What’s interesting about Michael Lucas is that he started a truly New York porn production house, Lucas Entertainment, as a contrast to the usual Californian fuck film enterprises. His recent projects have something kitschy about them: a gay-sex remake of Dangerous Liaisons and, more recently, La Dolce Vita. Born as Andrei Treivas Bregman in Moscow, 1972, he is a smart PR machine for himself; he would never pass up a photo-op. He writes a very entertaining blog and is extremely vocal about his Jewishness. We meet at the dishy duplex in Chelsea, New York, that he shares with his 50-year-old boyfriend Richard. There’s an original Amanda Lear painting above the fireplace, and a chilled-out and surprisingly soft-spoken Michael on the sofa.
Gert: What did you do to celebrate your American citizenship?
Michael: I did nothing. I’m not into celebrations. I don’t like to look back; I like to look forward.
But if your dream comes true and you get the letter or the notice or whatever that says you’ve got it, don’t you at least you go for dinner with friends and celebrate?
I really don’t. It’s weird — I don’t know what to say. I just don’t like celebrations.
Do you celebrate your birthday?
No. Well, we do celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. His birthday is on the same day as mine.
It is, isn’t it? March 10. So we may go for dinner, and sometimes he has a kind of a party. I wouldn’t do it for myself. You don’t have to celebrate your birthday, do you? There’s so many things in life that you don’t want to do but that you have to do… It’s nice if you don’t necessarily need to do something.
So, what do you have to do in life that you don’t really want to do?
Go over to Brooklyn to see my family.
You have family there?
Yeah, I brought my grandparents and my parents over in 2000 and my brother came in 2001. As soon as I got my green card I brought them over so that I never had to go to Russia again. Now I have to go to Brooklyn to see them every now and then, although I’d much rather prefer for them to come here to Manhattan.
Do they like Brooklyn?
They like Manhattan more. But they have their Russian friends there and Manhattan’s also really too expensive for them. I do give them money, but still… My father works here for me. He does renovations, he goes out walking with my dog. He makes my fruit juices in the morning… Look, my parents wouldn’t accept cash, they’re too proud for that, but when he comes here to work for three or four hours per day I can pay him good money for his work, and that’s the only way to do it.
He doesn’t do the cleaning here?
No, we’ve had the same cleaning lady for years and years.
Is she Russian too?
No, she’s from Guatemala. She doesn’t clean very well. But hey, she’s worked for me for a long time, so…
How did you meet your boyfriend?
We met at a party that he gave. He was dating a friend of mine and the next day I said to my friend that I wanted to have his number to say thank you for the party, but my friend was, like, ‘Sorry, I don’t have his number and I’m in a hurry to get to the airport, blah-blah.’ So I called 411 and got his number and I called and said, ‘Thank you and let’s have dinner.’ And that was it…
What did you like about him?
He’s an incredibly nice guy.
Isn’t he a doctor or something?
No, he was the president of the board of the gay community center. He has the same interests as I have: movies, opera… He’s a very nice and mature man. For a long time I didn’t want to move in with him, because I’m totally not homey like that and there’s too many distractions. But he travels a lot; he’s like gone for two weeks per month, so it works.
You studied law, didn’t you?
Yeah, I graduated from the law university in Moscow.
Law is such a practical and powerful kind of knowledge.
Well, especially in American society. Law can be very unfair, in fact. I was involved in a couple of lawsuits, which I initiated. I won one and I settled another one very well. But the basic rule is that the bigger guy will win even if he loses, ’cause if he’s got the money he’ll wear you out in a new lawsuit. No matter how right you are, you will lose, even if you win. That’s why now people don’t really fight with me because I now have money and I can’t stand the world being unfair, so I’ll go to the very end… Even if financially it’s not the best idea, I will go on fighting. Like, when I found out that my old distributor was cheating, I went all the way. Took me two years, but I got everything I wanted. But you see, if tomorrow George Lucas would come and say, ‘I want that name, Lucas Entertainment,’ I would change the name in a second. Even if I’m probably right because I’ve been using that name for just over ten years now and you can find my name on Google and so on, but I would surrender right away. I won’t lose my business and all my money ’cause I’m engaged in a year-long fight.
Is American law different from Russian law?
I don’t know. Well, first, I graduated in 1994, and second, it’s not even worth talking about law in Russia because it’s a disgustingly corrupt country. You don’t want to even talk about law and fairness there ’cause there’s nothing fair in Russia.
What’s the point of studying law in Russia then? I’m curious.
There’s no point. That’s why I’m not working in law anymore. It was a point for my parents for me to study law. I couldn’t care less. I was ready to leave. So as soon as I graduated, I said goodbye — I left to Europe and then to America. I wish I hadn’t studied anything — I should have left five years earlier, at the age of twenty. That would probably have been more convenient. It’s much better to come to the States when you’re younger. Then maybe you’ll lose your accent at some point.
Are you trying to lose your accent?
Sure, I would love to lose it. I’m sure I will one day. It’ll take some time and I’ll have to take more classes. If you live in a country, you want to speak the language. You don’t want to be asked all the time, like, ‘Where are you from?’ I also think it’s a sign of respect for the country to speak the language properly.
The good thing about the US is that they don’t give a damn about pronunciation and stuff.
That’s true, they don’t give a damn, and that’s why I live here. It’s the only country — well, maybe Australia and New Zealand too — where people are very happy to have immigrants. They never discriminate. I’ve never felt even a little bit of discrimination. Whereas I also lived in Germany, and there they’re totally horrible to immigrants. That’s why America is the only country where people integrate very well. And that’s why America is the only country that hasn’t had terrorist attacks since 9/11. The Muslim community has really integrated here, and that’s why in Europe you’ll see more and more attacks, ’cause Muslims haven’t integrated at all in Europe.
Weird, isn’t it? Why is there an American dream but no German dream?
(laughs) Well, because there isn’t a German dream, that’s why. I lived there, in Munich. The Russian community in Germany, they all hate Germany and the Germans. They always complain about it, about how stupid and disgusting they are. Whereas here in America the Russians are huge fans of the US. They only talk about how great America is. In Europe there’s something very wrong with nationalism. That’s one of the reasons why I live here. Here I can actually fulfill the American dream. I could never do it in Europe.
Yet every time I arrive here, at JFK or Newark, I feel quite unwelcome. They have this really unfriendly way of asking what the hell you think you’ll be doing here and when you’ll fuck off again.
So what? Can’t you survive that?
I always feel like I have to lie. They’re asking, ‘Business or pleasure?’ and it’s like they’d love to just send you back straightaway.
They just don’t want you to come and wash dishes. Do you think if I come to Germany and I tell them that I’m coming for business, that they won’t hold me at the border for a long time? They did once. Trust me, there’s no difference. You’re a member of the EU and in Europe you travel without borders. Okay. When you come to America, this is the only border you will cross. They may be unfriendly, but they did let you in, so you shouldn’t complain. They’re doing their job, and their job is to prevent terrorist attacks. That’s the idea of a border. That’s normal. And maybe since 9/11 they ask more questions, but I’m glad they do. I even wish they’d stop this bullshit of having a computer randomly choosing people to investigate closer. I wish they’d start to work like the Israelis — being very polite but interrogating you like psychiatrists. That’s what they do. I go to Israel every year and you get three people talking to you. Why you are going, where you work, if you have relatives… Very friendly. And the next girl comes and asks you the same questions but in a different order. They’re trained to look straight into your eyes. There’s no exception; everyone goes through that. They check everything, they open all your bags… Nothing wrong with that. In America they’re immediately afraid of the First Amendment and democracy and all that crap. It’s ridiculous. Why do you think they never have terrorist attacks on planes in Israel? Because they look carefully.
You’re not going to say that Israel is heaven, are you? There seems to be so much wrong with Israeli society.
Not for me. What are you talking about?
Well, come on, the situation in and around Israel is an extremely complicated mess.
Have you been there? It’s not complicated at all. Where are you from? The Netherlands? Imagine that your neighbors throw bombs on you daily, and you get suicide bombers all the time. Imagine that America had that — there would be no Mexico and no Canada. They would level them in a day. Well, and Israel is the only free society in the Middle East. They treat women and gays like human beings, not like dogs. I really can’t stand how Europe has such a strange attitude towards Israel. I guess it’s because Europe always felt guilty for the Holocaust, so for Europe it’s a big relief to see Jews using weapons and defending themselves for the first time so that Europe can say, ‘Oh, great, they’re just like us.’ I mean, come on. Europeans hate us. What else could be the reason that they choose the side of the Arabs who have been throwing bombs on everybody for years and years and years?
I don’t know. Why do you think that is?
Because the world is not used to seeing a Jew as a strong man protecting his country with weapons. The Jewish image, very much like the gay image, has been very effeminate for centuries. They were always portrayed as sissies that went to concentration camp together, and the question was always, ‘How could they have let themselves be burned like cows?’ But gays and Jews have changed. So now there’s Israel, which has won every war, survived every possible attack… You see? You can’t blame Jews for defending themselves. And now that the Arabs are coming to Europe as well, and have started blowing up bombs in trains and restaurants, Europe is still choosing the side of the Arabs. Have you ever heard of a Jew blowing himself up in a German restaurant because of the Holocaust?
I mean, they have a reason to go into a German restaurant and blow themselves up. But they don’t do it. Jews fight in a different way — with their wisdom. They fight by being incredibly creative. All the big scientists… All the great inventions were done by Jews. Science, medicine, music. They fight for respect; they don’t fight by blowing up buses.
Do you see yourself in the tradition of Einstein, Horowitz and Yehudi Menuhin?
As bringing great creative achievements to the world?
I work in the world of porn.
Well, yes. So what?
(laughs) I try to produce a high-quality product. That’s for sure…
But when you mention great literature, great science, great art, can’t great porn fit in there somewhere?
Trust me, I don’t take my porn that seriously. Porn versus medicine? Porn versus science? Please!
I’d bet some porn directors take themselves super seriously.
Oh yes, they do. You have to see the speeches they give at all the award shows. I don’t even bother going. There’s an award show in Berlin right now. Apparently I won something.
Thank you. I don’t know what I won and it doesn’t matter to me. I like what I do very much, and I’m trying to do what I feel is right. I would be bored if I would just produce porn. That’s why I try to come up with original concepts and work with great people.
Does it mean you stop certain series because they bore you? Like, there might never be a Fire Island Cruising part 212?
Right, I’m stopping with that because I’m bored. Also because lately they’ve been giving me a hard time filming there. They think I show the wrong image of Fire Island. Whereas — hello! — a lot of people only know Fire Island because of my films and real estate prices have gone up since. Young guys are going there again. I’ve kept up the illusion that it’s a happening young scene there. They should thank me for that. You’d think they were a bit smarter. Anyway, I have a beautiful house there but I don’t go much anymore. I can’t tan anymore; I’m too old. Such is life. And I was never really somebody who could do nothing on vacations. I have to do something — go to a museum, look around…
Is there a time when you’ll be too old to be on screen?
Yeah, as soon as I don’t look good on screen anymore I’ll stop.
Any idea when that’ll be?
No. Not for some time. Age is only a number, and it’s about how you look. Porn stars usually don’t have a healthy lifestyle, but I don’t smoke, don’t drink, never do drugs and I go to the gym a lot. I’m fine with my body at 34.
Is there something you don’t like about sex?
Wow, that’s a hard one… Eh, sex sometimes takes a lot of energy out of you. What I don’t like sometimes is when the sex goes all throughout the night and you feel exhausted the next day. That’s the only thing I don’t like about sex. I need my sleep.
But good sex and no sleep can also give you this exciting high the day after, can’t it?
Not for me. (laughs)
You’ve had too much sex, I guess. The rushy feeling is gone.
(keeps laughing) I don’t know. I love sex but I don’t know that rushy feeling. I had great sex last night, I’m tired today, and I don’t think I’ll be very productive today. But I love, love sex. I have it all the time.
What kind of sex did you have last night? Was it for work or for fun?
I just had sex. (laughs)
And this is an interview. (laughs)
I know. I just had sex.
What is that, ‘just sex’?
Just sex is just sex. You want some more coffee?
Yeah, why not. So you don’t do coffee?
No. I drink lots of fruit juice in morning and water the rest of the day.
Oh no! I’ve tried alcohol, of course. I get drunk very fast. I’ve never tried drugs. I’ve never been stoned. I’ve never smoked.
No, no! I do sleeping pills when I need them. I’ve tried Viagra and it was awful. My face went all red. You know, when you see a movie and they all have red chests and burgundy faces? That’s Viagra. The blood goes everywhere.
I was reading your blog today where you were writing about one of your actors that you threatened to fire if he didn’t get himself a six-pack. And I thought, okay, Michael Lucas has lost it: he’s only going to have the usual mainstream, blown-up guys with six-packs from now on.
I said that about an exclusive for Lucas Entertainment, who has all the benefits of being an exclusive: big-time promotion, maybe insurance, salary, the gym. I want those guys to have a six-pack.
But people don’t want to see six-packs.
But I’m talking about the majority. I mean, there’s people who want to see people shit on each other, but I don’t work with niche markets like that. I try to cover as big a range as possible. I personally don’t care about a six-pack in my private life. I like guys who are maybe a little bit chubby and have something to hold — that’s very attractive to me. But that doesn’t mean shit in my business. It’s the majority that counts.
How do you know? Does it show in the sales figures that six-packs sell more DVDs?
The answer is: absolutely yes. They have to be as close to perfection as possible. To be my exclusive you’ve got to be in the fucking gym a lot, and be on a diet, and skip the drinks and the sweets and the chocolates and the cakes…
What a shame!
No, it’s the life you choose. It’s showbiz. If you choose a life for the camera, if you want to be Madonna, you choose the lifestyle of Madonna. Do you think Madonna is sitting there eating cakes and lying in bed farting? No. She’s on the treadmill, doing yoga, doing Pilates, blah-blah-blah.
But someone could be the Bob Dylan of porn?
No way. Not in this business of being nude. Bob Dylan is not interesting nude. He doesn’t get his audience for his six-pack but for his genius songs and music writing. This is a business of physique, perfection, being naked.
I think perfection is fairly off-putting.
What I’m saying is that I’m not in a niche market, and if I want to be able to produce high-quality films, I need a budget. That’s why all the niche-market films look amateurish — they cover a small part of the market. To produce quality and to work with the people I work with, I’ve got to make what people want to see.
Okay, but then another issue… I think there’s two opposing scenarios for porn: one is that you put two cute guys together, and the other is that you bring two extremely different guys together, like one old/one young, one cute/one ugly… What do you think is more exciting?
More exciting? That’s not what matters. I do what the majority wants to see. In order to sell more, I need to put two cute guys together. It’s different than straight porn. There it’s always a beautiful woman with usually quite an ugly guy. Why? Because the people who watch want to think this woman is very available.
I don’t see why it’s different for homos.
It is different. The majority prefers two hot guys, and two hot guys they get! Again, apart from my exclusives, I don’t always use perfect bodies. They can be real people, but real people are usually not the most beautiful creatures.
That’s exactly why they’re exciting, Michael.
Well, then you go and see amateur porn. The Internet is full of it.
Listen, I’m not trying to slag you off — I think your Auditions series is so interesting just because there are quite normal, nice guys in it fucking each other. It’s charmingly amateurish in a good way.
I understand what you’re saying. But there’s nobody in Auditions who is overweight.
So let’s talk a bit about La Dolce Vita, ’cause you’re talking about it all the time on your blog — to the extent where I think, come on Michael, write about something else, get excited, get angry about something out there, ’cause recently you’ve really been hammering La Dolce Vita down your readers’ throats.
Well, I’ve been working on this movie for weeks, it’s a big movie and I have to promote it. But I’ll totally go back to writing about other things.
The original La Dolce Vita is one of the best films ever made, isn’t it? Is yours better?
It’s different. But is it better than Fellini’s? Oh, please!
You should have tried to make it better!
If you give me a budget of a couple of million, I’ll try. But, no… Fellini is my favorite director.
Is your version very porny?
Very porny! It’s total porn. It has twelve hardcore sex scenes, including watersports, hardcore fucking, cumshots in the mouth and everything. That’s my genre — it’s what I do.
I bet it’s hard to be the director of a porn flick and act in it at the same time.
It is hard. To produce, and direct, and perform. I’d be much easier off if I’d just walk on the set with my lines ready and eight hours of sleep before, and going to the gym every day. Then I’d be fantastic!
Well, you could do it. Work for another director and be a spectacular lay!
No fucking way. They call me all the time, but…
Yeah, and I say, ‘Are you kidding?’
Why? If you enjoy the acting and the sex…
Well, I can have sex by just walking out of the house. I don’t need to do porn movies for that. And I don’t think it’s exciting to have sex with lights and a camera crew around me. I prefer sex in the privacy of my bedroom. But going back to your question — I would never want to work for another director, ’cause Michael Lucas, that’s me. I don’t want you to go on Google and get any other options than Lucas Entertainment. There’s no options. The only thing you can go see if you want to see Michael Lucas is Lucas Entertainment. I don’t care about making a few thousand dollars — they offer me eight thousand dollars for a fuck scene and I laugh at them. I say, ‘Yeah, and you’ll go advertise with “Scoop: Michael Lucas’ first film in ten years for another company”.’
But if you’re free to not direct, you can concentrate on the sex. What I’m saying is that I suspect you of sometimes having too much on your mind to focus on a spectacular fuck. I think the hottest porn actors are the ones who are totally losing it on screen, the ones who fuck themselves unconscious, who just go crazy on that asshole for an hour, to a point where you think, ‘Oh my God, this guy is going mad, he’ll disappear into that ass!’ I remember a scene from Auditions where this guy Asoka fucks this blond guy like there’s no tomorrow.
The blond guy didn’t like it as much as you did! (laughs) As for myself — in private I love eating ass for an hour, but I’m not going to eat ass for an hour in a movie, because people will get so bored.
Really? You did a porn Fellini, you did Dangerous Liaisons, maybe now it’s time for Michael Lucas’ Antonioni.
One hour of eating ass on film? I don’t think so.
Do you collect porn movies?
No! I’ve never watched porn in my life. I saw one Jeff Stryker movie, that’s all I watched. I’m not interested in porn. Also, I don’t want to get influenced by some…genius porn movie. (laughs)
You’ve never seen an Al Parker movie?
I’ve never heard that name. Who is it? I’m just not a porn fan. I like to produce porn, but not to watch.
Jesus, I’d be shocked to say I make a magazine but that I’m not interested in magazines.
But that’s different. Magazines are very interesting and porn isn’t. Not for me.
But I’d guess you keep copies of your own films, like your first Cadinot movie?
What was the title?
And what was your role
My role? (laughs out loud) My role! I opened the door of my hotel room and I fucked the guy who walked in. I don’t know why he came to my hotel, and I don’t think the reason was given.
Would you recognize the guy you fucked if you saw him now?
No way. I think he was a blond twink. God knows what he looks like now. Maybe he’s an old wrinkled guy with yellow teeth from smoking. I mean, everyone chooses his own life, you know.
And your choice for a healthy life is a purely strategic one?
Yeah. I would never allow myself to look bad on film. I’m surprised how some actors show up in a bad shape thinking they can be in a porn movie like that.
Is it also a strategic choice of yours to only be a top in your movies?
Not at all. It’s just that everybody should do what they’re best at. If I were a bottom I would have no problem to bottom in my movies. People love to see versatility, so it would be even more strategic if I’d bottom. It just doesn’t feel comfortable. I probably don’t do it well.
Do you do it in private?
Not really. I mean, if I’d do it privately, I’d do it on screen too. It’s just that I don’t have any practice.
You’re an amateur bottom.
Yeah. Thank you.
But you’re also the boss and since…
…oh God no, please! That’s ridiculous. I could literally get fucked, no problem. A boss can be a fisting bottom and still be a great boss. Look at Chi Chi Larue. (laughs)
Are there still people who call you Andrei?
My parents and my boyfriend and some of my old friends do. But I’m finally changing my passport. It’ll be done in a couple of months — I’ll be Michael Lucas for real.
It’s more convenient. Like, yesterday I went for a radio interview and I had to show my ID at the door. I was in the system as Michael Lucas but my passport said Andrei Treivas, so it took me 25 minutes to get in… Or, I was at the Mondrian Hotel in LA and when I checked in they said, ‘Why didn’t you say Michael Lucas was coming? We would have given you a better room.’ You see, it’s more convenient for me to be Michael Lucas. I get more benefits for being Michael Lucas.