Mexican photographer Jose Luis Cuevas has been working on a series of photographs documenting the world of homemade Mexican porn for the last four years now. We talked to him about his work, and then afterward we spoke with “Galileo,” Mexico City’s finest amateur-porn producer.
VICE: So who are the people in your photos? Jose Luis: If you saw these people on the street, you would never imagine they are actively involved in pornography. They are normal people with normal jobs. One of them, for example, is an English teacher. Another one supervises a chain of pharmacies scattered around Mexico City. They are all friends. And they do what many ordinary people do on an ordinary night: They get together, talk about their day, then have sex afterward. Yeah, except they do it in front of a video camera and then they sell the results. Is there a person who runs the show? A man who goes by the name of Galileo is the head of an amateur porn business called Cartel Paraíso. His apartment usually doubles as a set, or sometimes friends will lend them their apartments. How did you feel walking onto the set of a Cartel Paraíso production for the first time? Well, I’ve seen other types of kinky spectacles, but the sensation is very different when you’re in a real apartment with people you kno, and are basically the only spectator watching them all have sex. The first time I went it was just casting—nothing too impressive. But the second time I went it was at the house of a guy that trained dogs. It was really weird. He had pictures and figurines of dogs everywhere. He was a big fat guy, and he looked like a thug—really mean-looking. Out of all the people there, I only knew Galileo. I was constantly asking myself what I was doing there, I felt completely out of place. There was too much sex going on, and the air felt heavy. It was this one fatty girl with three guys, going at it from all sides.
Is it always an intense atmosphere at these shoots? It seems kind of dark. Sometimes there is an erotic feel, since the people who participate are often lovers or ex-lovers or friends in real life. At other moments the acting feels mechanical and cold and not erotically charged at all. Sometimes a new actor will get nervous and can’t get a hard-on. It gets ugly then, because the director will sometimes embarrass him in front of everybody and so of course it gets even harder for him to get it up. They always have Viagra on hand just in case. It must be high pressure to be some regular guy off the street trying to maintain a boner in a room full of cameras. Galileo has this funny thing were he almost always starts making fun of the actors when they are getting ready to shoot their final shot. Usually they cannot do a good enough cum-shot. Why would he do something like that? Well, he really likes to make them nervous so that he has to jump in and “save” the film with a cum-shot of his own. Do they try to get you to start doing some fucking while you’re on set too? Always. “Órale cabrón,” they tell me. So I unzip my pants and show them: “Look man, I can’t, this doesn’t excite me.” I’m just there for work. Why do you think these productions are having so much success now? They’re even competing with mainstream porn. I think their success lies in the fact that they are a bunch of weirdos. It’s like a comical type of porno. They are “real” people but they don’t look that real. The next day, VICE met Mexican amateur-porn mastermind Galileo for breakfast at Sanborn’s, a huge chain store in Mexico City. He is in his mid 30s, and was wearing a black baseball cap and dark glasses. This is the man who produces the films at which Jose shoots his photos.
VICE: So how does a nice, middle-class Mexican man become an amateur-pornography mogul? Galileo: My life changed drastically in 2000 when one of my business partners got us all in trouble for fraud. We had a video and photo studio together—a normal studio—and because of our company’s fiscal irregularities, I ended up in jail for three months. All the papers were in my name, and I lost my house and all of my money. I got divorced. My spirit was broken. It was the worst year of my life. Sounds rough. But how did it lead to on-camera blowjobs and gangbangs? I was so poor that I no longer had the means to go to nice table dances, so I started frequenting dive bars in the city center. It was a chain of places owned by a guy called Valencia. At some of these places they had live sex. A naked woman would go onstage and three men from the public were invited to join her. The first time I participated, I went limp. I was intimidated. But I also discovered that I could become addicted to the adrenaline I was feeling. My heart was pumping so hard. I liked the fact that I was not only a voyeur but also an exhibitionist. I decided to take it as a personal challenge. How, exactly? After that fateful night, every Thursday I would drop my girlfriend off at her house and go “training,” as I still call it. I would go to one of these live-sex nightclubs and get onstage during two, three, even four shows per night. Since I was even younger then and in good shape, I could recover quickly. Tantric sex? Ha, me la pela. Nothing to it. I go way beyond that. I can now have complete control over all my bodily functions in a matter of minutes. Congratulations. Thank you. So one day a man who looked to be around 60 years old approached me while I was peeing. He said, “Hey, do you want to fuck my wife?” I was like, “Sure.” He wanted to take pictures and video. I was OK with that too. They really liked me and trusted me, and they saw I was respectful, so they started calling me often. They also introduced me to quite a few of their swinger friends. I did not charge then, but I would get a lot of gifts: tickets to plays, cologne, belts, gasoline coupons… Nice. Gas coupons in exchange for getting laid. I also love flowers, especially roses, so my favorite gift of that time was a tie with a red rose pattern that a couple gave me. I still have it, actually, and I still love it. Many women would send me love letters. After a while I had to start charging. It was something like 100 bucks a pop. Not much. I still did it more for the pleasure than anything. The swinger community in Mexico City is very friendly. There were also a few rich men who had me film their orgies. Word got around, you know. What was the first film that you made on your own? It was called The Debut of LeXXXi. I directed, acted in, produced, postproduced, edited, distributed, and promoted this film. I did it all by myself. The female lead, LeXXXi, had not acted before, but she was an instant hit because of a three-minute trailer on the internet that became quite popular. In fact, this guy from Spain saw her on the web, fell in love, and flew her to Spain to meet him. They are now married and she still lives in Spain with him. LeXXXi was great—a friend of mine had introduced us, and when I took her to bed I discovered she was a really horny, hot woman, very openly sexual and emancipated—not like most Mexican women. You think Mexican women are prudes? Sexuality in Mexico is incomplete. We live in a very moralistic, traditional, machista, and two-faced society. Do you keep a tally of how many films you’ve made? I have been in more than 80 porn films, and I have produced more than 30 of my own. I have slept with over 400 women. I know this not because I keep count, but because my friends one day decided to count them for me, just for fun. 400 women, but I only have one daughter. And I must say I am a great father. And what does your girlfriend say about this hobby of yours? My girlfriend doesn’t know about Galileo. But she does expect to have her nice car and all the things that she wants. There is no reason for her to find out about how I provide her with all of it.