This Side of Porn-adise: Behind the Scenes on 'Dirty Daniels'

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“I really want to do a scene where I’m getting fucked while eating a burrito,” Dani Daniels says as she settles into the makeup chair. “A burrito loaded with extra carbs. That’s my fantasy porn scene.”

Skin Diamond and Riley Reid flesh out the logistics of such a scene, in particular, what kind of toppings they’d add: guacamole, salsa verde, queso fresco.

Detailed discussions of comfortable sex are common on porn sets. Often these fantasies lack all the frills of cinematic sex: makeup, lingerie, cameras, writers lurking in the corner with notepads.

We’re on the set of Dirty Daniels—a showcase film for Adult Empire that came directly from Dani’s erotic imagination—and yet notably lacking in burritos.

“I’m a six minute girl in real life,” Dani says. “I like to get off and get on with my day.”

Her day often consists of hours of prep, posing, and pounding to produce a twenty-minute sex scene. Today that time frame is doubled as she is filming two sex scenes back-to-back.

“I love it when my guy puts a pillowcase over my face,” Dani continues as she closes her eyes for the makeup artist’s brush. “Then I don’t have to worry about maintaining a sexy face.”

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Dani arrived on set an hour before, walking through the front door of the rented mansion wearing yoga pants and a loose, NASA t-shirt. Her casual dress complements her effortless beauty. In the makeup chair she points out blemishes that no one else sees. This is a side effect of modeling, noticing all the ways in which the real you diverges from your polished, public image.

Holly Randall mirrors Dani’s relaxed, California style. The director wears worn jeans, a gray t-shirt that reads, “Harvard Law (just kidding)” an unbuttoned flannel shirt, and beat Converse All Stars. She looks like an adult version of that artsy girl in high school who used her looks, and her credentials as the yearbook photographer, to float between social groups.

Holly lays out French maid lingerie for Skin and Riley. As the performers try on these outfits, they compare bushes, eventually lining up in ascending order for a landscape photo.

This leads to a question of hairstyle. Holly instructs the makeup artist to pull Riley’s hair back, making the point that a maid would never wear her hair down. Loose strands would fall in food or freshly swabbed surfaces. It’s curious the details we all see as relevant. I, for instance, think that the women’s skimpy uniforms and their wild pubic hair would be bigger violations of the French maid’s code of conduct.

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Skin and Riley get into character, fluffing each other with feather dusters. A discussion ensues as to how wonderful it would be to live at the turn of the century in a stately manner with maids attending your every need. I wonder what the aristocracy of a century ago would have thought if they could gaze upon this side of history, how much they would have envied the most common of modern luxuries: cellphones, video cameras, internet porn. Skin laments that she’ll never be cast as a maid in a Downton Abbey porno.

“You grew up in Scotland?” I say. “You could do a British accent better than ninety-nine percent of other porn actresses.”

“I did but I was the only black person in Scotland.”

“You do realize,” I say, smirking like an ass. “Parody porns aren’t often concerned with historical accuracy?”

This leads to a discussion of the project at hand.

“Dani wrote it based on her life,” Holly says, sliding me the Dirty Daniels script.

“Dani has French maids waiting on her in real life?” I ask.

“Well,” Holly says, grinning. “It’s based on what she wants her life to be.”

The script describes an idealized version of Dani’s life. This sentiment is affirmed when she records her voiceover for the film’s intro:

“I have a great life,” she says, reading her script into a boom mic. “I have a dream job as a private jet pilot, a big house, a car I love, my dog Darwin.”

Dani does in fact have a dog named Darwin, and she is training to be a pilot.

“Everything is wonderful,” Dani’s character laments a few lines later. “Too wonderful.”

In envisioning her ideal life, Dani recognizes the inherent problem with achieving your dreams: getting everything you want leaves something to be desired. To satisfy her character’s restlessness, Dani seduces everyone she encounters throughout the day, starting with Skin and Riley.

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A black cat runs through the courtyard doors. These doors are are propped open, giving Holly more room to photograph the models against a white background. In addition to being photographer, director, and cinematographer on Dirty Daniels, Holly is also the chief pussy wrangler. She constantly shoos away two black cats that haunt the estate. They sit yowling, staring through glass doors to the grass gleaming beyond. When they are let out, into the cold, they return minutes later, sitting on the other side of the glass, staring in. Holly shoulders her camera while she waits for the cat to cross the frame, to decide if it wants to stay in or go back out.

The three performers pose for photos while a cold breeze blows off the mountains and through those open courtyard doors. The performers freeze in place, leaning on each other to keep from blurring the photos by shivering. Holly crouches before these models with her camera, blasting them with bursts of warm light. On her knees she looks like a worshipper of the female form, like a penitent performing the routines of her ritual.

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Skin and Riley stand in the doorway to Dani’s room for the opening sequence of the day. They are to coax Dani out of bed. While Holly frames the scene, the performers discuss all the unsexy moves they’ve fantasized about breaking out while feature dancing. In demonstration, Skin does a Scottish jig followed by a hair-metal interpretive dance.

“One day,” Dani muses, following this train of thought, “I want to shoot ‘The Worst Porno Ever Made’.”

The performers have plenty of ideas for what would be included in such a meta-porn: a surplus of plumbers and pizza, stunt cocks of incongruent races, the nozzles of Cetaphil face cleanser drifting into frame during counterfeit money shots.

This extraneous conversation follows the film’s action to the dinning room where the maids set out breakfast for Dani’s character. Dani glares at the oatmeal, which in no way looks as enticing as a breakfast burrito. The maids ask what is wrong.

“I love oatmeal. I could have oatmeal every day for the rest of my life!” Dani’s character laments. “But sometimes I need more.”

That something more turns out to be a buffet with extra servings of Skin and Riley.

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All jokes of “The Worst Porn Ever” fall silent the moment Dani’s tongue touches Riley’s ass. Laughter breaks into giggling. Scripted lines disintegrate into a concord of moans.

Holly slides across the floor, camera first, getting as close to the action as possible without becoming part of the scene. Dani bends both Riley and Skin over the dining table and her metaphorical oatmeal. She crouches in heels, switching between eating Riley and Skin’s ass and pussy.

“Hold on,” Holly says. “I have to move. I’m getting a reflection in the glass table.”

The performers are shadowed by the three-person crew behind the scenes. Mirroring Dani’s role in the threeway, Holly is at the center of the action.

“Morgan you concentrate on shooting faces,” Holly directs the crew. “Gary, you have the wide shot right?”

Shooting porn is an erotic dance. The performers and photographers match each others’ movements, leading and allowing themselves to be led.

This breakfast party exceeds the glass table’s maximum carrying capacity. The three performers strut out of frame, to relocate. The illusion of elegance ends abruptly just off camera. Skin stumbles into a light stand, which nearly crashes down.

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The sex shifts to a cushioned seating area in the multi-leveled living room. Dani reclines, spreading her legs wide for both Skin and Riley. The vaulted living room fills with an opera of sexual sounds. The empty seats surrounding the scene serve as a reminder of the absent audience. The rental mansion’s décor has been white washed to remove any reflection of human life. The closets and dresser are empty. Ornate mirrors hang on the walls in place of framed photos. Shelves are populated with abstract art. These are expression of vacant beauty, of form without meaning. This impersonal background focuses attention on the intimate communion of bodies.

“Can you get those fake flowers out of my shot,” Holly instructs fellow cameraman, Morgan.

“But I thought you loved flowers?” Morgan asks with a smirk.

“You know me so well,” Holly says. “Now get rid of them.”

Waiting for the flowers to be removed, Holly steps back and sees the scene as a whole.

“I’ve always wanted to hire a stripper maid to clean my house,” Holly says. “Then just follow her around criticizing her cleaning techniques.”

This is easy to imagine. Holly’s critical eye is trained to see beyond a foreground crowded with flesh.

“Just one sec,” Holly says, searching for a better angle. The performers do not detach from the action as Holly adjusts. “Skin can you move over on the couch, just slightly?”

“What if she just sits on my face?” Dani suggests.

“That’s a great position,” Holly says. “I just need to change my position.”

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“Hold on a sec,” Holly says. “I want to shoot down on you from a ladder.”

In an instant Holly carries a ladder back into the room and sets it up like scaffolding.

Holly repeatedly slides into the action to remove discarded clothes, to flatten rogue hairs, and to chase stray cats. Everything superfluous is removed. Her shooting style reminds me of the way she once described her mother, famed photographer Suze Randal, as constantly tinkering and making adjustments. She works to make the scene conform to the perfection of her vision.

Filmmaking requires a suspension of reality. Hours and days of the creators’ lives are traded for minutes of footage. The models sit still as they get their makeup done. They stand frozen as Holly snaps thousands of still photos, of which only a few will be used. When Holly calls for action, those of us behind the scenes silence our phones, choke down coughs, and sit quietly.

It’s this inaction that gets to me. My internal clock is thrown off from waking up at 4 AM in San Diego to be on set in LA by 8 AM. The lullaby of rhythmic sex echoing in the auditorium of a living room seduces me into micro sleeps. I drift into dreams that offer lesser versions of the sexual scene playing out before me.

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The oatmeal lies cold on the table and the glass doors are darkened by night. The day’s shoot is only half finished. Dani gets dressed in a golfer’s outfit cobbled together from her own collection: long khaki shorts and a sweater vest. Innuendos fly about golf strokes, balls, and holes in one. I wonder how many campy set-ups to pornos result from performers wanting to have fun on set, to do humorous scenes to distract from the predictable rising action.

Skin and Riley dress in comfy clothes and pack their set bags to return to their off-screen lives. They make plans for a double date involving boys and burritos. I pack my gear for the drive back to San Diego.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and be in the next scene?” Dani jokes. “There’s always room for one more.”

She even has an absurd porno name I can borrow: Clint Beastwood.

“Why wouldn’t you want to do porn?” Dani asks. “Wouldn’t you like to never be able to have a normal job again? Or never be able to date a normal girl again?”

I’m so distracted by the fantasy that I almost miss her sarcasm. Why would I want a normal job or a normal girlfriend? Still, I suppose you can only perform for so long before you start to fantasize about a more conventional life on this side of the camera.

“If you leave now you’re going to miss the post-wrap orgy,” Holly says, building on the joke.

“Will this orgy involve a big bed?” I ask, “and a pile of exhausted people sleeping?”

“Most likely yes,” Holly says.

I hit the road south, back to San Diego, back to my normal life and back to my bed. I follow the sweep of streetlights over the swelling terrain as my mind drifts. I imagine myself wrapped in my warm bed, a pillow pulled over my head. I imagine myself lying awake, unable to sleep, my mind returning to set, to fantasies of naked women, and post-wrap orgies, and fully-loaded burritos.

-END-

Check out hardcore clips and pictures of Dirty Daniels at adultempire.com

Follow Holly Randall on Instagram, @hollyrandall, and see more of her work at hollyrandall.com

Follow Dani Daniels on Twitter, @missdanidaniels, and Instagram, @suckingallthedicks, and see more of her work at ILoveDaniDaniels.com.

Follow Alfie on twitter, @ShawnAlff and instagram, @ShawnAlff, and read more of his work at shawnalff.com

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Tagged in: trailer, behind the scenes, adult empire, suze randall, holly randall, riley reid, skin diamond, dani daniels, threesome

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