Michael Lucas is most famous as the enterpreneur porn star. Not happy with just being a star, he started his own company, Lucas Entertainment, and flourished. Now, he broadens his scope by releasing two documentaries, Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land and Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda. They couldn’t be more different. The first is a bright travelogue, espousing the glories of Tel Aviv’s gay nightlife and Israel’s progressive policies for gays. The second shows the uglier side of Russia, the bashings, the rhetoric and the pure hate.
We spoke via phone last week. Another thing about Michael Lucas? He’s verbose. I asked one question and sat back and let him go. Though he’s an easy interview, I just knew that transcribing the tapes was not going to be a breezy task.
“I am a Jew and . . . I know how important Israel is. It hurts me to see how it is portrayed in the media … It makes no sense that it is being scrutinized more than Saudi Arabia . . . To me, Israel is like the Jew among the nations...
“I am a gay man and know Israel very well and wanted to show that part, but I also wanted to show that gay Israelis had to fight for those rights . . . this film is my gift to Israel because I know that my documentary and my Israeli porn films [Men of Israel and Inside Israel] have sent a lot of tourists there. It showed people a side of this world that they did not know . . .
“Look at Russia. It is so backwards. The west is moving forward but Russia is moving back in time. Israel is evolving, moving forward. It has a system, founded on democratic principles, so gay people can fight for their rights. In Russia, there is no system to get those freedoms. And freedoms are never given. You have to fight for your rights, all minorities. But not everyone can. Israeli’s neighbours, for instance, cannot . . .
“Each documentary cost $100,000 of my own money but I will only recoup about five per cent of the cost. They were products of passion . . . I love Israel, but sorry for Russia. I grew up there and suffered there, whereas Israel is a place where I always have amazing experiences . . . If the two movies have anything in common, it’s awareness.”