Moore comes from music, and now he's getting back into it in a big way
SEATTLE—Back in late March when we received a press release regarding the posting on YouTube of the catchy song "Goodbye Hello," attributed to composer/musician David Perry, we gave it a listen—and found that the man we were staring at, who was playing so many parts so eloquently, was none other than the person we knew better as adult actor/director Rodney Moore.
And we figured, anyone who was that musically talented probably had an interesting story to tell, so we called him up and asked him about it.
"I started playing guitar when I was a teenager, 13, just before the Beatles came out, actually," Moore told us. "I was totally hooked on the Beatles back then, and then I started writing songs. The first songs I wrote were pretty horrible, but I started playing keyboards, and had a tape recorder that would do something called 'add a track,' where you could record one part and then overdub another part. Later on, I built a little home studio and I bought a Tandberg tape deck, which was a German machine that was really good at doing sound-on-sound, where you could just keep bouncing back and forth."
After mastering the keyboard, Moore turned his attention to other instruments he could use to flesh out his tunes, so he added guitar, which he now considers to be his main instrument, then piano, as well as a smattering of bass and drums ("I can play real simple drum beats but nothing complex, and I can't do a fill or a drum roll to save my life").
"On the guitar, I was pretty rusty for a while," Moore admitted. "I got so involved in porn that there might have been times that I didn't pick up a guitar for like six months, but I've been playing a lot more lately and practicing to get back to where I once was."
Indeed, for the longest time, Moore's first love was music—by most measures, it still is—and his first jobs were all music-related.
"In the mid-'70s, I started playing in local bands around the New Haven, Connecticut area," Moore said, "and at one point, I went to work with a recording studio as an engineer and producer, and in 1978, the owner of the studio decided he wanted to move himself and his family out to Seattle, so I followed him out there.
"So I was just engineering, and this was right at the height of the disco boom, and this guy named Pete Salazar wanted to do a disco version of an old song called One Two Three, which had been a hit by Len Barry in the early '60s, and he had hired a local guy that was in Seattle to do the arrangement. Well, it wasn't very good, to be honest, and so they brought in a couple of disco DJs from the Seattle disco pool to help, and they said, 'Well, you gotta do this here, you gotta put this in here, you gotta change this, you gotta do this, you gotta do this, you gotta do that,' and at some point, even though it wasn't an engineer's place to get involved in the production, I just kind of said, 'Look, you know, the amount of time you're talking about putting into this to fix a track that's just not that strong in the first place, it'd be a lot more efficient and less costly if you just start from scratch with a new arrangement.' At that point, the guy that had produced and arranged it just said, 'Well, you know, to be honest, I don't really like disco, so I'm gonna bow out,' and Pete was like, 'Well, who am I gonna get to produce it?' I said, 'Well, I'll do it!'"
That was a turning point in Moore's young life. His new arrangement of the song got up to number 60 on the Billboard Disco Charts, and landed Salazar and Moore a record deal with a label in Seattle called First American Records. While there, the pair did a follow-up, a disco version of Let's Hang On, which was originally done by The Four Seasons, which got up to number 22 on the charts—and Moore was starting to think he had it made in the music biz.
"I think it was 1984, when We Are The World came out, I wrote a song called Give Just A Little, which was a similar type of 'feed the world' song, and we did a local version of We Are The World, where we had local celebrities come in and sing on it for charity," Moore recalled. "Also, between '78 and 1990, when I moved to L.A., I probably did well over a hundred jingles for radio and TV advertising, some that I wrote myself and sang on; others that I co-produced with other people at advertising agencies. I played in a local Top 40 band up in Seattle from '84 to '88, and I did a whole lot of work in the studio of Meredith Brooks, who eventually had that one hit, "I'm a Bitch," which came out in the mid-'90s, and altogether, I must have recorded 40 or 50 songs."
And that's about when things started to go sideways for Moore in the music business. A single he did with Brooks came out in France but didn't do very well, nor did an album he'd done with a French producer that was released in the U.S. through a Santa Monica firm. Worse, he met the road manager for the musical duo the Carpenters, who said that Richard Carpenter was interested in one of Moore's songs—but shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the roadie had been skimming funds from his boss, and since the deal with Moore would have included a small percentage for the roadie, Carpenter wound up never recording Moore's song.
Another debacle of the mid-'80s was an album that Moore wrote and produced with the owners of the San Francisco-based label CNM Records. The owners, a pair of lesbians, remixed the songs and put out the album, but disaster was on the horizon.
"This was around the time that people first started hearing about AIDS, and if I recall correctly, it seemed back then that people found out they were HIV-positive, and a few months later, they were gone," Moore recalled. "So the record came out, and it was a 'Pick Hit' in Billboard, and they actually had pressed all these copies that were going to go out to the DJs in red vinyl, so I called a few days later to see how it was doing, and their phone was disconnected. I was finally able to track down their attorney and basically, he said that they both found out that they were HIV-positive, so running a record company at that point was the least of their concerns."
Even his move to L.A. in 1990 didn't jump-start the career, even though, he said, "I had a couple of close calls with success that, through bad luck, didn't happen. I was pretty depressed about my music career because nothing was really happening, and I'm sure you've heard it said that in the music business, it's not just having talent, it's who you know, being in the right place at the right time, and being lucky—and I was just never in the right place at the right time."
And then something a little weird happened. He wrote a jingle for an L.A. video store, and in partial payment for it, he received an old VHS camcorder—and in short order, "Rodney Moore" was born.
"I was always a big fan of porn because my father had quite a collection in his closet when I was growing up as a teenager," Moore recalled. "Around this time, amateur porn was first starting to come out and be popular, and I had this camcorder and I thought it might be fun to shoot my own amateur porn video, so I put an ad in the LA Express and got answered by this couple who had come in from Chicago; the guy had his own little mail-order business and he basically had come to L.A. to shoot some stuff for his catalog, and they figured they'd make a little extra money banging out a scene.
"I knew absolutely nothing about the business, and I went to their hotel room and shot them," he continued. "Then I was getting ready to walk out the door and he goes, 'Wait a minute, you didn't have us sign a model release.' And I said, 'Do I need that?' And he goes, 'Well, yeah; you gotta prove you own the video you just shot,' and I went, 'Oh, okay.' And then he said, 'Also, you didn't get any copies of our IDs.' I said, 'Do I need that?' And he goes, 'Well, yeah; you gotta be able to prove we're over the age of 18.' And I go, 'Okay.' 'And you didn't take any photos.' 'Do I need photos?' 'Well, yeah, you need photos because they need photos for the box cover and the promotion,' so fortunately because he was in the business himself, he had blank model releases and so they filled out one of their own releases and gave it to me, and he said, 'Well, I've got a pretty good camera at home and, well, you can come back tomorrow and take pictures of us.' So that was kind of a lucky break for me."
Another bit of good fortune came in the form of adult director Randy Detroit, who also answered Moore's ad and wound up letting him use his studio space and lighting equipment, and gave him the names and numbers of some adult performers.
"That was another lucky break, and I remember thinking at the time, 'You know, I never had any luck in the music business and all of a sudden I'm getting all these lucky breaks in the porn business,'" he reflected. "They say, 'Do what you love and the money will come.' The money never really came in the music business—well, it came occasionally but it was always feast or famine—and so fortunately, I found there was something else that I loved doing, which was making porn, and I started doing that and the money came."
Among Moore's first sales were to Bob Genova of LBO Entertainment and Bob Tremont at Odyssey Group, with the scenes vetted by Paul Fishbein, whose Adult Video News magazine was headquartered in the same building, plus Moore did a series for the then-fledgling Wicked Pictures called Dirty Dating Service. But it was when Moore hooked up with producer Dean Goldfarb, whose forté was softcore Playboy-style videos, that Moore was first able to marry his interests in music and porn.
"I started shooting stuff for him, and that gave me a reason to try to get back into doing a little music," Moore said. "So I bought a keyboard work station and started cranking out instrumentals, because you kind of have to add music underneath the softcore stuff. I never really liked music in hardcore; I always found it distracting."
But once Moore moved into the "big time," with the success of both Rodney Moore Productions, whose videos filled several niche markets including hairy girls and BBW ones, and his trans line, as "Sammy Mancini," for Mancini Productions, his music got away from him, until ...
"About two years ago, I really started trying to get back into doing music," Moore said, "and seven or eight months ago, I started doing music videos for YouTube, and this ["Goodbye Hello"] was the first original that I did, although I did do a bunch of covers in-between. So I'm trying to devote equal time now to working on music and working on porn, and I chose to use my real name with the music, just for people who have known me from the earlier days and would recognize my name if anything ever happened.
"I sent that "Goodbye Hello" song out to a couple of places that seem to scout material for established artists that are looking for good material to record, and producers working with new artists," he added. "At this stage of the game, I'm looking at it more as fun than as a career. I mean, if something comes of it financially, if I gain any notoriety, that's all fine and good, but I'm just enjoying the few people that have seen the video and the response has been great."
But now, with more than 20 years of shooting and editing adult videos under his belt, Moore has a few ideas about how he'd like to combine his talents.
"I actually had this idea: I wanted to set up a thing where I would perform live and I would play guitar or whatever the main instrument of the song was, and then I'd have prerecorded all the background music that I had played, and as it was playing out the PA system, I would have two large video monitors on either side of the stage, and on those monitors, you would see me playing the other instruments. So I'd be standing there, like playing the guitar and singing, and then you'd look on one monitor and then you'd see me playing the drums or the bass.
"You know, I've actually been doing that up here in Seattle," he revealed. "I have parties and I'll invite friends over that I've met through other activities that I do up here, and so I'll have like 30, 40 people over, and we'll eat and drink and towards the middle of the night, I'll start performing. I've been doing these parties for about three or four years now, and initially, I would just play acoustic guitar and sing, but then the last few that I've done, I've taken the videos I put up on YouTube and just reedited them so you don't see the lead vocal and you don't see the main instrument, and I play the instrument live, and then I show the rest of the video with me playing all the parts on my giant 78 inch Samsung curved hi-def 4K video monitor."
You know: the kind of monitor you can afford when your "day job" is that you're a smashing success in porn!