The most powerful city in the world has a prudish reputation when it comes to sex.
Danny Leal has made it his life's challenge to probe for limits to Washington's appetite for sex. So far, he can't get arrested in this town.
Leal is, according to both his own hype and others in the pornography trade, the area's leading producer of porn videos and events. Operating out of his townhouse in Oakton, Leal -- known in the biz as Porno Dan -- is producer, director and occasional star of backroom flicks such as "Public Exposure in D.C.," which consists of a grotesque exhibitionist exposing herself in bright sunshine in front of the Ronald Reagan Building, the American History Museum, Washington Harbour and the Washington Monument, which Leal, as narrator, identifies as "the Capitol."
Well, no one watches this stuff for the story.
Leal, who keeps three lawyers in his employ, specializes in flash videos, in which women take their clothes off in public places -- streets, clubs, sports events. Every year, he drives a bus load of strippers to the Preakness Stakes, where, he says, "you put them in front of a crowd and they start flashing and then it's monkey see, monkey do."
Why do people do this? "People like seeing girls topless in public places," the director explains. Neither he nor his movies get much deeper.
Leal, 34, has been doing this for five years now, and although police occasionally warn him against lewd acts in public, he says he and his performers have yet to be arrested for their street antics.
Porno Dan produces about 75 movies a year, filming around the world. He uses home video equipment and a directing style as shaky as your neighbor's film of the fourth-grade Christmas pageant. "My stuff isn't artistic," Leal says. "It's very sophomoric humor."
Leal is a local kid made good -- well, at least made big. At Lake Braddock High, he played football and was a member of the National Honor Society.
But by his own telling, he was also a brawler and hard drinker known at George Mason University for his abuse of fraternity rush rules and his tapes of his own sexual congress. The videos, passed from student to student, led to his impeachment as president of Mason's Interfraternity Council.
After working as an office machine salesman, Leal moved to Las Vegas, where he learned his trade, filming his own exploits and selling the tapes. "I thought it was the greatest thing to have sex on camera," he says. "Then I just kind of burned out on it."
Moving home, he set out to become porn king of the nation's capital. There wasn't much competition.
Washington being a city with but a handful of strip joints, Leal had to import porn stars from Los Angeles or Baltimore. But he found that Washington has a thriving underground sex scene -- swingers clubs, S&M groups, individuals who hire porn performers at $1,500 an hour to make private movies at their homes.
"D.C. has this conservative image, but the nightlife here is one of the most decadent I've seen anywhere," he says.
Many of the men in his movies wear masks for fear of being seen by their employers. The men are mainly Leal's drinking buddies from high school and college. The women are sometimes paid, but more often are unpaid models who appear in Leal's movies in exchange for the right to sell the footage on their own sites.
Much of the porn industry has been shut down in recent months after five performers tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Leal has continued filming because he says his actors adhere to his condoms-required policy.
"There's been no blip in sales since we went to condoms-only," he says. Leal says it's easier to enforce the condom rule here than on the West Coast because "this is a much more health-conscious place, not from an L.A. sports club perspective, but because the education level in D.C. is so much higher."
Leal's family is not exactly proud of his career choice. His mother used to brag about her boy the thriving salesman, but now they have agreed not to talk about what he does.
Leal seems pained for a moment, then bursts into a description of his next project, featuring scenes of group sex filmed inside District nightclubs. Title: "D.C. Debauchery."
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