When Mike Strother was a kid growing up in the 60s, he wanted to be so many things. He liked science. He pictured himself as a biologist, a chemist, an astronomer and finally an astronaut.
Now, at the age of 52, he’s doing something a little different. He’s a producer, director and actor in his own amateur films, but he doesn’t make movies like the ones they show at Sundance.
Mike Strother is an amateur pornographer.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Strother, better known in the industry as Mike South, is a very decorated director. He’s won, and been nominated for, dozens of Adult Video News awards, the Academy Awards of porn. One was for most outrageous scene, in which he filmed a girl-boy sex-capade smack dab in the middle of a rave in Tampa.
“I’m 52 years old. Most of the girls I date are in their mid to early 20s,” he said, “and I make money for it. It’s kinda like, you know, I found my calling.”
Backtrack to before. That kid who wanted to be an astronaut got pretty close to his dream once. Before porn, Strother worked for NASA handling sexy things like relation databasemanagement and expert systems knowledge bases- your typical AI-type stuff. In his own words, he was a technogeek.
He said he first got the idea to change jobs at a consumer electronics show in Los Angeles. The porn guys found out he lived in Atlanta and pestered him about what a “hotbed for pretty girls” he was sitting on.
He said, at the time, the industry was begging for more amateur videos with scenes starring regular people and couples, not porn superstars.
“Next thing I know, there I was shooting a girl and her boyfriend and he couldn’t get it up,” Strother said. “Finally he turns to me and says, ‘She doesn’t get paid if I can’t perform, does she?’ and he said ‘Here, give me the camera and you f--k her.’”
That was back in 1993. Fortunately, the dudes at headquarters loved the video and especially loved Strother’s “down-home Southern character.” This led to a number of unique, Mike South amateur-video series, which led to a lot of money, success and young girls for Mr. Mike South.
“Everything that I ever released, I always insisted that it had my name on it,” he said. “I wanted to do that name-branding and that turned out to be a good move on my part.”
As the world moved into a new century, Strother realized the frontier of porn was online, and he now owns several websites.
Some of his greatest successes are southernbukkake.com and stripperfacials.com. He admits there’s a pattern and said, in the vastness of cyberspace, you’ve gotta have your niche.
“Every girl is like ‘I wanna do girl-girl’ and I’m like ‘Honey, I can’t even give that away.’”
His most heavily trafficked site is actually his blog, mikesouth.com, which features no videos but divulges all that’s good, bad and ugly with the industry.
“I’m very well-known for reporting on the industry both good and bad,” he said. “People check daily just to make sure they’re not up there for something stupid. I get tons of death threats, that’s always fun.”
Death threats or not, Strother is more than happy being Mike South. After 20 years in the business, he said he has no plans to retire anytime soon.