Porn director and drag queen Chi Chi LaRue refuses to refer to his cast members as actors, though he admits “there are some people in my industry who truly can act as well as fuck.” But good help is hard to find. “I once hired a straight boy who took two girls home and fucked them all night in a hotel room,” he says. “He came to the set the next day and told me he couldn’t perform. He was scheduled to do three scenes and a box cover for me, but I had to fire him and send him home and hire someone that I knew would be reliable.”

LaRue directs between 10 and 20 gay porn movies a year. Despite the occasional casting mistake, arranging scenes of group sex is apparently not a high-stress job. “I just tell the performers to go to it, and we’ll see what happens,” he says in his breezy, meandering memoir, Making It Big: Sex Stars, Porn Films and Me. The most important thing is choreographing the money shots.

As he recounts in his book, LaRue was born Larry Paciotti in 1959 and spent a happy childhood in Hibbing, Minnesota. By the time he was a young adult he was regularly making the 70-mile trip to Duluth to satisfy his growing pornography habit. In his early 20s he moved to Minneapolis and created his drag persona–the “loud, vulgar, and completely, utterly obnoxious” size 24 Chi Chi LaRue. He left for LA in 1987.

LaRue made his directorial debut two years later under the name Taylor Hudson (the producers said his drag name sounded too feminine). Flexx was notable only for its “pointless cutaways of table lamps, ugly ceramic statues, and cheesy silk flowers,” he writes. Since then LaRue has made about 100 movies, including Lost in Vegas, a gay, happy-ending version of Leaving Las Vegas; Boot Black, a look at what happens at underground leather bars; and the futuristic Secret Sex, which pits free-love radicals against the sex police. The average script for one of his 90-minute films is about four pages long–and most of that’s the blocking.

Besides devoting a chapter to the pitfalls and benefits of fame (“As Chi Chi, I’ve had sex with guys who wouldn’t give Larry the time of day”), LaRue uses his memoir to take credit for helping found the Gay Video Guide Awards and launching the career of the late porn star Joey Stefano; he also refutes accusations that he knowingly allowed Stefano, who was HIV positive, to perform with uninfected partners. But one of his greatest contributions to the industry, he points out more than once, was casting drag queens in his movies.

LaRue has himself performed in front of the camera, both as Chi Chi and as Larry Paciotti, and helps front the glam-rock band the Johnny Depp Clones. He would like to eventually make the leap to straight porn. “One day the bitch herself, Madonna, may call,” he says. “Who knows? I don’t know if I could take it, though. I guess I would do it if I could get her to promise she wouldn’t be mean to me.”

Earlier this year LaRue enlisted some drag queens and adult-film industry cronies to act in a video for former Judas Priest front man Rob Halford, who recently revealed he is gay. “I’m a Pig” takes place in a sex club, which was why LaRue cast his friends. “They’re very uninhibited,” he says. “Some of the girls were rolling around in water in ripped T-shirts in the freezing cold studio, spitting at each other. It was wild. But it would have been really difficult to get prissy little models to do that.”

LaRue will discuss his work Friday at 7:30 at the Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway. It’s free. Call 773-883-9119.

–Cara Jepsen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Chi Chic LaRue photo uncredited.