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The Consummate Professional - Mark Spiegler

Interview

OFFICE — So what does a porn agent do, exactly?

 

MARK SPIEGLER — I’m an agent just like any Hollywood agent, we’re licensed and bonded. We represent the girls. Spiegler Girls is a little different, we’re small and kind of boutique, most of our girls are the top girls, and we only takea small amount because I retired when I was young, before this. So it’s not about the money. Also, unlike some other agencies, we’re kind of like a manager and PR person, we create a career, a path for them.

 

O — You grew up in LA, right?

 

MS — Yeah, born in Silver Lake, then I grew up in Hollywood. I graduated from Hollywood High.

 

O — Do you remember what porn was like when you were a kid?

 

MS — Yeah, I remember the first time I saw porn. Home VCRs came around in 1975, but my cousin used to install systems in movie stars’ and rich people’s houses, and I remember he had The Devil in Miss Jones, the very early stuff. And back then there was the Pussycat Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Even before I was old enough, people would come out this door into the alley behind it and I would sneak in. When I was a kid porn was either a movie theater, or black-and-white newspaper nudie pics or something. I’d walk by that porn theater every day on my way to school, but also I would go by the newspaper stand and try and sneak a look. That was porn.

 

O — So you did find it, you didn’t have a repressed childhood.

 

MS — No, my parents were very liberal.

 

O — What can you tell me about them?

 

MS — They were both European, both Holocaust survivors. My father was born in Poland but grew up in Vienna, and when Hitler was elected in 1933 he left and joined the RAF in North Africa, long before World War II. My mother was younger, her family was killed and she escaped to England and joined what was called the ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the army for women. Then she went to college in England, got a degree in international business at what was then called the London Polytechnic Institute, and then she—sorry hold on. [Mark takes a call]

MS — That was one of our girls that lives in the building.

 

O — How many of them live here?

 

MS — Only two right now. There’s another girl from porn, but not one of ours.

 

O — Would you ever try to poach her?

 

MS — We never recruit talent. We turn down over two- hundred girls a year, I can show you all the emails. I have two today.

 

O — Do these emails come from professionals with experience in the business, or are they amateurs?

 

MS — Both. If they’re like eighteen, nineteen, never did porn, the first thing I try to do is talk them out of it. It’s not made for everybody. A lot of girls when they’re really young, they don’t think it through. I tell them, “Your relatives will find out. I don’t care if they don’t even know what a computer is. Your grandmother in Minnesota, your cousin Johnny, they’re gonna hear about it from somebody, and they’re not gonna be happy. And also, you’re gonna get S TDs doing this. You got a good c hance of getting gonor rhea and c hlamydia at some point. You’ ll work with guys you don’t like, they’re not good looking, they’re smelly.” But then there are some girls that were made for this, who’d be doing it for free.

 

O — A lot of people have preconceived notions about the type of woman that gets into porn—one of the first assumptions being a messed up childhood.

 

MS — I’ll tell you what, a higher percent of them have daddy issues. But it’s not necessarily like “I got raped,” or “I got molested.”

O — So what do you look for? What makes a natural?

 

MS — First of all you want a girl of course that’s good looking. Preferably eighteen to twenty-five with no tattoos. But then what I look for is if they’re smart. A lot of our girls have college degrees, two of them went on to become lawyers, one of them became a doctor of neurology, and two of them now are about to take the LSAT. Bobbi Starr was playing oboe with the San Francisco Philharmonic, she was a music teacher up there and would come down here a few days a week and shoot porn. One girl has a master’s degree in writing from N YU, she wrote a movie, she’s about to go to law school. And the thing is, her mom worked her way through law school while on welfare. Her ringtone in my phone is Hard Knock Life. They all have their own ringtones. But yeah, they’ve got to be smart, that’s a big plus.

 

O — Why?

 

MS — Well, I think it’s hot. What I also want is a girl who’s a pervert. I want them to be doing this because they like it. But why smart? I built this thing so that it runs well, I have like thirty girls and our girls are really reliable. I’ve been doing this since 1999 officially, and only once has a girl ever not showed up for a job. I answer my phone all the time, and they’ve got to answer the phone too, they’ve got to answer emails, texts. If they’re smart they’re going to do it, I don’t have to prompt them.

 

O — Is part of that process making sure they stay away from drugs? It’s an industry that’s notorious for drug use.

 

MS — Well, you know we drug test the girls. I mean I don’t care if they smoke weed, but anything else we can’t deal with. My favorite girl of all time, she was on drugs, we got her cleaned up, she went back to the drugs and we let her go. I still talk to her, but I’m not waiting for them to get arrested, and miss a job, and be fucked up at work and all that. For us it’s a different level of girls than what’s normal.

 

O — What about your relationship with substances? You said your parents were liberal, were you a typical teenager?

 

MS — I was really straight-laced all through school, partied a little in the ‘80s, but now I don’t drink, don’t smoke. I don’t anything. But I think either you grow out of that, or something bad happens to you. You can’t be a teenager for thirty years. Unless you’re Tinkerbell or something.

 

O — Right. And your first career was as a stock trader?

 

MS — Yeah, what they call a day-trader now. When I was thirteen somebody gave me stock for my bar mitzvah. I’m like a natural businessperson, so I started buying, selling and trading stock. By the time I was twenty-two I’d made a lot of money, I didn’t have to work anymore. When the stock market crashed in’87, I bought a bunch of Apple stock. And I bought gold-related securities, so when the market crashed I made like nineteen percent. I made a ton of money on that, then I didn’t do anything for years. Then, a guy who grew up with my cousin in New York was a porn director. He was living out here, and in the ‘80s I helped him out as a PA once in a while. In the ‘90s he came to me to borrow money to shoot porn—back then it was a lot different than it is now, you could shoot movies, bring them to a company and sell them. Not anymore. But back then, when I did that the first time with that guy, I made seventeen-hundred bucks in a day. But he wasn’t very good. Kind of a hack. When I started shooting myself, I’d make a movie in a day. When I say a movie, it was features, back when they had acting and plot—theoretically. Five to seven sex scenes in it. I’d shoot that in one to two days, and I’d make five to ten grand. I made like ninety-six of those.

O — In the beginning, was it odd to you? To think that pornography was now your profession?

 

MS — Have you ever been to a porn set?

 

O — I haven’t.

 

MS — It’s not what you think. Back then it was more porno-y anyway, but now it’s more business. And I don’t watch porn at all. I don’t have a single DVD in this place. Most of the girls we have, I haven’t even seen them do anything. I don’t care, I know they’re good. I don’t have to see it. I have Penthouse magazines, cause all our girls are in them, so I have a copy of those in a drawer, but even those I haven’t looked at. Once you really go into it, you know it’s kind of fake, and you know the people, so you have no interest in seeing it. Back then it was sort of Boogie Nights, because it was totally illegal in the ‘80s. They’d meet in a secret place, there’d be a lighting truck, you’d park down the street, and every time you shot a tape you’d run down the street and hide it in the car, because if the cops came they’d confiscate it.

 

O — What about the perception that this industry is messy and unregulated, are there a lot of cowboys or gangsters involved?

 

MS — There’s no mafia in it since the ‘80s. It’s corporations that run this stuff. Back then it was mob guys who had theaters. You know, like Deep Throat. That movie made six- hundred million dollars. The Devil in Miss Jones, in like 1972, it was one of the top box office movies, period. Not just porn, period. So back then there was a lot of money in it, and they owned the theaters. But they don’t own the means of distribution anymore.

 

O — So what sets you apart, why are you so successful?

 

MS — Well I have the luxury that I don’t need the money, we don’t have to send the girls on just anything. Plus, I believe a good looking chick is great—but a smart good looking chick, you can’t beat it.

 

O — Because they make more reliable clients, or do you think that actually comes across on-screen?

 

MS — I think that definitely comes across. And also, the companies always like the smart girls better. They always prefer Spiegler girls. You know what the AVN Awards is? We only represent three or four percent of all the girls in the business, but Performer of the Year at the AVN Awards, our girls have won the past five years in a row. Best New Star they’ve won four out of the five. They win so many of the major awards, last year agents started complaining that we’re fixing the awards, they even complained to the company to have them change the person that’s running the awards. Anyway, our girls tend to work more, tend to work for the bigger companies, and they tend to get paid more.

 

O — Do you ever feel like expanding your roster beyond twenty-five or thirty?

 

MS — No, because then I’d have to get somebody else to do it. I give most of the money away. So remember, I first started in the business shooting movies. Then a guy came to me with a girl from France who was a supermodel and said “Hey, you know everybody, can you help her get work?” So I did, and I didn’t charge her anything. That girl made like fifty-six grand in two months. She went back to France and sent her friends. And then they sent their friends. In the beginning I was doing this for free for a couple years, but when it became a lot of work I made a business out of it. When I was first doing it most of the girls were foreign, a lot of them didn’t speak English, and they needed somebody to drive them, pick them up, take them to get tested, so I was doing that and I had one other guy doing that, George. But now the girls are all basically American, the few foreign ones have visas, have their own cars, they take care of themselves. So now George is my personal banker. The only thing he does, mainly, is he’ll pick up a check once in a while, he goes to a PO box every Friday and gets all the Spiegler Girls’ money, deposits it in the bank, comes over here, writes himself a check, and keeps the money. He just bought his fourth house. So he’s really lucky. But there’s no reason to expand, because it’s not for the money. I have that luxury. That’s just luck. But also I work hard—I have no life basically besides this right now. I go to the movies once in a while, but I have to go to like a twelve o’clock showing, because I have to answer my phone. This is mainly it, all the time.

 

O — So do you consider yourself a bachelor for life?

 

MS — Yeah. First of all, you go out with a girl, these girls get all pissed off. They don’t like anybody else getting the attention. I made the mistake once of going out once with a girl in the business, that was bad.

O — The girls get jealous when they see you with someone else?

 

MS — Oh yeah. I won’t even carry a girl’s bag if I’m taking them somewhere, because then you get “Why did you do that?” I think the common thing is they all want attention. I threatened one of them I was going to make their ringtone “make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world” cause they’re all me me me all the time.

 

O — Would you say they see you as more than an agent or manager?

 

MS — It’s like a father figure. Some of them call me Papa Spiegs. A lot of them have daddy issues, a lot of them didn’t have their fathers around when they were growing up.

 

O — So then what keeps you from having a girlfriend outside of the industry?

 

MS — I just don’t have time. I mean I kind of have one, but she doesn’t even live here. I see her when she’s here but that’s not that often. And the other girls don’t evenlike that. She went to the XBIZ Awards with me last year, and Jessie Andrews, who’s like my kid too, she saw the girl and said “No!” and pushed her out of the way.

 

O — Do you have any moral issues with the industry at large?

 

MS — I mean, I won’t let them shoot for certain people. In the old days, Max Hardcore—really bad stuff. Rob Black. There used to be a site called Meathole where they’d beat the shit out of girls. Or Porno Dan, really low-end, just stuff that is not good at all. Not just everybody can afford our girls either, some of them are really expensive. Riley [Reid]’s anal rate is insane, I mean I’d practically do anal for what she gets. Unfortunately a lot of these girls are young and making a ton of money, and just spending it all. There have been times where I’ve taken a girl, opened a trust account for her, and just put their money away for them so they can’t touch it yet.

 

O — Do you ever feel like...

 

MS ...chokin’ em? [laughs]

 

O — Do you ever feel like selecting these girls and managing their careers is at all like playing the stock market?

 

MS — It is, it is an art. I have a degree in economics, and it’s an art, it’s not just a science. It’s about how people think, people move in groups. I’m never a follower, even when I was a kid. I was in the boy scouts for like a week, I just can’t do groupthink. You know, my father was a chess master, and I don’t just think a week ahead, I think several moves ahead. So if somebody doesn’t want to hire a girl cause they’re too expensive or whatever, I’m not in a big hurry. They say our girls are expensive, but I tell them our girls are cheaper than any girls, because in the end you don’t have a lost day, you don’t have to pay a kill fee to a makeup artist, a location fee, this and that. All these people eventually come around. I try to look at the bigger picture, and then use that for the future. That’s what I did with money. With porn, it’s gonna get shot no matter what. People are always gonna need girls.

— END

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