Porn Mogul & DJ Chi Chi LaRue Hits the Billboard Charts, Thanks to RuPaul

Chi Chi LaRue
Courtesy Channel 1

Chi Chi LaRue

Plus: Which pop stars should do an adult film, what songs get a party started & the too-hot-for-MTV music video she directed.

Porn mogul and DJ Chi Chi LaRue can now lay claim to a new achievement in her varied career: appearing on a top 10 album on a Billboard chart. The drag diva is featured on fellow drag star RuPaul's new album Realness, which debuts at No. 6 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart (dated March 21). LaRue -- who is probably best known for directing hundreds of gay-porn films in a nearly 30-year career -- is a guest vocalist on the album's anthemic, rocking song "LGBT."

"I'm a rocker underneath this 13-year-old pop girl that I portray," jokes LaRue, who is a big fan of KISS, Judas Priest, Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett. LaRue and RuPaul have been friends for nearly three decades and have often talked "about doing something together."

"I'd been wanting to work with Chi Chi for many years," says RuPaul, "and after I had heard her 2014 Markaholic-produced single 'Sowahahaponwuz' I became super motivated to make a duet happen. The sound of 'LGBT' was inspired by our mutual love for Joan Jett. We then asked, 'What would our audience want to hear us sing about?' and boom, the lyrics were born."

LaRue says RuPaul told her: "'I wrote it for you and your sensibility, and I hope you like it.' And I was like, 'I'm blown away. I'm thrilled, I'm honored, I'm blessed. I'm all the things that you can say.'"

RuPaul and LaRue met in the late 1980s in Los Angeles, shortly after LaRue moved to the city from Minnesota in 1986. That year, she started working in the sales department at the adult film company Catalina Video and eventually began directing features. By the 1990s, LaRue's fame had expanded past porn and into the music world.

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She considers Elton John and Boy George friends, she scored a cameo in Madonna's "Deeper and Deeper" video, and directed music videos for Rob Halford's band 2wo, Pepper Mashay and Willam. Eventually, LaRue's deep love of music led her to start booking DJ gigs and the release of her first single, "Sowahahaponwuz."

Today, LaRue owns Channel 1 Releasing (which comprises multiple companies, including the first one she worked for: Catalina Video), an adult boutique store in West Hollywood (named Chi Chi LaRue's, naturally) and a range of branded merchandise.

Although LaRue built her empire from gay porn, she now spends a great deal of her time DJing at clubs, festivals and other live events. It's "taken off," she says, and her schedule is booked "every weekend."

"I hope Ru asks me to do a video with her for 'LGBT,'" says LaRue, who imagines a clip with both of them in full drag. "I want to look at her in the face and lip-sync this song." (Getting RuPaul in drag might be a tall order, believe it or not, as she usually only appears in drag on the TV show RuPaul's Drag Race.)

In our extended chat with LaRue, we talked about a range of topics: directing Halford, which pop stars she'd love to see in a porn film, porn stars-turned-singers, which songs are guaranteed to pump up a crowd while DJing, and more. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Billboard: Recently, gay-porn studio offered Justin Bieber $2 million to film a gay-porn scene. So we thought we'd ask LaRue: If she could offer money to a pop star to do porn, who would she want?

LaRue: Nick Jonas. Drake. And I'd like Kid Rock to get f---ed by 15… [followed by a colorful description of what she'd like to see happen. However, it's probably a bit much for us to publish. We'll have to wait for the video.]

LaRue directed the racy music video "I Am a Pig" for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's former band 2wo in 1998. It was the lead single for the album Voyeurs and was released shortly after Halford publicly came out as gay. (Halford and LaRue have remained friends ever since.)

It was pretty amazing. I remember when we did the video, MTV was there [on the set] … and then they wouldn't show it because it was a little too risqué.

The video was never aired on MTV, according to Nielsen BDS. A representative for MTV could not verify LaRue's claim that the network declined to play it because of its content.

I kind of intertwined my life into that video. It [had] strippers and porn stars -- girl porn stars, boy porn stars. MTV was very excited about the fact that I was doing this video for Rob and his band. It was [released on Trent Reznor's label Nothing Records, which was distributed by] Interscope, and Trent was really big on it. I did this video and I had lots of the current female and gay male porn stars in the video. Tom Chase was in it, Sam Dixon, Janine, Jeanne Fine. … It was a pretty amazing video.

LaRue says that while the video was little-seen in America, it found some success in Europe. She recalls a story about how she was in Paris and depressed about the song not earning support from U.S. MTV: 

[I walked] into the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Élysées, and it was almost kismet… I walked up the ramp [to the store] and the song started and it was all over the big screens in the [store]. It was pretty amazing.

LaRue talks about the songs guaranteed to get a crowd pumped up while DJing:

I have a triple-song set that is always a guarantee. It's Pitbull's "Hotel Room Service," featuring Nicole Scherzinger, into Eve's "Tambourine," into "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child. That makes everyone crazy. Also a go-to would be "Shoop" by Salt-N-Pepa. And Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head."

LaRue says Boy George, Andy Bell and Marc Almond have told her to use their music in porn films. However…

I've had Boy George and Marc Almond and different people say, "Just use it! Just use the music!" Andy Bell: "Just use it!" His Electric Blue album, he was like, "Just use it, I give you permission." I was too gun-shy to do it. I was afraid that something would happen, that they didn't have all the rights, even though I know that Andy's got the rights to his music. … I don't want someone coming back and saying, "Well, for posterity reasons, we have to sue this porn company for using your songs."

Marc Almond had this amazing song called "Adored and Explored," and I wanted to do a movie called Adored and Explored. It's a perfect porn title, my god, it's meant to be. Well, when I talked to Marc, and I was like, "OK, I want to do a movie called Adored and Explored, and I want to use your song." He was like, "Use it, you have my permission. You can do it, I love it. I want you do to do that." And I just didn't… the company [producing the film] wouldn't let me do it, they wouldn't let me use the song. They were too gun-shy. So I never really got to do what I wanted to do. Even though it probably would have been OK, but better safe than sorry, I guess.

On a memorable use of music in an adult film:

Something that comes to mind for me is when I was first getting into adult film, there was a movie called [NightDreams that] used music by Wall of Voodoo for their scenes. I remember this lesbian scene around a campfire and they used [their cover of Johnny Cash's] "Ring of Fire." That was etched on my brain forever because I thought, "How cool is it that they're using this new wave group's music in this porn film?" I just thought it was the best thing ever.

Photo by: Greg Endries

On gay porn stars-turned-singers Colton Ford and Johnny Hazzard:

Colton Ford, he's got a smoky, sultry, soulful voice. He's good. If you listen to his new record [Next Chapter], it's so good. You know who else had a really good song was Johnny Hazzard (pictured, above). … I directed that video for [his single "Deeper Into You"]. So he did that song, he brought that record to the set of In His Dreams, which was [an adult] video that he did for me, and we did the [music] video after we finished the movie. In front of a very small piece of mylar. [Laughs]

Ford released his most recent album, Next Chapter, in 2014. He made adult films in the early 2000s, before embarking on a music career in the middle of that decade. He has released numerous albums and notched a pair of hits on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart: a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (with Pepper Mashay; peaking at No. 9 in 2004) and "Let Me Live Again" (No. 41 in 2013). Hazzard (whose real name is Frankie Valenti but was dubbed Johnny Hazzard by LaRue upon his adult film debut in 2003) released his lone single, "Deeper Into You," in 2006. Hazzard has since acted in the indie feature Tiger Orange, has a clothing line (Spit Shine L.A.) and creates handmade jewelry.

On how some gay porn stars look like pop stars:

Well, Levi Karter, Liam Riley … all the CockyBoys guys are, like, Teen Beat, down, honey! [CockyBoys is a New York-based gay adult film studio, and Karter and Riley are some of their current stars.] There could be Tiger Beat: The CockyBoys edition. [Billboard asks LaRue why CockyBoys hasn't done a boy-band-inspired video.] Right?! OK, that's going to be something I'm working on right now, girl. I'm filming something with them when I go to New York. So I will bring that up. Jake Jaxson [CEO of CockyBoys] and I are kindred spirits. We could definitely do something that would be amazing.