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August 15, 2016

Is 'Cash Markman' The 'Alan Smithee' Of Porn?

The Internet Movie Database "defines" "Alan Smithee" as follows: "'Alan Smithee' is a common pseudonym for directors whose film was clearly taken away from her/him and recut heavily against her/his wishes in ways that completely altered the film," adding that, "The Directors Guild contract generally does not permit a director to remove her/his name from films." Actually, some directors have chosen to use "Alan Smithee" on their films, usually because they didn't turn out to be as good as the director had hoped they would be—and sometimes as a "fuck you" to the producers of the garbage. But in the adult world, things are a little different, with directors often using pseudonyms to identify their work, and companies sometimes applying those same pseudonyms to works that had nothing to do with the pseudonym's creator—but that the company thought would help sell the product through name recognition. Take "Cash Markman," for example. The resume for "Cash Markman" has more than 800 adult movie credits, as writer, writer/director, and sometimes writer/director/producer. There are nearly 900 if you count other names associated with that name, such as "Penny Nichols," "Bill Dollars," "Frank Marks," etc., as some internet data sites do. But did one person really write all those 30-or-so-page adult movie scripts, or was "Cash Markman" more akin to a brand name, like "Betty Crocker"? There was no real Betty Crocker, of course; she was the creation of a group of ad men. But what of Cash Markman? Brand name or flesh and blood … or baking mix? Now, the original "Cash Markman" has taken a break from adult features, with an eye toward retiring from them altogether, and wants to set the record straight regarding how much adult work he actually did—and didn't do—because some less-than-discriminating websites have conflated his work with that of at least a dozen others—and that's not helping the writer's mainstream career. The name "Cash Markman" traces back to 1986 and a comedy adult movie that an AVN critic considered one of the best-written features from that year. The man who did the script was a mainstream writer with numerous TV credits, and its director had also worked in mainstream. There were other such works to follow, garnering 4A reviews from AVN (back in the day when 4A was the highest rating a feature could get), such as 1997’s Night of the Living Bed and that year’s comedy/musical Swingin’ in the Rain, or 1988’s Nightmare on Porn Street, 1989’s My Bare Lady, or 1999’s Sex Trek: The Final Orgasm, to name only a few. One of the mainstream writers who worked as "Cash Markman"—the one who produced some of the best-known and best-reviewed works—explained in an exclusive interview with AVN, "I was in the middle of writing an R-rated Friday the 13th rip-off for a producer named Dick Aldrich who, I later learned, had made several adult movies in the 'Golden Era' of XXX, all shot on film. He needed extra money to finish the movie I was writing, so asked me if I’d put together a couple scripts for two adult movies that he could shoot side-by-side to raise some quick cash. The Sheets of San Francisco was one. The scripts were 40 pages each, because you needed story-driven scripts like this back then in order to shoot in L.A. County. Hiring women to get naked and perform sexual acts in front of the camera was considered to be ‘engaging in prostitution’ unless they had a script, and the story being told required sexual situations in order to justify the nudity and the sex. So scripts were a necessary tool to legalizing the making of adult movies. "Anyway, I wrote them with a friend, also from mainstream, and we used the name 'Cash Markman' as the pseudonym. It was actually another friend of ours—a mainstream director/producer—who suggested the name, using ‘Cash’ because it was a way to make some quick money. The term 'Mark' was also giving a nod to currency—the German Mark, because this friend’s family tree went back to Germany—and then 'man' was stuck on the end. It was not patterned after my mainstream name, even though it sounds like it could have been. It was all a wink toward making a little extra cash. "Before I knew it, even before those first movies were released, my phone was ringing off the hook by other directors and producers who wanted scripts of that type. I couldn’t do them all, so I gave half to my writer friend, who started using the name 'Chad Randolph,' and, in time, we handed others off to other mainstream writers we knew who were hurting for money, or suffering through a Writers Guild strike, or the TV show they were writing for was on hiatus. Offhand, I can think of five or six people—including at least one woman—who were taking turns doing Cash Markman scripts. Then the name Bill Dollars started getting used for many of the others.   "The best of those scripts were usually by me—certainly nearly all the ones that got 4 star reviews, or award nominations—because I was more driven than the other Cash Markmans. I wouldn’t write a script in only one night, like a lot of the others did. I’d spend three or four days writing, and then rewriting it, so that it would be good as I could possibly make it. "I remember that one director I used to write scripts for, Scotty Fox, insisted that only I write the scripts for him because he didn’t care for the work of this one writer that did a lot of these. Scotty felt that the other guy’s stuff felt like it was written in a hurry. And it was. So I tried to do most of Scotty’s scripts from that point on. "Within a couple years, the name 'Cash Markman' had, in a sense, become a brand—indicating a type movie that was couples’ friendly, story-driven, and strong on theme. The messages were positive, because that has always been important to me. And that’s what broadcast wants." As the value behind the name 'Cash Markman' became established, more people and companies began using the name. Among those were the late directors Dick Mailer, Steve Kmet and Buck Adams, as well as "Markman's" old writing partner, Chad Randolph. Companies that released features allegedly written and/or directed by "Cash Markman" that in fact were not done by the name's originator included Video Team, K-Beech, Metro, Catalina Video, Venus 99 and even VCA Pictures. "I never had control of that," the name's originator lamented. "I imagine I used it more than anyone else, but there are many, many 'Cash Markman' movies out there that I’ve never heard of and have no idea where they came from. The worst offender I knew about—World’s Biggest Anal Bang Gang, from 1998—was someone I knew as a producer/director and had worked for on a live talk show that focused on the adult movie business. He asked me to direct the gang bang movie. I turned that down flat, but my crew got hired. I dropped by and saw how it was going, which wasn’t well. It was the expected cluster-fuck, and certainly nothing cable would touch. Even so, when it was sold to a distributor, 'Cash Markman' was listed as the director because that made it marketable. “Each year, this seemed to happen more and more—and it became a sort of dilution of the brand. A scene from a Cash Markman movie would get added to a compilation video, amidst scenes from other writers and directors, and yet 'Cash Markman' would be the name put onto the credits—as the sole director. Then some individuals, or companies, knowing that 'Cash Markman' was a name that cable networks responded to, would put the name on their movies, hoping to be able to sell to cable, or for more money. I remember getting called from one of the buyers from one of these companies, and he asked me about this one particular movie, asking what had gone wrong with it. I’d never heard of it. And I’d never worked for the company that sent it in! "As for the other names associated with 'Cash Markman,' and believed by some to be 'Cash Markman,' some of them started with me, or someone I knew—another writer or director from mainstream—but in time they took on a life of their own. For instance, 'Penny Nichols,' that came about because a company I worked for wanted more women writers and directors, but they were having trouble finding people who could do Cash Markman-type movie. So I was asked to do a couple to be credited to 'Penny Nichols. In fact, I did several. In time, they got their own 'Penny Nichols.' Most of the 'Bill Dollars' movies were done by people other than me. I used the name a few times—'Bill Dollars' was this Cash Markman’s 'Alan Smithee.'" So how many true "Cash Markman" adult movies are really out there? Even the original "Markman" doesn't know—but he's currently in the process of compiling such a list from various sources, and hopefully, the true list will show up on the Internet Adult Film Database, if for no other reason than to set the record straight regarding this award-winner.

 
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