Back Stories – …a few words with Tod Hunter

If you’ve ever been to an adult industry gala, chances are you’ve seen Tod Hunter.

If you’ve ever been on a porn set, to a trade event or show, at an industry/performer safety-related CalOSHA meeting, or to PSK at Sardo’s Grill and Lounge on a Tuesday night, chances are you’ve seen Tod Hunter.

And if you’ve ever been to The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA… well, chances are you’ve seen Tod Hunter!!

But who in the world is this mysterious man with only one “D” in his Tod? Let me tell you…

Tod Hunter is an adult industry reporter, reviewer, magazine editor, and blogger. He’s also an interesting, somewhat quirky fellow with a series of uncommon pursuits and tastes.

He’s a member of The Magic Castle and a collector of cartoon and graphic art and signed books – he has many interesting ones including an autobiography of Oscar Levant, an autographed anthology collected by Alexander Woollcott, and a published script of the 1973 movie O Lucky Man! signed by the film’s director Lindsay Anderson and star Malcolm McDowell. He’s also a big fan of Brooks Brothers, and “it kills [him] that [he] can dress like a slob in their clothes.”

Like I said: interesting and definitely quirky.

But there’s more to this man than porno journalism and a standing invitation for lunch at the actually haunted Magic Castle. Tod Hunter has been meticulously observing and chronicling the adult industry for 15 years. He has much to say, and luckily he shared a few words with PVV – read on!!

(pictured: Tod with Inari Vachs)

So Tod… how long have you worked in the industry?

“I’ve been a porn fan since the ’70s — I saw Deep Throat in West Hollywood when it first came out and watched a lot of movies in what we now call the ’70s Golden Age — but I didn’t turn pro until 1997.

And what exactly do you do?

In the adult industry I’ve been a reporter, reviewer, magazine editor and blogger. I’ve written more than 1,500 video reviews, mostly for AVN, and done news coverage of the industry. I edited two picture magazines for the Adam [Film World] people for a while. I still write freelance reviews and feature stories, and do one-shot press releases.

Another thing I do is act as a catalyst and go-between for people, getting them in touch with each other for mutual benefit. I hook up performers with agents and publicists, and get mainstream reporters in touch with adult-industry professionals.

What got you into the industry? What did you do before?

I got into the industry by answering an ad in the back of AVN looking for reviewers. It said ‘Can you write? Do you live in the L.A. area? Do you own a computer? Do you know the adult industry? Can you be a smartass?’

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Haha yes you sure can… 

(pictured: RayVeness and Tod)

Thank you. Anyway, I sent AVN some mainstream movie reviews that I had written for the Los Angeles International Film Exposition and they liked them. They gave me a video to review as a tryout and they liked that too, so they took me on as a freelance reviewer.

While I was freelancing at AVN, I was assigned to do a three-part story about ‘The hidden market for adult’ — cable, satellite and pay-per-view — because I had a background in mainstream. They offered me an outrageous amount of money for what they called ‘two weeks of work.’ It took two months, so it was merely generous. They liked it and took me on staff. That was in 1998.

Before adult? Oh, man, I’ve been all over the map. I grew up in the produce industry because my dad was a wholesale produce distributor, I clerked in and managed book stores and record stores, I sold animation art at Disneyland, I did freelance copy editing, and I worked in mainstream game shows for 10 years. Game shows. I went from one part of show business that gets no respect to another part of show business that gets no respect.

I answered the ad in AVN because hard-question game shows went to hell in the early ’90s and the chances of getting back in that line of work were slim.

What’s the best thing about being in the business? What do you find most challenging?

The best thing is the lack of pretense and the open acceptance of people. I walked onto my first on-the-set by saying ‘I’m here from AVN.’ I was a freelancer and had no credentials but everybody accepted it right off the bat. If you’re on the premises, you’re a colleague. The first time I met Jenna Jameson, we had a casual chat as if we were old friends. There’s something about the nature of the adult business, with people getting naked and doing the most private, intimate things in front of a group of uninvolved others, that lends itself to opening up quickly to people.

(pictured: Tod with Showtime’s/Seymore Butts’ Cousin Stevie)

I’ve said for years that the most challenging thing about writing a review is finding yet another way to express the thought ‘She blows him, he fucks her.’

The challenge for me is to find ways of monetizing my writing abilities and the information I have learned over the years. I think it would be crass and mercenary to charge new performers for the information I give them about starting out in the adult industry — and I do it willingly and I don’t resent it for a minute, I like to help people — but there should be a way for me to make a buck on the information I’ve gathered. The problem is that anybody who has ever put together a shopping list thinks they can write.

Your name sounds like a ‘real’ name…

Yeah, it does sound real. There are people who’ve known me for years as ‘Tod’ and they get very surprised when they find out it’s not my real name. I used to introduce myself with my real name, and then add ‘I write under the name Tod Hunter,’ but I found out that people only started listening when I said ‘Tod Hunter’ so now I just say ‘I’m Tod Hunter.’

And ‘Tod’ with only one ‘D’… Where did it come from?

Where I got the name? One of my favorite writers is Rex Stout. He invented the fictional detective Nero Wolfe, who lives in a Manhattan brownstone and never leaves his house on business, and hardly ever for any other reason either. He has a live-in chef, a live-in horticulturist to help him take care of his 10,000 orchid plants — he’s a world-class orchid breeder and spends four hours a day tending his plants — and a live-in assistant who goes out, does the legwork, and then reports to Wolfe, who takes the information and figures out what happened. Fascinating character.

Rex Stout’s middle name was Todhunter. I put a space in it.

(pictured: Tod and Randy West)

Nice!! So, has working in the industry affected your personal life?

I started watching porn in the ’70s Golden Age, where porn movies were movies that had some sex in them. They had actors and scripts and even the crappiest ones were still movies. Now, it’s totally different: Porn is a collection of sex scenes for individual consumption instead of a movie meant to be watched by a large group of people in a theater. I fell into the personal-consumption trap before I had a personal epiphany and built a brick wall in my mind between watching porn and having sex. It got a lot easier after that.

That’s absolutely fascinating. For lots of folks, namely consumers, porn is an activity of sorts ranging from luxury to necessity; but for a select few, it’s work. It’s interesting to consider the separation between porn and real life. It’s also interesting to consider the fact that achieving that separation is usually a process…

Well honestly, for me it wasn’t a process. It was a sudden realization, like when a woman wakes up in a Las Vegas hotel room, still a little drunk from the night before, not knowing where she is, who that naked guy is, or where her underwear went, and she suddenly thinks ‘I have to stop doing this.’

And no, I’m not being sexist by saying ‘a woman’ there. If a guy found himself in that position he’d consider himself the luckiest bastard in the world and want to do it again as soon as possible. He’d get his cell phone, take a picture of the passed-out naked chick and send it to all his friends.

In my case, I was having sex and caught myself cheating the angle for a camera that wasn’t there. That sudden realization led to my building a wall of separation between porn and sex. Ironically, I had been advising new performers for years that ‘There’s a difference between lovemaking and filmmaking’ — and I wasn’t taking my own advice.

Wow, that’s intense!! But I still think it’s a little bit of a process… like you had to have a bunch of experiences before you could get to that turning point, you know? Haha anyway… tomato/tomahto!!

But you’ve clearly had quite the history Tod, but what about the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years? I don’t plan five days in advance. My whole life has been a series of happy accidents, and I subscribe to the idea that the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans. I have seen and experienced incredible things just by being in the right place in the right time. I don’t expect that to change.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Where can people find you?

I’m still running the tod-hunter.net website. Porn, politics, mainstream. One ‘D’ and don’t forget the hyphen. I was kinda pissed when I found out that todhunter.com was already taken but the anger dissipated when I found out that the owner was a company that had been importing rum into the United States for more than 100 years. I’ve only been ‘Tod Hunter’ since 1997 so I was willing to defer.

I’m available for writing assignments and press releases, and if anybody would like to fork out a retainer for me to write my memoirs I’m totally down with that. Between the porn and the game shows it ought to sell a few copies.

I’m on Twitter at @ttodhunter [notice the two ‘T’s in this ‘Tod’!!], and I can be reached at tod@tod-hunter.net.”

(pictured: Nikita Denise and Tod)

Oh, Tod Hunter – he who always carries a small red notebook!!

Tod is eclectic, maybe even a little eccentric. And he’s been describing what gets you off since the 1990s. It’s interesting to consider Tod’s background – from one end of the “entertainment that people consume rabidly and simultaneously shun” spectrum to the other (don’t get me started on Bourdieu here), he has managed to amass a wealth of experience that can only be insightful and golden. He is living, breathing cultural anthropology at its finest.

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Porn Valley Vantage’s feature Back Stories explores the lives of people who work in the adult film industry, as well as those amorphous dimensions of the business that seem to have taken on a life of their own. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated – email Dr. Chauntelle!!

All images courtesy of Tod Hunter.

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

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