Mark Spiegler: The Last Man Working in Porn

Porn agent Mark Spiegler inspires powerful emotions, no matter who you talk with.

“He is the best agent you could ever meet,” says Kristina Rose. “He’s fair. He’s honest. And I’ve put him through Hell.”

“[redacted by court order],” says former director Skeeter Kerkove.

“Spiegler’s kind, he’s honest, he gets me work,” says Bobbi Starr, “and he’s lovable.”

“[redacted for grammar],” says former performer Donny Long.

Spiegler is pictured above at the Spiegler Dorm with Annette Schwarz, left, and Adrianna Nicole.

Mark Spiegler, or just “Spiegler,” “Spieg,” (or, as he calls himself, “Shylock,” after the Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” who demands his “pound of flesh”) has owned the domain Spieglergirls.com since 2003, but even before that, there was a certain type of model he represented that defined his business model.

“They call us ‘Spiegler Girls’ anyway,” the agent recalls former performer Melanie Jagger saying. “You should just call your company ‘Spiegler Girls.'”

To look at Spiegler is to feel you know something about the porn industry, circa 1974. His eyes are Eastern and mysterious, his voice is raspy, he is short and squat, his hair doesn’t follow a plan. But to the two dozen “Spiegler Girls” (who, he boasts, have earned a greater percentage of AVN nominations this year than any of their counterparts at agencies with much larger stables), he is adorable.

“I have three rules,” he says so often that, even in porn, people actually remember it: “Show up on time, Don’t make me look bad, and Don’t give me anything to worry about.

“And answer your phone.”

Spiegler explains that he keeps a smallish roster of talent simply because a larger one would be too unwieldy to handle himself.

Spiegler and a lone assistant, George, can cater to the needs of Porn Valley’s porn studios as well as those operating in Florida, Arizona, and Las Vegas by a simple process of staying on the phone all the time.

This is my office,” Spiegler says from behind the wheel of his Escalade, punching numbers into an HTC Incredible smartphone. “For licensure purposes, I rent an office with a license on the wall, but I’m never there.”

Spiegler carries an agent’s license from the State of California, as do the double handful of other big porn agencies, such as Big Love Talent and LA Direct Models. But Spiegler keeps his overhead low and scratches his head at what he considers to be the basic infrugality of the adult industry in Porn Valley.

“I dropped this phone on Topanga Canyon,” he says, “and when I turned around to go get it, it had been run over. I replaced the faceplate and it works fine. You couldn’t do that with an iPhone, but every has to have one of those. They’re expensive. And I don’t need the office with a bunch of assistants and a hundred girls to keep track of. Me and George can handle 25 just fine. We don’t want any more. You get the big house and the big office—suddenly you’ve got a lot of overhead.”

So, with a sensible voice and data plan, Spiegler’s main expense is gas (and the occasional legal fee, which we will get to later). His living arrangements are famously modest.

“I still have to hear about that last story you wrote,” Spiegler says.

Truth be told, Spiegler the agent is a go-to character for mainstream media. He is regularly followed by news and film crews because he is probably the least vain person in the adult industry and is willing to talk about anything. Other agents and former agents, like Ben English/Derek Hay of LA Direct, Joel Lawrence, and Lisa Ann (who closed her talent agency of five years in July because of her own resurgent performing career), may have been clinically expository in front of the camera but are a little more reticent in speaking about the specifics of running a porn agency.

I have had numerous off-the-record conversations with agency heads, which do a great deal to inform my on-the-record interviews, but it can be frustrating to call an agency owner for an interview, as I did recently, only to be asked “Why do you want an interview?”

Spiegler isn’t like that. For example, I asked why Porn Valley agents across the board take a $100 booking fee from big-shot directors like me in addition to taking 10 percent from the performer after her scene. So if I book Sassy McSassypants for a $1200 anal scene, her agent gets $120 from her and an additional hundred bucks from me (or, what is more likely, $1300 from me, of which he gives $1080 to her—but this is all academic because very few performers are getting $1200 for anal scenes anymore).

“I talked to a lawyer and he says it’s legal,” says Spiegler.

While no reputable Hollywood agent would take a booking fee in addition to his percentage, the reputable Porn Valley agent provides a number of extra services to justify that amount. Spiegler, for example, often drives his performers to set, picks them up at the airport, takes them out to dinner, and provides valuable assurance that his talent will show up.

Why I’m paying a hundred bucks for that added assurance is one of life’s delightful mysteries I can ponder since I don’t believe in God.

The point is, Spiegler is an excellent reference source, even if you don’t like the answers.

What about (illegal) prostitution and drug use in Porn Valley?

“Of course there’s prostitution in the adult industry,” Spiegler says. “And I can’t stop people from doing it. But I don’t facillitate it. It’s bad for business and it distracts the performer. Same with drugs. It’s just stupid to get into and it ends up hurting your career as a performer.”

Spiegler would be in the wrong business if he were prudish (“I try to lead by example,” he says, “except for the anal”), but seems to have adopted his rules of punctuality, accountability, and loyalty as an extension of his lifestyle.

“It’s nothing that I sat down and thought of,” he says. “But I get a call at 5 a.m. in Vegas, [redacted] is in jail. Of course I’m gonna answer the phone.”

Not that he gets a lot of calls from jail, but Spiegler says that Las Vegas tends to bring his girls and law enforcement closer together.

“And then there was [redacted],” he says. “The facial recognition software in the casinos is getting really good. I think that was a 3 a.m. call.”

But the phone accountability has to go both ways.

“I get a couple of calls a month from women who want me to represent them,” he says, “and I have to meet them first, of course, but I have a little test. I tell them to call me at a certain time and, you know, if they can’t keep it together to call me the next day…you have to be able to think past the next 24 hours.”

What are his other requirements?

“Some of this philosophy evolved over time,” he says. “But you’ve got to have a life outside of this job. Don’t hang around with the porn people all the time. There’s a lot of common sense; don’t tweet about how you’re stoned, or that you like to get stoned. That’s how people are going to see you. Even if you show up on a set and the director is stoned, you can’t be.”

Speaking of that, I employed Kristina Rose for my upcoming “Facts of Life XXX” parody. Not only did she take pains to memorize her lines, but Spegler showed up with Philadelphia cheese steaks for the cast.

It is reductive and misleading to call the porn industry a family, but it is safe to say that, as the business is made up of younger people out on their own who probably can’t elaborate on their jobs with the folks back home, and since one’s social circle in spread-out Los Angeles becomes the people at work, that there is sometimes a familial atmosphere.

“He’s like a mother hen, leading us around,” said Kimberly Kane at the 2010 Adult Entertainment Expo.

Spiegler calls himself a legal pimp. That is, he procures talent for filmmakers who seek women to have actual sex on camera as part of their film role—something that has been ruled legal in the state of California— and collects a fee.

Whether or not he samples the talent in addition to demanding they pick up the phone was the subject of the only known successful defamation lawsuit in Porn Valley history.

In February, 2009, former director Skeeter Kerkove, ex-husband of AVN Hall of Fame inductee Bridgette Kerkove and a man who called himself “The King of Sodom,” alleged to porn blogger Gene Ross that Spiegler had a “forced blowjob policy” (Spiegler’s paraphrase) among the women he represented, including Katja Kassin, Katsuni, Melissa Lauren, and Jayna Oso.

Ross, a founding partner of AVN who left and eventually started the gossip site AdultFYI, did not contact Spiegler to confirm or deny the allegation.

“I said, ‘You call yourself a journalist and you don’t at least call me?” Spiegler says. “He took it down, but it got reprinted elsewhere.”

(To my knowledge, Gene Ross does not call himself a journalist, although both his and Luke Ford’s original porn blogs were the first of their kind, appearing in the mid-1990’s. They gave a nation of young porn consumers hope that they, too, could start writing about porn, as Gene and Luke made it look so effortless.)

“People are always saying, ‘I’m going to sue you’ in porn, but nobody ever does it,” Spiegler says.

Of all the people defaming and defamed in this business on a daily basis, Spiegler and Jerry Falwell seem to have been the only ones who took the matter to court.

“Well, no one has the money to pay up, which is why I don’t go after Donny Long,” says Spiegler (former performer Long, now based in Florida, has waged an Internet war on Spiegler, L.A. Direct’s Hay, and many of the women who work for them over perceived slights).

“But isn’t Skeeter rumored to be working at a Waffle House in Arizona?” I ask.

“Yes, but I believe he’s got a house in Tujunga that he’s been trying to sell,” Spiegler says.

Kerkove claimed to have filmed testimony from the four women, which he never produced, but Spiegler got sworn affidavits from all four (only Katsuni is still active in the porn industry) contradicting Kerkove and this month was able to secure an $85,000 judgment against the former director. The original Defamation complaint, filed with L.A. Superior Court, was for $3 million.

“It took a while to track him down and serve him,” Spiegler says, “and he appealed it twice.”

The case emphasizes what may appear to be a double standard about porn, but which is, in fact, one of the many subtle differences underlying this very straightforward business.

For example, porn performer and Nevada-based legal brothel employee Mika Tan likes to say, “I’m a whore, but I’m not a slut.” And, while an actress might have to perform blowjobs as a condition of her being paid, e.g., her $400 scene involves delivering a blowkjob, the Kerkove/Spiegler case found that Spiegler didn’t demand blowjobs from his talent as a condition of finding work for them.

But, Slut v. Whore aside, does Spiegler ever sample the wares of his accessible and available talent, many of whom say he is the best agent they ever had?

The 52-year-old Spiegler, who knows where all the bodies are buried in Porn Valley (and in many cases has documentation of it, unlike Kerkove), says the titillation is more than it’s cracked up to be.

“These girls stay at the apartment, I see how they live, they see how I live,” Spiegler said in our first interview, “the thrill is gone if it was there in the first place.”

For the 2011 AVN show, Spiegler and George will caravan to Las Vegas with a handful of girls in a couple of trucks. The rest will fly.

“The night before the show starts, we’ll have dinner, we’ll go over everybody’s schedule, and I’ll make sure everyone knows what she’s doing. And usually, after we hit all the parties they need to see people at, I’ll go off to bed and tell them to have fun.”

“Anything else?”

“And I tell them not to give me anything to worry about.”

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: This week in porn hysteria—The Name Bomb; All your friends in “9 to 5 Days in Porn”; Life in a porn dorm isn’t all pillowfights and orgies
See also: Spiegler Girls

3 thoughts on “Mark Spiegler: The Last Man Working in Porn

  1. What I’m interested is how the agent determines and negotiates the performer’s fee in an industry where there is no scale previously negotiated by a performers union.

    I’m also shocked that they (at least Spiegler) only take their plus-ten from ther performer, when the state would allow for 20%. The booking fee is a surprise but I guess he earns it as you mentioned for keeping the performers from holding up shoots with personal issues–can you imagine CAA having its stable stay at agents’ apartments and then drive them to their jobs?

    Lastly: what is the role of talent agent as casting director, given that those don’t exist as they do in Hollywood? I assume that in the internet age, the producer just looks on the agents website and does a check-avail on the performer they wish to hire. Or did you, as director of Facts of Life XXX, put out a call to all Porn Valley agents that you were seeking a Blair-type, a Jo-type, etc, and let them submit? Does the porn agent send out notices to producers of their new talent? Do they take the bull by the horns and submit their talent directly without being asked if they hear of a project (a parody or genre picture) that might fit?

    Fascinating stuff.

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