Interview with Omar owner/director at Bellezza Video
Who is Omar outside of his films?
I’m an outsider, who prefers it to remain that way. At the time I’d started Bellezza Video, I’d never met anyone who was in any way connected with the porn business. I’m very happily married, and have been for over 20 years and I’ve raised two kids. I don’t party much, I don’t swing, I don’t do drugs. I’m actually a pretty boring guy, now that I think about it!
I’m very interested in the evolution of our species. Part of that, I think, is an understanding of what makes us tick and how we got here. And so to that end I read a lot of popular science type stuff, with an emphasis on the brain, and a lot about the history of religion and culture, etc. I now consider myself an enlightened, spiritually-engaged atheist. No, it’s not a contradiction. Look up the definition of Atheist.
Why did you decide to make films and who are your influences as a film maker?
I’ve enjoyed porn for my entire adult life. But as home video made it mainstream and relatively easy to produce and obtain, I saw that much of it was becoming negative and misogynistic. It seemed to be moving away from explorations of sexual pleasure, and toward explorations of sexual power – usually at the expense of women. I think this is because of a couple of factors: our puritanical heritage here in America, and the relative newness of the phenomena of video porn. Basically, you had two types of people making it: bold, visionary pioneers and people who weren’t very rooted in the shared values of the culture. In other words, people who lived on the fringe. Such people would naturally have a hard time portraying ‘normal’ passion and love in the context of sex because being shocking and ‘avant garde’ was of more importance. These people were pounding at brick walls, and you only do that by pushing the envelope. I think now, a generation removed from those pioneering efforts, we have a core of people whose ideas of passion, sex and love are well developed within the context of ‘healthy’ values, but for whom porn is no longer taboo or novel. I think I fit that mold. I’ve enjoyed the vicarious thrill of porn my whole adult life, but felt that out of the thousands of titles released each month, none of them seemed to be appealing to my sensibilities. Then, call it an epiphany, a mid-life crisis or existential angst, I told myself that life is short, I’m going to break the mold, remove self-imposed limitations and try my hand at making what I’d like to see. I was basically betting that if I’d like to see this new style, others out there like me would also like to see it. It was also a personal statement against the ingrained shame concerning sex that came from my culture and catholic upbringing.
I don’t consider what I do to be film making, per se, and so it’s hard to point to influences. As far as porn is concerned, I was somewhat blown away by some early Promotions Company videos and by InTheCrack.com. They seemed to make it a mission to show female anatomy in all its glory. InTheCrack almost seemed to invent new technology a la James Cameron to further their noble quest! My perfect world, then, became to apply that level of ultra-intimate camera work and use it in the context of a rapturous sexual experience.
Oh! I guess I should mention The Food Network as an influence. They take a basic biologic and necessary human function, and elevate it to an art, celebrating the sensual enjoyment to be had, separating it from the actual biological function that is serves, and then present it in a way that fills us with desire by using beautifully crafted pictures for our vicarious enjoyment. We have a lot in common! And you’ll notice that they never slap the food or spit on it. You gotta like that!
Do you have a mission statement and why is it important to the way you film?
Here’s the mission statement I wrote for my website:
“Bellezza is about happy, healthy people enjoying their sexuality, and using it to entertain and enlighten you. We put forth only portrayals of sex in which pleasure is shared in a spirit of affection, respect and fun. You will not see people being dominated, abused or in any way exploited. We treat everyone we work with, as well as our customers, with respect and a high degree of integrity. Bellezza is presented as an alternative to the empty, mechanical and often negative portrayals of sex commonly found in ‘mainstream’ porn. As such, we feel we contribute positively to more healthy and wholesome attitudes towards sex, rather than simply exploiting sex to make a buck.
If I were to come up with a shorthand version, it would be:
“Bellezza Video portrays people giving pleasure TO each other. Not TAKING pleasure FROM each other.”
The idealist in me says that photo/video erotica is an incredibly cool new thing. It’s unfolded in the blink of an eye looking at it from the time frame of human evolution. It separates the enjoyment of the beauty of sexuality from the actual act of sexuality. It’s so amazing to me that we’re at a point in human development where shy, lonely, disabled, unattractive, sexually bored or simply curious people from all walks of life can avail themselves of a technology that allows them to, at least vicariously, enjoy unlimited partners and sexual acts. I mean, how cool is that? Now, of course, being a brand new tool in our toolbox, we’re still learning how to use it. Sex, being a very powerful drive, causes great fear among those who wish to exert some control over the behavior of the other people we share our village with. And that includes just about anyone who has raised children. I’d like Bellezza to play at least a tiny part of changing that mind-set
So to cut to the chase, I guess that my mission statement points to how I want to use this medium to entertain people while bringing them pleasure and joy. By doing so with a healthy, positive spirit, I like to think that I am contributing to our evolution beyond the irrational fear of sexuality in our culture.
Can you describe the elements, for you , of a perfect raunchy scene?
First of all, I like beautiful, healthy women, who appear to have well rounded personalities and are generally happy. It’s hard to put your finger on, but they shouldn’t look like porn stars. An example that comes to mind would be to take, say, Peaches, and put her next to a typical balloon-breasted, tattooed American porn star who never smiles, but rather just sneers in a manner that is somethow supposed to look sexy. You get my drift. Now, these exceptionally but naturally gorgeous women should be doing things to each other that really make me wish that I could experience what SHE is experiencing. Then, as things progress, the camera should move in so that we are inches away. I want my viewer to vicariously be on the bed (or wherever) with these women – not voyeuristically seeing things from across the room. Ideally, when at least one of the woman orgasms, I want it to happen in the viewers face, showing the walls of her vagina contracting with each wave of pleasure. I want the viewer to see things better and in more detail than they even could with their lover in person. That is the Holy Grail for me. But getting there, I also want to see all of the foreplay that got her to that point. It has to be well lit, the director should never ‘break the third wall’ and be evident in the production. Toys should be used in ways that genuinely give pleasure, if at all. And of course, in a perfect raunchy scene, the orgasms are not faked!
Why is a successful production a matter of fate?
Because there are so many elements that are beyond the control of the director – or at least are very difficult to control. Chemistry between any two actors, or between those actors and myself, vary from day to day because of mood, weather, how much sleep people have gotten and a million other things. Also, with actual sex being involved, you try not to interrupt the flow excessively. That means you have to shoot from the hip and constantly make instant decisions on where to put the camera, when to speak up and when to shut up. No matter how good you are, you’re just not going to knock it out of the park every day.
Why do you love wide-open pussy shots so much?
It’s all about fully satisfying voyeuristic desires. I think it got imprinted on my brain when I was young and found my older brother’s stash of Playboys. I loved them, of course, but wished that the sheet wasn’t in the way or her legs weren’t crossed. I eventually graduated through Club and Hustler – with the thrill coming from finding a any pictorial that ‘showed more’. So, showing more became an end in itself. If more can be shown, it will be exciting when more is shown. As a result, like any number of things sexual, open, close-up, fully exposed vagina has become, for me and many others, a programmed, reinforced fetish.
And if you think about it, vagina is the utter essence of femininity, that one, truly unique, gender-specific epicenter of female sexuality, the very center of the flower, so to speak. Frankly, I still can’t fathom that it’s not a universal or more common fetish. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that there are straight men out there for whom a close-up of a vagina is ugly and vulgar. How can that even be possible!? I mean, I can go down to my local adult retailer, close my eyes and pull just about any mainstream, straight porn DVD off the shelf, and I can almost guarantee you that you will see more close-ups of assholes (thank you, I have one of those) and cocks (I have one of those too, only not as big) than close ups of pussy! Think about that! It’s insane! If I want to see prison sex, I’ll go to prison!
Anna & Candy
Should films be toy free and if so why not?
Films should be whatever the director wants them to be and whatever the audience wants to view. Personally, I avoid excessive toy use, because in girl/girl they have long served as a crutch. In mainstream releases, they too often serve to create a barrier between ‘gay for pay’ girls and thus impede true intimacy. That being said, I have no rules against them as long as their use is sensitive to the concerns I just mentioned. Obviously, they can bring a lot of pleasure to women, and anything that visibly brings pleasure to women is something I’m all for!
You’ve said that you don’t make erotica to please everyone. Who is it meant to please? Who is the typical Bellezza fan?
I’m developing a theory about that based on feedback I’ve received. Here’s some background: One of my first sexual experiences was at a party with a beautiful girl of about 16 from another school. We were drunk and started making out. I ended up going down on her. (A first for me, and a joy I’ll never forget!) It didn’t even enter my mind to take advantage of her condition and fuck her or hit her up for a BJ. I just ended up at home with an epic case of blue balls that I took care of in about a minute! My best friends at school were all girls. I was shy and didn’t date much, but I was funny, and ‘safe’ – in the friend zone, as they say, so I got to hang with the popular girls. I’ve always just loved women and being around them. To this day, my best friends, plutonic and otherwise, tend to be women. Also, I love eating pussy more than anything. I love bringing my buddy to orgasm, and on video I love seeing things done to women that make them come. Getting back to the question… my sense is that people who like Bellezza are men and women who really, truly love women. They love giving pleasure to women almost more than getting off themselves. I’d guess that they love eating pussy more than the average person, and think that the vagina is the most amazingly beautiful physical structure in the universe. I make Bellezza to appeal to those people. Ultra close, ultra graphic, ultra intimate – but all in the context of the woman having a fantastic sexual experience. It’s a combination of attributes I just wasn’t seeing anywhere else.
Why do you think fans are so sensitive about the issue of what they see being a performance where the girls half the time don’t have an orgasm or fake it?
I think some fans are sensitive to the issue of ‘authenticity’, but probably not the majority. For those fans that are, however, I think it’s a simple matter of them wanting to believe that the woman is truly experiencing something wonderful. Just like in any movie – good acting removes the sense that you’re watching a movie, and lets you get carried away with the story. And good acting is often the process of bringing up some very real emotions.
Let’s talk now about some of the girls you’ve worked with. I’ll give you some names and I want you to say why you like working with them and also tell us one or two stories about particular shoots.
Candy Elektra and Sophie Strauss
This is a great example of fate playing a role. I had originally booked Sophie with a newbie. A cute girl I’d met who seemed genuinely interesting in exploring her sexuality, and was open to doing so on camera. I was pretty excited about the prospect. Well, as I picked up Sophie to bring her to the location, I found that my newbie was bailing at the last minute. Cold feet. I felt obligated to pay Sophie, and I had already paid for the location. I’d recently shot a solo with Sophie and didn’t need another, so I was pretty much hosed. In desperation, I called Candy, with whom I was very comfortable, and whom I knew lived not far away. Being a busy girl, I considered it a long shot, but called anyway. She answered from her cell on I-5. She was returning from Portland, where she’d driven for a shoot that was cancelled at the last minute. She had a current AIM test and was raring to go! Well, she and Sophie hit it off so amazingly! Candy, who loves what she does, but had never able to come on camera, enjoyed a nice, big O at the hands of Sophie. That scene gets constant feedback as one of my best – and I didn’t plan it at all!
Candy is wicked smart and a total professional. She also loves girls and sex and is a ball to hang out with. Sophie just has a gift of sensuality. I think I could shoot her singing karaoke in a bear suit and it would be sexy. I just aim the camera in her general direction, look through the viewfinder and fall in love! She just moved to England and says she’s out of the business. I wish her well, but will miss watching her come. (She ALWAYS comes.)
Annabelle Lee and Sinn Sage – I’ve never shot them together, but it could be dangerous! They both work REALLY hard at making their partner feel real good! I met Sinn at AVN. I didn’t know who she was. I’m not sure anyone did at that point. But she was about the only girl there who looked like a real girl! She seemed like someone you’d want to have a beer with. She didn’t have a current test but agreed to come back to my room to do a solo shoot. She was so cool! One of the more together, self-possessed women I’ve worked with. Later I paired her up with Marlie Moore on my first trip to shoot in LA. It was a good move on my part! She brings so much to every scene, and is just a delightful person to hang out with.
Michelle Lay and Justine Joli – I shot at Michelle’s place. She is so nurturing and supportive – almost maternal in the way she had to make sure everyone had something to eat and was comfortable. She’s just basically a happy individual who makes the most of every day. She was very gracious to me on my LA trip, and gives unbelievable passion to her scenes.
I was a bit star-struck working with Justine. She knows her way around the set, and also very much enjoys her work. She put me at ease right away.
Amber Chase and Anna Stevens –
I met them both at a shoot in Portland. If I recall, Amber was added to the shoot at the last minute. Of course, we’ve gone on to do many other things together, most notably the series Cum Closer with Amber Chase. What I’ve come to love about Amber is that she is so absolutely comfortable with herself and with her sexuality. She’s in her early 30’s, and I think that maturity comes across. She’s also ambitious, and is currently back in school for an advanced degree in the humanities, and she’s just basically easy and fun to be with. Now, add to that the fact that she loves woman almost as much as I do, and also shares an affinity for everything the Cum Closer series is all about, and she’s the total package.
The neat thing about that shoot was winning the ‘chemistry’ jackpot. Her and Anna had never met, yet went on to become friends – even portraying themselves as long time ‘fuck buddies’ for a hot FTVgirls shoot. I immediately called Kathy at Triangle and said I was sending them south and that she should hire them on the spot. I’d put Amber in the same league as Michelle Lay when it comes to joyful and enthusiastic lovemaking with their co-stars.
I imagine Prinzess and Blue Angel would be high on the list of girls you’d like to film. Can you give us some more names?
There are so many. You’re right about the two you mentioned. Overseas, I would also love to work with Cindy Hope aka Klaudia. She has such an exotic gorgeous face, and great body –unfortunately enhanced, but at least not overdone – and an amazing, gorgeous and most accommodating pussy! Having Amber Chase play either Blue Angel or Klaudia (or both) like an instrument for my cameras would be a dream cum true! But closer to home, there seems to be more naturally gorgeous women available than ever before.
You’ve said your perfect film would star you. Who would you have as a leading lady?
I was just making a joke. That would be a film no one would want to watch!
You made 12 highly praised videos between 2006-2008. Since then you’ve only been posting the occasional scene on the bellezza video site for people to pay to download? Can you explain the reasons behind this? Will there be any more DVD’s?
Simple. All of the expense of producing and replicating DVD’s falls on me, up front. The DVD market is in a freefall, so cash flow is tight everywhere, and as a result I’m not getting paid for my DVD’s. I have no incentive whatsoever to make them. I’m not alone in this. It’s just that I’m small and so less able to absorb it, and I’m also way down the pecking order as far being a squeaky wheel. If you owed both Viv Thomas and Bellezza Video a bunch of money, whom would YOU pay first?
Everyone in the business says to me “DVD’s have about 5 years left, and by then we’ll have a new strategy in place.” I heard that from someone just last week! The problem, of course, is that I’ve been hearing that for about 4 years! The death of DVD is happening in slow motion, but we are in the midst of it.
Besides, prepping files to go on the web is much simpler, and I can bypass BluRay altogether – which is several times the hassle and expense of DVD. You can download BluRay equivalent HD files of all my stuff right now. Making it easy for you to watch on your 50” LCD is still a problem to be solved, but it is doable, and getting easier all the time. Having a DVD series also implies an urgency to release titles in quick succession. I’m not set up to do that, and so that limitation makes me ‘less important’ to my distributor.
Your videos are available on Lezlove. You’re a regular participant in the forum there. Why are fans opinions so important to you?
If I am completely honest about it, I don’t really care too much about fans opinions, unless it is praise! Now, before getting all up in arms, let me explain. I tend to be motivated by two things: One, creating images that I myself want to see. If I do that, I’ll be true to those who share my tastes, without having to constantly guess what people will love or hate. I’ve shot things that while I’m shooting them I’m thinking, ‘so and so is gonna LOVE this, and so and so is gonna HATE this!’, so since I can NEVER please everyone, I choose to please myself. My second motivation is the genuine satisfaction I receive when I hear that I have fulfilled someone’s fantasy – that my work has brought pleasure and joy to other people. I’m really happy about that, and so I love positive feedback. The negative feedback I find interesting to see what people are passionate about. I can take it. I have a thick skin. Of course, constructive criticism is always welcome. I just reserve the right not to act on it!
I also participate in the forum because I often find the discussions interesting to me, particularly the ones that explore the role of erotica in culture. People are all over the map, and it’s its fascinating to watch it all play out. Having somewhat of voice in the discussion is satisfying.
What don’t you like about the way the girls are treated in the adult industry?
I’m all for personal choice, and freedom, and all of that, but I think that anyone under the age of, let’s say, 22 years old should have to go through some sort of orientation – perhaps from veteran models. It is too easy to take advantage of rebellious, immature young women, who may come from unhealthy situations. The full ramifications of being in this business need to be fully understood, and I personally believe that as a producer, I have a responsibility to try my best not to exploit anyone in the creation of my videos. I am also personally against videos that portray simulated forced sex of degradation of women in any form. I defend the rights of such portrayals to be produced and consumed, but I personally want nothing to do with them.
We’re in the season of awards if you could win one which would it be?
I’d like to be nominated at the CWA awards, so I could interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech and hand her my business card
If tomorrow you could take over control of Girlfriends Films, Sweetheart Video or Triangle Films which would you choose and why?
None of the above! I want them to take ME over! But seriously, I’ve never met Dan from GF. Obviously, they have a great thing going and OWN distribution of the genre for all practical purposes. I’ve met and was charmed by Nica (SHV). She has such genuine passion for trying to break molds. She is a gift to the genre. I’ve spent the most time interacting with Kathy and Shoosh from Triangle. We hit it off right off the bat, I think because we both see ourselves as outsiders, trying to do things our way. Our styles are very different, but not our outlook or philosophy and all that. Seriously, after having dinner with them once, I felt like these are old friends. People I’ve known for a long time. That doesn’t happen much in this industry. If they wanted to start another line or take over Bellezza, I’d shoot for them in a heartbeat. I’m not someone who needs to run the whole show.
Which whisky have you chosen as your Christmas tipple?
Macallan 12 year Sherry Oak single malt scotch. I should probably go for the 18 year, however, as I wouldn’t want to be caught with anything underage in my hand!
Where can people find you on the net?
A whole bunch of un-authorized torrent sites. Oh, and also at BellezzaVideo.com