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Gunn claims an income "in the six figures, the low six figures," but there's no way to confirm that. His company, Jim Gunn Productions Inc., is a one-man show with an address at a Mail Boxes Etc. on Oakland Park Boulevard. He drives a 1996 Firebird with "GUNNXXX" license plate, and lives in a modest, rented home in a working-class Oakland Park neighborhood.
He is blissfully free of others' demands on his time. On a typical day, he wakes up at 10 a.m. or so, listens to Howard Stern, then works at home on his Websites: www.brazilxxx.com, www.jimgunn.com, and www.lezcheer.com, which is under construction. Though he came late to Internet porn, he hopes to make money the same way he profited in sex video: by specializing in all-girl material and introducing new faces to the business.
Europe is hot right now; a lot of producers are flocking to Czechoslovakia to film porn. Gunn, sticking to his formula of zigging when everyone else zags, is mining for fresh bodies in Brazil. He went there four times last year, and so far his travels have resulted in Luscious Latinas one and two, International Deep Throat Search Number One, and Sex Around the World 1 (Brazil). This summer he's planning a trip to Iceland. "I read some interesting thing about the genetically pure women there, and I've got to go there and shoot something."
For a guy in such an explicit business, Gunn is surprisingly reticent about his background. Ask him what he was like as a kid, and he says, "normal." Ask him about sports, and he offers that he played soccer and wrestled in high school. His luck with the opposite sex as a young man was so-so. "I was no stud. I had a couple girlfriends but not too many. I didn't really pursue it, you know. I really don't remember what I did when I was a kid in high school."
After trying to draw him out for a while, you get the sense that, for him, ruminating on the past is a waste of time. Producing cinematic sex is an act quintessentially of the moment. A good three-way scene or a particularly enthusiastic performance is nice, but it's also ephemeral. When you're competing with hundreds of people putting out thousands of movies, you don't rest on your laurels. You film more sex.
This much Gunn does say: he grew up in "about seven or eight" New York City suburbs. Which one does he consider his hometown? "I don't really know if I should say."
His parents have been married for 35 years. They know what he does for a living, and they don't mind, he says. "I think if you were to talk to them, they would say something like "as long as he's happy.'" He'd rather they not be interviewed, however.
He has one brother, two years his junior, who is a high-school biology teacher. "He is nothing like me. He is not interested in stuff I am interested in. He is a quiet guy and a respectable guy who has no interest in porn and money and, you know, strippers and stuff like that."
Gunn saw his first porn film at age 13 and has no trouble recalling the title: "It was an old Vanessa Del Rio movie, Dominatrix Without Mercy," he says.
He was a fan of the genre through high school and college at the State University of New York at Albany, where he majored in marketing and business administration. Concurrently he wrote and submitted articles to magazines such as Big Butt and Video Xcitement. "It paid almost nothing, but I got my foot in the door," he says.
He graduated summa cum laude in 1991 and was on his way to a nine-to-five gig when he had his epiphany: He didn't want to work in corporate America, he didn't want a real job, and he didn't want to become his dad.
The revelation came in a scene from a bad porno movie. "I went to Manhattan, did a few interviews, and it sucked. It sucked that I was on a train; it sucked that I was wearing a tie. I was thinking, I'm going to have to do this every day, this is boring. And I would get to the places and think, Look at these people in this dirty, dingy office. So I went down to a peep show. It just dawned on me as I had my arm through a hole in the wall fondling some girl's ass: I got to get into the sex business."
He sent his résumé to just about every East Coast porn producer or distributor -- there were maybe five or six at the time. Pleasure Productions, headquartered in Hightstown, New Jersey, hired him to do sales and publicity. Pleasure was small then, recalls Gunn, but it was growing. By the time he left seven years later, the company had 150 employees and put out 30 to 40 titles per month on video and DVD.
In 1993, while still at Pleasure, Gunn decided it was time to get into production. He spent $3000 on a video camera. Then he paid porn star Holly Ryder "about $200, if I remember correctly," found a few dancers and strippers willing to work for similar rates, and shot Red Tails, a spanking flick. "I presented it to my boss at Pleasure, who didn't know I had such an interest in filming," Gunn recalls. "He refused to buy it because it sucked, but he didn't fire me. Then he thought, OK, this kid is interested; I'll give him a chance."