|@vanstyles on twitter|
Monica Foster commentary: I discussed Van Styles on the last broadcast of Monica Foster for ATR - his work is top notch and overall he's a very professional good guy. I can't say that about many people in the Los Angeles porn industry, but I can definitely say that about him.
from www.highsnobiety.com - The latest estimates suggest there’s more than 24 million pornography sites on the Internet—that’s about one site for every twelve people in the United States.
For today’s adult film directors, porn’s overwhelming abundance on the Internet has raised the creative stakes as production houses strain to develop pay-to-play content more compelling than what’s already available online for free. The main ingredient, of course, is always sex, but for producers like 31-year-old Los Angeles native Stephen Vanasco, who goes by the directorial alias, Van Styles, making the sex both unique and worth purchasing is a delicate balancing act between compressing fantasy and stretching reality.
As one of the adult industry’s youngest and more successful directors, Van Styles got his start as a skateboarder both as as a sponsored amateur and personal filmer to many up-and-coming pros in California’s San Fernando Valley. His skateboarding career, however, took a major turn when he met adult industry mogul, Christian Mann.
“I got a chance to run a skate camp for kids at a skatepark in Northridge one summer,” says Styles.
“A guy named Christian Mann, who at the time owned a company called, Video Team, had his three sons enrolled in my camp. One day his youngest son was telling me what his dad did and I started talking to him about the adult business. I met him, he took an interest in me and things just developed from there.”
Under Mann’s direction, Styles went on to produce the now cult-status, skateboarding-themed porno film, Skate Trixxx. “Christian wanted to do a movie that was skate-themed,” says Styles. “He felt that having a real skateboarder involved with the project would give it legitimacy versus having someone from the adult industry trying to do it. I casted a hot actress as a cop and had her kick these young guys out of a skate spot. You can guess what happened next. It was pretty tongue and cheek. [laughs]”
Today Van Styles holds down a full time position with adult media giant, Reality Kings, where he produces, directs, shoots and edits gonzo [a reality-based, straight-to-the sex genre of porn] for a number of different adult sites under the Reality Kings umbrella. He also works extensively with adult film star Jenna Haze and her production company, Jennaration X Studios.
“It was definitely a big change,” says Styles in reference to his transition from skate filmer to porn director. “It’s obviously two different worlds and two totally different types of content. One is hanging out with your friends in a school yard shooting skateboarding and the other is filming two people who are super casual about being naked and having sex in front of total strangers. It was shocking to see people who were that open and that liberal about doing stuff like that.”
Recently though, Styles has been focusing on his digital still photography—embracing an aesthetic slightly askew from what you might expect from someone who spends his waking hours getting second and third angles of some of the raunchiest and rawest sex scenes imaginable. Similar to the more artistic approaches taken by adult starlet and photographer, Sasha Grey, in her 2011 book release, NEÜ SEX, or even some of the images seen from celebrated New York fashion photographer, Terry Richardson, the adult stars in front of Styles’ lens are portrayed as raw, natural and in some cases catalog-esque beautiful in an almost ironic sense.
His photos aren’t always nudity free, but for women who are usually captured in extreme sexual situations, Styles says there’s something erotic and enticing about seeing porn stars photographed clothed and in otherwise normal settings. “With my pictures, especially with a star like Asa Akira, who’s done a lot of intense anal sex scenes, DP [double penetration] scenes and who’s got tons of porno-looking photos all over the web, there’s an appeal to seeing her portrayed in a different light.”
Although most of the female subjects Van Styles shoots appear in mainstream adult films, he says there’s a completely different conversation addressed in his photos that reveal a more intimate and personal side to the actresses he works with. “It’s a different approach because there’s no hardcore sex or hardcore nudity going on,” he says. “It’s a different mentality on those shoots. The typical porn shoot formula has been run into the ground. I think the newer breed of people who work in porn and the newer viewers of porn are looking for something a little more visually stimulating—stuff that leaves things up to the imagination more.”
But as the social web continues to pervade modern culture, less and less gets left up to the imagination—especially when it comes to porn and porn stars. The rapidly growing Instagram community and the Twittersphere have given adult entertainers new access to their fans and an ability to self publish their own content in unprecedented new ways. “It gives people a twenty-four-seven look into their daily and nightly lives,” says Styles.
“It’s really increased communication between the actresses and the fans. Now you can pull out your iPhone and see what Jenna Haze is up to. You can comment and more than likely she’ll respond. You can see what their daily lives are like or see what they’re like at home. It’s raw, self-produced content and fans love it.”
Many of the adult stars Styles works with including names like Bella Donna, Jenna Haze, Kristina Rose, Asa Akira and Bree Olson have tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers—making their appeal and influence as public figures undeniable. “These girls are celebrities just like anyone else in Hollywood,” says Styles. “Many of them are very savvy with Twitter and Instagram and market themselves, their projects, their websites, their events and their press heavily. It’s been a powerful tool for them.”
A big part of that influence, like any celeb, is the ability to promote product—an arena where Van Styles has been able to involve his love for skateboarding and streetwear brands by photographing stars wearing branded apparel. “I’ve been a fan of skateboard culture and streetwear culture forever,” he says. “A lot of the time, I’m introducing the girls to the product. They’ll see me wearing something or I’ll turn them on to a brand’s website.”
Over the years, Styles’ frequent Instagram or blog photos showcasing porn actresses in branded shirts, hats and other clothing items have become social media talking points in skate and streetwear industry circles. “Normally you wouldn’t associate these girls with brands like LRG, The Hundreds, Diamond Supply Co. or Sk8Mafia,” he says. “It’s a mixture of skateboarding, streetwear and hot chicks. I get a kick out of it.”
Styles’ unique photo prints have already begun to garner popularity as porno fans have begun purchasing limited photo prints of their favorite adult actresses through Styles’ website, vanstyles.com. “The availability of free porn has definitely changed the industry,” says Styles. “Its basically made everything we do more disposable. Shooting the basic couch or bed porn over and over doesn't work anymore. It now requires a whole new level of creativity to make a product the consumer wants to go for. One piece of the formula remains the same though—beautiful women doing beautiful things you only wish your girlfriend would do."