If there's one thing you can say for sure about Lexington Steele, it's that he's got staying power. Since beginning his career in the late 90s, Lex has been a dominant presence in the industry and is still one of the most in demand performers in all of porn. That is thanks in no small part to his incredible business acumen, which he cultivated during his pre-porn career in finance. Lex is now a titan of the industry who runs his own production company, Mercenary Pictures, his current deal with Evil Angel, and his two radio programs, Lexington Steele Live & Fourth and Goal. It's an understatement to say he's got his fingers in many different pies. I recently sat down with Lex to chat about everything from sports, to his business career, his broadcasting career, and how he came up with what is arguably the best name in the entire industry.
Tucker Bankshot: First of all, you have, in my humble opinion, the best name in the entire industry. How did you come to choose that name?
Lexington Steele: (Laughs) Thank you. Essentially when I first started doing media was around ’96, ’97, so that’s when I started to do magazines that were published in New York so every time I would see the magazines, they would give me different names that were really odd. I did one magazine and they called me Oswald Simpson. Literally, Oswald Simpson.
TB: (Laughs) Sounds like a comic book villain.
LS: Yeah, it’s really crazy. So around the time that I was going to start doing video I said, it’s time to settle on a name, because I began shooting for a company called Cesar Video out of the Bronx. So I choose the last name Steele because it lent itself well to a male performer, and then for the first name I wanted something that would be cool if said at length, but also be cool if abbreviated. So one afternoon I was going to visit a client in midtown, this was when I was still a broker. So I’m going uptown to visit a client and I got off at the Madison Avenue area and I passed Lexington Avenue, and I looked up at the sign, and this again was like early ’97, and I’m thinking, Lexington… Lex Steele, Lexington Steele, it sounded good, it rolled off my tongue. So then I thought, alright cool, that’s what I’m gonna go with.
So that is literally how that came about. I knew what I wanted the last name to be and I just happened to stumble upon a first name that matched up with the last name, and was cool.
TB: Yeah, it’s fantastic. I remember the first time I heard it, I said “That’s a fucking porn star name.”
LS: (Laughs) You know it’s funny, over the years people joke with me and call me Remington (both laugh). But you know, that’s how it happened.
TB: I know that you worked as a stock broker for four years before transitioning into performing…
LS: Longer than that.
TB: Oh, was it longer than that?
LS: Yeah, from ’93-’98. I was licensed in ’94, and traded until ’98.
TB: Oh, okay, so you credit modeling with giving you the confidence to make that transition, but was there maybe someone or several someones who maybe encouraged you to follow your dreams, and leave behind what was otherwise a perfectly good career?
LS: No, I would say it really has been 100% self-motivated and initiated from the very beginning. Most of my friends, and the people I went to college with, had similar career paths so for me, I was kind of an outlier in that I thought that I would go ahead and do something which I had always thought that I would do if given the opportunity. There were people that were more, are you sure you want to do this, but by the same token it was understood that my licensing would still be intact for two years, so when I moved out to LA in ’98, I knew that I had until 2000 before my licensing was no longer good. So I knew that I could always return to finance, if I failed. I had enough savings that I said, okay I can be out here in LA and have enough money to last me until I found out one way or the other.
But to your original question, most importantly it was that time shooting for Cesar Video in the Bronx, more so than the magazines. The magazines and the photographer I shot with primarily were like, hey, you did really well doing hardcore stills, you should try video. So she introduced me to the producer in the Bronx which was Charles Stone. Charles was one of the first ones, and Nevin Washington are two guys that were instrumental, Nevin is a publisher a number of the black magazines out of New York, and Charles Stone was the producer with Cesar Video, so both of those guys gave me the experience of shooting what I would consider, not really the minor leagues, but AAA ball versus the Majors in baseball. So it’s not amateur, obviously we’re being paid, but L.A. is like the NBA of porno.
So when I came out here, I had to hit the ground running because I had the experience of shooting two to three times, maybe four times, a month, where obviously in L.A., you can shoot seven times in a week. Now, that was in ’98, there’s obviously not that much work right now, but when I came in, the business was flourishing in such a way that I could shoot seven days a week.
TB: You know, it’s interesting, you made that sports analogy. Do you still feel that L.A. is, well I know it’s the epicenter, but New York has this sort of burgeoning industry to some extent, but is L.A. for all intents and purposes, the show? Is that still where everyone wants to go?
LS: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, no doubt, you know your baseball (both laugh). Yeah, L.A. is still porn central, certainly in this hemisphere, and what I mean by that is that you’ve got São Paulo and Rio de Janerio as the South American hubs, if you will, for the industry. But New York, and there’s Miami as well, and there’s also San Francisco, but L.A. is the top of the food chain period, and I’m including South America and Europe. I’ll give you the primary example as this: American stars don’t go to Europe to become a star, everyone comes to L.A. to validate themselves as a star, and that’s on a global level.
If you look at some of the International stars like Katsumi, she came from France, or even Manuel Ferrara who also came from France. Nacho Vidal who came from Spain came here. So those are just a few people that came here to go to the next level as far as being international performers, they had to come and make it in L.A. It’s kind of like going to New York, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere, well L.A. still remains the proving grounds for the best performers male and female.
TB: That was my assumption, but I just wondered if all those things still hold true fifteen years later. Can you talk a bit about the series of events that led you to create Mercenary Pictures?
LS: Okay, yeah, this actually goes back to before I even got into the industry. Most of my clients were entrepreneurs, so I was talking to guys that ran their own shops all day, every day. So I gained an appreciation for that whole thing of owning your own, staking a claim, putting a flag in the ground to say I’m gonna do something. So when I got into the industry, very early on I realized that the ownership and the people who ran these companies were not necessarily better businesspersons than myself, or anybody that I know. The business itself is not a rocket science.
So early on, I decided to keep my ears wide open and my mouth shut. I was working in a position with very competent companies early in my career, which was Anabolic & Diabolic. Now, people in the industry will tell you that Gregg Alan of Diabolic is one of the best executives the industry has ever known, so everything I know about the industry I learned from Gregg Alan as an executive, and I learned from James Alexander, the owner of West Coast Productions, as well as Christian Mann who at the time was on the video team and is now the general manager at Evil Angel.
So I learned from a number of very high powered execs early in my career so my intention was to begin directing, and then next begin producing, and thereby owning and being able to launch my own company. So I launched Mercenary in 2003 with an initial distribution deal through Red Light District with which I released five titles before going completely independent in January, 2004, and to date there have been 272 titles underneath Mercenary Pictures which includes Black Viking as well.
And one other thing that’s important to note, as far as evidence that I had a specific notion as to what I wanted to do; My first title which was Balls Deep in 2001, that was my directorial debut, and that was through Anabolic Video, and so when you watch Balls Deep #1, after you see Anabolic Video, what you see next is A Mercenary Productions Video. So as early as 2001, I was already planting the seeds with my very, very first title, for what would become my own studio. So that’s a testament that it’s possible to do a five or a ten year plan in any industry, including adult, and I always like to do five or ten year plans, and I’ve always had the intention of owning my own.
TB: Right now you have at least four projects that you’re promoting (Lex Turns Evil, Lexecutioner, Lex Steele’s Black Panthers, and Lex is a Motherfucker), each of them tailored to a different audience. Is there one that really speaks to you personally more than the others?
LS: My personal favorite is actually Lex Likes ‘Em Thick, and the reason why I like that is that I’ve always enjoyed voluptuous women compared to petite women. So that’s actually my favorite series because those are the type of women that I like, and it’s also not a color specific title, whereas Lexecutioner is all anal and interracial primarily, Lex Turns Evil is interracial, so my only black-on-black title with my new production company, Lexington Steele Productions, is Black Panthers, and we’re going to continue doing that of course, but I would say Lex Likes ‘Em Thick encapsulates my whole motivation in terms of what turns me on, which is thick girls.
Now, Lex is a Motherfucker and MILF Magnet, which is my MILF series through Mercenary, but Lex is a Motherfucker is special to me because I really love the fact that most of these women are in and around my age, and they still look fantastic. So, I’m more turned on by the fact that this woman is 43 years old and she’s fucking smokin, Julia Ann or Jewels Jade, Lisa Ann, these women are excruciatingly hot and it turns me on that these women have kept themselves in such great form for so long, and I just love to celebrate that.
Black Panthers is another series that’s close to my heart because that’s a representation of an all-black production at the highest caliber levels of production, and most often, all-ethnic movies are not afforded the budget to be produced as a high caliber production, so that’s in keeping with what I found through the Black Reign series, and my Ebony XXX series, and Nightstick, these are three all-black series through Mercenary, which have all done very well on the marketplace. So I think that Black Panthers will do just as well because no one competes with the platform of Evil Angel, so being able to release an all-black title through Evil Angel is something that I feel very happy about and very proud of.
TB: That’s great. You obviously have more performing than directing credits, and the old adage is that everyone wants to direct, but do you feel more at home in front of or behind the camera?
LS: You know, my comfort levels are extremely high in front of the camera, but the reason why I love directing is because I’m creating something. When I’m doing a performance scene, it’s an execution, it’s an exercise, I think of it kind of like a pro athlete, when I’m performing it’s kind of like my game time. But when I’m directing, that’s when I feel like I’m actually creating something, and you know, we’re not talking about the Mona Lisa, we’re talking about producing and directing porno, so it’s not like we’re talking rocket science, but it is something where it can be creative, it can be fun, and it’s something I can do long term.
What’s happening to date is that while I’m directing, I’m not the videographer, only in the POVs. My videographer and co-director is Kevin Moore, so Kevin’s actually on the camera. So I do miss shooting, because what I would do at Mercenary is I would use a whole host of different guys not just myself, but what we’re doing with Lexington Steele Productions is we’re just focusing on signature series.
TB: You have two talk shows, Lexington Steele Live where you talk about anything and everything related to sex and the adult industry, and a sports talk show, Fourth and Goal. Can you tell us a bit about Fourth and Goal, and what led to you creating an all sports talk show?
LS: Well, I’m a huge sports fan. I played soccer, I was a track athlete in high school, I played soccer at Syracuse in a walk-on, non-scholarship role, and played three years there, and played all the way up through my 39th year as a goalkeeper, and I’ve always been a tremendous sports fan, basketball, football, you name it, horse racing, hockey, I know everything. So I began my broadcasting career in 2012 with a show called Size Matters, which has now become the Lexington Steele Live show, but with Fourth and Goal, I initiated that because I wanted something that was totally outside of adult.
There is absolutely no talk of sex or sexuality, it’s man cave sports talk. My heroes are not within the adult industry, my heroes are in broadcasting whether it’s Stephen A. Smith, Bryant Gumbel, Mike Wilbon, Anderson Cooper, Ed Bradley, these are my heroes. So with Fourth and Goal, I thought, what kind of talk show can I do that has nothing to do with adult, and give people a chance to recognize me as a broadcaster and not just as a porno guy doing broadcast? So Fourth and Goal is along the lines of some of the things that you’ll see on ESPN, more specifically with “Pardon the Interruption” with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.
So it was just something where I would watch a show like “First Take” with Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Cari Champion; I wanted to make my foray into sports talk TV. We have guests on the show, but one of the things I try to explain to my guests is that they don’t have to worry about having an understanding of every sport. We’ll talk about your specific favorite sport, and what’s going on in that world. Conversely, with Lexington Steele Live, that is more like your standard late night talk show project, you know, we have film stars, musicians, writers, comedians, I’ve had all types of guests on that show including XXX stars all the way up to mainstream.
So it’s two separate initiatives, but they’re both in the broadcasting project that launched in 2012. So I’m live Monday night, I’m live Tuesday night, and it’s a good thing because as a broker, I talked for a living. So you get to a certain skill set as a broker where your expectations are at a very high level because you have to convey certain motivations to get a person to purchase something that they’re not holding in their hand. So I became very good at that, and obviously there’s a high attrition rate on Wall Street, a lot of people want to get a job there, but when they get a job there, can they get to that level?
So this gives me a chance to go back to a skill set that’s been dormant since 1998, which is the art of communication, the art of talking for a living. It’s something that I look forward to more than I look forward to my scenes.
TB: Yeah, you know, and I’m glad you mentioned Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon because when I listened to a handful of the episodes on your site, I thought, he’s got this Stephen A. Smith-thing but he’s also Wilbon, because he’s much calmer. You know, Stephen A. Smith is just ready to explode at the drop of a hat, and you have those moments where you’re getting really passionate, but you know your shit and it very much reminds me of Michael Wilbon.
LS: The thing is, if you look at Stephen A. on First Take, he has a foil which is Skip Bayless who’ll go toe-to-toe with anyone because their show is based upon that theme. The reason why I try to emulate Stephen A. Smith is not because of what you see on First Take, but think of every instance you see of Stephen A. Smith away from First Take. That’s the Stephen A. Smith that I emulate. It’s how he is the other 75% of the time he’s on the media, whether it’s on radio or on the sidelines. In circumstances where I’m able to be in a situation with those that can debate me, that’s when you see the fiery side come out, but only then.
Very often, if I’m not challenged, or I don’t feel inspired by my co-hosts or whomever, you may not see the fiery side of me come out as a broadcaster. But one of the things that is important to know is that I’ve been Bryant Gumbel’s number one fan for his whole career. So whether you’re watching Lexington Steele Live or Fourth and Goal, I’m more Bryant Gumbel, but Stephen A. and Bryant are the two guys that I seek to emulate the most consistently.
TB: Well, you’re doing a fabulous job of it because that definitely comes through. You know, it seems almost absurd to ask you this, but is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you want to work with, whether it’s performing with them or maybe you just wanting to shoot them?
LS: You know, quite honestly I’ve worked with some of the greatest performers the industry’s ever known whether it was back in the day, or even currently. I will say that the only woman that I really have a very strong appreciation for and have not had the opportunity to work with her is Alexis Texas. I have shot her with Mercenary, she’s in one of my big booty movies, as a matter of fact it’s Culos Gigante 4, and that was directed by Marco Banderas. She’s the only girl I haven’t worked with yet that I appreciate. She’s very hot and she’s a great performer, but her policies don’t include doing scenes with black men, so that kind of rules me out, but I still do appreciate what she’s done and I would like to work with her at some point.
TB: Is there anything else you would like your fans to know, ways they can stay in touch with you, follow what you’re doing?
LS: First has all of my Evil Angel movies with content on there, and then has my whole Mercenary catalog on there, so that’s two spots. On Twitter it’s , , and , so there’s three Twitter accounts for you to stay in touch with me, and on all of those, it is me that’s responding. I may not respond to all of it, but what people see on those three is actually me. There’s a number of impostor Twitter and Facebook accounts, so people have to wade through the muck and the quagmire to get to the real deal, but I think that people will know it’s me when they arrive at the right one.
I don’t have an Instagram account, a lot of people will steal pictures from my Twitter and say that it’s me, but obviously that’s someone that’s stolen pictures and created an account. Also, on Facebook, when you go to the page, you have to see on there, that way you’ll know it’s me. Monday nights I’m live on the radio on , and also go to youtube, all my shows are on . All my shows are there. is on Tuesday nights and those are on ustream365 as well as PS4, but the archives are very difficult to attain, but all of the Lex Live shows are archived on youtube.
Oh, and go Team USA in the World Cup!