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July 08, 2016

Steve Cruz Talks About Award-Winning 'Total Exposure'

This article originally ran in the July 2016 issue of AVN magazine. See the digital edition here. It’s funny sometimes the way things come full circle. In the case of Steve Cruz, fans knew it was just a matter of time. At the Grabby Awards in Chicago in late May, the director added to his list of impressive accolades as Raging Stallion’s Total Exposure project racked up wins for Best Director, Best Movie and Best Videography—honors that he shared with co-director Nick Foxx. For Cruz, it marked his first wins behind the camera, following an impressive list of nominations and wins, including Best Newcomer in 2008 and Best Performer in 2009, as well as group scene wins (including for Link: The Evolution directed by Chi Chi LaRue, where a collared Cruz got dirty by a fire hydrant and four other studs). He was also inducted into the Grabby Wall of Fame in 2012. “It’s mind blowing, actually,” said the director. “The performer awards, they feel great and that high you experience … well, it’s simply all about you. The production awards are more complex because you are winning for something that took you years to learn how to do. It feels very different. The directing and Best Movie awards are really about your ability to bring the best out of others, and who you are takes a back seat to the job at hand. You win the ‘big 3’ as a team. A videographer can’t win without a good director. A director can’t win without an amazing cast and support staff. The next day, instead of feeling full of myself like I did when I won Best Performer … I felt full joy for the amazing team I have built. Not to get all ‘Kumbaya.’ but I found these awards more rewarding. I’ve really grown up in this business. Looking to the future, I just want to be worthy of what I have achieved.” The night started off well before Cruz and company even arrived (“You can’t beat a limo bus pumping EDM filled with the hottest guys in the industry swinging from stripper poles”), and ended even better. “I was kind of taken by surprise, in all honesty. They come at the end of the show, so by then you figure it’s a bust year and you’re going home with crickets in your carry-on. But wow...it was a key moment in my nine-year career. Even better I get to share it with Nick.” The two-part project was Raging Stallion’s fall blockbuster, a “cockumentary” that provided both unforgettable outdoor sex on a remote cattle ranch and also a more intimate look at the A-Team exclusives with behind-the-scenes interviews. It was those moments of honesty that Cruz says the fans responded so well to. “The peek behind the scenes is titillating for porn fans, sure—but we’ve seen that before. So it has to be the real honesty and vulnerability the guys were willing to show us backstage. What they truly find sexy, and the ups and downs of a life of infamy. Awards or none, for me that’s what made this project for me. The heart and soul I see every day working with these terrific men.” Cruz notes that each project is approached uniquely, whether large or small. “We’d never done a project like this one before. Turns out it was three or four times the work. To organize, to film and direct and edit. We shot half the BTS footage on iPhone 6’s, so all the footage had to be letterboxed and converted to black and white. Cameras are rolling almost 24/7. In addition to full days of sex scenes, we had two interviews a day that took hours to film. There was literally no down time, even with two directors. We got up at 6 a.m. and sometimes went to bed at midnight or later. I guess when you work so hard on something, it’s really nice to have it recognized in the best way. Twice as sweet.” It also gave Cruz the chance to have a great bonding experience with Foxx, who joined the Falcon Studios Group family in 2013 and quickly made a name for himself on the Falcon Edge line. “If I ever co-direct again, it has to be with Nick. I’ve never got along so well with any other director. Frankly, I’m not so wild about co-directing. But Nick kind of completes me. Every scene is a true collaboration, without stepping on egos. I think we totally respected one another’s abilities on set. Trusted one another, like tag-team directing! If anything, we amped each other up. I also learned he has a very personal directing and interview style; in that way, we were very alike. He’s a very smart young man. It was laughs and smiles in spite of the workload.” More joint productions may not happen anytime soon, as Cruz will be focusing on the Raging Stallion films while Foxx puts his stamp on Hot House, giving each director a point of view to strengthen brand identity. Cruz recently returned from a shoot in Madrid and will spend his summer in the editing room—another skill that has turned the performer into a true Renaissance man behind the scenes. Cruz attributes his longevity and success to a handful of factors: “Luck—being at the right place at the right time. Dedication—having an iron will and a strong work ethic. Sacrifice—my life was more fun when I was a porn star traveling the globe. All I really do now is work; you can’t just show up and be fabulous. A tough skin, because for every amazing fan there’s an equally dark person out there wishing you’d fail; I stopped reading evil blogs years ago. Lastly and most importantly, good people—we succeed because of good people. The love of the fans, yes … but also the love of the team I’ve built. My studio is my family, and they lift me up. I love them.”

 
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