Phil Varone's Upstart Talent Agency Rocks On
LOS ANGELES — Rock music and porn have always had a special love affair what with both having an outlaw appeal and needless to say steeped in sex. So although it’s no surprise that a former rock star might appear in adult films, it is unusual when one starts his own talent agency.
But that’s what former Skid Row drummer Phil Varone did with the birth of The V Agency, an upstart company that debuted just last March but growing fast. Varone says he's adding new talent to his roster on a regular basis thanks to his porn savvy that includes running the business, performing himself, and directing the "100% Real Swingers and Groupies" series for Vivid Entertainment.
The seed idea for the agency came from Varone working with a number of agents in music. He says that he felt if he were ever to open a successful agency, he’d be different and want to pay very special attention to talent’s wants and needs. The rocker notes that as he learned the adult business he found some agents to be less than reputable and sending talent to questionable working conditions. The V Agency was created to change some of those problems. “This is unacceptable and as an agent, I want to make sure that all talent is safe, not just mine,” Varone told XBIZ.
His concern for performers’ well being is key, but what's really appealing about the agency is its promise to forge a pathway to mainstream. Varone says he has a number of mainstream connections and friends that he can tap, and still has his own theatrical agent.
The agency’s roster includes female, male, gay, transsexual and fetish talent — all of whom Varone says he can help with their careers. “I’m not about the dollar so much as developing their careers and being able to deliver all aspects of entertainment. Although the adult business is the main reason they are with me, my reach is in mainstream TV and movies as well as the music business. My client King Noire is a hip-hop artist that is crossing over to the adult world. We have big plans for him with using both genres to cross promote. His hip-hop name is Hasan Salaam aka King Noire in the adult world. We are working on his crossover as we speak. This type of talent is my favorite as we are not limited to just one form of entertainment.”
Although a fledgling agency, its lineup is impressive nonetheless. In addition to Noire, the roster includes just annouced Brooklyn Daniels along with Zoe Wood, Ashlee Graham and Ashley Foard to name a few. Performer Jonelle Brooks recently signed on, joining Madison Montag as the agency’s two transsexual clients. Varone says he keeps the roster small so each talent can have his true attention, emphasizing that he doesn’t accept just anyone.
His core mantra is to take on folks that he feels he can help in some way, noting that he’s recommended other agents to talent before. “It’s not about a competition; it’s about what’s right for the talent. After some time in the business I hope to have relationships with all the studios, but that doesn’t happen over night. If I feel another can do more for a talent then I can, I will gladly suggest they go in that direction. That might be shooting myself in the foot, but to be honest It’s not about a head count for me, it’s about relationships and getting the job done right.”
Varone's altruistic bent has recently spurred him to have his agency join the Licensed Adult Talent Agency Trade Association (LATATA), that he describes as a personally proud moment as it signaled to the industry that he is here to stay and that his business is legitimate. In fact, Varone says he’s recently used four different industry agencies to cast a feature movie he’s just shot.
“With so many unlicensed agencies popping up all over Vegas and Florida, I wanted all to know that I would go the extra mile and get my California license and bond and legally operate in the adult business. It makes me feel better; the studios feel better and most importantly, my talent feel better. They know they are protected as well as my agency,” Varone says.
Coming from outside of the industry Varone gives credit to Vivid for allowing him to quickly get on the fast track. He says he loves directing and recently wrote and directed his first feature in the taboo genre that will be coming out this year. He notes that he took acting classes when he lived in L.A. and studied script writing, so he says it was an easy transition to direct. His years of being on-set shooting music videos and his acting experience have helped him tremendously. The combination also gives him the needed empathy to understand his clients’ needs.
With his rock career legacy, teaming up with powerhouse Vivid, and joining LATATA, Varone is a unique triple threat for the talent side of adult. He say’s he’s continuing to learn on a daily basis, crediting LATATA for "opening his eyes to so much more.” “My analogy that I use regarding joining LATATA is when the president gets elected; they are filled in on what is really happening in the world. With my first LATATA meeting, I sat back and took in everything and learned a great deal. I’m excited when I think about the future of The V Agency,” Varone says.
Part of that excitement no doubt stems from a new deal Varone's working on that he says will “revolutionize our industry as well as all forms of media and entertainment."