Outfest 2014: My interview with Frankie Valenti (aka Johnny Hazzard) about “Tiger Orange”
Tiger Orange is one of the Outfest movies that I’ve been able to see ahead of its world premiere on Friday at the Ford Ampitheatre.
Last week, I did a telephone interview with one of the film’s stars, Frank Valenti, who you may know better by his porn star name of Johnny Hazzard.
We then met, in person, just a few hours later on the red carpet of Outfest on opening night.
I was mighty impressed with the acting of Hazzard and co-star Mark Strano who co-wrote the script with the film’s director Wade Gasque (they are pictured in photo #2).
Hazzard is billed as Valenti in the film but I’ll refer to him by his better-known name for now.
While porn stars have generally been maligned for their lack of real acting chops, Hazzard has enjoyed solid reviews for his performance about two estranged gay brothers who struggle to reconnect after the recent death of their father.
‘There’s no one else in my field who has done anything like this,’ Hazzard told me. ‘This was my chance to break through and show ‘em what I got.’
Strano was well aware Hazzard’s porn career when he approached him about the role of the rebellious brother who fled the small Central California town in the film while the older brother stayed behind to care for their father and run the family hardware store.
‘We just hit it off and had the dynamic of the characters,’ Strano says. ‘We just had a great time together, he was super professional which was awesome. But yeah, I had this fear that it might be some coked-up ex-porn star. But it was good to work with him, actor to actor. He knew what he was doing.’
While other male porn actors such as Rex Chandler and Ryan Idol have tried to segue intio mainstream acting jobs in the past, both did so after leaving their porn careers behind.
Hazzard, 36, has no intention of doing so unless he can make a living with mainstream jobs.
‘Obviously it’s something I’d like to leave behind,’ he admits. ‘But I’ll still continue to do it on the side until there’s some other (income) source. It’s good for my taxes so my accountant can write off my life.’
He thinks there is less stigma attached to being a porn actor these days than in the past that will allow him to make a full transition.
‘Things are different now,’ Hazzard says. ‘I’m lucky to be here in this time. I am beyond stoked and this film is a huge accomplishment.’
Hazzard, who also appeared in the Here TV series The Lair, hopes to gain new fans through Tiger Orange but also hopes his porn fans will watch as well.
‘I’d like to say that they would be pleasantly surprised.’