A Lone Gunn

Porn producer Jim Gunn makes a living on the low end of cinema

Gunn cranked out a few more bondage movies before producing Strap On Sally. With $15,000 or so in backing from Pleasure, he lined up porn stars Chantilly Lace and Ariana along with a gaggle of others from the New York area. The movie came out in January 1994 and was a huge success by porn standards. "They had a lot of other directors making features in L.A. and elsewhere at the time," says Gunn. "But that was by far the best-selling movie that Pleasure had to date. I think we might have broken close to 4000 units in the first couple months. It launched the series that continues to this day. I shot Strap On Sally Number 17 a month and a half ago."

The movie also earned him the boss's trust. Soon Gunn was developing a number of other projects for Pleasure, in addition to performing his marketing duties. He worked 40-hour weeks, then filmed on weekends.

He was prolific. During the '90s he came out with titles including multiple volumes of Canadian Beaver Hunt, East Coast Sluts, Orgy Girls, Penis Envy, Canadian Stripper Search, and Lesbian Virgins. And there were dozens of other titles like Savage Torture, Slapped Around Sluts, Slave Girl's Agony, South Beach Beauties, Sinister Fantasies, and Sexy Car Wash Girls.

Shooting for Extreme Coeds: just another day at the sex factory
Joshua Prezant
Shooting for Extreme Coeds: just another day at the sex factory

By porn standards Gunn's work is competent, if not groundbreaking. The camera is steady, the angles are varied, the lighting is adequate, and the sound is comprehensible. He often writes his own scripts, which serve the purpose -- moving actors from sex scene to sex scene.

Paige Shagwell, Private Lap Dancer, one of his recent feature films, is typical. "I think it's a pretty good little movie," says Gunn. He shot it in South Florida with about $15,000 from Pleasure in just under a week. He used a $55,000 Beta-SP video camera, which is similar to equipment used by TV news shows, and his crew included a makeup artist, production assistant, videographer, and gaffer.

Paige Shagwell, played by an actress of the same name, according to the box cover, is a private investigator specializing in sex crimes -- or more accurately, crimes that coincide with sex. The movie opens with Shagwell and her employee, Joe (played by Joe Shagwell, according to the box), enjoying a glass of wine at an oddly empty Italian restaurant. The Shagwells, it seems, have had a very busy year and are looking forward to taking a couple weeks off.

Then her cell phone rings. Another job. This time a client needs them to crack a prostitution ring at a strip club. The Shagwells take the case. Then they clear the silverware off the restaurant table and have sex.

Afterward they take off for the club in their red LeBaron convertible. Paige's job is to befriend Gina Lynn, the dancer suspected of masterminding the prostitution operation. Joe is there to run the sound system.

Paige is a quick study. After changing in the dressing room, she goes on-stage with Gina and has sex with her to establish her bona fides. It works. Gina is fooled into trusting Paige and reveals her operation which, no surprise, involves patrons, dancers, and a lot of sex. Each time a coupling occurs, Paige pops from behind a bush or peeks into a window and says "busted" or "got another one," though we never see her call the cops to make an arrest. (Those scenes may come in a future Gunn movie. He recently purchased a jail set, complete with iron bars, from a long-forgotten '80s cop show.)

Having cleaned up the club, we next find the Shagwells back in their office, again talking about that much-needed vacation. Then the phone rings. Another client, another job, more sex. They sigh, retire to the couch, and have sex. And that's a wrap.

Gunn really doesn't know how much the movie has earned -- he doesn't own the rights -- but surmises it's popular because he has seen it on cable TV.

One Friday afternoon in May, a blue SUV pulls into the Spindrift motel parking lot, a thin strip of spaces on the west side of A1A in Fort Lauderdale. A heavyset, middle-aged man with tousled blond hair and wearing a T-shirt exits the driver's side. A blond, hard-looking, thirtyish woman in jeans shorts and a pink sleeveless T-shirt gets out of the passenger side. The man, an undercover police officer, walks into the motel courtyard. The woman follows until an armed officer in black trousers and black T-shirt with the word "POLICE" emblazoned in block letters across the back materializes from a nearby hedge and beckons her over. She obeys.

From 30 feet away, the conversation between the woman and the cop is inaudible, but the body language is unmistakable. She cries, points, and throws up her hands in exasperation. He listens dispassionately, shakes his head, and leads her away by the wrist. It's a prostitution sting.

Inside room 118 Gunn is shooting two upcoming films: Extreme Coeds: Spring Break Goes Hardcore and an as-yet-unnamed project that will be a compilation of ten or twelve blowjob vignettes. He chose the motel for its authentically low-budget look. From the stained blue carpet to the kitchenette with a Goldstar microwave oven on top of the refrigerator to the cane loveseat with drab, threadbare, floral-print cushions, the place exudes "spring break on a budget."

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