The brain child of acclaimed director Nica Noelle, Icon Male has been the top selling studio since it’s inception according to Gayhotmovies.com with 18 out of the top 20 titles. Nica pushes her performers to be authentic. Authenticity in porn? What is that? Nica’s style is different than any director I’ve worked with. She ensures you have a connection with your scene partner, but more importantly, to your character. She writes scripts with the performer in mind and challenges performers to tap into something deeper than “Fuck Yeah!” Nica identifies as a straight ‘cis’ woman, yet she writes masterpieces for the gay adult genre. How is this possible? There are those in the community who feel there is no place for a woman in gay adult entertainment, but Nica has proven her skeptics wrong time and time again. She has been the target of hate blogs to the point of having to leave her secondary career aspirations behind and go into hiding. She has even tried to leave the gay adult industry out of fear of her safety after her real name and location were printed in a hate blog own by Davyd Dixon who also handles the PR for Nakesword, Cockyboys and BelAmi , to name a few. Perhaps this was his way of pushing his studios to the top. Well, Nica didn’t quit. She won’t allow Dixon and his blog to win. Her movies continue to out perform Dixon’s companies. I got the chance to put Nica on the spot. She doesn’t like the spotlight and prefers to be left alone, remain behind the scenes, and to create her art.
Tell us why you wanted to get into gay porn? Why create RockCandy?
I thought I could bring something new to the genre, which was basically the same philosophy I’d already brought to lesbian, straight, and trans movies. Gay was particularly exciting to me because the focus was completely on how men relate to each other, not only sexually but emotionally. I didn’t see much relationship development happening in gay porn, and I didn’t see anyone doing romantic story-lines or features, so I thought maybe I could bring that to the table.
I remember I got some criticism at first for putting so many straight characters in the movies, and for using a lot of bi and straight performers, which puzzled me since I never meant to depict the gay community or gay scene. My goal was to make movies about straight men struggling with an attraction for other men, and then to add a lot of age play and other forbidden themes. Those are the relationships that are most interesting to me and that I feel most qualified to depict. I never said what I was doing was an accurate representation of gay men or gay culture.
Why did you leave Aebn?
This is kind of a long and complicated story, but about 6 months after I signed with AEBN its parent company sold one of its other companies, and a lot of the top brass there got really rich and retired. Which meant suddenly there was a big personnel shakeup, and the original people who signed me were gone, except for Jerry Anders, the Vice President of Marketing at the time. So they halted production on all my studios while they regrouped and got new people into place. It was for a few months at least that we were benched, and they were paying me huge amounts of money to just sit on my ass and do nothing. It made me really nervous because I was suddenly not putting out any movies, and at the time I was one of the most prolific directors in adult, and certainly the first female director to infiltrate multiple genres of porn. So the shutdown worried me a lot. But finally production started rolling again and my contract was coming up for renewal a few months later, and my attorney wanted a bunch of things changed in the contract. And it was — how can I say this — I just didn’t like the negotiations process. So I started talking to Mile High again, and just kind of putting feelers out, like “If I was free and not under contract anymore, could I come back and start a gay studio for you guys?” And they said “If you become free, we’d be interested.” So, that’s what I did.
Why do so many models think you are nuts?
Because I’m sane! Just kidding — but not completely kidding. The adult film community is a lot like the Mad Hatters Tea Party, in that certain behaviors commonly regarded as crazy or extreme in the mainstream world are the norm here. And conversely, if your behavior falls outside of porn’s cultural norms, you can seem like the crazy one. Now, I think I’m as crazy as anyone else here, but I’m crazy in perhaps a different way.
It’s funny because yesterday on set Mason Lear took me aside and told me how intimidating I am when I seem displeased, even if I’m not saying or doing anything particularly intimidating. He was struggling to explain what he meant, and finally he goes “You’re just such a peculiar person.” He seemed to be almost on the verge of tears, and I was mortified, like geez, what did I do to this poor guy? But he wasn’t trying to insult me, he was trying to make me understand how I affected him.
Also, dismissing women as “crazy” is a very common tactic among misogynists, and routinely used to discredit successful women in business. Just take away her agency: she’s nuts, case closed. As you know, Icon Male got very successful and influential in gay porn very quickly, and that upset certain studios, and certain bloggers who partner with those studios.So they went for the low-hanging fruit: she’s a crazy bitch, so don’t buy her movies.
Can you tell me a little bit about your frustrations in the industry and how you personally are affected?
I’m going to answer this honestly at the risk of sounding like an asshole. I’m frustrated by the lack of artistry. I’m frustrated by the rampant drug use. I’m frustrated that porn is so committed to being campy and stupid in its presentation. I’m also frustrated that the lines here are so blurred with regard to sexual harassment. I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to have a relationship with a coworker, even if there is a power discrepancy — I’ve had serious relationships with my professional superiors more than once. But if you fall for someone you work with, then I think you should treat it like a relationship and be decent about it. Models aren’t sex toys, and there’s no reason to put our hands on them — or even to flirt with them.
I think being surrounded by this bacchanalian, hedonistic approach to life has made me a lot more inclined to abstain from excesses. I see how life’s pleasures, including sex, can be robbed of their meaning and power by casual overindulgence. I’m not trying to be moralistic, but there’s something to be said for earning to right to see someone naked and have sex with them; for getting to know them as a human being first. And you should be able to do that in your personal life even if you work in porn. There shouldn’t be this expectation that everyone here wants to party and have casual sex with everyone else all the time. Implementing boundaries in porn would be very useful, I think.
Icon Male is a proven success. The numbers do not lie. Why do you keep doing this?
At this point it’s my career. It’s what I do. It’s how I make my living. That will likely change in the not too distant future, but for better or worse, adult film is what I became successful at. Studios know when they hire me to create a brand that it will be a success, and that has translated into longevity in this industry as well as a steady income.
We know you are a unique director, what makes you salivate over a performance?
Authenticity and grace in a sexual performance. The ability to demonstrate passion and intensity without resorting to histrionics and cartoonish depictions. Naked vulnerability in a performance is so rare but it takes my breath away every time.
Why do you seem to feature the same models in your movies?
I run the studio more like a little theater company than as a porn factory cranking out a steady stream of fresh meat. I want the audience to connect with the performers and get to know them, and ideally emotionally invest in them. I want to get to know the models, too, and see what I can bring out in their performance. When I find a model I feel inspired by, I like to put him in a variety of different roles and pairings, and see how far we can go to create something meaningful and real. Sometimes I’ll even want to put the same pairings together multiple times. I’m a very muse-driven creator — it’s easiest for me to write when I have someone in mind for the role. And when a model captures my imagination or is just a fantastic performer, I like to keep them around and I like to keep writing for them.
We have had our differences in the past which were mainly due to miscommunication rather than real grievances, but we have made-up and have a great relationship now. Do you think that is possible with other models who feel slighted for whatever reason?
I never hold grudges with anyone, because I’m never that mad in the first place, but I also don’t seek people out to resolve things. I feel like, if someone is mad, that’s fine. If you don’t like me, that’s fine. No hard feelings, have a nice day. But I’ve come to understand that sometimes people lash out because they want you to prove you care. They hope you’ll understand that they’re hurting, and make an effort to repair the situation. And I almost never do that. It’s not just with models either, I don’t make an effort with people in general. It doesn’t mean I’m mad at them. But on the occasion that I do get mad I almost never hold on to it — an hour later it’s gone. In fact, there’s one particular model I work with a lot who has cursed me out a million times, blocked me on twitter, called me every name in the book, but he always pops back up “Hey, sorry about that,” and a month later he’s back on set. I understand that people have tempers and things get blown out of proportion when we’re all stressed out. I understand that a lot of the models are young, and overstimulated by the industry, and that working in porn can be very intense. But if a model is “too much candy for a dime,” as the saying goes, just too much trouble to go through to get a decent performance out of, or if they’re unreliable, I won’t have them back.
While we’re on the subject of personal interactions — I’ve noticed a lot of models speak of the industry as being their “family” but they’re wrong; this is a business. No one should be looking for family on a porn set, because porn relationships are inherently limited and compromised. When a model’s popularity plummets, when his scenes are consistently losing money, I won’t be able to hire him anymore, I don’t care how close of a friend he thought I was. And likewise, I might think I’m tight with a certain model, he might swear up and down that I’m his favorite, but if better opportunities come his way, he’s not going to think twice about putting me in the rear view mirror. And why should he?