In a the male dominated world of porn directors, Wendi Knight stands out from the crowd. A former porn star herself she decided to stop performing but stayed in the business as a director. Now on contract with gonzo powerhouse Zero Tolerance, Knight has her name synonimous with series like Grand Theft Anal, Wet Dreams Cum True and Strip Tease Then Fuck. In this interview with XRentDVD's Big D, Knight discusses the challenges she faces being a woman in a amle dominated environment, reavels the secret of the two types of male porn stars and why she chose to stop performing but transitioned into directing.
Big D: You started your career in the adult business as a performer but you now direct full time. What made you want to get out from in front of the camera but continue to work behind it?
Wendi Knight: The reason why I wanted to stay in the business is because I love what I do. I love the business. I love the people in it. I think getting out from in front of the camera was that I had my time and I think I was done. I didn't want to be one of those old porn stars still trying to do a scene. The market changed a lot too. When I was getting out the whole teen thing was starting to get big. Everyone wanted to see the 18 year-old girl and I wasn't 18 anymore. I did it. I had my fun and I was ready to move on. Big D: Since you were ready to move, why did you choose to direct porn? Why not take a career path away from the adult business?
Wendi Knight: It's what I do. I was a porn star and I was in the adult business and it was something I liked to do. I am a porn fan. I really like it. I thought it would be fun and I think I could bring a different perspective coming from woman. There are a lot of male directors out there, even though more women are starting to direct now, but I think I could put a different spin on it.
Big D: As a director and a woman, what is your approach and philosophy towards putting out good work compared to the men out there and the handful of women who are directing?
Wendi Knight: I think for me I do not like that hard edge. I think as a woman I add a little bit of a softer touch to it. I want the girls to be in sexy outfits not overlooking details even down to the shoes. I think the viewer pays attention to those things. As much as the sex they want the girl to look nice too. They want their hair to look nice and the make-up to be nice. It's something I try to pay a lot of attention to. I like to have a lot of sexiness in my movies. A lot of teasing is something the guys want to see and the girls too for that matter. I am a porn fan and I like to see that. I like a lot of build up and I want to see the tease more than just the fucking part of it. I was a dancer before I did adult DVDs and I think that is a part of it too. I think the viewers like that. They like to be teased. They are not getting that at home. They are getting two or three minutes of sex and they are not getting all that foreplay. I think that is something people want to see and I want to see it. So I put a lot of that into my movies. Big D: To the uninitiated, people would assume that a woman directing porn would probably have a softer edge, kind of like the films Celeste does for Digital Playground. Your three series with Zero Tolerance are Grand Theft Anal, Wet Dreams Cum True and Strip Tease Then Fuck are as hardcore gonzo as they come. Is it a delicate balance to please the hardcore gonzo crowd but still bring in a woman's touch?
Wendi Knight: I still want the sex to be good. I think in order for the sex to be good there has to be heat. I am very particular with who I book and who I book that person with. That's my first question I ask to girls, 'who do they work well with?' I want to put her with someone where there is a lot of heat. I don't know if it is necessarily a harder edge or just there is chemistry there. The style of movies there is a lot of tease and there are a lot pretty things but the sex still is good. I'm not sure that that makes it hard compared to it just being good sex. I want good chemistry and the girls are enjoying the sex and the viewer knows they are enjoying it knowing they enjoy what they are doing. They are not picky about who they work with but they are there because this is what they do and they love what they do. I won't just book someone because they are this great name, blah, blah, blah. I want someone that truly loves what they do and they are coming to give me 100 percent because this is their job. Big D: You've been directing for a few years. Which performers, male and female do you enjoy working with?
Wendi Knight: I am kind of old school. I tend to favor the girls that are not necessarily the younger performers. I know there is a good market for them and the guys really love the teen thing. For me, I am more into women than I am into girls. I want big boobs, lots of hair, that whole thing. Trinity was one of my favorite people. I loved her. Bella-Marie Wolf was great. She had a phenomenal attitude about shooting. Lauren Phoenix was great. Monica Sweetheart is one of those people that give 100 percent in every scene. The European girls just seem to look at this like it is a business. They tend to give really good, hard scenes. Alicia Rhodes was in the first Grand Theft Anal. That was one of the first movies I directed. She was just amazing. I remember watching that scene and thinking, 'oh my God'. That was such a hot scene.
Big D: What about the guys? Wendi Knight: The guys I would say are Mark Davis. He was always great. Tony Ribas has to be hands down my favorite performer. He is just so passionate. He truly just loves it. In every single scene he is there driving it home and he truly loves women. I think there are two types of men in the business. There are the guys that love women and the guys that love fucking. There is a difference. He truly loves women and it comes across at every angle. It is just sexy to me.
Wendi Knight: Yes. I absolutely love Courtney. She is totally sexy. She has such a great outlook always. She is happy always. She loves sex. She always does a great scene. She is very accommodating. She doesn't have that 'I'm a Diva' quality about her and that is why we all love her. She truly loves her job and she is just a joy. We really love her around here at Zero Tolerance. That's obvious or we wouldn't have signed her. Big D: Speaking contract girls, who out there is on contract with another company that you wished you could shoot one more time?
Wendi Knight: One of my favorite girls out there is Kirsten Price. I just think she is beautiful and she has a great attitude. She is always in a great mood. Never bitchy. She just signed with Wicked. I just think she is great. I know she only did girls for a while when we shot her a couple of times. As far as anyone else I am kind of out of the loop on who is on contract these days. Kirsten is definitely someone that I would like to shoot again if I could.
Big D: You are one of the numerous contract directors that produce exclusively for Zero Tolerance. Why Zero Tolerance and what do you want to do for them in the future?
Wendi Knight: I think I am going to continue shooting the three series that I already have going. I want to shoot what I like because otherwise I am shooting something I don't know anything about. The anal thing is definitely something I like and the strip thing I like and the wet dream thing is definitely something that I like. I think I will continue to shoot those. I am not going to try shooting something that I don't like because I don't think I will shoot it very well. Big D: When you first started were there other directors that you admired and wanted to emulate your style to theirs?
Wendi Knight: Quasarman, of course. He pretty much got me through everything in the beginning. He's always been there for me. In the beginning before I was directing, my favorite porn series was the Seymore Butts series. I just liked that. We don't shoot anything like that but I liked the fact that it is very casual and everyone seems real. I really like to try to do a lot of that in the behind the scenes where the girls are not in make-up and it can show that this is people's jobs and not someone's perception of porn. Not everyone is strung out and it's not this crazy, big, giant party all the time. He (Seymore) was definitely one of my favorite directors in the beginning. I don't think I have really patterned my style after anyone. I just strive to capture good sex and that's what I try to do.
Big D: It seems in today's porn environment that there is this tremendous draw to film anal. It seems like girls in the business miss out on a lot of work if they choose not to do anal. Why do you think the industry is so focused on the ass? Wendi Knight: I think for a while there things got really hard. I think that everyone was trying to push the envelope for a period of time. I think people are still trying to do it but not nearly as much. A year or two ago people were just trying to shoot all of the swallowing movies and the creampie movies and everyone was trying to push the envelope on something. I actually think the anal wasn't so much pushing the envelope to the point where if you didn't even do that people wouldn't consider you to do other things. If someone doesn't do anal, they don't do anal. I don't care about that as long as they give me a great sex scene. Obviously they can't be in some of the series but to me that doesn't matter. And especially since I was talent first, I get it. I understand if there is a girl that doesn't want to do something she is not comfortable with. I don't necessarily shoot a girl on camera doing something she is not comfortable with because you can tell. I just think it looks like shit.
Big D: Ten years ago the character driven, heavy dialogue type features that Vivid and Wicked made popular dominated the porn landscape. That is not the case anymore. Now hardcore gonzos seem to be paying everyone's bills. Where do you see the business going in the next few years? Wendi Knight: For me I hope it is the gonzos because that is what I like. I think about it all the time. I just don't know how much more people can do and push the envelope and get away with going further and further and further. I hope that is not where the industry is going. I think if people just continue to shoot the good sex that is the reason why people buy or rent porn. There is a small percentage of people out there that want to see something a little more. I think the majority of people out there just want to watch good sex because they are not getting that at home. That's what they want to see and I am hoping it stays there. I am not sure that it will but I am hoping for that. I just think it always comes back to people wanting to see two people who like to fuck go ahead and fuck.
Big D: Since this is a male dominated profession do you feel there is an obligation to raise the bar or be more above board since you are a woman director and your DVDs might be more heavily scrutinized?
Wendi Knight: I feel like I need do that but not to the point where I will shoot things that I am not comfortable with or someone is not comfortable doing. I really feel that if the sex is hot, that is the bottom line. That is what people want to see and that is what I want to shoot. If people want to see something more, they are not coming to me because that is not what I shoot.