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December 19, 2016

Sean Michaels: A Career Spent Fighting for Change

This interview with Sean Michaels ran in the November issue of AVN magazine as part of a cover story on African American men working in the adult industry. Click here to see the whole issue online. Photo by Kevin Moore. Home State: New York | Age: 58 | Started in 1989 | Twitter: @SeanMichaelsEnt | Website: SeanMichaels.com What inspired you to pursue a career in adult film? I was inspired to get into the adult industry because I saw and felt a real need for change as far as how a man should approach and have sex with a woman on screen and off. But most of all I was inspired by the need to change the way black men were seen and dealt with when I entered the industry in 1989, because the roles that I saw for black men back then were in my opinion very demeaning and stereotypical. What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Fighting through the stereotypes about both the industry and black men and women in the industry has been a career-long challenge for me. While I would be the first to tell you that it has been a great job, it is a job. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that is so time-consuming and, quite frankly, more than a little tedious. There is also a great of time spent on marketing and promotion that is frequently unpaid efforts. This includes hundreds of appearances I have made over the years at your (AVN) yearly show, the various conventions and other events. While entertaining, these appearances can be draining. I genuinely enjoy meeting my fans so I put a great deal of energy into those situations and letting my supporters know I appreciate them very much and am happy to help make their sex lives better to some degree—which will be discussed in my upcoming biography due out next summer. What is the most rewarding part of your job? Knowing that my scenes have given a great deal of joy to a very large number of people worldwide, and that there’s no question that there is a lot of fun to be had working in the adult industry. That being said, I do take my work very seriously, because at the end of the day it is a very serious business as well. And it is nice to hear from my fans of many different ethnic backgrounds, cultures and religions that those efforts are so appreciated, especially because it’s been almost three decades of work put into an industry that’s much needed as an outlet and release for many people, both women and men. Who are your biggest influences? Some of the directors and producers that inspired me were Alex DeRenzy, Ron Sullivan, Christian Mann, Nina Hartley, Roy Karch, Fred Lincoln, Lex Steele, John Stagliano, Rocco Siffredi, Jack Baker, Maestro Claudio, Mason, Mike Adams, Mike Quasar. What is the most common misconception about adult? That it is all fun and games. As I said, we have a lot of fun but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that can make a big difference between an OK scene and a really great one. I know that my own productions, we do everything we can to make sure what goes on in front of the camera comes across well in the finished product. What do you think of the way IR product (black male/white female) is marketed? It seems like it is just a product of the audience. Good and ill, our society has a number of stereotypes regarding race relations and, not surprisingly, those spill over into the adult industry. There is clearly a large segment of our audience that loves this genre and we do what we can to reach out to them. What barriers, if any, have you encountered working in the adult industry?  Like many other working industries in America there is racism in the adult industry as well. I have surely had my share of racist situations in the adult industry in the past, like many other black adult performers, both male and female. Basically saying “we don’t sell as much in the adult markets as other nationalities.” So I decided to deal with the racism as diplomatically as possible and—trust me on this yo!—it wasn’t easy at all, in addition to doing my job as an A-list male performer at the same time. But that also fueled my fire to travel to Europe, educate yself regarding the business end of the industry, and choose to work smart, hard and strategically with my web partner to build my brand worldwide.

 
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