Porn Star Interview: Derrick Pierce
I talked with the earnest, gracious, and affable Derrick Pierce about porn star perspective, staying healthy, and basic human kindness on a porn set. Straight male porn consumers (who remain the majority of porn consumers) have a complicated relationship with male porn stars. Wait let’s start that again: When I, a straight male, watch porn, the expectations I have for the woman are less than those I have for the guy.
All she needs to do is be my type and to seem like she’s fun to be around. And that’s it. But the male porn performer’s job is tough, as we’ll find out. Not only that, but his workload is often inversely proportional to his fame. Since 2007, Pierce has endeavored to prop up his female co-stars while taking little face-time for himself. Don’t get me wrong, Pierce says, I’ll shine when I can, but I’m there to make her look good. My job is to find something sexy about each one.
I catch up with Pierce on a Saturday when he’s washing his car. He’s 40, a Los Angeles native (I’ve lived all over the Valley, he says), and a CrossFit devotee. In his scenes (of which Gamelink only has about 500), he always comes across as confident, respectful, and grateful. It’s important to know your role, he is saying. We’re not curing cancer here. Pierce grew up with his single mom, who was a cocktail waitress and a mud wrestler. Wait, I say. A mud wrestler Yeah. There were always sexy women in the house, trying on their 80s unitards, Pierce says.
Did this teach you to be respectful to women? Not really, he says, crediting his mother for that, but it taught me how to introduce myself. (This reminds me unfairly of Don Draper growing up in the whorehouse, or young Harpo Marx playing piano in a bordello. I imagine Pierce in 1980s Van Nuys trying to act nonchalant when his mom’s mud-wrestling friends are over, drinking white wine and comparing their asses to Paula Abdul’s.) This is how Pierce grew up.
North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Pacoima (he calls his city Los Scandalas). He’d go to school, play sports, hang out with his mom, and occasionally take the bus to Raiders games when they were headquartered at the L.A. Coliseum.
You were a trainer?
I’ve been an athlete since I was in junior high school track and field, the Jesse Owens Youth Foundation. I was always good at sports, and had a blast. That started my athletic career, which evolved into football in high school and even some dance, which evolved into martial arts and combat sports.
What’s your advice on staying fit?
Well, when you’re younger you think you’re bulletproof. But now it’s like, `You got injured getting out of bed? `Yeah, I sat up too fast. It was crazy. When I got in at 33, I was in decent shape. But then I got into CrossFit, and I really care about it. You know, I’d been around gyms for all that time when I was younger, and I saw the effect of steroids on people, so I wanted to be healthy, not an empty shell. Now I’m more about health and fitness than I am about athletics. I care about eating right. I’m not so much into thinking `Do my abs look right? than I am about `Do I have cancer?
Well, you haven’t let it all go by the wayside?
Yeah, Pierce says. There’s guys in their 20s that I could just kill.
So how about your diet?
That’s easy, he says. Eat clean meats. Non-processed stuff. Lots of greens and vegetables. You know, a little fruit, a grilled chicken breast, a side salad. If you’re hungry, have more salad. Avoid eating shit you can’t pronounce. Then go play sports go outside and play basketball. You don’t need a gym membership to go out and run a mile. Pay $2.50 to go swim at the community pool.
Tell me if your early experiences in porn consumption were similar: I remember when I first found what we called The French Channel at my parents house. It was both softcore and scrambled, but in the few seconds of clear picture I’d remember thinking: Don’t cut to the guy’s face. Yet even then (I was 52) I knew that the porn dude is integral to the porn-watching experience.
So what do I expect of them?
1. He has to seem like he is genuinely happy to be there he can’t take it for granted
2. Since he is the stand-in for every viewer who wishes he could be there instead, he can’t be a huge douche
3. He has to share all those parts of the woman that I want to see, and not bogart them for himself I think I was lucky to get into the business later than most guys, Pierce says.
I was 33. In fact, I look at guys like James Deen who came in when he was 19 and admire him just for the way he’s handled his fame.?
What do you mean?
?To get all that fame that young, that sort of attention, you really have to know how to handle it. I had had a job all that time, and by the time I got into porn, I knew who I was. When you’re 19, you’re still figuring it out. I admire James as a performer but I admire him more as a guy who didn’t fuck everything up for having all that fame so young.
Who are the other people you admire in porn?
For my money, Nacho Vidal is the best. He’s in the scene. And Manuel Ferrara deserves every accolade he gets. John Strong is extremely underrated. For women, I look at people like Phoenix Marie and Romi Rain they just have their acts together and they know what they’re doing. They’re solid. I worked with Maddy O’Reilly in `Maddy O’Reilly Is Slutwoman` and she really went to bat for me.
How does that work, that someone has to go to bat for you after seven years in the business?
It’s a small business but we get known for certain things, and sometimes you don’t get the overlap you want. So if I’m known for Wicked movies people might not know also that I’m one of the few doms in the business who have sex.
I didn’t know that myself. I only found out recently how small a group that is.? [In the fetish world of places like Kink.com and InSex, dominant males, or doms, might tie a woman up, flog her, beat her silly, etc., but don’t want to/can’t fuck her. There’s only a few guys in that realm who service what they bind.]
Yeah, there’s some scenes I did with Kink.com that can’t be released in some states! So Maddy said a good word for me to (Elegant Angel director) MimeFreak and we did this great scene for `Slutwoman.
Talk about the relation between a porn actor and his female co-star, and a porn actor and the director.
I got schooled early on that a porn actor needs to be the cameraman’s best friend. It’s rare that the director of the movie will have much to say about the sex, but it’s the cameraman who needs all the right angles. My job is to get the girl into the light, move her where she needs to go. I work a lot with new girls, so when I work with someone like Phoenix Marie, who knows to keep her hair out of her face, `open up for the camera without being asked, and use her inside hand rather than her outside hand so as not to block the shot it’s perfect. But the guy needs to be aware of the camera at all times.
One of the things that’s distinctive about your performances is that you’ve got confidence but you don’t seem cocky, you’ve got respect but you’re not a pushover. How’d you learn that?
It’s a dance, Pierce says. Let’s say 60 percent of the women in porn have a boyfriend at home who’s in a band. He doesn’t have a job, he drives her to work, he’s calling her a whore all the way to the set. That’s the woman who walks in. She’s pissed, and I’m supposed to fuck her?
So how do you handle that?
I say, `I got you today. We’re all assholes sometimes. But you look good even when you’re upset. I got you. Let me be part of the solution.
Jesus Christ, I say. You’re changing my life.
And the fail-safe? `Your hair looks great. Did you just get it cut? She gets her hair cut every month, so you’re always right. That said, I go out of my way to be respectful to women I know who are in relationships. I don’t want her to feel awkward around me, or her boyfriend who might be in the business, too to feel anything but comfortable (I’m working with Mia Malkova later and her boyfriend, Danny Mountain, is a good guy. I always want to be respectful). So I’ll definitely get my feel on during the scene, but afterward A peck on the cheek.
Pierce may have been born with a Zen attitude or he may have picked it up on the way perhaps those long MTA rides from the Valley to the Coliseum. Our conversation jumped around, but we did touch on the pitfalls of the job, beyond not curing cancer, and it was good to hear a little bit of the L.A. tough guy you know is also in there.
People like to say, `Oh, you guys actually use scripts in your movies? That used to bug me, he says. But people are always going to talk. I remember when I was a trainer and someone would say to my mom, `What’s he going to do for a real job? So that’s always been part of my experience. We have good days and bad days. A good day is when everyone is doing the job, everybody’s having a good time, you get a girl who whispers in your ear, `I’m really looking forward to sucking your dick later. That’s a successful day. But people will always criticize. It’s like the guy who sits on his couch critiquing the MMA fight. `Oh yeah you could do that It’s the same with people who watch porn and criticize. My dick might not be as big as Kieran Lee`s, but Fool, I could run through your house, fuck your wife, and she wouldn’t even remember your name afterward.