Adult film star goes "Beneath the Skin"
Around Nashville, adult film star Hunter Page is known as Justin Liles. He’s a guy you probably met, or saw, working at Tribe or Play, or perhaps you grabbed a photo with him in his toga when he was out supporting the TEP at Olympus. Liles, who turned twenty-one this year, has already done his share of living, and it looks like things are still heating up for him.
Liles broke into the gay porn industry as Hunter Page when he was just eighteen with a solo for CollegeDudes, and has since developed a large following, with over 50,000 followers on Twitter (@HunterPageXXX). In 2014, he received five Grabby (think gay porn Oscars) nominations, including Best Newcomer, Best Actor, Best Group, and Best Duo (twice), and he won Best Duo for a scene with Shawn Wolfe at NakedSword.
But at the height of his rise in the adult industry, Liles/Page suddenly stopped shooting new porn scenes for about a year. In an industry where scenes sometimes don’t get released for weeks or months and the internet keeps old scenes circulating, you might not have really noticed the break unless you are a die-hard fan wondering why you aren’t getting nearly weekly new releases like you once were.
When we spoke in late March, though, Liles revealed that he was ready to start shooting again. “I’m leaving for Vegas in a few days, and that’ll be the first time I’ve shot since February of 2014.” Liles is jumping back into the industry with both feet—as he does with most things he’s decided to do. “In the next couple of months, I know I’m going to six major cities a month [mostly for work] until July or August,” he said. He’ll be visiting and shooting in Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, D.C., San Francisco, L.A., and Toronto, to name a few.
During his break from the industry, though, Liles announced to friends on Facebook that he was embarking on an exciting new adventure! Last year, Liles was cast as the lead in a mainstream, independent LGBT themed film, Beneath the Skin. It’s not something Liles anticipated or sought: Liles said he never wanted to be an actor. “I still to this day don’t want to be,” he said. There are parts of it he did enjoy. “I like learning the lines and proving to myself that I can do it, but I hate actually being around other people on a set because most of the people there have been wanting this and have a passion for it. Then there’s me just coming in, and the only acting I did was in the third grade!”
This, of course, raises the real question of how and why Liles ended up as the lead in a film! According to Liles, Aaron Ellis, the film’s author and director, “had found me through my work in the adult industry, and he looked at that as a good way of marketing the film.” Liles’ significant social media following and connections would be a boon for an independent, young, British filmmaker trying to get his movie in front of the market.
“I think Aaron chose me specifically because he thought I could reach out to a lot more people and not just be on a sexual basis, though he did throw enough of my ass out in that movie!” Liles said, And he still gives Ellis a hard time about his castin methods. “I give him hell to this day about that! I mean how he found me…. I’m like, ‘I know what you were really doing when you found me’,” Liles said, laughing.
Beneath the Skin is a drama centered on a British student, Joshua (played by Ellis), who is sent to Canada after the death of his mother. In Canada, he meets Jay (Liles), an aspiring American artist, who had come to Canada to escape familial violence in native Alabama. The two castaways are drawn to one another, despite interference from bullies, as the story unfolds.
Initially, Liles expressed concerns about the script, which he addressed with the creative team to his satisfaction. As an additional inducement to join the cast, however, Liles was named executive producer. “Naming me an executive producer on the movie got me interested because I do like the business aspects of the industry, just not the acting!”
Finally, in June, Liles left Nashville to begin six weeks of shooting, first in Canada, then in England. Shooting for Beneath the Skin was a unique experience, because the cast and crew were, for the most part, as young as Liles. “Aaron’s a year younger than me, he just turned twenty-one a week ago,” Liles reported. “Almost everyone who worked on this film is under twenty-five, no one’s been doing this for a long time. Aaron wrote the script and got investors involved, so this is something some kid aspired to do: he wrote a script and made it happen…. It’s not just money for him, this is his baby, everything he’s wanted for the last 4-5 years, so I respect him for that.”
The trip was Liles’ first experience abroad. “I figured London would be harder to get used to but I think Canada—Halifax specifically—almost killed me,” he said, laughing. Specifically, he was unprepared for the bitter cold of Halifax in June. “The very first night filming,” Liles said, “it was about midnight, we were sitting looking out over the water—and this is funny because this was my least favorite scene to shoot and it also got cut—but … it was like 15 or 20 degrees outside. I’m sitting there in this big jacket, hoodie, undershirt, pants trying not to sound like I’m shivering… Every part of my body was shaking, the camera couldn’t even keep up with me, and I’m like, ‘I can’t stay out here!’ So it took us about four-and-a-half hours to shoot.”
It’s ironic that Liles says Halifax almost killed him, since, later, while shooting in London, he was mugged coming out of a tattoo parlor! “I walk out and turn the corner,” Liles recalled, “and I didn’t even get three steps, and this guy, he has a knife, says ‘Give me your money!’ I almost laughed for a second because I remembered, ‘Oh yeah, everybody doesn’t just have guns in this country.’ I was like. ‘Okay, here you go!’ I had like 17 pounds, and he actually asked, ‘Is this it?’ I said ‘I’ve got American money,’ but he wouldn’t take that!”
With shooting complete, Liles returned to Nashville while the film went into production, though he’s remained involved, working to help promote the film. “Aaron’s been talking about another movie he’s doing,” Liles said. “He asked me for casting help—I told him I would give my input, and I think he might want to use someone else in the adult industry that I know.” Eventually Liles will work more one securing U.S. distribution for the film. “Before I can secure a deal for distribution over here,” Liles explained, “they have to lock in a British distributor. For some reason it has to go into distribution over there first….”
The return to Nashville brought Liles his most surreal experience, though, he said. “Before I left not a lot of people knew why I was leaving…. The most surreal thing about the whole process was … to come back and have people who hadn’t spoken to me in my two years at the bar come up and say, ‘It’s amazing what you’re doing, and we can’t wait to see it….’ People were interested.”
In March 2015, Liles returned to London for a screening of the film, the final shot of which displays Liles, full frontal. “There’s this champagne bottle covering me,” Liles said, setting the scene, “and when I moved it—there are these girls behind me, one of my coworkers on the film and then her best friend and her mom—I heard her best friend and her mom kinda go, ‘Oh my god.’ … I was so nervous the whole movie waiting for this part because the audience were looking at me up there, and I’m just up front with head down, thinking ‘Don’t see me!’” And there’s something refreshing hearing that from a porn star!
With his mainline film starting to be screened and Hunter Page soon to return to a computer screen near you, what does the future hold for Liles? “I’m working on getting everything ready for school again. I’m looking strongly at moving to Atlanta in the next few months,” he added. “My best friend just moved there, and I’d really like to be closer to him.”
Liles is also contemplating big change for Hunter Page. Porn “was never about the money for me back when I was filming. I can do it, so I was gonna do it, and nobody was gonna tell me I couldn’t do it! I also wanted to show I could still do it and be whatever I wanted to be.” Liles pointed out that he never really retired, and that at this point in his life he wanted to get back a bit more to the lifestyle of traveling around and meeting people, to mix things up a bit. But, he added, “I don’t think I have a lot longer left in the adult industry. I definitely won’t be in the industry for more than four or five more months and then that’ll be it for me.
I’m sure a lot of fans will be sorry to hear that, but I’m sure the internet will keep Hunter Page near to their hearts. What will be truly fascinating is to see what the near future holds for Justin Liles.
For more information on Beneath the Skin, check out the film’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BTSFilm.