncomfortable wearing formal wear. I'm a very casual guy. My personality is extremely casual. When it's time to get down to business, it's time to get down to business. But generally I'm extraordinarily laid back. And I like to wear casual clothing. I actually get extremely uncomfortable when I'm in situations where I have to wear suits or ties or anything that I think is stuffy and formal.
IK: Is there a lot of that at the GayVN awards?
OH: It's not so much suits and ties. But people certainly seem to dress up to try to look their best. It's more like club wear - tight shirts and tank tops showing off their muscles. It's a room full of beautiful men, so people want to show off their beauty in different ways. I think I'll do something a bit more special this year.
OH: Yes, you'll just be shocked!
IK: You have quite a body of work, all different kinds of stuff that you've appeared in. Let's say there's someone who has never seen a single Owen Hawk film. Which performance of yours would you want that person to see that captures you at your best?
OH: I think the movie that's most representative would be Owen Hawk Unleashed. It's one of the only movies that I've ever been on the cover for.
IK: What about that performance speaks most about you?
OH: First of all, I'm very versatile in that particular movie. I mean, most of the work that I've done, I think one of the reasons why they're popular is because I've been extremely versatile, sexually top and bottom. Also it's an edgy performance. There's verbal, lots of talking dirty because I like to talk dirty. I think that's representative of me. Certainly the uninhibited-ness of the movie. It's a safe sex movie, but the energy is very uninhibited. Versatile, uninhibited and with a dirty mouth I guess is why I would pick that performance.
IK: What can our readers expect to see from you next, Owen?
OH: I would want FriskyFans readers to keep their eye on Dark Alley Media and what we're doing. Since we started out, it's been our goal to become the best studio on the East Coast. I think we're not too far away from making it there. We're here to stay. We're going to grow. We're going to get better. The work we're going to do is going to continue to improve and continue to be noticed for its excellence.
Owen Hawk Filmography:
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