I am, of course, biased when I say I adore Carnal Media, and their films. I find them excellently shot, full of fantastic performers, taboo-pushing storylines, and… they’re just plain hot. Also, I’m not alone in this assessment: with awards from the Grabbys (Best Performer and Best All-Sex Scene) and Fleshbot (Best Oral Scene and Best Director), and also nominated for a several XBIZ awards, it’s clear that their formula is working with fans and the industry.
I was curious to find out what makes the special sauce, as it were. When I read an interview by Brady Jansen of GayVN with Carnal exclusive Serg Shepard, I was struck by this comment:
“They [Carnal Media] are creating an environment of community, friendship, family…They all take care of you…We would watch movies together, hang out in the hot tub, have dinners, socialize…They’re a very caring company.”
Carnal Media’s approach to filming, community
I wanted to find out more about this approach to creating porn. I reached out to Legrand Wolf and Cole Blue to hear more directly about how Carnal does things differently, how they welcome new performers, and what has kept them collaborating.
“We make sure we set up an environment where people know that consent comes first, that we’re not going to put them in an uncomfortable position,” explained Legrand from his home in Minnesota. “Basically, we’re really here to make good content together and make people feel safe, knowing that everyone is tested and we’re interested in taking care of them while they’re with us.”
It sounds simple at first, but what makes Carnal stand out from the crowd is that they shoot their scenes relatively fast, with limited face-to-face interaction prior to shooting. They like to let the camera capture the first moments of connection.
“It’s kind of like a Grindr hook-up the very first time you’re interacting…I really try and let the first time they’re [the performers] are interacting be on camera. You get some real chemistry: someone looks hot, you think they’re hot, maybe they exchange a few words at a time,” says Legrand. “Then they get to explore that chemistry on camera, and we get to capture that which I think is real magic. We try to let people have a hook-up based on looks, based on a carnal drive.”
“With us, it feels more connected.”
“It’s almost the opposite of what you expect. We vet people based on personality and all kind of things, before we ever get them set. Then once we have them on set, I’m asking people to suspend reality a little bit, get into character. It’s easier when you don’t have a ton of information about that person.”
Outside of shooting, interaction with fellow performers is heavily encouraged and celebrated.
“We’re all interacting with each other in a family setting. It feels like summer camp. So you start to get to know people, and as people engage they build a connection.”
“One of our performers just shot for a famous studio…he said it was kind of impersonal; ‘I shot one scene, it took me that entire day, I had to be hard for eight hours. And the next day we still weren’t done! We had to get pictures, it was all for one scene. It was just infuriating,’” quoted Legrand, “but he said that with us [Carnal Media], we were able to shoot for three-four hours in a day, knock out more content, and felt more connected to everyone on set, both performers and crew.”
“One thing I heard recently was that it’s described as ‘clocking-in and clocking-out’ like you’re just an employee,” Cole said. “With us, it feels more connected. You’re here [in Legrand Wolf’s house in Minnesota] hanging out with all the models, we eat meals together, we sleep together. We hang out for the weekend.”
“It’s pretty consistent, the number one thing we hear from people who have shot elsewhere is ‘Oh my god this was more comfortable,'” Legrand said.
Connection, and Carnal Media Exclusivity
It’s clear that Carnal is a desired studio to work at, and many performers have gone on to be Carnal exclusives or shoot primarily with Carnal.
“After we’ve made a connection with someone, we make a decision whether they are someone we want to invite into our Carnal family. Oftentimes, people say yes because they feel safe and respected,” said Legrand.
“This last year we made room for ten exclusives and brought on ten, which is a lot. A couple of performers did come into our Carnal world who aren’t necessarily exclusives, but don’t want to shoot anywhere else.”
Cole Blue is, himself, a Carnal exclusive, and his welcoming into the Carnal family is unique as he is not only a Carnal exclusive, but also a member of Legrand’s family home as Legrand and his husband Jay’s live-in assistant.
Carnal Media Surviving COVID, Copyright disputes
“I danced at a club. The owner also ran a bondage studio: I eventually did a scene with him. He introduced me to his friends (Legrand and Jay.) They were just starting Carnal and I got in on the ground floor,” Cole said.
“I only did a couple of shoots and I was like ‘I don’t really want to shoot with anyone else.'”
“We also said, pretty quickly, we’d love for you to be an exclusive for us,” Legrand added. “We’ve gone through a lot together. The last four years have been wild. We lived through COVID together: I have a medical condition that made COVID very dangerous, and Cole was part of my small little family here that was making sure I would stay alive,” reflected Legrand.
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As Cole was present from the start of Carnal Media, he was witness to the attempts by the current owners of Legrand and Jay’s former sites to sue Legrand and Jay for ownership of Carnal Media’s properties after the couple left Charged Media.
“We sort of lived through this moment of them trying to terrorize us and it was rough…Cole was a support as we were going through this. Ultimately, we prevailed, and in the process we ended up buying a home and we all agreed to move into that place. It was a lot: that very intimate, difficult experience, and then the joy of prevailing and moving into a property… then the pandemic hit and we were basically in lockdown for the next year and half,” Legrand said.
“Now we have puppies that we got together.” The aforementioned puppies bark for attention in the background. “At this point, our lives… you know, it feels like we’re very close.”
“Anytime I can get a scene with Legrand, even if someone else is there, I feel 100% more comfortable.”
Legrand and Cole have done many wonderful scenes together and they have no plans to stop. And no one wants them to stop, because their scenes perform exceptionally well.
“I just feel the most comfortable shooting with Legrand,” says Cole. “Anytime I can get a scene with Legrand, even if someone else is there, I feel 100% more comfortable.”
“We’re turned on by each other, we make good content. People like it. I think if people didn’t like our content, I don’t think we’d stop. We’d just fuck if we wanted to fuck,” Legrand said.
“I’ve always said ‘a good business relationship is one where both parties benefit and are happy.’ Anything less and you should terminate the relationship. It’s what I learned being a gay dude on hook-ups. Therefore, I only want a long-term relationship with people I really jive with and if it feels good to both parties. That’s pretty rare. And it should be rare,” explained Legrand.
Legrand and Cole still have a strong business relationship. Even so, if the scenes Carnal releases are anything to go on, it’s a business relationship built upon the benefit and happiness of all parties. So, I personally recommend celebrating this partnership by having a good tug at this scene from Boy For Sale with Cole Blue and Legrand Wolf.
Sources: Carnal Media, GayVN