It all started with a Facebook message, kind of.
I mean, if I hadn’t had that conversation with Michelle McLaren that she opened with “I knew you when you were a little boy,” I don’t think I would have made the trip.
That’s how it began, anyway. I’d been following Michelle for a while on the Facebook monster, and when she started liking the photos I was posting in promotion of my 1st Thursday opening at Sanctuary, I messaged her. I saw in her profile that she was from Portland but lived in LA, so I thought to myself Maybe she’ll be in town when the show happens. So the premise of my message to her was: “Hey, if you’re in town, come to the show. Love to meet you. It’s free.”
Her reply, no kidding: “You know.. you’re going to shit when I tell you this.. but I knew you when you were a little boy!! I used to take ballet from your mother…”
(side note: there’s a video at the bottom of this post!)
What followed was a reconnection of two childhood friends who just so happened to find themselves in practically the same industry. Michelle of course had made quite the name for herself in the adult industry, even being cameoed in Brüno with Sacha Baron Cohen. She told me how impressed she was with my work and it was only natural to make something happen together.
This was October last year. On the radar at my day job, which we will refer to here as “the Company,” was a business trip to Las Vegas. I seldom volunteer for business trips as I like to dedicate my free time to Black Label Magazine. And though I love Las Vegas, three weeks away from the big computer and the studio is a bit long.
That is, of course, until Michelle told me that the AVN Awards and Adult Entertainment Exposition was happening the weekend before the Company’s business trip was to start. I said to myself: Self, I guess you need to go to Vegas.
You’re going to shit when I tell you this…I knew you when you were a little boy!
Planning began in earnest in late November. I cast a wide net. I scoured Twitter and Instagram for top tier talent, and also hit up Ivizia Dakini as she had just relocated there. I made contact with three other gorgeous adult film stars that would be in attendance at AVN, and we scheduled our shoots. Excitement filled me as I drove my truck down to Vegas.
I don’t gamble much, because I don’t have the best luck in the world. Perhaps it’s poor decision making, perhaps it’s jumping in with both feet. Whatever it is, luck was not on my side.
To make a long story short regarding AVN, it’s absolute madness for the models/performers. They stand at the studio’s booths for hours on end, and then are expected to attend after parties until the wee hours of the morning. I don’t envy them at all, and if you attend a future AVN Convention, please bear this in mind (and also, please be respectful of the women there; if they want to give you a hug, let them initiate it). Michelle wasn’t at a booth, so our shoot went off without a hitch. But the others…well, it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
She isn’t gonna show! She’s gonna flake!
Out of professional courtesy, I will not name the three models who cancelled on me. There’s only one that I don’t forgive as she still has not returned the $200.00 deposit that I paid her. The other two get a pass, as both had unmentionable emergencies and one had the class to pay me $150.00 for my troubles.
But AVN weekend wasn’t a total loss. Michelle and I had a great shoot, she introduced me to Jessica Jaymes, (who may be appearing in Black Label Magazine soon) and we had a great time. I met several other beautiful models—like Mindi Mink and Anna Belle Peaks—that may soon be added to the Black Label Beauties cadre when time allows me. I ran into Ashley Lane and Glass Olive too, who I would have shot had they the time. And I still had my shoot with Ivizia Dakini and Tana the Tattooed Lady in the desert…
Remember, I was to be in Las Vegas for three weeks. My plan with Ivizia & Tana was to shoot a sexy burlesque number at first light, and then a desert scene with Ivizia back in the nun suit from Murmur to add to the St. Magdalene Series.
The location for this shoot was to be in and around Valley of Fire. We woke up at 3 AM, left Vegas at around 3:45, using the camping entrance to get into the park. We thought we’d be fine since it was the crack of dawn and too early for Ranger Rick patrols. No, I didn’t have a photography permit. Ninja style: that’s how I roll.
Well, we weren’t ninja enough. Ranger Rick cut the burlesque shoot short and escorted us out of the park. At least Tana & Ivizia weren’t naked yet, and at least Ranger Rick didn’t fine me for “non-recreational photography on State Lands.” Hey Ranger Rick: it’s pretty recreational to us, dick! That’s all right, I’ve got future plans for Valley of Fire…
So, after escorting us out of the park, Ranger Rick turned around and I said, “Fuck that, we’ve got plenty of desert out here that can serve as a good backdrop.” As we sped down the wavy two lane highway we watched for little dirt roads that went off into the desert. We’d seen a few on the way in, so we were trying to remember which one looked the most promising. Hey! This one looks good! And so we turned off down what turned out to be a wash with very, very soft sand. It kind of disappeared after about 500 yards, so it was time to turn around and try again. Well, I reversed too far up a little berm apparently, and the truck high-centered.
45 minutes later we dug out the truck using the tire iron and an ice scraper. I had to be at work at noon. Time to go back to Vegas.
Tana & Ivizia’s schedules precluded a repeat.
As I reflected on the mishaps of the trip and called myself a dumbass a few times, I resolved that I was not going to return to Portland after all this with only one shoot under the belt. If I took three additional days, I could get something done in LA possibly.
Remember that third model who cancelled at AVN and hadn’t given me back my deposit? Well, I got in touch with her and asked: “If I came to LA over these two days, could we make our shoot happen?” She answered yes.
It’s pretty recreational to us, DICK!
Some amazing talent is going to be gracing the studio
I spent two days looking for a suitable location and found a sexy condo in downtown LA. After booking it I started working the contacts I’d made at AVN, and reached out to the models I’ve worked with to get me some names of LA talent. At the end of it I had Darcie Dolce, Reed Suicide (shout out to Toxic for hooking that up), and Vegas Model booked. As the date approached, my wife is in my ear taunting me: “Vegas Model isn’t gonna show! She’s gonna flake on you again.”
My thoughts were: there’s no way she’s going to be that unprofessional. I came to her turf, she says she’s available, she’s already got $200.00 of my money. She says she wants to. She’ll show.
But, my wife was probably right. So I made a back up plan. Casting call to Model Mayhem. A gorgeous French expat responded. I was frank and up front with her: “You’re basically on call.” She agreed.
Lo and behold, “Vegas Model,” upon “realizing” that the condo was in downtown LA tells me that she doesn’t want to drive from where she lives in Calabasas (45 minutes). “I don’t accept bookings in DTLA.”
Fucking really? Ok. That’s cool. Just give me my deposit back then. It’s now almost 4 months after I gave it to her and still haven’t got it back. I even sent her a bill through Paypal. Nothing.
Juliette Cecile, her replacement, was spectacular though. She came with these awesome boots and we caught golden hour window light in the condo with her sporting them. And it goes without saying that Darcie and Reed are phenomenal. We created gorgeous pictorials and just wait until you see the videos!
So that was the trip, and my excuse for being slow with the updates. Despite all the mishaps, it turned out great and I laid groundwork for even more greatness. Not only is some amazing content coming soon, some amazing talent is going to be gracing the studio. On Easter Tana is coming up to shoot the final pictorial for Issue #9. It looks like Darcie is coming up in April and if time allows her she is going to come shoot at our funhouse. Mindi Mink is very interested in coming to Black Label Studio, and if it’s at all possible Jessica Jaymes as well. At the very least, my next trip to LA will be filled with amazing talent.
Formal Black Label Beauties Introductions and VIP Galleries on our latest ladies coming soon!
Thanks for reading this little peek behind the scenes of Black Label. Now, enjoy the preview of what’s to come!