My friend Mikal Bales sat down with me in 1996 for an Interview in that was ultimately published in Rubber Rebel #5. In light of his passing Saturday, I thought I'd share it again.
GREAT VULCANIZED ZEUS!
The Daddy of Leather Gods and mortal heroes adds rubber to the family.
Head Zeusman Mikal Bales speaks to the Rubber Rebel.
Rubber Rebel: For starters, what led to your decision to begin incorporating more rubber into Zeus videos?
Mikal Bales: I believe that if you’re going to produce fetish videos, your efforts should be to try and reach everybody. I’m a fledgling rubber appreciator myself and I wondered if there were rubber appreciators in the Zeus mailing list, so I gave it a try. The response was impressive, as far as sales were concerned.
RR: Which video was the first?
MB: Rubber Roughhouse & Auditions 4. I’m frequently accused of designer bondage and Hollywood SM anyway, so my approach to latex and rubber videos is kind of Hollywood rubber...because I love color! I’ve always thought that the smell and feel of rubber was primary as far as someone being interested in it, and my company being a visual one, then I would try for color. That’s the reason it started out as an experiment, but now I’m even more interested in the filming of rubber as wardrobe!
RR: Rubber fans are already catching on; at the beginning of this issue is a letter pleading for Kyle Brandon in rubber for a Rubber Rebel cover after the writer saw Rubber Roughhouse.
MB: Interestingly enough, Kyle is the bottom in Rubber Roughhouse, and Kyle’s an experienced bottom. Now as I was getting him dressed for the shoot and brought out red rubber, he questioned it. He said, “I’ve never worn red rubber before,” and I said “I’ve never shot rubber before.” It turned out, with Kyle as the bottom and Brian Dawson as one of the consummate Tops in the country, it was a very hot session! Then Kyle wanted to borrow the red rubber outfit to go to IML, so apparently he approved after the video shoot.
RR: Sex Wrestling #3 is almost all rubber, and it sure is hot.
MB: I don’t think anything fits the body quite the way rubber does. I don’t think anything makes the body sweat like rubber does. As the body sweats under the rubber, it fits even tighter. That’s a very provocative visual. For those people out there in jack-off land who can’t smell or feel it, I want it to fascinate them. I want it to attract them, and color has always attracted people for whatever their fetish may be.
RR: Zeusmen always seem to be handsome and masculine but not impossible; like men next door who just happen to have a dungeon in the basement.
MB: It’s nice of you to recognize that, because Zeus works very hard at selecting men with well muscled bodies. It’s always been my philosophy that if you’re selling fantasy, it had better be pretty. I’ve admired the Colt products for years, I don’t think anyone touches Jim French at what he does. I think his art form is pure. But...the idea of you or me scoring with some of those Colt men in all their airbrushed perfection takes away from the sexuality or the eroticism of the photography for me. I would like to think that, on a good night, you and I could score the Zeus models I choose! These are real people. I never use airbrushing, never use make-up, I never take away from what they bring to me on the shoot. There is a realism there that translates to sexuality if people watching think ‘I might be able to score that!’
RR: Your videos also tend to go one up on others in the essence of affection and lust. The actors almost always seem to make that connection. In Sex Wrestling #3, the physical sport gives way to lust and the camera follows, and in Brute Force, the magnetism is obvious. How do you get that chemistry?
MB: I don’t know how to separate sensuality from SM. I don’t think there’s anything closer, more intimate, than SM or fetish play. That includes rubber or flogging or mummification or breath restraint...I don’t know how you separate sensuality from the scene. So not only do I not separate it, I emphasize it. In fact, I even titled one of my videos Brutal Passion because SM is brutal, but it’s passionate at the same time. I think that the passion is part of the whole fantasy.
RR: BRUTE FORCE has got to be the most intense video of the last five years. Was that what you were aiming for or was it something that just happened as the camera captured it?
MB: Both! I tried for the intensity because, as I said earlier, Zeus is dismissed by a lot of people into the scene as being Hollywood bondage. Anybody who watches Brute Force and thinks that it’s Hollywood SM, I don’t think knows what they’re looking at! Even though we went after something that was much heavier than the ‘typical’ Zeus video, there was such a connection between Fred Katz and Casey Battle, then Jeff Burnam and ‘Ponyboy’ Spike, and such a sexual connection between Brian Dawson and David Keefer, that anyone coming away from watching Brute Force has to realize that it’s tough to separate the passion and feeling from the SM.
RR: It was great to see Fred Katz back on film. Was it his idea to wear his full rubber suit in the whipping scene?
MB: Fred is a close friend and exclusive to Zeus, I’m happy to say, and it was his idea to wear that suit. I think he’s one of the finest Tops in the country and it’s always nice to do business with someone who is at the top of their form. I was concerned, with the way the scene was lit, that we wouldn't see enough of Fred because he would disappear into the shadows. Then it turned out to be fabulous, because he seemed to emerge from shadow as this specter in rubber from head to toe! It made the visual all that much stronger. By the way, I just got back from New York where we were shooting Casey in Brute Force Two which will be subtitled Expect No Mercy. And Fred tops him again. (Chuckles) In rubber, of course.
In the spring of 1999, Mikal Bales approached me about potentially being in a Zeus production. While I am sure he was just being polite (after all, who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to be part of an afternoon where four extremely good looking Zeusmen are strutting their stuff while you’re with them?), I modestly agreed. The result was the Can-Am/Zeus co-production Brutal Kombat. In it, I got to play Brutux Khan, evil overlord who entertains himself by having newly captured slaves wrestle and fuck in his presence. With a cast that featured Eric Evans, Robert Black, Beau Bradley and Brent Banes, Mikal essentially offered me what many men only get to dream about. I was garbed in full body black rubber and a pair of bizarre glasses, and seated upon a throne as my subjects were paraded before me, and had really hot sex as I looked on, trying to appear above it all. Believe me, trying to be detached while these men were going at it may have been the hardest acting gig I’ve ever taken on. The other trip is when the Brutal Kombat DVD version was released, it is my rubber clad stare that takes up half on the DVD menu screen. Brutal Kombat became the focal point for Vulcan America’s sixth issue, the first to appear entirely online, and gave me a listing on the popular Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB.com).