home Arts & Literature, Europe, GLBTQI, Human Rights A Quickie with Michael Lucas: The Gay Porn Mogul Discusses “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda”

A Quickie with Michael Lucas: The Gay Porn Mogul Discusses “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda”

Michael Lucas is the most mainstreamed, provocative, and controversial figure in gay adult entertainment” according to his website, and it’s hard not to believe the hype. A sort of David O. Selznick of gay porn – if Selznick had also directed and starred in his lavish talkies – the Russian émigré lawyer turned porn emperor is the founder of Lucas Entertainment, one of the biggest studios in the blue movie game. Back in 2006 that NYC-based company produced “Michael Lucas’ La Dolce Vita,” a record-setting adult remake of the Fellini masterpiece that took home all 14 of its AVN nominations. (In comparison, “Gone with the Wind” only nabbed 10 of 13 nominations at the vanilla Oscars in 1940. Take that, Selznick International Pictures!)

But recently the GayVN Hall of Famer returned to the motherland to set his sights on a less sexy subject. Co-directed with longtime TV news producer Scott Stern, “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” is Lucas’s latest film, a thoughtful examination of Russia’s heinous, anti-LGBT propaganda laws via one-on-one interviews with those most affected by them (including the noted activist and anti-Putin journalist Masha Gessen).

Lucas took time out of his notoriously busy schedule to speak with Global Comment shortly after the doc’s release on iTunes and DVD.

Lauren Wissot: I’m curious to know how your expat status, Russian Jewish heritage and/or “gay porn mogul” notoriety impacted access to your subjects. Did it make things easier – or more difficult – to get Russians to appear on camera and open up to you?

Michael Lucas: Every gay Russian knows me. I’ve been mentioned numerous times throughout the media, and noted as one of the 50 most famous Russian gays of all time along with Tchaikovsky. That helped make things a little easier. Also, my previous documentary “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in The Promised Land,” was proof that I am capable of producing high-quality mainstream work.

LW: You managed to get one high level, homophobic government official – Vitaly Milanov, the parliament member who crafted St. Petersburg’s anti-LGBT propaganda law – to sit down for an interview. But who were the notable folks you pursued but couldn’t convince to appear in the doc?

ML: He is the only person that I really needed to interview. But I did have a few Russian LGBTs that were asking me to interview them without showing their faces.

LW: Your film smartly ties homophobia in Russia to Putin’s crackdown on human rights in general. In other words, the imprisonment of such cause célèbres as Pussy Riot goes hand in hand with anti-LGBT legislation. I remember interviewing Maxim Pozdorovkin last year about his doc “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” and he made it a point to emphasize that it was the Orthodox Church – specifically Patriarch Kirill and the Moscow Patriarchy – that were behind the women’s trial even more so than Putin was. How much power is the Church wielding when it comes to human rights violations in Russia these days?

ML: Russians were largely atheists during Soviet times. Lots of them still are. So the blame goes to the government and their propaganda that is bombarding Russians on a daily basis across numerous media outlets. I also blame Russian people who are incredibly intolerant to all kind of minorities, towards everything that is different.

LW: You worked with a co-director, Yariv Mozer, on your last documentary “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land,” and with another co-director, Scott Stern, on this one. I always assumed you were more of a producer, so how much do you actually direct?

ML: I am both the director and producer. The main ideas come from me.

LW: You’re putting the doc out rather quickly – it’s already available on iTunes and DVD – through your distribution deal with Breaking Glass Pictures. But why even use a distributor when as the founder of one of the largest gay porn studios in the world you could obviously just do it yourself?

ML: Distributing a documentary film is very different than (distributing) a pornographic film. That is why I went with trusted professionals that have been specializing in documentaries for years.