Ben Dover: He's Back in the U.S. Market Via Kick Ass Pictures
LOS ANGELES - Ben Dover, the United Kingdom's most popular XXX export, is re-inserting his much imitated brand of anal-driven gonzo into the U. S. market, thanks to a distribution deal with Kick Ass Pictures. Ben Dover's Kick Ass Anal Adventures, his first American release in two years, was shipped to stores on October 19. Dover's previous deal with VCA Pictures deal came to an end after six years with Ben Dover's Housewife Hussies in 2002. In an exclusive interview with AVN Insider's Jared Rutter from his home in England, Dover spoke about his American comeback, the UK's legalization of porn, and some of the features (lengthy sex scene build-ups, multiple partners) unique to his vision of adult entertainment.
AVN: How much time was there between your ending with VCA and starting with Kick Ass?
DOVER: I think it must be close to two years now.
AVN: Were you shooting at all in that time?
DOVER: Oh yeah. I was still shooting. With all the problems I was having with VCA being taken over by Hustler, and issuing all my films with softcore covers when George W. Bush came to power... They were cutting out all the ass to mouth, which is a popular thing that punters like. They were effectively re-editing my tapes to make like a soft hardcore version. So I had issues with that.
I didn't really have the time to devote to marketing in America anyway because I was concentrating on getting in very, very quickly when we first went legal in England [in 2002]. So I thought, well, I'll leave America. The market's not particularly good at the moment. VCA is messing around with my films. I'll concentrate on the UK. So, yeah, I was shooting stuff constantly for England and putting films out and compilations, doing a lot of cable stuff for satellite TV.
Once I set off my business over here, and it was all running quite well, the UK decided to do what the Americans did and go down the route of massive over-production. Every week there were, like, 20 new production companies coming on stream. The shops couldn't cope. No one could cope. You ended up with people selling stuff far too cheap. So I've left that kind of in abeyance at the moment. I've got a lot of product out there. It's still a really strong line over here. But people were saying to me, "Why don't you do another deal in the states?" And I thought, OK. Maybe now's the right time. I think it was a good decision. It allowed me to build up my customer base in England. Also, if you've been around in a market for a long, long time, people kind of get familiar with you, so I think it was good to take a couple of years off, just to kind of regroup and come back.
[My U.S. rep] sort of said, "Do you want me to fish around for a deal again in America?" I thought it was a really good idea. I knew [Kick Ass owner] Mark Kulkis from before, when he used to work at AVN. I sent him a copy of the first movie, and he liked it, and we did the deal.
AVN: The stuff coming out from Kick Ass, has that already been released in England?
DOVER: The first movie's just been released over here, [under the title of] Butt Mania.
AVN: But it's all new material, right?
DOVER: Oh yeah. This is all brand new stuff. We've got some good English girls. I mean, it's exactly the same as it ever was, to be honest. David Christopher taught me a very good lesson when he looked me straight in the eye, he said, "Look. It's all about pussy, man." As long as you've got fresh new pussy, and they're being fucked hard, that's taking the whole thing back to its basic bones of what porn is. It's watching sexy young girls who are brand new, a little bit nervous in front of the camera, having good, hard sex.
AVN: We understand that Ben Dover's Kick Ass Anal Adventures is four hours long.
DOVER: Yeah. It's a long one. What I've done, and it's something that I'm gonna continue to do, I've got this bit of software that I'm using which I've called the Varied Time Scene Management program. Because I don't really shoot a specific structure of time. Sometimes, if I'm doing a scene, with a new girl and everyone's just having fun, the scene will run pretty long. What I've done previously is I've taken sections out of the scene and put it on as extra footage, which is something a lot of people do on the DVDs, but of course it then comes out of context.
So the reason that it's four hour long is two of the scenes are actually quite long, but I left them long, just to see the way this thing develops. What I've done with the Varied Time Scene Management program, I've given the viewer the option of watching a shortened edited version or the full-length version that happened on the day. If I get a scene that cuts really long, then I'm gonna use the same thing, because obviously some people don't want to sit down and watch a 50 minutes scene, they just might want to watch a 20 minute version.
On Butt Mania I just happened to shoot two scenes that just went and went and went. I just went with it. One of the scenes was with a really, really stunning girl who had never done anything before and has never done anything since. I thought, Hey, I've got a brand new girl. She's stunning looking. She's never gonna do anything again. Can I really afford to leave footage on the cutting floor? It just doesn't make sense! So there's nothing written in stone. If I've got a brand new girl, she's absolutely fantastic, and the scene's going really, really well and it runs long, I'll cut it long and then I'll put a variable time on it. That doesn't happen that often, I have to say. It's only very, very rarely you get one of those scenes you just know is gonna be an absolute blisterer.
AVN: Your scenes, though, have traditionally been long.
DOVER: They have. When we first started the Ben Dover line in the mid-�90s, almost 10 years ago now, I did a lot of this straight pickup time thing, which was interesting for the time. Obviously, now, it's not possible to do that unless everything's condom mandatory. The fact that a lot of them were real pickups mean that the people would be either put off by the fact that there's condoms, or they're know it was set up, because obviously everyone has to be HIV tested. So that's the reason they were long in the beginning, because there was a lot of build-up.
Having said that, when I was with VCA, after quite a short period, they decided they were gonna start editing down the stuff. They said it was too long before people got into the sex, which is something I didn't necessarily agree with, because in video it's always possible just to fast forward it. And I thought the idea that there was a long build-up was part of the appeal of the line.
Another reason why I can't just do this thing out on the street now is because over the years I've become quite well known, especially in the UK. The times when I've been trying to do something different outside, I just get people coming up all the time saying, "Oh, you're that Ben Dover bloke, aren't ya?" If I went up to a girl now on the street and pretended I was doing a documentary for some Swedish television company, she'd just turn around and say, "No you're not. You're with that Ben Dover, that porno bloke. I know what you're up to."
So I'm cutting scenes slightly shorter. I mean, I always try and work to an idea of about 25 to 30 minutes, which is the same length as a television sitcom, because I think it's necessary. You lose some of the idea of the build-up and the whole atmosphere that's going on in the shoot if it's just straight into the sex. I also like to try and let the viewer get to know the girl, first, even if it's just to chat, "How are you? Where you been?" So at least you can see her in a normal environment, with street clothes on, which I find very important. I don't really want to see two people just walk in the room and have sex. I want to know something about them before.
AVN: Right. You do a lot of multiple partner sex, too...several guys and one girl.
DOVER: Yeah. I've got a very specific view on that. I always think that the idea of having three or four guys in a scene with one girl, is good, actually, on two levels. A) it shows that she's a complete slut, and B) you get all the cumshots at the end, which I like. But, again, sometimes in multiple shots you get all four guys fucking the girl in the doggie position, which, frankly, if you're doing a bit of a closeup, each one just looks the same as the other guy. You're really just repeating what you've already shot with one guy.
So I try and work it so that not everyone's in the scene all the time, but everyone's in the scene at the end when they come to do the cumshot, and obviously if you're doing double penetration, then you'd need at least two guys anyway. What I really want to do is one of these sort of gangbang bukkake type things. But the problem is, in England...it's just something I've been banging on for the last 10 years...if I could actually get eight or 10 guys in a room, all with hard ons, then I'd be perfectly happy. But sadly, in England, that's very unlikely to happen.
AVN: Yeah. You've said in the past that English men aren't very good as studs.
DOVER: No. And even the ones that are quite good, I mean ... I'm constantly looking for a new Rocco or Lexington Steele, Mr. Marcus. So many girls come on to me, say, "Oh yeah, I wanna do a gangbang with four black guys with huge cocks." I go, "Yeah, I'd like to do a gangbang with you with four black guys with huge cocks as well. If you can find these four black guys with huge cocks, we'll shoot it." But up to now, they haven't been forthcoming.
AVN: So you use a lot of guys from elsewhere?
DOVER: This is only just sort of coincidence, you see. It's not how I planned it, but... The studs I use, Marky Mark from South Africa. Pasqual, obviously, the bonking Belgian, who will eventually take over the Ben Dover line, because we're almost like joined at the hip. Marino [Super Mario], the Italian guy I was using, he's now off doing his own line. I've got a Greek guy called Dimitri, who's very good, and I've got a couple of black guys who are OK. It just happens that none of them are English. Well, I've got one English guy, Steve, sorry, Tony. I keep calling him Steve because he looks the image of Steve Perry...the real Steve Perry. So I've been using him, and he's about the best you're gonna get for an English guy. He's very good looking, which is obviously a plus. And he's not bad. In another year or so, I think he'll be up there. He's just learning his craft at the moment, and he's doing very well.
AVN: Has legalization made it easier to find new girls?
DOVER: Hasn't made any difference at all, to be honest. There was just as many around as there was when it was illegal. Hasn't made the slightest bit of difference.
AVN: So the biggest effect of legalization has been overproduction.
DOVER: Yeah, absolutely. See, a lot of people thought, because of all the publicity that that surrounds the porn industry, that we're all multi-millionaires. We all just go out, grab a camera from the local store, shoot the porno movie, and suddenly we're all driving around in Ferraris. It was a bit of a shock to them when they realized that if you go to the shops in England, most of the people involved in the porn industry will only know a few key areas. They'll have heard of Ben Dover, they'll have heard of Rocco [Siffredi], they'll have heard of Jenna Jameson, they'll have heard of John Stagliano. There's about 10 people that everyone will have heard of.
Now, some guy over here who happens to be working in a convenience store on a Friday evening, wakes up on a Monday morning, decides he's gonna be in the porno business, he'll go and make four movies, but his name's Fred Smith. No one's ever heard of him. So the shops aren't gonna buy him, because, "That guy Fred Smith, I've never heard of him. Go away."
So there was a lot of companies making all these films and realizing that the only way they could sell them to the shops was to sell them for $3. So then a lot of the shop owners said, "Oh, hang on a minute. We can get all this stuff for $3. Why pay more for the premium stuff." Because they're selling it for the same amount of money. A lot of the shopkeepers' ideas was that the public is sheep, they're gonna be so happy that they finally got legal porn, that they're not gonna care what they're watching.
AVN: When did you become Ben Dover?
DOVER: I shot my first scenes in the summer of �95, but it hit the streets a year later, because of doing all the deals and everything. And I shot like five movies straight off in order to maximize any deal I was gonna do by way of saying, "Look, this is a line. Not just a one off." In �96 it hit the streets. And I can't believe we're not 2004 and still doing it. And it's stronger than ever.
AVN: You've been very successful...
DOVER: We have. I still wake up every morning wondering how the fuck it happened.
AVN: You had a good long run with VCA.
DOVER: I had a fantastic long run, yeah. I had a really good relationship with them. I loved the people who worked there. It was a great company, an old-fashioned kind of company, if you like.
They liked the big feature films... the contract girls and the rest of it. I got the impression, I don't know if it was ill-perceived, that they were sort of thinking, Oh, this gonzo stuff really sells, but we don't really want to deal with it. It was kind of like they took it because it was a big seller, but they didn't really think it had any inherent worth. They never really gave it a big push. But they did what was necessary. And the guys on the street, the salesmen and everything, they loved the stuff. But I think Russ [Hampshire, former VCA owner]...and I love Russ to death, he's a fantastic guy...I just got the impression that his heart wasn't really in gonzo. He couldn't quite figure it out.
We were talking about this ass to mouth thing, and he says, "Ah man. I can't ..."...really bad American accent..."I can't believe he took that dick straight out of her ass and stuck it in her mouth." I said, "Yeah." He said, "Oh man. You can't do that. That's disgusting." I said, "Yeah, that's why people like it!" So I got the feeling that we weren't exactly singing from the same hymn sheets when we came to what people want to see.
AVN: Has Kick Ass given you any restrictions or guidelines?
DOVER: Not at all. The only guidelines ... Mark is an all-natural kind of guy, and I like that, so no boob jobs, which I'm very happy about. Got no problem with that at all. And also, he'd like to see more natural girls with pubic hair, which is a bit of a bee in my bonnet at the moment. I just can't understand why every single woman in the world who even thinks about getting in this business, the first thing she's gonna do is go into the bathroom and shave all her pubic hair off. I'd like to do a natural line, really. Natural boobs. Natural hairy girls.
AVN: Are there talent agents in London now?
DOVER: Well, in the loosest possible sense. Sometimes you'll get a new girl who doesn't know where else to go, she'll go to a sort of modeling agency, but I have to say they're basically rubbish. All my girls, really, now come from friends of mine, or photographers who work for magazines. And literally, the girls themselves on the Internet. I mean, emails are the thing. People go to my Website and just email me from there. Nearly all my girls now are from straight off the Internet. They just email me straight away and say, "Hi Ben, I want to get into this business." And it goes from there, really.
AVN: We have a lot of English girls working in L.A. now.
DOVER: Yeah, I know you do.
AVN: A couple of English agents, too.
DOVER: Yeah. I know. Which has been a big of a negative from my point of view, because a lot of the English girls here are put off working in the UK by some of these English agents working out of L.A. "Oh, no. Don't work in England. Come straight over to America." Well, I've missed a few really good girls who I didn't even know about because they've been to America, come back from America, then tell me they want work. And I'm looking at them, thinking, Oh wow, they're really nice. And then I say, "Have you done much in the business." And they go, "Oh yeah, I've been in L.A. for three months. I've done 150 movies." I'm going, "Right. OK. I don't think you're really suitable for Ben Dover then. We kind of specialize in sort of new, newish girls ... I like girls who don't look like porn stars acting like porn stars, rather than girls who look like porn stars.
AVN: How often do you shoot?
DOVER: If a really good girl comes, I'll shoot her right away. This was the other thing with VCA. Sometimes I had a deadline to meet and I just didn't have a scene for it, so I'd shoot anyone who was around just to make up the scene, which I really didn't want to do. I just want shoot a girl that I really find attractive. If five brand new girls came on to me next week, I'd shoot them all if they were all absolutely stunning. But at the moment, there's been no really good girls come through. The only really good, pretty girls to come through are the ones that just been through America, and I don't want to shoot them when they've been in America, because they come back acting like L.A. porn stars. And I think we both know what that's all about.
AVN: Will you release things in England that you won't be releasing in America?
DOVER: No. It will be all the same stuff.
AVN: I believe Kick Ass has scheduled you for every other month.
AVN: There will be a lot of Ben Dover fans who will be very happy to see you.
DOVER: I get emails from them all the time. "I haven't seen anything in the shops lately. You still doing stuff?" I said, "Yeah, I'm doing stuff in England." "Well, come back to America!" It just seemed like the right time. I think it's gonna be quite exciting. We're coming over to Vegas this year, which I haven't done in a couple of years. I'm looking forward to a really good run with Kick Ass. I think it's gonna be great.