He has shot off his bodily fluids into the faces of some of the most important actresses in the history of X-rated film. Behind him stands a career spanning nearly 20 years as one of the best, most reliable porn actors on the Spanish scene; along with Nacho Vidal he is the only one from the genre’s golden age who is still active, with a desire to stick with it as long as his body can take it and producers and directors still want him around. For the last six years now - between one pump and the next, one thrust and the next, one scene and the next, one shoot and the next - Max Cortés has been investing his time, effort and passion into practicing one of the hobbies that he is currently most enthused about: DJing. Besides being an actor, director, producer, and spokesman for the Erotic Film Festival of Barcelona, an active twitterer and an uninhibited, voracious watcher of television series alongside his wife, his cat, and a bowl of popcorn or a tub of ice cream, Cortés also works as a DJ wherever they call him to or let him. He settles for being treated to a gin tonic, a non-negotiable condition in his DJ contract; he only aspires to showing the public a good time, with no greater pretensions, and he confesses that he tries to make up for what he lacks in musical talent with many hours of practice and his motivation. He isn’t the best DJ in the world and he doesn’t claim to be, but with his sessions and his attitude, deeply respectful of the figure of the DJ and sufficiently self-critical to demystify it and keep it in perspective, every weekend he proves that in his world there is life beyond the spotlights, cameras, and eternal erections.
We invited him to do a session for our PlayGround Mix series and he gave us 54 minutes of current house, with a tribal, groovy background, taken from one of his live sessions. No tricks and nothing fake.
If we go by your Twitter account, we might think that you spend more time and energy on your work as a DJ than on your acting career…
In my work as an actor there isn’t really much left for me to discover, basically it’s just a matter of keeping going, there aren’t many new places to go. With production, it’s a matter of adapting to the times and keeping up, but it doesn’t involve much more than that, so maybe to diversify I started with this, but never with the aim of making a living at it or anything like that. But it’s true that I have a blast doing it and I spend a lot of time at it.
"Of course I prefer
that they pay me,
I’m not an idiot
and in part I think
it’s fair to pay DJs.
But that isn’t my
main goal, this is
I like, whether
in it or not"
How did it all start? One day you just decided that you felt like putting on music in a club?
I started maybe six years ago. I bought some equipment and I started pissing off my neighbours; I spent most of the day at it, putting time into it. I never went to any school or anything like that, you know it’s normal: at first nothing goes right, then you start to get the first changes and when you see results, you spend more time checking out music, new things and all of that. Since I’ve always been sort of a party animal, I went to a lot of clubs and knew a lot of people in that world, until one day somebody invited me to DJ for a little while in one of those clubs.
And you realised that you were good at it…
More or less. Or at least it seems like I didn’t do a bad job at it, until I met up with an old friend who had a little bar next to the beach and then I was there every summer for three years DJing on Friday and Saturday nights for eight or nine hours every time, without ever seeing a dime. But whatever, that was the deal, I really liked it, I spent hours at it, I enjoyed it, until one day they said to me, “listen, have a drink or something,” and that’s how it started.
It was clear to you that you weren’t going to get rich DJing…
If they pay me it’s just the icing on the cake. Of course I prefer that they pay me, I’m not an idiot and in part I think it’s fair to pay DJs. But that isn’t my main goal, this is something that I like, whether there’s money in it or not, I don’t think about it as something lucrative… I partly also think that’s how it should be done. The DJs that I know would all do it for free, because that’s what they like. I don’t know, suddenly one day I saw myself sharing a booth with that guy who I used to go to see and listen to and I was really into him; sometimes that makes it worth it. Basically what all of this boils down to is that it’s fun. The day that for whatever reason I see or I feel like I’m not going to have a good time, or they call me from a place that I’m not into or they want me to play stuff that I don’t like, then I just say no and there’s no problem.
Do you notice people giving you dirty looks? How many times have you been accused of poaching and that sort of thing?
Less and less. Well, the truth is that I understand it. It’s a job that I’ve always respected a lot; it’s very hard to get a name and to earn money with it without spending half of your life DJing for free in your friends’ bars. I understand that sometimes they might be right, even though now it might seem like I’m shooting myself down. It would be absurd to deny that I’ve taken advantage of being known because of my work, but hell, I’ve worked on it a lot, mate. Yes, it has been a help, but I’ve also put in a lot of time and practiced a lot. In fact, in porn it also happens; there is a group of people from TV who are floating around the industry lately and I don’t have any problem with that, I have always welcomed them. Partly because it gets us out of the ghetto a little and it diversifies the scene, but of course I also understand the bloke who’s wanted to be an actor all his life and doesn’t make it and he sees that somebody comes from Big Brother and makes it - I understand his frustration and his anger. That’s life.
I also imagine that your first session didn’t have anything to do with your latest one; the evolution must have been noticeable…
Sooner or later you learn the technique, it’s just a matter of spending time and enjoying it; in the end you get it and you feel up to holding your own in the booth. What I do think I’ve gotten better at over the years is contact with people, handling the situation better. Over time I’ve managed to have more of the feeling that we are all together listening to the session and when you get to that point, that’s when you enjoy it most.
With a gin tonic in hand, of course.
The gin tonic is part of the contract, that’s the only non-negotiable condition I set for people who call me to DJ. Well, the gin tonic and a table reserved for my wife and her friends if they go that night. Those two conditions are basic.
Tell us a little about the mix we’re offering here at PlayGround. It has a very marked line…
This was part of a session I did one night in a club that, frankly, people liked a lot. I had it all ready, all worked out and it went great, just like I thought… It really worked well with people and I thought that it would be a good session to set out and represent a little what I do, which in reality is nothing other than put on music so that the audience will have a good time. If you ask me, for me a DJ’s job should consist of entertaining. When I go out at night, I want them to show me a good time and that’s what I aspire to do too.
House is the main genre in the session, but I would say that’s true of almost all your sessions, isn’t it?
The mother of all styles is house; at least it is for me. And starting from there, you go hopping around its numerous variants. I like early house a lot, from the 80s… Then you come to deep house, tech-house, etc. I have to say that I had a more minimal period, more techno, with very simple sounds, but I ended up getting bored, it was a period when the voice and melody really took a back seat. Now it seems like it’s back. I was one of those people who went crazy when Sven Väth and company came; I was a little rough that way. But I also liked César de Melero, for example, who I was DJing with a couple of years ago.
I was scared shitless. I did the warm-up and everything went really well, he was fucking brilliant and really nice to me.
Is that the role you like to play when you DJ?
I feel good in a kind of middle ground, I don’t want to be in a huge crowd, I like doing warm-up sessions; I have fun and I feel comfortable that way. Whatever happens later is welcome, but I’m not obsessed - I’ve never proposed to myself to get anywhere in my life, but I’m always paying attention, and when the train goes by, I try to grab onto it and let it take me wherever.
"it’s a job that absorbs
you, you’re really
under pressure every
single fucking day of
your life. You have to
learn to live with that
pressure and have fun,
especially in regards to
finding yourself other
distractions to keep
yourself a little outside
of the mystique that
You say that you’ve never thought about what you wanted to get out of your life, but you’ve been working for twenty years as an actor in a world, that of X-rated film, that can be very cruel as time passes.
My secret is to do other things. I have mates who have become victims of porn, it’s a job that absorbs you, you’re really under pressure every single fucking day of your life. You can be working like God for eight years, being the best, but if you have three bad days, you turn into a piece of junk, you’re no good for it anymore. You have to learn to live with that pressure and have fun, especially in regards to finding yourself other distractions and other things to do, to keep yourself a little outside of the mystique that surrounds this whole world …
The wild life?
Yes. I haven’t paid at a discotheque for years - and people always offer me all kinds of things whenever I go out at night - but there comes a time when you have to learn to say no, because otherwise you go into a spiral that’s bad for your work. Within the disorder that this life is, you have to find an order. I’m lucky that I don’t work that much, tomorrow, for example, I don’t have anything to do, but you also have to be careful with that, because that freedom can also easily distract you.
In these 20 years, porn has had to keep adapting to the times and to successive technological revolutions that have affected its dynamic one way or another. How have you experienced this as an actor and especially as a director and producer?
Think that the first films I did were shot on film, this was 19 years ago… In a way, it was nice because you wanted to make films, right? On my first shoot, which was directed by José María Ponce, everything was very professional and they had all of the film paraphernalia, there was a monitor next to me, and I was doing the first scene and I saw myself on the monitor and it was a trip. I couldn’t stop looking at myself, even though it was fucking up the scene. Ponce ended up shooting the scene in the next room so that the jerk wouldn’t keep looking at himself on the monitor and messing up the vibe. Everything had like these big aspirations, as if we were doing conventional film. Later, they started to shoot films with Betacam, then came VHS, and all of that with the distribution of these films in X-rated cinemas, imagine…
Did you ever see yourself in an X-rated movie theatre? The situation seems especially perverse and strange to me…
I’ve never been in an X-rated movie theatre in my life, I was never curious about it; there was always a weird feeling there, mate. Well, in fact I haven’t had a single film of my own in my house for years, I’m not interested.
And then came the DVD…
The DVD totally changed the production of films, as we went from filming whole films, with their stupid plot and all of that, to independent scenes or episodes, basically because the DVD consumer went directly to the scene and forgot about the filler. That was something I totally agreed with, the whole idea of giving it plots and overloading the films always seemed a little absurd to me. And from there to the Internet and mobile phones, which are the minimum expression now in terms of production, where an eighty-minute film is fragmented into bits that last a minute and a half and they cut it off without the least hesitation.
How have you noticed the whole subject of illegal downloading and the free culture associated with the Internet?
As an actor it doesn’t affect me personally; I do the scene and I get paid for it and what happens later isn’t my problem. In fact, I’ve looked myself up in emule and shit like that… Imagine if I wasn’t there, mate [laughs]. That would really get me down; it’s a reference to know if you’re still interesting, if you look yourself up and you aren’t there, you are totally through. I don’t know, getting back to the subject, I try to diversify, now I’m maybe more into webcams, which is maybe the most profitable right now, but since in Spain we are specialists in burning out business models, in two years it will be totally tapped out. The attitude here is that if you open a fritter stand and you make 100 in profits, if you open another one right next to it, it’ll give you 200, and if you open another one next to that, it’ll give you 300… and evidently it doesn’t work that way. What’s the deal? Now there are all these webcams but the number of users hasn’t grown, the market is what it is… That means the quality will go down: 8 million Spanish chicks working for 200 euros a month, and in two years it will all go bust.
As a producer you must have noticed…
I practically don’t produce anymore, it doesn’t motivate me, I’ve been doing it a long time. It isn’t profitable to produce on the Spanish scale, or even on a European scale; there are a lot of production companies fighting for a ridiculous share of the market, there is a bubble in Spanish porn - there was a boom in Spanish porn and all of that, but the reality now is much less optimistic. In fact, do you know anybody who pays to see porn?
No. Really it would be like paying for the Yellow Pages. If you can get it for free…
There is a profile of a type of user who likes to buy DVDs, a consumer of actual films, who pays because he collects them and wants to have them. Evidently it isn’t the same market as ten years ago, but it is still important, and in fact right now my work is very much oriented towards that sector. The mobile phone user, for example, is used to paying for everything, and will even pay a euro for an application that farts, but he’ll buy it. There is another profile that is a fan who goes to festivals and buys erotic products. But what fails, what really cripples the business, is the Internet user, who won’t pay for anything at all. Even if it only costs a euro, he won’t buy it from you. My website doesn’t have many visits, but it sells; I have a small, but very good traffic, I sell my scenes and it works well.
It seems hard to change that trend, doesn’t it?
We are working on a project that we’ve already been working on for a year, and we will probably launch it in September. I can’t tell you much more, but we think that it might make everything a little more democratic, and it might make an important change in the model in the sector.
Do you follow the sector closely or does it slide right off you?
I’m not really interested.
I was asking because I wondered if you had any opinions about current actors or if you had any particular preferences.
I wouldn’t know what to tell you. For me, Nacho Vidal is still the leader. He’s the crack in all of this. He is because he’s like me but a million times bigger, he lives his life, with his restaurant on Formentera, his horses… Now he has some pills, I don’t know if you’ve seen them…
I saw the advert and think it’s brilliant.
He is a crack; I get on fucking brilliantly with him. And he also put out a perfume, another totally crazy idea.
We take it for granted that the idea was his, was it?
I think so. It would never occur to a brand of perfumes, I think it was him, he went to a brand of perfumes and said ‘let’s make a cologne with a mould of my penis and we’ll put it next to Chanel’s’. They say yes and when they realise that it’s crazy, it’s already too late.
The moral of the story is that the important thing here is to never stop…
I think so. Diversify, try out other things. In my case, right now I’m acting for the people at Culioneros, I’m involved in that new project that I told you about, I’m DJing on weekends at the Pescador Beach Club (Eduard Maristany, 87. Badalona), I keep updating my website, and, well, I’m still going full-on with series.
Can we say that that’s what takes up most your time in your everyday life?
Almost, almost. At home sometimes we have a rough time, when we run out of seasons or episodes, we’re totally screwed, for example that’s what is happening to us now with “A Game Of Thrones”. On top of that, we watch it in Spanish, which slows the whole process down a little. Me, since I’m in porn, I’m not up to that reading and following the action at the same time.
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