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photo of bordenwarning:  sections of this interview contain explicit descriptions of sexual acts
interview: lizzy borden

You do tough stuff?

It's pretty controversial.

Why is it controversial?

Because society -- Republicans and society, and the Democrats -- don't like this type of thing. They like everybody to be nice and lovey and dovey and flower-power. And that's not the real world. This is real.

So what is this scene going to have in it that's controversial?
[Editor's Note: In conjunction with this interview, a FRONTLINE film crew was allowed on the set as Borden filmed and directed scenes for a new Extreme Associates production.]

A girl being kidnapped, being forced to have sex against her will, being degraded. Being called "a cunt, a whore, a slut, a piece of shit." Then being butchered at the end, and spit on. She's being degraded.

And whose idea is this?

Mine.

Where do you get ideas like this?

I just look at what's happening in society -- like real stuff -- and I just bring it to porno. Plus I listen to a little bit of rock 'n roll. But, you know, that's just me. That's just my head. I like horror movies. So I get a lot of my stuff from that.

"Lizzy Borden" is the name Janet Romano uses in the porn business. She is a producer/director at Extreme Associates, which she co-owns with her husband, Robert Zicari, who is known as "Rob Black" in the industry. Here, Romano discusses why she makes her sex movies and what makes them so controversial. Defending what she directs women to do in her films, she says her films merely depict what happens in real life. This interview was conducted in May 2001. As of February 2004, Romano and Zicari are awaiting trial on federal obscenity charges.

And when the feminists and liberals say you're degrading your friend the actress here and you're degrading women by portraying them this way, what do you say?

They're degrading, no matter what. Everyone gets degraded. I mean, even if she was a secretary in the office, she's going to get some kind of harassment, whether sexual or verbal -- you know? So this is normal. Women get degraded every day, and so do men.

And is this fun for you? I'm trying to get a sense--

I have fun. Like, if I didn't like it, I wouldn't do it. Like, when I start getting bored is when I start to come up with crazy ideas. I don't shoot the lovey-dovey porno that you watch all the time. This is for people who watch porno all the time, and they're sick of the husband and the wife making love with candles. This is what, if you want to jerk off to fuckin' porno with your old lady, and you're watching it, and you're getting into it, it's hot, steamy sex that you, like, after you're done you feel like you just, like, did drugs. Like "yeah!" That's what it's about.

And where does this come from inside of you? ...

When I was a child, my step-father was an alcoholic. So I think I had deep issues, and this is kind of therapeutic for me, to take my aggression out on other people. So in a way, I'm exploiting people, taking all my inner demons and aggression on them. But it's good for me. So I guess that's all that matters. ...

This [scene] is going to be pretty violent?

For me it will be. And for other people that are into porno. Yeah.

And when you're done, how will you feel?

Like a weightlift has been lifted off my shoulder. Like, "Ah, I accomplished something. This is good." I'll feel good. I'll go home to my mother's house, hang out with my cats and dogs, and have a nice dinner.

So this is a day at the office?

Yes. Until tomorrow.

And when you were out there, and everything was happening, or not happening, how does that feel to you?

When I'm filming a movie, I'm real stressed out. I'm real "This is what I want. I have a vision. This is what's going to happen." But then, like, afterwards, I'm happy. I'm like, "[Sighs.] Did it. We got it. Now all we've got to do is edit it." So it's a good feeling. I like the stress. Then at the end, I like when it's all gone.

Now, you know this woman actress. What's her name?

She's one of my best friends.

And you're about to put her through--

Hell.

Why?

She knows me. She's my best friend. I know she can take it. She's a good actress. And I can abuse somebody that I know, but I can't abuse somebody that I don't know. So it's like, I know that I can hit her harder. ... She's not prissy. So she would put a good scene out for me. And at the end I give her a hug, I take her out to dinner, and we go shopping.

Is she going to take a beating, a real beating?

Yeah. She's really going to get hit. She likes it. It's good. Sometimes, it makes you more horny when you're getting hit. It makes you more, like, more tingly down in your genital area. You should try it. You should hit your wife a little bit.

And when all is said and done, how much will she make for today?

She's a contract girl, so she makes different. So she works for us exclusively, and she makes a base salary a year. So she makes a hundred grand a year.

That's pretty good.

But that's just singing, dancing -- just that type of stuff. And making a movie. She gets a box cover -- she gets exposure.

I'm a female director, and it's easy for me to go, 'Oh, come on. Do it.' If a guy asks, they're, like, 'Oh, he's a pervert.' But if a woman asks, they do it.

So how many movies a year will she make?

She'll usually probably shoot between two and four scenes a month. It's six scenes in a movie.

So she's busy.

Yeah. And sometimes, she won't. She'll do a bigger budget movie for us where she's on the set for four days, until, like, two o'clock in the morning, and that's the only movie she'll do the whole month.

How hurt could she get? Are you worried about this at all?

She won't get hurt. I mean, not too much. But if she doesn't like something, she can tell me. She'll be, like, "Liz, I don't like this." And then we'll stop it, you know? She'll get a little hurt. Well, she does the wrestling, too. She wrestles. So she's used to getting hurt.

And who are the guys?

Luciano's our contract guy. He works for us exclusively and he directs movies. And Bryan is another guy that we use a lot. He's just a good friend of Lucia's. So he works for us a lot.

And what kind of money do these guys make?

Well, Lucia's on a big salary, too, because he makes movies, he edits, he directs, he shoots cameras. So he gets, like, 150 grand a year. ...

Rob told us that you've done some pretty wild and--

Yeah, I do this series called "Cocktails." And it's where they're made to suck the guy's cock all the way down their throat, and they puke and vomit and spit. ...

How do you get them to do that?

I'm a female director, and it's easy for me to go "Oh, come on. Do it," you know? If a guy asks, they're, like, "Oh, he's a pervert." But if a woman asks, they do it.

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

No. I'm not for a woman's rights. I am old school, where I think, when I have my baby I'm going to be home taking care of it. I'm just making a life for myself and happy, making good money. I used to be exploited when I did movies. So if someone's going to do it, I might as well. ...

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