'Shooting Porn' vs. 'Making Porn': Playwright Explains Difference

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Ronnie Larsen’s “Shooting Porn! Live on Stage!” takes audiences inside the gay porn industry. Submitted photo.

Playwright Ronnie Larsen has a conundrum: Audiences confuse his new play, “Shooting Porn! Live on Stage!,” with his Off-Broadway hit, “Making Porn.”

Already, fans are posting comments on online ticketing sites about how much they enjoyed the last production they saw of “Shooting Porn.”

“If you live in Florida, you’ve never seen this play,” Larsen declared. “The confusion is a problem.”

Unlike “Making Porn,” the fictional account of a gay-for-pay porn star’s experiences that has been produced hundreds of times around the world, “Shooting Porn” is the staged version of a documentary film about the porn industry Larsen produced and directed more than 20 years ago. That dramatization is receiving its Florida premiere this weekend.

Related: Gay Porn Star Alexander Gustavo Dies of Apparent Suicide at 33

Larsen made the documentary after being approached by real-life porn actors who were in the audiences of “Making Porn” in Los Angeles.“

They asked me how I found out about their stories,” Larsen recalled, “and they invited me to their sets. After watching three or four movies being shot, I thought somebody should really capture what happens behind the scenes.”

The documentary was an instant success, earning screenings on the gay and lesbian film festival circuit and eventually was commercially distributed.

“This was before reality television,” Larsen said. “It was explicit, even graphic, and very honest. The closest comparison might be the ‘Real Sex’ series that used to air on HBO. I’m not going to say I was a pioneer, but 10 to 15 years ago, the porn industry had not been exposed like it has now.”

But “Shooting Porn” should definitely not be confused with “The Office,” “Modern Family” or any of the popular “Housewives” reality shows.

That’s when the playwright got the idea to turn the documentary into a stage show. The documentary script was transcribed almost verbatim and performed by six actors.

“It’s really cool, all the action takes place on the stage, but there are cameras and monitors, also, so it feels like the audience is really there at the filming of a porn movie. It’s easy to forget,” he explained, also pointing out the sex scenes are simulated, even if the on-stage nudity is not.

Larsen recruited three New York actors for the production opening this weekend at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale, the first time the play has been staged in more than a decade.

Adam Davenport, a chiseled model, actor and singer takes on the lead role. The DNA magazine cover model is definitely more than a pretty face, having even performed opera.

“The cast has to be just right because of those monitors,” said Larsen, noting the video gets “up close and personal.”

Empire Stage’s resident producer, David Gordon, a veteran of “Making Porn,” also takes the stage, along with Larsen, who portrays famed porn producer/drag personality, Chi Chi LaRue.

“Every time I do a play in Fort Lauderdale I seem to wind up in drag,” laughed Larsen, who donned wigs and dresses in both his plays, “All-Male Peep Show” and “Cocksucker: A Love Story,” mounted at Empire Stage.

Ronnie Larsen’s “Shooting Porn! Live on Stage!” will be performed Feb. 9 – March 12 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $35 – 50 at RonnieLarsen.com.


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