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November 06, 2017

Vixen Kicks Off 'Awards Season' With November Vixen Angel

LOS ANGELES—The show starts in 20 minutes but Lana Rhoades is already twerking. It’s hard to tell if she’s nervous about going live on Instagram with Greg Lansky, the two-time AVN Director of the Year and chief creative officer of Vixen, who will crown her Vixen Angel for tens of thousands of viewers. Rhoades is too busy bouncing to the rap beats in her white slippers, pink bathrobe and black Vixen underwear. “Am I too low?” she asks, dancing in the center of Lansky’s Studio City headquarters on this first Saturday of November. The 21-year-old native of Chicago is ready to take her place alongside several of the biggest stars in adult entertainment as the 16th Vixen Angel, which Lansky kicked off in August 2016 when he anointed Kendra Sunderland, who is co-hosting today’s ceremony. With the title, Rhoades will receive a Tiffany brilliant-cut diamond necklace, a pair of custom-made Christian Louboutin red-bottom heels, and an exclusive photoshoot this afternoon. “This should be fun,” Lansky tells me. “The whole concept is Awards Season.” The 34-year-old French auteur has turned Vixen Angel into a coveted honor, making each of his new Angels the face of a glossy, month-long marketing campaign for Vixen, the 2017 AVN Award-winning Best New Imprint. Team Lansky spares no expense producing the themed Vixen Angel photoshoots. For Uma Jolie in September they imported an ornate Moroccan door that took 10 men to carry; they transformed an authentic Pan-Am Boeing 747 cabin into “Vixen Airlines” for Riley Reid in October; and in August they tracked down a rare white 1987 Ferrari Testarossa for a “Miami Vice” homage featuring Amia Miley. As the final minutes count down to the broadcast, Lansky gives Rhoades an impromptu hug, reassuring her the day will be special. Moments later, the former Hooters waitress and stripper takes a seat on the gold couch next to the Vixen Angel of the Year, Sunderland, while Lansky begins his introductions. “Let me give you a couple hints,” he tells the Instagram Live audience. “She’s a brunette and she’s got the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen.” The crew applauds as Rhoades is revealed. “We’re getting a lot of love from all over the world,” Lansky says, checking the comments pouring into the stream. “It’s a little nerve-wracking live,” Rhoades admits. She opens her turquoise jewelry box and then Sunderland, in what has become tradition, places the ‘V’ pendant around her neck. “Do I look more beautiful now?” Rhoades says with a smile. “It’s so pretty, thank you.” She blows a kiss in the direction of Lansky’s iPhone. Slipping into her black Louboutin’s, Rhoades declares, “I’m going to sleep in them.” “I’m so happy,” she adds. “They’re so shiny. Bloody shoes.” They toast with glasses of Moet & Chandon champagne as Lansky signs off. Then almost as if on cue, Cardi B’s former No. 1 song “Bodak Yellow”—in which she raps about red bottoms being “bloody shoes”—comes on the stereo system. The significance of attaining Vixen Angel status isn’t lost on her supporters, Rhoades tells Lansky. “One of my fans got really mad every time it was someone else,” she informs him. “Well now he can be really happy,” he replies. There’s no question Rhoades has amassed an enthusiastic fanbase since making her porn debut in April 2016, when it took her about three weeks to get fully booked six months in advance. Then in January at the 34th annual AVN Awards in Las Vegas, Rhoades won the fan-voted award for AVN Hottest Newcomer. She carried that momentum into 2017, landing the first showcase movie of her career, Lana, an AVN Editor's Choice that was written and directed by Lansky for his sister studio, Tushy. Rhoades plays an intern turned escort who undergoes a sexual awakening in the feature, performing her first anal sex scene with Jean Val Jean and her first double-penetration scene with Mick Blue and Val Jean, among other hardcore encounters.  After the initial release of the two-disc set on March 27, Lana topped the Adult Empire best-selling chart for four consecutive months and remained among the top sellers in the country six months after it hit the streets. Lansky tells me the way Lana came together reminds him of Riley Reid’s 2016 AVN Award-winning Best Star Showcase. “There are moments where you just have a natural momentum without trying,” Lansky says. “Everything just pieces together. She was taking a break and she wanted to make a strong comeback. Honestly, we worked extremely hard on it but there was an element of magic and luck that turned that movie better than ever.” Rhoades adds, “I’ve re-watched it since then and it’s even more special to me now than it was when we were shooting it. “There’s something about it that just…I don’t know. There’s nothing else like it. It’s really classy and beautiful and I think it’s something that people can watch for a long time. It’s a collector’s item, I think.” As the crew gears up before heading to the shoot location in Hollywood, Lansky can barely contain his excitement, telling Rhoades for the first time he has hired five male models to be in the photos with her. “It’s a big deal. I’ve never had guys in the background,” he says. “I know that [Jean Val Jean] went on a special diet just for today.” “Really?” Rhoades replies. “Why, did he gain weight?” “He wanted to look extra fucking slim and beautiful,” Lansky jokes. It turns out Val Jean, whom they also call JVJ, is not the only A-list stud waiting for Rhoades to arrive at the studio. Ryan Driller and Robby Echo are also here, along with newcomer Sergeant O’Hara; a friend of the company, Monty, is the fifth lucky guy who got the call. Lansky’s wife Jennifer, the former fashion designer for Guess! who styles all the Vixen Angel shoots, tells me the guys will be dressed in ’80s-style tuxes. “Every guy looks great in a tuxedo,” Jenn says. The Lansky Crew, which today is about 12 deep, will photograph Rhoades on two different sets—first a red seamless backdrop and second a red carpet in front of a green ivy faux wall with VIXEN in white plexiglass letters adorning it. Call it the Vixen Awards meets the Vixen After-Party, complete with a red velvet rope and gold stanchions. “It’s awards season right now all around the world,” Lansky reasons. “A lot of our color code in our company is award-like—black, red, gold, which is very Oscar-like. We wanted to celebrate that time of the year in creating a theme that’s consistent with what’s going on. For us, awards have always been a big part of the company and we’ve never turned it into an actual artistic vision. So we recreated a set. It’s pretty cool.” Lansky and his first three studios—Blacked, Tushy and Vixen—have won a combined 31 AVN Awards in the past three years. Last month he launched a fourth imprint, a grittier offshoot of his high-end interracial brand Blacked called Blacked Raw.  While Rhoades gets her makeup refreshed, Jenn Lansky and her two assistants for the day—Tiana, who worked with her at Guess!, and Rachel, who helps her at the office every Monday—are sitting in the next room sewing various pieces of wardrobe to fit her exact measurements. “We’re making stuff cropped,” Jenn explains. “We’re doing it customized so everything looks a little sexier. … We want to show off the Vixen [lingerie] sets so we want to make it higher cut.” Jenn brought a wide selection of clothes and accessories that fit the theme, but Greg will make the final decision on what Lana wears. “I have a lot of looks so it all comes down to what Greg is going to feel,” Jenn continues. “Is he going to feel more Hollywood? Or he is going to feel more ’80s?” She says classic ’80s Hollywood glam—“Madonna-esque”—was what inspired her wardrobe selection. “Very poppy,” Jenn adds.  As Lansky inspects the After-Party set he asks if there’s any more red carpet than the narrow piece that’s on the floor. There isn’t, so executive producer Mike Moz gets on the phone and less than two hours later he and the crew are laying down a wider red carpet. “I’m Winston Wolf,” jokes Moz, who now produces as many as 30 scenes a month for Lansky. “I solve problems.” Lansky’s art director Matt Forrest is also in the building, keeping tabs on the ambitious shot list they’ve planned that includes everything from paparazzi-themed vignettes to Rhoades clutching the gold AVN trophy and spraying champagne in the finale. “I’ve been working with Greg for about two years now,” says Forrest, a seasoned graphic designer from LA who came to Lansky’s GL Web Media from one of Hearst Magazines’ titles. “We have a great team.” Lana emerges from makeup sporting her black Vixen bra and panties under a white vegan fur coat. Lansky likes what he sees, but the guys are another matter. Their tuxedo jackets don’t fit snug enough, Greg concludes, so Jenn grabs some tape and a few clamps to give them a tighter fit. That’s not the only problem though. Lansky tells JVJ he needs to shave off his scruff, so the French performer disappears for about 15 minutes and returns clean-shaven. While Lana poses for test-shots, longtime Lansky collaborator and go-to director, Lorenzo Sky, watches the monitor. “How’s it looking, [Lorenzo]?” Lansky asks. “Perfect,” Sky replies. “Perfect is what I’m looking for,” Lansky answers. Now it’s time to shoot. “Very sensual,” Lansky tells Lana. “Slight smile. We’ll do a fun one and then a serious one, we’ll mix it up. You guys are always looking at her.” He fires off a round. “Beautiful, absolutely gorgeous. Music up a little,” Lansky says. “Let’s get warmed up a little bit. … Bad bitch, hands on your hips. Yes, love this. You look gorgeous. Yes mama!" He tells Ryan Driller and JVJ to flank Lana and focus on her “bodyguard-like.” Then he instructs Lana to “act like you were about to make out with them when I walked in the room.” She gives a Ryan a little peck on the lips. “More ass,” Lansky says. “Always tall, Lana. Grab both their jackets now, yeah. Don’t pose for me… Subtle is much better.”  In their effort to make the paparazzi set look as authentic as possible, Jenn says they rented five professional cameras from Samy’s to use as props. Lansky calls for all five guys to form a U-shape around Lana so she can walk through them like she’s a superstar leaving the show and they’re fighting to get the photo. “Like Cannes Film Festival,” Lansky says. Mike Moz tells me Lansky doesn’t only lead with his words, he also does it with his work ethic. “He’s in constant hustle mode,” Moz says. “We get emails from him at 2:30 a.m.” Now they try some shots with Lana holding the Vixen AVN trophy for Best New Imprint. “When I say go, start firing. Scream her name,” Lansky directs. “This shoot is obviously over the top.” Lana prances through the mob, shoving Robby Echo’s head back in a funny moment that cracks everyone up. “Don’t laugh,” Lansky tells her. “I want very dismissive. I know you’re a nice person. We gotta bring up the mean, like you’re in a hurry because the limo is waiting for you.” When they move to the red carpet set, Lana changes into a black bolero jacket for several more rounds of paparazzi photos before they return to the red backdrop to pop champagne. JVJ, who has performed with her several times and has become perhaps the busiest guy in Lansky’s rotation, tells me Greg is “very technical.” “He wants every detail to be perfect,” JVJ says. “Every position. Most people they just shoot you. It’s very interesting, very cinematic. He pans a lot and does a lot of close-ups. He tells you to do this, do that, grab her…As a performer usually you don’t get that. They don’t direct as you do it. At first for me it was an adjustment but right away I picked it up. I picked up his style of directing. It’s very cool, very different. “Sometimes he’ll shoot the intro 10 times, just like walking into the room.” According to JVJ, Rhoades is an “amazing” performer. “Not only is she beautiful and classy, she’s very strong,” he says. “She’s very professional and very patient as you can tell. She can get fucked super hard and she never complains and she’s always sexy, always on point.” When it’s over, Lana is all smiles. “I’m so happy to be Vixen Angel and working with Greg,” she tells me. “One of my first shoots I ever did was for Blacked and I did my first showcase with Greg and now he made me a Vixen Angel. It just makes me really happy that he likes working with me and we have such a good friendship. He always helps me out. “Shooting today was really awesome. Obviously, everything Greg does is over the top and amazing so I felt like I was treated like a princess.” Lansky tells me Lana was the clear choice when the team was discussing who’s next. “I think she’s had a tremendous year,” he says. “I saw a lot of potential in her at the very beginning stage. That’s why I did the showcase with her and throughout the year she’s really grown into an iconic performer with her personality. Everything has really developed in such a nice way… She’s also one of the highest rated models on Vixen.” “I had the best day ever,” Lana adds. “I learned how to pop bottles, got to smack Robby in the face and got to hang out with all these sexy guys.”

 
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