Act I, Scene I: Michael Lucas Arrives in New York


Pro-Israel activist and child porn critic Michael Lucas wasn’t just born in to porn royalty. He arrived in New York, from Germany, like plenty of immigrants: broke, and looking for the American dream.

“I had arrived at JFK with a backpack and a little suitcase and $150. I immediately started escorting for $300 an hour and working at the Gaiety Theater. Porn was not my dream; I wanted to be the next Tom Cruise. But I was realistic and practical, and saw my competition in Hollywood, and decided that the opportunity for me was in porn. But it was also depressing, mostly because I was working with straight, rude, gay-for-pay performers. People didn’t want me as their escort because I was not buff enough, or because I had long hair and a thick Russian accent. I said MUD-un-nuh instead of Mah-DAWN-ah.

“After three months, I rented the living room of a D.J. from the Gaiety and saved $17,000 to pay six months up-front on my own one-bedroom on Barrow Street. The neighborhood felt like a nice suburb of London, and that is when I started to fall in love with New York—even though I just had a mattress on the floor and a rotary phone to call my family in Russia. I wore poor-person clothes like Abercrombie & Fitch, which was very sad, very beige. (Eventually, when I started to get some money, I bought Valentino, because I did not know any better.) I got bad haircuts and shopped in bad supermarkets. I learned to cook from marked-down cookbooks I bought at a Barnes & Noble, but I preferred the Burger King. I remember looking in the mirror once in 1997 and not seeing even one ab.”

[New York Magazine]