Michael Ninn: Two Trucks, Three Years, “The Four”


IV1-560x371Michael Ninn got an early present for his 58th birthday: two semi trucks stacked with notebooks, computers, wardrobes, and master recordings from 137 of the director’s movies arrived at his storage space in downtown Los Angeles.

In the previous three years, the director of such rich, skillful, and grandiose pornographic works like “Sacred Sin,” “Latex,” “Shock,” “Black Orchid,” “Neo Pornographia,” and “Nymphetamine” had declared bankruptcy, lost a house, and was so consumed with a lawsuit that he sometimes wouldn’t dress.

Ninn’s birthday was March 15, the day I interviewed him at home in Santa Maria, a city filled with strawberry fields on California’s Central Coast. Three weeks earlier, on February 25, those trucks had made the 50-mile trip from horsey Norco, southeast of Los Angeles, bearing a significant amount of closure for Ninn who, in a three-year battle with former business partner The Spearmint Rhino, had even lost the legal right to his name.

“That was a glorious day,” says Ninn. “I will never forget the feeling of it.”

Ninn has led a fascinating life, which I’ll recount over the next few days. He has been historically wary of interviews (and interviewers) and he will not be photographed. This gallery from his epic “The Four” will have to suffice.

Ninn is a soft-spoken, bespectacled, and sturdy gray-haired man with a slight New York accent.

We’ll start backwards.

A year before the trucks arrived, on March 19, 2010, Ninn argued on his own behalf (“pro se”) in front of the 3-judge United States Bankruptcy Appellate Court in Pasadena (“I couldn’t afford a lawyer at that point,” he says). He argued to appeal a lower court’s decision to sell to a trust established by Spearmint Rhino owner John Gray 137 of Ninn’s films and the intellectual property associated with them, including websites and the nom de porn under which he earned numerous adult industry awards.

“The way it was working,” he says of his court battles up to that point, “was that, unless you had $70,000, you were wrong.”

Ninn, whose formal schooling ended at seventh grade, faced a formidable array of lawyers, including Paul Cambria, well-known throughout the adult industry for his work on behalf of Larry Flynt and other moguls.

“I wore an Oxford shirt, penny loafers, no socks,” Ninn says. “When you’re up against silk suits, be cool.”

The court’s finding, filed a month later (and which is a matter of public record) is remarkable for what the court thinks Ninn intended to say.

While not raised precisely by [Ninn] on appeal, we have the discretion, if not the obligation, to ensure that bankruptcy law is properly applied.


Nonetheless, despite {Ninn}’s lack of contrary evidence, his argument does have some merit.

It is also public record that, in 2007, Ninn entered into an agreement with John Gray of Spearmint Rhino to hitch his star to that strip club chain’s wagon. Ninn would bring his design sensibility to Spearmint Rhino’s clubs and website, and he would continue directing films. The eventual company was Ninnworx_SR.

That partnership ended a year later, leaving “The Four,” a massive porn undertaking with a budget, sources close to the project say, that went from $170,000 to nearly half a million dollars, unedited and unreleasable. The porn reworking of “300” (except geared toward heterosexuals) starred Brea Bennett, Cassidey, Jana Jordan, Renee Perez, Nikki Kane, and Marco Banderas, and was easily the most anticipated porn film of 2008.

Though neither Ninn nor Gray’s camp can talk about the split or the eventual settlement (publicly they stick to phrases like “mutually satisfying arrangement”), Ninn does let slip two things:

“Eventually, lawyers told me not to fight anymore. They said I couldn’t win. They wouldn’t take my case even if I could pay them.”
“I have my movies back, and a major distributor will release ‘The Four,’ finally.”

Next: Western Visuals to VCA to NinnWorx

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Michael Ninn looks for a more congenial spot; “Nymphetamine“; Open Bar at the Van Halen Place
See also: NinnWorx

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist


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