Noir Male Goes Behind the Camera to Cultivate BIPOC Adult Film Talent

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday March 18, 2021
Originally published on March 15, 2021

The events of 2020 shook up the world...including the world of adult entertainment.

As previously reported at EDGE, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an increased demand for porn, but with so much extra viewership came additional scrutiny: Adult entertainment has a race problem.

Consumers and producers took note, but also action, calling out racist performers and demanded that studios take equality issues seriously.

Noir Male, a brand that specializes in BIPOC adult entertainment, stepped up.

Noir Male Creative Director NuEric told EDGE he's looking at the production from every angle.

"From ideation as far as writing scripts, as well as helping with casting, and also developing new concepts," he says. "Helping find new talent -- and when I say new talent, I mean not only performers in front of the camera, but also writers and the production team -- just to create a more inclusive environment. I am also leading the charge on a directorial training program."

Dillon Diaz, one of the studio's models and Noir Male's brand ambassador, reiterated that "the adult entertainment industry was going through a crazy time" last summer when the studio committed to dismantling discriminatory industry standards.

"There was a lot of racism being called out, and people being held accountable for their words, their actions and their hiring practices," Diaz says.

Jon Blitt, the CEO of Mile High Media, Noir Male's parent company, took a hands-on approach that signaled a genuine desire to listen and implement changes, Diaz says, recalling that Blitt "started having roundtable discussions with some of the guys who were regulars at Noir Male: Myself, Max Konnor, DeAngelo Jackson, and other guys. 'What's the experience been for you? What can we do to make it better?' "

"He did a Zoom call in June when the BLM movement took flight, where they gave feedback and chatted about opportunities they saw in the industry," NuEric affirms.

"I thought it was beautiful," NuEric adds of Blitt's interest in listening to those perspectives and looking "to really learn from his actors that he's hired in the past. What are the things that Noir Male is doing great? What are the things that the industry is doing great? What are some things that need to change, or some areas of opportunity?"

"It was refreshing to be part of the conversation," Diaz recalls, "and to bounce ideas back and forth off each other, and hear other people's experiences and try and figure out what we can do."

Asked about the level of racism in the porn industry compared to other career paths, Diaz says gay porn was the occupation he encountered the most discrimination.

"I've worked in corporate America, fashion, beauty, finance, fitness," Diaz says. "Racism is everywhere, but it wasn't as obvious as it was in porn. I was oftentimes the only person of color anywhere near, not just in performance but also behind the scenes, the cast and crew. It was just me. I was like, 'Why am I the only person of color? This doesn't make sense.'"

NuEric says: "I have heard from my own talent the frustrations of being on set and learning that they didn't make as much as another actor in a scene," or being given offensive labels like "the safe Black."

"I've heard this from many talents," NuEric says, "and as creative director, I want our company to be the change that we want to see in this industry."

Those changes aren't simply cosmetic, NuEric says, hearkening back to last summer's "Blackout Tuesday," in which social media users posted solid black fields in place of profile photos to show solidarity with racial justice efforts.

Corporate America jumped on the bandwagon, but, NuEric says, "I know a few companies were doing that, and I'm like, 'Wait. You're standing behind this movement, but I've actually worked for you, and I know that you don't stand behind this movement. You're doing this, so you don't lose business and sales.' The thing I thought was so brilliant with Noir Male is, Noir Male didn't just make their picture black. Noir Male asked, 'What can we do to change this narrative?'

"We are actively trying to create a work environment that is inclusive," NuEric adds, "and no, I'm not just speaking of people of color, not at all. I don't want people to think, 'Oh, they're just hiring people of color' because that's not the case."

The studio is making conscious efforts to expand the roles in which performers of color find themselves cast, NuEric says, "creating roles that show men of color they can be the banker, they can be the person that owns the house that is having the repairs done," instead of stereotyping performers of color into roles such as the gardener or the repairman.

Diaz explains that Blitt's interest in making improvements was "more than just talk.

John wanted to make a difference; to change things and make it better for the performers and for the fans.

Hence, the Noir Male Directorial Training Program, which was developed to teach talent how to write and direct the very films in which they star.

"A lot of studios say, 'We'll hire anyone,' but unfortunately, a lot of people of color don't have that skill set," NuEric points out. "We offer a paid educational program that introduces adult performers to the basics of directing adult films and the other skills that are needed," such as developing scripts, managing a production crew, shepherding a project from pre-production through to post-production and preparing a budget.

"I think that it's going to open up doors for so many talented individuals," NuEric says, as will Noir Male's Brand Ambassador program. "We're using brand ambassadors to be the people's voice and to hear feedback and bring that back to the powers that be and ensure that we're creating content that our consumers appreciate and like," NuEric explains.

Diaz took both opportunities at once, serving as a brand ambassador and enrolling in the training program. He says writing scripts came naturally.

"I'm drawing on my personal experiences, my fantasies, things that have happened to me; maybe I've embellished them a little," says Diaz. Stepping into a directorial role "was definitely the learning part."

"But I wasn't alone," Diaz adds. "Our house director is Ricky Greenwood, and he gave me some perfect advice: He said, 'This is your vision. You need to come in and tell the team this is what your vision is and get everyone working on it.'"

Remarkably, Noir Male won't require exclusivity of its new crop of talent. "I can perform with any studio, and if I wanted to direct for another studio, I could direct for them as well," Diaz says. "They're giving me an opportunity to learn a new skill and then take that skill with me, wherever I want to take it."

"They don't have to work for Noir Male," NuEric confirmed. "They can work for any company they want. We just want to ensure they have the skill set to go out and do it, and I think that's amazing."

That brand of leadership won't just improve Noir Male's productions; it's likely to percolate through the industry as a whole, improving not only the films but the way those films are made.

"I hope that other companies will join us in this fight and stand with us as we make the change," says NuEric. "Black lives matter and that affects every industry, whether you are a makeup artist, a banker, a doctor, an athlete, or a porn star."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.